Sunday, 21 May 2017

Swan Lake

It's been an odd spring. At times the local birding has been first rate, but at other times a bit poor. I'm not on my own in thinking that the recent unsettled weather might have grounded a few more migrants. It's not too late though and I can't complain too much really as I've seen two Wood Sandpipers, two Bar-tailed Godwits and two Whimbrels locally plus the splendid Grey Plover at Brascote Pits. It's more of a case of trying to work out the optimum weather conditions.

The Whooper Swan was still at Shawell A5 Lagoons yesterday, so I took the opportunity to photograph it with my DSLR. It was a good job I did because it looks as though it has moved on today.



At Stanford Res yesterday it was generally quiet apart from an immature White-fronted Goose and a very showy Hobby that was hunting insects above the reed bed on the Leicestershire side. It was difficult to get a good photographic opportunity, but I did grab a record shot of it.



Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Another South-West Leicestershire Tick and a Bonus Wader

Steve Nichols sent me a text this afternoon to say a Whooper Swan was at Shawell A5 lagoons. I rang Dawn and told her to cook tea on a low light, as I would be late home from work. The swan was tucked up in the corner of the furthest lagoon, but I got reasonable views through the hedge along the side of the A5. This is a local area tick for me.

Whooper Swan, Shawell A5 Lagoons, May 9th 2017

A few gulls had gathered on the bank between the lagoons and amongst them was a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull. I scanned the shore hoping that a wader had dropped in, but nothing was doing. I walked the short distance between the viewings points and thought about packing up. I had just one last scan as always and this time I was in luck! A smart Wood Sandpiper had appeared.

I walked along the footpath which runs along the side of the lagoon and managed to get close enough to get some good quality video.


Sunday, 7 May 2017

A County Tick and a Local Area Tick in One Weekend

The weekend started well when I found a Whimbrel in a field in the west of Leicestershire. I then made my way over to Stanford Reservoir where a nice gathering of waders was present although most of them were in Northants. My phone rang as I was scanning for new birds: it was Dave Gray calling to let me know that a Great Reed Warbler was at Albert Village Lake. The only record of this species in Leicestershire & Rutland was way back in 1963.

I made my way back along the Northamptonshire side of the reservoir stopping to admire a subtle looking second-summer Caspian Gull. Stanford Res. is not the best place to be when heading for Albert Village Lake, but it didn't take too long to get there with the help of the M1.

The Great Reed Warbler was very vocal, but elusive wasn't the word. After about three hours I managed to get one brief view of it. I don't think anyone else did much better than a brief view.

Well done to Rhys Dandy, Dave Gray, Ben Croxtall & Marc Lansdowne for breaking the highest day total for Leicestershire & Rutland with 121 species and finding the Great Reed Warbler in the process.


On Sunday morning I announced to Dawn that I was going out to find a Grey Plover for my 'South-West Leicestershire List'. I missed one last year at Brascote Pits when I was on holiday in Portugal, so I needed to make amends  Things didn't go quite to plan, as it was actually Adey Baker who saw the it first. Adey called Grey Plover and I was on it about a second later. We had been grumbling about the lack of good birds at Brascote these days, but we shouldn't lack faith! I was really chuffed to see another good wader species in the area some describe as the desert of Leicestershire.

Here's a short video showing the beautiful summer-plumaged Grey Plover...



Grey Plover, Brascote Pits, May 7th 2017

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Stanford Reservoir

Having obtained a permit for Stanford Res I have been taking advantage of the great conditions there. The water level is low and the exposed mud has been attracting lots of birds.

Highlights today included eight Bar-tailed Godwits and single Little and Black Terns.

The terns were on the Northamptonshire side all the time, which was a shame as I need Little Tern for my Leicestershire list.

The short video below is of the godwits and the terns.



The long staying immature Long-tailed Duck was still present on today, however, it has not been seen since.

Long-tailed Duck, Stanford Reservoir, 29/04/17



Thursday, 20 April 2017

Black-winged Stilts

Before work this morning I went to Brascote Pits. It was fairly quiet there but I did see my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year. Unusually for a spring bird it showed well on the outside of one of the hawthorns.

Just as I was about to leave a text came in from Chris Hubbard saying three Black-winged Stilts had been seen early morning at Stanford Res. They were a county tick for me, so I rushed over and luckily they were still there. A male and two females as far as I can see. One of the females was still quite immature.

I couldn't stay long, so I had to make do with some distant images from the Leicestershire side. The birds were feeding while I was there in the channel showing the course of the River Avon. The water levels are low enough to show the channel that marks the county boundary. They were mostly mid-channel, but they did come on to the Leicestershire side at times. The agreement between Northamptonshire and Leicestershire for recording purposes is birds on the water are counted for both counties. Birds on the banks are of course counted for the single county they are in.