Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Wyre Forest ~ Post Lockdown

☁️8C to start then ⛅️23C ~ Wind ↘NW@5mph Tuesday 26th May 2020 ~ My first trip further afield since lockdown with an early morning start in the Wyre Forest Worcestershire.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary from today's visit displaying the all-important underwing.
In normal circumstances, I would usually visit the Wyre Forest a couple of times during the spring period. Firstly in the early part of May when the target bird species such as Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Tree Pipit and Redstart are in full song and thus easier to find and for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly, one of the earliest Fritillaries to emerge.

Also from today's visit a very pristine looking Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.
My second visit would then take place later in the month or in early June when Spotted Flycatchers have arrived and the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, which has a later emergence date begins to replace the earlier Pearl Bordered. In fact, if you time your visit well like today, both Fritillary species can be seen, although the latter is usually becoming quite worn.

A Redstart obviously in the process of feeding young makes a brief appearance.
Of course, spotting the birds was a little harder today with the trees now in full canopy and less song to point you in the right direction but thankfully it was a good visit and a long one, spending over six hours on-site. I did manage to record all my targeted species for the day with the remarkable exception of Wood Warbler, which I failed to connect with or even hear during the whole visit! Remarkable in the fact that I would consistently record double-figure numbers of my favourite leaf warbler on any visit to the forest at this time of year.

One of the eight Spotted Flycatchers seen during the visit.
Despite the disappointment of dipping on my favourite warbler one of the highlights of the visit was an amazing count of eight Spotted Flycatchers, which now rates among my highest UK counts in any one session.

Pied Flycatchers were having a busy day.
There was plenty of evidence too that Pied Flycatchers are doing well with another good count of six birds (male & female) some busily gathering food and moving in and out of various nest boxes and two birds found in full song.

Tree Pipit ~Another specialist of the Wyre Forest
There was just a single sighting of Tree Pipit today, thankfully singing and parachuting down from the canopy, always a lovely sight.

Heath Spotted Orchids
Other highlights of the day included a Tawny Owl, Cuckoo (heard only), Lesser-spotted Woodpecker (heard only) and a number of Heath Spotted Orchids. There was no sign of any Dippers likely due to the number of people on the stream track by the time I got down there, although two Grey Wagtails seemed less bothered.

Pied Flycatcher

Saturday, May 16, 2020

πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN PICTORIAL

We are now slowly beginning to emerge from 'Lockdown', we can apparently travel anywhere in England and exercise as many time as we like, although we are obliged to return to our homes every night. I'll personally be staying local for the foreseeable, with perhaps the odd day trip further afield if I feel it's safe to do so. From a purely personal and birding perspective, I've no room for complaint. My heart goes out to the 1000s of people who have been so badly affected by these difficult and unprecedented times, in particular to those who have lost loved ones.

One of the many glorious sunsets from the marina moorings during 'Lockdown'.
For me, I'm lucky enough to be living on a marina with my brilliant wife Dazza where we are fortunate to be surrounded by nature. Here there's a large and varied habitat to explore and plenty of skies to watch. Directly opposite the canal is Napton Reservoir another large body of water with a good-sized reedbed and somewhere I visited almost every morning for my daily exercise until the fishermen returned on Wednesday! When I walked I rarely saw a person and social distancing is something that I certainly don't struggle with.

Napton Reservoir ~ Directly opposite our moorings.
What follows is a pictorial of the wildlife and surroundings I've managed to photograph during these difficult times. My daily reports can be found in the main body of this blog.

πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 1
☀️16C ~ Wind ⇐ SE@7mph Tuesday 24th March 2020
Sunset from the moorings ~ I can think of worse places to be 'locked down'.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 2
☀️14C ~ Wind ↑SE@8mph Wednesday 25th March 2020
Great Crested Grebe ~ Several of these charismatic birds nest at the Reservoir & can be seen daily.
Peacock Butterfly warming on a rock in the warm sunshine at the Reservoir.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 3
☀️14C ~ Wind ←E@9mph Thursday 26th March 2020
Red Kite ~ Almost a daily sight drifting over the Marina & Reservoir during the lockdown.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 8
⛅️9C ~ Wind ←NE@10mph Tuesday 31st March 2020
This Cormorant is enjoying the calm of the reservoir now that the fishermen have temporarily departed.
Kestrel
A wonderful close encounter with this local Kestrel who I'm sure I see daily.
Another Buzzard takes to the skies over the marina.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 11
☀️☁️12C ~ Wind →W@9mph Friday 3rd April 2020
Another beautiful sunset at the mooring.
Chiffchaff collecting nesting materials at the Reservoir.
Another Red Kite drifts over the Marina moorings.


Singing Coal Tit ~ A 'Lockdown List' tick at Calcutt locks while passing.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 14☀️17C ~ Wind ↘SSE@7mph Tuesday 7th April 2020
Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper ~ A year first during my walk around the Reservoir on day 14.
An oddly coloured Buzzard certainly got the pulse racing as it drifted in from distance.
Peregrine high over the Marina while sky-watching.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 16
☀️⛅️21C ~ Wind ↗NE@4mph Wednesday 8th April 2020
Chiffchaff ~ Now well established around the Marina grounds.
Marsh Harrier ~ I was lucky enough to capture this rare passage on camera.
Marsh Harrier passes at height over the Reservoir towards Napton Hill.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 17
☀️⛅️21C ~ Wind ←E@8mph Thursday 9th April 2020
A recently arrived Willow Warbler at the Reservoir.
Yellowhammer poses briefly during my morning walk.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 18
⛅️10C to start then ☀️22C ~ Wind ↖SE@9mph Friday 10th April 2020
Swallow, still few & far between at this stage but arriving now in small numbers.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 19
⛅️11C to start then ☀️23C ~ Wind ↖SE@1mph Saturday 11th April 2020
Tree Pipit ~ A regular passage species at the Reservoir.
Tree Pipit ~ Third year in a row I've recorded this species at the Reservoir.
Drake Pochard at the Reservoir, sadly not a common sight here these days.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 21
⛅️6C to start then ☀️9C ~ Wind ↙NE@14mph ~ Gusting 20mph Monday 13th April 2020
Greenshank at the Reservoir was a lovely surprise & terrific record for the site.
Unfortunately, the Greenshank didn't stay long before heading off.
House Martins begin to arrive in small numbers on day 21.
An exceptional day for Yellow Wagtails with 7 on-site at the Reservoir
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
My favourite image of a brilliant Day 21
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 22
⛅️7C to start then ☀️10C ~ Wind ←NE@4mphTuesday 14th April 2020
Today Dazza and I were treated to some amazing views of a day hunting Barn Owl.
Barn Owl quartering the dog exercise field at the Marina.
Barn Owl
Barn Owl
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 23
☀️2C to start then ☀️15C ~ Wind ↑S@Calm Wednesday 15th April 2020
A very stern looking Common Whitethroat greeted me as I stepped foot off the boat today.
The Whitethroat did eventually chill out and offer a song to brighten the day.
Hare ~ A much rarer sight in this part of Warwickshire these days.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 24
☀️10C to start then ☀️17C ~ Wind ←E@3mph Thursday 16th April 2020
Treecreeper during a small walking detour up to Calcutt Spinney.
Treecreeper
Two Common Sandpipers at the Reservoir are now a regular feature.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 25
☁️17C to start then 🌧15C ~ Wind ←E@14mph Friday 17th April 2020
Black Tern ~ This was by far the most productive day of Lockdown thus far!
Black Tern ~ My 1st ever sighting at Napton Reservoir and the 1st for a number of years apparently.
Black Tern ~ Rain & wind made this an unprecedented afternoon at the Reservoir.
Black Tern
Whimbrel ~ Another surprise and again another 1st for me at the Reservoir. 
Whimbrel ~ Repositioning to the opposite bank.
Whimbrel ~ A second flypast before dropping in once more.
Little Gull ~ One of two passed silently overhead while enjoying the Black Tern.
Summer plumage Little Gull ~ a real surprise over Napton Reservoir
One of two Common Sandpipers on the day.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 27
⛅️5C to start then ⛅️14C ~ Wind From ↙NE@3mph Sunday 19th April 2020
Beautiful start to day 27 of Lockdown.
Common Whitethroat sings along the hedgerow at the Marina.
Having heard them for several days in the reedbed a Sedge Warbler finally presents himself.
This Ringed Plover was one of the highlights on Day 27 at the Reservoir, Yellow Wagtail in the background.
Three distant Little Egrets to the east of the Marina was a fantastic record.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 28
⛅️5C to start then ⛅️14C ~ Wind From ↙NE@3mph Sunday 19th April 2020
This Oystercatcher at the marina was my 91st 'Lockdown Tick'
Oystercatcher ~ A couple of circuits of the marina before heading off.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 29
☀️8C to start then ☀️13C ~ Wind From ↙NE@8mph Tuesday 21st April 2020
Nuthatch at Napton Church during my alternative daily walk was a welcome addition to my 'Lockdown List'. 
Many an hour on deck at the mooring sky-watching another Red Kite passes directly overhead.
Another addition to the daily sky-watching list was this Common Buzzard.
Little-ringed Plover passes over the mooring ~ Originally recognised by the call.
Close up of the Little-ringed Plover.
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 30
☀️5C to start then ☀️18C ~ Wind ↙NE@7mph Wednesday 22nd April 2020
The welcome sight of my 1st Swift of the year at the Reservoir.  
This Swift stayed during my whole visit & offered a chance for some flight shots. 
Another Swift flight shot.
As we end the first 30 days of Lockdown this Garden Warbler becomes species number 95.

πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 31
☀️22C ~ Wind ↙NE@3mph Thursday 23rd April 2020
Linnet perches briefly opposite the mooring before moving on.
One of many Blackcaps seen this year ~ This one singing from the Marina grounds.
A lingering Fieldfare in the adjacent fields.
πŸ”’MY LOCKDOWN DAY 32
☀️6C to start then ☀️21C ~ Wind ↙NE@5mph Friday 24th April 2020
Common Tern at the Marina as I took my early morning walk on day 32.
Common Tern in the early morning light. 
Playing hide & seek with this Weasel at the marina was just one of those wildlife moments.
Another view of this wily Weasel.
The unusual sight of a Common Sandpiper at the marina feeding in the grass.
Another Little-ringed Plover passes to the south over the marina. 
My daily exercise today was an afternoon bike ride passing through Stockton Cutting & recording my 1st Dingy Skippers of the year.

πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 34
A break in the weather produced another glorious sunset at the marina
πŸ”’MY LOCKDOWN DAY 35
☁️9C to start then ⛅️15C ~ Wind ↘NW@7mph Monday 27th April 2020
Up close & personal with this stunning Yellow Wagtail at the Reservoir. 
Amazing how nature comes to you if you just sit quietly for a while!
An excellent spring for the Lesser Whitethroat ~ This one at Napton Reservoir .
Lesser Whitethroat ~  Elusive & difficult to capture on camera.
How low can you go? ~ Birds are not the only things flying around the marina!
πŸ”’ MY LOCKDOWN DAY 38
Common Tern resting at the Reservoir ~ Likely one of the two currently residing at the marina.

πŸ”’MY LOCKDOWN DAY 39
🌦11C to start then ⛈13C ~ Wind →W@10mph Friday 1st May 2020
Stormy weather & angry skies over the marina on Day 39

After hitting a wall on 95 species ten days ago the stalemate was thankfully broken today when this Hobby appeared over the Marina.
This pristine-looking Hobby was my 96th species for my 'Lockdown List'.
Great views of Hobby over the marina on Day 39!

πŸ”’MY LOCKDOWN DAY 44
☀️5C to start then ☀️20C ~ Wind ↗SE@7mph Wednesday 6th May 2020
Tufted Duck flies in during the many sky-watching sessions on the pontoon
Spindle Ermine Moth Caterpillars at the marina.

πŸ”’MY LOCKDOWN DAY 45
☀️6C to start then ☀️24C ~ Wind ↗SE@5mph Thursday 7th May 2020
It was a glorious day and so for my daily exercise, I decided to cycle the four miles to Taskers Meadow/Stockton Cutting in search of Butterflies and early Odonata.
(32) Dingy Skippers during my 45-minute stay.
Broad-bodied Chaser ~A year-first Dragonfly


Grizzled Skipper ~ One of four seen today.
Green Tiger Beetle ~ Always one of my favourite things to see at Stockton.
Small Blue ~ Stockton Cutting is a great place to find our smallest resident Butterfly.
This Beautiful Demoiselle was a surprise find on Taskers Meadow.
A lovely end to DAY 45 with great views of the final 'Supermoon' of the year rising over the marina.

πŸ”’MY LOCKDOWN DAY 46
☀️5C to start then ☀️20C ~ Wind ↗SE@7mph Friday 8th May 2020
A local cycle ride with Dazza on VE Day produced my 'Lockdown List' species No. 99 ~ This lovely Whinchat!
Great view of the Whinchat as he posed for a photo opportunity! 
WHEATEAR!!! ~ MY 100TH 'LOCKDOWN LIST' SPECIES ~ found by my brilliant wife Dazza.
Over the period of Lockdown, I think I've scoured every field and checked every post I've come across in the hope of finding a Wheatear or Whinchat, two species high up on my agenda. It was therefore quite remarkable that I'd see both birds within a very short distance of each other and just a few miles from the marina while actually out on a cycle ride. Thank goodness I have the good sense to carry my binoculars and my ever faithful Canon SX50 bridge camera when I'm out cycling.

It's ironic really that as Lockdown eases and I now begin to concentrate on boat maintenance and other priorities I should be lucky enough to achieve my goal of 100 'Lockdown' bird species. I can't lie to my reader, Lockdown for me thankfully has been a wonderful & enjoyable experience and I repeat from a purely personal perspective!