Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
||Thread Tools||Rate Thread|
|Tuesday 21st January 2003, 07:53||#1|
Join Date: Oct 2002
Grimley (it is far better than it sounds)
Sunday Jan 19th trip report
Before I talk about the days birding there was one worrying factor with the day as we drove towards one of our destinations. That was the amount of Army vehicles in desert style camouflage. There were tanks, armoured cars. All sorts of vehicles going southwards probably down to Plymouth. On top of this we here that a quarter of Britains troops are being sent over in readiness for war. This brings it home to the fact that we are living in worrying times.
Right, lets get on with our days birding shall we!!
After quite a traumatic week we decided to do some birding today. We would definitely be staying local and the pager had announced a bird that I have never seen before at the Grimley pits, near to Worcester. It was a Green winged Teal. The weather reports for around here were for a dry day but looking out the window they were most definitely wrong as it was bucketing down. There was no panic so we decided to stay put for a while to see if the rain would ease. By 10am it was still chucking it down so we decided to chance it anyway. After about 10 minutes we were driving along the Bristol road near to Bournville and if anything iy had worsened. The road was turning into a river and the cars were ploughing through causing spray to go everywhere. We were wondering if it was wise to go on. Looking to our right I could see a chink of light at the edge of the dark clouds and told Ros that that was the direction we would soon be heading so it was decided to carry on.
Turning right at the island where the Longbridge car works are and the rain began to ease a little. Pretty soon we were passing the edge of the Lickey Hills and Ros spotted a bedraggled Buzzard sat in the field totally soaking wet and looking very sorry for itself. As we past this bird a Grey Heron majestically flew across the road and disappeared behind the trees at the side of the road. Onto the M5 and off again by the Upton Warren reserve and the weather was improving no end. Even spots of blue could be seen dotted around the grey cloud.
Reaching the Grimley pits the first thing I encountered was a lot of cars where normally no cars would be present. I had to park well away on this very narrow lane and walk it. As I did so a skein of 15 Canada Geese came honking over my head then a cacophony of noise broke out from the field to me left and it seemed like 500 + Canada Geese were rising from the fields. What a sight and sound as these birds came over my head and dropped into the pit I was aiming for.
First person I bumped into at the pit was Steve Whitehouse the Worcestershire bird recorder. “Sorry John – you should have been here last night – it’s not showing today”. Oh well!! Yet again a miss on this bird. I have lost count of the times I have tried and failed with this bird. Out on the reserve were the obvious Canada Geese, that had just flown over my head, within that flock was also 1 Barnacle goose. This bird has been reportedly flying with this flock for at least 3 years. Also there were a few Teal, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan plus a couple of Little Grebe. Scanning the waters edge I came across a new year bird for me as a Green Sandpiper came into focus. Almost straight away it took flight and headed well away from the reserve. A few Teal came into land on the water and were quickly scanned for the G.W Teal but all to no avail.
The few birders that were there were talking about 4 Lesser spotted Woodpeckers that had been seen less than a mile away on the other side of Grimley Village at a place that will always be part of my memory. Where these birds were was the very place where I cut my fishing teeth on, so to speak. I had spent many a happy hour learning the art of river fishing and these woodpeckers had been seen around the car park.
The day was turning into a beauty as the clouds began to dissipate and blue sky to take over. Fairly soon there was hardly a cloud to be seen. (Doesn’t it give your spirits a lift when the sun comes out?) 2 birders were already there and told me that the woodpeckers had just shown but had flown over the trees out of sight. (Where have I heard this before?) Parking up we were treated to the “teacher teacher” song of the Great Tit. It almost felt spring like in the bright sunshine. Getting out of the car and the trees seemed full of Great and Blue Tit as well as the odd Robin. A small flock of Goldfinch went tinkling by us and a Little Grebe was out on the river battling against the strong current, but no woodpeckers. I decided to walk along the river bank and before long 5 Siskins dropped onto the top of a Silver Birch but soon flew out as a Song Thrush dropped into the same tree. As I walked along the bank a Buzzard loomed out of the trees and effortlessly glided downstream before disappearing into the distance. A Kestrel also came into view, its rusty coloured back shining in the bright light as it flew low over a stubble field. Still no woodpeckers. I decided to go the other side of the car park and walk downstream but only came across the 5 Siskins I saw earlier plus a lone Moorhen in a flooded area of the field and a lone Fieldfare flying across me. A Cormorant flew by and with pin perfect precision dropped onto a branch at the top of a riverside tree. Still no woodpeckers so I decided to backtrack along the path I had driven. Walking along here I was treated to many Chaffinch, more goldfinch as well as the usual tits. As I got halfway along the track I noticed a movement low down in the vegetation at the side of a ditch. 5 Goldcrests were continually on the move and at the side of them was a Treecreeper, another new bird for the year. This Treecreeper seemed totally intent on the insects contained in one small area and I thought that I had a chance of photographing it. I put my scope on it and as I was about to attach my camera another bird dropped into the bush at its side. I was taken aback as it was an obvious Firecrest. Couldn’t mistake the White supercillium, black eye stripe, Black forehead and almost flaming orange crown. 30 seconds is all I had with it before it flew off to the left. I rang the pager company immediately to have it put onto the pager then I called another two birders over to me and told them what I had found and where I found it but I see that late on in the day it hadn’t been relocated. I was dead pleased with that find.
Still no woodpeckers and I had been here over an hour now. I walked back to the car and Ros was at the end of the track beckoning me to hurry up. One of the woodpeckers had landed on the tree over her head but had just flown off. All the other birders had seen it. Missed again. I told the other birders about the Firecrest and they all trooped off in search of it. Then I heard the woodpecker drumming to the left of me and went to investigate but nothing. It stopped almost as soon as it started.
Another birder came along to see what was about and I sent him back towards where the Firecrest had been. Ros pointed to another bird that had dropped into one of the trees near to us and I was quite surprised when my bins picked out a female Blackcap, another new bird for the year. I have never seen an over wintering female Blackcap before. Plenty of males but never a female. A few minutes later and the other birder was back beckoning me to follow him. A bird flew across us. Then another. They alighted onto nearby trees. 2 Lesser Spotted woodpeckers. At last. 2 hours of searching had paid off, with someone’s help of course. I watched them for nearly 5 minutes as they flitted from tree to tree before they separated and disappeared into different directions.
It was just after 13:30 now and there was one more bird I wanted to see but it meant going about 50 miles to the other side of Birmingham. I wanted to see the Bitterns at Ladywalk.
It was an easy 50 minute drive along the M5 then the M42. We were soon parking in the car park by the side of the River Tame. Ros stayed in the car this time as there are largish gates to this reserve and there would have been no way that we could have gotten the dogs over them. Not long after I had left the car a couple of birders were making their way back. I asked if the Bitterns were showing and they said that a couple were showing well, one of them right in front of the hide. (4 are regularly seen here).
As I past the garden area I noticed that they had rebuilt the garden hide. I Must remember to visit that another day. Possibly get some good shots of birds in there. As I walked the river path 15 Long tailed tits flitted through the trees and as I watched a male Bullfinch drop into a bush, it’s colours sparkling in the sunshine. Near to the hide the path passes a cormorant roost and already their numbers were beginning to build. By the time I went home there would be more than 200 there. I took a few shots of one Cormorant that was roosting right on top of the tallest tree. Carrying along the rivers edge a pair of Mallards took flight and landed further downstream and began to drift downstream in the strong current. I was soon in the hide and to my amazement it was empty. It didn’t take long to set up my equipment and soon I was looking at roughly a dozen Goosander, their chests taking on a pinkish hue in the low sunlight. (I will post one photo of some of them in the gallery). Shelduck, Shoveller, Teal and Wigeon were dotted around the reserve but no Bittern as yet. Quite a few Grey Heron were also roosting around the reserve as well. 20 minutes into my search another birder joined me. We both searched all the areas but nothing could be seen.. We got to talking, and he is thinking of buying some digital camera equipment. I showed him what I had and suggested he join our forum, explaining all the help and advice he would get from various forum members. Just as we talked a Kingfisher could be heard and straight away one flew past us and alighted onto a tree stump right in front of us. I tried to take a shot of it but it kept on flying to other posts before dropping down to pick up a fish and fly off. In the distance a Green Woodpecker could be heard but not seen.
After a while the other birder said that he expected the Bitterns to show just as it was getting dark and he was as good as his word as at 16:50 a Bittern, just where we had been watching the Kingfisher, took flight and flew to the other side of the reserve before dropping into the depths of a large reedbed. None of the other reported 3 Bitterns took flight so we both packed up and went back to the cars. We timed that right as 5 minutes later the heavens opened up again.
That was a thoroughly enjoyable day out and what a list of birds seen. Firecrest, Lesser spotted woodpecker, Bittern, Kingfisher, Buzzard, Treecreeper, Goosander, Siskin plus many others.
I have put one photo of part of ladywalk here.
I love my twitching but I wouldn’t swap many of these days.
|Rate This Thread|