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Saturday, 3 January 2009

Whitemoor Haye on 2nd January, 2009

I was unaware of this place until shown it by well-known Staffordshire birder, Dave Scattergood on a day last month when it rained torrentially and continually. I was, therefore, looking forward to a visit with (hopefully) some sunshine. In the event, the sun was sporadic, but I did have a great visit, with Bewick's Swan, Grey Partridge, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Siskin, Tree-Sparrow, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Buzzard and Kestrel all being seen. Most were not photographed or only record shots obtainable, but this has now become one of my favourite local sites.
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Bewick's Swan
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Bewick's Swan (juvenile)
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Grey Partridge (record shot)
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Reed Bunting (male)
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Kestrel (female)
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Corn Bunting

Ravenstone on 2nd January 2009

Prompted by the promise of fine weather, I put a picnic together, with the intention of spending the day at Whitemoor Haye, Staffs. However, I noted that some Waxwings had been seen a few hours previously at Kelham Bridge, near Ravenstone, Leics., so I decided to make a small diversion to here. On arrival, there was no evidence of the Waxwings - or of anything that might have attrected them here. However, my visit was made more than worthwhile by a Hen Harrier (ring-tail). I only got some grabbed, and very distant, 'record shots'. Although this place is local to me, I had never been here before, so I decided to have a short look round. A couple of Stonechat were seen, and from the hide, various tits, including Willow Tit were observed. The lake was frozen and a pair of MuteSwans were gingerly making their way across the ice.
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Staunton Harold on 1st January, 2009

After a visit to Oakthorpe, I had a very quick pre-lunch visit to Staunton Harold. There was nothing out off the ordinary here, but the Tree Sparrows seem to be thriving - not surprising considering how much they get fed!!
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Oakthorpe Colliery from 28th December, 2008 to 1st January, 2009

Three short visits were made in a week to the old Oakthorpe Colliery site (very close to my home), where there are two feeder areas at the edge of the car park. I take my car, and use it as a hide. The trick is to try and catch the birds 'looking natural' as they approach the feeders, rather than on the feeders. I am still trying to get the Jays and Great Spotted Woodpeckers on an approach run, but they are extremely nervous, and I have only seen them , over my shoulder, at the feeders when I am near to the other set, about 30 metres away.
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Field Vole (?) on 28th December
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Long-tailed tit on 28th December
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Reed Bunting (female) on 28th December
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Reed Bunting (male) on 28th December
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Reed Bunting (female) on 31st December
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Great Spotted Woodpecker on 1st January
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Jay - on 1st January

Cannock Chase on 25th December, 2008

On Christmas day, it is the norm for my wife and I to go out into the countryside for a picnic Christmas lunch (and then have our main meal in the evening). This year our chosen venue was Cannock Chase. I little thought as we set out, that I would be the instigator of a 'mini-twitch' - my first.

We started with a walk from Chase Rd. Corner car park. Our only sightings of any interest were a couple of Stonechat. The first, an adult, was in a rather dark location, so no useable photos. The second, a juvenile was in a lighter location, and so photography was just about possible, as shown below.


After a walk we headed off to the car park at Coppice Hill for our picnic, which we had in the main car park. Having finished lunch, we investigated the area and found the feeding station in the extension to the car park, where we virtually had the place to ourselves. Having parked up, we spread some seed (always got some in the car) and sat quietly with the window open, watching the action. As well as the usual run of tits, there were plenty of Willow Tits, looking quite splended in their winter colours, and a pair of Yellowhammers. Next, a Waxwing was spotted in a bush behind the feeding station, but it did not stop long. Suddenly I noticed the arrival of a female Hawfinch. Fortunately, unlike most of the birds, this placed itself where I could take photos, although the light was awful. The session was rounded off nicely by a group of eight Fallow Deer arriving, some of which came to within about 8ft of us! My reporting the sighting of the Hawfinch seems to have resulted in an otherwise quiet part of the car park being inundated with birders!!
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Barrow-upon-Soar on 19th December, 2008

As one of the few people in UK who had not taken any photos of Waxwings in 2008, I decided to call in at the reported sightings at Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire, on my way back from a hospital appointment. Unfortunately, my consultant was an hour late seeing me, and so by the time I got to Barrow, all the sunshine had gone. I did manage a few useable shots, however.