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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Oakthorpe Colliery - either side of the New Year

The weather, in these parts, has been pretty foul for several days now, until yesterday. The winds have been very strong and we've had huge amounts of rain. This has not been good weather for owling. The Little Owls don't like windy conditions, and in weather like this you can waste a lot of time trying to find one. The Short-eared Owls don't like the rain, and they're not too keen on the wind either. On Tuesday 3rd we had some sun in the afternoon after heavy rain in the morning, and I went out hoping to catch the SEOs in daylight. It was so windy that I didn't see them at all (for the first time since the beginning of November!). Their favourite hunting field was occupied, as darkness fell, by a huge flock of Crows that had decided that it was too dangerous to spend the night roosting in trees, so this was not going to encourage the owls to come out either. 

Anyway, I digress -  Having had my interest in the more common species fired up again by my Christmas Day visit to Cannock Chase, I've been filling the void by visiting a more local feeding station at the old Oakthorpe Colliery. I've been there for an hour or so on four occasions recently. So far, the birds seen have been fairly commonplace, but there has been a very good variety. I've managed to get some images that I'm quite pleased with, but a few others (Goldcrest, Jay, G-S Woodpecker, Yellowhammer for example), although seen, have completely escaped my camera.

Nuthatches are frequent visitors.

Nuthatch - Oakthorpe Colliery on 28th December

Nuthatch - Oakthorpe Colliery on 3rd January

Reed Bunting are also regular visitors. At this time of year I find myself uncertain, at times, as to whether I'm looking at a pale male or a dark female - I think that the second image is also a male?

Reed Bunting - Oakthorpe Colliery on 28th December

Reed Bunting - Oakthorpe Colliery on 2nd January
There are plenty of Redwing around, but these are extremely nervous and I've only managed distant shots, although they've been a little closer when they've come for a drink in a puddle!

Redwing - Oakthorpe Colliery on 2nd January

Redwing - Oakthorpe Colliery on 3rd January
Amongst the other birds drinking at the puddles were a pair of Redpoll. Only one stayed long enough for me to get a (very distant) image.

Lesser Redpoll - Oakthorpe Colliery on 3rd January

There are various Finches here, but the only ones photographed in these sessions have been Greenfinch.

Greenfinch - Oakthorpe Colliery on 2nd January
The Tits are extremely numerous here, and this used to be a good place for Willow Tit, although I've not seen one here recently.

Log-tailed Tit - Oakthorpe Colliery on 3rd January

Long-tailed Tit - Oakthorpe Colliery on 5th January

Great Tit - Oakthorpe Colliery on 28th December

Blue Tit - Oakthorpe Colliery on 28th December

No selection of bird photos from a colliery would be complete without, of course, an image of a Coal Tit!!

Coal Tit - Oakthorpe Colliery on 5th January

And finally - the iconic Robin, showing us that he considers this to be his territory!

Robin - Oakthorpe Colliery on 5th January


  1. Some great images here Richard. Particularly good Nuthatch shots.

  2. Thank you Mike. Those Nuthatches are such great characters to watch!

  3. Looks like a great spot to visit, affording you plenty of opportunities for some wonderful images. Thanks for sharing Richard, I especially liked the tits and hope to visit one day to see them.

  4. Hi Phil. If you are coming over to this side of the pond, be sure to let me know, and I'd be delighted to show you around. Paul Riddle is only half an hour from me and I'm sure he'd like to meet you too!


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