Thursday 29 November 2007

Yellow haired punks! & Cotton buds?

An early morning rush to get the chores done worked wonders for the planned day out at the local woods "Apley" the target species for today was Goldcrests, Treecreepers and Longtailed tits. Arriving at the x parking area, they have closed this dealers paradise and are busy doing something really good with the woods after over thirty years of non-management. Its well worth a walk around with all the opening of the overgrown woods.

So knowing the favoured areas for crests I headed of with a wary eye for other species, it did not take long before I could hear them, the Yellow haired punks with their saucer sized eyes and fast moving dance !!

I fully expected to find them mixed in with a Tit flock but today, probably due to the disturbance, they were in ones and twos around the conifers and brambles.

It took about 40 seconds to call them out to the edge of the branches using a little pisher! I am amazed at how well this little device works, a piece of ceder and a pewter insert, I think you can get them at RSPB reserves nowadays. So having decided to take the flash today for the shadows, snap? oh! yes Loads and loads. It is not often thus opportunity presents itself.
With all of them sporting nice yellow socks and matching hair they were a real joy to work with. So with all these yellow feet I can only assume they were all juveniles, there is no reference in the Collins on this feature?

Whilst doing this a Treecreeper joined in the "Whats all the fuss about?" group. So he/it got done as well, and what was real cool it was well vocal, an added bonus.

When you have the time and can hear them take a little bit of your day and listen to a song that is very nice, if you can use nice to describe a song! these days perhaps it should cool, wicked or awesome man, or anyone one of the myriad ways the young have of describing things that are "Bad!" (Nice)
I knew I should not have put a big piccy in here needs loads of link text.

An old person I once knew cutely described the Longtailed tit as a flying cotton bud! and I think that when fluffed up in the winter that is exactly what they look like as they flit about in their groups picking of the slow and unwary insects etc.

There was two other things that caught my attention today, one was the stunning new males, freshly moulted and already ganging up on the females, also forming bachelor groups and grunt whistling, seeing who could outdo the others in their lifts. The other thing was a good example of just what not to do with discarded baling twine and or fishing line, and yes I know the vast majority of worm drowners are conscientious but hey there are the odd one or two who really do not give a darn!!! Some time ago some fishermen caught a large Carp and for what ever buried it, only for it to be found sometime later by a Dog walker who called the police! after SOCO forensics etc. had finished it was identified through dental records as the fingers were missing!!!! Check out Shropshire star archives!

OK so if you have comment, clean please drop it in the Guestbook TA!


Tuesday 27 November 2007

Goose caught fly tipping

Well it is a goose! aint it?

So what is the purpose of to days Blog? well it is sort of a high horse thing, an extract from an article of mine appearing in Britain and Europe under the guise of Environmental duty of retail groups.

Trolley Splash!

Take a walk along one of the counties thousands of waterways, Canal, Streams, Brooks or Rivers and it would not take long before you would find dumped in the water the left over, s of either a night out on the town and used for a free ride down hill! To much shopping to carry? Or just plain stolen, Supermarket trolley.

In one English town over 150 a month go missing but the figures from the major sales outlets must be much higher, for example in 2004 Tescos in Nottingham lost over 800 trolley’s and at £100 pounds plus to replace it is costing this one store thousands of pounds a year, ASDA in Wrexham during 2006 lost around 50 per week, Another store in Derby was losing 550 a year. So multiply by the stores in the country you start to get a picture of just how large this problem is through out the country.

One of the odd things is that when you do find one, it is, or seems to be in the middle of nowhere and no reason for it to be there! A walk around some of the better-known waters in the Telford area revealed a total of 6 rusting carcasses.

The recovery return and or disposal of these trolleys is currently born by the local authority and various agencies including the Environment Agency and environmental groups who have largely shouldered the costs but, local councillors do not believe this is a sustainable cost and that firms identified as owners of the recovered trolleys should be billed for the costs incurred in clearing them away. And under new legislation costs will be passed on.

This misuse and abandonment of these trolleys can do serious damage to our watercourses, during heavy rain they can act as traps for debris and speed up the possibility of flooding.
Supermarkets, business's and environmental organisations found that there was an acceptance that local authorities should not be responsible for the costs for collecting abandoned trolleys.

In 2006 ASDA in Wrexham invested £80,000 in a RF controlled braking system to thwart the lose of their trolleys, and ASDA as a whole spent an estimated £2.4 million on this type of system in 2002 this delay in the Wrexham installation would have meant a lose over the years of a staggering £26000. If the roll out of these systems in indicative of all stores in the ASDA chain then the losses must be horrendous.


So why do I place this here? well really to point out that even thought they are left all over the place the impact on wildlife is minimal, in fact one photograph (recently sold so cannot reproduce) of a Water vole sitting on top of an abandoned trolley happily tucking in to some otherwise unreachable vegetation. A Kingfisher has frequently used the trolley in the shot above as a perch as it patrolled the waters edge, sadly not seen when I have had the camera ready!!! In one Welsh waterway a group of rare Crayfish were found after a long absence breeding in the detritus caught inside the mesh. So it goes to show, eyesore they are, cash loss to stores they are, but no great impact on the wildlife. I suppose that is why the one in the picture above has been there for at least eight years!!!

Ok so a few pictures from recent outings:

Ripe or not?Go away or I will bite your bottom!!!

And go it did, minus a few tail feathers.

So if you find one of these ubiquitous items watch it, and see just what it is being used by.
Thanks for the visit see you again. OH! if you have comment an anything drop it in the Guest book, I promise to reply, but keep it clean please.


Saturday 24 November 2007


As I suggested to myself on the last blog, I ought to get to the small woodland trail and check out if the Alders had attracted the normal late year Siskins? Well I was not disappointed. There were around 8 to 12 in the flock with a smaller number of Redpolls. They were not the first I had seen in this part of the year as in amongst the flock of finches feeding in my garden was a lone male just the other day.

Thinking about feeders I have noticed over the last couple of weeks that the blue feeders are needing topping up every other day whilst the green ones are every four days ! so the relevance of this? I do not know but it would be interesting to find out if others find this or something similar happens at their feeders?

What else was going on around the place? Well, in the hedge along the path toward the Oak tree, amongst the finches was a fine Brambling, hard to pick out to start as they were certainly a bit flighty from all the disturbance from the birders going to and fro. And then a nice find of a Lesser redpoll .

Every night at around 18:00 a group of Grey lag geese pas over the house of to their roost, well tonight I decided to try and get a shot of them as they passed the full moon! what a joke! 83 exposures and only managed this one as a keeper, useing the street lighting and security lights as a last resort sort of worked!!

And finally a Redpoll.

All this coupled with Mute swan's fighting as they repelled borders made for a reasonable day out in the sunshine all be it a bit cold.

So hope to see you again.


Tuesday 20 November 2007

Water rising - Damn.

An early start ensured I missed the early morning traffic. Arriving at Melverly at very early o'clock. As I had said before I was going to try a different approach route! I had decided to use the track at the opposite side of the area as it presented dead ground and good hedgerows for concealment.

Unfortunately it also presented a herd of cows, and the water levels rising in the brook and fields along its route, this brook floods every winter and from the state of the Fields it was certainly on its way. The standing water in the marsh area was at welly level and took some navigation. I can imagine that the winter levels may preclude getting the hide up at the right spot!

The Whooper swans were on station with three Mute swans, there was a good group of twelve comprising of 6 adults and 6 juveniles.

It was nice to watch the family groups moving together as they feed on the grass. Sadly the area they were feeding on was on the opposite side of the field. Bugger long lens and converter, which I was hoping to avoid as the light was not the best in fact it was not light more like dark!

They were intent on watching a Fox as it moved across the field to the North of them it looked more like a casual interest than a genuine concern, a total difference to the Greylags also in the field. The mute swan were totally none plussed at the Fox's arrival.

This family group moved together throughout the morning.

On the return trip I stopped at Venus Pools, just out of curiosity! Golden eye, Widgeon, good numbers of Teal, Shoveller, Dabchick, Gadwall, Kingfisher plus the normal supporting crew.A little time at the Feeder hide produced nothing new just nice to exercise the eyeballs left, right up and down trying to follow the movements of all that was moving. Which was, big breath!

Blue tit, Coal tit, Great tit, Willow tit, Longtailed tit, Robin, Treesparrow, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Jackdaw, Kestrel , Moorhen, Mallard, Great spotted woodpecker, Nuthatch, Wren and probably some I have forgot! I think it is about time I spent an hour or two on the far side of the reserve there must be Redpoll and Siskin around there somewhere!

There you go a short resume of the day, and as usual a few shots from the time out.

So C U again I hope


Sunday 18 November 2007

Rain, Sleet, snow and bull plop!

I was determined this morning to get to the Melverley Green Whoopers, this time however I took a different approach to the area where they are normally to be found.

With special permission from the landowner I was able to use the main farm track which led directly to the spot. But nothing could be seen, now comes the rain. Then a head appears above the dead ground they were feeding in. This presented a different way of approaching, as when heads were down move forwards stopping as soon as any one of the heads re-appeared. It was like doing one of those games from childhood.

it did not take long to be sussed out, so then it was get lower than they were! OK belly down into the mud, now the snow. Glad I had not brought the big glass for this exercise, so lens cradled in the arms it was elbows and knees for the next fifty yards or so, now confronted with Bull plop to the front and Bull plop to the left and right, there was no alternative but, you guessed it! it will wash out, I hope.
That was as close as they were going to allow me to get, this was told by the calls and gathering together, the pictures obtained enabled me to record the Darvik ring numbers on three of the Swans. Might even be part of the Autumn watch group. I will let you know. Three numbers identified are from the Autumnwatch icelandic ringing trip with the WWT Whooper project, the remaining Swans will be checked out on the Tuesday, trying a different approach direction!

So thoroughly damp and smelling like one of the residents of the fields, I made my way to Venus Pools, after a well needed cup of Tea. So VP any thing interesting? oh yes! Water rail out in the open reasonably close to the Memorial Hide, the male Shoveller's had ventured into lens range along with a very nice male Gadwall and the male Teal in their new plumage.

You try and look happy with a nose like this!!

It rained but it was like water of a ducks back!!

It was that cold at VP even the ducks had nose drops!!
So there it is Sundays Blog, if you have comment and or criticism go for it.
C u l8er

Crumbs what's that !

Having had a nice lay in for a change and got the chores out of the way, I decided to go for a wander around Priorslee lake, just out of curiosity really. Not expecting to see anything much it was nice not to be disappointed!!!

However as the Gulls were coming in I noticed one of the larger Gulls was a little odd.

Large Gull, with a very dark head landed right in the middle of the water (see poor photo)

from a distance it resembled a Laughing gull, was it or not? well I will leave that to you to decide.

So in a vain attempt to draw it a bit closer I gave up my sandwich's, Should have ate themas it did not work, mind you the Black headed gulls enjoyed them!

Sadly the etcetera's were in very short supply a fly over of Redpoll going west and some large flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing going the same way and a couple of nothing attached tit flocks along the north shore. OH well Sunday is going to be rough so bound to be a few things round!!

C U Paul

Thursday 15 November 2007

Ramblings !

No not Bramblings, ramblings you know? wonder around aimlessly looking for everything and finding nothing, well nothing out of the ordinary at least. The Little Auk wreck did not reach Priorslee or the Meres! go figure.

My wanderings finally got me to the Granville Country park, a bird of prey (BOP) raising out of the fields got my attention. Definitely a hawk, bit red, odd! Harris Hawk on the Granville? until that is, I met an old friend of mine who was out exercising his Hawk, and not doing to bad, judging by the bulges in his prey sack.

It was quite impressive looking back down into the vale of Wellington, the mist was obscuring everything, even looking abit photogenic! A pair of Jays squabbling in the nearby trees brought me back to reality, or was it despondence, at the lack of movement. The Gull flock over the landfill was impressive but as far as I could tell, did not find anything in amongst them.

The Mist was clearing slowly as the temperature crept up and produced a good few sightings along the edge of the wood by the old washing ponds. Bullfinch was a pleasing record for the day, that splash of colour in the otherwise sort of monochrome backdrop really stood out. The final total was five, three males the rest females. A group of Long tailed tits dribbled past carrying a couple of Goldcrests and a Treecreeper, along with the normal blue and Great tits. Odd I don't recall finding Coal tits moving in these flocks, something to look out for I suppose?

Enough ramblings from me, I will drop a couple of shots from the other day under here, as usual would appreciate comments and or dialogue.


Friday 9 November 2007

Shrove Friday at Venus pools

Well it was as flat as a pancake!!! An early morning Sheep chase certainly cleared the pool, but it had to be done, to save a tree from being dragged around the reserve tangled in the wool of one of our cute wee beasties.
There was no sign of the Mandarins reported yesterday from the Pool, there was a gradual return to normal as the morning progressed with a couple of Lesser black backed gulls dropping in for a while. For a change the Male Teal actually ventured close to the Memorial hide, probably showing of to a female already there and doing what ducks do naturally. A female Shoveller followed but the males are still a bit wary at this southern area for some reason. Which is a real shame as they are really looking good in the new plumage.

Whilst in the hide a flock of Tits went over and around it must have numbered in the forties but no pick ups in the group, nice to see. I think it is the largest one so far this year. The Kingfisher only put in a couple of brief appearances today with no performances. I had to call one couple back to the hide, after they had waited all morning with no sightings then just as they left, yes you guessed it.

The damn dogs from the fishery were loose in the reserve again today worrying the Sheep!!! being Jack Russel's I be surprised if they would be tall enough! so can we shoot dogs harassing sheep??? sort of like shooting cormorants for harassing fish!!! oh! and geese! with probably other things as well, who knows.

So there it is todays Pool Blog

Call again


Tuesday 6 November 2007

The Hills have I's

Well the sandwiches were retrieved from the back of the fridge (they were for Monday!!) flask prepped I was of and for a change took a friend.
The day promised a lot as we travelled out to the wilds of the Shropshire hills, in particular the Black hill!! and it was! It seemed as if the sunshine was reserved for the north of the county in the main?

The track up into the forest was a little steeper than expected, puff! pant! a lot. Especially carrying all the equipment, you know the important stuff like flask, sarnies etc.

There were so many distractions on the way up it took a real long time, fungi, birds, trees and the lichens and moss were brill.

The forest is divided into two areas, the Forestry Commission and private area belonging to Lord Sainsbury!

The hills really did have I's like I's Knackered, I's to hot, I's to cold etc.etc. all in gest of course.

The target bind for the trip was to see and if possible photograph the Great grey shrike, well it did eventually appear and made sure it stayed at a distance no matter what ploy was try'd, so it was enough just to watch this magnificent bird as it hunted small insects from various vantage points around the clearing.

The only bird of note with lens range was a small group of Crossbill, it was worth the trip for both of course.

Not exactly a good shot but a record for my Shropshire tally at least.

And that was about it for the day out, not mind blowing but well good, Oh! the Brambling are still at the Pole cottage feeding with the Chaffinch's sadly no sign of the female Black redstart today.

See you all again


Sunday 4 November 2007

Run for the Hills

The colour of Autumn.
I wish I had, but the early morning fog persuaded me otherwise, so it was VP for me not that you could see much, while Andy and Jim plus a few others got the Great grey Shrike.

so tomorrow is sorted for what to do!!! sandwichs are already done!!!

So what was going on at Venus pools, well a Stoat dropped a vole in front of the hide returning for it a while later, in the book by Bernard, nice one Bearnard.
The signs might have been lowered around the county but VP still suffers a dearth of birds, got a bit excited when a "BOP" bird of prey popped up over the trees to the North being chased by a couple of Crows, sadly a Kestrel.
So it was down to Fungi, and even there it was a bit thin on the ground with only Fly Agaric found, so shots done it was Rooks, Crows and any other of the British Fauna that came in reach of the lens. As normal here are today's piccies.

Who said Rooks were Black?
A freshly emerged, no bites taken out. YET!
This chap was chased of pretty quick, bit dirty!

I have seen Robins do it. But Kingfisher, a female!! must be the time of year.
See what I mean. sorry it is a bit blurred it occurred really quickly!
C U, come again.

Friday 2 November 2007

Bah! Bah! Black Sheep

Have you any wool? having the sheep back on the reserve is really nice, an added "something to look at" in these lean times.

Mind you they don't do a lot, apart from eat. Have you noticed their futile attempts at flying? they were not really that bad, just kept falling out of the trees!!!!!

there was not really anything unusual about today, unless a Great grey shrike over near Clun is counted or the snow bunting over the Long mynd. Now they have to worth a trip out over the weekend. Check out the Shropshire birds yahoo site for the information.

So to the results from the pools today: