Monday, 27 August 2012

British Speedway Grand Prix, Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales.

Saturday was that time again, Speedway time ! Which always means the obligatory walk around Bute Park and a walk along a section of the River Taff beforehand, before obviously going to the highly impressive Millennium Stadium, with this my tenth visit. I shan't bore you about Speedway because you probably aren't interested suffice to say the crowd was just under 40,000 with Formula 1 driver Mark Webber and Keith Flint of one of my favourite bands The Prodigy in attendance, Mark Webber is a huge speedway fan and a close friend of Jason Crump, a fellow Australian and three times World Champion while Keith is huge speed freak and keen bird watcher and naturalist. I dare say they both had a great time as did everyone else.

Anyway, the all important birding, on the journey there, which was a coach from Perry Barr Stadium, home of the Birmingham Brummies, birds spotted were, Peregrine Falcon, Buzzard, Long Tailed Tit, Starling, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon and Mallard. The Peregrine Falcon was spotted on the comfort stop at a petrol station, I heard it first then saw it swoop down to promptly snatch some poor unsuspecting bird. Buzzard's were seen riding the thermals high in the air all along the journey but surprisingly I didn't see a single Kestrel. I also saw two amazing sights, the first was seeing a mixed flock of five hundred plus Jackdaw and Carrion Crow take to the air while there was still many on the ground destroying some poor framers crop, there were also possibly some Rook in the flock but as you can imagine there was only seconds to take it all in. The second sight was seeing a mixed flock of five hundred plus Gull in a pool of water that had formed in a farmers field. Not bad spots I think you'll agree while traveling at seventy odd miles an hour.

Then after arriving in Cardiff, it was straight off to Bute Park which is minutes walk from the car park and adjacent to the stadium and runs alongside the River Taff, birds spotted were, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, House Martin, Swallow, Swift, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, various Gulls, Cormorant as well as a few Grey Squirrel. Not bad again for an hour visit to a very busy park minus ones binoculars. The park is massive with plenty of centuries old established trees which are obviously home too many birds including Cuckoo. The Speedway is normally in May or June so the park didn't look as spectacular as those times of the year such as there are normally some huge Allium which have now died off as well as hundreds of other varieties of colourful flora. If your ever in or near Cardiff, Bute Park is well worth a visit especially with hundreds of eateries, pubs, clubs and even Cardiff Castle all within minutes walk.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Pype Hayes Park.

Short trip around Pype Hayes Park, the Pool and a walk along the Plants Brook this nice and cool morning.

Birds spotted were, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Mute Swan, Coot, Mallard, Canada Goose, Herring Gull and the following juveniles, Cygnet (5), Moorhen (1) and Goldfinch.

While I was walking along the Plants Brook there seemed to be an awful lot of Tit activity with Blue, Great and Long Tailed moving about frantically and moving over the other side of the the river and then sure enough a Sparrowhawk swooped above the trees but didn't seem to catch anything neither did the Kestrel further along by the flats because it was being mobbed by a solitary Carrion Crow. Everywhere I go, Goldfinch seem to have had a good breeding year as just like today there was plenty of juveniles amongst the flocks of approximately forty and thirty that I saw today.

The two large white Funghi were a very fortunate spot being as I saw them while approaching the car park to go home, I was a good hundred yards away when I noticed the two large white orbs on the side of a tree which I nearly dismissed as some kind of litter but fortunately I had a peek through the binoculars only too be greeted with them two beauties which were roughly eight inches across between them, I think they are are Cystoderma Carcharias but I am by no means sure.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Babbs Mill Nature Reserve, Kingshurst.

Had a trip to a hot, sticky and humid Babbs Mill this morning, where the spot of the day was seeing a timid Fox about 10 o'clock on the opposite side to the River Cole to which I was walking along as soon as I saw it, it had gone back into the overgrown vegetation, talking of which, the Himalayan Balsam here is really out of control, I thought it was bad at Pype Hayes but here it's stretches about twenty foot back from the riverbank and is twelve foot high, in the last picture that's with me standing there pointing the camera upwards, it has completely taken over any other vegetation along the river. The other sight of the day was seeing a Great Spotted Woodpecker juvenile making that loud noise they make atop a tree and while I was looking at it through the binoculars it nearly met an untimely end when it was nearly despatched by a Sparrowhawk sweeping in, the Woodpecker was fortunate to escape even though it did make a terrible noise when said Sparrowhawk nearly had it for breakfast, it was probably out hunting because there are a pair nesting at the other end of the lake, apparently with some no doubt hungry Sparrowhawk chicks in it. Another highlight was seeing my first Tufted Duck chicks of the year, nine of them, one being a family of four and the other being five chicks who according to a local have lost their mother due to unknown reasons but they seem to be coping fine all the same.

Birds spotted today were, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, House Martin, Swift, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot, Domestic Goose, Canada Goose, Herring Gull as well as the following juvenile birds, Cygnet (7), Tufted Duck (9), Moorhen (1), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Warbler, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodpigeon and Carrion Crow.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Birmingham and Warwick Junction Canal.

More Birmingham's canal shenanigans was the order of the day today, namely that being a walk a walk along the Birmingham and Warwick Junction Canal starting from Saltley Viaduct heading off towards Bordesley Junction and joining the Grand Union Canal and walking along until we reached The Ackers Adventure Park on Golden Hillock Road where it was then time for some scran. Today was one of the days where I didn't see many birds, but that sometimes how it goes, our feathered friends don't just appear because you want them too but that what makes it all the more special when you do spot them.

Birds spotted today were, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, House Sparrow, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Mallard and Canada Goose. It was great to see a colony of at approximately thirty House Sparrow flitting along some trees along the canal side as it was seeing yet another family of Willow Warbler. There was also plenty of young Feral Pigeon to be heard on the walk today, mainly under bridges (which resemble their natural rock cliffs) and in the old abandoned factories of which there are many in Birmingham, our great Industrial past goes more into decline day by day. Strangely enough there wasn't to much litter about, even though any is too much, the most I really saw was what factories had dumped over walls down the embankment, chop there bloody hands off I would. People in Brum don't seem to appreciate all the great canals we have, but I'm glad most people stay away and leave it nature, birds and the other wildlife. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Lady Bradford's, Castle Bromwich.

Morning trip over to Castle Bromwich to have a little look around. There wasn't many birds around today, the most exciting things being seeing some Willow Warblers hopping through the trees looking for insects and seeing seven Song Thrush foraging on the open grassland.

Birds spotted were, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Robin, House Sparrow, Starling, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow and Woodpigeon.

I did hear a few Great Spotted Woodpecker but didn't actually see any, but I'm surprised they even stay in this location in the first place because the dead trees they like to inhabit are habitually set fire by the local chavs (the first picture is a good example) there is now only one decent tree left for them now but for how long I wouldn't like to guess. I also noticed today that the Horse Chestnut are already being blighted by Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner and the Oak Tree are also being struck by Oak Leaf Blister, unfortunately it's the young saplings and smaller trees being especially hit. On the upside there are thousands upon thousands are fresh Teasel around for the finches to tuck into, there is also an abundance of Holly around for Blackbirds and Thrushes.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Plantsbrook Nature Reserve.

A trip to Plantsbrook today where it was a bit cooler than it has been lately but it was still pleasant enough. On arrival to the car park you could see there was plenty of activity in the rowan trees, sure enough on closer inspection the Blackbird population, including some juveniles, were having a field day scoffing down the rowan berries as was a juvenile Robin.

Birds seen today were Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Robin, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Canada Goose as well as the following juveniles, Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Blackbird, Grey Heron, Moorhen (1), Duckling (2) and Coot (5). There was at least five Grey Heron present on the various pools today including three fine looking juveniles.

The warning about the algal blooms was a complete waste of time as a 'fisherman' walked straight passed it and went to look for a spot to fish, stupid pratt !

In the back garden I still haven't seen the last of the House Sparrow juveniles, there was at least two very young fledglings being fed this morning when I woke up this morning, they've definitely had a very successful breeding season this year, hopefully the local Sparrowhawks haven't picked off too many.