Monday, 24 December 2012


                                                  HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE !!

Thursday, 20 December 2012


Wednesday 19th December 2012.

At work today I was out and about visiting Clients dropping off Xmas goodies. On my way back to the office I thought that I would drop into Stubbers Green near Aldrige, Walsall , as its small pools are along side the main road and easily viewed. I was hoping for a Caspian Gull as I STILL need it for the year.

I set up my scope and started scaning through the 100+ Gulls gathered on the grass by the small pool. Plenty of Herring Gulls , Lesser Black Backed, 12 Great Black Gulls , Common & Black Headed Gulls, but no Caspian !

Had another scan just incase I had missed anything , then from behind a Herring Gull appeared a white winger , Iceland Gull , full Adult , NICE !

Sorry couldn't get a good photo.

Well that was well worth stopping for! With work calling I packed up and headed back to the office.

ATB - Olly Clam.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Sunday 9th December 2012

Yet another cold morning but the sun was out so I set out to have a look over Essington Quarry Pool as last week the Wildfoul numbers were very good

Parked up by the Pig Farm looking up at the wires overhead where it only seems five minuets since they had Swallows on them, I walked down past the orchard good numbers of  Blackbird , 33 counted , House Sparrows, 2 Mistle Thrush , but not a lot else very quiet.

On approaching the pool there was about 400+ Woodpigeon feeding on the field so I had a quick scan through, in amongst them was 12 Fieldfare, Carrion Crow, no Golden Plover ! 20 years ago we had large numbers of GP upto 1000 but how things change, never mind let's see whats on the pool.

Arse end view of Little Grebe.

What a change fro last week , bloody dead! 1 Mute Swan, 7 Little Grebe, 5 Tufted Duck and 49 Coot!
My only assumption is that the Wildfoul Shooters must have been up here blasting away ! C**Ts is all I can say about these people, unfortunately for us who watch this pool the owners are bloody shooters! , this would be a really good place to watch if it wasn't for the disturbance!

I continued to walk around the pool for another hour and had a single Buzzard, so I packed up and headed back home.

Angry Olly Clam!!  Keep the Faith - Clam On!!


Sunday 2nd December

Winter is here and things are very quiet, short days means limited hours of light for Birding, I truely dislike the winter but to stop me going insane I decided to go out local this weekend and try and bag a Caspian Gull for my year list.

I arranged to pick up Tom at 09.30. I left the house at eight and it was very cold with a good frost cover. As I was a bit early on my way to Tom's I stopped by at my local patch Essington Quarry Pool, parked my car up at the top end of the pool and set my scope up for a quick scan.

To my suprise there were good numbers of Wildfoul for a change , 79 Wigeon, 29 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 8 Teal, 26 Mute Swan, 49 Coot, 150 + Black Headed Gull. Excellent !, I checked closely through all the Wigeon hoping for a Yanky but no luck , scanned through the Gulls but no Med, maybe next time, best go and pick Tom up.

After picking Tom up we headed over to Stubbers Green near Aldridge to check out the Gulls that gather there during the day , we were hoping a Caspian Gull may turn up. On arrival we scanned through the Gulls , Great Black Backed , Lesser, Herring, Common & Blacked Headed Gulls were here in good numbers but no Caspian! Hey Ho - were next?

Now there have been good numbers Waxwings in the country but Tom hasn't seen one this year yet so I decided to head upto Lichfield where there has been a good flock of Waxwings earlier today.

                                                       They are Waxwings honest!

We arrived at Lichfield 20mins later pulled of the A38 and onto Eastern Avenue , and there they were a group of six Waxwings, pulled over the car a parked up. A nice year tick for Tom, cracking birds.

After viewing these little beauties for about 20 mins we decided to make our way back home, but on the way I thought that we would drop by Chasewater to see if the Great Northern Driver was still there.

                                                        The Swag Pool at Chasewater.

Arrived at the Swag Pool at 12.30 , walked across the road and started to look for the Driver, after a few mins Olly picked it out swiming over by the pillon diving on occasion. Great, nice to see these coastal birds in our cental counties. We viewed the bird for about 20 mins and headed back home.

A nice morning Birding - Clam On !!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


I was unable to send Captain Clam my photos yesterday so here are some more images of our trip to the Dee Estuary last Sunday.

                                                                     Hilbre Island

                                                  Grey Plover still in Summer Plumage!

                                                       Grey Plover , Knot & Dunlin


                                                             Yellow Legged Clam
Hoylake Beech

                                                       Short Eared Owl at Parkgate.

Great birds ! Great Place ! ATB Olly Clam.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Owls, Harriers and waders at roost. A day on the Dee Estuary

Clams down to two but undeterred off we went, Olly Clam and I, Captain determined to find our own.
Soon arrived at Red Rocks with not a cloud in the sky and just a light westerly wind, hardly a breath really but enough to give a chill to the face.
Now Olly Clam hadn't been here for over 20 years and the last time he, a mere spring chicken of a lad [you should see his legs!] and I had walked out to Hilbre with Alex Barter, sadly missed and two other lads whose names I can't remember.
We decided to do the same and set off across the sands only to be blocked from the islands by Olly's lack of wellies.
Whilst Olly was looking for a way over a creek, I took photos of the sand. It's amazing how nature repeats itself at vastly different scales. With imagination one could be looking down on landscape structures seen from space; Sahara Desert for instance.

Off for a large breakfast at Tesco's and a visit to the new log cabin of a visitor's centre at Burton Mere RSPB reserve.
Superb reserve and from the large windows back-tailed godwits, a male hen harrier could be seen along with common birds. Little egrets were here too. How many years have they been here and how many now breed?
To the hide, with siskin and nuthatch on the way. A number of stonechat to be seen here and more waders and duck.

Off to Parkgate to see how the tide was; high tide being at 1.45. Unfortunately high tide wasn't going to be big enough to diplace everything on the saltmarsh so, despite views of a great white egret and a female hen harrier, we decided to go up to Hoylake to see the large wader roost on the beach there.
We were not to be disappointed as over 10,000 mostly knot were near to the nearby tideline with 2 selfish photographers next to them putting them up for their entertainment.
We both digiscoped from the roadway and enjoyed the massed ranks of knot, sanderling, dunlin, grey plover and bar-tailed godwit. Note the sequence - little waders to the fore, larger ones to the back. Wonderful.

Back to Parkgate for another female hen harrier, more little egrets and two very close short-eared owls.

A superb day enjoyed. Great birds, great company and great scenery. CLAM ON!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Sunday 11th November 2012

On the spur of the momment I decided to go over the local patch this morning, but on my way I decided to head up to Stoke on Trent for some Waxwings that came up on the pager.

On route I text Bart to see if he had bothered going out anywhere. I soon received a text back saying that he was at Doxey Marshes looking for a Water Pipit (Its a blocker for him); so I arranged to meet him up there as it is on the way to Stoke.

Parked up at Doxey I walked across the reserve and soon tracked him down.No sign of the Pipit so we teamed up and walked up and down the small river hoping to see the elusive Pipit, but no Joy! We had a couple of Meadow Pipits, a Stonechat, 6 Goosander, the usual wildfoul, Teal etc, and a Grey Wagtail, so we headed back to our cars and headed north to Stoke too look for the Waxwings.

After getting lost a few times we finally arrived at the place where the Waxings had been reported earlier, there were about ten Birders in the car park. We asked if they had been seen. One Birder said, "they were here about ten minutes ago!" We walked over to another Birder and he had got one bird in his scope, so we set up and there it was. Cracking ! a bit distant but hey ho!

We watched the bird for about 5 mins, but then we heard a trilling call above our heads. We checked out the trees behind us in the Burger King car park and there they were, 9 Waxwings! Boom !

We stayed and watched these little crackers for about 40 Minutesand whilst in the car park we asked a few of the local Birders if there was anything else about. One of the Birders was Phil Locker, we both know him off the Facebook group we are in the ASBO Black Lark Group. He gave us Gen, reports of a Jack Snipe up at Tittesworth Res, and Short Eared Owls up on the North Staffs moors. We thanked him and decided to head up for the Snipe & Owls. Thanks Phil.

                                                    Tittesworth Res, with the Roaches behind.

At Tittesworth we had met up with two Birders from Wolverhampton, Dave & Paul, so we walked up to the hide from where the Snipe had been seen and upon entering the hide found that it was packed out. The bird was not on show, so we started scanning across the res' onto the far shoreline. 7 Common Snipe were there but no Jack.

Half an hour passed and now the hide was starting to empty so we could sit down and have a better look. Then Dave picked it out. Jack Snipe on the far shore in amonst the reeds. Another Year Tick !

                                                         Yet another quality photo!
Now with only 2 hours of light left we decided to head up onto the moors and look for yet another year tick, Short Eared Owls.

                                               View of the Roaches from the Moors

Time was now 15.30 and the light was starting to fade, so all four of us walked up to the area where the Owls had been reported, looking across and down the valleys over the ranges. After half an hour of scanning and views of Red Grouse , Buzzard and Meadow Pipit, Paul picked up a large bird in the skyline to the right of us. We all got our Bins onto it and BOOM -Short Eared Owl ! Nice one Paul.

We stayed for another 20 Mins and got closer views. What fantastic birds they are! I haven't seen one for years so it was really great to see this one.

It was now nearly dark so we all said our goodbyes and  headed back home.

A great day ...........CLAM ON !!!

Monday, 12 November 2012


Saturday 10th November 2012.

Things are a bit on the quiet side and the Clams hadn't sent me any texts saying they were out Birding this weekend, so I decided to have a relaxed weekend chilling with my family at home.

After a few hours I was starting to get ictchy feet, I was thinking of going over the local patch when I recieved a text from Bart asking if I wanted to go up Chasewater for the gull roost, great idea, so I text Tom and we set out at 15.00hrs for Chasewater.

At Chasewater the light was good so we set up on the viewing platform and started scanning through some of the large gulls gathering on the water infront of us.

The roost contaned at this time good numbers of L.B.B.Gulls, Herring, a few Common Gulls, and large numbers of Black Headed, including one still in full summer plumage!

20 minutes had passed and Gulls were still comming in, we contnued to scan through the new arrivals when Olly Clam picked up the Adult Iceland Gull , great!

                                     Iceland Gull, what a great photo NOT! Its the best I could get.

We continued to scan through the roost hoping to find a Caspian Gull or Med Gull, and a couple of old friends joined us , John Holian , and Chaz , more eyes the better! We had 6 Greylag Geese fly low over the water , which we were told by Chaz is a very good record for here.

We stayed until the light faded, had no luck in finding a Caspian or Med , but we had a Adult Yellow Legged !. A nice 2 hours birding , Clam On!!!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


28th October 2012.

After the strong easterly winds last week, we decided to go to the North Norfolk coast, during the week there had been quite a few good birds seen comprising of - Dusky & Artic Warblers , a Red Flanked Bluetail, Olive Backed Pipits and a White Rumped Sandpiper, but by Saturday news of these birds had gone! But undeterred we set our alarms and headed east, LETS GO FIND SOMETHING!

We arrived at Cley at 08.30 and headed down to Cley beech as now the winds were coming from the north a spot of sea watching was on the agenda.

Parked up the Clam mobile and walked over to the "Hotel" (This is just four large benches with a roof on, called the hotel as in the Eighties I have slept there a few times!) We set up our scopes and stright away 2 Little Auks flew past! Fantastic ( a tick for Bearded Clam).

We stayed sea watching for about an hour, during this time we had another 3 Little Auks pass, 6 Red Throated Divers, 6 Kittiwakes, 25 + Common Scoter, 2 Long Tailed Duck, 5 Gannet (all Juvs), 50+ Wigeon, 30+ Brent Geese, 7 Teal , and Starlings comming in off the sea exhausted! But no Skuas, but a Year Tick and a Lifer so not a bad start.

Time was now 10am so we headed back to the centre at Cley for some hot chocolate to warm us up and to decide where to go next.

                           A rare find, the 5th Clam, Steve Alcott ( Cripple Clam ) hes got a bad back!

Warmed up we headed down to the Dawkes Hide on the reserve at Cley as during the week there has been a White Rumped Sandpiper, we entered the hide and starting scanning through the Dunlin on the scrape, but no joy! There were also good nimbers of Teal about 150, Gadwall & wigeon and a single Avocet, also 3 Marsh Harriers which are always a joy to see, but no White Rummper.

While in the hide we had heard news of a Barred Warbler at Saltholme so we packed up a headed down the coast.

15 minutes later we arrived at Saltholme, parked up by the duck pond and walked over to a small crowd gathered in front on a house by the side of the road, lifted up our Bins, and there it was- Barred Warbler and a Life Tick for Tom Clam ! It showed well for us, it looked like a 1st Winter bird , only showing faint barring on the undertail coverts, 3rd one for me this year but always nice to see.

Off to Wells now to get fed in our regular cafe, and then off to Holkham to see if we can find some Waxwings or Pallass' Warbler , which had been reported earlier.

                                         Beared & Chatty Clam, Skulking in Holkham Woods!

We arrived at Holkham at 13.15 parked up on Lady Annes Drive and walked along the woods towards the Joe Jordon Hide, contantly checking the woodland trees for Tit flocks but not a great ammount a few Coal Tits , Chaffinches , Great Spotted Woodpecker, Olly clam then noticed about 8 Blackbirds feeding on the grass to the left of us , started to scan through and picked out a Male Ring Quzel and then a Female, called over the other Clams and viewed for about 20mins , nice year ticks for them.

We serched the woods for about 2 hours but didn't have a lot else appart from , Robins , Gold Crests, a Treecreeper, and Blue, Great , Coal Tits. Then on our way back the pager buzzed saying the White Rumped Sandpiper had returned to Cley, so off we set back to Cley.

                                               Dawkes Hide Complex at Cley Marshes 

Back in the hide now at Cley the light was starting to drop but luckly the bird was on show, WHITE RUMPER UTB! (A tick for Olly Clam ) The bird showed well feeding along the edge of the scrape about 35 yards away, showing well its long primary projection , supercil, and flashing its white rump on occasion.

Juvenile White Rumped Sandpiper.

The light was now going so we packed up and started our way back home, another great day and nice to see the 5th Clam Member again Wham Bam Thankyou Man Clam ( AKA Steve Alcott , the rasberry Ripple) , KEEP ON CLAMMING !

ATB - Olly Clam.

Monday, 22 October 2012

15 Hours In a Tin Can - God There's Got to be Another Way!

2.30am, The Birding Clams started to get together in order for the long, long drive to Fife to begin. Saturday 20th October. M6 and onward, arriving at Kilminning at around 10.00am.

Immediately the target bird was seen! Eastern olivaceous warbler, a new bird for three clams easily seen and close too. Even when out of view it was easy to follow as it constantly, gently gave a soft, lesser whitethroat like call.
So grilled and utb to the satisfaction of all it was off to another great rare warbler; this time a radde's. Not too far to go either with the bird being hidden within some very nearby rose bushes about 100 yards away.

Now this one played hard to get for an hour or so but did eventually allow us to glimpse the diagnostic features. What a super bird!
Waiting for the Raddes to show
                                                        View over to the Isle of May

Off to Leven for fish and chips but sorry to say that the standard of the food fell well below our expected fare. Then over the Firth of Forth road bridge to get onto the road for Lancashire and a small garden being used to watch a Pallas' warbler. Obviously the garden of  birder with a mist net installed diagonally across the lawn, it gave views over to a garden two doors down where thick conifer bushes and a sykamore concealed the avian prize. Still the hat trick of rare warbler ticks was not to be denied and the bird flashed its rump, tossed its stripey head and flicked its wing barred wings. Three new birds - lifers for Chatty and Malteser Man. Another successful birding day but maybe one where the amount of time spent in the car was a little too much! [What am I saying? I slept most of the way there and back - Captain]
Clam on!!!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Wednesday 10/10/2012.

I have now managed to download some of the pictures taken last week on Shetland, they are still not very good as Phone Scoping on Shetland is hard as there is always a constant strong wind! , but as promissed here they are-

                                                                   Isabelline Shrike at Toab.

Little Bunting at Sumburgh Farm.

                                                        Siberian Stonechat at Hoswick

                                                 American Golden Plover at Veensgarth.

                                  And now just some general pictures of us and the Shetland Isles.

                                              View from behide Sand Lodge (By Gruntnes)

                                        Captain & Malteaser Head walking down to Gruntness.

Over looking Loch Spiggy.

Spiggy Beach.

View from Quarry at Sumburgh.

Virkie .

On the Ferry over to Unst.

Ferry leaving the Island of Yell.

                                               Just a typical view you see around every corner.

Errol Brown (AKA Malteaser Head, Bart) On Unst.

Well thats it, what an absolutely great place! ROLL ON NEXT YEAR!