Belvide 1.6.15 Showery SW 2-4

5 Black-tailed Godwit flew thru at 11.30am. 1 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin and 1 Ringed Plover were on the north shore. 2 Wigeon, 56 Gadwall, 114 Mallard, 4 Shoveler, 10 Pochard and 61 Mute Swan were counted. 12 Common Tern were noted.

Yesterday evening a man was observed pacing up and down the north shore looking for eggs. He was described as having dark skin, blue top with green trousers and having a bag. Just before I arrived he turned and fled. If anyone sees this happen again can you phone me immediately. Can I say a big thank you to those of you who did report this to me yesterday.

Belvide 31.5.15 Showery WNW 3-4

It is with great sadness to tell you all that my great birding friend Eric Phillips passed away suddenly yesterday evening after a short illness.

For anyone who knew Eric, he was regarded as a top midland birder with a vast amount of knowledge. It wasn’t just birds. He was a keen botanist. Loved butterflies. A keen historian, and loved mooching around old churches and historic buildings. He loved fungi too, and would often be found in the autumn with a puff ball tucked away in his bag, which he would cook for his tea.

He had the utmost respect from the midland birding clan. John Higginson fondly nick named him ‘The President’ as he was regarded as our birding statesman with his knowledge and being one of the top British listers. He was famous for finding the first British record of White-tailed Plover at Packington in 1975 along with the late John Fortey and Eric’s partner Bet.

He was one of the true pioneers on the Scilly Isles back in the early 70’s. Spending a few weeks during September/October on St Agnes before the Scilly scene exploded in the 80’s.

I have known Eric just short of 30 years. I have spent many a time with him, traveling the length and breadth of the country chasing after rare birds. I’ve spent many hours sat in the hide at Belvide on cold wet blustery days hoping to see those special local birds that light up a dull day. It was on these days that you really got to know Eric. The amount of information that was stored in the mans head was unbelievable and I have learned so much from him over the years.

He was also a passionate cyclist. He would think nothing of pedaling to Belvide, Upton Warren, Wyre Forest or Chelmarsh from his home in Kingswinford. Many of these journeys would easily be 30-40 miles in total. Being a cyclist myself, I always enjoyed tagging along with Eric coming back home from Belvide. He never had any trouble keeping up with me and really was as fit as a fiddle.

If you were to ask him when he was at his happiest, he would probably say it would be on his many visits to the Wyre Forest. That was his patch, which he knew like the back of his hand. He also loved a walk around the Fens Pools with his birding buddy Des Dando, where they would exchange banter, mainly about football.

This brings me on to Eric’s favorite football team Arsenal. I asked him why Arsenal? with which he replied that his boyhood hero was Denis Compton who played cricket for England and Middlesex and football for the Arsenal which was a great feat. I have since learned that Eric managed to watch the FA cup final yesterday and see his beloved Arsenal lift the trophy.

It has been an honour and a privilege to know Eric. The Midlands birding scene won’t be the same without you. We have all lost a special friend. RIP pal.

The only news for Belvide today was a Greenshank until 9.15am, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and a Ringed Plover.

Below is a photo of Eric only a few weeks ago after successfully seeing the Citril Finch in Norfolk. Also a drawing of Eric by Brian Bland in 1973 on Fair Isle.Citril gather2Eric

Belvide 30.5.15 Cloudy W 2-3

First of all a late item of news for yesterday was the first Greenshank of the year flew thru in the evening.

The Black-necked Grebe was still at the west end. 5 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin and 8 Ringed Plover were on the north shore. A drake Mandarin was present until 0730 then flew south was new for the year, also the pair of Wigeon remain. A single Hobby was noted.

Belvide 29.5.15 Morning Rain WNW 4

Not a bad day with some late spring wader passage. The Black-necked Grebe had moved to the west end. 6 Sanderling were on the north shore, also 19 Ringed Plover and 2 Dunlin were present. A pair of Lapwing have 3 chicks on the north shore. A single Arctic Tern (photo) and 12 Common Tern were noted. The Cuckoo was again along the south east bay this morning. 2 Wigeon and 58 Gadwall were counted.Arctic Tern2Arctic Tern

Belvide 28.5.15 Cloudy W 3-4

The main highlight today was a smart Black-necked Grebe on the north side opposite the Gazebo/Chappell hides. The bird was found at 7.30am. Permit holders are reminded that there are phone numbers on the back of the hide, to report your sighting if you are fortunate enough to find a good bird.

A Sanderling, 1 Dunlin and 3 Ringed Plover were on the north shore. The Spotted Flycatcher remains by the woodland hide. 2 Wigeon and 4 Shelduck were noted. The pair of BH Gulls have abandoned their nest.BN Grebe2BN Grebe4BN Grebe3

Belvide 26.5.15 Cloudy NW 3

A Spotted Flycatcher was singing behind the woodland hide early afternoon. The Black-tailed Godwit was still on the north shore, also a Redshank and 1 Ringed Plover were noted. A 2nd summer GBB Gull was present this afternoon. The pair of Wigeon were still present. The Tawny Owl chick was still along the Gazebo bay.

Belvide 25.5.15 Overcast NW 2

A pair of Spotted Flycatcher were near the woodland hide this morning were the first of the year. The Cuckoo was seen a few times between the south east bay and Gazebo bay this morning. A Red Kite drifted south west at 0755. A Black-tailed Godwit and 7 LRP were on the north shore, also a Dunlin flew thru. The pair of Oystercatcher in the south east bay are down to 1 chick. A pair of BH Gulls appear to be nesting which would be the first attempt since 1962. 2 Wigeon, 5 Shoveler, 2 Shelduck and 50 Gadwall were counted. 12 Common Tern and a Hobby were noted.

Belvide 22.5.15 Cloudy W 2

The main highlight today was a Little Stint on the north shore. This is the first for 2 years and the first spring record since 0ne on the 14-15th May 2001. 3 Ringed Plover were also noted. A Red Kite flew south at 3.30pm. A Tawny Owl was along the Gazebo bay this afternoon. A Water Rail was seen along the south east bay this morning.

Belvide 17.5.15 Cloudy W 3

2 Ringed Plover flew thru this morning, also 6 LRP and 3 Dunlin were on the north shore. A Cuckoo was seen near the Scott hide this morning. The WeBS count produced 2 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler, 50 Gadwall, 94 Mallard, 94 Tufted Duck, 11 Pochard, 32 GC Grebe, 6 Little Grebe, 208 Coot and 55 Mute Swan. 10 Common Tern were counted.

Belvide 15.5.15 Cloudy WSW 2

A flock of 46 Black-tailed Godwit dropped on the north shore at 11.15am and were present all afternoon. 1 Common Sandpiper and 6 Oystercatcher were noted. The pair of Oystercatcher on the shingle island have one chick and have abandoned incubating the remaining 2 eggs. The south east bay pair still have 2 chicks. A Cuckoo  was heard at the west end this morning.

Belvide 14.5.15 Rain E 3-5

Any keen local patch watcher will tell you that a day in mid May with a brisk easterly and rain will at least produce some wader passage. Barwits, Grey Plover, Sanderling and flocks of Dunlin can all be expected. Arctic Terns and Little Gulls should also be thrown into the mix.

So an 11 hour vigil in the West End Hide hoping for such, ended with very little. 1 Dunlin and 2 Common Sandpiper were the only passage waders. 13 Common Tern were counted. A Hobby was hunting Swifts this afternoon and 2 imm Peregrine were noted.The pair of Oystercatcher on the shingle island have hatched at least 1 chick.

Belvide 11.5.15 Fair SW 4

It looks like the female Velvet Scoter has finally departed. A small flock of waders were at the west end including 1 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 3 Dunlin and 4 Ringed Plover. Also 4 LRP and 1 Redshank were noted. A pair of Wigeon were on the north shore. 10 Common Tern and a Hobby were present this afternoon.

Belvide 10.5.15 + Citril Finch In Norfolk

The female Velvet Scoter, 2 Dunlin and a Curlew were the only birds of note I saw when at 9.15am news was broadcast that a male Citril Finch had been found in the dunes at Holkham Pines. This is a mega rare bird, with the only other British record being on Fair Isle in June 2008. We arrived on site at 2pm and saw the bird very well feeding in a hollow in the dunes. The bird went missing for an hour, before again showing well again to a very large and appreciative audience. Citril Finch are usually found in the mountainous forests of the Pyrenees and Alps.

Belvide 8.5.15 Afternoon Rain SE 2

A combination of a south easterly wind and rain would usually produce something of interest, but I’m afraid it was another frustrating day. 5 Dunlin flew thru this afternoon was the only sign of movement. The female Velvet Scoter was still present. 16 Common Tern were counted. A Hobby was seen several times over the day.

Belvide 5.5.15 Showery SW 5-6

An Osprey flew thru to the west at 9.55am. The Velvet Scoter (photo) was still present, also 4 Shelduck were present. 16 Dunlin were present over the day, also 5 Ringed Plover, 8 LRP and 2 Common Sandpiper were noted. 18 Common Tern were present. A Cuckoo was by the West End Hide this morning. At least 1000 Swift were present.