Monday, 30 June 2008

Quail Cereal, er Serial, part I

Firstly, a confession. Following watching Amy Winehouse at Glastonbury on saturday evening, I promise never to say anything derogatory towards her ever again, ever. She did three songs of The Specials!!! Great stuff. If she's a fan then that's good enough for me. Indeed, apparently she used to live next door to Terry Hall.

Other than that fine few minutes, catching up on some recordings on the telly there were a few other bands I quite enjoyed, that I wouldn't confess to being an avid fan of. These included Elbow, The Verve (and I still find it ironic they didn't make any money from "Bittersweet Symphony", it all went to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards!), Crowded House.

It just goes to show, give the music a chance and keep an open mind. Then there was Neil Diamond of course. Even I don't mind a sing along to "Cracklin Rosie", "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "Sweet Caroline". Don't know what happened to Shaky, did the BBC snub him?

Sunday 29th June.

1 adult Yellow-Legged Gull at Croxden Quarry, and now 5 Green Sandpipers at Uttoxeter Quarry.

Monday 30th June.

In this quiet birding time of the year, I thought it was time to try something a little different. That being to explore the local countryside, find some fields with wheat and/or barley in them, and listen out for calling Quail. There have been a few around the country so far this summer, although I haven't heard of many in the midlands.

One problem, especially around Tean and Cheadle, is that most fields are pastoral rather than arable. I did manage to find a few arable crop fields around Bradley-in-the-Moors however.

An impressive number of Yellowhammer around here, just no sign of calling Quail. Mind you I didn't give it much time, I'll try again at the weekend. Also nearby is Croxden Abbey.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

New Bins!

An emergency trip to Birdnet Optics in Buxton was required today. After a walk in the rain on thursday evening, my eight year old Bushnell binoculars leaked and the lenses all misted up on the inside. I can't carry on with no binoculars in action, it would be like losing a limb.

Despite having the central heating on for the last two nights, and putting them on top of a radiator (is that the best way to treat them?, probably not), it hasn't cleared the lenses up. And I don't want to waste any more gas over them.

So I now have a lovely new pair of Opticrons. If the lenses inside the old pair ever clear up I might sell them. Any offers, please write to the following address:

45 Glenn Close,
Kirk Douglas,
FO01 1SH

I christened my new bins at Uttoxeter this afternoon. In the quarry were:

1 Green Sandpiper
5 Common Sandpiper
11 Little Ringed Plover
4 Oystercatcher
1 Curlew
8 Common Tern

I'm no expert on moths, but there was one interesting day flying moth there. After studying my moth book, I think it was a Speckled Yellow. The illustration from the book was easier to photograph!

Back home for the evening in for with my feet up, a few beers, ready for today's coverage at Glastonbury. There weren't too many bands I was that bothered about watching yesterday, apart from The Fratellis (and I don't know why but I enjoyed The Ting Tings as well) that was about it.

Not sure who's on today. Amy Winelake apparently (to be fair though, she did perform with the great Jerry Dammers at the Nelson Mandela gig last night, will The Specials ever reform?), and of course the Welsh Elvis!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Bit of a quiet time!

Just thought I'd better put a blog entry in. Not much to report birding wise, other than an Osprey that appeared in Tad Bay, Blithfield Reservoir, on Sunday afternoon. I have been checking on the local bird families at Uttoxeter Quarry last weekend, nothing much out of the ordinary there either.

Wimbledon's back for another year of course. Now that Tim Henman has retired we can't have "Henman Hill" anymore. According to "Wake Up Wogan", it's now called "Andy Murray's got the hump"!.

On the hay fever front. Hurrah hurrah hurrah, the farmer has cut the field next to my house. I can breathe again!

As an aside, my dad told me that my brother-in-law is off to work in Namibia for a month. It's probably just as well my sister didn't tell me. I'd want to be smuggled in, and stay in Etosha National Park for the whole time!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Braving the Pollen!

Saturday 14th June, Uttoxeter Quarry, 12:55 - 14:35

Well, hay fever didn't seem quite so bad by now, with the cooler weather. Walking through the field to get to the quarry made it return a bit though. Perhaps the antihistamines are helping, but they never entirely work for me.

It was about time I tried counting the number of holes in the Sand Martin colony. I counted 83 holes, but they can be quite deceptive at an angle. As I thought may happen eventually, a Hobby appeared flying over the colony. Another site tick for me, and I thought the number of hirundines here would attract one.

Sunday 15th June, Dimmingsdale, 19:20 - 20:50

As there appears to be a Crossbill invasion underway, I decided to try to find some of my own. Usually I've finished woodland birding by now, so looking for Crossbills will give another dimension to summer birding.

Not that I found any at Dimmingsdale this evening, but I did manage a nice selection, including Spotted Flycatcher and Wood Warbler. Pied Flycatchers were very conspicuous by their absence. One the young fledge they go unbelievably quiet.

There are areas of conifers in Dimmingsdale, not that you can tell from this shot. But I thought it would look good as the sun was getting lower in the sky.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

A Wild Nightjar Chase

Friday 6th June. 20:30 to 22:25.

"Local Birding Tours For Local People" was up and running again last Friday, for a Nightjar evening on Cannock Chase. Arranged with a group of Bird Forum members, including fellow bloggers Kay and Max from Brightside Birding, and Mr Reg Telescope from Eye to the Telescope.

I wouldn't mind making a career out of this tour guiding mullarkey. Trouble is, after two expeditions now, I'm already running out of locations in Staffordshire for our specialities!

Over the course of the evening we managed:

2 (possibly a third) Nightjar
1 roding Woodcock
2 Cuckoo
1 Spotted Flycatcher
1 Tree Pipit

The anticipation of waiting for the sun to go down and for the nocturnal birds to appear always makes for a great experience. For most people there, Nightjar and Woodcock were lifers, so that made it all worthwhile.

Does anyone know what's happening these days, regarding how well publicised Nightjar locations are? In the old days, before money was spent on pagers and, Nightjar spots on the Chase used to be mentioned on Birdline Midlands. For fear of getting e-lynched by the mafia, that's as much detail as I'll go into this time.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Whistle Stop Shropshire Tour

Sunday 1st June.

It was very kind of Andy to give me a lift, on his way to Telford, today. En route we stopped at Sleap Moor, near Crudgington to the north of Telford. This really was a flashback to the old days of twitching, trying to find somewhere in the middle of nowhere and getting lost very easily.

We eventually found the field, which is deliberately flooded by the farmer to kill off eelworm. Then eventually the field will be drained and spuds can be grown. But for the time being, it's a fantastic shallow lagoon.

We were treated to an amazing sight of this pair of Cranes performing their display dance. In addition to the Cranes there were also 4 Ringed Plover, 1 Oystercatcher, 2 Shelduck, plenty of Lapwing and a few Shoveler.

After Telford, we took a quick nip over to Venus Pool, near Atcham. I've always wondered where this place is, and it's well worth knowing. The hide was rather full, but we managed this drake Garganey:

Another check of Uttoxeter Quarry on the way home. Nothing out of the ordinary really, perhaps it's a sign that spring is winding down, just in time for hay fever season. At least our nudist friend wasn't there today! The resident Cuckoo Goose was though.