Sunday, 31 August 2008

Sunday 31st August

I really wasn't intending on much birding this weekend, I spent the weekend visiting family in the north east. However, I did get up early on Saturday to give me some time to stop on the way for the Black Stork at Cawood, between Selby and York. I was there for a couple of hours, shame the Stork wasn't!

Having family in Teesside has brought some useful ticks over the years, such as Great Knot, Spanish Sparrow and Ross's Gull amongst many others. Although since my niece and nephew came along, not much birding is done up there these days. I'll get them into it one day, but for now the Playstation and Nickelodeon on the telly rule.

Then today, and quickly checking birdguides on my brother in law's laptop, would you believe it, juvenile Sabine's Gull at Westport Lake! It got to about the time when I had to head for home anyway, and a couple of text messages about the bird on me mobile. Three hours along the A19, A1, M62 and M6 later, I arrived at Westport and here's the result!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sunday 24th August

Uttoxeter Quarry, 13:45

I think after the excellent array of waders that were found at the quarry during the spring, perhaps it was inevitable that the return wader passage here so far hasn't been quite as spectacular. Still 3 Green Sandpipers and 2 Common Sandpipers today. However, I found another personal site tick today, in the form of a Little Egret.

There wasn't much time for photography as the bird was on it's way behind a ridge of gravel and out of sight. But I have to say, that's the most excited I've got about a Little Egret for a long time. Probably since I saw my first one in 1989. Back then it was a real rarity.

Other sightings here today included a juvenile Yellow-Legged Gull, 5 Curlew, 3 Oystercatcher, 4 Buzzard, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Green Woodpecker. Also a Painted Lady butterfly.

Buoyed by this little victory, another quick check of Blithfield was called for. The Knot was appearing in Tad Bay today, and one of the Ospreys of course, but no sign of Garganey. Then along Admaston Reach, a Whinchat accompanied the Wheatears.

An egg was also found, must belong to a Greylag considering the number of them sat in the cut sedge yesterday. It was decided that, instead of taking it home for my tea with some soldiers, a nest would be made for it. Voila!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Saturday 23rd August

Blithfield Reservoir, 13:00 - 17:30

2 Black Terns from the causeway. Then as Kay and Max arrived we took a walk along the Admaston side of Blithe Bay produced 44 Ringed Plover, 7 Dunlin, 3 Wheatear, 1 Yellow Wagtail.

Due to a technical problem, i.e. needing a comfort break, I had to momentarily leave Blithers. There's nowt worse than birding with a gurgling digestive system! Actually there is, and it's needing a comfort break in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in India. "Just go in the jungle" the driver said. Never mind if you get eaten by a Tiger!

On my return to Tad Bay, the Blurred Birder informed me of Knot in Tad Bay and Turnstone at the dam. We couldn't find the Knot, but we did manage Garganey, 2 Redshank, 2 Greenshank and one of the summering Ospreys appeared over the plantation. It appears that one of them has a rather smart set of feathers, but the one we saw was the tatty looking one.

Well it's been nice to spend birding time with the Brightside birders Kay and Max over the last couple of days. Great company as always.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Friday 22nd August

Upton Warren, Worcestershire, 9:30

In fact the master plan was to meet up with Kay, Max and Dean, and fingers crossed that the Stilt Sandpiper would still be at Coombe Hill Meadows near Tewkesbury. Alas, two ticks in four days was not to be, as the Stilt Sandpiper disappeared the evening before and not seen all day.

However, we did have the flashes and moors pool at Upton Warren to fall back on. In fact, I haven't been here for fourteen years. Even then I only visited the moors pool, couldn't find the flashes at all.

The flashes is a cracking little spot, that included 7 Green Sandpiper, 31 Curlew, 3 Redshank, 2 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Shelduck, 1 Wigeon.

Also a calling Cetti's Warbler in amongst the undergrowth, a Lesser Whitethroat that was much more showy, and a Peregrine perched on one of the nearby masts. While at the moors pool, Kay found out that a Mediterranean Gull was seen here while we were at the flashes. Despite much searching through the Black-Headed Gulls, no sign of it.

Max did find a Kingfisher in a reed-fringed corner of the pool. I did manage to find something splashing out of the water. Unfortunately I think it was just a large fish and not an Otter!

Although it didn't seem like we had seen that much, I actually scribbled down a list of 50 different species! Now that doesn't happen very often at one place in one day.

After finishing at the moors pool we decided that there wasn't much point in heading to Coombe Hill Meadows by now, so decided to visit Upper and Lower Bittell Reservoirs.

While here I was informed of how difficult it is to obtain a permit to gain further access around the two reservoirs. From what I could see, and it is only a personal opinion from one visit, I wouldn't lose too much sleep about it. There wasn't a lot to see and both reservoirs were very full. That's what happens when you get spoilt by Blithfield at this time of year.

Well I'm nearing the end of my time off now. After the bank holiday I'll be back at work. At least I'll save some petrol, because this week I seem to have done as much travelling as Gary Glitter! I've been expecting some comedy website to spring up, where you click on a map of the world and there's Mr Gadd popping up.

I went to four of Gary Glitter's christmas shows at the NEC in the nineties, before his revelations came out obviously! Early on in every show he would say something like "if any of the girls want to come round to my hotel room after the show, feel free". When you think about it now, what he REALLY had in mind when he said girls, it's a chilling thought.

It's weird how your heroes turn out in reality sometimes. Rolf Harris on the other hand really is fantastic, but that's another story.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Tuesday 19th August

Wolla Bank, near Chapel St. Leonards, Lincolnshire, 9:30.

An early start required today, for a drive into Lincolnshire for an Audouin's Gull. Now this is a species usually found where most of us go on summer holidays. Ironic that this bird should do a return journey, and spent it's holidays near Skegness!

Arriving at the Wolla Bank car park, quite a few birders were already present, including "Uber Twitcher" Lee Evans. When I realised they were all looking in the direction of the above photo, my heart sank to be honest.

When it comes to seawatching, this is an aspect of birding that I do struggle with. Just staying in one place, constantly looking out to sea. It always reminds me of the car loads of pensioners you get at Blithfield, or any other reservoir, on a Sunday afternoon that do nothing except stay in the car and stare (why do they do it?).

But trying not to be disheartened, I sat on the edge of the dunes for a while. 3 Arctic Skuas provided some entertainment. Then after only about 40 minutes, amazingly the Audouin's Gull appeared along the coast. Most of the time just hanging into the wind, close enough for even me to recognise what it was. Much narrower wings than Herring Gull, the dark eye and dark, drooping bill. Large area of black on the primaries, and I couldn't make out any white tips. In fact the general shape of the bird reminded me of Laughing Gull, but I could be talking rubbish there.

An absolutely wonderful moment when it appeared, because I was not at all confident I would see it when I arrived. Then as it flew out towards the sea and became unrecognisable, a heavy shower started. Perfect timing to retreat back to the car.

I could now relax for the rest of the day. I've never been one at a twitch who will wait for a bird to reappear again. If I did then perhaps I could've photo'd the bird. But just go on surfbirds, there are plenty of photies anyway, and much better than I could do.

It was now a toss up as to where to go next. Gibraltar Point or Freiston Shore. In the end a plumped for Gibraltar Point. By the way, as you drive through Ingoldmells and Skeggy, there are some intruiging names of holiday parks. Including "Club Tropicana". Before you ask, no, this blog is a "Wham!" free zone! But there was this holiday park:

De plane, de plane!

But I digress. Some scenes of Gibraltar Point:

During a walk around the reserve, not a bad selection considering the weather conditions, not at all ideal for passerine migrants. But I managed 2 Whimbrel, 4 Avocet, 1 Greenshank, a few Little Egrets. After getting back to the car I was flagging a bit from the early start, and bearing in mind it's not the quickest drive along the A52 through Boston and Grantham to Nottingham, I decided to return home after a successful day out.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Monday 18th August

Blithfield Reservoir, 12:30 - 15:30

So anyway, as I was saying. You leave large lumps of metal lying around, and whoom, gone! No doubt melted down and on it's way to China. It wasn't me guv, honest!

What I find odd is that a Buddleia was ripped out, which attracted Hummingbird Hawkmoth a couple of years ago and is replaced with, er, nothing. Hey ho, that's progress.

No new waders today, but the Little Stint, along with the flock of Ringed Plover and Dunlin, were along Admaston Reach (has it always been called that? If so, what are we reaching for? The stars?, as S Club 7 once mentioned) instead of the end of Blithe Bay.

Then in Tad Bay. Couldn't find the Garganey at all today, but there were 2 Osprey, 5 Black-Tailed Godwit, 2 Ruff, 1 Greenshank and a Mandarin.

Olympic update. Apparently Ben Ainslie is our greatest ever sailor. So that puts the likes of Nelson, Drake and Cook in their place! I would say Columbus, but that's nicking a gag from Only Fools and Horses.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Sunday 17th August

Uttoxeter Quarry, 13:15 - 15:00

2 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed Plover (getting late for these now), 5 Curlew, 7 Oystercatcher, 9 Goosander.

Blithfield Reservoir, 15:45 - 18:30

A classic Blithfield day today. 1 Little Stint, 5 Knot, 5 Black-Tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, 1 Ruff, 39 Ringed Plover, 25 Dunlin, 43 Black Tern, 3 Garganey, 2 Osprey, 2 Peregrine, 1 Raven, 4 Wheatear.

On arrival at the causeway I was also informed of 3 Wood Sandpipers seen in the morning, but then left, and had not been mentioned on the information networks that morning. Now there may be perfectly valid reasons for it. However, if people want to suppress sightings then that's their perogative, I'm not going to tell anyone what to do. But whenever I come across this, two thoughts always enter my head:

1. Devil's Advocate would suggest the claim is cobblers, especially as it was not mentioned in the Tad Bay book.

2. I'm sure they were there, but this kind of situation makes me more determined to make my sightings available to the information providers as soon as I can. Within reason of course, rare nesting birds are an obvious exception.

Just another general thought of the day. In today's economic climate of rising metal prices, with the demand from China. And with stories of metal being nicked, melted down and sent to China, is it wise to leave large metal objects lying around?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

The heat is on, the time is right.............

Ooh Olympic Games time again. Unfortunately it always reminds me of this from twenty years ago:

Being off sick from school, and Henry Kelly on the telly asking "What am I?". Don't tempt me Henry.

Just a couple of thoughts of the recent events in China. I really didn't mind Michael Phelps winning all these gold medals, good for him. Until, and no fault of his, I heard some daft American correspondent say he's "The Most Winningest Olympian". Never mind swearing, that really is bad language!

Also, has anyone nicknamed Usain Bolt, the 100 metres champion, "Lightning" yet? If not then I'm claiming all royalties! Unfortunately our Asafa was nowhere.

But anyway, I start a week and a bit off from work now, so extra birding time to be had. Hurrah! Starting in the rain at Uttoxeter Quarry this evening:

5 Green Sandpiper
2 Common Sandpiper
1 Dunlin
5 Oystercatcher
3 Goosander

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Staffordshire Knot

Sunday 10th August, Blithfield Reservoir, 12:15 - 15:30

No not that one, this one:

Still in summer plumage. Also along the Admaston side of Blithe Bay were 25 Dunlin, 16 Ringed Plover, 1 Ruff and 2 Common Sandpiper. What a difference a week makes!

To keep up my good Osprey run, looking from the causeway one appeared over the plantation on the Tad Bay side. I'll stop using the name Ozzy now, for the benefit of the Blurred Birder's health and sanity!

Onto Tad Bay were 2 Garganey, 3 Black-Tailed Godwit and 3 more Ringed Plover. In fact one of the Garganey was feeding in the pool, that is formed as the water level recedes, to the left of the main hide in Tad Bay. Which gives a perfect opportunity for my new game, "Spot The Garganey"! Its like spot the ball, but with a Garganey. Oh, and there's no cash prize either.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Blithfield Bloggers Union

Saturday 2nd August, Blithfield Reservoir, 14:15 - 16:45.

Starting in Blithe Bay, not a lot at all really. 2 Dunlin, and a Kingfisher around the small pool.

When arriving at the hide in Tad Bay, fellow blogger Martyn, aka The Blurred Birder was there. Just as well I left my camera at home, to save on duplication of images! Good to meet up with you at last Martyn!

Martyn pointed out the Garganey to me, two of them in fact. Also in Tad Bay were 2 Greenshank, 1 Ruff, 7 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin and also a personal Blithfield first. Instead of just flying over, 3 Raven landed into the bay.

For once I didn't see Osprey. In fact three have been seen during the week. So that's Ozzy, Sharon and another. Rather than naming them after their offspring (Jack, Kelly and the other one who didn't want to be on telly), I'm going with "Geezer", a fellow member of Black Sabbath.

Sunday 3rd August.

Willington Gravel Pits.

Its been ages since I did any birding in the Trent Valley. That'll change when we get more into the footie season (come on you Brewers!). 9 Black-Tailed Godwits from the third platform.

It was great to see so many juvenile birds around, reward for the good work that the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have done here. The place seems to be overrun with young Coots and Moorhens. Also a good number of juvenile Black Headed Gulls, Common Terns and Great Crested Grebes.

Onto Drakelow next. There was a Hobby here, Grey Wagtail (surprising for August), 1 Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher.

Feeling nostalgic, I decided to pay a visit to the Newbold Quarry pit. Part of the Branston Gravel Pit complex, even though it's nearer to Barton Under Needwood. However, it's not Barton Gravel Pit, because that complex is nearer to Walton-on-Trent. Makes sense to me!

I haven't visited this pit for about seven years, and to see it so full with water was a real disappointment. Back in the mid-nineties it was a mixture of islands and varying levels of water, that attracted Blue-Winged Teal amongst other species. I hope Uttoxeter Quarry doesn't go the same way.