Saturday 1st November.
Uttoxeter Quarry, 11:30 - 13:50
Cor it's gone cold! So much that I've had to stock up on coal for the fire. Filled up the boot of the car at Harrisons in the Milton area of Stoke (all packed in nice clean bags by the way!). After filling the shed, over to the quarry, as Andy had found a female Common Scoter, great stuff.
An initial scan of the main pit produced hardly any diving duck, certainly no Scoter. Then a walk along the River Tean produced a number of Fieldfare and Redwing (they're everywhere now!) and a Treecreeper! Site tick, up to 99!
Then walking back to the main pit, I heard the call of a Redshank! Wayhey!!!!!! For some inexplicable reason, after all the different waders that appeared in the spring, not one Redshank. A single down to fine leg for a hard fought century!
A flock of Tufted Duck had reappeared, and in amongst them, low and behold was the Common Scoter. Up to 101! Also present were 4 Goosander, 1 Curlew, 1 Stonechat and a Weasel.
Swallow Moss, 15:45 - 17:00
I skipped Burton Albion's game today. I didn't fancy standing in the cold. So I went to Swallow Moss instead to, er, stand in the cold! But at least I could retreat to the warmth of the car and scan from there.
On arrival there were a group of squaddies out on manouevres. Not to be confused with Swaddies by the way. Mind you, I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of a group of Gresley Rovers supporters either! There is a lot of MOD land surrounding Swallow Moss, but thankfully not on the moss itself. This might explain why some areas of the moss have been fenced off.
It was very nearly dark when I had just about given up, after watching huge numbers of Starlings and Fieldfares, plus a single Red Grouse. I had turned the key in the car to switch the ignition on and wound the window down. With literally the last scan with the binoculars, there was THE most magnificent male Hen Harrier! The "ghost of the moors" is very a apt name. Flew around the heather for a couple of minutes, then dropped down to roost.
In fact this wasn't a full adult male, but a second winter male. The difference being he has a brown back, but pale grey everywhere else. I've never seen one of these before. The brown back makes it reminiscent to a male Marsh Harrier I thought, but this was definitely a Hen Harrier!
Sunday 2nd November
Blithfield Reservoir, 12:20 - 13:20
Let's give this Long-Tailed Duck at Blithers another go. On arrival at the causeway I had a good chinwag with a couple of Blithfield regulars, Eric and Richard. I didn't realise the voluntary wardens get a fleece! One of the perks of the job.
After that, time to start looking for the Long-Tailed Duck. After a short time the Brightside Bloggers appeared. Eagle-eyed Kay found the Long-Tailed Duck, between St. Stephens Bay and Ten Acre Bay.
After a while the duck took off and landed between St. Stephens Bay and the causeway, and gave us magnificent views close in. At this point I realised that I've really been slacking with the digiscoping these last few weeks. Sorry folks, I must try harder. Would've made some great photies as well. Just look at Kay's blog as linked above, there's some great pics of the Long-Tailed Duck there!
I then faced a dilemma. On one hand, over at the quarry this morning, Andy had 14 Bewick's Swans fly over, and a strange Pipit. Either Rock or Water, but wasn't sure and it didn't stay around long enough for a good view. On the other hand, there's a Purple Sandpiper at Belvide, which would've been a county tick. What do I do folks, just what do i do?
Uttoxeter Quarry, 13:50 -15:40
The Purple Sand was very tempting, but I had to find this mystery Pipit. Either Rock or Water Pipit would be a site tick, and Water Pipit would be a lifer for Kay and Max. So I decided to show them round the place.
On arrival at the main pit this time were six Swans. Looking through the binoculars, they were all adult Whooper Swans! They quickly caught onto us though, and soon took off in the direction of Rocester to the north west.
Onto the pit along the River Tean, we caught up with a couple of Pipits flying around. Certainly one of them was very pale underneath. Eventually one of them landed giving us a good view through the scope. I had took a field guide along with me just in case.
This Pipit was a grey-brown on top, and white (no buff) below. Two clear wing bars, white on the outer tail feathers and a prominent supercilium. That's a Water Pipit alright, brilliant stuff! I just wonder if the other Pipit that was flying around was another Water Pipit, but that'll have to wait for another day. Also around were 1 Goosander, 4 Curlew and a pair of Stonechat.
As well as being known as "The Producer" (thanks Max!), I think Kay and Max will start calling me "Pipit Man", after getting them onto their first Tree Pipit at Hawksmoor in the spring. Ah well. But after this weekend, Uttoxeter Quarry is giving it's much larger and famous neighbour six miles down the road (the mighty Blithers!) a run for it's money again!
I'm now up to 103 at the quarry. Or am I? Well, Birdtrack says I am. However, that does include White Wagtail and a couple of very dodgy Barnacle Geese that appeared one day in the summer. But even so, without them I'm at 101 so still past the century.
Well folks, I suppose next time I do a blog entry, our American chums will have decided on their new president. All that coverage over here and we can't vote for them. I thought we were the 51st state? At least we've got X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing to vote about.
But which is better? John "The Oven Chip" McCain, or Irishman Barack O'Bama (it's a Cork name, trust me!)? There's only one way to find out! Fight!!!!!!