Saturday 13th December, Uttoxeter Quarry, 13:45 - 15:40.
What a foul morning. No good for birding but at least I got my christmas cards written and posted. Just a couple of hours round the quarry when the rain eventually stopped.
The undoubted star today was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, albeit a brief one. Too far away and gloomy to make out a red cap with the bins, then took off (which really gave it away) before I could get the scope on it. But nevertheless a site tick for me, associated itself with Blue Tits. Also around were 2 Goosander, 12 Wigeon, 24 Snipe, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Song Thrush, 103 Greylag Geese.
Time to go and get ready for my work's christmas do at the Alton Towers hotel.
Sunday 14th December, Brookleys Lake, 09:00 - 10:00
The departure time out of Alton Towers gives away the amount of alcohol consumed the night before. Thank goodness there were free bottles on wine on the table, because there was no free bar and at £3 a pint, there'll no binge drinking from me!
I was quite impressed with the Alton Towers resort actually. Especially the lift music in the Splash Landings hotel, next to the water park. Which included the theme tunes to Hawaii 5-O and Captain Pugwash!
It was well worth not getting completely wasted anyway for two reasons. One, buffet breakfast! Two, Brookleys Lake next door. After finding 13 Mandarins here a few weeks ago, imagine my surprise to count 51! I wonder if there's a commute going on between here and Bradley Dam near Ashbourne?
A short time was then spend at the Ramblers Retreat in Dimmingsdale. Plenty of feeders are up at the moment. Thankfully the regular Marsh Tit appeared, plus a Raven overhead.
A nip back home to drop some things off, then over to Blithfield. The main reason being to help out one of the regulars there, Richard, with setting up his new digiscoping equipment. For an astrononmical fee of course! No, not really.
Once this had been sorted out, a couple of surprises greeted me in Stansley Wood. This is the first one:
The old Tad Bay hide has gone! In a way I'll miss those planks to sit on in front. However, I won't miss the seats inside the hide.
There are also some feeders up in Stansley Wood. There's some really heavy-duty ones that look very Squirrel proof and should last for years. But it did make me think of something reminiscent. Well, you know there's Tad Bay and Blithe Bay? This photo makes it look like there's now Guantanamo Bay!
Free the Blue Tit one!