Sunday, 18 January 2009

A Large Bittern Luck!

Saturday 17th January

I didn't fancy going far today, so just pottered around home. I had been told of a White-Fronted Goose at Hales Hall Pool in Cheadle during the week. Typical isn't it. Like waiting for a bus, two rare Geese turn up in the same place within a short space of time. I was also told that the bird does sometimes do a disappearing act during the middle of the day, so I wondered where else it could go.

On the other side of Cheadle is Blake Hall Fishery. Its about the only other large area of water in town, so I thought I'd check it out. In fact, I managed to locate the White-Front on a small pond, with Canada Geese, en route to the fishery.

Amazing what a bit of cropping can do! Its also amazing that the fence wire doesn't show up in front of the bird, it really is there. That's not a plastic warning by the way, just a fence to stop the sheep from drowning!

Sunday 18th January, Uttoxeter Quarry, 12:30 - 13:50

Being driven this time (thanks Andy!). Not much around really, 14 Goosander was a good count. Oh, and Blurred Martyn. Nice to see you Martyn. Don't worry, we didn't see the Brent Goose today either.

The plan was then to move onto Doxey Marshes to give the Bittern a try. However, a text from Nick that said "Iceland Gull at Coldmeece Pools" was too tempting. We could fit both in!

Coldmeece Pools, 14:30 - 15:00

On arrival at Coldmeece, the Iceland Gull had upped and offed away to nearby Swynnerton landfill. There was a Green Sandpiper though, and a rather strange looking gull. Caspian Gull? Don't ask me, gawd knows. Also nice to see Nick and Steve there.

Doxey Marshes, 15:30 - 16:15

Bit of an arty shot this one, Cresswell Flash with Stafford Castle in the distance. The light also blocks out the M6 and railway line!

34 White-Fronted Geese were still here, as was the Red-Breasted Goose of unknown origin (but I could have a jolly good guess!). Onto Boundary Flash where a group of birders had gathered. I'd only just set my scope up when the Bittern had been found flying across the flash.

It eventually showed really well a couple of times. No point digiscoping it though, too distant really and too windy. Which at one point blew my tripod over! Phew, that could've been expensive! No damage done though. That's my second Staffs Bittern, following one at Branston Water Park in December 2006.

We had a bit of daylight left, and it wouldn't take too long to get over to Copmere to check the gull roost. So off we went..........

Copmere, 16:30 - 17:10

I'm still not that confident with gull roosts you know. But at least at Copmere there is a spot where you can look down on the water, rather than being at water level.

Andy said "take a look at this one, what you do think for Yellow-Legged Gull?". Having a look I admit I couldn't pick out the bird in question. And then, "whoah, whoah, sweet child of mine!!!!! Look again, top left hand corner!!!!!!".

It was a magnificent juvenile Iceland Gull, and way too dark to digiscope that! It's also the first one I've seen for a very long time. The last one I saw was at Blithfield in 1997! I've just never bothered with winter roosts for such a long time. Changing that habit and making a concerted effort this winter is gradually paying off.

Well it's been quite a successful start to 2009. But I do know that this run will stop at some point!


Martyn Yapp said...


I had trouble not doing a gull roost, it is so addictive..honest.

Great Swallow Moss evening, the two Hen Harriers came in at 4.15pm and was still flying around when I left at 5.00pm

I even saw two LEO at Park Hall, all birds I havn't bothered with for years.

Richard Powell said...

Hmm, still not sure about all this gull roost stuff though. At least at Copmere, it's a small stretch of water. Whereas Blithfield is huge, and even Chasewater for me is large.

Sounds like you did well after we saw you, at Park Hall and Swallow Moss. I bet it was cold up the moss though?