Saturday 28th March. Tean and Weaver Hills, 8:45 - 11:00.
Not a lot of time for birding today, I had to be over at Burton Albion in the afternoon. To be on hand for my dad who was hob-nobbing in the directors lounge, and being wined and dined with my step-mother and a couple of old friends as a birthday surprise. And to cap the day off, a splendid 4-0 win for the Brewers against Grays Athletic.
So a walk around home to start with. Checking the same stretch of the River Tean near home, where I was lucky enough to find a Firecrest a year ago. Unsurprisingly no Firecrest this time, just like every other time I've checked over the last few weeks, but a couple of Chiffchaffs and a Grey Wagtail.
And so, to my first spring check of the Weaver Hills. Which produced.............. Nowt! Well, actually there were a good number of Skylarks up there, and it was really windy. I shall persist with it, but it could turn into the largest birding lead balloon since, well, er, I don't know what.
Sunday 29th March, Blithfield Reservoir, 11:45 - 14:45
Woohoo it's British Summer Time! Light evenings are here. Although it does mean it's a struggle to get up early this morning after putting the clocks forward. Oh alright then, for me it's difficult to get up early ANY morning! Should've done today as well. I was going to Blithfield anyway, when I received information of a Red-Breasted Merganser in Tad Bay.
No sign of the bird while I was in Tad Bay though, but there were 4 Goosander, 3 Shelduck, 3 Oystercatcher. Not much different in Blithe Bay, then returning to the car there was a Swallow, perched on the TV ariel of the house, next to the education centre.
It seems that something new appears every time I go to Blithers these days. This time, new screens have been put up next to the feeding station at the education centre:
Over towards the dam were 3 male Wheatears and a pair of Grey Wagtails. Also, to be expected here for a while now, lots and lots of flies! They really do get everywhere along the dam when the sun shines. They're not biting insects but they just get everywhere, in your eyes, hair, lenses. Still, that's what attracts all the birds I s'pose. It is quite interesting to see all the flies when you get a cold breeze and they all sit tight along the concrete.
Uttoxeter Quarry, 15:15 - 18:30
Not a huge lot out of the ordinary here today. 4 Sand Martins and 4 Fieldfare in a season-crossover stylee. 2 Green Sandpipers, 12 Goosander, Curlew, Oystercatcher and intruigingly 13 Barnacle Geese. From Whitemoor Haye? Who knows, but I couldn't make out any ringed birds.
More worryingly though were a group of kids who decided to ignore the "Keep Out" signs and started walking around the increasing shoreline. This is two Sundays in a row that I've seen people do this, and it worries me for two reasons.
1. Much more of it and any ground nesting birds have got no chance.
2. If someone drowns (a good reason to continue pumping the water out!), security and access will be clamped down. Then birders get the blame for further breaches.
So don't do it folks, I won't be very pleased with you. In fact, just follow Alvin's advice: