Saturday 14th March. Shawell, Leicestershire, 12:30 - 14:30.
Actually, I wasn't planning on doing any birding today, but toying with the idea of going to footy. I was umming and aahing all morning, especially as Burton Albion are now in the middle of a serious wobble in their quest for the league title. Fickle, me? Nah!
Andy texted me asking if I would like to twitch a Kumlien's Gull, so that was an easy enough decision. Although I have say I didn't know where it was until I checked birdguides.com. Never heard of Shawell in Leicestershire before, it's between Lutterworth and Rugby. So off we went, with Nobby and "Man on a Mission" Malc, armed with his new pager.
Similarly to Stubber's Green and Coldmeece Pools, the balancing lake here is near to a rubbish tip, thus attracting lots of gulls. Unfortunately we were told that the Kumlien's Gull had taken off towards the tip before we arrived. During a two-hour or so wait, eventually all the gulls took off, and as such we dipped.
But it wasn't an entire waste of time. A Red Kite passed over heading south, presumably leaving the tip after a feed. Then while driving around the general area, trying to find some gulls after they all took off, we found a large flock south of Watling Street that contained a summer plumaged adult Mediterranean Gull. Thankfully it was right at the front of the flock as they flew across the field, but frustratingly all landed over the brow of a ploughed field and out of sight.
At the time of writing, it has occurred to me that Watling Street (The A5) forms the border between Leicestershire and Warwickshire at Shawell. Both the Red Kite and Med Gull were seen in Warwickshire airspace. So to all those West Midland Bird Club year-listers that haven't seen either Red Kite or Med Gull yet this year, nah-nah nah-nah-naaaahhhhh. Actually, before I start receiving abusive comments, I'd give my eye teeth to see a Red Kite in Staffs!
By the way, the Brewers lost 2-1.
Sunday 15th March, Uttoxeter Quarry, 9:00 - 11:30.
Get in, come on spring...................
Having said that though, I'm sure digiscoping was easier at Bharatpur! Less of a breeze over there. In addition to my first spring migrant of the year, there was a magnificent drake Pintail, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Curlew, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Shelduck, 20 Goosander, 2 Willow Tit and still a taste of winter, 21 Fieldfare.
After getting my big shop for the week done at Tescos, I did think about heading over to Branston, an old stomping ground of mine (although it's changed a bit since I left home eight years ago), to see the Avocet and Ruff. But I decided to save petrol and bide my time with those. Instead, I decided to look around a few different spots around home.
A couple of them are places I do visit quite often. But for some reason, mainly the lack of birds, they don't get blogged very much. In fact not at all, until now!
This bloomin desolate hole, is Croxden Quarry. Just look at these lagoons, they look ideal for passage waders. But compared to Uttoxeter Quarry, which is right next to the River Dove, they get very little on them. Being next to a main river is a big help for attracting passage migrants. Croxden does have its moments though, Yellow-Legged Gull is my best find.
This is Great Gate. Which is a lovely little area of woodland and some small lakes. I was told by another local birder, Jim, last year of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker here. Not for the want of trying, I've never seen one here, which is quite typical for the species. Not seen today either.
And here, I'll let you into a secret. This is an area I'm thinking of covering as regularly as I can for a spring migration patch, the Weaver Hills. Inspired by Berry Hill in Stoke, it's just to the north of Alton, the highest point for miles around, and as far as I can tell no birders cover it.
Time constraints of having to go to work, and other possible spring twitching necessities, may limit the amount of effort I can put in here, but we'll see. Even if I can find the odd Wheatear up here it'll be worth it. You never know, maybe even Ring Ouzel or Dotterel. But even if there's no birds to be seen, just look at this for a view! At the time I could make out Rugeley power station and The Wrekin.