Monday, 11 May 2009

Local Waderfest

Waders have always been a favourite of mine. I think it's because they're a group of birds usually associated with the coast. To see them inland, while living miles away from the sea, has always held a fascination. Now is a good time of year to see some of the more unusual ones on spring passage.

Thursday 7th May. Blithfield Reservoir, 18:10 - 18:50.

A handy check of at work revealed three Whimbrel in Tad Bay. I just got there in time, as they took off a few minutes after clapping eyes on them.

Friday 8th May. Uttoxeter Quarry, 20:00 - 21:15.

Come on washing machine, Andy's found a Wood Sandpiper. It must be a real one this time as it wasn't found by me!

I must admit I did have a chuckle to myself while viewing this bird, way too windy to dodgyscope it unfortunately. What the hell was I thinking? Or what hallucination was I doing? The general jizz identification of Wood Sand is true you know, like a miniature Redshank but with the tail-wagging of a Common or Green Sandpiper. Also around were 13 each of Dunlin and Ringed Plover.

Perhaps I had a preminition the other week? Nah, it was just a cock-up. And when you write a blog about what you see, there's absolutely no hiding place! You've just got to be honest and gracious. And looking back, it's actually rather funny.

Although I might be onto an idea for a new birding product. Instead of looking through a scope, look through a crystal ball!

Saturday 9th May.

In an exchange-student stylee, is was very kind of Martyn, Kay and Max to show me round, what will be, the new Middleton Lakes RSPB reserve. At the moment access is restricted, until the reserve opens, to a limited number of permit holders. It's not worth trying to get on without one either, as there are plenty of RSPB wardens around. Who no doubt would ask a tresspassing birder to leave the site.

Highlights here included a Greenshank, adult Yellow-Legged Gull, pair of Garganey, 24 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plover, Cuckoo.

Adjacent to here is Dosthill pits. I haven't been here for about 12 years, and my it's changed.

I suppose this is the other side to how some gravel pits turn into. For recreation instead of a wildlife habitat, in stark contrast to the other side of the River Tame. It's a shame because the whole of one side here was very marshy. That's all flooded now for the water-skiiers.

Afterwards Martyn was keen to find out if the Wood Sandpiper was still at Uttoxeter Quarry. We had a look but no sign unfortunately, but still 9 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin around.

Sunday 10th May.

A relaxed, find whatever I can (however little), birdwatch at Uttoxeter was duly aborted about half an hour in. I received an RBA text alert that said "Great Grey Shrike on Cannock Chase, south of the Katyn Memorial".

Well that's put paid to a relaxing visit then! I must admit I was rather surprised. It is very late for Great Grey Shrike, and very few have been seen throughout the country all winter. A thought also went through my mind, maybe it's possible (especially at this time of year) it could be Lesser Grey Shrike? You never know. Actually, chances are I probably do know........

A couple of hours searching around the heath produced no Shrike, but there were Cuckoo, Tree Pipit, Stonechat, Whitethroat.

Well folks, this week is Eurovision week. If you can't remember what Eurovision is, it's a song contest. Where people from lots of European countries sing some silly songs, then vote for the country next door.

I did give quite a lot of coverage to this event last year. I have decided not to do so this year. Mainly because of a lack of Terry Wogan, who's wisely had enough (surely Graham Norton is not a good enough replacement?) and the lack of an Irish Turkey!

Actually, as a sneak preview I've looked through all the songs on the Eurovision website, and to be quite honest, most countries have gone really dull and boring this year. But thank goodness for the Czech Republic (who in the video is dressed up as a super-hero):

And Serbia (whose voice, him on the right that is, you'll have to listen to believe!):

As for the United Kingdom? Forget it, we won't win. Even with Andrew Lloyd Webber being the mastermind behind it. I don't know why he bothered.

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