Sunday, 14 June 2009

The birder's fear of the pollen count

Friday 12th June, Cannock Chase, 20:30 - 23:15.

A birding blog-based gathering this evening, on Cannock Chase to look for Nightjars. Which included myself, Kay and Max from the Brightside, Stuart the Alrewas Birder, Archie Archer and Tom and Julian of Tame Valley fame!

We had excellent views of a Grasshopper Warbler reeling away, best view I've had for many years actually. Other than that it was a bit of a struggle. By the time we got anywhere near to a churring Nightjar it was very nearly pitch-dark, so not much chance of seeing the bird.

Then as we were all leaving it was very kind of one driver in the car park who switched their headlights on, so we could all see each other. I can't think of any other reason why the person in the car would want to do this.

Saturday 13th June, Aqualate Mere, 10:45 - 14:00.

Inevitably, spring migration draws to a close and things start to quieten down for the summer. So why not do some exploring? Somewhere in my home county I have never been to before is Aqualate Mere, between Stafford and Newport, just over the border into Shropshire.

An impressive selection of 39 different species here, including a good selection of warblers, Shelduck, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and this Cuckoo.

But perhaps the most impressive sighting at Aqualate was this Hornet. That's something you don't see every day. Absolutely huge it was, like a Jasper on steroids!

As for the most exasperating sight from my trip to Aqualate. Well, it has to be one of these:

Someone in the hide decided to put their binoculars down and started doing a Sudoku puzzle! Nothing against Sudoku, but if I were to do that in a hide then you can guarantee every rare bird under the sun would fly past or appear out of the reeds. Recimiscent of this old Kit Kat advert!

Seven Springs, 14:30 - 15:45.

Battling through the traffic in Stafford and onto the Seven Springs area of Cannock Chase. I haven't been round here for ages. It was worth it though for a short time, as I managed a good view of a Spotted Flycatcher and still a Wood Warbler singing away.

Uttoxeter Quarry, 18:15 - 20:15.

A couple of hours with Andy over at the quarry. Which was rather quiet really, but still a solitary Dunlin with 3 Ringed Plovers, 1 Curlew, 5 Goosander and a pair of Shoveler. Hay fever really took it's toll on me at this point, with constant sneezing, runny nose and puffed up eyes.

I fear that if the weather stays dry and warm, I'll have to go into my temporary summer retirement for the next couple of weeks or so, until we get into July. Even at the time of writing it's getting a little unbearable.

I'll see how it goes, but it may be the end of birding (but not necessarily blogging) for a short while. Unless something turns up of course, in 1996 the Doxey River Warbler was found in late June. Something like that would get me out!