Saturday 12th December.
A pre-christmas small gathering of bloggers in a tour of South Staffs today. Consisting of myself, Martyn and Craig, the blogger known as Midlands Birder. Although it was a shame that Kay wasn't feeling the Mae West, and was unable to attend.
Kicking off at Stubber's Green. Straight away when I arrived the third-winter Caspian Gull was found, along with 3 Goosander, a few each of Common and Great Black-Backed Gulls and a plethora of Herring Gulls in different plumages.
A quick stop along the south shore at Chasewater produced the adult Mediterranean Gull.
Throughout the morning it was becoming apparent that I was missing skeins of Pink-footed Geese closer to home, heading from Norfolk to "Lanky-Lanky-Lanky-Lanky" Lancashire. Absolutely no sign of any further south, but that always happens. North Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire is on a direct flight path between the two areas.
Never mind, and in any case lets see if we can get Craig another tick, as there had at least one Smew at Drayton Bassett. But before then, I enjoy all things weird and wacky. So a wintering Whinchat, at Tameside Nature Reserve on the edge of Tamworth, had to be investigated.
The bird appeared to be feeding away perfectly happily in the rough grass, lets hope it survives the winter. Also around were a pair of Chiffchaffs, 3 Snipe and 8 Wigeon on this small pool.
As for Drayton Bassett, unfortunately no sign of any Smew, but a first winter drake had been briefly located in the Trent Valley. We decided check Croxall just in case it had moved there. No Smew here either, but credit to Craig for finding a solitary Pink-footed Goose. We weren't to be left out of the hundreds of passing Pink-feet today, we had our grand total of one!
There was also a female Pintail and a staggering number (well it is round here in the winter) of 33 Redshank. Our day ended back at Chasewater for the gull roost for the last hour of daylight left. We picked out the adult Med Gull again, along with a few adult Yellow-legged Gulls and one of the Caspian Gulls. As for which one it was, gawd knows. But it ended a most enjoyable day.
Sunday 13th December.
Sticking closer to home today, starting at Brookleys Lake again. The first winter drake Scaup was still around, and continuing the passage of Pink-footed Geese a skein of about 150 flew over, in addition to 158 Mandarin (and there could be even more than that).
The afternoon was spent at Uttoxeter Quarry. Which had a nice selection of duck, a Peregrine, a Green Sandpiper and 6 Snipe.