Saturday 17th April.
I fancied a little bit of a change of scene for birding today, so decided to try my luck at Aqualate Mere.
Absolutely stacks of Shovelers out on the mere, plus Shelduck, Gadwall, a couple of Pochard, plus a Willow Tit on the feeder in front of the hide. The log book in the hide always makes interesting reading, and was rather surprised to read of a Whooper Swan seen earlier in the week at nearby Coley Lane Marsh. Not only that, but this bird has been in the area for at least the last few weeks.
It's a new place on me, I'd never heard of it before. Thankfully a map in the hide points out where Coley Lane Marsh is, so thought I would check it out. A quick text to the Blurred Birder about this was also done, as Whooper Swan would be a much-needed tick for this 2010 year list.
It looks a fantastic little spot, but no sign of the Whooper here or in nearby fields. There were Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat and a singing Lesser Whitethroat however. At this point I just assumed the Whooper had moved on, so I decided to move onto Doxey Marshes.
Typically, when parked up in Stafford, Martyn had found the Whooper, with Mute Swans on a pool by the main road, the A518. This I had to see for two reasons. I couldn't work out where the roadside pool was, and missing the Kittiwake at Tittesworth the other week in similar circumstances, I wasn't going miss this!
When getting back I could understand why I couldn't see the pool from the car. It was a in a well-concealed spot, only partially viewable from a farm track opposite, between Coley Lane and the entrance to the Aqualate estate. Impossible to set the scope up, but good enough for a view of the bird with binoculars. Obviously this bird knows more than we do. It must be waiting for all that volcanic ash to clear, before continuing on it's journey back to Iceland.
With the Whooper Swan finally seen, back to Doxey. Highlights here were two Sedge Warblers and a Whitethroat along the Isabel trail near Homebase, Reed Warbler at Boundary Flash, White Wagtail and Snipe from the scrape. And that was about it really.
Well, reader, if like me you're gripped with "Election Fever" (eh?, not really), you would've seen the first "Leader's Debate" on telly the other night. I was impressed actually, by the performance of the Liberal Democrat leader, Norman Clegg:
Readers of a certain age will also know that he's the voice of Wallace in the "Wallace and Gromit" animations. This also begs the question, of the other two leaders which one's Compo and which one's Foggy? Actually, Foggy is a good name for a policitian.