Saturday 1st January, 2011.
You may be wondering why I started birding in 2011 looking at a field just outside Cheadle? Well reader, I'll tell you. It's all down to a reccy mission from New Years Eve, wondering where to start the new year off. Just a general birdwatch around home, or a little bit of county twitching.
On the whole, everywhere I tried round home on New Years Eve was pretty quiet and all areas of water still frozen over. But by the time I got to Hales Hall Pool, and after wiping my boot clean from stepping in something left by a dog, a small Falcon flew over and heading for farmland to the north.
First impressions on the bird's shape were a Peregrine, but way too small to be one and the wrong shape for a Kestrel. The other thing that went through my head was Mistle Thrush, was it was nearer to this size. But no, it was a Falcon. So it had to be a Merlin, and checking field guides back home, it had the barrel-shaped chest and wings shaped to a sharp point, reminiscent of one of those set-squares you had in Maths lessons at school.
Not surprisingly though, no sign of it this morning. And as things turned out, I didn't have that much birding time on New Years Day, as I spent most of the day with my brother and his family in Tamworth. But I did have a look at the Bewick's Swans at Elford on the way. 16 of them, along with 169 Mute Swans.
Sunday 2nd January.
Onto today then. One thing I'd like to do is have a look at the Short-eared Owls at Berry Hill in the afternoon. But before then, lets have a walk round Doxey Marshes in Stafford. You never know, might get lucky and get the Bittern to appear round Boundary Flash.
So to begin with on Creswell Flash, a count of duck included 16 Goosander and 10 Pochard. Then another scan with binoculars a bit further back, blimey o'reilly!!!!
A Bittern performing very un-Bittern-like behaviour. Just stood out on the water's edge for at least an hour, bold as brass and showing wonderfully well. On being joined by some other birders a little later after finding this one, they had another one at Boundary Flash. So that's two Bitterns for Doxey today!
Onward and into The Potteries. A quick look at another flock of Waxwings, in Longton, and a quick view of the back of a Long-eared Owl at Park Hall Country Park.
Then onto Berry Hill fields. Where everyone viewing, birders, photographers and walkers alike, were treated to crippling views of a hunting Short-eared Owl.
With that out of my system, for now, I'll do some proper birding tomorrow!