Sunday, 27 March 2011

Chat Show

The plan for yesterday was to hold out from going out birding, watching on the Cricket World Cup quarter final between England and Sri Lanka, until it got to a stage where it looked like England couldn't win. In the end, with hindsight, I probably could've been out birding all day!

Never mind. Actually Sri Lanka did bowl well and didn't give anything away. Also not being bothered with watching the Wales v England footy, over to Uttoxeter Quarry.

In addition to birding, the quarry is actually a good place for Hares. Must've been at least half a dozen around this time.

As for birds, the main highlight was a Swallow in amongst the Sand Martins feeding on the water's surface. Also 34 Goosander, 5 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 4 Curlew, 1 Green Sand, 1 Snipe, 1 Dunlin.

Then onto today. A first visit to the Weaver Hills this year was made, with Wheatear in mind. Didn't manage any Wheatears, and apart from Skylarks not a lot at all. A quick look along the River Churnet at Oakamoor produced a dashing dapper Dipper flying along the river, and 2 Grey Wagtails.

Whilst I was in Oakamoor, news came on the pager of a Black Redstart at Berry Hill fields in Stoke. You know, I'm tempted to give that a try.

I haven't been twitching everything in Staffs these days, especially with petrol at £1.30 a litre. I suppose after the Chancellor's Budgie in the week, it could've been going higher, but it probably will anyway because of the price of oil.

But I was lucky enough to refind a Black Redstart on Berry Hill last spring, and I quite fancied the challenge of doing it again. And if there was no sign, at least there would be some Wheatears to look at.

One of the 15 Wheatears that I managed to see around the oss paddocks. I did wonder if the Black Redstart would be around the "white door" paddock, the scene of last year's little triumph. A few birders were around there and had not seen it.

I was just about giving up and going home, when walking back to the car I managed to see this little beauty:

I can't believe it, the Black Redstart giving crippling views, in the same paddock where all the Wheatears were earlier. Brilliant stuff.

That's about it for now, I'm off for a knees up............

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Bye Bye Winter

So what happened last week then? Where was the blog? Well, as a famous twitcher once said in a BBC4 twitching documentary, I couldn't be bothered. One of those frustrating times where, although the first few spring migrants started to appear, I didn't see one, so couldn't be bothered blogging. The best thing from last week was digiscoping this handsome chap:

As for spring migrants, this weekend I've put that right. Starting yesterday morning, at that birdless birding hotspot, Croxden Quarry. Where there were two Little Ringed Plovers, wayhey, first spring migrants of the year.

Uttoxeter Quarry had another two LRP's, 6 Curlew, 2 Green Sands, 7 Oystercatcher, 2 Shelduck, 2 Mandarin, 2 Red-legged Partridge and a Chiffchaff.

But the undoubted highlight was the staggering number of Goosanders, 80 of them! Surely this can't go on, and eventually they'll follow the River Dove and disperse into the Peak District and further north.

If like me you've got one of the pager devices for bird news, you'll know that in some areas the signal is better than in others. Sometimes around Uttoxeter Quarry, the pager signal isn't so good, and as such messages can get corrupted or just not get through at all. I assume this message was corrupted, looking at the time of the sighting, but it made me chuckle for a bit.

Finishing yesterday off with a woodland walk through Hawksmoor and down to East Wall farm. The pond next to the farm had a Grey Wagtail. That's the first one I've seen this year, and after the winter we've all had to endure, I do wonder if Grey Wagtail numbers have taken a battering. Another species that concerns me is Kingfisher, not seen any yet this year.

As for today, Uttoxeter Quarry again. Pretty similar to yesterday, a paltry 71 Goosanders! But better still were two Sand Martins. Then over to Blithfield, where Tad Bay had a Pink-footed Goose, 4 Sand Martin and a pair of Goosanders that flew out (wonder which gravel pit they were going to?). Blithe Bay had 3 Oystercatchers.

And that was it really. Pretty quiet for Blithers, but we're into spring now, so at least we've got all the birding fun of spring to look forward to.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The dapper Dipper dash

Saturday 5th March.

A morning round Uttoxeter Quarry first. Where there was 44 Goosander, 11 Pochard, 31 Wigeon, 19 Teal and a Willow Tit. Brookleys Lake was very quiet, with 4 Mandarin and 4 Great Crested Grebes of note.

Whilst getting a spot of lunch in Morrisons I bumped into Andy. We were both thinking of nipping over to Blithfield later to pay homage to the roosting Great White Egret. But as he had a bike to pick up at the bike shop in Uttoxeter first, I was picked up a bit later.

Just another quick check of the quarry beforehand. Which now revealed 41 Curlew and a Gadwall. We were then joined by that lover of knitted jumpers, Stevie Fair Isle. And as we were leaving him to it, my mobile phone rang. That's odd I thought, it's Steve. What's he got? "I've got the Dipper in the River Tean!".

Now, the last time a Dipper was seen round here was back in October, while I was on the Scillies, and there's been no sign since then. With a personal patch tick at stake, I had to run! That's right reader, this racing snake figure went into full flow! Seb Coe eat your heart out! And this is why:

They always look rather dapper, like they're dressed up in a dinner jacket. Always a pleasure to see.

With the Dipper in the bag, and Andy's bike picked up, over to Tad Bay. A small crowd were gathering along Newton Hurst Lane. The Egret must've had it's watch on, because it came in to roost at exactly 6pm, in the descending gloom. Actually it was nearly pitch dark, as the following picture will suggest:

This wasn't what the internet was made for, a picture like this is a waste of the blogosphere. But it really is the Great White Egret. Not a white plastic bag, or something from the Sky at Night!