Monday, 11 April 2011

Seeing Red

That's a phrase usually associated with anger. Not this time, I think my luck was in over last weekend.

It all started with a job to do. If you've got a driving licence with a photo card, I didn't realise until last week that they expire after ten years. And at £20 to replace it, I can see why that was introduced, a nice little moneyspinner for the DVLA!

The Post Office can help you with a new photo, because these days it's pretty much impossible to get the size correct yourself in one of those photo booths. I have experience of this from renewing my passport. However, not every Post Office will do this for you. So could I have the convenience of doing this in Stafford, during my lunch break? No! So I had to wait until Saturday morning, where the nearest participating Post Office was in Uttoxeter.

With that job done, I wonder where I can go next? That'll be my favourite hole in the ground then! So with a late morning/early afternoon visit to Uttoxeter Quarry. For most of the time there was a good selection of birds, nothing out of the ordinary, but nice to see the first Blackcaps of the year. That was until the undoubted highlight appeared, a cracking Red Kite that ambled effortlessly across the gravel pit nearest to Leasows Farm and the River Tean, fantastic.

After that, back home and get for the Grand National. And a nice little touch on the gee-gees was had, after putting a couple of quid on Ballabriggs, and fourth in the sweep at work with State of Play.

As for Sunday, a small gathering of birding bloggers, consisting of myself, Martyn, Craig and Kay, was made on a gloriously sunny Cannock Chase, starting off at the cadet huts.

Well that was easy, the Great Grey Shrike was still around and showed really well. Also a couple each of Tree Pipits and male Redstarts freshly back in, along with 2 Swallows and plenty of Willow Warblers.

Over into the Sherbrook Valley area, other than a few Stonechats not much else. That was until Craig spotted a large raptor with a forked tail. Can't believe it, it's another Red Kite! Like waiting for a bus, that's two in Staffordshire in two days, brill!

Also spotted along one of the tracks was this Green Hairstreak butterfly. I've never seen one of these before, probably because I've never really gone looking for them.

There is one problem with Cannock Chase on a Sunday and sunny weather, it brings lots and lots of people out with their dogs and slog irons. So time to move on, for a check of Blithfield causeway and dam. 1 Common Sandpiper and 2 LRP's around the causeway, and a Wheatear and 3 Yellow Wagtails around the dam.

A diversion to Branston Gravel Pits was then made, with the sun beating down quite heavily by now. The weather probably didn't help with waders around the sandy pit this time, with only those of note being a Green Sand, 4 Curlew, 5 Oystercatcher and 3 Redshank. Duck highlights included 48 Teal, 5 Wigeon and a pair of Mandarin.

To finish off a most enjoyable day, back to Blithfield and a check of Tad Bay, where there were a pair of Pintail, 2 female Goosander and 4 Goldeneye.

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