Sunday, 28 August 2011

West Side Story

Plenty of birds around to see this weekend, and still a day to go with the bank holiday tomorrow.
Yesterday's birding began at Swineholes Wood again, to see if there were more Spotted Flycatchers around than the week before. Well, there were at least 10 of them this time. An amazing sight really, never seen that many Spot Flys together. Also a Tree Pipit and plenty of flocks of tits and warblers.

Uttoxeter Quarry had a pretty good selection of birds, considering there isn't much mud for waders. But in addition to a single Ruff with the Lapwing flock, look around and there's a few migrants on offer, including one each of Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart.

Later on Andy managed to find a Whinchat, which thankfully I go onto this morning, although too late for the Spotted Redshank.

But after that, what the heck, lets twitch the Pectoral Sandpiper at Branston.

The bird was seen around a flash in what has been described as the west side, which is true as it's a bit further west to the other gravel pits. The pager directions were advising to use a footpath that I never used before from Dunstall, from the road that runs between Barton-under-Needwood and Tatenhill.

But Dunstall is an area I do know well, when I was a little lad I used to collect conkers round here with my dad, just as he used to collect conkers when he was a lad with my grandad. So if you're after some good quality conkers, go to Dunstall!

But as it's too early for conkers just yet, this a Pec Sand.

Plenty to see around Blithfield before going home. Tad bay still had the Osprey in it's favourite tree, 1 Garganey and 1 Black-necked Grebe still. Spotted Redshank and Sanderling in and around St. Stephens Bay, 4 juvenile Black Terns from the causeway, Little Stint and 2 juvenile Little Gulls in Blithe Bay.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Knocking Spots Off the Flies

So what ornithological delights have I got this time? A check of Uttoxeter Quarry yesterday didn't amount to much. Although a little bit of migration of African wildfowl you would believe, oh yes, in the form of a pair of Cape Shelduck and 8 Egyptian Geese. I'm sure flown in from Africa and not from up the road in Rocester!

It's also a time of year when Canada and Greylag Geese form post-breeding flocks. Along with 6 Canada x Greylag hybrids, there's also this one. It's Dr Doolittle time, because I've never seen anything like it in my life! What's gone on there?

Over in Burton for the evening, so a look round Branston Gravel Pits and Whitemoor Haye was done beforehand. Quite a nice selection of birds round Branston's sandy pit actually, including a juvenile Spotted Redshank, 2 Ruff, 14 Green Sandpipers, 13 Curlew, 2 Little Egrets and an adult Water Rail.

Whitemoor Haye had 5 Greenshank, 11 Pochard, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and this gull. It reminds me of the gull I saw in the Blithfield gull roost on New Years Day last year. A paler head and mantle than the LBB Gull behind it. So I think its a 1st summer Yellow-legged, I don't think I can turn it into a Caspian Gull! Any comments or thoughts on this gull would be very welcome though.

And as for today, all I've done is a autumn migrant check of Swineholes Wood. Which is something I might do a bit more of during this autumn, that's the best laid plan anyway.

One aspect of birding that I've always enjoyed at this time of year is finding a flock of tits and warblers in a wood or hedgerow, and try to pick out something more unusual. Well in one flock at Swineholes today which favoured a spot by a dry stone wall, contained a Redstart and a number of Spotted Flycatchers. At least four Spot Flys including a juvenile, but could well have been more as they were constantly on the move.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

That thar Red Neck Varmint!

There are far better pictures of Gailey's stunning Red-necked Grebe around on that t'internet than these efforts. But well worth the little trip down the M6 after work yesterday, very smart.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Going off the Rails

That blog title isn't actually a reference to the rioting over the last week. Well it wasn't, but while I'm at it..........

Is this really what the second world war was fought for? Endless numbers of people sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom, just so a bunch of yobs and thugs can trash some of our cities? As for those out on a nicking spree, did you not stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the police would get your fizzog on one of the huge numbers of CCTV cameras on streets and in shops? Well click here and you'll see a number of complete and utter fools, who deserve all that they get coming to them, caught in the act.

Anyway, birding. The only real highlight from Uttoxeter Quarry since my last posting was a Spotted Flycatcher last week, but other than that it's pretty quiet. That can tend to happen with gravel pits at this time of year, as there isn't that much mud left to attract return wader passage.

Usually this is when the reservoirs start to come into their own, not surprisingly Blithfield had a pretty good selection over the weekend. Including a Black-necked Grebe, 2 Garganey, Osprey. Not huge numbers of waders but one each of Spotted Redshank and Turnstone, along with 13 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin, 5 LRP's, Redshank and Common Sands.

Whilst finishing off at Blithers today I, along with Kay and Martyn, headed over to Aqualate Mere as a bit of a change of scene. Wasn't sure what to expect, but highlights here included another Osprey and, the real reason for the blog title, a brilliant juvenile Water Rail right in front of the hide. If only it was a Spotted Crake!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Autumn gathers pace................

Well it's not been too bad a week birding-wise. Considering I'm stuck at work all day, and will be throughout August apart from the bank holiday. But on Monday evening there was this 2nd winter Med Gull at Croxden Quarry. If you're wondering which one it is, look for little bits of black on the primaries:

And yesterday evening, with most of the day being rather wet, was this juvenile Wood Sand at Uttoxeter Quarry:

At one stage accompanied by a Green Sand, and also a Common Sand at one point. Not often you see those three waders together.

So that was all rather splendid. I wonder what the weekend will bring? Probably not much now, but we'll see.