Sunday, 25 September 2011


I've not been well, reader, and it's not been pleasant. A week ago I was like death warmed-up. Not with that man-flu nonsense, this was proper gaster, gastro, er, gastric flu! Or even gastroenteritis, now I've spelt it correctly. And it's not the time of year when you want to be ill, two days off work were wasted.

So all in all, it's been most frustrating. I would've like to have twitched a Pallid Harrier in Essex when I was at my worst last weekend. And despite a very kind offer of a lift to the Sandhill Crane round Loch of Strathbeg this weekend, I still didn't quite trust myself to be ok with all that travelling.

So I've just took it easy for birding this weekend. Starting off on the Weaver Hills yesterday, when the fog lifted I had a flock of about 35 finches over. Most were Redpolls but a few Siskins with them, also a Grey Wagtail.

Uttoxeter Quarry had 13 Curlew, 7 Goosander and a tit flock contained a Willow Tit, a Treecreeper and a couple of Chiffchaffs. A mooch round Blithfield had some decent waders, but not much had changed from a couple of weeks ago, it could do with shaking up a bit. Blithe Bay had 2 Grey Plovers, 1 Curlew Sand, 1 Little Stint in amongst the Dunlin and Ringies. Tad Bay still had 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, the Osprey still around. Also an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a monster of a Great Black-backed Gull.

As for today, I thought a search along the Trent Valley was called for. Starting off at Whitemoor Haye, where the pager already mentioned two Black Terns. When parked up to join Stuart the Alrewas Birder, there were in fact three Black Terns! Birders also increased to three with the arrival of Tom "Tame Valley Tom" Perrins, the voice of the valley. Luckily Whitemoor Haye is in the Tame valley, as of course, the River Tame flows into the Trent at Croxall.

There was also a Greenshank at the quarry pool with the Black Terns, the farmland contained a Golden Plover with the Lapwing flock and a few Tree Sparrows. Next was Branston Gravel Pits, which had a Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Green Sandpipers, 14 Curlew, 1 Water Rail, 3 Shelduck and 6 Pochard.

Another check of Uttoxeter Quarry didn't have much change from yesterday, apart from 2 Wigeon. Finishing off at Croxden Quarry, and one of my best finds there. Working through the geese and duck revealed 3 Pintail! Wow, an eclipse drake and two females.

So that's it, I'm back. Just wish I had an appetite, haven't felt hungry for over a week now. So not worth warranting the expense on food that wouldn't really be savoured or enjoyed, most meals have consisted of baked potatoes. And with that, it's this thought of baked potato that's kept me going!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Marmora, Grus Killdeer Manx......

Well, how can you compete with this for birding humour? Good old Gyr Crakes' latest creation, "Slavonian Raptorcy".

It needs a few listens to fully appreciate it, but it is hilarious.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

There May Be Trouble Ahead...........

Whilst at Blithfield last Saturday, before all the shenanigans with the Shag, I had a request. It's not often I get requests. Well actually I do, but they're just insults.

This is a planning application, from the farmer adjacent to the St. Stephens Bay side of Blithfield's deep end, for the construction of 28 holiday lodges (with static caravan laws). If the application is successful, it'll end up the here:

Right next to St. Stephens Bay, where in my last few visits have been a Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Spotted Redshank. The bay and surrounding fields have always been a good area for wintering Wigeon, not to mention farmland birds like Skylarks, Tree Sparrows and Yellow Wagtails. If it goes ahead I think you can say goodbye to all that, with all the disturbance it would generate.

We all have to earn a crust, of course, but is this really the most appropriate place for these holiday lodges to be situated? I can't even imagine wanting to go on holiday at Blithfield, it's hardly the bright lights of Blackpool!

As far as I'm aware, all neighbours to the farm have objected to the plans. Should anyone else happen to read this and wish to contribute, all opinions have until the end of September to be made. And can be done so by contacting Jonathan Limber of East Staffordshire Borough Council's planning department (email:

Obviously in that email address, "AT" should be replaced with "@", to avoid being bombarded with spam. Don't want genuine emails being ignored do we?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Surfin' Sabs

As mentioned previously, if the Sabine's Gull was still at Belvide today, I'd make more of an effort in trying to get some pictures. Well if that wasn't enough, there was also the added Brucie Bonus of a Manx Shearwater!

Actually the Manxie had to take priority, as a county tick was at stake.

You wouldn't believe how difficult it was to digiscope. With the wind whipping up the waves, I've got plenty more pictures of just water. But with that safely ticked away, the Sabine's Gull gave me a little runaround. Whilst walking along the dam someone mentioned that the bird had flown across to the shore in front of the new Andrew Chappell hide. So walking back and into the hide, where was it? Back by the dam of course!

At least the exercise does you good. Back to the dam, the Gull performed wonderfully well, picking off insect on the water's surface. And with the gaining breeze, in amongst the surf!

A subsequent wander around Gailey had the Red-necked Grebe still around, 2 juvenile Shags and 2 Arctic Terns.

Bring on tomorrow's storm!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Catching up Time

Oh blimey, I'd better catch this blog up. There's not much to catch up on from a week ago really, I was only out birding on the Saturday. Uttoxeter Quarry was pretty quiet again (woe is me!), but Blithfield had some decent waders. Including a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits (a really good record round these parts at this time of year) and 2 Knot.

As for Staffordshire's star bird over the last few days, the juvenile Sabine's Gull at Belvide. I had a quick look at it on Thursday after work, but being rather confused over whether there was access to the dam or not, I only viewed it distantly from the Scott hide. If its still there or at Gailey tomorrow, perhaps I'll make more of an effort with it. It's certainly a smasher.

As for today, a pretty much full day's birding, starting off at a rather windy Swineholes Wood. Probably too windy for here really, but still a Willow Warbler around and sign of winter in the form of 3 Siskins. Uttoxeter Quarry had 4 Goosander, but not a lot else.

So onto Blithers again, and I'm really glad I did. Starting off in Tad Bay, where the 2 Barwits were still around, as were a Little Stint, a Ruff, 3 Wigeon and 2 Pintail.

1 Knot still in St. Stephens Bay, immature Little Gull around the deep end, and a mixture of Terns (Arctic, Common and 1 Black) north of the causeway. And the biggest surprise of all from the causeway, was this!

It's a Shag! I think it's a juvenile, fantastic stuff. Obviously another seabird blown inland from the last few days of windy weather, and the remnants of Hurricane Katia haven't even arrived yet. So goodness knows what to expect on Monday.

Whilst enjoying the Shag (stop sniggering, I mean the bird!), a text from Andy informed me of a Knot at Uttoxeter Quarry. Aaaaarrggghh, I'm going to have to go because it's a personal site tick! Well I didn't see it earlier, but that's the beauty of this time of year. Migration time, everything's on the move.