Monday, 7 November 2011

Catching up the last two weekends

The trouble I've had with all the great stuff to write about on the Scillies, is there's been no time to think up some words and pictures of the birding and twitching I've done since I got back. So I'm determined to catch this blog up in one fowl swoop.

As we're back in Greenwich Mean Time now, birding is now restricted to weekends (boo!). Both weekends have featured a Saturday twitch and a Sunday proper birding day.

Saturday 29th October was an afternoon twitch to Attenborough Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Nottingham, to see the Squacco Heron. Couldn't go in the morning as the old jam jar was having a tyre change, and then ummed and aahed for a while on whether to go at all. But I did go and in the end it was a rather long wait, but may as well give it until dusk because there's nothing else to do. But just before 5:30pm and starting to get rather dark, the Squacco flew in to the River Erewash, fantastic to see it in flight.

Told you it was getting dark!

Sunday 29th October was back to patching. Uttoxeter Quarry had a good sized flock of 232 Golden Plover, 2 Curlew, 1 Snipe, 1 drake Pochard, 6 Wigeon. It's also getting to the time of year to regularly check Brookleys Lake again, which contained a female Goldeneye, drake Gadwall and 20 Mandarins.

An afternoon drive round the North Staffs Moors produced 3 Stonechats and a few Red Deer. Finishing off at Swallow Moss until dusk, a Short-eared Owl flew across the heather just before darkness descended.

So onto the weekend just gone. Remember remember the 5th November, for another twitch! This time, into Shropshire for the Steppe Grey Shrike at Wall Farm Nature Reserve, a few miles north of Telford. Which continued to show well, albeit a bit distant, along a hedgerow.

Despite it's distance you could certainly tell the differences from Great Grey Shrike. Such as the pale lores (the patch between the eye and bill), the large wing patch and very little difference in colour between the upperparts and underparts. In fact, I'm struggling to understand how it's grouped in with Southern Grey Shrike. If you see Southern Grey Shrike in Portugal, they look nothing like this!

So to get everything up to date, yesterday. Which followed the same itinerary to last Sunday, but better. Uttoxeter Quarry was the best it's been for months! Parked up, a text from Andy saying 2 Whooper Swans had just flown in. I was only just thinking that it's about time we had some.

We've had a good record of Whoopers during early November, so they must use the River Dove as a migration route. Andy's visit was a bit of a whistle-stop tour, so I had to get him back after finding a female Red-crested Pochard.

As for this bird's origins, your guess is as good as mine, but it was there. It's legs bore no rings when stood out of the water. Also around were a female Pintail, 3 Goosander, 5 Pochard, 13 Wigeon, 25 Teal, 164 Golden Plover and 10 Curlew.

Brookleys Lake was pretty quiet this time, probably due to Alton Towers firework display the previous night. And as for another drive round the moors, not a lot until getting to Swallow Moss. Late on in the afternoon, a ringtail Hen Harrier appeared over the Revidge side, hunting away.

Half an hour later 2 Short-eared Owls appeared in the distance, quite high in the sunset sky. That ended an excellent day's birding, of finding (or at least trying to find) my own stuff.

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