Thursday, 29 December 2011

Ooh it's an Iceland Gull

There's been an Iceland Gull roaming round the Silverdale area, just west of Newcastle-under-Lyme, for about the last week. Getting onto Walley's landfill site and Silverdale Colliery. Presumably this bird is also roosting at Sandbach Flashes in Cheshire.

Viewing of Walley's landfill looked extremely restricted to me. The only view you can get is of the gulls circling up in the air from the garden centre car park next door. Not wanting to get clobbered by garden centre managers I went straight to Silverdale Colliery and hope that the Iceland Gull will eventually move it's way here.

This is Silverdale Colliery, never been before.

And in fact the juvenile Iceland Gull was already here anyway, hurrah!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Christmas Warble

Don't worry reader, that's not a cue for me to start singing! As I thought would be the case, there's not been much birding over the last couple of weeks.

That's mainly due to most of my time taken up with visiting my dad at the Derby Royal hospital, after a back operation. It's all gone really well, so that's good. Even though I got him back home last Sunday, I've felt absolutely shattered ever since. But what a place the Derby Royal is, you walk in the main entrance and it's more like motorway services than a hospital!

But I managed to find a little bit of time to look at the Eider last Saturday, at Rudyard Lake of course. It was pretty distant from the Reacliffe Road sailing club, as the below picture will suggest. But it must've found a good supply of freshwater mussels, as the bird was diving and returning to the surface with shellfish in it's bill. And I'd been and gone by the time a Red-throated Diver appeared, never mind.

Then this morning, a couple of hours was spent in Fenton Park in Stoke, adjacent to Berry Hill Fields.

The reason why is because of the appearance of a Lesser Whitethroat. At this time of year central Asian races are a possibility. And from what I've seen, I haven't a clue if it is a central Asian one or just a bog-standard Lesser Whitethroat.

But while it was happily feeding on the nectar of a flowering Mahonia, it appeared to have quite buff underparts, short primary projection and lots of tail-flicking. I can't recall our Lesser Whitethroats doing tail-flicking like a Chiffchaff, but then again they're usually skulking in Hawthorn.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Ballad of Maverick

Muchos thanks to Paul "Birding for Fun" Shenton for alerting me to Gyr Crakes' new one, The Ballad of Maverick!

As they say on X Factor, great choice of song, the old Stan Ridgway number. And to recall some pleasant memories of Scilly, some nice scenes of St. Agnes.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Goosetastic Trent Valley

I wanted to make the most of this weekend because for a few different reasons, that could it for birding time until over Christmas. Yesterday was a check of Uttoxeter Quarry and Brookleys Lake.

Still plenty of Canadas and Greylags around the quarry, but no wild geese. But more spectacular was the huge flock of Lapwings and Golden Plovers, must've been around 900 Lappys and 500 Golden Pullovers. Also 25 Goosander, 21 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 3 Pochard, 7 Curlew, 7 Snipe and a pair of displaying Great Crested Grebes.

As for Brookleys Lake, the Mandarins are back in force! 127 of them in the end. I think there's more around nowadays than people think, particularly in some of the river valleys like the Dove and the Churnet. Also 3 Pochard, 1 drake Shoveler, 1 female Wigeon and a calling Water Rail.

As for today, the main highlight has been White-fronted Geese in the Trent Valley. Arriving at Whitemoor Haye, a few heads of White-fronted Geese could be seen from opposite the quarry entrance. They eventually took flight and that proved there were seven of them. Also around were 14 Great Crested Grebes on the main lake, a Little Owl, loads of Mute Swans around Sittles Farm but no sign of the Bewick's that were present in the week.

Onto Croxall next. There's a guided walk next Sunday. Not that I'd be able to go anyway, I'll be recovering from the work christmas do by then. Looking at the sign, not sure how many terns they'll be expecting in December?

But anyway, a good number of Pochard at Croxall, 79 including this rather pale female. She's been in the area for the last few winters.

3 Redshank and a drake Goldeneye also, then walking back to the car five more White-fronted Geese flew over, heading towards Whitemoor Haye. They were seen by Bernie Smith at Whitemoor Haye and they continued west. So that's two groups of White-fronts around, totalling 12 birds, magic!

Finishing off at Blithfield, and good timing with the rain falling down, although Tad bay needs much more in order to fill it up. From the hide in Tad were 3 Dunlin, around 200 Golden Plover, 8 Goosander, 5 Goldeneye. And to end with, the gull roost from Watery Lane contained at least one adult Yellow-legged Gull.