Saturday, 21 April 2012

Splendid Stilts, and the first few Terns

On Thursday afternoon whilst at work, a quick check of the pager mentioned 2 Black-winged Stilts at Clayhanger Marsh in the West Midlands. Having to get there from home at 5:30 would've been just too far. But being in the office in Stafford, it's half an hour nearer already, so lets have a look.

As it's another new place on me, a look on Google Maps surprised me to learn that's its the same way as you would go to Stubber's Green, so that's easy enough. After parking up, walking past Ryders Mere and along the raised embankment path towards the marsh, the Stilts came flying over my head! As illustrated in this artists impression. Can you tell what it is yet?

They did descend and it looked as if they were going to land somewhere on Ryders Mere. But by the time of retracing my steps and returning to the lake, no sign of them, preparing themselves to move to Leighton Moss the next day. But there were 2 Common Terns on the mere, first ones of the year for me. So all in all, a rather lucky twitch that one.

Onto today. Starting at Uttoxeter Quarry, all the rain in recent days have pushed up water levels considerably. The first sight of that was a bit soul destroying actually, it could be a tough old spring. I blame this drought we're having!

But anyway, the shining highlight was the first Common Tern of the year, along with a Common Sand, 6 Goosanders and flyover drake Mandarin.

Where else would you go next to lift your spirits? Branston Gravel Pits of course! Most of the bird action occurred on the sandy pit, which yielded 7 Ruff, 4 Green Sand, smart males of Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear, and a Water Rail showed well for a short time.

It's been a funny (peculiar) couple of weeks for weather, with non-stop north/north-westerly winds and frequent showers. Obviously that hasn't stopped birds like the Terns making it here, and the Stilts of course. But it's definitely delaying some of the passerines. For example, I would've thought there would be quite a few Whitethroats around by now, not seen any yet. It'll happen though, they'll get here.

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