Sunday, 29 April 2012

Write off a patch at your peril!

A week ago, I was convinced that I would by writing Uttoxeter Quarry's spring birding obituary by now. All the rain has left it full to the brim. But thinking it wouldn't attract any spring passage waders, the last few days have been to the contrary. Not sure if I'm pleasantly surprised or slightly amazed.

Last Wednesday had a large passage of Arctic Terns and Little Gulls across the midlands. By the time I got down after work there were no sign of either, but there were 2 Bar-tailed Godwits feeding in a field! One of them in almost full summer plumage. A repeat visit after work on Friday revealed the "bi-bi-bi-bi-bip" call of a Whimbrel passing through. It's always a good day when you hear a Whimbrel! And in between, Stevie Fair Isle Turner had a Sanderling, so this wader action has cheered up me no end, it's not a lost cause.

Before checking again yesterday, the first idea was to check an area of farmland in Cheadle, next to the JCB factory, which was good for Whinchat last year. En route are the pools next to Blake Hall Fishery, which had a Brent Goose a couple of years ago. As daft as it sounds, I thought, with the conditions I'd better check if some poor unsuspecting wader had found itself here. Well there was one!

It's a Godwit, but it's fast asleep.

Eventually, a straight bill with lots of yellow on it was revealed, meaning this was a Black-tailed Godwit, brilliant! Also 3 Wheatears in the surrounding fields here, and two other Wheatears in other bits of Cheadle farmland.

Back to Uttoxeter Quarry.  More usual wader fayre was on offer this time, such as 4 Common Sandpipers, a Ringed Plover and a summer-plumaged Dunlin.  But continuing the run on Wheatears, 22 of them was a site record count for me.  And I thought that was good, until I heard about the numbers on Berry Hill, which was heading towards 90.

Finishing yesterday off at Blithfield. The drake Green-winged Teal showed well straight away, viewed from the Newtonhurst Lane end of Tad Bay. And a fine specimen it looks too.

Five terns were off the causeway, certainly a couple of them looked good for Arctic Terns if not all of them, not always easy to tell at distance. Below the dam, a Yellow Wagtail and only (!) seven Wheatears were present.

And Blithfield is all I've done today.  With the weather being so foul, at least it's easy to view from a hide or scan the deep end from the car.  The only real change was the increased number of terns.  16 was the highest count from the Beech Tree Point hide towards the causeway.  Taking the time to scrutinise them, I think there was quite an even split between Arctic (9) and Common (7) Terns.  The Green-winged Teal was still in Tad Bay too.


John said...

Green-winged Teal, nice !

Anonymous said...

It's a shame they are looking to install an 87 metre wind turbine at Uttoxeter Quarry. I am sure it will have a negative impact on the bird population around the quarry.

Richard Powell said...

Thanks for the comment Anon. Please give a name, then I may have more the say on the matter!

Paul Bostock said...

Sorry, I did not know how to put my name in. I often go walking around the area of the Quarry. Although I am not a bird watcher, I often stop to admire some of the birds that I see around this area. In the summer I often watch the raptors on the thermals rising up from the quarry. I am not someone who is against wind power. I think it is essential that we look at alternative sources of energy. Sometimes these things need to be sited with consideration. In Spain they have found thousands of dead birds around turbine installations. They are the only ountry to admit they are a serious risk to bird populations. Uttoxeter Quarry promised the people of Uttoxeter that they would provide a quiet facility for bird watching, sport and leisure once quarrying operations were completed. Now we find they want to put a bird mincer in the middle of this development.

Richard Powell said...

Thanks Paul. The last I heard about it was that it's still in the consultation stage, and not even as far as a planning application. I don't know if things have since changed though.

The local wildlife trust are also aware of the situation, they would do an environmental impact assessment.