Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Juvenile Gulls

It's all gone now of course, but last week St. Swithin did eventually do his stuff, and weather resembling summmer did materialise.  Just in time to develop a most unpleasant cold, it's been absolutely horrible.

So with the dreaded lurgy and the beginning of the Olympics to enjoy, last weekend was expected to be a bit of a write-off on the birding front.  But last Friday evening, Andy found a juvenile Med Gull at Croxden Quarry, and was still present on arrival straight after work.

Then if that wasn't enough, after about half an hour an adult Med Gull flew in, cracking stuff!

Also present was the adult Yellow-legged Gull that's been coming and going from Croxden for a while now.

Another adult Yellow-leg was at Uttoxeter Quarry on Saturday afternoon, along with good numbers of Black Heads and Lesser Black-backeds, but other than that nothing out of the ordinary.  Then just when you think Sunday can be a day off and recover a bit, Andy goes and finds a Black-tailed Godwit at Uttoxeter.  Better have a quick look at it as it would be a quarry year tick.

As a matter of fact, it's the second Blackwit I've seen locally this year, and both in the same pose!  Before setting for home another scan of the gulls was done.  One of them was similar size to the Black-headed Gulls, had a plain, pale head, dark bill and a bit of a scaley pattern to the mantle and scapulars.  Great, another juvenile Med Gull, pictures taken and off home.

Then, when loading the photos on the computer and comparing it with the Croxden bird, pieces in the puzzle weren't fitting.  The pale front end looked ok, but bill wasn't right and the white edging to the mantle and scapular's scale pattern was nowhere near as pronounced as the Croxden bird.  So other than a Beecham's-influenced hallucination, what's going on?

Perhaps it was actually a juvenile Common Gull instead, but the more pictures I studied, and being under the weather, the more confused I got.  Thankfully after a few second opinions, the consensus is indeed that this is a juvenile Common Gull:

Although I must've done before at some point, I can't ever recall seeing a juvenile Common Gull like this one, looking so juvenile-like if you will, so close to home at the end of July.  When they usually appear later in the year they've all moulted into a first-winter plumage of course.  Am I worried about making a boo-boo, certainly not because everyone comes a cropper on gulls at some point.  When you get little experiences like this, in the flesh, you learn so much more from it.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Happy St. Swithin's Day!

As everyone knows on the 15th July, St. Swithin's Day.  If it's rains on this day then expect it to rain for the next 40 days and nights.  And if it's fine weather, then expect that for the next 40 days and nights.  It's been a fine and sunny day today, so come on St. Swithin, do your stuff and give us a dry spell!

Over at Uttoxeter Quarry, the main gravel pit these days is connected to the River Dove, so the water level goes up and down with the river.  It's noticeable that flood waters do recede relatively quickly, so at least for today there's a bit of shoreline on offer, but a dry few weeks would of course expose more.

It was enough for decent selection of waders considering the circumstances, and getting a nice little run of birds going of late.  The main highlight being the first Greenshank of the year, along with 7 Common and 4 Green Sandpipers, 2 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and 86 Lapwings.  The family of Spotted Flycatchers with two youngsters were still around, as was this male Redstart.  Not quite as smart as he would be in the spring, but still rather dapper.

No such luck with receding water levels at Blithers.  If the water recedes at all this summer?  Certainly hope it does.  But a scan from the causeway revealed good counts of 33 Common Terns over the water, and 8 Common Sandpipers along the wall of the causeway.

Finishing the day off at Branston Gravel Pits.  Another Greenshank here, and nearer than the Uttoxeter bird to have it's picture taken.

Other birds here included 3 Green Sandpipers, 3 Ringed Plovers, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 18 Curlew, 1 Oystercatcher, 2 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Green Woodpeckers and a Raven.

No pressure St. Swithin, but we've had enough rain now, it's not funny any more!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Scootering Scoter

I've said it before and I'll say it again, don't write July off for birding.  It doesn't have to be all moths, butterflies, dragonflies and other creepy crawlies.  Take Thursday for example, checking Uttoxeter Quarry after work before it floods again.  A drake Common Scoter had appeared:

I find it a strange phenomenon that Common Scoters appear on inland waters at this time of year, but it always happens.  It would've been nice to check the quarry after work on Friday, after all the rain, But with a couple of closed, flooded roads between work and home, at Sandon and Lower Tean, perhaps it's best to make sure I can actually get home!

Checking the quarry this morning, it had indeed flooded for the fourth time since the end of April.  The Common Scoter was still present, 5 Green Sandpipers found a flood in a field to their liking, 10 Common Sands were wandering around a combination of the little remaining shoreline, and the flotsam and jetsam adjoining the shore.  It was also really pleasing to find a family party of Spotted Flycatchers, at least they've been successful:

Not sure what birding is going to be done tomorrow, I hear there's a little game of tennis on the telly to watch.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Heavens to Murgatroyd, it's an Ozzy!

Without one particular bird this afternoon, I don't think I would've any blogging this evening.  No birding done yesterday due to some much-needed housework, and today just a usual check of Uttoxeter Quarry.

A scan through the Lesser Black-backed Gulls had a Yellow-legged Gull with them, 3rd summer or a near-adult anyway.  Then they all took off.  Whilst looking through all the gulls in the air another large bird was descending from the sky.  But this was no gull, it was only an Osprey, wayhey!

It had a fly around the gravel pit, landed briefly a couple of times.  I for one was very pleased to see it, which can't be said for the Common Terns and Oystercatchers!

Then after a failed attempt to catch a fish, the Osprey steadily gained height, drifted off south-east and into Derbyshire.  It's strange that after seeing loads of Ospreys in Cape May, I can still get really excited about one close to home.  Also around this afternoon, completing a decent selection for July 1st were 8 Common Sandpipers, 7 Common Terns, 2 Redshank and 2 Raven.