Well, it's another Bank Holiday Monday, but it's not been quite as wet as the forecast made it to be, for once. Must admit I'm ready to say good riddance to this summer, bring on the autumn. Ever since Easter Monday when it threw down all day it's been so wet, pretty much all reservoirs and gravel pits are still full of water. Very disheartening for trying to find some passage waders, but I suppose you just have to concentrate on other birds instead.
Saturday's birding began at Uttoxeter Quarry, which had a few waders despite rising water levels again. The Greenshank and one LRP were still around, 5 Ringed Plovers were new in, plus 8 Common and 4 Green Sands. Add to this a female Pintail, a Redstart, a Yellow Wagtail and 3 Common Terns, it was a decent selection if nothing out of the ordinary.
Onto the Blithfield causeway, and a first scan immediately revealed an old friend from last week, the Marsh Harrier! Which soared over the Duckley Plantation then headed north-west, round the corner of Tad Bay, then briefly seen in Blithe Bay. Also seen from the Tad Bay hide were a Hobby, 2 Pochard and 2 Wigeon. So with these and the Pintail, the first few winter duck starting to arrive.
Whilst at Blithers a text from Mad Malc was received, to say there's a Whinchat on the Cheadle Chatline. Don't worry, the Cheadle Chatline is not one of those 0898 numbers, that kind of chatline doesn't even bear thinking about. It's not even the birding equivalent of the Samaritans. It's just a very long piece of fence wire and rough ground in a farmer's field on the northern outskirts of Cheadle, and is proving to be quite a reliable spot for passage Whinchats.
Eventually two Whinchats had been seen, but by the time I got there I managed to find one bird, perched on a bale of hay.
Zoom in a bit.
A year ago, a visit to Swineholes Wood up on Ipstones Edge, proved productive with good flocks of tits, warblers, Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers. So that's where Sunday's birding began, but what a contrast this time. Just a single Spotted Flycatcher and 6 Willow Warblers were found in amongst a few Blue Tits and Coal Tits, surely another sign of the wet summer having a detremental effect on passerine numbers.
After that disappointment, at least Branston Gravel Pits should have some waders. This proved to be the case with a Ruff, 18 Black-tailed Godwits, 15 Green Sands, 2 Common Sands, 2 Dunlin, one Ringed Plover and 15 Curlew present.