Sunday, 23 September 2012

A long weekend

Currently in the middle of a long weekend, with a couple of days off work.  Can't see Monday being a birding day though, due to waiting around for a little man to get a job done at home. 

Friday was though, the drizzly morning looked quite hopeful for bringing something down.  A morning at Uttoxeter Quarry was quite productive for some waders, I suppose in the context of this autumn it was pretty good.  Highlights included 2 Golden Plover, 10 Snipe, 2 Curlew, 2 Ringed Plovers, a Dunlin and still a Common Sandpiper clinging on.

Branston GP's was a little disappointing though, with only a Ruff, 5 Curlew and a Green Sandpiper.  Perhaps I'm expecting too much though, I don't know.  Onto Saturday, a gloriously sunny day. Starting off at Croxden Quarry, large numbers of Swallows, plus a few Meadow Pipits, could be seen making their way south.  This Jay showed well, pity the camera lens was a little steamed up, but never mind.

Uttoxeter Quarry didn't have much change, so quite a bit of time was spend studying the Common Sandpiper.  It's getting quite late for them now, and as autumn progresses I suppose thoughts would be turning towards Spotted Sandpiper, which of course happened at Tittesworth a few years ago.  So why is it a Common Sand, and not a Spotted Sand?

There was the barred effect on the wing coverts but it didn't stand out that much, plus a white supercilium.  This bird also has pink legs, so definitely a Common Sand.  Sometimes it's good to just remind yourself these things and refresh the old grey matter.

Following a tip-off on Saturday evening, of roosting Hen Harriers up on the North Staffs Moors, it was a pleasant surprise to wake up to a dry Sunday morning.  A drive around the moors, the male Hen Harrier was caught up with at Swallow Moss, and what a magnificent sight it was too!  In fact, it was great to see a Hen Harrier up there in good light conditions.  Usually, and particularly back in the day when Hen Harriers regularly roosted at Swallow Moss during the winter, they would appear when it was nearly dark.

Other birds seen up t'moors included 10 Snipe flying around Swallow Moss, around 300 Pink-footed Geese flying north-west (either making the most of the easterly wind from Norfolk to Lancashire, or aborting a flight to Norfolk and turning round?), and this Whinchat at Knotbury.

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