Well, what on earth do I say this time? It's the last day of September, and with the exception of a great morning on the moors last Sunday, on the whole birding locally this month can be summed up with this facial expression.
Thanks to the Olympics opening ceremony for that. I really hoped that this weekend's windier conditions might've brought something in, but it hasn't been the case. Uttoxeter Quarry had a bit of a build-up of duck yesterday, which included 3 Pintail, 37 Wigeon, 74 Teal, 5 Shoveler and 2 Goosander. Singles of Dunlin and Golden Plover, 6 Snipe, 3 Curlew, 2 Green Sands and 74 Lapwings completed the set of waders. Also present was a site year-tick, in the form of 3 Jays.
Next was Aqualate Mere to have a look at the Black-necked Grebe. One matter that I hadn't accounted for was the boardwalk to the hide being completely flooded. Usually the paths at Aqualate are very good, no need for wellies. Well, being too lazy to turn back for them, there was only one thing for it, and get my feet wet.
The water only got to about ankle-deep, and once in the hide the wind was whipping up the waves across the mere.
After much searching the Black-necked Grebe was eventually found about half-way out. The combination of frequent diving and bobbing in the waves didn't make it easy to locate. But it was there, and that's the first Black-necked Grebe I've seen this year. A Black Tern was also flying around the mere. Just got to get my feet wet through the boardwalk again, and a squelchy walk back to the car!
Looking at the map I had forgotten that Belvide is fairly near to Aqualate. Not wanting to put up with Stafford traffic again a look around Belvide was next, in the Scott and Chappell hides. But apart from a couple of Goldeneye, nothing really out of the ordinary. Looking through the log book in the Scott hide however, the report of two Sandwich Terns here in the week, turning out to be erroneous, all became clear!
And as for today, it's just been Blithfield. A single Common Tern off the causeway, 28 Wigeon in Tad Bay and that's as good as it got. A good sign to pack it in for today.
And that's it from local birding for a while. A week of work to get through, then next weekend I'll be doing my packing, sorting out matching pairs of socks (you can never pack too many!), and make my way down to Penzance once again, supping pints of Tribute, Proper Job or Doom Bar in The Dolphin next Sunday evening.
Then onto the Scillies for eleven nights, the annual October battle between birder and Pittosporum bushes. Pittosporum is horribly dense stuff, but I'm getting excited about it all now. Last year really was an incredible time, if it's only half as good this time I'll be pleased.
Recent rarity highlights on Scilly have included Buff-bellied Pipit and Ortolan Bunting, both of which would go down very well with me. Whether they'll stick until the 8th remains to be seen of course. But then again, I thought the same about that Waterthrush last year.
And just to get myself even more excited, here's something I found on Youtube. Bring it on!