Wednesday, 28 November 2012

November in a Nutshell

Rumours of my demise are premature!

So what's gone on then?  Well, a bit of post-Scilly blues, how on earth does this blog top that?  But mainly it's been the state of the laptop that I bought earlier this year.  A couple of days after finishing the Scillies blogging it completely packed in, probably had enough of me writing nonsense and piffle.

It should've been fixed and returned last week, but when turning up at PC World:  "We're extremely sorry, there's been a mix up.  A Miss Powell dropped a computer off at the same time, which got sent away and yours is still here!"  Talk about exasperating, to quote Victor Meldrew:

So I've not been best pleased, but I'm informed that it's on the way back in a couple of days time.  In the meantime, thankfully I kept hold of "old laptop", but the dear old thing is powered by a hamster in a wheel these days, and is prone to crashing.  In fact, it's already crashed once whilst getting this far, so I'd better get a move on.

Throughout November, checking at weekends of course at this time of year, the best bird around Uttoxeter Quarry (but not today by the look of things) has been an extremely late Common Sandpiper, looking set to overwinter.

Just hope it can survive.  Every time this bird has pink legs and the tail stretches beyond the primaries, so it's still not a Spotted Sand.

Back in Burton for the evening of Sunday 11th November, but before that the afternoon was spent on the banks of the mighty River Trent, taking a butchers at a Great White Egret.

From what I could tell, those viewing this bird from Clay Mills were getting rather distant views.  I knew that you could get to the riverbank from other side, at Newton Solney in South Derbyshire.  Luckily, much better views could also be gained from this side of the river too.  The Egret happily feeding in the ditches of the field by the river, and also walking around, sticking it's leg out like John Cleese's ministry of silly walks.

Around this time, the national invasion of Waxwings had reached this neck of the woods.  But personally they weren't easy to catch up with to start with, the first seen being a flock of seven in Cheadle.  Additionally, a White-rumped Sand had been discovered at Drayton Bassett during the Tuesday of the week.  Oh no, would it stay until the weekend?

Thankfully it did, and two visits were made, just to the south of Tamworth, on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th.

En route back to Drayton Bassett, I got a little distracted just before reaching the A50 at Uttoxeter.  This was due to a fine flock of Waxwings!

At least 16 birds, perched in trees just by the roadside, next to JCB's world parts centre (not world darts centre, if only!).  It was discovered they were feeding on Yew berries, which I've never seen Waxwings feed on before.  When eventually back at Drayton Bassett, a nice little bonus to the White-rumped Sand was the discovery of a Long-tailed Duck.  Or if any Americans are reading this, that's Oldsquaw to you (what's one of those?).

Finally, catching up on last weekend.  On the Saturday, unfortunately the Snow Buntings up on the moors, around the Mermaid Pool, had disappeared.  Into the afternoon, surprisingly Uttoxeter Quarry hadn't yet flooded, the Common Sand still around, along with 10 Goosanders.  In addition to the Waxwing invasion, the midlands has been getting a mini-invasion of Great Northern Divers of late.  Not sure whether I'd be needed for some DIY help on Sunday, there was enough time for a look at the Blithfield Diver by the dam.  The bird showed really well between the angling club and the dam's valve tower.

Very wisely, my DIY skills weren't required for the Sunday, so I went birding instead.  By this time Uttoxeter Quarry was flooded out.  The path through Cotton Mill farm and over the River Tean was accessible, but not knowing how much higher the river may get put me off crossing, don't fancy getting swept away and drowned!

So most of Sunday 25th was at Blithfield.  The Diver was still around the deep end, but now further in the middle because of sailing boats.  Two female Scaup were discovered in Tad Bay, and about an hour before dusk, along with Martyn, Kay and the Proud Potter, two adult Yellow-legged Gulls and a pretty good candidate for an adult Caspian Gull appeared in the Tad Bay pre-roost, before eventually flying off towards the causeway.

So that was birding in November, and rather good it was too.  Just want my laptop back.

Friday, 2 November 2012

The 2012 Scilly Season. Part 4, All the fun of Blackpoll.

There's not much left to mention on this year's Scilly trip reader.  With only one full day left, a calm, sunny day was forecast for Thursday 18th October.  The Blackpoll Warbler was still being seen on Bryher too, so a whole week after seeing the bird in flight, it had to be a return to Bryher for better views, hopefully.  But the main thing to do is to just enjoy your last full day on Scilly for this time.

There was just enough time before catching the boat, for a walk to the dump clump where a Red-breasted Flycatcher was showing well, and a Snow Bunting on Porthmellon beach too.  After about an hour and a half on Bryher, the Blackpoll Warbler was re-discovered just to the south of Veronica Farm.  Oh oh, where am I?  Stuck on a path by Samson Hill, Scilly-ticking the Hooded Crow!  Somehow I got back to the coast path rather quickly, and may have involved a bit of tresspass round a field and over a gate, but I did walk along the edge.

The Blackpoll Warbler showed absolutely brilliantly, probably the best it had shown all week, with it's full set of colours on show.  The dark wings with two white bars, yellow underneath and bright orange legs!  There's plenty of photos of the Blackpoll Warbler around the internet that do this bird justice.  It was one of those times when messing about with photography was unneccesary, just enjoy a fantastic bird.

Other birds seen on Byrrr that day included another 2 Coal Tits, a female Merlin and a selection of waders including Redshank, Greenshank and one each of Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit.

Due to the pager mishap the previous week, Friday 19th October had to be spend on St. Marys, to eventually find Dick Filby who had my new replacement pager ready.  All sorted, and a big thank you was given.  Not only for the pager, but for all the hard work he puts in there every October.  Not sure what would happen, with regard to bird news and arranging extra boats, without him.

During the day, the main highlight again was excellent views of the Red-breasted Flycatcher in the dump clump.

But with a heavy heart, aching limbs and sore feet, it was time once again to board the Scillonian ferry back to Penzance.  But even on the ferry that wasn't quite the end of it.  A pod of about 50 Common Dolphins were spotted.  But best of all when approaching Lands End, 3 Balearic Shearwaters flew south, in front of the ship!  And with them, a long overdue British tick.