I've been meaning to type out some carefully-written prowse for about the last week, but just not had chance until now.
So what's happened over the last few weekends? Well, on Sunday 7th April I had arranged to meet a chap from Walsall to receive a collection of West Midland Bird Club annual reports, dating back to 1974. It was advertised in the last bulletin, and I thought if they're free then I'll have them. They will be treasured and well looked after.
And where better to perform this exchange than at the causeway of Blithfield Reservoir? Especially as a Sandwich Tern was flying around the deep end at the time. The bird landed on one of the floats just north of the causeway for a brief moment, which allowed for this picture of the highest quality! Er, not really.
Also at nearby Blithbury, a Whooper Swan in amongst the Mutes. And with the Sandwich Tern, a classic case of a seasonal crossover.
By the time of the following weekend, plenty of spring migrants were around, with Sand Martins in particular delayed for several weeks. So it was great to see good numbers of those and Swallows, plus a single House Martin at Uttoxeter Quarry. Also the first few Yellow Wagtails back, the males looking flourescently bright!
And onto the weekend just gone. A gloriously sunny Saturday meant some woodland exploring to begin with. The results of which included a Tree Pipit at Croxden Quarry, Pied Flycatcher and Redstart at Dimmingsdale, and plenty of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps back in. Next it was to Berry Hill Fields, which revealed the two Ring Ouzels and this male Whinchat, with the bright lights of Bentilee in the background!
Finishing Saturday off at Uttoxeter Quarry, one of Andy's Whinchats was still present. To prove that spring has been a bit of an odd one so far, with Sand Martins being weeks late. Paradoxically, the quarry also had the first Lesser Whitethroat of the year and this Whimbrel still, both of which have arrived a bit early I think.
Finishing off with Sunday. Starting off at the quarry there didn't appear to be much change, although a Sedge Warbler was new in, no sign of the Whimbrel. It was at this point when leaving that those birding stalwarts of the Potteries, Mick Hurst and John Booth, arrived. So it was onto Blithfield, where all the Terns from the causeway looked like Arctics to me. Especially this one.
Eventually a wader was spotted towards the Watery Lane end of the causeway. It was the Knot which was present the previous afternoon. That's lucky, might even be able to get a decent picture of it with the Panasonic camera. No digscoping here!
Whilst walking back to the Admaston end of the causeway, John and Mick had arrived and informed me of a Greenshank at the quarry. Doh, I missed that but I'm glad they told me. Before heading back was a quick check of Branston Gravel Pits. Which, alas, was a bit quiet, the sandy pit in particular is rather full of water at the moment, it's not going to attract too many waders like that.
Uttoxeter Quarry on the other hand currently has plenty of shoreline, although not much of it is that muddy. But enough for the Greenshank to stick around on the way home. When it comes to taking pictures, and digiscoping in particular, I think I have a new catchphrase. "Distance makes the difference!" (similar to "Catches win Matches"), because this is awful, but at least you can make out it is a Greenshank.