Saturday 10th March – Staffordshire
Upper Longdon, Cannock Chase
A Staffs day with Martyn Yapp which began at Upper Longdon, a new part of The Chase to me. We located the Great Grey Shrike in the valley before long and followed it back up to its favourite stump where we got great views and some poor record shots.
This Shrike is one of two birds that have wintered in the county. There were also a good variety of other birds on offer – a male Stonechat, Crossbill and Redpoll over, Reed Bunting, a nice flock of around 30 Brambling feeding in the larch on the opposite side of the road, Siskin, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk.
Here we joined forces with Richard Powell, who had just partaken in the Blithfield WeBS count.
It will not come as a great surprise to anyone to learn that I’m quite fond of Black Redstarts. Phoenicurus ochruros (hence the title of this blog) is my most favouritist bird and I was keen to get it on my year list.
The immature male Black Redstart (present since 17th December) was around the dam tower and it sang a little from here. It was a mobile bird and we feasted our eyes on the little beauty again around the sailing club. This pleased me greatly.
Well nothing else could really compete with that, but other birds noted here included a flock of c60 Wigeon in 10 acre Bay, 23 Cormorant, 5 Grey Heron on the sewage works, Grey Wagtail heard calling and a 1st winter Great Black-backed Gull.
|1st winter GBBG - photo coutesy of Martyn Yapp|
Branston Gravel Pits
On to Branston where a Staffs mini wader passage was occurring with 1 Knot, 4 Ruff, 5 Ringed Plover, 6 Green Sandpiper and 2 Redshank. Also here a pair of Pintail, an immature White-fronted Goose, 22 Golden Plover, 19 Curlew, 1 Little Egret, Shelduck and Little Grebe. We also encountered a number of other birders here (unusual for a Staffs GP).
|Wader action in Staffs - image coutesy of Richard Powell|
Another Gravel Pit, which can be very good at times, but sadly very quiet today. The only birds of note were c15 Goldeneye, 3 Oystercatcher, 7 Redshank and a single Snipe.
On the way home we quickly checked the field at Whitemoor Haye. The most interesting thing seen here were people trying to land flying machines in windy conditions and making a right pigs ear of it. Not many birds of note apart from a feeding Mute Swan herd, c60 Golden Plover and 2 Fieldfare.