Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Ochruros meets Ochruros

Some regional birding was in order this weekend. One county simply won’t do for a number of West Midlands birders; hence ‘the region’ – the quad county area of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands as covered by West Midland Bird Club. These four landlocked counties can be hard work at times, but our region can also be very rewarding and holds some surprisingly diverse bird life.

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.

Blithfield Reservoir

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

Croxall GP

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.


  1. Upper Longdon GG Shrike was great bird to see. Have still yet to catch up with your fave Black Redstart this year.
    Nice to see you are back on the blogging scene Kay. Will look forward to reading more of your birding tales. All the best heading toward to big 300!

  2. Thanks Jo, nice to hear from you and glad you are still actively birding in the region. Hope to bump into you in the field some time :-)