Monday, 14 May 2012

Regional Catch-Up

Saturday 5th and Sunday 13th May were spent birding Staffs with the Regional Tick. This was interspersed with a brief visit to Norfolk and yet another life bird, however more of that later...

Saturday 5th May

A slightly later than usual start with Martyn and I arriving around 8:15am at the inner city Bird Obs. It was dead; very early is best for urban birding. A Grey Heron flew over and Lesser Black-backed Gulls came very close, a daily sight for Brum dwellers, with 555 pairs now breeding in the City and 31 confirmed breeding pairs of Herring Gull.*

*SOURCE – Jim Winsper’s survey - Roof-top nesting gulls in the Birmingham area

It was already noisy and difficult to hear any birdsong, so we headed northwards into Staffs.

Croxall GP

Two Hobby overhead and a showy Garden Warbler provided welcome year ticks. Also noted 3 Whitethroat, 3 Sedge Warbler and an elusive Reed Warbler. Around the pool - 6 Oystercatcher, 2 Common Tern, 6 Teal, a Shelduck over and many hirundines. Disappointingly the water was very high, meaning wader-passage is none existent.

Sedge Warbler - Image courtesy of Martyn Yapp -
Swift - Image Courtesy of Martyn Yapp -

Whitemoor Haye

Mass hirundine action in progress. This attracted the attentions of 3 Hobby, which flushed all the hirundines. 

We tried our best, but none of the Swallows had red rumps. There was also some Tern action however these were 12 plain old Common.

3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Redshank, 1 Oystercatcher. Also a pair of Lapwing were noted to have young. Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow present.

Blithfield Reservoir

A single Black Tern fed around the causeway and the mouth of Tad Bay. Great to catch up with, a bird I managed to miss the last couple of years. A mind-boggling number of hirundines were here, with probably a 1000 of both Swallow and Swift. Yet another Hobby was noted.

Around 5 Yellow Wagtails near the Causeway and another 10+ by Beechtree Point, along with a White Wagtail.

Waders, again foiled by very high waters but 3 Common Sand and 5 LRP were on the causeway. A Whimbrel was heard. 2 Goldeneye were in Blith Bay, with 5 more in Tad. Also in Tad Bay, was Richard Powell, reaching the latter stages of his big Staffs bird race day.

Our visit concluded with watching 3 Common Scoter (2 drakes & 1 female) in St.Stephens Bay, always an intriguing sight on a midlands res.

Sunday 13th May

Good news....

Cuckoo bank

My first visit to Cuckoo Bank, the area north of Chasewater, made up of gorse, heath and grasslands with the odd pool. Target bird - Grasshopper Warbler. This was not too difficult, we soon caught up with a reeling Gropper that didn’t take long to show itself.

It was certainly warbler-tastic here, also with a few Garden Warblers, several Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat heard, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler. Also of note, the place lived up to its name with a calling Cuckoo, as well as 4 Buzzard, Kestrel and a Yellow Wagtail over.

Seven Springs / Stepping Stones, Cannock Chase

The warbler theme continued here. A Wood Warbler was easy-peasy here, but better views would have been nice; a close bird was disturbed by the poor fieldcraft of another observer.

Another couple of Garden Warbler were noted here, again very visable. Also Cuckoo, a cracking male Redstart in song, 4 Willow Warbler, Tree Pipit, Whitethroat, Redpoll and Siskn both heard and 2 Nuthatch. Pied Fly eluded us, but then it was getting later and busy with none-birder types enjoying all manner of weekend activity. Perhaps we should have taken a trip up to Flamborough Head instead...

Croxall GP

The high water levels still putting paid to Spring wader passage. Noted Reed Warbler, 4 Garden Warbler, 4 Common Tern, 1 Shelduck, 2 Oystercatcher, 5 Gadwall, a Sparrowhawk and a very distant Hobby.

Whitemoor Haye

I have to confess here that I had been feeling a little poorly and this and the early start had really started to catch up with me. There was very little of note here anyway – 1 Redshank, 2 Oystercatcher and a Yellow Wagtail were briefly noted and that was it really.

I am off to Portland for a week very soon, staying at the Bird Observatory. News to follow...

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