Monday, 25 June 2012

16th & 17th June 2012

This blog is in serious danger of becoming a twitching diary. It was therefore time for some long overdue regional birding. Martyn had just returned from a fortnight’s birding holiday in Turkey so a Staffs day out was planned; beginning at Aqualate Mere, we would move on to Blithfield and then take in the usual GPs on the way home.

Saturday 16th June 2012

A female Marsh Harrier was hunting the reedbeds upon our arrival and had certainly been present for a few weeks. Quite a surprise and very nice to see in Staffs. Also here Cuckoo, Willow Tit, Yellowhammer, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Buzzard. There were a massive number of Swifts and hirundines here, numbering 100’s of birds.

Marsh Harrier - image courtesy of Martyn Yapp

It was a bit of a windy wet day really and the Turtle Doves could not even be heard purring let alone be seen. I engaged in a little feeder fodder photography before we moved on.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Tit

We then checked out Coley Marsh. It looked like the sort of place that could do a passage wader or two, but today it was quiet. A few pairs of Black-headed Gulls were nesting, also here Gadwall, Little Grebe, Stock Dove and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Sandwiches scoffed at Blithfield, we were poised ready to put in a few hours here, however we were rudely interrupted by news of a Red-backed Shrike at Black Bank, North Staffs. Blithers cast asunder and we were soon heading north towards a Staffs mega.

This fine female Red-backed Shrike showed well along barbed wire, busily feeding on bees and beetles. Not close, but fine for good scope views. Here we saw lots of familiar faces, glad so many could make it being as the bird only ended up staying one day.

Staffs Mega - Red-backed Shrike - image courstesy of Martyn Yapp

On the way home we checked into Gailey where there were again notably large numbers of Swift and House Martin and 16 Common Tern.

 Sunday 17th June

Some urban birding in the morning resulted in watching a Peregrine flying and calling around the BT Tower. Peregrines are a regular feature of Birmingham's skyscape these days and I have seen them in the centre quite a few times this year. Across the city at another site there are a pair of Kestrels.

Brummygrine - image courtesty of Martyn Yapp

Much later that day I was in Herts to see the female Little Bittern that had been showing very well along the river at Stockers Lake. This was my second Little Bittern, however my first one was brief flight views of a male at Shapwick Heath in 2009. I’m never truly happy with a bird till I get to see one properly, so I was keen to see this bird.

Little Bittern did not disappoint. After a brief wait whilst the bird skulked, she eventually came out into the open fishing and sometimes climbing up on the reeds and branches. Gorgeous warm brown colouration, breast-streaking, pale brown wing patch and a dark crown showed that this bird is quite different from the male but equally striking.

Little Bittern - with now slightly less topical Euro 2012 football

Little Bittern - image courtesy Mark Rayment

Also here Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Common Tern , Reed Bunting, Whitethroat and Pochard. Butterflies seem few and far between lately but an Orange-Tip was noted along with a few damselflys - Banded Damoiselle, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselfly.

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