Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Ochruros Musings and a Good Staffs Day

11th August 2012

The Ochruros season came to a poignant end, watching a lone bird hopping about on roofs from an elevated urban watchpoint. I can now reveal that Martyn and I kept tabs on two separate presumed single males from spring into summer. It was an absolute privilege to watch these charismatic urban dwelling birds right from the very heart of the conurbation,

Both of the birds seemed to remain unpaired, although this could not be proven as the birds became elusive after their initial territorial singing. Both were 1st-summer birds, which gives me great hope as it is though that 1st summer birds tend to return to their natal area. Perhaps the apparent lack of breeding is simply due to a lack of experience?

12th August 2012

Croxall Lakes, 7:45am

Starting out at Croxall, alas the high water level on the main pool is still causing much disappointment on the wader front. However there was visible muddy scrape on the back pool and this and the river banks had attracted 10 plus Green Sandpiper, and 15 or so Snipe. A single Common Sand was on the edge of the main pool. 3 Little Egrets today, with up to 6 being reported of late.

In addition to the increase in wader activity there was a noticeable movement of passerines. This included 1 Garden Warbler, 2 female Blackcaps, some lovely yellowy juv Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs and 1 Yellow Wagtail.

Goosander are now a regular fixture on the river. A Kingfisher was on the back pool.

Blithfield Reservoir, 12:00

With an easterly breeze and a slight inclemency in the air, it was time to move on to bigger and better things (ie Blithfield) for the remainder of the day.

I hadn’t quite expected a regional tick today, but soon after arrival I was furnished with one! 2 Sandwich Terns were around the deeps as we watched from the Fisherman’s hut. 

Sandwich Tern - images appear courtesy of Martyn Yapp - http://www.theregionaltick.blogspot.co.uk/

Another very good Staffs bird was a juvenile Marsh Harrier that was in Tad Bay at 2:55pm, having put in a number of appearances both here and at Uttoxeter in recent days.

Other notable birds were 2 Yellow-legged Gull present (adult and 3rd cy), a juv Arctic Tern along with 30 or so Common tern and 2 Common Sandpiper.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Tri-County Regional Birding

Saturday 4th August 2012

With the ghetto birding season all but over and autumn approaching, it was time to make a return to the A38 gravel pits for a few hours this morning. The water levels are at last receding, albeit very slowly.

Croxall Lakes 9.10am

Enough muddy edge had appeared on the main lake to accommodate a Common Sandpiper, with another 2 also on the river. No Common Terns today, perhaps sadly now departed due to lack of success. Notable birds on the reserve included 2 Goosander on the river, 1 Little Egret, 10 Great-crested Grebe and a Buzzard.

Almost on first name terms with this song thrush now...

Sunday 5th August 2012

Grimley New Workings, Worcs 8:00am

Although not documented on here, the previous visit to Grimley with Martyn saw us dipping White-rumped Sandpiper at 6:00am on 15th July. An important regional bird missed out on there. You can read more details of this tragic morning and also about historical midlands records of WRS on the Regional Tick blog.

This morning’s regional twitch however was more of a success. Great White Egret, a bird that has become much more regular in the West Midlands region in recent years was still absent from my personal regional list.

This was easily put right though, with the bird flying into the main pool around 8.00am-ish and preening and showing well for us. We were close enough to observe the striking green loral patch and long yellow bill, before this gangly egret headed off north. At the time of writing, this bird is still putting in daily appearances at Grimley. 

Great White Egret - courtesy Martyn Yapp - http://www.theregionaltick.blogspot.co.uk/
Great White Egret - courtesy Martyn Yapp - http://www.theregionaltick.blogspot.co.uk/

Other birds noted at Camp Lane Pools were 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Grey Heron, 5 Skylark and a Buzzard.

At Wagon Wheel Lane, surprisingly the floods seemed to have almost dried up. That did not however, deter 2 Green Sand, 1 Dunlin, 1 Snipe and 1 LRP.

Marsh Lane, West Midlands 10:30am

A Temminck’s Stint was reported early morning. A report that turned out to be ‘erroneous’ - the bird in question was in fact a smart adult Pectoral Sandpiper! That will do nicely, a second regional tick in one day, not often that happens. Very nice indeed.

Also here 1 LRP, 3 Oystercatcher and 5 Common Tern.

Blithfield Reservoir, Staffs

We now visited our third county of the day.

On the way to Blithers we stopped in at a withheld location, where there were some unseasonably wintery sights, including 7 Wigeon and a staggering 32 Goosander. This was counterbalanced with a more summery sight of some juv Yellow Wagtails. A thunderstorm was approaching.

At Blithfield we concentrated on the Dam and Causeway areas hoping the storm had dropped something tasty in. It did drop in a Little Gull, but we did not see this.

About 50 Common Terns were present and a Yellow-legged Gull was on one of the bouys. A different bird than the YLG from a couple of weeks ago, this one being a full adult. Also 2 Common Sandpiper on the causeway.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Sunday 29th July

It’s fair to say last Sunday was a good wader day.

Martyn and I headed up to Frodsham Marsh, the reason for this – a Buff-breasted Sandpiper that had appeared yesterday. This would be a new tick for me, although it did sound elusive and flighty in yesterday's report. All the words I don’t like to hear. At any rate a wader fix was badly needed, so off we went.

Scanning Tank 6 from the main path, there were quite a number of birders assembled, including a few familiar faces from across the Staffs border. An impressive flock of up to 1000 Black-tailed Godwit were roosting, along with a single Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Redshank. Dunlin were more active as we searched through them unsuccessfully for the Buff-breasted Sand.

This approach clearly was not working with none of the birders present managing to spot the BBS. After an hour or so we decided to try another tack, to find another viewing area as the bird had been seen at the back of the tank late yesterday and some parts of the tank were very distant viewing from where we stood.

Our investigations paid off. There were quite a number of small waders working through the vegetation on the other side, mainly Dunlin, but also a Little Stint, 4 Snipe and single Ringed & LR Plovers. There was also a Ruff here and once we got onto that, Martyn locked onto another small wader – the Buff-breasted Sandpiper!

It stayed closely associated with the Ruff whilst it was feeding and it was moving quickly. A new bird for me, it was slightly smaller than I’d anticipated but it’s warm, buffy colouration was noted, as was its short bill and yellow legs. Assumed the bird was an adult. We had good scope views for about 10 minutes before all the waders flushed by a Marsh Harrier. Both the Buff-breast Sand and Ruff flew off with a Lapwing flock.

Other birds noted included 3 Yellow Wagtails, a showy Reed Warbler, 53 Shelduck, 3 Teal, 40 Curlew (in a nearby field) and 2 Ruddy Shelduck.

We then spent the afternoon around the Burton Mere/Inner Marsh Farm area.

At Burton Mere we had 3 Avocet, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Snipe, Little Egret, 1 Ruff (a male moulting out breeding plumage), 3 Oystercatcher, 4 Redshank and a few Teal and Gadwall. A Water Rail was heard calling.

Dragonflys noted were Common Darter, Brown Hawker and Blue Tailed Damselfly.

The hide at Inner Marsh Farm was far less populated that Burton and therefore a more enjoyable place to watch from. Waders again was a key theme – 105 Black-tailed Godwit, 27 Redshank, 7 Avocet, Dunlin, 1 LRP, 1 Ringed Plover 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Snipe. Also here Little Egret, 2 Buzzard, 4 Common Tern (3 juvs) and a few Teal.