Another day out in Staffordshire was planned, following on from last weekends rather productive session. First stop after Westport was at Brookleys Lake, which was rather frozen following a fall to -3C overnight. All the wildfowl were congregated around a small open patch on the right, and so we stayed at the bottom and scoped from there so as to avoid flushing. We saw six Mandarin.
A pair of Mandarin at Brookleys Lake
We had brief pauses at JCB Pools, Rocester and on the causeway at Blithfield before heading to Branston GPs, and our first visit of the year to this site. The first pool was quite busy with two Pink-feet among the Greylags, 22 Gadwall, six Shelduck, 62 Wigeon, 45 Pochard and a Redshank, but the rest of the pits were virtually birdless, with just two Crows on the Sandy Pits and single Green Sands and Redshank further along.
We were going to check other pits in the area but with working and maintenance going on, it was necessary to head elsewhere. We made the decision to cross the county line and head down to West Mids County and go and see the BLACK-THROATED DIVER at Clayhanger Marsh. This was a new site to us, and many thanks to Messrs Yapp, Nuttall and Jones who all assisted in trying to get us to the site. We did eventually find Ryder's Mere (the problem was it was in Pelsall, and not Brownhills or Clayhanger) and easily found the very showy juvenile Black-throated Diver. We had been alerted to the fact that the diver was showing a chin strap, but despite all our efforts, we couldn't quite make it into a PACIFIC.
Juvenile Black-throated Diver on Ryder's Mere