Sunday, 11 December 2011

Saturday 10th December 2011 - Two out of three ain't bad

Cue my favourite Meatloaf song!

Anyway, we decided to stay local today and started off at Westport as per usual. Its been quite a quiet period down there recently, so when three Goosanders flew in, it was high fives all round. But that was about as good as it got.

Then we headed down to south Staffs for a couple of ticks. We were originally heading to Gailey first for the BLACK REDSTART and then it was fingers crossed time that the TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE would fly back into Belvide for us. However, as we headed down the M6, news came thru that the TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE had already arrived. We reset the sat nav and headed to Belvide first.

It was fairly quiet at Belvide; presumably all the new Staffs listers and dodgy year listers had already seen the flock of Beans present here a few weeks ago. We walked to the West end and met up with SN. The Tundra Bean Goose was still present and showing well on the shore. Still a rare bird in Staffs, this is my 3rd one, following the Whitemoor Haye birds in 2004/5 and Ingestre birds in Jan 2006 (Thanks to PJ for pointing this out - forgot about Ingestre birds!)

The Tundra Bean Goose at Belvide

Blast from the past - The Whitemoor birds in Dec 2004.

.......and the Ingestre birds in Jan 2006.

So with our first tick in the bag (a Belvide tick of course!), we headed for our second tick (a Gailey tick). There was a small crowd at Gailey, but we soon realised the BLACK REDSTART had not been seen for a while. We met up with Westport Lake's resident photographer Steve Seal, and he assured us that if we stood by the sailing club, then it would keep returning to feed on the shore. We stood there for a short time, and then "Lucky" CJW got itchy feet and wandered off. I followed him and we walked up the causeway in between the two lakes. Then the Black Redstart flew in. We headed back and just managed to get onto it before it flew back to the island. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a photo, but I know a man who did, and Mr Steve Seal has kindly given me permission to show you his photo's on my blog.

make sure you check out Steve's excellent blog

A shore line at Gailey! Messrs Snapper and Moore-hen have been so desparate to add waders to their patch list that they've siphoning the water away since Autumn.

And so with two site ticks in the bag, we had a decision to make as to where we would head to next. After several suggestions, we decided to head to Clee Hill for the long staying DESERT WHEATEAR. It was less than 30 miles away and about an hours drive, so we headed off. The sat nav performed wonders again, and we were parked up by the quarry on Clee Hill by 14-30hrs.

We had already spoken to a couple of birders as we drove up, and they hadn't seen the DESERT WHEATEAR in nearly an hours search. We set off and searched the whole area, and there was a steady flow of birders coming and going but by 15-30hrs, we had to admit defeat. It was quite windy up there, but we did find a few sheltered areas but there was just no sign. Desert Wheatear will just have to wait a little bit longer to get on my Shropshire list.

Its possible to see Blackpool Tower and Big Ben from up here on a clear day.