Sunday, 27 May 2012

Saturday 27th May 2012 - Red hot birding!

It was suggested that with the easterly winds, it could turn out to be a good weekend. We could have been tempted to stray away from Staffs this weekend, but we were scared of something turning up. So we played it safe and stayed local.

We started off at Blithfield. We basically sat in Tad Bay for about an hour. Slightly unseasonal were a pair of Pintail present. The pair of Black Swans were also still sat around the huge nest they've built. Other than a single Barnacle Goose, it was quite quiet. Summer birding appears to have started early this year.

Then we headed off to Branston. There had been a bit of stuff turning up in the week here, and we were full of hope. No sign of any BLACK TERNS on the first pit, but the remaining pair of Black-necked Grebes were still present. The Sandy Pit was quiet, and infact the whole site was quite lifeless. Maybe this was due to the baking hot sun that was slowly turning me into a red blister. I managed to make the trip just about worthwhile with a Greenshank on the scrape - a nice spring wader to get.

Greenshank at Branston

We returned to the car and recovered from our walk in the 40⁰C heat. Walking round sandy gravel pits in the baking mid day sun always saps you, and today was no exception. We studied the pager to find our next location, but we drew a blank. Staffs was having a quiet day. It was 13-00hrs, and we almost headed for home.

In the end we drove to another pit. I'd only just started walking round when news of a TEMMINCK'S at Belvide came on. Just to sort of bird we'd hoped for. I decided to carry on with walking round the pit, and go to Belvide afterwards. Then news came of a SANDERLING at Blithfield, plus a whole host of waders at Drayton Bassett. Stuff was finally turning up.

We arrived at Belvide almost two hours after the new came out. Kev Clements was kindly keeping a watch on the Temminck's Stint, and we were soon enjoying watching the bird.......feeding on the far shore, quite a distance away. At least we'd seen one decent bird for our efforts. We returned home, hot sweaty and quite red.

Temminck's Stint at Belvide - copies of photo available (only £8-50 each)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday 20th May 2012 - Branston GP & Doxey

Circumstances meant that I was out birding on Sunday this weekend rather than my usual Saturday. Spring seemed to have finally sprung during Saturday with bits and bobs being found resulting in a far healthier pager than for the majority of spring. First destination was Branston GP's to see if yesterday's waders were still present. There was a big surprise when we found our first target bird of the visit, the three BLACK-NECKED GREBES. There were now four Black-necked Grebes. There were several Sedge Warblers singing plus a Lesser Whitethroat singing nearby. As we stood chatting with CC, we realised a fifth Black-necked Grebe was now present.

Next stop was the Sandy Pit  in the search for waders. We were just about to start scanning the pit when a message came through on the phone - BLUETHROAT at Doxey. This came as a complete surprise. We had a brief look at the pit (seeing 15 Dunlin and a few Ringies) and then it was back to the car and off to Doxey.

The journey took about an hour in total. We were told to park on Home Base car park, but unfortunately, Home Base wasn't where I thought it was, and it took a little bit longer to get to Doxey than we hoped. Luckily it was only a short walk and, and following a brief wait, we were soon watching an awesome male Red-spotted Bluethroat. Despite there being two previous records in the county, it wasn't a bird I really thought I'd ever see in Staffordshire.


Monday, 7 May 2012

Sunday 6th May - The Clayheads visit an RSPB reserve

Following our succesful trip to see the putative ATLAS FLY at the South Landing, we headed up towards the lighthouse. A WRYNECK had been showing in the gorse field. Just before we arrived it had flown over the top and out of view. We hung around for a while, scanning the area from different angles but there was no sign. We did see several Grey Partridges and Lesser Whitethroats.

Next we went to view the cliffs by the fog station, seeing three Auk sp plus Gannet, Fulmar, Kitt etc

Having forgot his scope, PJ took advantage of the optics provided on site


CJW decided to stand on his own headland
Fulmars having a small dispute

There were bits and bobs turning up (such as a fly by Pallid H over Spurn) but generally this coast was rather quiet. Having dipped on the full frame Puffin shots, we decided to head to Bempton Cliffs. The place was absolutely heaving with day trippers and a few birdwatchers and photographers that hogged the best positions.
Gannets were showing well and on the increase apparently.
PJ won the "Gannet in flight" photo competition


Not too many Puffin on show

We were even given help by the RSPB staff as we stood and watched..... 
and so this is a Guillemot.....

....and this a Razorbill. Think I've got that right.....

.....and the full frame Puffin shot we were all after


Sunday 6th May - The Flycatcher Atlas't?

A putative ATLAS FLYCATCHER had been found on Flamborough Head last weekend and had generated much debate during the week. With the possibility of a British first on offer, we made plans to visit at the weekend if it stayed. I was busy on Saturday, and so we had a nervous wait until Sunday. We knew it could disappear at anytime, but it was still present on Saturday, and so the trip was on. We debated going on news or going early - in the end we decided to head off early and we arrived at 07-30hrs. We were expecting some early positive news, but none came, and we began to fear the inevitable had happened. As we  drove into the car park, we realised why there had been no news so far - there were only two cars on the car park. We walked down to the two birders that we could see and they told us the bad news. They had been on site since 05-30hrs and there had been no sign. We were gutted. We knew what was going to happen and it did. The bird  had done a flit. We wandered round the area, having a look and we stood and had a look, but there was no sign.

Then a small miracle occured. Someone found the ATLAS FLY. We all hurried round to the other side and there were the two birders looking up into a tree. Within moments, we were watching the putative Atlas Fly, flitting through the trees. Like no other Pied Fly that we had seen, it certainly was a striking bird. It was on show for about ten minutes, showing well at times, but it just kept moving through the trees pursued by the small crowd and it was eventually lost.

A possible tick snatched from the jaws of dipdom!

Watching the Flycatcher

The Whale bone bridge

PJ on a nest

An elusive Tawny Owl by PJ

CJW makes sure the Flycatcher isn't disturbed by photographers

And finally - We returned in the afternoon for seconds, and had good views again. Despite trying our hardest, PJ was the only one who managed a photo of the fly

Thursday, 3 May 2012

2nd May 2012 - Westport Lake

Not a bad day at Westport. Started off with a Common Sand, s/pl Dunlin, then an adult Kittiwake and first Garden Warbler of year. Tonight, PJ found a Wheatear and later, CJW had a Peregrine over.

Kittiwake videoed on my phone thru my bins

and the Dunlin

and Chris's shot of the evening Wheatear on the gas works