Monday, 29 October 2012

Sat/Sun 27-28th October - Back in Staffs

Well after a few weekends away, it was back to birding in Staffs this weekend. We hadn't planned it this way though. We decided to go on another trip on Saturday, following our recent successes - you tend to get a taste for it and you want more. It was a late decision this time, but when a fly over PECHORA PIPIT appeared to land on Portland, plus the DAURIAN SHRIKE and SIBE STONECHAT, plans were made to head south on Saturday. However GAS had left his mobile phone at my house and was out on Friday evening. I left a message on his answer phone, suggesting a 05-00hrs start, and told him to give me a missed call or a email confirming the arrangement. I was up at 04-20hrs. No missed call, no email. At 05-10hrs, I started to realise that maybe the message hadn't got through to him. At 05-25hrs, I went back to bed.

And so the day restarted at a more sensible time, and Westport. Not a bad week with my 1w drake Scaup attracting quite a few visitors to the lake. Not a bad visit this morning, but it was cool with a NW wind, and counting Woodpigeons as they flew over kept me busy.

Immature drake Scaup watching flocks of Woodpigeons fly over (PJ)

Then we headed down to Blithfield, amazingly to see some more SCAUP. During the week there had been a flock of nine birds, and this would have been my biggest flock in Staffs. We started off in Blithe Bay where the two Whooper Swans were swimming on the far shore.

Two Whopper Swans in Blithe Bay

Then we walked round in Tad Bay and met up with GJM. Unfortunately, probably due to disturbance, most of the SCAUP weren't present. I did find an adult pair, and later an immature bird flew back in, but that was all we saw. 
Scaup, gcg, Scaup - in that order

Next stop was Branston Pits, only my second visit this month. There were still quite a few waders, with five Ruff, three Redshank, a Green Sandpiper and 120 Golden Plover. The wind was still incessant, but when sheltered, it was quite warm.

Goldies at BGP's - still searching for that elusive AGP amongst them

Sparrowhawk hiding in grass

The clocks went back on Sunday, and so I was down at Westport slightly earlier. The 28th October just also happens to be the 8th anniversary of seeing this -

The Ovenbird on St Mary's - 28th October 2004 - we saw it being picked up to start its final journey (although the Ovenbird wasn't aware of this when it agreed to be taken into care)

Westport was quite good on Sunday morning. From my car I could see a line of ducks, and when I lifted my bins, I was amazed to see a flock of 17 Wigeon and 22 Teal - quite exceptional for an urban pond like Westport. I wondered what else was on the lake, and my next scan reveal a drake Mandarin. To put that bird in context, it is only my 4th record in over 30yrs as man and boy plodding the footpaths round the lake.

Early morning at WPL with the lake full of duck

I walked round to get a better view, and eventually managed 34 Teal and 17, maybe up to 19 Wigeon. PJ left and headed off the find the Apedale Black Redstart. After finishing at Westport, I too headed up, joining up with DK,  Bill M and Steve P and we relocated the bird sat on a fence. Not a bad morning in North Staffs at all.

The Apedale Black Redstart, taken by PJ