First posting of the year. We were out birding on New Years Day, but what was noticable was the lack of New Year Day listers out for their only day of the year until something decent turns up. But then again, birding in Staffs this winter has been tough. And with a mild start to the year, birds are now departing and there is even less to see now. We did manage a respectable 66 species on January 1st, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. We ended the day at the gull roost at Chasewater, and hopes were high following a good roost the previous evening. However, we only saw three Yellow-legged Gulls and missed the very late arrival of the ICELAND GULL when it was virtually pitch black.
Another full day was planned in Staffs for the first Saturday of the year.
Upper Longdon - The day started here, following the reappearance of the shrike. We parked up, walked into the clear view area and we were soon watching the Great Grey Shrike, perched in a bush distantly down the slope. This is exactly how shrike watching should be. No need to wait hour upon hour; if it isn't there, move on.
Great Grey Shrike at Upper Longdon. Not a single photographer in sight!
Whitemoor Haye, Staffs – First stop was the field opposite the National Arboretum entrance. We had 100+ Golden Plover with the Lapwing, but no sign of any RUFF. We drove around the usual lanes around Whitemoor Haye, but it was very quiet. The two Little Owl were present, a Skylark sang briefly, but there was no sign of any TREE SPARROW or YELLOWHAMMERS.
Stapenhill, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffs – Most of the WAXWINGS have moved on, and so I knew that I would probably have to twitch one early in the New Year. These birds were, in fact, the only ones still present in Staffordshire. We parked up on the junction where they had been seen, but there was no sign. Just as we were about to have a drive around the area, I spotted a bird flycatching from a bush just a short distance down the road. We drove down, and there were four Waxwings feeding away.
Branston GP's, Staffs - The water levels are down now but the Sandy Pit remains very full. This place is suffering more than most due to the mild weather, and there just isn't a lot happening here at the moment. Only twelve Tufted and one Pochard on the first pit!
Chasewater, Staffs – We finished the day off with the roost again. The GLAUCOUS GULL that we missed on January 1st had started to roost again, and had been at Kingswood for most of the day. I arrived at 14:30hrs, and stood on my own for quite a while. The roost was forming nicely, with 300+ Herring Gulls and an adult Yellow-legged Gull, but then a boat sailed straight through the middle of it and dispersed everything. JA arrived, but a call from SR who was standing further up sent us all scurrying up to join the larger group of birders. Everything came in at once, and we were soon watching an adult Caspian Gull, the 2w Glaucous Gull and the adult Iceland Gull. It was a large roost, and it was easy to loose birds if you didn’t stay on them. Towards the end when the light was fading, SR found a smaller adult Caspian Gull as well.
2w Glaucous Gull
Adult Caspian Gull
Adult Iceland Gull