Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Early start to Autumn - August 2015

Saturday 15th August
Following a quick visit to Westport, we headed off to Norfolk where an ICTERINE WARBLER had spent a few days at Burnham Overy Dunes. We headed off from Staffs as soon as we received positive news, something that works on occasions and we may try it again. Following the long walk out on the boardwalk, we were soon having excellent views of the Icterine Warbler feeding in an apple tree. The sun was out and it was a very pleasant location to enjoy the start of autumn. It was also a tick for GAS.

Icterine Wrb in Norfolk. Picture taken in strong sunlight

Saturday 22nd August
The end of August was largely spent birding in Staffordshire, and it turned out to be quite enjoyable. Blithfield started to be a hive of activity. On 22nd August we managed to see one of the Osprey plus Redstart below the dam

Osprey in Tad Bay

Monday 31st August
Following another Saturday spent at Belvide, Branston and Blithfield, I was allowed out due to technical reasons on Bank Holiday Monday. Unfortunately, it was forecast to rain all morning. I arrived at Westport at 0700hrs and did a quick check to see if any waders were along the shore line. I decided to head off while the rain was at its heaviest, and made the short journey to Croxden Quarry - my first ever visit to this site. The previous night's Spoonbill was still present, but looked a bit miserable in the rain and just stood there.

Spoonbill at Croxden Quarry
I then returned to Westport and managed to do one lap. News was coming through from Blithfield and Belvide of waders dropping in, so eventually I headed to Blithfield and the nice dry hide in Tad Bay. I managed to get a seat next to the legend that is Mr Georgie Brain with one of his groups of birdwatchers. The partial s/pl Knot and one Sanderling were still present plus a count of 53 Ringed Plovers (unlike Mr Mant's total of 115)

Knot in Tad Bay

Whilst talking to ESC, I received a phone call from PJ. He announced there was a Staffs tick for me at Berryhill. Finally I thought, RING-NECKED PARAKEET on my list. Alas it wasn't to be. But it was my other huge bogie bird,  WRYNECK. I've only dipped on three in the county, so I quickly packed my scope up and headed off out of the hide. I hurtled back up to Stoke, parked in my secret Berryhill parking space and headed out to this small grassland area lying in the shadow of Westport.

I walked to the Lapland Bunting paddock but there was no one in sight. I rang PJ and he said Nick Pom was walking towards me waving. I couldn't see him either. Panic set in as I envisaged a double dip of WRYNECK and a waving NICK POM. Then following further directions, I found the correct area and there, finally, was a waving Nick Pom (He'd been waving at another birder lost in the grass). 

I stood in the small group with PJ and Rich Powell, and soon joined by the Tony Jackson crew and The Clayheads No.1 Stalker. The Wryneck eventually popped up in view and continued to show on and off for the next two to three hours. The area was full of birds, and reminded me of the hedge at Westport on a good day. There were 2-3 Spotted Fly, a Pied Fly plus loads of Chiffs, Willow Wrbs etc. I finally headed for home, soaked from my knees down due to walking in the long, wet, grass guiding birders in, and with my scope, bins and camera all rather damp. It was a fine Bank Holiday Monday in Staffs though.

So I finally get to see a Wryneck in the county. And in the month of August, I've managed to see a Red-footed Falcon, Black Tern with white wings and now a Wryneck all in the fine City of Stoke-on-Trent. 

Respect the badge!

The Berryhill Wryneck - 3rd record in the city since 1970
Pied Fly at Berryhill. The weather was slightly inclement