Monday, 1 February 2016

January 2016 - Staffs has a decent run at last

Following the new year rush, things just carried on happening. On Monday 4th January, I saw the 1w Red-necked Grebe at Trentham Gardens on my second attempt. The first attempt, although we snook in for free, ended empty handed, rushed, very wet and my car broke down. 

The following weekend I saw the wintering Pallas's Warbler in Cheshire, and in the following week, a male Black Redstart was found in Burslem of all places (my second for Burslem as I ticked the one in 1987 that sang on top of the town hall).

The county's decent start to the year continued with a brief Green-winged Teal at Aqualate Mere. I was in the hide with The Stalker and Richard Powell and we watched it fly off to the left and out of sight. Little did we know this would be its final showing.

The Aqualate Green-winged Teal

 The same day also produced a 1w Caspian Gull at Chasewater.

1w Caspian Gull found by Snapper Richards
Then, after deciding to pop into North Wales for Black Grouse and Hawfinch, we had to race back to Staffs and Uttoxeter Quarry where Richard Powell had found a female Ring-necked Duck.  

Ring-necked Duck at Uttoxeter Quarry
And so to the final weekend (an amazing five Saturdays this month - should happen every month and cut back on the Tuesdays in my opinion), we popped up to the East Yorkshire coast where the Kumlien's Gull had returned for its fourth winter. Having only seen one before (and I don't beyond to the One Only Club), it was nice to watch such a good example loafing about on the beach.  

Next stop was just up the coast at Flamborough. This time we visit the North Landing, a place I've only been to on the odd occasion before. The three wintering Richard's Pipits were showing quite nicely in the field by the car park.

North Landing
Richard's Pipit Flamborough Head
The final stop was on Filey Brigg for the 1w Surf Scoter. By this time, the wind had whipped up, and walking along the Brigg was quite hair raising to say the least (despite my lack of hair it was that windy it was still raised). I tried my best to find the duck, but holding the scope still was almost impossible. I couldn't understand why the birder I'd asked for directions was only carrying bins and had seen it. Then it dawn on me. The Surf Scoter was directly below me on the smoother water. It all clicked into place then.

Surf Scoter from a video grab
And then in a repeat of the previous week, we headed back to see the female Ring-necked Duck at its next venue on its tour of the county. This week it was at Tittesworth, making it my only site in Staffordshire where I've seen six Aythya species.