Staffordshire Bird News

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Saturday 12th March 2016 - South Wales / Gloucs

A nice simple trip to South Wales, then heading off through the Forest of Dean and into Gloucestershire was planned with a nice selection of birds to see. It had been quite a busy few days, with a full days birding on the Friday as well due to an extra day off. 

We visited a few sites in Staffordshire and the West Midlands before finishing off at Chasewater for the gull roost....along with at least 30 other birders, all gathered hoping to see the putative 1w AMERICAN HERRING GULL that the boys had seen on the previous three nights. Despite the no show, it was still a good roost and an excellent social gathering, and it was nice to meet up with Paul Jeynes again. One of the highlights was seeing Chaz Mason almost running. The reason was Chasewater's 3rd ever Avocet was swimming about with the gulls. Apart from a few Yellow-legged Gulls, the only other gull of note was a 1w Caspian Gull.

A Chasewater mega
1w Caspian Gull
And so the trip to South Wales started off at Cosmeston Lakes, south of Cardiff where the regular wintering drake Lesser Scaup was still present. We were heading to see this bird on 18th February 2012 but we never arrived.  
Lesser Scaup in Glamorgan
Cosmeston Lakes
Next stop was at Newport Wetlands. Starting off at the visitors centre, we obtained directions from the warden and drove down towards Goldcliff, finding the Red Barn Farm hide overlooking some wetlands. The hide was large, spacious with easily movable chairs. The GLOSSY IBIS though wasn't as accomodating, and spent most of its time hidden either in a ditch or behind a mound. Eventually it tired of being elusive and flew into view.

Part of the Newport Wetlands - so vast an area we had to drive to this bit from the centre
Glossy Ibis - a Gwent tick for me
We headed off into Gloucestershire and to the Forest of Dean. Fortunately for us, Messrs Jones, Locker, Sutton and Sutton had checked the next few sites out for us last weekend, and Mr Jones was handily placed to give us directions on the odd occasion that we became slightly lost. First stop was for the Goshawks, and following a short wait we managed to find at least five birding circling over the ridge for the other birders who seemed to like standing and chatting and not using bins.

An excellent drawing by PJ
We called in briefly at Parkend for the HAWFINCHES but there were just too many people milling about in the area. Next stop was Crabtree Hill which was quite a tricky place to find. Eventually armed with a map and a mobile phone we sort of stumbled across the correct area. There was no sign of the Great Grey Shrike, until we turned up and we found it for the small crowd gathered at the top of the hill.

The Shrike showed well but distant.
Great Grey Shrike in the Forest of Dean by PJ
Last stop of the day was for the PENDULINE TITS in Gloucester. There had been no sign of them all day, and when we arrived this was still the case. Still, we managed four out of six of our target birds. Not a bad few days at all.  


Saturday, 5 March 2016

February 2016

Despite being one of the quieter months of the year, this February didn't turn out too bad. Following the trip to Norfolk, a trip to Aqualate saw us find five Whooper Swans. We went and saw the Hoopoe again (a February tick of course) and then the two Mediterranean Gulls were added to my Branston list

Whooper Swans at Aqualate
Two Mediterranean Gulls at Branston
A quick after work trip saw my third Staffordshire American Wigeon at Aqualate - another excellent find by Richie "Purple" Patch-Powell.


American Wigeon at Aqualate
Then the final trip was to see a nice trio of birds. First we headed over to Rutland Water for the Long-billed Dowitcher which had finally settled down and was showing well. Then it was down to Wiltshire for the female Hooded Merganser which was showing well, but not too well, and finally on the way home we stopped off for the very popular Penduline Tits in Gloucestershire.

Penduline Tit in Gloucs