Monday, 22 August 2016

A cracking Bird Fair weekend - 20/21 August 2016

I was asked recently if I was heading off to the Bird Fair this year. The person was quite surprised when I said I'd never ever been to one as I just didn't see the point in walking round stalls when I can buy whatever it is on line. I've never actually ever wanted to go to a Bird Fair really, but I do enjoy the weekends when its on, as there just seems to be less birders about. I remember going to Norfolk one year and the place was deserted.

So back to Saturday 20th August. CJW was on his late Friday shift and due to a bad forecast, and not much about, we were struggling for a destination. In the end, the lure of a BLACK TERN at Belvide meant we stayed local for the day. 

I did Westport (not really happening down there at the moment) and then picked CJW and headed down to a wet and drizzly Belvide. We only went as far as the first hide, and we found the Black Tern flying around the west end. Then it was on to Blithfield.

Following a report of four SPOTTED REDSHANK the previous afternoon, we decided to walk down into Blithe Bay along the Admaston shore. We reached the bottom hide having not seen an awful lot. Then the Clayheads No1 Stalker rang. He'd obviously been watching us from a concealed location. He gave us the news that the SPOTTED REDSHANKS flew off yesterday afternoon, but he was sure he'd seen two CURLEW SANDPIPERS at the top of Blithe before they had walked out of view. We eventually found two likely candidates, but they insisted on feeding among the many millions of Canada and Greylag Geese and we kept having brief views before we lost them. We were in touch with GJM and he was on his way down as well. 

CJW then started scanning the rest of the shoreline and found five Ruff and a Spotted Redshank all feeding on the left hand side. We rang the Stalker again and he decided to come over to us as well. We were also joined by Steve Richards and Trevor. The wader fest was on. 

The two Curlew Sandpipers were eventually relocated, but there was no further sign of the Spotshank. As we all stood and scanned, I noticed another wader with the Ruff. Someone shouted out there were five Ruff, but didn't mention this other wader. WOOD SANDPIPER and SPOTSHANK briefly went through my mind but I knew it didn't look right for either. I just couldn't put my finger on what this wader was.

GJM, Trev, the Stalker and CJW all wandered further down to get better views of the CURLEW SANDPIPERS. I stood with SR and casually asked him about this other wader. He looked puzzled and admitted he was confused by it. We decided to walk down to join up with the other, and I said to him it looked like a LESSER YELLOWLEGS to me. 

We soon got everyone onto the bird, a few discussions took place, a bit of googling, a nice flight view and there we were watching Staffordshire's 4th, and Blithfield's 2nd ever Lesser Yellowlegs. Steve and Heather were in the hide opposite and GJM was in touch with them, and we were soon joined by Blithfield stalwarts Max and Roger.   
A quick photo taken with my phone was all I managed at first.
CJW took this video at the same time

Eventually we headed off for lunch before returning to Tad Bay for the very showy Wood Sandpipers, before we walked back round to Blithe Bay to try and get some photos of the Lesser Yellowlegs as I hadn't bothered to take my camera down in the morning. The road in Stansley Wood was full of cars and there were birders arriving all the time. We also saw one or two Ospreys and a Hobby. Not a bad visit really. 

Lesser Yellowlegs in Blithe Bay 20th August 2016

Wood Sandpipers in Tad Bay

Sunday started off with a Duck count at Westport, and I was eventually joined after an hour by CJW. My good lady wife was off to the V festival for the day, and so I returned home to look after and amused my youngest Miss AGMS. We decided to head off for a walk round Hawkstone Follies as the weather forecast was alright. As always happens when you make plans, Belvide struck back in big style with a GANNET swimming around the west end. With a slight change of plan, and a bit of persuasion, my wonderful daughter agreed that we could set out earlier than planned and call into Belvide on the way. 

We walked all the way up to the West hide and there was the Gannet - fast asleep.

We sat there for what seemed like hours waiting for it to lift its head. Miss AGMS was ever so patient, but slightly intrigued by it all. SR spotted the first of two Ospreys to appear, the second one of which flew low over the reservoir. Along with a Turnstone it was an excellent visit. And then the Gannet eventually obliged by waking upand we were on our way.

Gannet at Belvide
CJW managed to arrive earlier and was rewarded with excellent views, and the legendary Bernie Smith on his video! What more could anyone want in life.

So not a bad weekend in Staffs after all. Two reservoir ticks - you can't complain at that.