Saturday, 25 July 2015

Saturday Update - for what its worth

Photo : Derek Lees
Following this mornings belated update I persevered and paid a visit today but to be honest spent more time chatting than birding. First I bumped into Kim and Trevor, then Chris from Wolverhampton who had brought his young-un's over to look for Lesser Whitethroat and finally my neighbour Mel who I managed to introduce to Essex Skipper.

Talking of which it seems that most of the Small Skippers are going over as the majority today were Essex. Derek Lees paid a visit in the week and was kind enough to share some of his Insect photos including the one at the top of this posting.

Bird news - not a lot. Just three Oystercatcher today, at least three Common Tern and lots of calling Chiffchaff. Only a few weeks now though and the passage of small birds heading south should begin in earnest and I will be spending a fair bit of time watching the bushes around the pit mound as they were really productive last autumn.

Anyway - there must still be the odd good thing passing through and we do have that shoreline on the Mere for a change so keeping checking.

Have a good weekend all - Chaz

Belated Friday News

What is going on - at 08.40 this morning I received twelve messages from Staffs Bird news apparently all sent last night amongst which was a message from Kev Clements with yesterdays records. It didn't help that most of the Staffs messages were about the Red Footed Falcon, and as I am probably the only birder in the whole of Central England who hasn't seen it, that was a bit annoying to say the least!

Anyway Kev and Gareth both put in time yesterday and sent me their records so this was Friday on the Mere.

Great Crested Grebe (12) - Little Grebe (5) - Common Tern (8) - Oystercatcher (4) - Tufted Duck (6) - Cormorant - Teal (!) and Hobby (this morning).

For me the most interesting bird in that selection is the Teal - is it possibly the same bird that Kev Clements saw at Stubbers Green last week? It would seem likely as it is certainly a bit early for returning wintering birds.

Anyway - I will try to get over today before the weather turns bad again - Chaz

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Sundays Dunlin

Thanks to Kevin Clements for the Photograph of today's Dunlin - what do you think? Still looks like a northern race bird to me. Regardless of if I'm right or wrong its  still a nice visitor (sorry I called it Scabby earlier - I only viewed it from a distance as I didn't want to flush it but its not so bad close up)

Many thanks again to Kev for finding and photographing the bird, these days a scarce visitor to the site despite being one of the commonest waders in Britain. Here's hoping its the herald of that good autumn passage I was talking about. There are a few quite common (and even more rare) waders we could use on the site list - Chaz

Sunday morning birds,- but this time using legs!

Yes I finally overcame early morning inertia and did a circuit and to be honest not much to add to Kev's report. The Dunlin was still present at 11.00 at least, favouring the grassy shoreline on the east side of the Mere as reported. Its quite a scabby-looking individual but going on the ratio of bill length to head length I suspect that it is a northern race bird (Ssp. Alpina) which is actually the most likely to occur on site at this time of the year anyway, as the Arctic summer begins to draw to a close.

I only managed to count eight Common Tern at any one time and I was quite pleased to find a single Swift amongst the House Martins (getting quite scarce locally now).

On the marsh I did have a family group of three Green Woodpecker (two adults and a recently fledged juvenile) and I also had brief views of a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker.

On the butterfly front I saw the first Gatekeepers of the year and also at least five different Essex Skippers amongst the Small Skippers present. This included the first Essex that I can ever recall seeing around the Mere.

If you want to have a look at these they seem quite easy at the moment. I suspect that the Essex Skippers have emerged a little later and the Small Skippers therefore appear much more sun-bleached and faded. Every bright looking little Skipper I looked at closely I was able to confirm as an Essex. today. Have a go if you can as it wont be so easy next week.

A good stretch of shoreline around the Mere at the moment, I'm getting hopeful of a possibly good Autumn passage of waders if it stays like this and with Gareth and Kev putting in so much time, who knows, perhaps we will finally put Little Stint on the site list?

Have a good week all - Chaz


OK guys I'm tuning into the vibes. I was going over this morning but thought I would use intense mental power (think X-Men put a bit fatter and with longer hair) to scan the Marsh and mere and let you know whats there.

Firstly anything unusual? MMMmmm, nothing, nothing, nothing, Hang on whats that? I see a.. it's a Dunlin on the east shore (obviously brought down by the rain), wow that's good, this really works! 

What else is there, lets see, I can see at least twelve Common Tern there but that's not too much of a surprise (Ray Fellows had eleven the other day), oh look, there's a Cormorant flying over and what are those small birds along the mineral line? Surely that's a family part of Lesser Whitethroat and a couple of Common Whitethroat too. You know what, I'm quite good at this, I might do all my birding with my feet up at home from now on.

Alright, I confess, it wont surprise anyone who has read the blog to know that powerful brain waves are not something that have ever been associated with me - its all down to Kev Clements and his perennial insomnia (I suspect Gareth has persuaded him to go Dutch with the council tax owed for time spent on the Marsh). I always admire Kev's persistence and stamina but given the abysmal conditions early morning this was going a bit beyond the call of duty if you ask me.

Anyway, I am going over later to poach his Dunlin if its still there and perhaps find something else (yeah right)? - Chaz

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


In a final text update from Gareth - the four Common Scoter have apparently flown off north this evening.

Sorry folks, it makes me feel worse about not getting the word out.

There we are then, a one day wonder, but something long overdue and a precedent has been set. I could never understand why they turned up everywhere else and not on the Mere?

Hopefully we have now broken the jinx and there will be more - Chaz


AT LAST - Something good to write about! Firstly a big apology to many of the regulars who I normally telephone when something good turns up. Unfortunately I am currently restricted from using my telephone in the work environment but I'm hoping that some of you will have picked up the news from Twitter and the national bird-line.

Big thank you to the finder - GUESS WHO ? Yep, Gareth Clements again! That bloke spends so much time over there he really should pay Council Tax. But he's a top man at finding good birds and I am very grateful for the update texts I have received and also the photographs which he and his dad (thanks Kev) have sent me. The birds are obviously distant so good images are hard to find but then its either that or risk flushing the birds so thanks to all for exercising restraint allowing other people to get over.

But hang on a minute, is there something I have forgotten? Oh yes, what has turned up that's a first for the site? Yep I knew there was something I had overlooked.

COMMON SCOTER - at bloody last some proper sea duck get on the list - and about time too!
Four birds keeping company with three or four Tufted Duck late afternoon but I managed to take the photo (above) just as they had set themselves apart for a while.

For those not familiar with this species I have put Kevin's Photo of his photo (Below) so that you will get a better idea of what you are looking at (Basically black ducks with bright yellow bills)

Gareth did send some better pictures than mine but unfortunately the birds spent most of the day asleep so this is what they look like when they are busy cutting-zeds.

There you are, all tooled up and ready to go - lets hope that they hang on until tomorrow (I am not saying a thing after last time!) - Chaz