Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Some much better evidence of todays bird

Yes I still think geese are some of the coolest birds we get
As usual, Kev Clements has rode to the rescue with some decent photographs and some astonishing Goldeneye news which actually constitutes a site record:
Attached photos of today's Barnacle Goose - I didn't realise how rare they are at Ryders Mere!

Also, I texted you the following on Sunday with attached image of drake Goldeneye but not sure if you received it.

Commonish at other sites, but not on our patch!
Drake & 6 female Goldeneye on Ryders Mere (drake & fem present 11.30, 5 fems landed, fem joined them & all flew out, drake still present 12.30) - Gareth says record count. Also 7 Goosander, 26 Wigeon, 35 Teal, 13 Shoveler, 8 Pochard, 35 Tufted Duck, 41 Lapwing & 4 L Grebe.

I have deliberately not edited out Kev's paragraph about sending me the photograph for two reasons, Firstly it really underlines the Clayhanger birding experience as species that may seem to be commonplace or unexceptional can be significant rarities on a local patch. 
Spurn for example has hosted dozens of category one rarities but as far as I am aware has never recorded a Green Woodpecker? I was at Filey Dams reserve one day not realising that the Kingfisher which was showing well was a first for the site, and if you see a Magpie on Lundy Island, you used to have to submit a full rarity description!

The other point is a more personal one. These days I regularly get texts on my phone telling me that someone has sent me a message and I need to go on line to open it. This is because my mobile phone actually works on steam and I am desperately trying to avoid being backed into the corner where I have to learn to use one of these smart phones, so unless you do what good old Kev has done and e-mail them to me, you need to assume that I have not got them! (it is really frustrating not knowing what I might be missing when I get one of those).

Anyway, for those who may have sent me stuff that I have not acknowledged, I hope you now understand why and will accept my apologies. I hope that it goes without saying that I am genuinely grateful that you tried - Chaz

*Scarce Species Alert*

Yes it is - REALLY!
Kev Clements was over this lunchtime and was rewarded with the fourth site record of Barnacle Goose. As is often the way this was a single bird keeping company with Canada Geese. The bird remained long enough to be twitched by Ray Fellows and Myself and as we left we were rewarded with another site scarcity, this time in the form of a Little Egret which flew in from the South before circling the Marsh and dropping out of sight.

I took about ten thousand photographs in the hopes of a record shot of the goose for you but this is the best I could do I'm afraid (the telephoto on my camera has packed-up!). If you click on the picture and scroll, the Barnacle Goose is just visible in the foreground of the flock.

The combined wildfowl count from Kev Clements and myself is as follows:

Goldeneye (2) - Shoveler (17) - Gadwall (5) - Goosander (6) -Lapwing (42) - Wigeon (8) - Teal (1)  - Pochard (6) and an amazing flock of 60+ Pied Wagtail on the paddocks!

Well known local twitcher views the Barnacle Goose
DID YOU KNOW - That the Barnacle Goose was conveniently believed to be a fish by medieval monks? 

Because the colour scheme of the bird is similar to that of the Goose Barnacle (which was presumably named after the bird) and because the Geese were only seen in the autumn and winter, Monks claimed that the birds hatched out of the Barnacles at the end of the summer and were therefore technically fish - which meant that they could be eaten on Fridays when doctrine dictated that devout monks could only eat fish - now that's what I call Monk-y business!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Its back again!

Many thanks to Neil Tipton for the following update:

The LS woodpecker made a brief appearance in the usual trees (near the top) behind me this morning at around 08:40. It comes from the North and disappears southwards down the railway line.
There is a plan for anyone who can get over - the elusive Lesser spot continues to frustrate for most of us I'm afraid - Chaz

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Wintery Sunday

But it didn't stop Tony Stackhouse and Ray Fellows from girding their loins (Oh-er misses!) and donning their thermals and visiting the marsh. Both were kind enough to let me know that there was a drake Goldeneye on the Mere today (second one this autumn) and Ray also had eleven Goosander today.

I'm using one of my passes-out this weekend as my eldest is visiting from the Isle of Wight so it has been a weekend for catching-up and imbibing liquid nourishment rather than for birding (thankfully nothing of note turned up although apparently there was my grudge bird at Chasewater the other day - a Ring-Necked Parakeet).

Anyone seeing that bird on the staffs side of Brownhills West PLEASE let me know, I have waited a long time to put that bird to bed on my Staffordshire list.

Anyway, another couple of cool days and then high pressure again, so keep the thermals on for now and have a nice week all - Chaz

Friday, 20 November 2015

And some other stuff

As well as finding the Great Grey Shrike today, Glen also got views of a Water Rail on the Marsh and fifty+ Lapwing. Kev Clements also went over late afternoon (Don't know what he was looking for?) and had; Goosander (12) - Shoveler (11) - Pochard (7) - to which I can add twelve Wigeon and there were at least fifteen Fieldfare feeding in one of the stubble fields (although I suspect that number would have increased if I had gone through and flushed them)?

Lets see what tomorrow brings - get your thermals on though I have just stepped outside at 20.15 and the temperature is a real culture shock! - Chaz

Where are the grey skys when you want them?

Here's a picture I would like to take credit for !    
Photo Copyright:

Well the shrike might be great and grey, but the afternoon wasn't! If you could compose a list of the worst possible conditions for seeing a Great Grey Shrike, we probably ticked them all. The bird was found at the extreme west of the site with clear skies, bright afternoon sunshine and sufficient wind velocity to stop anything other than Magpies (and we looked at a lot of them today) perching openly anywhere.

The usual subjects turned out, Ray Fellows, Tony Stackhouse and me not forgetting today's Guest star, Bernard Smith. Glen had found the bird at lunchtime and I think it is fair to say that he phoned me in a state of high excitement. I made a couple of calls, put on my boots and yomped across the quickest route to the farmland to look for the bird.

Over the next hour and a half I was joined by the aforesaid birders and together we grilled the bushes hedges and trees but to no avail. By three o'clock we had all-but given up hope of seeing the bird and were just doing what birders usually do in a situation like this, catch-up on what has been going on and sharing insults.

We had not seen much during the afternoon, lots of Magpies, a few Stock Dove and the usual Skylarks and Fieldfare. My attention was initially caught by what I assumed was another Stock Dove flying along the hedge line and then it banked showing wings that were much too dark to be a stockie. It flew behind a large conifer bush and I panned left to a clear area where I hoped the bird would emerge. If it landed, perched or changed direction I would be stuffed, but it didn't and I had brief views of the dark wings and white flashes at the base of the hand to confirm it as the shrike before it disappeared into a fallow field behind the poplars. I have poached a picture of a GGS to show the uninitiated how striking this feature is when the birds are seen in flight.

The weather prognosis does not suggest any reason for it to leave overnight and I know that some birders are going over tomorrow to try and relocate. Unfortunately any views are likely to be distant as it is unlikely to be possible to negotiate access to the farm land  However as long as it is there, bins and scopes should provide sufficient opportunities to enjoy this prize.


The recent Shag at Chasewater was seen briefly at Ryders Mere on Wednesday afternoon. It was seen and identified by a reliable observer who at the time was unaware of the presence of the Chasewater Bird. I don't believe it was seen to land but it was observed to fly in, do a circuit of the site and fly out again.

Altogether quite a day! Hopefully today's bird will remain, good luck to all who may try for it tomorrow - Chaz

***MEGA Alert***

Just had a call from Glen who has found a Great Grey Shrike on the farmland between the Mere and High Heath. Will update later! - Guess where I'm going? - Chaz