Sunday, 21 December 2014

Happy Midwinter! (Updated)

Yes its the Winter Solstice or shortest day of the year if you prefer. In ancient times the beginning of the New Year and a time for slaughtering your cattle and drinking your store of mead as most of your summer crops would have been exhausted!

Its a good time to contemplate how being a birder effects your perception of time. I should be thinking of the impending Christmas celebrations but for some reason this event is symbolised for me by (of all things) the Common Swift. You see by this point, believe it or not we are already past the half way mark in their African sojourn and in fact are closer to the arrival of 2015s birds than the departure of 2014s! Yep, we are about sixteen weeks away from the end of the spring migration and the arrival of the first black screamers over the village. Is it just me being weird or does anyone else think like that - perhaps its best that remains unanswered eh?

Back to the shortest day, at 12.40 I received a call from Phil Ward to say that the Diver was still present and showing well (I have developed that awful chest infection that is going around so am contemplating a quiet day feeling sorry for myself).

As always - will keep you updated as I get news - Chaz  


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Hooray! We made it to the weekend.

Photo courtesy of Derek Lees
Many thanks to Hughie King who texted me to say that the Great Northern Diver was still present on Ryders Mere this morning, giving the full-time workers amongst you the opportunity to enjoy our avian Christmas bonus. As usual, I will keep you posted - Chaz

Friday, 19 December 2014

Diver Day four

Yes it is the bird, on the one occasion that it flew out
Yep - still there apparently until dusk today. Phil Ward called me at lunchtime to say that the bird was again at the west end of the pool (Closest to Pelsall) but the national birdline has a report of it at 16.50 on CLAYHANGER MARSH!!!

Now the question is, was that report from someone who does not understand the slight differentiation between the sites or, was it actually on the marsh? That would be a sight to see.

Anyway another chance to showcase some of the excellent photographs - todays is another by Phil Ward - Chaz

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Diver day three

If anyone had any doubts that this bird is on Ryders Mere, the distant edifice of Humphrys House in Brownhills should put any doubts to bed! many thanks to Phil Ward for organising this context shot for me.

A report on the National Birdline at 12.28 states that the Diver was still present at Ryders Mere.  Someone obviously decided to pay a lunchtime visit so I decided to do the same. Arriving at about 13.15 I scoured the usual sites without any luck and had almost decided that our star attraction had deserted us when I relocated the Diver in the shallowest part of the pool at the west end.

While I enjoyed a bit of solitude I noticed a birder coming toward me with a push-bike over his shoulder and Eric Phillips appeared having cycled over from the far side of the Black Country. The bird performed wonderfully well for him at one point  popping up no more than twenty feet away.

Eric and I followed it as it slowly crossed the pool toward its favoured feeding area in the dog-leg and was lost to sight. Unfortunately we then encountered Mike from Walsall R.S.P.B. who had come over for a look at the bird. As I type this I can only hope that he was able to relocate it, we certainly didn't see it fly out.

Other birds seen today were as follows:

Clayhanger Marsh

Teal (21) - Wigeon (13) - Shoveler (2M) - Goldcrest (1) and an impressive catch for a male Sparrowhawk which was seen flying across with a recently caught Fieldfare.

Ryders Mere

Goosander (10) - Great Crested Grebe (11) - Pochard (14) - Gadwall (7) - Wigeon (5) - Linnet (7) - Redwing (1) - Fieldfare (11) and of course, the bird of the moment.- Chaz

 Photos:  (C) Crapshots of Clayhanger unlimited

Wednesday, 17 December 2014