Saturday, 28 March 2015

Mandarin has returned!

12.45 - just received a call from John Holian to say that the drake Mandarin has returned to Clayhanger and is showing with the Garganey - two ticks at once, Why are you still reading this rubbish? - Chaz

If you think I am going out in this!

Illustration (C) Charles R. Knight
And going by the tiny amount of news being released today I suspect that I am not alone. At least we can give plaudits to the weather forecasters who got it right. Only one place to be on a day like this and the one I use doesn't open until 12.00.

The good news for Garganey-dippers is that it seems doubtful that it will have gone out in the last fifteen or so hours so you may still have a chance to connect with this nice semi-rarity.

As for me - unless I get an e-mail that there is a flock of Passenger Pigeon or Carolina Parakeet on the marsh I suspect that I will wait and see what tomorrow presents.

Enjoy your Saturday (but don't forget your wetsuit!) - Chaz

Friday, 27 March 2015

Friday update

The Garganey was still present today and was seen by Chris and Graham Weston although very elusive. But apart from that they did not seem to have too much else to report:

The only things of note to report were 36 Stock Dove in one of the bare fields by Ford Brook and Oystercatcher in the southerly of the two pools on the Mere. No sign of Wheatear or Little Owl though.
With regard to the Gargeney (honest, it was there!), we smashed our previous earliest record of 16th April. 
Graham and Chris did attempt to show me where the bird has been a few minutes before I arrived but this duck was behaving to its usual pattern and seemed to have disappeared for a siesta by the time I turned up. It was as you can see though, their earliest record for the species.
Ray Fellows reported good numbers of Goosander on the Mere and at least five birds flew north-east while I was there. Several Chiffchaff were singing but they were the only migrants if you don't include two Redwing which were presumably heading the other way?
I may be over during the next couple of days. 
Have a good weekend all - Chaz 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

***Scarce Bird(S) Alert***

This birding game is bloody stressful! I had just had my dinner and was relaxing when the phone goes off. Gareth Clements had just had a call from Craig (Midlandbirder) Reed to say that while they were standing watching the Garganey (which was there after all - obviously - or they wouldn't have been watching it!) A drake Mandarin had dropped onto the swag! Better than that, they had actual footage of it on the pool with the Garganey!

Definition of a bogey bird - one that rarely turns up and when it does you always miss it!

Mandarin was one of my Marsh Bogey birds. There were two previous records involving one bird that turned up a few winters ago and I had missed it both times. This would be a grudge match.

Within ten minutes of Gareth's call I was on the Marsh to be greeted by Craig and his birding mate Alastour Hughes who had remained on site to lock-down the bird until someone else arrived. Only to be told that it had flown off thirty seconds before I arrived - Sod-it really doesn't cover it!

Fourtunately they had kept the bird in sight and had seen it apparently drop down onto the pool by the pit-mound. Kev Clements called to confirm that he was watching it from there and we were able to eventually get good if distant views of this beautiful site rarity.

Several calls later and both Tony Stackhouse and Ray Fellows were on the way so I baby-sat the bird until they arrived but by this time the bird had gone into cover. I approached the pool cautiously to see if I could locate the bird and get them onto it, but while still some distance away the Mandarin took flight. I was able to get out a call and by good chance both Tony and Ray were able to get good views of it as it flew over their heads and away toward Wyrley Common (or possibly Chasewater?) at about 17.30. - Job done!

This was text-book birding. The bird was found, identified and the word put out instantly. Those contacted put out calls to interested parties and everyone had a brilliant and satisfying experience. Genuine Teamwork providing dividends for all involved. I am immensely grateful for both the lads for doing the job so well and also to Gareth and Kev for their part in getting some regulars on site to enjoy the Mandarin.

In a perfect world this is how it would always be done, plaudits all around - Chaz

Negative News

No sign of the female Garganey today apparently, Kev bumped into one birder who had apparently been looking for it unsuccessfully. There were still two Wigeon and a Cormorant was seen but attention today was focused on Stubbers Green where two Brent Geese were present until lunchtime at least. The birds flew north but did not favour either of our sites by dropping in (although who knows, they may have flown over?) - Chaz

OK - I confess, I am a bit nervous about this!

Don't you hate people who 'big themselves up' or try to make out that you should be interested in them? I do!

And that makes what I have done feel very uncomfortable!

I am a very ordinary bloke and a middling birder with a genuine belief that we are all on the same ladder when it comes to life and that there is only one person at the top and some poor sod at the bottom. Essentially I feel that we are all climbing that ladder, looking up at someones behind and with someone behind us looking up at our behinds. So I am not trying to draw attention to myself (when you are big and hairy, six foot three and a half and weigh-in at eighteen stone you really don't have to try to be noticed, trust me, I wish that you did).

My sons have been pestering me to do some writing and I have eventually sat down and done it. It is the honest story of how I came to be a birdwatcher but it really doesn't have to be about me. The fact that it is my story is inconsequential, it could be about anyone who has become a birder, its just that the people mentioned and the anecdotes that are related are actually my friends and my anecdotes.

If you are not interested please don't bother to read it, I wont be offended. If you are only interested in the birding then skip the first chapter because that is essentially about me and is just for context (and if you are not old enough to remember the nineteen fifties and sixties you won't relate to it anyway).

It is forty-odd pages long and split into chapters that chronologically relate my journey from when I started to becoming the idiot you all know who writes the blog and I hope it will demonstrate that wherever you are on that ladder I have probably been there at some point and if you look carefully you will find my footprint on the rung on which you stand.

I don't expect you to understand that for me, putting this in the public domain is very courageous. I have endeavoured not to be unkind to anyone in particular although I have been frank about some aspects of the greater birding community. Feedback will be welcome, but if you don't like it I would rather not know. I may or may not leave it on the site, I am undecided at present.

If you are interested in knowing more you will find it on the pages list marked 'Clayhanger Birdman' I appreciate that this is a very pretentious title and I'm afraid that if you want to know why I used it, you will need to read the very last paragraphs.

I hope it passes a spare few minutes in an entertaining way and if possible inspires one or two of you to take your birding further - Chaz

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Please check recent postings

I have received some photographs of today's bird action from Kev Clements and Mike Pittaway and have revisited the last few postings to make good use of their pictures so please have a look back at them.

Many thanks to both for their efforts and for sharing them with the blog - Chaz