Wednesday, 23 May 2012

21 May 2012

Well so far it's been a pretty good week to book off work and I'm only a few days into my holidays, It's my birthday on the 23rd and I always try and book the week off, two reasons really, firstly I don't like working my birthday and it's normally a week when a few decent migrants can turn up around the country.

Sadly it hasn't really been happening at Westport and I've had to travel a bit further a field to see the birding gems of the last few days, it started on Sunday when after a normal visit around the lake I was lounging about the house when I received a text from Nick, Bluethroat at Doxey Marsh, further information came through, it was a male of the Red-spotted Bluethroat variety, being a British tick I was rather keen to see this bird, Nick was at Branston with his dad making there way to Stafford, I put a request out of Birdforum for a lift without success, then I thought about the train, it runs from the bottom of my road via Stoke station into Stafford within 30mins, sorted, just needed to work out how far from station to said bird, but their was no need as a guardian angel in George Smith who had already seen the bird was on his way up to pick me up!! This really is above and beyond the call of duty and I really just cannot thank him enough for this.

So arrived on site and within 15mins or so I was watching a stunning male Red-spotted Bluethroat sat on the fence no more than 50ft away.

Red-spotted Bluethroat by Steve Gibson

Rather late that night news broke of a Cream-coloured Courser at Herefordshire, in the morning I met up with Nick at Westport, it was a rather pleasant morning with a temp of 9c, I completely forgot to make a note of the wind but their wasn't much to talk of as the lake was totally flat, visit from 05.50 til around 07.30.

It was all feeling very much like summer, as though migration was finished with at Westport and breeding is in full swing, Warbler numbers have dropped off now, probably because territories are established and breeding is now the priority, around the park, five Blackcaps, four Chiffchaff, two Whitethroat and single Garden Warbler and Reed Warbler.

On the lakes Mute Swan had increased by an extra one too  nine, Tufted Duck had increased slightly as well too six, that said they couldn't get much lower, Great Crested Grebe remained at two and Canada Geese goslings are up to 26, a Grey Heron was on the boating lake for a short time until it was chased off by a Carrion Crow, and a single Jackdaw flew over, just a couple of Starling were collecting food for there young along the front of the main lake and 3 Pied Wagtail were along here as well, Swift numbers were much much lower over the main  lake with no more than 20c present.

The only other bird of note in the reserve, as well as Warblers, was a male Reed Bunting on the top pool, lastly along the canal side a couple of Treecreeper and a family of seven Willow Tit to go with the single we had seen earlier in the reserve.

So before we left the park news broke that the Cream-coloured Courser was still present, a quick check of the sat nav suggested it was around 2hrs 15mins away, Nick couldn't go due to work, but if his Dad was interested would I go?? Err yes!

At 09.00, George picked me up and after a near 3hr drive we arrived at a golf course that really was the back of beyond, it was on a hill that was 1,243ft above sea level, the views as well as the weather was stunning, we made our way up the hill and arrived at the crowd of people out of breath, we couldn't believe our luck as the bird was showing right in front of us, although slightly hidden by the rough on the edge of the fairway, I know I use this word a lot but it really was a stunning bird and one the bird books just don't do justice, the pattern on the head is incredible, we stayed for over an hour or so, watching it run around and at one point chasing a Skylark, I really wanted to see it's legs and eventually we managed to see it's white legs, bit like mine when I'm in my shorts for the first time after winter!

I really can't say thank you enough to George Smith, despite the fact he had already seen the Bluethroat, he still came to Stoke to pick me up, take me down to see it and then bring me back, and then to top that he takes me to see the Cream-coloured Courser, a bird he doesn't even need having seen the one on Scillies, George you are a true legend, gent and friend and I thank you very much for your kind generosity.

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