Monday 27th April 2009
County year listing can be great fun but it can also be extremely frustrating in a County such as Warwickshire. Many passage migrants particularly Pelagic species only pass through the County in small numbers, if at all. I've been county year listing since 2000 when I fancied doing something different for the Millenium. My best year was 2001 when I saw 180 species within the existing Warwickshire boundary. 2001 was a great year for wader species in the Tame valley. Since then I've been trying to top that total.
Today the signs looked good, a recent movement of waders through inland counties, the possibility of a rare Tern, heavy rain across the Midlands from west to east. Something had to happen, and it did but not quite what was expected.
It had to be a hide day, although Cliff pool is nowhere near as productive as the pools further north the view from the hide is excellent. A lone Common Sandpiper was the only wader present but I did get a Warks tick in the form of a Common Swift(149). I was joined by Pete Softly. When the rains eased Pete was eager to explore further north, I was eager to have my lunch. I was already on the move when Pete texted to say there was a Cuckoo near the Canal. As I approached the first bridge the Cuckoo (150) could be heard towards Middleton Hall and from thr bridge the bird could be seen high in a poplar tree. Just as I got to the Fisher's Mill viewpoint I had a phonecall from Pete this time informing me he was watching a Bar tailed Godwit and a Whimbrel flying over Fisher's Mill. Panic. Where ? I didn't see them, missed them by seconds. No big deal I hear you say well maybe not if I lived in an East coast County but that was probably my only chance of Bar tailed in Warks. B....r. So the only thing I could do would be to head back to Cliff pool in the hope they had landed there, but not before watching a Hobby over Dosthill N.R. small consolation.
As soon asI entered the hide I knew there was nothing of interest, the birders had the Kingsbury look which comes from spending too long looking at Black headed Gulls. Apparently though the Whimbrel had been seen but flown off before I arrived. Just gets better doesn't it. Well actually........Another call from Pete - that boy was having a day and a half. He spluttered out the words 'Common Crane, 2 circling Dosthill' -Bloody 'ell. I repeated Petes words to the 4 other blokes in the hide and bins and scopes were trained on the skies. Brilliant, there they were, 2 Common Cranes (151) quite high but circling slowly. At one point they started to come towards us but then flew more directly towards the east.