Monday, 28 September 2009

Aquatic warbler in Warwickshire

Monday 28th Sept. 2009

It was a strange experience, the whole day was strange. In response to a phone call which I got several hours after it was sent I set off yesterday to Salford Priors Gravel pits where an Aquatic warbler had been discovered. I aborted the mission at the end of my road. Unusually, common sense had kicked in as I realised with the light fading I probably wouldnt get there before the bird went to roost. So I went on news that the bird was still there the following morning. I was aware that there was no access to the site but reasoned that some access might be arranged at some point in the day.
As I parked up I was met by John Harris who had been making the aquaintance of the site manager who had politely told John to bugger off. With no access we patrolled the perimeter fence to get the lie of the land and do a spot of bird watching. John had already seen Peregrine and Stonechat and it wasn't long before we added Osprey, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Hobby to the raptor count. We also had Green Sandpiper, Linnet, Meadow pipit, Green and Great spotted Woodpecker. We kept to the public footpath which at one point gave a good view of the whole area. We were amazed to see a group of birders in high vis. jackets and hard hats clearly flushing an area of reeds in the centre of a grassy field. Somebody had obviously arranged access despite pager messages to the contrary. When we approached the group we were told that special access had been arranged and that the group had had an induction programme to show them how to wear a hard hat and high visability jacket. There was no way we could be included in the group having no hats or jackets so we made our exit. As we left we met up with other birders eager to have the chance to see a National let alone Warwickshire rarity.

By late afternoon over 20 birders had gathered. The group organised themseves around the dried up pond. Spotters were sent round the back of the reeds and were soon indicating they had located a bird. The group waited patiently as they scanned the vegetation for movement. The Aquatic warbler did come up from time to time and as directions were passed along the group gradually everyone got to see the bird, albeit briefly. A Whinchat tried to confuse the issue and a Raven flew overhead.
Quarries are sensitive sites, being potentially dangerous to staff and visitors. 'Elf and safety is a key issue for staff, and birders should be aware of why access is prohibited during the working day and not attempt to 'sneak in' and jeopardise the goodwill established by local birders.

Having missed the Boddington Aquatic I was well chuffed at seeing this bird so well.

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