The usual suspects
Short eared Owl
It started as a regular Brandon Marsh visit. A couple of Water Rail showed well, Cetti's warblers were in good voice and one showed itself as it chased a wren in front of East Marsh hide. A wander through the woodlands produced little so it came as a bit of a relief when news of a Grey Phalarope at Fishers Mill gave the day a definite focus. I picked up a friend John Smart at home and then moved on to Middleton. As we drove along the A5 a flock of Golden plover flew over heading for their usual wintering fields opposite the MIRA centre. As we walked to Fishers Mill I wondered if would be able to add another bird to my Warks year list but thoughts soon turned to survival as torrential rain struck and the path became a bit of a quagmire. Steve Cawthray had some cheery news as we approached the Fishers Mill bridge saying that the Phalarope had just flown north to the next pool- definitely in Staffs. However, as we approached the pool just 2 bedraggled birders were looking at a small white object just in front of them. Lee Johnson had braved the downpour and was getting great views of the Grey Phalarope (174) just in front of him.
Over the next hour a steady stream of regular Tame valley birders joined us having dragged themselves away from the bookies or the omnibus edition of Home and away. The rains cleared and there was an enjoyable banter amongst the assembled crew. The group fragmented as several people walked to higher ground for an Owl watch. John and I tagged along and it wasn't long before we were rewarded by the sight of a Short eared Owl high up being mobbed by a couple of Carrion Crows. We climbed the spoil heap to view the whole area and didnt have to wait too long before spotting presumably the same Owl trying to hunt over the Water ski centre bund. It was struggling though as it was harassed by a flock of Black headed Gulls. The Owl again took to the skies going even higher than before finally being lost to view. So what had started as a slow day ended with a flourish. Again thanks to the RSPB group and Tom for getting the news out.