Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Night Heron and Red necked Phalarope

Common Swift, Earlswood Lakes
Common Swift
Common Swift

Mandarin Duck
Monday 23rd May 2011

It had to be done, another attempt for the Night Heron at Earlswood lakes. This time I was prepared and ready to stick it out until total darkness fell. So with sandwiches and plenty of warm clothes I started the lonely vigil. I say lonely because I was the only birder on site to begin with but by 9.00pm there was probably 8 of us scanning the distant trees. While we waited I amused myself trying to photograph the Swifts as they shot low over the causeway at high speed. Pretty hopeless task as the light slowly faded but then there was always the friendly neighbourhood Mandarin to fall back on. Further interest came in the form of 3 waders which flew round the lakes before landing on the small shingle island on Engine pool and identified themselves as Dunlin. Yet more entertainment was provided by a confrontation on the single track causeway as two cars from both directions met in the middle. Neither would back up as other cars waited to cross at either end. It was like a scene from High Noon. Who would back down. There was waving of arms but neither car budged an inch. Birders watched the drama unfold openmouthed. Would there be violence. The tension mounted. A woman a passenger in one of the waiting cars went to negotiate a settlement but no agreement could be found. The stalemate went on, the waiting cars turned round and disappeared and the birders gradually lost interest and resumed the search of the skies.

At 9.30pm the Night Heron, clearly an adult, flew over Windmill pool and appeared to drop down just beyond the trees bordering the road. So that was that, an interesting evening. As for the outcome between the two arrogant car drivers, who cares?

Tuesday 24th May 2011

I'd just finshed my visit to Sutton when news of a Red necked Phalarope at Blithfield reservoir came through. My visits to this WMBC 'Hotspot' - tend to be few and far between but as I was already half way there it was an opportunity not to be missed. The Red necked Phalarope was fairly distant but thanks to the help of one Bernie Smith, was soon located. Much closer though was an Osprey which strangely no one else had noticed. It gave some wonderful opportunities for photography but for once I was cameraless.

We were joined by Roger Broadbent who found the Phalarope. Roger and I went our separate ways to look for a Sanderling on the dam and joined up again to compare notes. No sign of any waders but I decided to have a quick look at the causeway on the way home. On the shore near the causeway was the summer plummaged Sanderling in company with 6 Dunlin. A good conclusion to a very pleasant afternoon in Staffordshire. I must do it more often.

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