UK birding with some good friends.
John Holian picked me up and we headed over to Wombourne to collect friend Brian Marsh before going on to Dudmaston Hall to have a look at the two pools. The pool near the road held just a few Tufted Ducks (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula) and Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos). Opposite the pool entrance there was a well hidden public footpath which lead through some woodland down to another larger more open lake. As we approached 5x Goosanders (Mergus merganser) flew over us and disappeared towards the lake we had just left, a larger flock of Tufted Ducks was seen out on the middle of the water, numbering 30+ birds. A flash of bright blue gave away the first of the days Kingfishers (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis). We were at the site for a bird which John and Brian had already seen a hybrid between a Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and a Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). We eventually found the Coot flock and very quickly picked this bird up, it was intermediate in size between the two species, had a pink/orange bill and lacked the white undertail covets of the Moorhen. Whilst I was there the bird swam and behaved very much as a Coot but John and Brian said that they had seen it swimming in a manor more typical of a Moorhen. Two more Kingfishers flew past and disappeared behind some Willows, Rooks (Graja / Corvus frugilegus) called from the Rookery in the Beech trees on the far bank and a couple Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) drifted overhead. In the woods on the way back we added Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Pheasant (Faisán Vulgar / Phaisanus colchicus) and eventually we got views of a calling Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major). From the gate where we parked we picked up Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), a male Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) and a single Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo) dived on the upper lake. The next stop was at Essington pool where John had seen a pair of Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) but the fog was so thick that we could not see a great deal but we picked up a nice female Common Goldeneye (Porrón Osculado / Bucephala clangula) again a bird I had not seen for at least six years or so. Also here Eurasian Wigeon (Silbón Europeo / Anas Penelope), Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and more Dunnocks (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis) were seen. I had mentioned to John and Brian that I would like to see Waxwings (Ampelis Europeo / Bombycilla garrulus) if there were any about, so when the phone went and a message came in that 20 birds had been seen in Stafford we diverted from our drive towards Cannock Chase. Luckily the site was on the outskirts of the town in the direction that we were travelling (not very often that happens), so we were soon on site and after about 20 minutes searching John spotted them in a tall tree some distance away. We drove as near as we could and walked towards the gates of a local school and the birds were all perched in the top of a semi dead tree and were dropping down lower to feed on Rowan berries. We soon realised that the reported flock of 20 birds in fact numbered somewhere between 80 and 100. About 5 minutes after we arrived the birds were flushed by a Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) and flew off strongly across the housing estate; we had a look around several of the roads locally but could not find the birds again but thought that we would give the original tree another look. Just as we arrived back so did the now very jumpy flock of birds. We continued to watch them for the next hour or so before they flew off again. We also saw Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater). Our final stop was near the rifle ranges on Cannock Chase where we were looking for a reported Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes) and the regular Great Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Norteno / Lanius excubitor). We did not see either of the two above but I was very happy with the cracking male Bullfinch (Camachelo Común / Pyrrhula pyrrhula) which was feeding in some birch trees with a flock of Lesser Redpolls (Pardillo Sizerín / Carduelis flammea). We continued our stroll through the woods seeing large numbers of Thrushes including Mistle (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Redwing (Zorzal Alirrojo / Turdus iliacus), Song (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Fieldfare (Zorzal Real / Turdus pilaris) and Blackbirds (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula). A large flock of birds then past through the pines which included the three tit species already mentioned plus Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Goldcrest (Reyezuelo Sencillo / Regulus regulus). On the way back to the car we past a bird feeder which was covered in Coal Tits but more interesting were the five male Yellowhammers (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citronella) feeding on the ground below it. After a cracking day John dropped me back at Barbs house, took Brian home before returning to Barbs and picking Jayne and me up again to go out for a curry. A brilliant day thanks John, Sharon and Brian.
Photographs from the top: Waxwings (Ampelis Europeo / Bombycilla garrulus).