A days birding with good friend John Holian, followed by a cracking Indian meal.
I meet John Holian out side Barb’s house and we headed out for a days birding in the county of Staffordshire and started at one of my old haunts Belvide Reservoir. Once I had worked out that the gate was not locked we parked up in the car park and made our way through the woods to the first hide, on the way we had a couple of Goldcrests (Reyezuelo Sencillo / Regulus regulus), Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and a calling Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major). From the hide we were soon seeing birds which used to be familiar sights to me but which I had not see for some time (up to 7 years). On a spits some distance away we could see a single Common Gull (Gaviota Cana / Larus canus) amongst the many Black-head’s (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Herrings (Gaviota Argéntea Europea / Larus argentatus) and a couple of Lesser Black-back’s (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus). On the water there were several flocks of one of my favorite ducks, around 30 Goldeneye (Porrón Osculado / Bucephala clangula) could be seen including several stunning males. Also on the water were Canada (Barnacla Canadiense / Branta Canadensis) and Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo). On the margins we added Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), plus a Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) which showed well from a post just on the edge of a reed-bed. In the reeds a couple of Robins (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) chased each other around and a group of three Reed Buntings (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus) sat up high calling.
We then made our way around to the next hide calling in at a spot along one of the tracks cut out by the local ringing group to view a roosting Long-eared Owl (Búho Chico / Asio otus) which showed well in the lower branches of a willow tree. Here we also had Bullfinch (Camachuelo Común / Pyrrhula pyrrhula), Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris), Dunnock (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis) and heard a Marsh Tit (Carbonero Palustre / Poecile palustris). From the hide we added Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba subsp yarrellii), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Pheasant (Faisán Vulgar / Phaisanus colchicus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) which had become incredibly common since my leaving the UK. On the way out we missed the gazebo hide and continued on to the furthest point getting good views of the Marsh Tit on the way. From the hide here we picked up the first Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and Eurasian Wigeon (Silbón Europeo / Anas Penelope) of the day and added Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia) to the list. On the way back to the car park we popped into the Gazebo hide to look at the feeding station where we had close views of several Tree Sparrows (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and a single Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) butterfly. Once back in the car park John got out the flash and we had a welcome cup of coffee, as nice as the weather was it felt really cold and I could not even focus my bins easily. Whist we drank our nice hot coffee I picked up a dragonfly which dropped down onto the small bird tables mounted on nearby fence posts, it flew before I could get a shot but I managed to Id it as an Emerald species and going on distribution I can on guess that it was a very late tatty looking Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea). A cracking Southern/ Blue Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) also did a fly passed and landed in a clump of Brambles and was very confiding and allowed some nice photos to be taken. On the bird tables we also got some nice views of a beautiful Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea) as it picked around for food.
Our next stop was at Gailey Res just down the road, we only add Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula) so we decided to continue on to Yoxall where John had seen a Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) a few days earlier. We arrived and quickly located two Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) on the banks of the river and our second Kingfisher of the day which caught quite a large Perch and eventually after a lot of bashing managed to turn it and swallow. Also seen in this area were Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Rook (Graja / Corvus frugilegus), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone) and a large mixed flock of Fieldfare (Zorzal Real / Turdus pilaris) and Redwings (Zorzal Alirrojo / Turdus iliacus). Our next port of call was at Whitmoor Hay and Croxall Pool, out on fields at Whitmoor Hay we were hoping to catch up with Grey Partridge (Perdiz Pardilla / Perdix perdix) but there was a lot of construction work going on so the noise and disturbance was to much and we did not get any sightings of these now rear birds but we did record a pair of Yellowhammers (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citronella) on one of the barn roofs, several Stock Doves (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas) out on the fields and a Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) in the bottom of a Hawthorn hedge which contained the second flock of Tree Sparrows of the day.
On Croxall pool we added singles of Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) and Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) to the list along with Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) and more delightful Bullfinches. An old Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) was also added to the Dragonflies for the day.
Our final stop was at Chasewater for the Gull Roost, a couple of Caspian Gulls (Larus cachinnans) and I quite fancied seeing one of these birds as it had been many years since my last view and they are now being recorded regularly in Spain. Gull numbers grew and included hundreds of Black-headed, Lesser Black Backed, Herring, a few Common and four Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) but unfortunately there were no Caspian’s seen. John returned me to Barbs only to pick me up again along with Jayne and Barb a few minutes later so that we could all go and have a cracking Indian meal with his wife Sharon at the local restaurant called Chili peppers.
Photographs from the top: John and another birder watching the Owl, A poor shot of the Long-eared Owl (Búho Chico / Asio otus), Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Dunnock (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis), Southern/ Blue Hawker (Aeshna cyanea), Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) and John freezing his bits off at Chasewater.