Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The New Year and all that

After a successful New Year’s Eve at the Swan in Whitacre, I got up on New Years Day with a bit of a sore head! I had a cup of coffee in bed and watched the bird feeders seeing the usual birds, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Greenfinches and Goldfinch. The McSparrowhawk’s was still open and was the best bird of the morning – but this time he went hungry – I think the locals are catching on!

I then had to head to West Brom for a 12.30 kick-off – 12.30! I can hardly believe it. I sat there through a game that no one wanted to be at, players, officials and especially fans, there was a great selection of hang overs on show. After 15 minutes it started to rain and I was wet as well as cold  Sky Sports have a lot to answer for. The next day the Captain picked me up and we headed for the best that Staffordshire could offer. After an hour of standing on a freezing cold hillside with no Great Grey Shrike on show, we decided to cut our losses and head for Gailey and return later.

At Gailey the eagerly anticipated Med Gull and Black Redstart we no shows, I was running through scenarios where I could bump off the Captain and get away with it. I am sure I could plead mitigating circumstances and surely no jury in the land would convict. When the details of numerous failed twitches were published I might even be in line for an MBE or an OBE for services to birding. We are both of to Goa at the end of January and if his form doesn’t improve – he ain’t coming back!!!!

After a walk around Gailey with Julian during which I lost my footing and stacked it – I was beginning to wonder how much I would get for all my birding gear. An old chap coming the other way wished me a Happy New Year as I lay on the ground,  I made his day at least. On the way back the Captain, yes the Captain picked up the Black Redstart flitting around the boulders on the shoreline and whilst we saw the bird it wasn’t for long and it soon did one.

Back at Cannock Chase whilst the Captain played it cool and poured himself a coffee I wandered onto the hillside and instantly picked up the Shrike, this was more like it, the bird was very active and during the next ten minutes it tried out a variety of perches all over the hillside. Next was Wishaw were we drew a blank, but there were lots of Thrushes in the field behind The Cock.

Next we went to Coton for the Gull roost, there were a few people already there including Alan Dean, whilst he might not regard himself as a Gull expert, everyone else does. He pointed out a leucistic Black-headed Gull. I am beginning to develop a liking for gulls but it is hard to learn in the presence of greatness as everyone stays stum. A normal session for birders of my standard is look Yellow-legged Gull, must be, look at that white head and its darker on the back, and look its bigger than the Lesser black-backs only to be met by “No you prat that’s a Greater Black-backed” or “ It’s a British Herring Gull” or the favourite “Get back to Shustoke and find us a Little Owl”

Anyway it was relatively quiet then an adult Med Gull appeared as if by magic. As Eric Morecambe would say, we got all the right birds – but not necessarily in the right order!

Leucistic Black-headed Gull

Med Gull

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