Sunday 21 December 2008

Off Colour and Off Patch

Sorry about lack of blog updates for the last week but I've been suffering from a nasty virus and only recovered yesterday afternoon, just in time to go to work!

Today I've been off patch, well off patch, in fact I've been 'up north' to Staffordshire and Burton-on Trent my hometown. Before leaving I did something a few of you might have done; I suppose it's probably a regular thing with hardened twitchers, but I've never done it before! I really wanted to see Waxwings and so planned our route via a couple of convenient venues namely, Minsworth or Sutton Coldfield, both in the West Midlands, and both of which could easily be made to be on route. We decided to try Sutton first. We knew where this site was because it was one street down from where a friend of ours lives. To save valuable time we loaded the location onto the sat nav to get us there by the quickest possible route. Unfortunately it sent us up the M6 toll road for just ONE JUNCTION!! £ 3.50 the poorer, we arrived at our destination but after forking out that much money to drive a few hundred yards I just knew I wasn't going to see any!!
On reaching the correct road I spotted a couple of birders ( very obvious in suburbia), and asked if they'd seen any Waxwings, they hadn't, but weren't sure if they were in the right place. I pointed them in the direction of the berry trees in question and they kindly informed me that they had already dipped at Minsworth, so there wasn't much point trying there too. We parked up and waited. Obviously I wanted to wait for as long as it was going to take, BUT going twitching on route to somewhere else with three non-birders, two of whom are TEENAGERS was a ridiculous idea from the start!! After about 25 minutes waiting, 'circumstances' (that's all I'm saying) forced us to leave at 9:30.

On reaching my parent's house some strange masochistic urge had me firing up my mum's computer and logging onto Birdguides. I knew what I was going to see ....... Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield Road, 10 Waxwings 9:40!! - Arrgghh!! If the two nice chaps I met there somehow find this then I would like to say "I'm very pleased you saw them" Really I would!

Here a photo of the scene at 9:20:

20 Minutes later these trees were dripping with Waxwings :(

During a busy day's relative visiting I somehow found time to visit Willington Gravel Pits a fairly new nature reserve belonging to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust just on the edge of Burton. I was recommended to visit here by Richard Powell, a fellow Burtonian, who I found via his blog 'Local Birding For Local People' Thanks Richard! :-)

The lightly vandalised information board.

I was hoping to see some Goldeneye here but there weren't any today, in fact there wasn't an awful lot at all probably due to this:
A volunteer working party: several of whom like the one visible in this picture (only just mind!) were wearing day-glow fleeces. Somehow I knew I wasn't going to see too much.

Actually moaning aside, it was really nice and I saw plenty of birds that would probably cause a local twitch on our patch, like so:

General View: Let's zoom in on some of the blobs and see if we can make them into bigger blobs.

Tufted blobs and a Male Goosander

There were loads of these sorts

Two of these...

Also loads of Pochard, but nothing out of the ordinary locally .

It was a lovely reserve and I'll no doubt be visiting again, I also left today having seen a lifer, not a terribly exciting one it has to be said. Here it is in all it's blurry pixcilated, glory:

A Willow Tit

Finally, just one of hundreds of scenic Burton-on-Trent highlights which I could show you:

Breathtaking! Literally sometimes... It's where all the Marmite comes from.

I had a few formatting issues with this post so apologies if anyone was reading it ( as if! At after midnight!) when part of it had vanished.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to read that you have been unwell Karen, glad that you have now recovered. Hope you are going to continue with your blog in 2009. It's always a great read.

Richard Powell said...

The working parties are a necessary evil. They do a great job in improving the habitat, but if you're there at the time then it's not the ideal time to visit.

Never mind. My dad worked next door to Marmite for many years!