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Withymoor - Amblecote, Stourbridge.....

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Old Monday 1st June 2020, 15:20   #1476
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New-fangled Long-tailed or Oldskool Oldsquaw...

Sun 31st.....

I was beginning to think an adult Yellow-legged Gull i picked up in the preening Larids on Friday morning was going to be the Swansong to Spring migration with Fens Pools woefully underperforming considering the length of exposed shoreline. I do tell myself that my pre-breakfast visits are but a small 1.5 hour vignette in an otherwise long and potentially productive day.

I followed my usual routine of checking the Top Pool quickly before dropping down to scan the edge of the Middle Pool and then returning to spend the remainder of the visit at where i consider the most productive vantage point will be. I clocked a couple of Mallard coming in with a distinctly smaller duck with them. This was a slightly hidden bird tucked in and apart from a blotchy head that was it until they landed in front of me. The ID was straight forward (no Clangula dropped here) - a Long-tailed Duck and i pencilled it in as an immature, probably 1st-Summer female. It swam around and preened before joining the rest of the Mallard on the far bank but was chased off and ended back up in the water - this was at 0730 and by 0750 it flew off with 2 Mallard presumably the same ones it arrived with.....

A quick text to my brother and a BOC photo i then made my way back to the Top Pool to peruse the Gulls and listen for Warblers. After about 45 mins i cycled back via Merry Hill and was rewarded with an adult Raven and a couple of juveniles in and around the nest site.

I don't actually see 'Sea Ducks' very often and my experience with LTD is limited to about a dozen individuals. I seldom visit the UK coast these days and none of the spp are annual for me and even RBMerganser and Scaup are just about annual and you can forget about Divers. My coastal birding is generally undertaken abroad about 3 times annually and as these trips are outside the Winter period i seldom see any in the countries i visit.

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: LTD, what else.
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Old Tuesday 2nd June 2020, 12:03   #1477
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Mega - Withymoor - Now....

Long Tailed Duck -

Same bird as FP by the looks

Laurie
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Old Tuesday 2nd June 2020, 13:36   #1478
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Still there as of 14:30 per Paul Legge - i will pop back down at dusk.

Bird feeding by swimming along with its head under the water and blowing bubbles like a Ruddy Duck plus shallow dives - the resident Coot have been giving it grief in a ‘Minneapolis’ stylee #OldsquawLivesMatter

Good birding -

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Old Tuesday 2nd June 2020, 13:47   #1479
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+++Update+++

I left at 1335 and it was preening on the West bank () Paul went down for 1400 and walked the pool twice and did not see it and presumed it had flown off #bummer

Laurie

I have some pics of this Pimpernel and will post at some stage.....
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Old Tuesday 2nd June 2020, 15:26   #1480
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As i thought - it is still there, it must have been loafing on the bank and to be fair it looks like a small stone...

An even rarer sighting has been Hughie King

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Thursday 4th June 2020, 06:35   #1481
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Following Sunday's LTD at Fens Pools early morning i didn't bother visiting Withymoor on the way back or on Monday - i mean what would the chance of it, or another, relocating there.....

Monday i had a change of scenery and visited The Bittells. A blistering day with a lovely breeze but little of note. I checked a site by the boat moorings that has held a coupla dozen scattered Bee Orchids in the past but the area hasn't been mown for a while by the looks of it and so has become too shaded. On a pile of spoil by the Horse trailers over the causeway road was a nice clump of Salsify, the cultivated variant of common but impressive Goats Beard. They are both related to the very rare Vipers Grass that only grows in a handful of wet meadows one of which is in Warwickshire.

Birdwise a few warblers and a couple of very fresh juvenile Buzzards that reminded me of the 'Steppe' type with contrasting wing-border and light central wing area.
Good birding -

Laurie

Attatched - Salsify and Buteo.
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Old Thursday 4th June 2020, 06:37   #1482
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Tuesday saw the appearance or reappearance of a Long-tailed Duck at Lakeside, Withymoor

Prior to that i had been up at Fens Pools where 6 species of warbler were singing including Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler. In addition a reasonable flock of Swifts ca75 were hawking above the causeway.

Withymoor hasn't had a reported wader since the Grey Phalarope over 18 months ago so the appearance of an LTD was jaw-dropping - i am glad a few people clicked with it once i had told Paul Legge. The bird, certainly on my 3 visits was harassed by Coot and took sanctuary on the bank from time to time. I noted it fed by swimming just under the water with its head stretched out and dived from time to time. I last saw it at about 8:45 and it left by 9:15 after being harassed yet again i was told.

I have a few pictures but here are a selection, in order, 2 Andy Daniels, 2 Hughie King and 1 Chris Vaghela - i am sure they will not mind the free publicity!

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Thursday 4th June 2020, 07:11   #1483
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Whilst over at Fens Pools each day i have been popping in to ascertain how many Ravens were fledged at Merry Hill. Despite twice daily visits i had only clicked with calling adults, noisier young in the adjacent scrub and a single bird the other day...

On Tuesday what i think is the complete brood was back on the comms tower nest and i am confident that 3 young were successfully fledged. The nest itself is mostly hidden and on my earlier discreet visits i could only ever see one chick being fed at any time despite noises to the contrary.

Here are 2 pics - a calling (still wary) adult and 3 young waiting to be fed or summoned. Here’s to next year - i think they would have bred despite ‘lockdown’. They were hanging around last year and were on the nest by the end of February this year although i left it most of the month before reporting progress. The previous closest breeding birds to the house were at Wordsley and had bred successfully for 5 years. The house has been turned into the Roebuck Pub and the birds didn’t bother with all the building work going on. We have 15-20 active nests in a 90 degree arc of Stourbridge for about 15 miles. I expected breeding birds within 2 miles of home after the Wordsley breeders but was still very surprised at the Mezza

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Thursday 4th June 2020, 12:56   #1484
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FWIW - Sunday’s Fens Pools bird appears to have more extensive White on the head and a blotchier bill (around the base) than Tuesday’s Withymoor bird - i would be interested in other peoples thoughts...

Laurie
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Old Saturday 6th June 2020, 07:19   #1485
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Yesterday (Friday) saw a quick whistle-stop tour of some local sites dodging heavy showers and hail at one stage in the process from 1030-1300...

First off was the furthest which was Sheepwash. I haven't been there this Spring at all concentrating on Fens Pools which is half the distance on a bike. The place is looking extremely verdant and the water levels are quite high. Half a dozen Reed Warblers were noted singing and the Cetti's was present around the stone 'seat' much beloved by the local pissheads. You can admire the view whilst knee-deep in discarded 'tinnies'. Variety is added by the packaging discarded by local Poles - they love anything pickled, brined, smoked and salted by the looks of it. Ironically i visited Poland last year and found it by far the cleanest litter-free country i have ever visited. Maybe the ones we have have picked up the local customs including dropping litter wherever they recreate

Netherton Razzer was next with just a cursory scan of the water whilst it was chucking it down. Next off was Fens Pools which had the usual mix of Warblers including Lesserthroat and a pair of GCGrebes building a nest in a late attempt to breed - the more suitable raft already has a brooding Coot in 'King of the Hill' mode. A smart Sparrowhawk was hunting and that was about it. I finished with a quick dive past Withymoor - which was quiet.

Tweet of the Day amused me. It was iconic luvvie and National Treasure David Attenborough. He spent 2 mins describing the status of Blackcap and how the Continental Wintering birds are passing on their lack of migratory urge to their offspring who are now stopping short to breed thus boosting numbers. He also said that the species is often described as 'the Nightingale of the North'. I don't know which part of the North he was describing because i have lived and birded in several areas including 3 years in the West Pennines and i have never heard that phrase at all - i wonder if down in Kent the Nightingale is described as 'the Blackcap of the South'? Perhaps these anecdotes are purely made up for the La-La-Land Beeb.....

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: Female type Sprawk in moult - my fave UK bird of prey
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Old Sunday 7th June 2020, 08:28   #1486
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LTDuck...again Fens Pools > Rise of the Footshole😉

Just back from Fens Pools and thought i would pop down to the Middle Pool to celebrate the one week anniversary of the Long-tailed Duck..........to find it sitting on the mud about 25 yards from where i found it last week! After 2 mins it flew off, again with 2 Mallard in a direct flight over towards the lower Grove Pool

I played a hunch and thought what would Eric Phillips have done and cycled the mile or so to the Dell pool aka Footshole Pool.....and there it was feeding in a more secluded area that has little edge and plenty of depth as it is an overspill for the canal. I left the bird feeding happily at 9pm as i had to get some breakfast down my neck before off to Grimmers at 1030.

I have no phone contract at the moment and did not put a memory card in my camera but managed some shots on my smartphone - i shall put them up later

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Sunday 7th June 2020, 08:48   #1487
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Have you got it on a piece of string Laurie? Nice one
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Old Sunday 7th June 2020, 08:57   #1488
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There are worse things to be stalked by Phil

Footshole Pool is probably where it flew off to last Sunday but was it the Withymoor bird on Tuesday? A couple pf Lesser Throats rattling away. This pool is less accessible than the Fens and hosted a Spring Night Heron a decade ago

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Sunday 7th June 2020, 09:15   #1489
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Best of a low-resolution bunch...
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Old Monday 8th June 2020, 08:34   #1490
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Anglesey, 17 years ago - ya had to be there!

To the day

On a normal trip i would have been happy with Black Guillemot. Like many others i fretted all week, could only get a lift on Sunday, that was the last day it was seen. An impressive bird, for a Passerine, it fed all the time in a border area between the burnt Gorse and the unburnt growth which meant a well cammo’d brute of a Lark...

The intervening years has still not seen me making the threatened trip to the breeding areas for this and other associated species but Kazakhstan still beckons although Georgia is the closest i have been.

This is LGRE’s account for RBA. It’s not jaw-dropping but more a name-dropping exercise but worth a read as the ‘official’ one is behind a paywall

http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/files...20Anglesey.pdf

Attached is an iconic picture of the critter.

In a World where i look forward to White Wagtail, possibly wandering White-tailed Eagle and catching up with a White-tailed Plover it is important to bear in mind that #BlackLarksMatter

Good Birding -

Laurie
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Old Monday 8th June 2020, 09:23   #1491
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LTD back on Fens Middle Pool as per Twatter - the question is.....do i need a day tick

Laurie
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Old Wednesday 10th June 2020, 07:18   #1492
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Yesterday i started with a 7-9am stint over at Fens Pools bumping into 2 other birders in the process. One of which i have met this Spring up at Walton Hill and who lives local to me in nearby Wollaston. Due to being 'furloughed', another corruptive American import, he has rather got used to being on 80% wages and able to if not spend it then spend time birding. But that avenue of pleasure has now been closed and he was Bilston-bound for his sins. He told me that he and a mate had covered WH every day bar 2 in April and recorded 10 Ring Ouzels between them and the highlight being a male Black Redstart seen for an all too brief couple of minutes...

The Oldsquaw was still present snoozing on the ample expanse of Middle Pool mud. Paul Legge sent me a cracking photo taken by Ian Whitehouse so check out his Twitter for more. A few warblers and a suspicious-looking juvenile 'White-headed' large Gull and that was about it.

In the afternoon, after putting the finishing touches to 5 gallons of Elderflower wine, i decided to arrange a meet-up with the mate that i undertake the local breeding surveys with.

I cycled over to what i call the 'Shatterford Triangle' - the area beyond Kingsford Lane towards Shatterford Lakes that being the apex of a triangle with Kinver and Romsley being more or less the others - there is leeway on all 3 sides for exploration. Once you leave behind the car park and ice cream vans at Kinver rock houses and avoiding the feckless picknickers and litterati down Kingsford Lane it is another world. There is hardly any through traffic and the narrow lanes are a mix of sand-filled troughs and Hazel bowers where growth arcs over from either side - very Tolkienesque! Small fields, hay meadows and mixed grazing are the order of the day that include Llamas and Jacob Sheep along with the more traditional 'wammals'. I clocked up about 20 miles in 3 hours with nary a vehicle passing me - a handful at most. My mate was discreetly parked and we decided to check out a number of areas on foot that we had pencilled in plus existing ones to chart progress and a very enjoyable and productive session ensued...

First off a quick check on a pair of regular Gos. These birds, along with Raven, have nested for a few years but tolerance can be stretched and so it appeared to be. The earlier nest that the Ravens had put finishing touches to in March was now occupied by Gos. This pair have form and have driven off the Ravens and possibly killed any young they might have produced. 3 years ago they killed all 4 chicks not even bothering to take them as food for their own young - nature Red in tooth and claw and not a Springwatch camera to spoil the view!

Next up was the main object of the exerecise - Curlew.

This species appears to have undergone a catastrophic decline in lowland Britain almost certainly due to farming practices. Calling birds were noted mid-March and thus far 6 adults are residing in several fields but only one pair appears to have bred. The nest area has been marked and 2 local farmers informed. They are more than aware of the presence of Curlew and are pleased that they have them as potential breeders and have agreed to mow any hay later or around the marked area. it is fortuitous that Curlews tend to breed in the middle of fields usually. The breeding pair have 4 week-old chicks that made the road crossing ystda to another hay meadow. Both parents were constantly calling until the last one made it across - now there are only the Crows to contend with until they are about 3 weeks old and safe.

Of note is that 2 of the adults have Yellow Darvic rings with Orange bands. One of these is a parent of the young and the other is feeding with another bird. The markings on the ring show that they were rung in Mid-Wales 3 years ago and have not been reported or controlled since.

In the cluttered row of boundary field Oaks a pair of Hobbies have taken to refurbishing a Carrion Crow nest and should have started laying as one bird has been feeding constantly and taking prey back. The nearby Shatterford Lakes are a good source of Odonata until the young require juvenile passerines. There is quite a size difference between these 2 birds more striking than i normally see. As a bonus a Quail called from another nearby meadow. This species will be listened out for over the next week to 10 days at a number of sites and areas.

I do have some nice shots of yesterdays Curlews but am having trouble getting the card read on this laptop so will take some more today at some stage...

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Wednesday 10th June 2020, 11:51   #1493
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2 BOC’s of ystdas Curlews - 1 singing...

Laurie
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Old Wednesday 10th June 2020, 11:52   #1494
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Thumbs up Long tailed Duck

Quote:
Originally Posted by rollingthunder View Post
Tuesday saw the appearance or reappearance of a Long-tailed Duck at Lakeside, Withymoor

Prior to that i had been up at Fens Pools where 6 species of warbler were singing including Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler. In addition a reasonable flock of Swifts ca75 were hawking above the causeway.

Withymoor hasn't had a reported wader since the Grey Phalarope over 18 months ago so the appearance of an LTD was jaw-dropping - i am glad a few people clicked with it once i had told Paul Legge. The bird, certainly on my 3 visits was harassed by Coot and took sanctuary on the bank from time to time. I noted it fed by swimming just under the water with its head stretched out and dived from time to time. I last saw it at about 8:45 and it left by 9:15 after being harassed yet again i was told.

I have a few pictures but here are a selection, in order, 2 Andy Daniels, 2 Hughie King and 1 Chris Vaghela - i am sure they will not mind the free publicity!

Good birding -

Laurie
Hi Laurie
Long time no see!
Cracking find (refinds) mate. Well done. Don't get on here much nowadays but regularly keep up with your travels both locally & abroad. Entertaining & informative. As we all know Midlands patch birding can be a tedious hard slog at the best of times but finding & refinding a gem like the Long tailed Duck, not once but three times, emphasises the old saying "If you don't get out there you'll never find anything"
Well done again.

Hughie.
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Old Wednesday 10th June 2020, 19:24   #1495
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Hi Laurie
Long time no see!
Cracking find (refinds) mate. Well done. Don't get on here much nowadays but regularly keep up with your travels both locally & abroad. Entertaining & informative. As we all know Midlands patch birding can be a tedious hard slog at the best of times but finding & refinding a gem like the Long tailed Duck, not once but three times, emphasises the old saying "If you don't get out there you'll never find anything"
Well done again.

Hughie.
Your local patches to the south and west of Stourbridge seem to coincide greatly with those of the late lamented Eric Phillips and his comrade in arms Kinver Jim. From 1995 onwards I met Eric at a number of sites and I can remember one of his stories where he confronted the gamekeeper on the Sheepwalks about the shooting of a local goshawk whereupon the keeper just winked at him,knowingly. Another story involves Eric seeing an Alpine Swift at Upton Warren before the days of mobile phones and the internet. He noted it in the Log Book and his sighting later had a line ruled through it with the comment "rubbish" from Arthur Jacobs as a result of which they both fell out massively. Another memory involves a trip in winter to find a great grey shrike on the top of Brown Clee, possibly my first one . When I got there the top was covered in thick fog but I eventually found it on a fencepost. Shortly after I saw a figure in the mist pushing a bike up the steep road accessing the radio transmitter station and from the jizz I knew exactly who it was. For Eric a 50 plus mile round trip on a bike followed by a steep ascent was nothing to write home about.
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Old Thursday 11th June 2020, 06:50   #1496
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the Harborne Flyer View Post
Your local patches to the south and west of Stourbridge seem to coincide greatly with those of the late lamented Eric Phillips and his comrade in arms Kinver Jim. From 1995 onwards I met Eric at a number of sites and I can remember one of his stories where he confronted the gamekeeper on the Sheepwalks about the shooting of a local goshawk whereupon the keeper just winked at him,knowingly. Another story involves Eric seeing an Alpine Swift at Upton Warren before the days of mobile phones and the internet. He noted it in the Log Book and his sighting later had a line ruled through it with the comment "rubbish" from Arthur Jacobs as a result of which they both fell out massively. Another memory involves a trip in winter to find a great grey shrike on the top of Brown Clee, possibly my first one . When I got there the top was covered in thick fog but I eventually found it on a fencepost. Shortly after I saw a figure in the mist pushing a bike up the steep road accessing the radio transmitter station and from the jizz I knew exactly who it was. For Eric a 50 plus mile round trip on a bike followed by a steep ascent was nothing to write home about.
The label "legend" is tediously over-used but EJP comfortably fits that category and remains a sad loss to West Mids birding.

Unfortunately Arthur was often dismissive of birds he didn't see himself.
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Old Thursday 11th June 2020, 06:57   #1497
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There is nothing wrong with your memory mate

This time of year, when i motor-biked, i would bump into Eric 2 sometimes 3 times a day when our paths criss-crossed both this part of the Black Country and adjacent border ‘badlands’ of South Staffs and North Worcs. Sometimes hitting the same well known ‘honeypot’ sites and at other areas that we both thought might be of interest. A contrast to checking the Internet for updates and going to see other peoples birds - we all do this to some extent but the satisfaction, for me, is not the same. I visit some of Eric’s old sites and still bump into Jim but being older than me he is taking his ‘self isolation’ very seriously and for somebody who is almost a hermit that means birding from and around his caravan until Bozza and Neil ‘was it pantsdown or lockdown’ Ferguson says we can emerge from our collective bunkers

Fens Pools are my nearest bit of decent water and the memory of both Eric and Tony provide an additional spur to bird locally as that is where i used to regularly bump into both of them Todd Chater (and his flushing mutt) is the only ‘regular’ that i see - i am merely carrying the torch that Eric blazed the trail with and if i end up being half the birder that Eric was then that will do me

Hughie - thank you for your kind words and it would be nice to meet for a when the pubs, that are left, open up and Covid19.....84 aka Chy-na Virus has blown through

Good birding -

Laurie

I will post pics etc from ystdas revisit to Shatterford later...
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Old Thursday 11th June 2020, 09:36   #1498
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No morning trip to Fens Pools ystda - i like to break the routine and return with fresh eyes. Still plenty of dawn chorus around here with the car park Pavaroti cranking up at about 0345 with the other Tenors joining in at the top of the hour. Oddly enough when the locals finish that is when a Blackcap starts at about 5ish maybe he doesn't do competition...

I kept an eye on the weather and although the rain was forecast at 20% possibility i decided to make the 20mile trip for a second consecutive day otherwise i would not have gone out at all and that is not acceptable! Beyond Kingsford there are quite a few hay meadows, more than you would think at a glance so i stopped at several locations to cock an ear. It all looks eminently suitable for Corn Bunting, Yellow Wagtail and Quail but nothing heard. Despite foreboding clouds i was treated to an afternoon chorus from 3-4:30 with, at times, all 6 Curlews flying around calling. A real treat - i cannot remember hearing lowland Curlews like that for quite some time. I have lived in Curlew country, principally 3 years in the West Pennines around Chorley/Bolton/Horwich and so was fortunate to have Curlews as background music along with associated species such as Dunlin and Golden Plover but i have almost forgotton what breeding birds sound like. For me, although a non-passerine, it is as good as Nightingale. I once spent 6 hours in a hide photographing a breeding pair at a place called Chat Moss on the South Lancashire moss-lands and the sitting bird called and sang for 6 hours virtually non-stop! It drove us around the bend but we couldn't leave the hide until somebody came so we all left together. These days i would give my right arm to repeat that - how times change.....

Yesterday the breeding pair returned to the meadow containing the recently-hatched young whilst the other 2 pairs split and fed on adjacent low-grazed fields with the Sheep. A large female Hobby made a brief appearance leaving the Oak where it is presumably setting up home. A solitary Quail called very close behind me but then it sounded further away. I have seen Quail calling and turning their heads thru 180 degrees is very good at disguising where they actually are. I popped into a nearby wood and was rewarded with another wader in the form of a roding Woodcock. No great surprise as we record them in the Winter at the same locale but i was surprised at ca1700 but the clouds were low and dark so that would probably be the Green light for this crepuscular species.

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: Curlews, a charismatic Brown Hare the epitome of early Summer for me and a characteristic plant of damp woodland edges - Ragged Robin.
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Old Friday 12th June 2020, 08:37   #1499
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Having picked up the Black bin 3 times by lunch yesterday i decided against cycling anywhere. I have a morbid fear of being out in lightning and of being crushed by a roadside tree - the irony of having earnt a partial living as a tree surgeon would not be lost...

Instead i opted for taking the Dog down to the Golden Puddle at about 1530. Nothing of note but a coupla LBB's, quite why the don't breed on the raft is beyond me. The Swans are on eggs and there are 2 active Coot nests and a single pair of Moorhen. The Mallard had all congregated around the feeding area where passing locals chuck bread and corn husks etc. Whilst scanning them a smaller object breached the surface like a submersible blowing its tanks and there it was..........again! For those old enough to have seen and remember the Disney classic Peter Pan the Long-tailed Duck is assuming the role of the Crocodile with the clock inside it although there is not a nemesis aspect to it. I feel like we are old friends now.

A few WhatsApps later to inform a handful of birders of its presence and i continued to take a series of pictures as you are unlikely to get a closer one and it will help discern whether 2 birds have been involved in my multiple sightings. Within 15 mins a mate, who to his shame still needs to see it, arrived toting his mighty Canon. I heard him muttering something to some locals along the lines of 'should really be no nearer than Iceland by now' - i thought don't confuse them mate otherwise they will be off down to nearby Sainsburys checking the freezers! Whilst making our way back to his car for a lift back home (my lure had paid off) i bumped into another birder who i see about every 6 weeks. His name escapes me but he was taking pictures of some wild flowers in a meadow bit and looked up to enquire if there was anything about.....................

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: Common Spotted Orchids - 4 years ago whilst sitting on the perimeter railing i clocked a single stem and since then a fresh one annually has been put up.

4 more of 'the boy'.
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Old Sunday 14th June 2020, 15:22   #1500
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Wood Sandpiper very briefly at Fens Pool around 09.30hrs. when flew off and not seen around other pools. The LTDuck could be seen distantly amongst stones and junk near west end of Middle Pool, long tail in the air. This bird dematerialised before we got nearer that end at about 10.15.
LTDuck then at the pool at "Lakeside Village" Withymoor/Amblecote from 12.30 onwards (there when we arrived),hanging out with Mallards on the bank in the sun, blinking and panting. Later went foraging underwater ....amusing to trace the lines of bubbles.
I suppose the question is where this bird has come from. Its presence here and approachability might suggest captive origin (??) but the first date it was seen would tie in with a 'reverse migration' from the Gulf of Finland and 'Arctic birds' are often approachable... No rings on legs. Can fly well (assuming they are both the same individual) and feed itself properly it seems. As for hanging out with Mallards, not much choice really

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