After a stressful week of being embroiled in a whole load of birding political nonsense it was nice to get back to actually watching a few birds. The morning started off at home taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch with my daughter. The total was way down on previous years with just 13 species recorded in the allocated hour. A male Reed Bunting was the highlight but it was pretty disappointing not to have spotted the usually guaranteed Coal Tit, Bullfinch and Siskin. It still depresses me that both Starling and House Sparrow have never been recorded in my garden whilst I've taken part in this survey.
During the afternoon I then drove the short distance to Pelsall where a juvenile BLACK-THROATED DIVER was present for its third day at Clayhanger Marsh. This bird was initially thought to be a Great Northern Diver on its first day in the West Midlands. The bird then caused a bit of a stir yesterday when close up views revealed a pretty distinctive chin-strap, a feature normally associated with the much rarer PACIFIC DIVER. All other features however are consistent with Black-throated Diver and getting to see the bird in the flesh confirmed this identification even more.
BLACK-THROATED DIVER (juvenile) - Clayhanger Marsh, Pelsall, West Midlands - January 2011
Please note the chin-strap on the photograph below, a feature more reminiscent of Pacific Diver but sometimes evident on Black-throated Diver.
Other birds around Ryder's Mere included 4 Goosander as well as the usual selection of more common wildfowl such as Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Mallard, Common Pochard and Tufted Duck.