With a fair few Purple Herons arriving into Britain over the past few weeks I would love to find a local one of my own. With this in mind I decided I would pay Middleton Hall Lake a quick visit this evening before continuing onto the old Drayton Bassett Pits site. This area always looks good for a rare Heron, indeed a Cattle Egret spent a few days there in recent times. You could just imagine a Night Heron or a Squacco Heron turning up at this well vegetated waterway but tonight I had to settle for the usual Grey Herons wading around its depths. There was no sign of any waders or the small group of Waxwings that have been here recently just a pair of Common Shelduck and a gathering of Common Teal.
Grey Heron at Middleton Hall Lake
I then moved down to the Middleton Lakes RSPB area and concentrated my efforts around the North Pit where it was seething with birds. I soon picked up a handsome pair of summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwits along with a couple of Common Greenshank probing away at the mud. Other waders included 3 Oystercatcher, 12 Northern Lapwing, 2 Ringed Plover, 8 Little Ringed Plover, 10 Common Redshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper and 2 Dunlin. The true wader highlight however was a drumming Common Snipe, the first time I have witnessed this behaviour at this particular site. The male bird obviously impressed as an interested female was soon giving him the attention he was craving. Out on the water I counted 22 Common Shelduck and 12 Northern Shoveler whilst 3 Eurasian Wigeon (2 males) and 5 Common Pochard (3 males) were nice to see at this time of year. Around the margins a couple of female Northern Wheatear, possibly of the race leucorhoa were present along with 8 splendid Yellow Wagtails and a small flock of Linnet. As the sun fell in the west it was time for the freshly arrived warblers to do their part with the combined symphony of Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler interspersed with the odd burst of Cetti's Warbler and Common Whitethroat and completed with the reeling of Grasshopper Warblers. On the way back along the canal the long staying Pink-footed Goose was spotted amongst the flock of Greylag Geese. Quite a memorable Spring evening at the 'Minsmere of the West Midlands'!
The sun setting over Drayton Bassett Church