Saturday 17 September 2011

EUROPEAN SHAG in Staffordshire

After the news of a possible NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH on the the Isles of Scilly late yesterday, it was almost impossible to enjoy a decent night's sleep. To frustrate me even more an update came through again early on to say that it was still present on St Mary's at 7.00am. To make matters worse LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH had still not been ruled out, a potential first for Britain!

There was only one cure, to get off my arse and see some birds pretty quickly. The morning started pretty well around Seckington with a male Merlin chasing migrating Meadow Pipits up at the old castle mound. A Tree Pipit also passed through and a Spotted Flycatcher was a fresh arrival. Thoughts of Scilly had all but melted away.

Down at Alvecote Pools a Hobby was spotted sparring with a male Sparrowhawk over Gilman's Pool whilst on Mill Pool there were 2 Shelduck and 57 Shoveler. As I made my way up Laundry Lane towards Pretty Pigs Pool I received another huge kick in the balls. Whilst some lucky birder was attempting to relocate the elusive Waterthrush species at Lower Moors they had stumbled upon the second American warbler in two days, a much desired BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER. This is one of my most favourite species in the whole World so to see one in Britain is a dream I have had since I was a kid. Why the hell was I grafting away at the patch when I could be sitting on the deck of the Scillonian III well on my way to birding heaven?

Anyway back to reality. A Common Sandpiper was on the north shore of Pretty Pigs Pool and an elusive Common Redstart showed in the Old Orchard briefly as did an impressive 30 Chiffchaff. Nearby a lone Green Sandpiper fed around the muddy margins of The Decoy. As I made my way back to The Cottage for lunch there were large numbers of gulls feeding around the ploughed fields between Shuttington and Seckington. Amongst the Black-headed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls a second winter Yellow-legged Gull was a nice surprise. As I arrived back home my second Hobby of the day passed through chasing the small groups of House Martins and Swallows that remain in situ.

News then filtered through of a local scarcity to keep me entertained. A juvenile Shag had been reported from a tiny pool on the outskirts of a housing estate just down the road in Stonydelph. Upon arrival at Kettlebrook Linear Park I was guided to the bird by a couple of young kids who lived nearby. It was great to see their energy and enthusiasm for a species they had never seen before...... it was a bit like I would have been if I had been on the Scillies!

It was strange to see this bird of rocky coastlines hauled out on the side of a small duck pond in the company of Mute Swans and Mallard as far away from the sea as it could possibly get in England.

European Shag (juvenile) - Wilnecote, Staffordshire - September 2011
All photos by Adam Archer

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