Friday 18 April 2014

The GLOSSY IBIS at Middleton Lakes RSPB

Bluebells at Middleton Wood.
Photo by Adam Archer

Good Friday was spent mainly around my local RSPB reserve at Middleton Lakes near Tamworth with Dave Hutton. Our aim was to log a few more Spring migrants and hopefully connect with a GLOSSY IBIS that has been present in the vicinity for a while. I initially found what may have been the same bird way back on the 28th February when I spotted it flying low over the M42 near Kingsbury Water Park, whilst on the way to work. The sightings in the Tame Valley may also relate to the same bird that had been present near Brownhills, West Midlands on and off over the winter period.

Our first new migrant of the day was a Reed Warbler, singing at Silt Pool where numerous male Blackcaps were in song. Our second was one of four singing Sedge Warblers near Fisher's Mill Pit. A Lesser Whitethroat was heard briefly and further along the track, my first Common Whitethroat was also seen. Out on Jubilee Wetlands there were 15 Ringed Plover, 8 Little Ringed Plover, 8 Dunlin and a single Redshank but there was no sign of the GLOSSY IBIS. Around the North Pit, a pair of Common Tern were present and an Angle Shades moth was found lurking around one of the windows inside the Lookout Hide. Above North Pit around 20 House Martin dropped in to feed briefly along with 4 Sand Martin.

Angle Shades moth in the hide!
Photo by Adam Archer

Whilst walking back around to Fisher's Mill Bridge our second Reed Warbler of the day was heard singing and a number of Linnet were feeding along the track. We then stumbled upon our first singing Grasshopper Warbler of the year. The bird was initially quite elusive but eventually, with a bit of patience, showed quite well reeling from the low vegetation near the path. I then left Dave to concentrate on his photography whilst I did another circuit of the pits. 

A singing Grasshopper Warbler at Middleton Lakes RSPB
Photo by Dave Hutton

There was still no sign of GLOSSY IBIS, however another Grasshopper Warbler was heard singing between Jubilee Wetlands and the River Tame and at least 8 White Wagtails were feeding around the scrapes. A female Red-crested Pochard was present on the river itself. Also in the area of the Tame, a Kingfisher whizzed by, numerous Willow Warblers were in song, a female Wheatear was found and dozens of Orange-tip and Green-veined White butterflies were on the wing. On the way back to the car park we also found our first Speckled Wood butterfly of the year.

Green-veined White butterfly (female) at Middleton Lakes RSPB
Photo by Adam Archer

We then made the decision to head up to Cannock Chase for the afternoon in order to add to our migrant list for the day. Unfortunately the only new species located was Tree Pipit, with two singing males between Seven Springs and the Stepping Stones. At least 8 Siskin were also seen, as were 4 Common Crossbill 'chipping' their way over the tree tops. A search of the Freda's Grave area of Sherbrook Valley produced just the odd Raven but at least 8 Green Hairstreak butterflies were out, taking advantage of the sunshine and the calm weather conditions. A couple of Common Lizard were also spotted darting away as we went about our business.

It was then back to Middleton Lakes RSPB for the evening shift. After a bit of perseverance and some directions from our pal Jules Allen, I eventually located the elusive GLOSSY IBIS feeding out in the middle of Jubilee Wetlands. A thoroughly enjoyable day indeed, I wonder what delights tomorrow will bring?

This is the GLOSSY IBIS at Brownhills earlier in the year.
There is every possibility this could be the Middleton bird too.
Photo by Dave Hutton

For those local birders (mentioning no names) who are not yet members of the RSPB then shame on you! You have TEN days to join up otherwise I will publicly 'out you' on this blog. Therefore, to prevent embarrassment I recommend you fill one of these out pronto, it costs less than a months supply of Dominos pizza for one particular Tame Valley birder.

The GLOSSY IBIS at Middleton Lakes RSPB - 19 April 2014
Photo by Dave Hutton 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

I received a phone call from Steve Nuttall this evening asking whether the Middleton GLOSSY IBIS had two primaries missing from the left wing. If it did, this would provide confirmation that the bird which had been present at Belvide Reservoir from the 10th to the 13th April (see HERE) was the same  as ours at Middleton Lakes RSPB. 

Luckily Dave Hutton managed to obtain some excellent photographs of the Middleton bird today, one of which showed an open wing. None of the primary feathers are missing in the left wing of the Tame Valley bird meaning that this and the longer staying of the two Belvide birds relate to different individuals. 

Dave also stated that from forensic analysis of his photographs the Middleton individual is almost certainly the very same bird that was present in the Pelsall and Brownhills areas of the West Midlands on and off from the 17th December 2013 to the 6th April 2014. This bird did go missing from the Brownhills area from 2nd February until the 28th March 2014 which would tie in nicely with my sighting of a bird in flight near Kingsbury Water Park on the 28th February 2014. Maybe the bird was lurking undetected somewhere in the Tame Valley during this period.

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