Spent the morning (14th) at Martin Mere WWT today hoping for a bit of wader passage and maybe one of the Garganeys that had been hanging around of late. Little disappointing really but great views of Tawny Owl at the traditional roost site near the Gladstone Hide. So it was nice to get a text saying there was a drake Garganey at Brockholes Quarry on No 1 Pit. It was a little bit distant and constantly getting harassed by Mallards and Coots, but very nice nonetheless. A smart drake Goosander, Wigeon and a pair of Gadwall completed the selection of quackers. About time we had a Ruddy Duck too.
Friday, 11 May 2007
It seems that the peak Whimbrel count at Brockholes was 210 on the morning of 30th April. I believe it's a bit up on last year but definately down on previous peaks touching 400 birds. Anyway, they finally behaved this week by coming in fairly early (7Pm instead of gone 9PM) and bathing on the Main Pool. The shots above were taken of birds at their traditional position near "Spoon Island".
Thursday, 10 May 2007
We might not have much mud, but given the right weather conditions the quarry pulls in the birds. After a bit of a lull things picked up on 8th with Hobby and fly-through Wood Sand' and Turnstone in the evening with south-westerly winds. Despite favourable wind direction the following day was fine and nothing of note dropped in. This all changed on 10th however with the onset of squally showers and stronger winds. The 0530 start overlooking the Main Pool began with fly-through Turnstone and a couple of Dunlin and a search of the No 1 Pit produced these cracking summer plum' Turnstones (different to the Main Pool bird) with Dunlin. With Dunlin and Ringed Plovers calling as they whizzed through it was obvious that something was going on. Local birders reported a scattering of waders (including Sanderling) on E. Lancs reservoirs and a further visit to the quarry produced grounded Sanderling, Ringed Plovers and several parties of Dunlin. At least 25 Dunlin had gone through by midday and birds continued to be detected later too. Subsequent days with clearer skies produced fewer birds, but still a trickle of Dunlin and Ringed Plovers.
Apart from the waders it's been up to 3 Wheatears (appearing to be "Greenland types"), White Wag' and the RCP's still knocking around. Insects have included Large Red, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies and the first Small Coppers.
Monday, 7 May 2007
So a group of Greylag Geese may not be anything to celebrate, agreed. However, there were some good birds at the quarry today (6th May), but I didn't get a decent photo of them!
We arrived at the quarry in the dark again and I was pretty confident that we'd missed no departing Whimbrel as the heavy cloud cover gave us a little more time to get in position. Seems the peak Whimbrel gathering has passed now with only 56 birds present at dawn. Then the heavens opened so it was back to the car and open the flask while we waited for it to get light. I ventured out in the spitting rain not feeling too optimistic despite the south-westerly wind. Surely no surprises like yesterday's duck-fest? Well, two small blobs on the Main Pool in the murky conditions looked interesting and sure enough through the 'scope they turned into a pair of cracking summer plum' Black-necked Grebes! Only the third occasion this species has been recorded here and the first in breeding attire. Fabulous. Early text messages for the second morning running to all the locals. Unfortunately the grebes were only in digiscoping range in the pouring rain and half light, so the above was the best I could do. There are some absolutely amazing pics of these birds around though (check out the "Gallery" on Bill Aspin's East Lancs site for instance). The showery weather and south-westerly brought down some other good birds though including a couple of Arctic Terns (our first of the year), including this chest-stained bird pictured above. Other obs. had ad' Little and Med' Gulls in the afternoon, otherwise still no sign of the Garg', but the RCP was still around.
Saturday, 5 May 2007
"Water level's too high. Whimbrel numbers are low. No birds to look at!" I was generally whinging last night bemoaning the fact that my 2006 notebook read: "Brockholes Quarry, May 4th - 3 Black Terns, drake Garganey". So this morning we (yes, we - Angie and I) were at the quarry to count the Whimbrel at 4.30 AM sharp without too many expectations but at least the wind had moved around from the strong east to a more comfortable southerly. So a female Red-crested Pochard on the Main Pool at 5.30 AM, and then a drake Garganey half hour later meant two swift series of texting to locals giving them a nice early wake-up call! I believe the RCP is a quarry first, unringed and fully winged. If it's still there at Xmas I'll retract all claims for its credibility though. The summer plum' Bar-tailed Godwit flying around was a nice bonus - yet another quarry tick for me.
So either something was happening this morning, or there was a mass break-out from Martin Mere. I guess the Barwit was OK though.
Thursday, 3 May 2007
A trip down the quarry after work to count the Whimbrel roost was enlivened by a call from Tony Disley to say he'd found a Whinchat. As usual this smart bird was frequenting the rough ground near the old dumper crossing. What is it about this little area that seems to attract passerine migrants? The roost held nearly a hundred Whimbrel by dusk and a couple of Curlew.
Looking at my notes earlier this afternoon I noticed that 4 May 2006 produced Black Tern and drake Garganey at the quarry .......... fingers crossed.