I wrote last time that I fancied a break from the patch. As a result, I started to think about where I might like to go in order to maximise the possibility of a rare spring migrant.
Ring ouzel is a bird that I would love to catch up with again, having only had a fleeting view of one in Scotland last year. A bit of research led me to believe that a walk around Wassell Grove might be in order.
Then Shenstone popped into my head - a lovely spot for a bit of birding, and host to a blue-headed wagtail just a few days ago. However, news of an influx of little gulls and Arctic terns began to filter through as the week progressed and I wondered if I should head to Draycote Water, or another nearby reservoir?
The Wyre Forest also appealed, as did Venus Pool - somewhere I have yet to visit, but by all accounts a great place to see tree sparrows and a few warblers. My head was positively spinning. Finally, just before I nodded off on Saturday night, I came to a decision - another walk around the patch!
Yes, it's true - patch birding is addictive. The destination was the same as last week - Earlswood Lakes. I felt that I didn't give the place the time it deserves last time round - it was very much a case of getting my target species and getting out. I wanted to soak it all up a bit more today and I was rewarded with no less than seven patch ticks, which means that I have already hit my target of 75 species for the year!
Mute swan was the first of the patch ticks. I think I may have overlooked them last week, but I put that right today. Several terns were noted too, but as there had been reports of a few Arctic terns at the lakes recently, I had to be careful before calling any of these birds.
The first two I got a proper look at were definitely common terns. Another patch tick! I spied another bird sitting on a buoy in the middle of Windmill Pool. It had good credentials for being the scarcer species, but I was too far away to be certain. I continued my walk and hoped the bird would stay put, as I would be a bit nearer to it on the other side of the pool.
At the back of Windmill Pool I had a common whitethroat, quite a scarce species around these parts and yes, another entry on the patch list and the year list. As I headed back along the pool, I was pleased to see that the bird on the buoy was still present. I had a good look at it from three or four angles and decided I could see enough distinct features to call it as an Arctic tern. All regulation stuff really - tail length, bill colour, general colouring and leg length.
Shortly afterwards, the bird took to the skies, with two other terns in tow. All seemed to have decent tail streamers, but again, categorical identification was nigh impossible. I lost sight of them before long.
The other patch ticks were house martin, grey wagtail and pochard. Nothing exceptional, but welcome additions to the list nonetheless.
Birds Seen On Foot 2009: 75
Distance travelled: 72.3 miles
No one ever said that blog entries had to run in chronological order, did they? Good. Because this one doesn't.
On Saturday, Mrs Reg and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours at Upton Warren, where there was an abundance of ticks. The first was fellow birder Pete Walkden, who arrived about the same time as us. We really must stop meeting like this - people will start to talk!
Next up was a lifer for me, when I spotted my first ever orange-tip butterfly, closely followed by many more in the nettles alongside the path. Other butterfly species seen included peacock, speckled wood and a brimstone on the North Moors Pool, which seemed to me like quite a good spot. Feel free to set me right on that one though if you wish.
The stars of the birding show were year ticks in the shape of common tern and sedge warbler, and the supporting cast wasn't bad either. Avocet, little ringed plover, oystercatcher, Cetti's warbler, redshank, common sandpiper, snipe, goosander, linnet, wigeon, curlew and reed bunting were all seen, plus I think I heard a lesser whitethroat to the east of the tower hide. There was also a grass snake swimming in front of the hide on the Moors Pool, which Mrs Reg enjoyed immensely.
On the way home I added a few Eddie Stobart trucks to my ever-growing inventory, namely Beverley Anne and Rebecca Phoebe. I haven't spoken much about this filthy habit in the blog this year, but I'm still noting all the trucks I see. I've got 15 so far this year, and a life list of 76.
Also, since Christmas I am a fully fledged member of the Stobart Spotters club. Thanks, Mrs Reg! That means I now have a list of all the trucks out there, plus access to fleet updates via the interweb. As I said, I have 76 trucks on my list, which means I have a couple of thousand left to see!
Perhaps my patch walks should take in one of the bridges over the M42?
You think I'm joking? Watch this space!