Monday, 17 December 2007

Blithfield etc - Blackstart, gloomy finish, right result!

I'd been getting 'itchy feet' which is a sure sign that defection out of County was imminent. Knowing that at least three decent birds were possible at Blithfield, I set off under cover of darkness. And I arrived in near darkness, the automatic headlights stayed on, even though it was 8.30! I hadn't even got the kit out of the car though when I spotted the first target - fly meeting sudden end against the causeway wall + dusky bird/flash of red tail = Black Redstart!! Female / immature and with that pale gape suggesting the latter.

A walk along the St Stephen's Hill bay (in the hope of a Water Pipit) added Common Sandpiper and out in the middle - distant views of the Red-throated Diver. Not much else about so I headed up Blithe bay and in amongst a flock of Wigeon was a cracking Slav Grebe - wow - the bird of the morning! It was 100m or so distant when I pointed the camera at it and that distance was soon increased!! Never mind, at least you can see the key features......

I decided to move on, Chasewater was the next venue. Knowing a Great-northern Diver had been seen by the sailing club - this would be an easy, straight out of the car job. It was and in fact there were TWO! They were hugging the far bank and I could see they looked likely to pose for a very tempting 'close up'. I was on my way when..... the mobile got rather animated, first Helen G and then Jason..... "Ring Necked Duck at Venus Pool", The Divers missed their close up session and it was foot down, M54 here I come. (I did get a record shot of the Diver twosome!)

I got to VP at 12.45 and than it was shades of the Monkmoor episode again, loads of female Tufties but no Ring-necked!! Mike Stokes had clogged it back from Staffs too - this is a Shropshire bogey bird for him. We sat for an hour - no sign. Tried views from the causeway - nothing doing, the North hide - ditto. Eventually after two hours and a return to the main hide, I was scanning the female Tufties (again) and suddenly announced one of those "gottit" moments!! Just enough time for Mike to get to the scope too and lay his bogey to rest! We got all of 20 secs and then cue another disappearance - it was then another 30 minutes before we had a chance to see it again - a chance for a few strictly record shots (Shrops 2007 No 156!) in the gloom......

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