Sunday, 28 November 2010

Not cold enough for Iceland?

It was a bit warmer this morning (-7’C) I’d decided to go for Gulls and with a 3rd Winter Iceland Gull and adult Caspian Gull turning up at Stubber’s Green the previous day, it was Walsall first stop (after Priorslee lake which was very quiet)

I had one potential problem at the back of my mind and it did happen.... the Sunday effect! With refuse tips being less than operational, Gulls often travel elsewhere in search of sustenance on Sundays – including on this occasion both of yesterdays classy birds! I stuck it out until after 1.00 but the only Gull of note was an adult Yellow-legged Gull (a surprisingly uncommon Winter species at Stubbers Green)

After confirming that no White-wingers had snuck into Priorslee on my return journey, I headed off for Chelmarsh where almost anything could turn up? The scrape has a good record of producing a Jack Snipe during the Winter but all that was on show was a Water Rail plus three Common Snipe. The running water here ensures a small part of the scrape never completely freezes.....

Snipe are quite happy in the snow too!

I managed to convince Yvonne who had just arrived it was worth doing the Gull roost (one of the sheer joys of birding??) The temperatures were now plunging again and with an icy breeze blowing, we searched for White-winged or ‘headed’ Gulls nearly in vain – two adult Yellow-legged Gulls were the sole reward!

There was however a bit of a bonus, sensing there was a better than average showing of Goosander gathering to roost on the far bank, we started to count them..... looking pretty impressive too with a guestimate of well over a hundred! After two independant counts each and agreeing ‘148’ we weren’t done yet. Another 13 flew in over the dam in small groups – a pretty amazing final tally of 161!! Unless someone can prove otherwise, the second highest ‘reported count’ for the County. A few more will be needed to get into the record books as an amazing 257 is the current target (also at Chelmarsh in 1997).