Well its been a busy last few days for the Alrewas birder. Tuesday 26th saw myself and my drinking associates jump on a train and head off to Sheffield to taste the many real ales that were on offer at famous drinking establishment such as The Fat Cat, Kelham Island Tavern and the Sheffield Tap. Some cracking ales were had and definitely a place to go and visit again.
Wednesday 27th I was up nice and early but doubting I was legal to drive I headed off on my bike to check out the gravel pits. First stop Alrewas gravel pit and not much was on offer apart from the expected ducks, including 402 Wigeon and 8 Goldeneye. Next I had to pass through the National Arboretum which the highlights were a few Chiffchaffs. A quick look at the usually quiet Junction pit and I was not disappointed, there was not a lot there. Then it was under the viaduct to check out Croxall where the river had been dug out and widened to create habitats (I call this Croxall wides) and there was a couple of Redshanks, a couple of Oystercatchers, some Teal and an absolute bonus, a drake Garganey which flew from one of the small islands and flew upstream past me before gaining height and heading for towards Alrewas gravel pits. I did pop back to Alrewas gravel pits but a scan with the scope could not relocate it. 6 Redshank were in the field opposite the entrance to the arboretum. On to my favourite site, Whitemoor Haye and a very close huge female Sparrowhawk was a great start before adding several Meadow Pipit, 2 Oystercatchers, around 5 Tree Sparrows, 22+ Yellowhammers, 1 Little Owl, 63 Golden Plover, 2 Shelduck, many Fieldfares, and a Ringed Plover that was on one of the flooded areas in the old pig field.
A very enjoyable mornings birding.
Thursday 28th was back to work but Friday 29th started with a 20 mile bike ride. Those who knew me may be surprised but I have been doing this for about four months with the last month extending my rides. Once the ride was done it was a trip to Nottingham to swap a part for my bike and then it was off to Whitemoor Haye. as well as the usual's I added 6 Grey Partridge, over 10 Tree Sparrow, 20+ Skylarks, 5 Buzzards, over 250 Fieldfares, 2 Shelduck and a Redshank. A quick look at the field opposite the arboretum produced 8 Redshanks then it was off to Branston gravel pits. Birds of note included 14 Shelduck, 72 Coot, 42 Tufted Duck, 1 Little Egret, 62 Teal, 2 only Gadwall, 1 only Shoveler, 2 Redshank and 3 Little Ringed Plover.
Saturday 30th saw our first works summer fishing match although it was bloomin freezing and it did not go well as I broke my pole whilst setting up. Rubbish. That was unusable but fortunately I also took my small quiver tip rod and managed to snare an 11oz chub. Not a record breaker by far but with only 8 of us fishing, coming 8th still saw me get some valuable points.
Sunday 31st and I decided to head for a couple of sites around Cannock Chase for some specialist birds however it was not my day and I missed everything I went for however a Woodcock lifted form a small standoff trees as I passed, that was a bonus.
Monday 1st April and in the afternoon I was off to a rugby match so in the morning I decided to once again check out the local gravel pits.
Highlights at Alrewas gravel pits were 166 Wigeon, 2 Oystercatchers, 12 Teal, 23 Coot, 54 Tufted Duck, 6 Gadwall, 6 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Chiffchaff, several Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings, and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker. On to the arboretum and there were over a dozen Chiffchaffs present, 2 Goosanders on the river and over 300 Redwings were making quite a noise in the trees. I am assuming they are preparing for their flight home. Junction pit was the best it had been for a long time with birds including several Reed Buntings, 6 Cormorants, 2 Grey Herons, 2 Great Crested Grebes that were displaying to each other and which I failed in trying to photograph, several Bullfinch, 4 Coot, 2 Teal, 4 Mallard and a large juvenile gull which I struggled to ID in the field but which I have photo'd and I will check out my gull bible to try and get a positive ID!!!!. A quick look at Croxall wides and noted 3 Ringed Plover, and 1 Shelduck of note. I did then head around to Croxall to have a look around however I was halted in my tracks when I noticed a guided walk taking place where the birders drive around the site rather than walking to the hide. I will say no more apart from I did note some Redwings, and 2 Goldcrests. Off to Whitemoor Haye and bird of note included 16 Mallard, 4 Gadwall, 7 Pochard, several Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers and a single Little Owl. A quick stop off at the field opposite the arboretum produced 3 Redshank and a single Little Ringed Plover. In the afternoon I went to see England under 16's V Italy under 17's. An enjoyable if not very cold afternoon however it was a little disappointing with the lack of a real ale marquee as advertised and the hog roast queue was a mile long. After watching Italy win 24-20 we went to a pub and made up for the lack of ale at the rugby.