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Monday, 12 May 2014

Staffordshire Start

Days go by; plans go awry.

Much of last Saturday 10 May] was spent in travelling from the Isle of Mull to Rugeley in Staffordshire.  The weather was terrible which precluded any decent birding through the windscreen.
Keith had suggested that we consider heading out to Stirling [via the A9] rather than returning along the route we had originally taken out to Oban; Loch Lomond presents a picturesque backdrop but the road itself is a narrow corkscrew with a seemingly endless array of road works and traffic lights.  The Stirling detour, while longer, offered less stress, hence lower blood sugar levels.  In the end, according to "Tomasina" [our borrowed GPS unit] the deviation cost us only a mere seven minutes in time!
Once the A9 filtered seamlessly into the M9 it became motorway driving [M80, M73, M74 and M6] all the way Stafford - and from thereon in we were in our former "backyard."  To avoid the usual rush hour traffic we simply navigated our way around lesser used country lanes, reaching Rugeley a little after 1700 hours. 
The fact that Jayne wasn't expecting s until the following day was a minor hiccup.
While perhaps not as early as we would have preferred but nevertheless earlier than Jayne [or indeed most of the neighbourhood as far as we can judge] arose, Fay and I were up on Sunday [11 May] heading out to our former stomping grounds at Blithfield Reservoir.  It was time to start some serious birding in Staffordshire.
Our planning could have been a little more precise.  We'd left the telescope and tripod behind; we'd forgotten to bring the Collins fieldguide and the only "app" we had brought along with us was warning of "low battery.  As if to add injury to insult it started to rain and we had no flask or hot coffee to compensate.
Not that any of these philosophical adversaries prevented us birding.  Even before we had traversed the causeway there were dozens of Common Swift Apus apus hawking the skies above us.  We pulled up in the parking bay to scan these "wall gliders" [as their German name suggests].
Among the myriad of Common Swift we spotted several Common House Martin Delichon urbicum and mong those we isolated a small handful of Sand Martins Riparia riparia [te American Bank Swallow; the South Asian Collared Sand Martin].
Then it rained.  The rain eased off.  Then it rained.  The rain eased off.  We were beginning to detect a distinct climatic pattern: rain, no rain, rain, no rain, etc.  The lack of hot coffee was beginning to to tell but we persevered.
By mid-morning we conceded defeat and retuned home.  The Black Tern Chlidonias niger and Red Kite Milvus milvus reported in Staffordshire Bird News must have appeared some time after our capitulation.
Following lunch and with no indications f rain in the overcast sky, we ventured forth to Brocton.  No sooner had we stepped through the entry gate than Fay noted a pair of Eurasian Treecreepers Cathia familiaris scrambling up a nearby tree.
From the hide overlooking the pool we had cracking views of Canada Goose Branta Canadensis.
The rain returned; we returned home.

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