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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Ah well, thats it for Spring

A good long walk around the Marsh today and the most striking thing was just how little bird song could be heard. Lots of activity, but very quiet.



A lot of the gulls seem to have deserted the island although the first Black Headed Gull chicks were in evidence today. Lots of Reed Warbler activity on the Marsh, mostly feeding behaviour which suggests that breeding has occurred and also that there may be more pairs present than have previously been assessed?

Summer stuff is appearing everywhere, including the first Orchids beginning to flower. We saw the first Common Blue and Small Hearth butterflies and also a number of Common Blue and Blue-Tailed damselfly's along the mineral line.

Something that I think is a new phenomenon is the amount of Yellow Flag Iris that has appeared this year. I cant ever remember seeing so much at different points around the swag pool (or is it just me)?

Anyway, nothing spectacular but a very beautiful time of year to be on the site, marred only by the copious amounts of rubbish that have been dropped all around the place by youths on half-term holiday. I would make dropping litter a capital offence if I was prime minister, sentence to be carried out with a nail gun and rusty nails (but then I have always been a bit of a bleeding heart liberal haven't I)?

On that note, have a nice bank holiday all - Chaz

Friday, 26 May 2017

Railway Inn Beer Festival - Pelsall


The excellent local festival commenced tonight. The Beer List (above) is for those of you looking for a nice hour or two drinking good beer in convivial surroundings.

I will give some clarification on the beer list for any Beer Anoraks reading this. The Hawkshead Beer is their ordinary Bitter, The Black Sheep beer is Black Sheep Best, The Castle Rock beer is Harvest Pale (there is a typo on the beer list) the Purity beer is their Pure Gold, and the Caledonian is their excellent Deuchars I.P.A. Incidentally, you may also be a bit confused by the presence Black Bull Bitter as both Black Bull Breweries have been closed for some time. It is obviously Theakston's Black Bull Bitter (Paul Theakston actually set up the original Black Bull Brewery in Masham and then brought back the family brewery when it came back on the market, taking this popular beer with him - I know, too much information)!

The rarest beer on sale is from the Greyhawk Brewery in Skipton (Golden Pippin) and is also a personal recommendation along with the Ringwood Forty-niner (yes I know you can get it all over the place, but this is from the cask and in excellent condition).


If you attend you will most likely be served by Dave (Above) or one of his team of supporters (including me occasionally - when he's stuffing his face) and if you are a regular blog follower, you may even have the dubious pleasure of meeting the world famous (at least in his house) Ray Fellows (Below in the stripy shirt).
SERIOUSLY - Pubs don't have to do this stuff, it is a bonus for them and for us as consumers! The Railway is an excellent pub at any time but the Beer Festivals are great fun, spent with some nice people, why not pop in and see what you think? If events like this don't get enough support, then it would be fair enough for any pub manager to say 'why bother doing them'? - then we all lose.

Whatever you decide to do, have a good Bank Holiday weekend all - Chaz

Bank Holiday coming up

For those amongst you who like your ale, just a reminder that this weekend is the annual May Beer Festival at the RAILWAY INN in Pelsall. Things should commence this evening at around 19.00 and depending on supplies, should continue until Bank Holiday Monday.

I have spoken to the gaffer and offered to put up a beer list for your edification but have so far not received anything. It will be a tough one this year as the temperature will make the beer in the casks ferment more quickly and then there is a promise of thunder storms over the weekend so its touch and go if it will be a success or not. I will be attending on Saturday Lunchtime and possibly again during the weekend.

The Railway is a nice friendly locals pub and previous events have been well worth attending, so why not turn out and show your appreciation for the effort that has been involved (and no! I am not on commission or even free beer - regrettably). - Chaz

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The things you expect me to do!

Today's star bird! - Well you know what I mean?
Early afternoon, temperature in the mid-twenties and I should be safely ensconced in a darkened room looking out at the idiot sun-worshippers and laughing - where am I actually, walking a half circuit of the Marsh and Mere to please you lot! I hope you appreciate the effort - it certainly wasn't worth it?

Still two very late Gadwall on the marsh, if they were not both male I would be getting suspicious that something noteworthy was going on (now that would be a breeding success story)! At least one Reed Warbler still singing and showing well and fresh singing from Whitethroats and Willow Warblers. As the photograph indicates the only other thing of note was my first Small Copper of the year and a possible Holly Blue moving far too fast to be confirmed along the set-aside.

On the negative side, no sign of any Common Tern (although a couple were calling along the canal at oak park today), no sign of any Oystercatcher (perhaps a good sign?), and disappointingly no sign of the 'Happy Eventers' with a noticeable absence of Greylag Goose today (probably keeping the young ones safe and out of the sunshine - LIKE I SHOULD HAVE BEEN!).

I know I have a valid reputation as a moaning old git, but I hate this bloody weather and its going to get worse apparently. Unless something spectacular breaks over there you can stick a fork in me because that is me done until we get some nice cool weather and a bit of rain.

Still, - only four weeks to the summer solstice when the nights start to draw in and we can all start looking forward to Christmas again.

On a related issue, just a word to the wise, if you are one of my regular blog followers (yes, believe it or not I do have them, I cant get my head around it either, I do my best to offend everybody but they still keep looking in) you may want to take advantage of the feature below the blog banner as we are only a matter of days away from my annual summer hiatus. By registering your e-mail there you will know when I eventually start blogging again (saves you having to keep looking in to see if I have got my finger out).

It also means that if I do an unanticipated posting (presumably due to something special occurring) you will automatically get a link posted to you. It is totally safe and doesn't cost you anything and also eases my conscience when I am sitting with my feet up hiding from the sunshine.

For those new to the blog, there is not a lot going on from a birding point of view during the early summer and most of the insects and flowers are a matter of record if you want to see them. This being the case, I close down the blog for a few weeks. (I also get disproportionately annoyed at some of the abuses that go on over there during the summer). My break from bloging is usually from the beginning of June until mid/late July when the Autumn migration commences and there is actually something worth reporting again.

I do however keep up the monthly tally of recent sightings (toward the end of the postings) so if you are desperate to know what is going on you can always check there (or just e-mail me if you need to).

Anyway I am now taking a bucket of dilute orange and two fans and going to find somewhere dark and cool to hide. Update when there is something to report (if this weather doesn't do for me) - Chaz

Monday, 22 May 2017

A Breeding First for the Marsh and Mere

The happy Mom (or more likely Dad) - Photo Courtesy of Sindy Weals
Thanks to Anita Scott and Ray Fellows for confirming that the two Greylag Geese that have been spending so much time on the Mere have had a secret agenda! The result is the sites first locally bred Greylag Goslings (six of them in fact). A lot of birders may not find this particularly exciting news, but I do! Its a little bit of Marsh and Mere history so go and have a look if you get the time - Chaz

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A disapointing trip to Chasewater

A nice day for a visit to the Pool but with an agenda. I found out early morning that the Whimbrel that had been present on three previous days in the week was still there yesterday. Of course there was no sign today, just a Little Ringed Plover, three Common Tern and a pair of Canada Geese with chicks.

I actually have heard Whimbrel flying through the pool but never seen one there and so far this week there have been four chances to see one that I have apparently missed. This really seems to underline a change in the attitude of birders, not just at Chasewater but at other local patches. Back in the eighties if something noteworthy occurred we would yomp up to Whitehorse Road to use the public telephone to spread the news. These days the prevailing attitude seems to be 'its not my job to put the word out, if they wanted to see it they should have been here'.

It makes me sad more than angry as birdwatching seems to have become a very selfish and uncaring pastime, something very different from my early experiences of it. The regular Clayhanger birders (those who have chosen to give me their numbers at least) know that if I find anything noteworthy I am straight onto my phone to share it with them and give them a chance to get over and see it. Yes, there are a few people who treat me with the same consideration (I wont embarrass them by naming, they know who they are and that I am grateful for their support) but they are certainly in a minority these days.

The upshot is that this attitude then becomes contagious. 'He never bothered to phone me about that so I wont bother to phone him about this' - It may sound childish but I have heard the actual statement made on a number of occasions, I have even known people suppress a bird rather than draw attention to it and compromise their own enjoyment - selfish and sad! If something spreads pleasure around then why deny people that pleasure?

Anyway, on a lighter note, I did notice something today that I had never seen before and in case I offend anyone I intend to try and get a photo of it.

On the way to Chasewater we paused briefly in traffic at the tin miner island and I saw something that drew a smile. Since the statue was erected, the trees planted around it have become quite large and at certain angles, the Minor appears to be leaping up from behind the bush like a 'flasher' Honest, it really does (or is it just my mind)?

Anyway, I will be out and about in the next few days so until then, have a good week all. - Chaz

Friday, 19 May 2017

Happy Friday

Well you may have noted a shortage of bird related updates this week and assumed that I was away? For once you would be wrong. My youngest is over for a week from Canada and I am spending as much time as possible with him. Having said this, I have not had any significant news from anyone else to report so I suspect that things are pretty well over on the migration front!

Ray Fellows has been in touch a couple of times with some information on breeding species but to be honest I will keep that quiet until young birds are fledged and on their way. Nothing of huge significance but there are a few vulnerable species locally and discretion is the better part etc.

Anyway - if I hear anything I will let you know, if I don't, have a nice weekend - Chaz