BLITHFIELD RESERVOIR 16 Oct 2013

Definition:- metal rods for securing a carpet in the angle between two steps.

Sixteen birdwatchers, good evidence of this years’ increased number of members, met under clear skies for our trip into deepest, darkest Staffordshire (at least the weather forecast predicted the “darkest” bit). We arrived at the Western End of the Causeway and were met by Roger Broadbent of the Blithfield Group of the West Midland Bird Club, as we all layered and booted up.

We entered the reservoir at Admaston Reach and were immediately viewing some late migrants on the bank a few metres from the dam wall. Dunlin and Ringed Plover were feeding on the edge and everyone had good telescope views (thanks to the members who brought their scopes). A couple of Pied Wagtails fluttered around them, as the wind started to increase and we could feel spits of rain on our faces. We walked a littler further and Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were spotted. Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants were picked up on the reservoir surface. Gathering rainclouds drove us back to the cars and we set off for Stansley Wood, which at least promised some dry hides to watch from.

As we left the car park heading for one of the hides overlooking Dimsdale Shallows, the early walkers were quick to spot the Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding on a dead branch behind the feeders, and Coal Tits and their commoner cousins were soon added to our list.

The hide below the education centre was large enough to get everyone seated and gave a panoramic view over Tad Bay and Dimsdale Shallows. Telescopes came into their own here, as the far side of Tad Bay was some 700 metres away. The day’s scarcities, 3 Greenshanks, were seen on the Tad Bay shore before flushing into one of the shallow pools on the shore. Shoveler, Teal and Greylags were quickly added, before our host, alive to the local weather conditions, slipped away for other commitments. His departure was soon followed by stair rods (see definition) of water, the wind died away, and the rain pounded vertically down, making viewing a little difficult.

Nevertheless we stuck to our binoculars and telescopes, and Blithfield slowly gave up its birds. Pochard and Tufted were keeping close to the Stansley Wood shore, while 5-6 Goldeneye preferred the Duckley Plantation side, which is where a couple of Common Gulls were identified. We ate our sandwiches while the rain continued to hammer on the hide roof. Hot coffee was also consumed as we tried to keep the infiltrating cold at bay.

A raptor stood on the shore kept us busy for a while, as the identification puzzle was set – we eventually agreed on a Sparrowhawk, A Peregrine quietly  overflew the wood opposite.  The rain kept decreasing, but never enough to make a move to another hide a dry option, and it would then increase again. Eventually the cold forced us out into the rain, while a Heron waved goodbye. As soon as we left the shelter of the hide, the rain started to intensify, and continued to do so even while at the cars, stripping off layers to get into the dry. With no appetite for a further soggy walk, our trip came to an early end, and we made our way home. Despite our limited access to Blithfield’s hides we still saw 36 species.

Blithfield Species List 16 Oct 2013

Species

Location

Greylag Goose Dimsdale Shallows
Canada Goose Dimsdale Shallows
Eurasian Wigeon Admaston Reach & Dimsdale Shallows
Mallard Blithe and Tad Bays
Northern Shoveler Dimsdale Shallows
Green-winged Teal Dimsdale Shallows
Common Pochard Dimsdale Shallows
Tufted Duck Dimsdale Shallows
Common Goldeneye Dimsdale Shallows
Great Crested Grebe Blithe and Tad Bays
Great Cormorant Admaston Reach & Dimsdale Shallows
Grey Heron Single Dimsdale Shallows
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Dimsdale Shallows on ground
Eurasian Kestrel Admaston Reach
Peregrine Seen over Tad Bay
Northern Lapwing Dimsdale Shallows
Common Ringed Plover Admaston Reach
Common Greenshank 3 Dimsdale Shallows
Dunlin Admaston Reach
Black-headed Gull All over
Mew Gull up to 5 Dimsdale Shallows
Lesser Black-backed Gull Admaston Reach & Dimsdale Shallows
Stock Dove Over Duckley Plantation
Great Spotted Woodpecker Stansley Wood
Eurasian Jackdaw Over Duckley Plantation
Carrion Crow Dimsdale Shallows
Eurasian Skylark Admaston Reach
Coal Tit Stansley Wood
Great Tit Stansley Wood
Eurasian Blue Tit Stansley Wood
Long-tailed Tit Stansley Wood?
European Robin Stansley Wood
European Starling Dimsdale Shallows
White Wagtail yarrellii Admaston Reach & Dimsdale Shallows
Meadow Pipit Admaston Reach & Dimsdale Shallows
European Goldfinch Stansley Wood