Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Friday, 3 June 2011

A Couple of Cracking Finds and then ...... LOVE NATURE WEEK for the RSPB

I'll leave Mum and Dad's photo until last so don't scroll down just yet.

Had a great Sunday a couple of weeks ago with a couple of ex-pupils who are still birders after all these years. Jason Oliver and Steve Allcott were pupils of mine over twenty years ago when I was a secondary school science teacher in Wolverhampton. Imagine my thrill at seeing them both again and knowing that they are birders.

Well, I'd walked to junction 2 on the M42, which is about 5 miles from my little abode. We'd arranged to meet at 5.00am so I'd set off at 3.30. Along the country lanes towards Alvechurch, down Cobler's Hill and over the canal bridge when amongst the singing skylarks I heard a quail. 'Wet my lips'. Just a couple of times but unmistakable. I haven't heard many in Worcesershire so was really pleased with this one.

Norfolk. Red-necked phalarope gone from Burnham Norton and a gale force wind a-blowing. Visited Titchwell and saw a very few birds but the company was good, especially in the cafe where Flo was still working. Now Flo had been fabulous last eyar, heating up some milk for my Horlicks and for a couple of baguettes. Great to see her friendly face again.

Off to Lakenheath and still that wind. An RSPB group from Southend were looking for the singing golden oriole. Having seen on the notice board that 2 males and a female are there I looked for myself but had to do with the sound of that beautiful call. I did manage to see a couple of hairy dragonflies and a few variable damselflies.

A week at work. Don't want to talk about that!!

So to Upton Warren for a night in the Flashes hide. My reward came at ten to seven the following morning. A small wader came from the direction of the third flash being chased by the avocets. I thought it was a turnstone at first but then realised it was a smashing red-necked phalarope. The first one I've ever found myself and only the seventh for the new Fetlar, Upton Warren. Phoned and texted like mad and soon the first birding friend arrival, Andrew Pitt; soon followed by Dave Walker, John Belsey, Andy Warr and Mike Wakeman. Phil Andrews and Arthur Jacobs, eventually all the Upton regulars were either there or had been and seen this beautiful bird.

I stayed overnight again and couldn't believe it when just after six in the morning it turned up again on the second flash. Time for home I walked the six or so miles and started school work.

Monday, rain at last and a day of planning for school. Then news came in - two red-necked phalaropes at the Warren! Amazing and brilliant! Chuffed for the reserve and for all the dedicated people who watch the place. Add the fact that 2 people saw a scarlet rosefinch in the car park, just shows what a small reserve can have if regularly watched.

Now it's Friday night and I've gone over to my parent's house to prepare for LOVE NATURE - RSPB WEEK.

Prepare is so apt as a very large box had arrived there on Wednesday. Dad wasn't too pleased but all tension changed as we had a great day watching the Test match on TV, watching the scorecard as Warwickshire beat Yorkshire in the Twenty20 and then the large box was opened to hilarity.

Is there nothing I won't do for the RSPB? You want more?
Someone spent a very long time making this costume of a siskin and many thanks to them. So tomorrow I'll be dressed in this and will stand outside Sainsbury's in Warwick, starting at 9.30am. Here's hoping it's successful.

Finally another donation for Asthma UK. Thanks to Gary Birchill.

All the best everyone,


PS. anyone know of any available female siskins?


  1. dig the costume gaz, very fetching indeed.

  2. I am sure that some 20-20 team - possibly in IPL - will adopt that cossie as their uniform. Or else Australia will take it on for their Test team: could only improve their play!