Walking back we bumped into Ian Grant who was optimistic until we told him our findings but he continued with his mission (as we all would undeterred). Another birder approached and gave us hope of seeing a Cuckoo but the morning was not really in our favour and the showy Cuckoo "just up there on the right" was not there. Obviously we could hear him but that, after all, is the elusive Cuckoo for you. On nearing the car park a Green Woodpecker did allow me one attempt at getting a photo of it. One day I will get a real close up shot but for today this one will do.
so home we went knackered with only a can of Red Thunder to keep our chins up!
Quite often I travel to Manchester and Liverpool for work. The route I use gives me a couple of good birding options for easy drop-ins. One is Wood Lane NR in Shropshire. Not watched by many people it does turn up the odd good bird from time to time. Certainly I've seen Pec Sand here and Temmincks Stint over the years. It always looks excellent for waders and in the winter it does really well for gulls as it is located next to an active landfill site.
Now is the time of year to increase my watching here and my visit the other day produced 2 LRP's and a Black Tailed Godwit.
I also heard my first county Reed Warbler for 2011 and had close views of male Blackcap and Reed Bunting. Other usual suspects here are Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Snipe, Lapwing, Tufted duck, Teal and many other common species including this rather stunning Woodpigeon which always remind me of vicars with their white collar.
The many Carp pools here also prove a good breeding area for Mallard and one busy pair had already got 9 chicks on show (last year one pair had 15!). A pair of Great Crested Grebe are the proud parents of (we think) 4 chicks.
A report of a Blue Headed Wagtail (which quickly morphed into Channel Wagtail) got me going off to Venus Pool on one of the days for an hour. No Yellow Wags for me here but enjoyed it anyway and particularly liked this smart Teal on the pool.
A walk over the fields disturbed a feeding Yellowhammer which allowed me a little shot of him.
This also helped draw my attention to my first Peacock butterfly of the year.
Another evening homeward visit had me going to Frodsham Marsh to look for a Wood Sandpiper on No.6 tank. On arrival I by chance bumped into a regular Frodsham birder who took me under his wing and gave me a guided tour of No.6 tank. Although the Wood Sandpiper had shown well in the morning it wasn't showing that evening (well not to most of us) one chap claimed it and had us looking in a corner for about an hour, to be honest though, there is that much habitat there it could hide away for days. This site never bores you though and I had great views of both Marsh and Hen harriers, RP and LRP, Redshank and Black Tailed Godwit and to top it off a prolonged view of 3 (proper) White Wagtails and a Short Eared Owl. I also met some friendly locals who all were only too willing to tell me loads about this site.
So what was my heart attack moment? Well it goes a little something like this...
- Take bag with scope into hide at Wood Lane NR
- Talk to local old boy who insists on showing me a Woodpecker on the feeders
- Keep talking to him and shut windows in hide and leave
- Spend an hour tootling around lanes in Shropshire looking for birds
- Get home, open boot of car and suddenly realise that my scope and rucksack are still in the hide at Wood Lane NR (30 mins drive from my house)
- Leave in blind panic and drive as calmly as possible (i.e not very) all the way back to the hide.
- Relief! Phew! Had a sit down and caught my breath when I found my rucksack and scope still where I left them.
I know I'm not the only person who will have done this but I really hope I don't ever do it again.