Monday, September 12, 2011

Blow In!

Draycote Gannet - Click to Enlarge
Having suffered with my back problems for most of the summer I was delighted to complete the five mile walk around Draycote Water today without any side effects, and what a superb day it turned out to be!

Accompanied by Jim Rushforth we made an early start in gale force winds meeting up at Thurlaston and taking a clockwise route. A Greenshank was feeding along Toft Shallows and as we walked past the bird hide a brief view of Hobby heading east.

It's my first visit to Draycote for a good while and looking at the low water it's easy to see why the place is doing so well for Waders. As we reached Farborough Spit several Dunlin were feeding, accompanied by Ringed Plover, Juvenile Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and a single Little Stint. Yellow Wagtails were in good number too, at least a dozen, and a lone Meadow Pipit was also recorded.

As we continued, almost getting blown off our feet, we met the 'Draycote Duo' (Richard Mays & Bob Hazell) who were good enough to put us on to a Shag, (remember we ARE birding) which we eventually came across near the Sailing Club. Can't remember the last time I saw one of these birds inland and definitely a Warwickshire tick.

Black Tern - Click to Enlarge
After a well deserved coffee and a brief rest bite from the wind we sort out further refuge at one of the sheltered benches. A good scan out towards the centre of the water produced Black, Arctic and Common Tern. Hirundines were in excellent numbers, which included a substantial number of Sand Martins.

Battling on around Rainbow Corner and on towards the Valve Tower produced Wheatear, but unfortunately no sign of yesterdays Red-crested Pochard, although we did manage a single ♀Goosander and a couple of Wigeon. 

After reaching Biggin Bay we took yet more refuge on a well provided bench for lunch and here we enjoyed the lovely sunshine and another Black Tern battling the wind. In the bay itself were more Dunlin, two Greenshank and various numbers of Plover.

One of the reasons for visiting on such a brutally windy day was the possibility of something unusual getting blown in and we weren't disappointed! Over to the west the amazing site of a fully adult Gannet and it wasn't long before we were treated to some great views and several dives. Yet another Warwickshire first and once again I can't remember seeing one of these birds so inland.

A terrific day and worth mentioning the excellent numbers of Chiffchaff around, a single Willow Warbler was also recorded along with a late Swift. An awful day for photography but I did manage a few shots, make sure you click on the images to enlarge!