It was a somewhat depressing return to the UK on the 12th, the lack of birds of prey and general birdlife drained a fair bit of my usual 'spring optimism'. However, I soon tried to get back into the swing of inland UK birding.
Daily visits of Sedgley Beacon occurred, with optimism raised slightly by a couple of passage Wheatear on the 14th, followed by a decent day (in Beacon terms), with a Wheatear, 4 Tree Pipits and best of all a singing Grasshopper Warbler on 15th. Infact, the Gropper gave fairly good views, popping up on top of its temporary bramble home briefly on a couple of occasions!
A visit out to the University survey site on 16th revealed a pair of Little Egret was still present within the Heronry present there, however there was unfortunately no further breeding evidence over the summer.
This year a new joint BTO/ Natural England/ Forestry Commission survey has been set up within the Wyre forest to monitor effects on breeding birds within the Wyre over the coming years in which management work is being carried out to restore the original broadleaved deciduous forest. My Survey area is deep within the center of the forest and my first visit was very promising, despite the Douglas fir plantation (which is my survey area), the surrounding land is promising, and featured good numbers of Tree Pipits and Willow Warbler. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and a nice early Wood Warbler singing away next to 'my' woodland were very gratefully received.
Later the same day, the second summer Mediterranean Gull was still present at Upton Warren, together with the usual cast of breeding waders.
The patch has been fairly exiting this summer, and things kicked off early, with LRPs and Peregrines both being seen. A late Goosander still present on the river is usually a good sign that breeding could have been on the cards but unfortunately no chicks were found. A couple of Red-legged Partirdge scurried away along one of the dirt tracks while a Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail were both the first on patch this year.
A day trip to near Reading with a University Society on 21st led to me seeing lots of Red Kites however it was on the 22nd that a real panic moment hit. While midway through writing up one of my essays (about flightlessness in the Galapagos Cormorant no less) I received news from a fellow Upton Warren warden. "Red necked Grebe at the Moors!!
Many rushed phone calls until a friend agreed to drive up from my hometown in Worcester up to my house on the other side of West Midlands country to pick me up! (massive shoutout to Rob, Legend!) And we were on our way.
A couple of hours running up and down the west shore until superb views were had just before the sun started to set with the bird swimming about just in front of the hide, a crippling bird for Upton Warren, a reserve first no less and in stunning summer plumage!
Huge thanks to both Rob and Hughie for their help!
My first Swifts of the year, a party of 3 moved over the university site again the follow day.
A fair quiet visit to the patch followed other than breeding birds but the Upton Warren all dayer was on the Saturday (25th). I arrived fairly early, before I heard news of an absolute 'mega' in Somerset. Despite the offer being given and many others abandoning the birdrace to go see the rare yank wader I refused as I was meeting a friend on site. As always, by the end of the day, my only contribution to the day list (with others already having found everything else by the time I arrived) was a single Ringed Plover, a species that I often seen to find on these All dayers, and infact it was probably the my best bird of the day, so I wasn't going to complain!