Sunday, 23 September 2012

A good weekend

September 21st  Steam Fest
The Severn Valley Railway was holding their annual Autumn Steam Gala so spent the day station hopping between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth enjoying the various local and visiting engines and soaking up the atmosphere of a bygone age on this preserved railway. At least four locos added to my growing list with pride of place going to ‘Battle of Britain’ class 34052 Sir Keith Park a type of engine that use to fascinate me as a kid as it was so different to what passed through Rugby. Unfortunately the weather was not brilliant so got caught out by a heavy shower when deciding to walk off for some trackside shots ending up soaked. Still I was a happy bunny till a no images sign on my camera appeared so it needs a bit of tlc or a surgeon
By the time I arrived home the sky’s had cleared with the thermometer dropping like a stone so set my gear up to explore the spiral galaxy Andromeda (2.5 million light years away) before looking at the W shaped constellation Cassiopea. I was considering packing it in as I had to be out in five hours time and the cold was creeping in to my bones when a fireball type object appeared breaking up in the atmosphere reminding me of the Space Shuttle Columbia when she broke up on re-entry on the 1st of February 2003 with the loss of seven lives. Probably a bit of space junk returning home. An awesome sight whatever caused it.

September 22nd Migrants
Despite the limited amount of sleep I had a fantastic day out on the north Norfolk coast exploring Hunstanton, Titchwell and Holme managing a number of migrant species as the winds turned to the east. Hunstanton had a juvenile/female Pied Flycatcher in the pine plantation by the pitch and putt course and calling Lapland Bunting going over while doing a bit of visible migration. Not a lot on the sea apart from a few distant Common Scoters and Pink-footed Geese passing in small groups but did not give it a lot of time.
Titchwell had a Baird’s Sandpiper, 8 Spoonbill, 6 Little Egret, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Marsh Harrier on the reserve , the sea was rewarding with 2 Arctic and probable distant Pomarine Skua, Sandwich Tern and Red-necked Grebe.
Holme was alive with birders so easy enough to see where the Barred Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Wryneck had pitched up but no sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler. At least 2 Brambling and a Barn Owl noted.

September 23rd Duck Fest and more
After speaking with Colin and consulting the weather forecast we were at the pond just after the gates opened hoping for visible migration on the cool north east wind but totally unprepared for the duck fest that greeted us. At least 14 groups of duck, variable in numbers came in the next two hours and our final count was 300+ Wigeon which is a good September count for the pond, 26 Shoveler, 3 juvenile Pintail, 9 Gadwall and 5 Pochard along with an increase in Mallard and Tufted Duck.
Quackers were not the only species on the move with a large numbers of Swallow (1500+) heading south an hour plus 300 feeding locally and at least 500 House Martin and 100 Sand Martin among them with another 200+ House Martin over farborough bank.
Other notable sightings included 10 Curlew circling the reservoir calling to each other constantly (my highest count for this species here) at 7:15am, 2 Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper in toft, Rock Pipit on farborough bank, 5 Dunlin through at 8:30am, 5 Yellow Wagtail, Black Tern , 6 Siskin, 50+ Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail and the long staying Common Scoter and Black-necked Grebe.
We should have stayed longer but with 15 boats chugging out flushing off the duck and a sponsored walk preparing to descend on the unsuspecting bird life on farborough bank we left for the Long Itchington Diner. Our last sighting was a white Swallow feeding over the cattle in fields below farnborough bank, bill was a normal colour so presumed not to be a true albino.
We checked on a few sites in the valley managing a couple of Chiffchaff, 4 Buzzard, 3 Raven and more Swallow and House Martins heading south and had a long over due catch up with two thirds of the Bumbling Bears.
YIPPEE the weather is absolutely shite tomorrow – high winds and rain so local or coastal something is bound to turn up.
Bad News 
Just So closes next Sunday for the season and Naomi will not be returning. God forbid I may starve and missing her cakes already. No idea if it will open next year.Watch this space.

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