Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Staffordshire Rarities

We're currently taking a break from the heat of the Algarve, spending some time in the cool and damp UK! Forecast high temperatures today are 31° in Tavira and 16° in Stafford, so already we're wondering whether we've made the right decision.

Remarkably, our visit to Stafford has coincided with the occurrence of two rare birds locally: an adult Franklin's Gull at Chasewater and a juvenile Cattle Egret at Doxey Marshes Nature Reserve. To have any sort of rare bird in Staffordshire is in itself something of a rarity, so having two here at the same time, and in July, really is unusual.

The Franklin's Gull was seen regularly at Chasewater for more than a week, mostly in the evenings, flying in to roost. Where it was spending its days was anyone's guess. Anyway, it hasn't been seen since Saturday, so has presumably moved on. The only previous record of this species in Staffordshire was at Blithfield Reservoir in August 2006. The Cattle Egret on the other hand, only the third for Staffordshire, seems to have settled in at Doxey.

Doxey Marshes

Of course, Cattle Egrets are very common birds in many parts of the world that we visit regularly. Quite often, in Costa Rica for instance, we have seen them in flocks of hundreds and in Portugal we have only to look out of the window most evenings to see scores of them flying to roost. So why, you may well ask, were we there on Doxey Marshes yesterday evening waiting for a very brief view of just a single bird flying across the reserve? It doesn't make much sense, does it? Really it doesn't! There wasn't even a chance to photograph it. The only excuse we can offer is that the reserve is less than a mile away and it was a welcome opportunity to get some exercise.

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