I had a window of 2 hours available so zipped over to Upton Warren to see if I could spot the mealy redpoll at the Moors. I didn't! But, I did get to see a fine-looking blackcap (male) in great singing voice, though he wouldn't come out for a clear shot.
For Sunday I'd decided to try for the red-necked grebe in summer plumage over at Draycote, and also if it was still around, the rare green-winged teal. I have to admit I didn't know what the latter looked like as from the pics I'd seen it seemed rather similar to the normal teals. Me being unobservant probably!
The walk from the visitor centre to the hide was pretty uneventful, though I did get to see a rook quite close up, and there were a few great crested grebes fishing (and fighting) near the shore. However, with the still conditions, the air was filled with yet more flies. Horrid things that seem to float along next to you as you walk. Must get some different aftershave...
In the hide, I found someone at the window by the feeders and was about to consider where to sit to get shots from, when the birder turned around. It was Reg! He'd been trying for the teal for a while, though his dad had opted to take a walk around the corner to see if he could see it from there. Always good to see Reg, and he quickly pointed out the grebe... which then proceeded to go to sleep. With the lake busy with fishermen, the birds seemed trapped in Toft Bay though they refused to come close to the hide.
Growing as impatient as his dad, Reg opted to take a walk to see if he could locate the teal, leaving me to watch the sleeping grebe. He refused my requests of taking steps to encouraging the grebe to wake up too. I don't know, you just can't get the staff anymore...
About 15 mins later though, he returned and promptly pointed out the teal. When someone explains the difference it's like night and day. Well, like a horizontal and vertical white stripe, at any rate. Though like the grebe, it was miles away from me.
Reg and his dad then opted to head onwards to Brandon Marsh, leaving me in the hide alone, praying the grebe would wake up and come over. I wasn't alone long though, as after some more thundering steps down the boardwalk (can they find anything louder to line that walk with??) came Dave Hutton and Rich Dawkins. Both after pics of the 2 birds I was trying for.
Having told Reg that I'd wait for no more than half an hour for the grebe to do something, I ended up being in there for hours. The grebe did wake up, and came a little closer, though I only really managed "record" shots of it. The teal also flew towards us, but stayed near the edge amongst trees, and far enough away for Dave to complain, even when he's shooting with an 800mm lens!
Dave's great hearing also picked out a willow warbler, which we promptly located in the trees behind the hide. First of the year for me.
On the way home I tried again for the local little owl, which kindly hopped around on a branch for me. I also spoke to a local birder who gave me some ideas for places closer to home to explore... watch this space!