Saturday, January 2, 2010

Staffordshire Visit & Bitterns

It could make me spit. I of course should have noticed with my first post. On my south veranda [from where I composed those few humble words] it was New Year’s Eve but I note that the published posting is dated the previous day. Likewise with my first blog of 2010 – the published version has me still in 2009, hinting that the 60 birds opening my new Year List were fraudulently assembled.

Not to worry. Worse things have happened to me over the years. And given that I’m here in simple error to begin with, it hardly seems worth the moan.

I came looking for a connection with West Midlands birders. Staffordshire in particular but anywhere within the region would have sufficed. Fay and I plan to return for a month’s sojourn in September.

On previous trips we had somehow always managed to “find” someone to help out. Bevan Craddock springs immediately to mind. We “bumped” into each other along some muddy Staffordshire farm track or other and discovered that besides an interest in birds we shared a passion for the county’s history []. Peter Dedicote came across with keys to the Beldive Reservoir. And of course Keith Woodhead accompanied us throughout and introduced us to pastures further afield. We owe our first Red Kite to him and Jenny.

But it was all a long time ago. My last trip outside Australia was back in 1999 and that makes for one awfully long dry spell between visits. I have lost contact with Bevan. Peter is in the Algarve. Keith now revels in the delights of adjoining Shropshire.

It seemed a reasonable idea to look for new contacts. I initially came across Martin Yapp’s blog. A West Midlander! It looked promising, especially when I clicked on a few of his “followers” and found that I was in the midst of other West Midland birders – nay, even Staffordians like Richard Powell, from somewhere near the old Smoke-on-Stench- Fay’s ancestral homeland [Tunstall]. She still has family in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Alas, in my humble agedness it took me a moment longer to realise that a blog is a blog and that it is not confined to specified borders. Those reading this could well be West Midlanders but equally they could be sitting behind a computer in the middle of downtown Phoenix, Arizona [a spot Fay and I visited back in 1997].

No doubt in due course someone will inform me that there is in fact a network of bloggers concentrated on the West Midlands and that all I need are a few choice passwords. If that be the case, I can only hope that some understanding soul will nod me the wink before next Septemeber.

I’ve decided to rejoin the West Midlands Bird Club in any case.

Australian Wood Duck at Pioneer Park
And so to today’s brief birding adventure. The skies continued to threatened even more rain but we decided to dare our luck. Besides, Colleen telephoned yesterday evening to suggest that we venture forth together.

Odd things happen. Fay and I started birding the South Burnett, the immediate Nanango area in particular, back in April 2001. We had the house moved onto the property in May 2002. Throughout we thought we were the only birders in the immediate vicinity.

We continued in that belief until a few months before Christmas. An aberrant Sacred Kingfisher dispelled all notions on loneliness. That is perhaps a tale better told later down the track.

We met Robert and colleen and through them Lauren, Keith and Trish. Somewhere in the background other await the opportunity to bird with us.

Our target was the Brooklands Road Water reserve; our tally [with new Year List additions in red] included :

Australian Magpie
Dollarbird [a roller]
Pied Butcherbird
Galah [a small cockatoo]
Noisy Miner [a honeyeater]
Rainbow Lorikeet
Australian Wood Duck
Magpie-lark [don’t ask!]
BLACK BITTERN [not only a new Year List entrant but a MEGATICK]
Torresian Crow
Striped Honeyeater
Little Friarbird [another honeyeater]
Australian King-Parrot
Channel-billed Cuckoo
Grey Butcherbird
Crested Pigeon
Sacred Kingfisher
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Masked Lapwing
Pacific Black Duck
White-faced heron
Pacific Baza
Striated pardalote
White-throated Gerygone [an austral warbler]
Rufous Whistler
Eastern Koel [a cuckoo]
Laughing Kookaburra [a kingfisher]
Brown Honeyeater
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Little Corella
Brush Cuckoo

Tally: 31
New on Year List: 6
Year List: 66


  1. Hi Julian

    Great to hear from a Staffordshire exile, so thought I'd check out your blog in sunny Queensland. I hope it's warmer there than it is here!

    Personally, I live in a village near Cheadle, between Stoke and Uttoxeter (sort of). But originally I'm from Burton and I work in an office in Stafford. How's that for a Staffordshire lad eh???

    I have heard the names Bevan Craddock and Peter Dedicoat, but don't know them personally. There is a blog for sightings at Belvide, kept up to date by Steve Nuttall. There is a link from my blog.



  2. Richard

    My sincere apologies for the long delay in getting back to you but as I said, I'm new to all this and didn't actually realise that your comment was there until I stumbled across it a moment ago.

    Bevan lives in Penkridge while Peter is domocile in the Algarve these days.

    We hope to be over in September; Fay has relatives in the area - including, I believe, in or near Chradlr. Small world.