The Middleton Avocets caused a few raised eyebrows when two of the chicks appeared on the Jubilee Wetland area, around 500 meters from where they hatched. As they can’t fly yet, they obviously walked and it must of been a bit of a trek for them. One remained on the North pit, causing the parent birds a few issues, but eventually, a day later, all three ended up on the Jubilee Wetland area. It does seem that one of the initial four chicks has not made it to this stage and it wasn’t the smallest last to hatch chick that has gone missing either but one of the larger ones.
The remaining chicks are growing fast and already starting to look like the adults.
Ringed and Little Ringed Plover seem to be thriving at Middleton and can be seen rapidly scurrying about on most of the scrapes.
Friday evening I braved the threat of heavy rain and headed for Cannock Chase to look for some Long Eared Owls I had been told about. The directions I had been given were excellent and after a short wait, an adult Long Eared Owl put in an appearance flying low over the Heather and disappearing from view. From the small woodland it had emerged from came the high pitched squeaking of its young and soon two Long Eared Owl chicks also flew from the woodland, but they landed on a low branch of a tree and started preening and calling to the parent birds. The light was fading fast and it was raining. I tried to get a few record shots with my digiscoping camera, but it was struggling in the gloom. In desperation for a decent record shot, I attempted to hand hold my iPhone to the eyepiece of my scope, this achieved the best pictures of the young Owls.
This is my first ever sighting of Long Eared Owls, so I really wanted a record of it. The phone again proved its worth in the field!
This was the start of a great evening. The first adult I had seen returned and coaxed the young to follow it. They didn’t need much persuasion and soon all three were out of sight. I hung around for another 10 minutes and did get occasional glimpses of them in flight.
I moved on from here and was soon watching Woodcock fly overhead and getting the best views of Nightjar I have ever had. The rain then became heavier and reluctantly, I headed back to the car. It rained for the next 15 hours!
The rain brought the rivers up rapidly and Middleton was soon suffering from rising water levels. A second Avocet nest that a few regulars had been keeping an eye on became a casualty of the rising water with reports that the parents had abandoned the nest on Saturday, a day before the eggs were expected to hatch. Sad news indeed.
Then, on Sunday a report came through that it seems two of the eggs had indeed hatched, and two chicks from this second nest had been seen, what great news. I hope after such a tough start lady luck smiles on these latest chicks and they catch a few breaks in the survival stakes.