The Kidderminster Peregrine

As readers of this blog, many of you will know that I occasionally mention the ♂ Peregrine that has been frequenting a town centre chimney stack for a 2 or 3 years now.  Sometimes I am unable to see this bird as it varies which side of the stack it perches up on and I can only see the one side from the bedroom window.

On Christmas Eve, whilst sat wrapping presents, i noticed that it was showing very well and decided to set the scope up to have a better view of him.  One of the highlights came when, at 12:40pm the Peregrine was mobbed a couple of times by a passing Sparrowhawk.  I'm sure the Sparrowhawk wouldn't have tried that if the Peregrine was airborne, as they are not only the most skilled aerial hunters out there, but also the fastest animal on the planet (able to reach over 200 mph during its hunting dive).

Also of interest is the fact that most days at around 10:30pm a pair of Ravens alight the tower for 20 minutes or so to pick through the Peregrine's left overs.

Anyway, below I have attached some footage of the Peregrine.  It's not great but it does serve as a record. Really the bird was too far for digiscoping especially taken through the double glazing on a dull day, but I had a go all the same.

Click on YouTube logo to enlarge

Sunday 23rd December 2012 - Shenstone

Early afternoon, I managed to grab a bit of time and pop down to the patch for what may be my last visit over the festive period. 

I had been messaged by fellow blogger and local birder Craig Reed (Midlands Birder) who had popped down to catch up with the Corn Bunting flock and I decided to pop down and catch up for a natter.  Craig had recorded a count of 64 Corn Buntings and also managed to get decent views of the ♀/imm. Merlin that has been knocking about around the area for a few weeks now.

On arrival, the Merlin had been flushed but many of the Corn Buntings were still present.  Also of note in this area were 3 Yellowhammers, 1♀ Reed Bunting, c.60 Chaffinch and 30 Linnet.  In the hedge/bushes along the footpath to Captains Pool there was a group of 5 Goldcrests present.

At Stanklyn paddocks a Green Woodpecker and a Jay were noted, but otherwise things were fairly quite there.  A ♀ Kestrel was observed hovering over the gallops.

In contrast Heath Lane was chuffing with birds.  On arrival I was treated to the spectacle of 2 Ravens having a right ding dong at a Common Buzzard down on the ground in one of the fields.  The large field opposite the Islamic school was very productive with c.200 Fieldfare and c.100 Starlings busily feeding away.

Further up the lane a ♂ Kestrel was on the wires over the paddock and another Common Buzzard was also noted.  5 Fieldfare were perched up in the trees between the school and the paddock.  In the adjacent field 86 Fieldfare, 7 Redwing, c.40 Starlings and 20 Chaffinch were noted feeding on the deck.

The Butts/Barrs Lane area was very quiet although I did add 2 more Yellowhammers to the day's list.

As this is most likely my last post of the festive season, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christamas!

♂ Kestrel - Heath Lane















Fieldfare - Heath Lane

Garden Birdwatching

With the festive period almost upon us it's getting to that time of the year when birdwatching (for me) is taking a bit of a back seat to other things such as catching up with friends and family, Christmas meals, Christmas shopping etc.  This week I haven't managed to get out and do any birding on the patch or else where for that matter.  So to get my fix I have spent a bit more time each day watching the garden birds.

As I have mentioned in a post earlier this year we live in a terraced house in a built up part of Kidderminster  and it only has a fairly small narrow garden.  That said, over the last few years we have seen the number of birds visiting our back garden increase considerably. In the garden we have feed dried meal worms, sunflower hearts, peanuts and homemade fat cakes. 

During the winter months I buy some apples, that have gone past there best, from a local farm shop and cut them into halves and stick them on the branches of some of the shrubs. The hope with these apples is to attract Waxwings, Winter Thrushes and Blackcaps.  We have certainly seeing the results with the latter, with 3 Blackcaps (2♂, 1♀) present in winter 2010/2011 and 4 Blackcaps (3♂, 1♀) in winter 2011/2012.

So with that bit of background below is a summary of the past week or so's garden highlights:

Thursday 13th Dec 2012
Greenfinch was seen feeding on the sunflower hearts.  Believe it or not they are a scarce garden visitor for us with only a handful of records over the last 10 years.

The day's highlight though was seeing a ♀ Blackcap feeding on the aforementioned apple halves...result!  A single Coal Tit was seen feeding on the fat cakes. 

Regular visitors noted feeding in the garden included c.30 House Sparrows, 14 Starlings, 12 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, 1 Robin, 1 ♀ Blackbird, 2 Collared Doves and a Woodpigeon.  (I won't post these species again during this post as they tend to visit daily)


Friday 14th December 2012
The female Blackcap was again present, this time feeding on both the apples and the sunflower hearts.  A single Coal Tit was also noted.


Tuesday 18th December 2012
Today there were 2 Blackcaps (1♂ & 1♀) visiting the apples and the feeders. A Coal Tit and a Dunnock were also noted and a single Cormorant flew over heading SE.



The past week I have seen no sign of the ♂ Peregrine on Weaver's Wharf chimney stack but 2 Ravens were present there on the 10th December and a single Raven on the 16th.

Click on Youtube logo to enlarge


Saturday 15th Dec 2012 - Holt & Grimley

I have always been bought up to with the principle of looking after those less fortunate than  your self, such as the elderly, the sick, the homeless and Wolves supporters.  There has never been more of a time to be charitable than at Christmas and as Mark P (Doorstep Birding) falls into the latter group, I thought I would do my bit for festive charity and take him out birding! 

Joking aside, I had looked at the weather and thought it may be worth checking out a local wetland.  The wetlands had been fairly frozen with the cold conditions over the previous week, this had been followed by a day of rain on Friday and today's milder conditions.  There would be more free water today and there was a chance that change in weather had moved things around a bit.  With this said I picked up Mark (who had had similar thoughts) and we headed to Holt & Grimley.

The first area we checked out was Sling Pool at Holt.  Much of the field next to the pool was under water and this area and the adjacent grassy field was chuffing with birds.  The undoubted highlight was 2 Black-tailed Godwits that were feeding away at the waters edge.  Black-tailed Godwit, although a common passage migrant in Worcs,  is a scarce winter visitor so this was a very pleasing find.  These were not the only waders present as a Green Sandpiper was flying over the water on a number of occasions, 22 Common Snipe and 100+ Lapwing were also noted.

The wintering duck numbers at this site were also good with large numbers of Teal and Shoveler noted, with smaller numbers of Wigeon present.  The usual suspects for this site:  Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Mallard, were also present in good numbers.  The wildfowl highlight though was 2 Shelduck which, although not scarce, are not an every day bird here. 

Camp Lane pits by comparison was fairly quiet with the only notable addition to the day's wildfowl being the ♀ Goldeneye that has been present for a while now.

We pretty much drew a blank at Wagon Wheel Lane pits, so it was off to Top Barn farm shop for a hot sausage roll each.  A good way to round off an enjoyable few hours birding.

Common Snipe (from the archives)

Thursday 13th December - Hartlebury

Just after mid-day I decided to nip over to Hartlebury to see if there was any sign of the Waxwings.  They are certainly coming and going at this site with them disappearing for a while and then returning.

On pulling up near their favoured Rowan trees on the trading estate I initially picked up 2 Waxwings feeding on the berries.  Before long they were joined by 10 more Waxwings that dropped into the adjacent taller trees.  I then enjoyed these for a good while at a respectable distance and I even managed to get a bit more video footage. 

Also present in this area of trees were 2 Redwing, 5 Fieldfares and 6 Blackbirds.  A Pied Wagtail was flitting around on the roof of a nearby unit.

Whilst enjoying the Waxwings I was treated to another treat in the form of a flock of 9 Golden Plover that flew over in a skein like formation heading South.

Later, I was joined by Dave (http://davepowner.blogspot.co.uk/), Phil  (http://philmumby.blogspot.co.uk/) and a couple of their collegues after I had texted Dave to let them know the Waxies were showing well.  Needless to say a good old natter ensued!

Waxwing - 13th December 2012















Fieldfare - 13th December 2012















Click on YouTube logo to enlarge

Monday 10th December 2012 - Shenstone

Today I spent the majority of my patch visit undertaking my BTO Winter Thrush Survey around the Stanklyn Lane fields. 

There certainly are not many winter thrushes present on the patch at the mo with only 4 Mistle Thrush and 3 Fieldfare observed feeding on the deck and a further 2 Fieldfares noted flying over heading NW.  I also recorded 9 Blackbirds feeding in the hedgerows.

The walk wasn't a complete loss though as I did pick up a patch scarcity in the form of a ♀ Reed Bunting which was part of a mixed bunting flock that also included 21 Corn Buntings and 5 YellowhammersReed Buntings are only ever recorded on a handful of occasions each year at Shenstone, usually during the winter months.  That said a pair did attempt to breed at a site just off Barrs Lane in 2010.

There were 2 Green Woodpeckers present in the paddocks and an imm. Cormorant was seen circling over Stanklyn Pool.  Also of interest during this walk was a ♀ Sparrowhawk, a ♀ Kestrel, c.40 Chaffinch, 4 House Sparrows and a flock of 11 Long-tailed Tits.

After completing the survey walk I decided to quickly whistle-stop around some of the other patch areas to see what may or may not be about.  Heath Lane was pretty much devoid of birds but for a Green Woodpecker in the top paddock and a ♂ Kestrel that was hovering over the adjacent field.

Witch Lane was more productive with 22 Fieldfare and 3 Redwing feeding down in the fields.  An adult Cormorant, a ♀ Kestrel and a covey of 7 Red-legged Partridge were also observed.

Corn Bunting - 10th December 2012















Winter Colour - Stanklyn Lane

Thursday 6th December 2012 - Upper Bittell

Today I decided to pop to Upper Bittell Reservoir which lies in Worcestershire near the county border with Birmingham (West Midlands).  The reason for this visit was to catch up with the 2 Long-tailed Ducks that have been present there for a number of weeks now.  With very little doing locally an away day seemed like a good idea.

Long-tailed duck is actually a species that I needed for my county life list.  That said I am not much of a list chaser these days hence the couple of  weeks delay before deciding to go and see the birds.

On arriving at the reservoir I headed to the dam first on the off chance that I could pick the birds up from there to save trekking over the fields to view the NE corner.  I was out of luck and there was no sign from here.  That said there were 49 Goosander (16 ♂) on the water not too far out from the dam.  My scanning also picked up an adult Yellow-legged Gull perched on buoy number 4.  Along the edge of the opposite shore 44 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall were also noted.

After giving it a while on the dam I decided to walk back and head up the lane to the stubble field to scan for the LT Ducks.  Stood at the edge of the field I set my scope up and scanned the north east bay.  It wasn't too long before I picked up the ♀ Long-tailed Duck and had distant views of it before it dived and disappeared out of sight.  I then walked down the stubble field path attempting at various points to view through the hedgerow branches and fencing...yes it can be that crap at times to see Upper Bittell birds.  Eventually I managed to pick up the 1st winter ♂ Long-tailed Duck, which was the nicer looking of the 2 birds.  Before it disappeared out of sight tucking in by the near shoreline and that was that.  I was cold and rather uninspired so I headed back home.

So there you have it, not the greatest views of Long-tailed Duck I have ever had.  I have had far more satisfying ones at coastal regions in the past.  They were also way too distant to even digiscope a record shot.  Bittell has its merits and does attract some good birds but I'm b**gered if I would pay £30+ a year for the privilege of viewing them from the sailing club...if I lived closer or membership was half the cost it may be appealing but as I only visit 3 or 4 times a year I cant justify it.

Goosanders - Upper Bittell


Monday 3rd December 2012 - Captains Pool

There was no intention of undertaking any birding today as it was a bit of a messy one with various appointments throughout the day.  That said late morning I received a text off TS informing me that he had got a mixed flock of finches feeding in one of the Alders at the edge of Captains Pool.  In total he had recorded 5 Lesser Redpolls, 10 Siskin and 15 Goldfinch.  These were the first Lesser Redpolls on the patch this winter so I headed over.

Unfortunately, when I arrive only 2 Siskin (1♂, 1♀) and 8 Goldfinch remained.  Still they were nice to see and I managed to get a bit of Siskin video footage so it wasn't a wasted journey.  A cracking looking Nuthatch was also showing in the adjacent trees.

The pool itself was now partially frozen and stood on the ice were 41 Black-headed Gulls and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Click on Youtube logo to view enlarged video

Friday 30th Nov 2012 - Grimley & Shenstone

Today I met up with Tony and we decided to have a mooch around the gravel pits at Grimley to see if anything of interest was about. 

First port of call was Holt Sling Pool.  There was extensive flooding of the field next to the pool but unfortunately most of it was frozen.  Although on the area of free water there were 9 Wigeon present and on the adjacent field c.50 Lapwing were also noted.

The first thing that struck us on arrival at Camp Lane Pits was how high the water level now was.  The causeway wasn't far off becoming submerged, with the one at the south end having been submerged for many weeks now.

At the north end there was a good mix of wildfowl present with highlights being a single ♀ Goldeneye and 6 Shelduck.  Other species noted included Gadwall, Pochard, Shoveller and Tufted Duck

The only waders noted were 6 Common Snipe that were feeding on the eastern shoreline.  16 Cormorants were also present.

A cracking looking Brown Hare showed well for us as we watched it bounding along a track across the nearby field.



On the way back we checked out a few areas around the patch, with the first stop being at Witch Lane.  It was full of bird life here and whilst on the lower stretch we noted 8 Lapwing that flew over heading South and 9 Cormorant that flew over heading NW.  In the large tree next to the pull in a flock of 11 Long-tailed Tits were also noted.

In the large recently sown field along the lane there were huge numbers of finches present with a flock of c.250 Linnets and c.80 Chaffinch noted.  A Kestrel and a Common Buzzard were also present.

Heath Lane was the only area we had any winter thrushes with c.60 Fieldfare and 6 Redwing in the large field opposite the Islamic School.  C.80 Starling were also present.

Our final stop off was Stanklyn Lane where there was a large Bunting flock in the beat field.  In total we counted 60 Corn Buntings and 8 Yellowhammers all perched up in the large trees to the right of the field. This was the largest count of Corn Buntings on the patch this winter so it was worth stopping off.

Tufted Ducks - Grimley, 30th November 2012

Thursday 29th November 2012 - Hartlebury

This afternoon I decided to pop back to Hartlebury to take another look at the Waxwings that I had found on Monday.  The size of the flock had been variable over the previous two days with up to 30 birds present.

On arrival there was a handful of Togs and Birders present but unfortunately no sign of the Waxwings that had disappeared an hour or two before.  Still, I stuck around for a while and enjoyed a good natter with a few familiar faces (Bob H and Stuart A) and a few folk I hadn't spoken with before. 

I must put my hand up though and apologise for my language at times as I did "F & Jeff" a bit when I was told that the Worcestershire ringing group were going to try and catch and ring them in the morning.  Now don't get me wrong I am not anti-ringing and I do believe it has its merits with certain species or if their is good scientific basis for doing so. But to me, disrupting this small flock of Waxwings that has come across from Scandinavia to feed up on our berries because the continental crop failed just seems plain wrong.  Most of the questions regarding this species have already been answered so to me this seems a futile and needless exercise.

Anyway, after being there for about 25 minutes the Waxwings did indeed drop back in. Although only a flock of 12 birds this time.  They perched up in the top of the Rowan tree with the red berries but were actually dropping down onto the adjacent Rowan to feed on the orange berries.  The birds gave us all cracking views and I even managed to real off some video footage this time so it was a more than worthwhile visit.

So there you have it stunning birds and good company...I have had worse birding days!

Waxwings - Hartlebury, 29th November 2012




















Click on YouTube logo to enlarge video

A quick chunter....

I have been birding for many years now and one thing I can tell you is that birders can be a funny bunch.  There are armchair birders, bird finders, bird listers, local patch birders, twitchers and everything in between.  One thing I do know that is applicable to many of them is that they can be proper gossips....I'm sure the term fishwife would be applicable to some I know.  Why am I bringing this up I hear you ask, let me explain.

On occasions when I have gone 'off patch' over recent months I have had birders I know saying one of two things: 

Question a)  Where you been Jase? your not doing much birding anymore!
Question b)  Have you and Tony fell out?  You don't seem to go out birding together very often!

Primarily it is the Black Country birders I know who have been firing off these questions too me (or to people who know me) but a handful of Staffordshire and Worcestershire ones also have.  So with the fact I am getting tired of this I thought I would set the record straight addressing these 2 questions.

Answer a)  Firstly yes I am still alive and birding as regular readers to this blog can testify.  This year I have stayed more locally mainly due to the cost of fuel and my current lack of employment.  So it's pretty much been Shenstone only with occasional visits to Clee, Grimley and Wyre Forest .  Also with each passing year I get less and less pleasure from twitching birds and would rather go out locally and see what I can find.  At the end of the day someone has to find the birds for people to twitch so it's a good job there are still folks out there who do cover areas as local patch.

Another point I would like to make is that this year has been a poor birding year in the Midlands anyway and there hasn't been as many good birds to find on the patch (so news has been a bit lacking to put out).  Although, that said star Shenstone birds this year have included a Spring ♂ Ring Ouzel and a Short-eared Owl.  Other 2012 finds that I have made include Tundra Bean Goose at Chelmarsh and the recent Waxwings at Hartlebury.

Answer b)  Well, me and Tony aren't joined to the hip you know.  He is a good mate and yes I still see him (twice this week...perish the thought!) but we are also very different kinds of birders.  Tony has been concentrating on his 2012 year list and will also go twitching national rarities now and again.  Where as I am happy tootling around the local patch.  That said Tony also enjoys a bit of bread and butter birding so we catch up now and again and do either the patch or some other local area.

So there you have it.  I'm not so much having a go as setting the record straight.  So all my local birding friends and acquaintances spread the word I'm not bl**dy dead and I certainly haven't packed in birding!

Anyway here is a rather apt song by The Young Knives called "Here Comes the Rumour Mill"

Monday 26th November 2012 - Hartlebury and Shenstone

Today I decided start off by paying a visit to the nearby Hartlebury Trading Estate to have a look for Waxwings.  I have been checking out this location pretty much every other day for the last three weeks as it is one of the few places left where the Rowans  still have berries on.  The previous day their had been a small flock of Waxwings a few miles up the road at Chaddesley Corbett so their was every chance that I could pick up some here.

As I was driving down one of the avenues at the estate I picked up a flock of Starling sized birds flying over towards the said area.  I headed over there and there was no sign at the Rowans.  Then, suddenly I heard the unmistakable high pitch trilling call of one from the opposite side of the road.  I looked across and saw a flock of 14 Waxwings perched in the top of one of the trees at the back of a kitchen company car park.  I nipped back to my car and grabbed some record shots before the birds flew towards the rear of the kitchen company building. 

I had held out from seeing the Chaddesley Waxwings as I really like to try and self-find some if I can during invasion years.  I wouldn't knock anyone for going to twitch some...they really are stunning birds and I recommend that everyone should try and see some at some point.  But me, well I get more of a buzz from finding birds (and not necessarily the rare ones) and I felt that today's flock was reward for the time I had put in at this site previously.



From Hartlebury I headed back via the patch.  At Witch Lane there was a Common Buzzard, a ♂ Kestrel and a flock of 12 Long-tailed Tits present.  A single Cormorant flew over heading WSW.

Along Stanklyn Lane there was still a flock of 21 Corn Buntings present.  16 Redwings, 3 Mistle Thrush and 3 Jays were also noted
Late afternoon I received a call from Tony informing me that a Goosander had dropped in on Captains Pool.  Goosander are a scarce winter visitor on the patch so I quickly headed over.  The light was starting to go when I arrived but I still managed a record shot (only just though as the bird was continually diving).  After about 20 minutes it decided it had spent long enough on Captains pool and took flight going high in a NE direction. 

After the Goosander had flown it was into Tony's Cafe for a quick brew.  What a great way to round of a good day.

Waxwings - Hartlebury Trading Estate, 26th Nov 2012















Goosander - Captains Pool, 26th Nov 2012

Sunday 25th November 2012 - Shenstone

I literally only had time for an hour's whistle stop visit to the patch today and I decided to spend my time at Heath Lane as this is where the largest numbers of birds were present.

In the sown field next to the paddock there were c.60 Fieldfare, 3 Mistle Thrush and 2 Redwings feeding on the deck.  Also feeding here were a flock of c.40 Chaffinch, c.30 Linnet and a single Pied Wagtail

A Common Buzzard and a ♀ Kestrel were also noted.

Fieldfare - Heath Lane

Friday 23rd November 2012 - Chelmarsh Reservoir

Today I met up with my old mate and sometime social irritant Tony S.  Harsh words I hear you say?  not really, TS is a bit like Marmite, people either love him or hate him.   Luckily I fall into the former group!  Anyway, enough of this daftness...on with the post.

We had started doing a local walk when a message came through informing us of a Great Northern Diver and a Black-necked Grebe at Chelmarsh Reservoir in Shropshire.  Chelmarsh is near Bridgnorth and, although in a different county, not all that far away.  So we decided to head over and have a look.

We arrived at the sailing club end and asked a couple of their members who were working outside if it was OK to stand there and look for the birds (access isn't generally allowed in this area).  They were very amenable and even suggested going further down the track to view by the point, where the bird had last been seen. 

On a arriving at the spot we bumped into wildlife photographer and fellow blogger Jim Almond (http://shropshirebirder.blogspot.co.uk/).  He informed us that the bird had just dived and disappeared from view but we soon managed to relocate it. 

What a cracking looking bird this juvenile Great Northern Diver was.  After a while it worked it's way a lot closer affording us some very good scope views at times.

After a while I managed to pick up the Black-necked Grebe amongst the Tufted Ducks.  They are not so attractive in winter plumage as in summer but they are still nice birds especially when you catch glimpse of it's blood red eyes.

We spent a bit of time enjoying both birds and I even managed a couple of record shots.  Although to be quite honest the light was pants!  After a while we decided to leave and shortly after returning to the car it started raining.  Fortuitous timing indeed!

Great Northern Diver (juvenile)















Black-necked Grebe

Tuesday 20th November 2012 - Shenstone

This morning I decided to spend some time working the patch.  My first port of call was Witch Lane and within minutes of scanning the freshly sown field I picked up the undoubted highlight of the day, a ♀/imm.  Merlin that flew low across the field heading SSW and eventually out of sight.  This was most pleasing as it is the first Merlin that I have recorded at Shenstone this Autumn/Winter. 

Its not surprising that the Merlin had flew low through this area as there was plenty of food for the diminutive falcon in the form of c.100 Chaffinch and c.40 Linnet.  Also noted in the Witch Lane area were a ♂ Kestrel and a Common Buzzard.

At Heath Lane it was an altogether different picture and with a single Redwing near the Granary Hotel being the only bird of note I quickly made my way down to Stanklyn Lane.

At the 'beet field' there were still 31 Corn Buntings present and in the hedgerows there I noted 12 Redwings and 3 Jays.  In the 'carrot field' (which incidentally hasn't had carrots in for the last 3 years) there were 3 Yellowhammers, c.60 Chaffinch and c.30 Starling.

Further down the lane the small stand of Hawthorns near the horse paddocks was chuffing with winter thrushes with 36 Redwing, 5 Fieldfare and 6 Scandinavian type Blackbirds noted in this small area.  On the deck in the paddocks were 2 Pied Wagtails.  A single Meadow Pipit flew over heading SSE.

My final stop was the Barrs/Butts Lane area.  Here there was a small flock of 6 Corn Buntings were present perched up in one of the trees along the lane.  In the triangle field there were good numbers of birds present with c80 Fieldfare, c.40 Redwing and c.70 Linnet observed.

No patch Brambling as yet this Autumn/Winter but I'm sure it won't be long now that the finches are starting to flock together.

Redwing - Stanklyn Lane

A quick message....

Hello folks. 

Just another quick bit of PR for the guys who are currently exhibiting at WWT Slimbridge. 

If you get five minutes go and check out the blogs of  Wildlife Artists Dave Powner and Phil Mumby at the below links.  There work really is top drawer and I think it is important to support local talent.

Dave Powner:    http://davepowner.blogspot.co.uk/

Phil Mumby:      http://philmumby.blogspot.co.uk/

Cheers
Jase

Sunday 18th November 2012 - A Patch Scarcity

Earlier this evening, around 5:30 pm, I was driving back home when I had a whim and decided to drive through Shenstone.  It was now dark but previous nocturnal visits have afforded me views of Tawny Owl and Badger..so you never know.

On turning down one of the lanes (which will remain un-named for the purpose of this post) I was greeted in the glow of my headlights by the sight of a stunning Barn Owl that flew across the lane and over the hedgerow, disappearing into the darkness.  Result!!!

This is the first sighting I have had of Barn Owl on the patch since the Summer of  2008.  This bird was observed by myself and a fellow local birder on successive nights but then disappeared.  Unfortunately around the same time a Barn Owl was found dead just up the road near Mustow Green roundabout and was quite possibly the same individual.

Still this new sighting is heartening and has encouraged me to do a few more evening visits over coming weeks.  The majority of nocturnal visits I have done have been during the summer months, after spending time  listening for calling Quails.

Barn Owl  (archive photo)

Tuesday 13th November 2012 - Shenstone

Today I decided to put some long overdue leg work in around my local patch.  The prime reason for my visit was to undertake one of my walks for the BTO Winter Thrush Survey.  The weather was dull and overcast but at least it remained dry.

I began my walk at the junction of Stanklyn Lane and Heath Lane early pm.  Scanning the paddocks I noted 6 Blackbirds, 1 ♂ Yellowhammer, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Robin and a Greenfinch in 'redstart hedge'.  on the ground nearby there were 2 Green Woodpeckers feeding. I also noted 2 Cormorants that flew over;  an adult heading W and an immature heading SE.

Walking along the lane towards the enterance of the 'gallops field' I recorded 14 Blackbirds all feeding within the Hawthorn bushes along the roadside.  The gallops was fairly quite although I did observe 4 more Blackbirds and a single Jay.

At 'carrot field' I hit a pocket of finch activity with c.40 Goldfinch, 27 Linnet, 6 Greenfinch & a ♀ Chaffinch recorded.  Also present at this location was a flock of 18 House Sparrows and a further 4 Blackbirds.  A single Fieldfare and a Cormorant  flew over heading W.

Walking the top footpath across the 'beet field' proved to be birdless but viewing across the fields at Summerfield more than made up for this.  A flock of 14 Skylarks were flushed by a dog walker and whilst I stopped and scanned I had 3 separate flocks of Redwing (45, 26 and 27) flew over all heading NW.

Walking the bottom path along the bottom of the 'beet field' I noted 12 Blackbirds, 1 Mistle Thrush and a Robin in the trees between the field and the Lane.  6 Skylark flew over heading W and a Cormorant was over heading SE.

Just as I walked a bit further I picked up a flock of 44 Corn Buntings that were feeding amongst the stubble and occasionally flying up to sit in the top of a nearby mature tree.  This was the undoubted highlight of the walk as it was the first time I had encountered the winter flock this Autumn/Winter.

Just before completing my circuit I arrived at the stand of Holy bushes opposite the junction of Heath/Stanklyn.  Feeding here were 16 Redwing, 5 Blackbirds, 1 Mistle Thrush and a Jay.

I don't normally mention every species encountered on every patch visit as I'm sure it would soon get tiresome hearing about every Blue Tit, Pigeon or Corvid that I see but just the once for completion's sake I will list the other species encountered on this walk.  They were Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock, WrenStarling, Carrion Crow, Rook,  Jackdaw, Magpie and Woodpigeon.

So there you have it, all in all it was an enjoyable and productive patch walk. 

Corn Bunting - Shenstone

Exhibition featuring local wildlife artists...

I don't usually do the PR thing but I feel that in this case I would like to.  A mate of mine and follower of this blog, wildlife artist Dave Powner is going to be exhibiting some of his artwork at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre from 18th November 2012 to the 7th January 2013.  Work by fellow local wildlife artist Phil Mumby will also be on display.

So if you are planning a trip to Slimbridge during the next couple of months to see the Bewicks Swans, White-fronted Geese or the Bittern please do visit the gallery and lend these talented local guys your support.

For more information about the exhibition please click on the following link:

Below are a some examples of Dave's work:

(Click on images to enlarge)





Friday 9th Nov 2012 - Grimley & Shenstone

With having my motor back I had already pencilled in a trip to either Clee or Grimley with Tony (well I am going to have to repay the hospitality extended to me by some of my birding mates over recent weeks).  That morning I had received a text off another birding contact informing me that a Sanderling and Spotted Redshank had been reported at Grimley Gravel Pits, so our choice of destination was made for us.

We headed straight to Wagon Wheel Lane pits where the aforementioned birds had been reported only to be greeted by a Common Redshank and a winter plumage Dunlin, the only 2 waders present at the pits.  It's not for me to say if these were the birds that were mis-identified.  Perhaps there had been a Spotted Redshank and a Sanderling there a couple of hours earlier that had since moved out and been replaced by these birds.  I guess I will never know but either way I was disappointed!

Feeling a bit down beat we headed over to Camp Lane pits where the most notable bird was a Little Egret.  Usually this species is seen at this site late summer/early autumn and it is uncommon to see one here in the winter months. 

Numbers of wintering ducks are building up at the site with the following species noted: Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck and Wigeon.  Good numbers of Little Grebe were noted at Camp Lane, as was a  ♂ Kestrel.

Our final stop around the Grimley area was Sling Pool at Holt.  Good numbers of wildfowl were again present here and whilst scanning we were treated to brief views of a Kingfisher zipping past.



On the way back home we had a whistle-stop visit too the patch.  At Heath Lane paddock there was a single Mistle Thrush and at least 8 Blackbirds present.  Other than those there was little else of note.

At Stanklyn Lane paddocks there were still good numbers of Blackbirds present feeding on the Hawthorn berries and to my surprise a single Fieldfare was feeding on the ground.  This is fairly unusual this time of year as they don't normally start feeding on the deck until after all the berries/fruit has been exhausted.

Also of note at the paddocks was a Common Buzzard, a Green Woodpecker and  a single Jay.

All in all it had been a bit of a mixed day. Although disappointing at times it was still great to get out the house, even if I did have to listen to Tony telling me how Gary Sinise had solved the crime again in CSI (don't ask!)

Dunlin - Wagon Wheel Lane Pits





























Redshank - Wagon Wheel Lane Pits

Thurs 8th November 2012 - Habberley Valley NR

With my car now back and  I could start getting out and about again to get my nature fix.  This morning I decided not to do the patch but to head to the local reserve of Habberley Valley, in the hope of catching a some more of the autumn's fungi before the season is over.

On walking the reserve,  t soon became apparent that many of the fungi I had encountered on my previous visit had gone over with only a handful of rather tatty old specimens of Cep, Ochre Brittlegill and Earthball noted.

The most productive area was the wooded slopes on the western side of the reserve.  Here I noted a few interesting species of fungi including Hairy Curtain Crust, Peniophora quercina, Purple Jellydisc and Stagshorn.

After spending a while mooching about in the leaf litter I decided to take a walk onto Ridgestone Rock, the highpoint at the North end of the reserve, to take in the views.  I took the fairly steep track up along the western edge and after a short walk along the lane dropped back onto the summit of the rock.   The views and the autumn colour were rather spectacular.

For the descent I walked down the zig-zag series of steps known locally as Jacob's Ladder (or as my mate Tony once called it Jehovah's Staircase!).  On the decent I connected with a Tit flock and was rather pleased to see a Marsh Tit amongst them.  Other birds of interest during the walk included 2 Common Buzzards, a ♀ Great-Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Jays and a ♀ Sparrowhawk.

The walk back to the car was rather uneventful, although I did hear a Nuthatch calling. Still it was a pleasant walk around a pleasant reserve and a far better way of spending a couple of hours than watching day time TV!

Autumn Colour at Habberley Valley












Peniophora quercina















Purple Jellydisc (Ascocoryne sarcoides)

Wed 7th November 2012 - Devils Spittleful/Rifle Range NR

This morning I did a walk around Devil's Spittleful/Rifle Range reserve with a none birding mate, Sparky the Goff.  Spark had come over the evening before and as we had consumed copious amounts of ale it seemed a good idea to go for a walk to blow away the cobwebs.

We parked up at Blackstone car park (where there is a rather useful snack van that does cracking crusty doorstop cooked sandwiches...ideal for the morning after the night before!

The walk between Blackstone and The Spittleful was absolutely chuffing with birds.  Large numbers of Meadow Pipits were present, as were smaller numbers of Skylark.  In one of the fields there was a flock of c.100 Chaffinch feeding and with them was a rather stunning looking ♂ Brambling.  Along the hedgerow between two of the fields there were 30+ Scandinavian Blackbirds present and alongside them were a handful of Fieldfares and Redwings.

I was hoping that there would be a few fungi about on the reserve itself but most of the fungi had seemed to have gone over.  The only fungi of note were Birch PolyporeDecieverHairy Curtain Crust and Meadow Waxcap.  

Bird species noted on the reserve were Green Woodpecker, Jay and Long-tailed Tit

Not the most productive of walks but it still blew the cobwebs away and helped me on the road to recovery.

Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutu)




Click on image to enlarge