Thursday, 31 December 2009

26th-31st December 2009

Have recently been at Earlswood every day as I try to get as many good sightings before the period that the Bird Report will cover is over (2000-09), but unfortunately I've not had much time to venture away from the vicinity of the lakes to the more underwatched areas. So here's sightings from the last six days of 2009 at the lakes, unless noted otherwise:
  • 26th: 1 Common Gull, 7 Herring Gulls, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 6 Tufted Ducks, 1 Kingfisher and 1 Grey Wagtail all at Engine Pool. Dead Hedgehog along Norton Lane unusual given the time of year!
  • 27th: A Water Rail, 3 Pochards, 12 Tufted Ducks, 2 Mute Swans, 1 Kingfisher and 13 Long-tailed Tits at Engine Pool. Kevin Bates also saw a few Redwings and Goldfinches around the lakes.
  • 28th: 3 Shovelers and a Kingfisher at Engine Pool, plus 2 Mute Swans and 13 Tufted Ducks at Windmill Pool. Tony Philp also saw 2 Pochards. [I went with John Yardley to Holt Fleet in Worcestershire to see the Glossy Ibis - a brilliant bird that gave good views; we also saw a Green Sandpiper, a Water Rail and 2 Snipes there.]
  • 29th: 2 Mute Swans, 9 Tufted Ducks and 3 Pied Wagtails at Engine Pool. Tony Philp also saw a Grey Wagtail at Windmill Pool; whilst another regular told me he'd seen 2 Pochards and a male Wigeon at the lakes earlier during the morning.
  • 30th: After finishing my tetrad survey nearby for the bird atlas, heard a Raven over Fulford Heath, and saw a Goldcrest and a Coal Tit in New Fallings Coppice. There were 3 Mute Swans at Engine Pool, including a newly arrived first-winter. Totals of 9 Tufted Ducks, 2 Treecreepers (together) and 8 Redwings noted.
  • 31st: A Kestrel (over), 3 Mute Swans still, 9 Tufted Ducks and 3 Pied Wagtails at Engine Pool. Kevin Bates also saw a Bullfinch.

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone who's sent sightings to me since I set this blog up; you know who you are. Have a happy New Year, and good birding for 2010.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 25 December 2009

25th December 2009

Was able to visit the lakes during the afternoon, and upon arrival found a Coot struggling to move on ice right next to the path at Engine Pool. There was fishing line attached to the bank and down the bird's throat (those damn fishermen again!!!), and I was able to pick the bird off the ice and restrain it on the bank. I had nothing to cut the line with, but fortunately a kind passerby was able to cut the line and I freed the bird - in hindsight perhaps I should've phoned the RSPCA but the bird seemed tired like it had been stuck for some time and who knows how quickly someone would've come out, especially today. Notable birds were a first-winter Common Gull on ice at Engine Pool and later Windmill Pool, the 2 Shovelers at Windmill Pool, and a Kingfisher at Engine Pool. In New Fallings Coppice, I saw 2 Treecreepers together and heard a Goldcrest.
M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 24 December 2009

24th December 2009

Walked to the lakes during the afternoon. A Kingfisher at Terry's Pool, a Lesser Redpoll along the dam of Terry's Pool, a Raven (over) plus a Grey Wagtail at Engine Pool, and the 2 Shovelers at Windmill Pool were the most notable birds there. I then made the long trek to Earlswood STW, but there was less there than I'd expected given the cold weather, with a Grey Wagtail and 4 Pied Wagtails on the filter beds and 2 Redwings nearby, though it was quite late in the day.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Hope everyone has a merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

23rd December 2009

Again, I was dropped off at the lakes during the late afternoon. Saw 2 Shovelers and 14 Tufted Ducks at Windmill Pool, plus a female Teal at Engine Pool. Around 100 Jackdaws flew over.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 21 December 2009

21st December 2009

Was dropped off at the lakes during the late afternoon, but didn't stray from the causeway. Saw the 2 Shovelers and a Kestrel (showing well) at Windmill Pool, plus a total of 9+ Tufted Ducks.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 20 December 2009

20th December 2009

The lakes were very cold and covered in ice when I did my twelfth WeBS there this morning. Despite Terry's Pool still having almost 100% ice cover, a Kingfisher was hanging around a tiny unfrozen part, and a Treecreeper was seen elsewhere. Engine Pool had a large number of waterbirds present, but best of all were 3 Common Gulls amongst the other gulls (only the second occasion I've seen this species!). At Windmill Pool, saw the 2 Shovelers, 13 Tufted Ducks and a Grey Wagtail. 4+ Ravens, 2 Rooks and 17+ Lapwings flew over the lakes.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 19 December 2009

19th December 2009

Kevin Bates found the 2 Shovelers at Windmill Pool. No doubt this was due to Terry's Pool being nearly 100% covered with ice but he saw 3 Redwings there. He also noted 1 Kingfisher, 1 Jay and 1 Grey Heron.

David Scott, his wife, and Kay Donaghy also visited the lakes. They saw a Sparrowhawk in Cleobury Lane as well as flying over Windmill Pool at the Reservoir pub end. Also a Shoveler at Windmill Pool, about half a dozen Redwings in the horse field and a Bullfinch down in that corner too.

Craig Reed had a flock of 6 Bullfinches in a garden along Norton Lane.

Friday, 18 December 2009

18th December 2009

From early morning to late evening, I was out walking around Earlswood and surrounding areas in this cold weather we're having - yes, I must be mad! The lakes weren't too bad bird-wise, with a Teal, 2 Shovelers and 9 Tufted Ducks at Terry's Pool; and 2 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Siskins and 26 Goldfinches at Engine Pool. Returning to Terry's Pool later during the morning, 3 Goosanders had appeared, plus watched a Song Thrush walloping a snail's shell against stones then gobble it up, and after the bird flew off I inspected the "anvil" and saw there was a second snail shell there - someone was hungry! In New Fallings Coppice, saw 2 Marsh Tits and 3 (possibly 4) Treecreepers together. At Forshaw Heath, saw 3 Meadow Pipits, 2 Jays and a few Fieldfares and Redwings in a couple of horse pastures; and much later in the day saw 20 Golden Plovers fly over the arable field in-between Poolhead Lane and the M42 (my first confirmed sighting over Warwickshire soil). Finally, I returned to Terry's Pool for the third time today and, although it was rather dark by then, saw a swan which I'm pretty sure was a Mute Swan.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 14 December 2009

14th December 2009

Tim Jones visited the Hungry Horse field and surrounding fields briefly, and had a few Fieldfares and a Buzzard, but there was no sign of any Golden Plover or Lapwing. An account can be found on his new blog here.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

12th December 2009

As you can imagine, the possibility of the wild swan flock returning was very much on my mind and hence I cycled to the lakes early morning and made sure I checked all three pools before most other people arrived, but there was no sign of them. The 2 Shovelers were still at Terry's Pool, along with 2 Treecreepers and 10 Goldfinches, plus a Kingfisher was heard. Best bird was a somewhat confiding female Pochard at Windmill Pool, only my second at the lakes this half of the year, along with 6 Tufted Ducks. 4 Rooks flew over the lakes.

I then spent much of the rest of the day pedalling around the Earlswood area, and even ventured to Umberslade for the first time, but no swans were seen anywhere :-(
Highlights in Earlswood area:
  • Umberslade Road (Earlswood): 1 Goldcrest, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Nuthatch, 1 Jay.
  • Earlswood Common: 22 Redwings, 2 Fieldfares and a number of other birds in a horse pasture - good field.
  • Earlswood STW: 1 Grey Wagtail, 4th Treecreeper.
  • Terry's Green: a Buzzard on telegraph wire along Small Lane let me cycle within 10 metres passed it without taking off.
  • Forshaw Heath: 34 Fieldfares and a few Redwing moved through, plus 2 female Common Pheasants in a field.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 11 December 2009

11th December 2009

An excellent afternoon's birding was had. First were a Goldcrest, a Jay and 2 Nuthatches in New Fallings Coppice, though I was hoping to come across another Firecrest there - I'd recommend people take their wellies if you decide to go in though.

Reached the lakes, and Terry's Pool was rather good, with 3 Goosanders, 2 Shovelers, a Kingfisher, a Sparrowhawk, a Lesser Redpoll and another Jay seen. However I was totally unprepared for the next good birds seen!

At the causeway, there was nothing unusual around so I do what I sometimes do here and counted the gulls, which as usual were mostly Black-headed Gulls. I was in the middle of counting them on Windmill Pool, when I heard strange calls coming from Engine Pool. I'm afraid I didn't react quickly to them, and tried to finish my count - BIG, BIG MISTAKE!!! The calls got louder and so then I bloomin' well stopped my count and turned to look and there flying over Engine Pool were a small flock of large white birds! My first, split-second impression was geese, but as I put my bins on them I could see they were swans with yellow on their beaks - wild swans or perhaps those Whooper x Mute Swan hybrids that have caught many people out! I think I literally went into shock and my heart rate rocketed, but despite this and the slightly foggy conditions I managed a pretty good view of one of the bird's bills as they flew over the causeway, and saw the characteristic large yellow pointed wedge on otherwise black bill - a Whooper Swan!!! There were 6 swans in the flock, but I can not confirm that all were Whoopers, because as they flew over Windmill Pool, away from me, I panicked because I couldn't see them well with the mild fog around and stupidly got my scope out and tried looking at them through it, rather than persevere with the bins! I believe I've done this before with birds in flight, but do I learn?!!! I can't remember if I succeeded or came to my senses and got my bins out but I last saw the flock distantly flying low (in-between treetops) eastwards away from the pool. I stayed at the causeway for some time hoping they might return, as they had looked like they were contemplating landing on Windmill Pool. As I was in the middle of censusing a few bird species, I continued around Windmill Pool, and noted 2 Fieldfares and a few Redwings in a nearby horse pasture, but naturally my thoughts were on larger birds returning! My mom picked me up and, although it was rapidly getting dark, I got her to pass a field east of the lakes that I know floods near the road, plus was able to check all the pools at Blythe Valley CP, but sadly there was no sign.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Addenda for early December

2nd December 2009: a Common Gull was reported somewhere nearby, but I can not confirm that it was actually at the lakes or indeed somewhere in the Earlswood area, because the website I got this from is withholding the location!!! I am only aware of two occurrences of Common Gulls at the lakes in the last decade, so it's a shame this record will have to go down as unconfirmed unless the observer comes forward.

3rd December 2009: Tony and Barbara Philp saw a male Goldeneye at Windmill Pool during the afternoon. Perhaps this was the duck seen by another couple, which I mentioned in a previous post?

Goosanders, 01/12/2009 (© Tony Philp)

White-cheeked Pintail, 26/11/2009 (© Tony Philp)

Sunday, 6 December 2009

6th December 2009

Another brief early morning visit to the lakes was much quieter, with a Sparrowhawk near the Malthouse Lane car park, a Kingfisher at Engine Pool and 2 Tufted Ducks at Terry's Pool being the most notable birds seen.

John Yardley picked me up and we went to Morton Bagot, where we had a Green Sandpiper, 2+ Stonechats, 2+ Ravens, 34 Greylag Geese and 2 Teals. I also saw a few ducks fly over, which might've been Wigeons but I'm not certain.

Back at Earlswood, we passed the Hungry Horse field and saw lots of birds on the ground there, so we just had to go back! Mostly Golden Plovers they were, and John asked how many I reckoned were there. I estimated 200+ but, as I've found before, I have a tendency to underestimate flock sizes: John had to go, after which I eventually managed to count 312 Golden Plovers and 58 Lapwings, plus saw a Raven fly over.

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 5 December 2009

5th December 2009

Walked to Earlswood during the early morning. Counted 28 Lapwings in the Hungry Horse field. Didn't have much time to spare at the lakes, but still managed a staggering 14 Goosanders, a Raven (over), 2 Kingfishers and just 1 Tufted Duck at Terry's Pool; and 35+ Goldfinches and a Buzzard around Engine Pool.

Then my mom picked me up and dropped me off at Blythe Valley CP, where I helped with the nestbox project work and was rewarded with some good birds, including a Barn Owl (showed pretty well in flight), a Raven and a Marsh Tit (heard only).

Craig Reed visited the Hungry Horse field during the late afternoon and saw 7 Golden Plovers and 78 Lapwings there. His report is here.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 4 December 2009

4th December 2009

Cycled to Earlswood during the late afternoon. Saw an adult male Goosander at Windmill Pool, which was my first there, before a cyclist (not me!) scared it off and last saw it distantly flying over Wood Lane, apparently with a second Goosander, before a van at the causeway blocked my view and I lost it. I also saw 3 adult male Goosanders at Terry's Pool, along with a Kingfisher. Total of 11 Tufted Ducks counted at lakes. A couple told me they'd seen a duck at Windmill Pool yesterday whilst passing in their car which might've been a Mandarin.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

1st December 2009

It was a rather cold day with some ice in places, but I had another very productive visit. During the early morning, had c. 66 Golden Plovers, 67 Lapwings, a Skylark, a Kestrel and a Grey Wagtail (over) at the Hungry Horse. Reaching the lakes, saw 2 Mute Swans from the causeway. At Engine Pool, saw a Kingfisher and, best of all but only for a couple of seconds, a Water Rail fly from one of the reed islands to the other - my first at this particular pool. At Terry's Pool, counted an amazing 12 Goosanders, a Raven (over), 3 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Fieldfare (perched), a Treecreeper and a Grey Wagtail. Along the track from Malthouse Lane to Windmill Pool, saw 10 Greenfinches; as well as 4 Stock Doves, a Green Woodpecker and a few Redwings in one of the adjacent horse pastures. Saw 3 Shovelers whilst at Windmill Pool's south side. I was rather pleased with my counts of 10 Song Thrushes and 8+ Bullfinches in the vicinity of the lakes, the former of which is definitely my best count for that species. Whilst at the canal feeder channel (near engine house) early afternoon met Tony Philp who said he'd seen 2 Kestrels at the Hungry Horse field yesterday. During our conversation, I think I told him that I'd been hoping to see Brambling at the lakes, and he said that in the local area he'd only see the species in his garden. Unbelievably, straight after he left I walked along the channel to the gate and up flew a small bird into a tree - looking through my bins I realised it was a female Brambling!!! My wish had come true, and best of all I'd never seen a female before so it was good experience! After flying to a couple of other trees, she flew off west over the engine house. Heading home, briefly saw that Golden Plovers and Lapwings were still at the Hungry Horse field, though apparently in smallers numbers than earlier. Also saw 4 female Common Pheasants together in the field along Norton Lane opposite Ambleside Garden Centre.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 30 November 2009

30th November 2009

At about 1 pm, Steve Lloyd saw c. 60 Golden Plovers and c. 60 Lapwings at the Hungry Horse field.

It seems that during the morning an observer saw around 50 Golden Plovers at the same field, and reported these to Worcestershire Source. Thanks to Reg for putting the report on that blog. However, I'd like to point out that the Hungry Horse field is entirely in West Midlands county (Solihull borough), not Warwickshire or Worcestershire, and it seems a shame that the observer presumably isn't aware of this blog despite my efforts to publicise it. You might think that it doesn't matter that the person didn't send me his sighting because Steve saw a higher number today, but I've learnt that the same person also reported 100 Lapwings there too - much higher than the 55-65 seen during the previous few days.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

29th November 2009

During the early morning, Kevin Bates saw a juvenile Mute Swan at Windmill Pool, a Goosander at Terry's Pool and a Buzzard nearby.

Steve Lloyd saw just 5 Lapwings at the Hungry Horse field during the morning.

I too visited Earlswood during the morning. Spent some time in New Fallings Coppice, and was rewarded with a Marsh Tit, a Goldcrest, a Treecreeper, 2 Nuthatches and 6+ Redwings. At Terry's Pool, saw a Goosander and heard a Kingfisher, whilst along the north side saw a Marsh Tit and a Treecreeper, both of which I believe were second birds. Saw another Goldcrest along the canal feeder channel near the engine house, and 8 more Redwings at a horse pasture near Windmill Pool, but there was no sign of the juvenile Mute Swan. However, at the scrubland south of Windmill Pool, saw 2 adult Mute Swans (the same pair that have been coming and going recently) fly over, plus 2 Meadow Pipits (over), a Reed Bunting, a Buzzard, 25+ Goldfinches, 2+ Bullfinches and a Jay. Back at the lakes, the 2 restless Mute Swans were present, but best of all 8 Goosanders were at Terry's Pool, along with 4 Tufted Ducks. Moving on to Big Clowes Wood, saw a Coal Tit in there, then at the scrubland near Earlswood train station saw another Coal Tit and 2 Bullfinches. So, a pretty productive visit.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 28 November 2009

28th November 2009

Many thanks to Craig Reed for texting me his sighting of an estimated 1000 Golden Plovers that flew over Norton Lane, flying in from the east (direction of Hungry Horse) then circling twice near the garden he was at (near Rumbush Farm) before moving on westwards, during the afternoon. He added that "at times the sky was filled with Golden Plover" - sounds fantastic! After a few minutes about 300 of them returned for him to watch, but it wasn't long before they disappeared, last seen flying northwards. His account of these sightings can be read here.

Unfortunately I wasn't with my phone when he sent the texts, else I'd have dropped whatever it was I was doing to go see them. Cycled along Norton Lane and stayed at the Hungry Horse for 15 minutes, but it was getting on for an hour since Craig last saw them and the light was fading. There were just 55 Lapwings in the field, and unfortunately it was getting too late to check the lakes so checked the fields along Cleobury Lane instead but still nowt golden seen. A small consolation was a Little Owl at what seems to be a regular haunt nearby - first time I've seen it in the evening.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 27 November 2009

27th Novmber 2009

Cycled to Earlswood during the late afternoon. At the Hungry Horse field, was pleased to finally see 180 Golden Plovers there, plus 65 Lapwings. An hour spent at the lakes produced a Kingfisher and a juvenile/first-winter Mute Swan at Windmill Pool, and a Grey Wagtail at Engine Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 23 November 2009

23rd November 2009

Well, there was a Grey Phalarope reported in Warwickshire today (see here) so I just had to have a look at the lakes, although it was late in the day. No phalarope seen, but there was an adult male Goosander (still present at 4:30 pm), 8 Tufted Ducks and a Treecreeper at Terry's Pool, plus 2 Mute Swans at Windmill/Engine Pools.
M.P. Griffiths

Earlier, Tony Philp saw 12 Golden Plovers and 42 Lapwings rise from the Hungry Horse field at about 10:30 am and fly east.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

22nd November 2009

WeBS day today, so did that during the morning but it was a bit quiet. Saw a Kingfisher and 3 Tufted Ducks at Terry's Pool, 2 Mute Swans at Windmill Pool, and the White-cheeked Pintail at Engine Pool, plus a Buzzard nearby. Highlight was seeing a Muntjac Deer dash across the track near Windmill Pool's southwest corner, before it walked across the adjoining horse pasture. Sadly there was no sign of yesterday's Goldeneyes, but another regular Earlswood birder saw them both yesterday at Terry's Pool, so I guess that's where they disappeared to.

I suspect I'm not the only birder hoping for a phalarope to appear on their patch at the moment - several Grey Phalaropes were reported in southern parts of England and Wales today. But if any are blown to the midlands please, please let it be Earlswood that gets one ;-)

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. I've added this very informative journal article about the lakes to the links on the right (thanks to Steve Lloyd for suggesting it).

Saturday, 21 November 2009

21st November 2009

I had a good feeling something good might be at the lakes this morning and, sure enough, there were 2 Goldeneyes at Windmill Pool! These were a lifer and I wanted to quickly age them before I had to leave. Both were "brownheads" and I'm pretty sure the one was a female because of some yellow on the bill, but I couldn't see the other's bill well as it was facing towards me so I looked in my book for other features to check whilst waiting for it to turn. That was a mistake, because after spending less than 30 seconds in the book, I looked back at where the ducks had been and they'd vanished. Sadly I was only able to spend 20 minutes at the lakes and didn't notice the Goldeneyes straight away because a fisherman was near my favourite observation spot at the causeway. There was no time to visit Terry's Pool, and the only other bird of note was the White-cheeked Pintail at Engine Pool.

From Earlswood, my mom dropped me off at Blythe Valley CP, where I joined the nestbox project group in cleaning, numbering and relocating some of the nestboxes, which I found enjoyable despite the somewhat poor weather. Didn't have many opportunities to use my bins, but I noted 10+ Tufted Ducks and 5 Mute Swans there. According to one of the log books, a Pochard was there earlier this month on the 7th and 8th.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 20 November 2009

20th November 2009

At midday, Steve Lloyd saw c. 50 Lapwings on the Hungry Horse field.

Later, during the afternoon, I cycled there and saw that 50 Lapwings were still there resting, plus a Kestrel. At the lakes, the only birds of note were 2 Mute Swans at Terry's Pool and the White-cheeked Pintail at Engine Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Tony Philp had more Golden Plover sightings at the Hungry Horse since the 16th, with another large flock of perhaps around 200 wheeling over on the 17th, and 8-10 flying east on the 18th. Here's a photo of part of the Monday flock, which Tony now thinks numbered a lot more than 250!
Golden Plovers (© Tony Philp)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

18th November 2009

Another windy day. Cycled to Earlswood early, hoping the winds might've brought something good in but there wasn't much at the lakes. Apart from the White-cheeked Pintail at Engine Pool, many of the lake's birds were at Terry's Pool, including 9 Tufted Ducks and a ringed Canada Goose. Coming home, saw 2 Meadow Pipits and 15 Pied Wagtails in a horse pasture along Wood Lane.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Earlswood "Reservoir" (grr!!!) in Solihull is mentioned in these articles: Yorkshire Post; Guardian

Monday, 16 November 2009

16th November 2009

Tony and Barbara Philp spotted a flock of 250+ Golden Plovers over the Hungry Horse field at c. 11:15 am. The flock spent nearly an hour wheeling over the area in bright sunshine and landed en mass once in the middle of the field - "a spectacular golden carpet in the sunshine" - but eventually they left and weren't seen for the rest of the day.

I managed to cycle to Earlswood during the late afternoon, but I couldn't see any birds in the Hungry Horse field after a quick look. The lakes too were a bit quiet, with a Kingfisher and the White-cheeked Pintail seen at Engine Pool, and 2 Mute Swans seen at Terry's Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 15 November 2009

15th November 2009

During the morning, Kevin Bates noted a Kingfisher near the causeway, plus 2 Bullfinches, 2 Goldfinches and a Great Spotted Woodpecker around Terry's Pool.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

14th November 2009

Tagged along on the Solihull RSPB field trip at Earlswood during the late morning. It was rather windy and at first not many birds were seen, best bird being a Green Woodpecker in one of the horse pastures southwest of Windmill Pool. However, things picked up at Terry's Pool where we saw 2 Goosanders, a Greylag Goose, a Kingfisher and the White-cheeked Pintail. 2 Nuthatches and 2 Treecreepers were also seen around the lakes. The field trip was enjoyable with friendly people for company, like the Solihull Branch West Midland Bird Club field trip earlier this year - both recommended.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

11th November 2009

Cycled to Earlswood during the early morning. A Grey Wagtail and the White-cheeked Pintail were seen at Windmill Pool, whilst 2 Teals, 4 Tufted Ducks, 12+ Siskins, 2+ Lesser Redpolls and a Coal Tit were seen at Terry's Pool. At the scrubland south of Windmill Pool, watched a Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard in different trees, whilst in nearby horse paddocks there was a fair number of passerines, including a group of 4 Song Thrushes, plus a mixed group of finches that included 3 male Bullfinches. Southwest of there, along Small Lane, saw 3 female Bullfinches (maybe they don't like male company!) and a Goldcrest. Heading home, found a dead juvenile Moorhen in the road along Poolhead Lane, Forshaw Heath :-(
M.P. Griffiths

Reminder: Solihull RSPB morning walk at Earlswood Lakes this Saturday (14th). Meet at Malthouse Lane car park (see below) at 10:00 am.

Monday, 9 November 2009

9th November 2009

Was dropped off at the lakes during the afternoon. Main birds of note were a Kingfisher, 3 Tufted Ducks and the White-cheeked Pintail. At the scrubland south of Windmill Pool, saw 2 Siskins and heard a Common Pheasant.

Met Tony and Barbara Philp whilst there, who said they'd had 2 Ravens along Cleobury Lane recently.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 8 November 2009

8th November 2009

Cycled to Earlswood during the early morning, but the lakes were pretty quiet. The White-cheeked Pintail was the only notable bird on show near the causeway, with a juvenile/first-winter Mute Swan, a Treecreeper and a Lesser Redpoll seen at Terry's Pool.

John Yardley called asking if I wanted to go birding elsewhere, so pedalled back home to meet him there. We got drenched with pretty heavy rain, but met Warwickshire bird recorder Jon Bowley (nice to meet you) and had glimpses of Jack Snipe in flight, a new species for me but unfortunately they were little more than silhouettes through my wet bins, but I'm sure there'll be other opportunities to see them again. I think Jon told me that someone had once claimed to have seen a tropicbird at Earlswood - it was a Common Tern!

M.P. Griffiths

Later, during the afternoon, Kevin Bates saw 2 Mute Swans at the lakes at c. 3:45 pm.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

7th November 2009

Kevin Bates was at the lakes during the morning, and noted 3 Tufted Ducks, 8 C0rm0rants (good number) and a small flock of Long-tailed Tits at Terry's Pool, plus thought he saw 2 different Kingfishers.

Right at the edge of the Earlswood area, Craig Reed saw 300+ Golden Plovers fly over Junction 3 of the M42, heading west.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

4th November 2009

Saw a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest in my garden at the same time late morning, and thought it might be another sign to visit Earlswood...

Another afternoon visit on the bike, with 18 Lapwings counted in the Hungry Horse field this time. Sadly there was no sign of yesterday's Mandarin Duck - previous records of this species at the lakes indicate that most only stay for one day. On the plus side, I saw the White-cheeked Pintail at Windmill Pool again, but there'd been no sign of it during my previous two visits. There was still no sign of any Mute Swans, though that's probably a good thing because different people have told me that this species doesn't do well at Earlswood. The only other birds of note were 30+ Starlings roosting in the Engine Pool reed islands, and a total of 8 Tufted Ducks.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

3rd November 2009

2 Goldcrests (probably migrants) visited my garden briefly during the late morning, and seeing as it'd been a few months since I'd last seen this species here (as far as I remember), thought it best I check Earlswood. Glad I did :-)

Cycled there during the afternoon. There were 15 Lapwings in the Hungry Horse field. Apart from 110+ Black-headed Gulls, the lakes seemed pretty quiet until I got to Terry's Pool, where I was really pleased to find a female Mandarin Duck associating with a few Mallards. Seeing her now takes my patch list up to 100! Yes, she wasn't the rarity I'd been hoping for my 100th, but Mandarin Duck was something of a bogey Earlswood bird for me, having dipped both of the birds reported in the last two years, so I'm still very happy. Unfortunately her companions flew off, and she followed, at c. 4:10 pm flying over the woods and out of sight.

M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 2 November 2009

2nd November 2009

Steve Lloyd visited the lakes during the morning. He saw a Mute Swan on the small pond at the bottom end of Terry's Pool, which later flew to Windmill Pool. Also, a Buzzard glided at treetop height over the industrial estate parallel to the dam towards the Red Lion pub. Near Windmill Pool, a Red Admiral butterfly flew up the lane from the pumping station at the pool's south end, a Redwing was in the field at the corner of the lane and southwest corner of the pool, and a Grey Wagtail flew from the stream at the north end of the pool.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

31st October 2009

Having been dropped off at the Hungry Horse during the early afternoon, I was quite pleased to see 3 Lapwings resting in the field. Moving to the lakes, there were 2 Teals and 2 Mute Swans at Windmill Pool, and 9+ Tufted Ducks at Terry's Pool. Saw a Green Woodpecker in Little Clowes Wood.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 30 October 2009

30th October 2009

During the morning, Steve Lloyd saw a Wigeon at Terry's Pool and 6 more at Windmill Pool. Going on records available to me, 7 appears to be the highest count of this species at Earlswood this decade (at least).

I too saw all 7 Wigeons during the morning, the 6 first landing on Engine Pool for several minutes before flying southwest over Terry's Pool and then eventually landing on Windmill Pool, where they stayed for the remainder of the morning at least. Also seen at Windmill Pool were 3 Teals, 5 Tufted Ducks and the White-cheeked Pintail, with another surprise in the form of a Chiffchaff heard singing in short bursts along the west side. 2 Mute Swans were still at Engine Pool, plus 2 Grey Wagtails were seen from the causeway. Besides the lone Wigeon, I also saw 14+ Siskins, 30+ Goldfinches, a Bullfinch and a Kingfisher at Terry's Pool. Fieldfares, Redwings, a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker passed over.

Cycling home through Forshaw Heath, saw a Kestrel and a Great Spotted Woodpecker there.

M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 29 October 2009

29th October 2009

Steve Lloyd could see no sign of yesterday's sawbill this morning.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

28th October 2009

A "merganser" (Goosander?) was reported seen at Terry's Pool during the morning (per Steve Lloyd).

I was at the lakes for much of the morning from c. 7:00 am and didn't see this sawbill, but don't think I reached Terry's Pool until after 9 pm so it could easily have flown off by then. Doubt I overlooked it as I went all the way round the pool today, during which noted a Wigeon, a Shoveler, 5 Tufted Ducks, a Treecreeper and 2 Nuthatches. At the causeway, counted 250+ Fieldfares fly over the lakes, though many more probably did so, plus 8 Skylarks, 6 Meadow Pipits and a number of Redwings. The White-cheeked Pintail was still at Windmill Pool, as were the 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool. A Kingfisher was also observed.

Coming home along Cleobury Lane, noted 10 Skylarks pass over the Hungry Horse field, and a Common Pheasant in another field. Also saw a Raven flying approximately along Braggs Farm Lane (Dickens Heath, not quite in Earlswood).

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Forgot to mention on yesterday's post that the redhead Goosander I saw flew off at c. 4:55 pm, so today's bird could've been a different one (though it seems both were redheads).

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

27th October 2009

Thanks to my uncle fixing my bike's punctures yesterday, I was able to cycle again to the lakes during the late afternoon, though I spent little more than an hour there. Saw the White-cheeked Pintail and 2 Mute Swans at Windmill Pool. Best of all though was an earlier-than-usual redhead male Goosander (either eclipse or first-winter) at Terry's Pool, along with 5 Tufted Ducks and 2 Kingfishers.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 26 October 2009

26th October 2009

Tony and Barbara Philp (have met both at the lakes several times) saw 45-50 Golden Plovers make several low passes over the Hungry Horse field at around 8:30 am, but couldn't tell whether they landed.

I hadn't planned to go birding today, but these were too good to miss (from what I can tell, this winter visitor usually arrives at Earlswood in November). However, there was no sign of them at the Hungry Horse when I arrived at c. 2:00 pm, though I did see a Kestrel, 2 Mistle Thrushes and 17 Pied Wagtails there after about 30 minutes observation. At the lakes, saw a Wigeon, a Kingfisher, a Siskin and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Terry's Pool; 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool; and 4 Tufted Ducks at Windmill Pool, plus a Reed Bunting at the scrubland to the south.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 25 October 2009

25th October 2009

Kevin Bates visited the lakes during the early morning, and had 2 Mute Swans and a Kingfisher at Terry's Pool.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

24th October 2009

The bike is out of action yet again due to a flat tyre (two thorns punctured it!), so had to walk to the lakes today, late afternoon. Saw 30+ Pied Wagtails, 70 Starlings and a Kestrel in the Hungry Horse field. At the lakes, unusually Engine Pool had the best birds seen, namely the White-cheeked Pintail, 2 Mute Swans and a Kingfisher.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 23 October 2009

23rd October 2009

Reckoning that yesterday's Rock Pipit had roosted near Engine Pool, I got up early to visit the lakes to see whether it was still there. Reaching the causeway, I looked at the bit of shore that the bird had favoured and, yes, a Rock Pipit was there! I'm pretty sure it was the same bird, seeing as it was somewhat confiding like yesterday (must've been no more than 8 metres from me at one point) and favoured the same area, but the bird was already foraging by the time I got there at c. 7:20 am so I didn't see it leave its roost. Spent ages watching it, but did look away sometimes; just 13 Redwings were seen flying over, as well as 2 Rooks, plus a Meadow Pipit landed on the causeway briefly, giving me an opportunity to compare two pipit species. Unfortunately the Rock Pipit left the lakes at c. 9:15 am, due (I'm afraid) to one of the funniest things I've ever seen two birds do: the Rock Pipit was creeping around some small boulders and creeped up one side of a boulder, next to which was a feral duck on the other side; it scared the duck as it came into view, causing the duck to take flight, which in turn made the pipit take flight and off it went, heading west over Engine Pool. I don't know why the duck was frightened by the sudden appearance of a much smaller bird near it.

Watching the Rock Pipit leave the lakes, I noticed it pass 3 hirundines so moved to get a closer view of them - whatever they were they'd be a good record for this time of year. All 3 were Swallows, flying over Engine Pool and Terry's Pool. A Kingfisher was also seen at Engine Pool. At Terry's Pool, was pleased to finally see 2+ Siskins (still haven't seen Fieldfare this autumn though); also saw 2 Mute Swans, a Goldcrest, a Treecreeper and a Nuthatch there. At Windmill Pool, saw a Water Rail in the usual place, plus 4 Teals and the White-cheeked Pintail. I also heard a Chiffchaff singing at the scrubland south of Windmill Pool, and saw a Red Admiral there. Sadly there was still no sign of the Rock Pipit along the causeway/dam just before I left after midday.

Coming along Cleobury Lane on my way home, had a Common Pheasant, 7 Stock Doves and 3 Rooks in a field.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Rock Pipit is the 99th species I've ticked at Earlswood; I'm hoping the 100th will be a rarity :-)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

22nd October 2009

Coming away from Solihull in the car with my mom during the late afternoon, almost didn't go to Earlswood because I was feeling a bit tired, but my mom was in the wrong lane going over an island and had to take a road heading towards Earlswood, so thought I might as well get her to drop me off there seeing as I had my bins with me. GLAD I DID!!! At the causeway, whilst trying to locate a wagtail I could hear calling nearby, I saw a pipit foraging on a bit of shore at Windmill Pool's northernmost corner - it was a Rock Pipit, an uncommon passage migrant in the midlands yet my second at Earlswood this month! Spent many minutes watching it until it moved to Engine Pool's dam and made its way along there towards the engine house, before flying up a short distance then flying down again to somewhere near the lakes' Wood Lane car park (West Midlands county!), where I reckon it roosted. By then it was rapidly getting dark, and the only other bird I'd noted was the White-cheeked Pintail at Windmill Pool. At Terry's Pool, I was treated to 2 Tawny Owls calling, one of which I also saw on two occasions as a silhouette in trees and in flight; 2 bats were also seen there.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

21st October 2009

Cycled to the lakes mid-afternoon, and saw a Wigeon and a Tufted Duck at Terry's Pool, and a Water Rail (southwest corner as before) and the White-cheeked Pintail at Windmill Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

20th October 2009

Another early morning visit to the lakes on the bike was quite productive again. At Windmill Pool, the White-cheeked Pintail was still present, with 3 Teals, a Tufted Duck, a Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtails also seen, plus a Sparrowhawk over. At Terry's Pool, saw a Wigeon and a fourth Teal. Coming home along Cleobury Lane, had a Common Pheasant, 20 Stock Doves, 2 Feral Pigeons, 195+ Starlings and 2 Rooks in a field.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 18 October 2009

18th October 2009

Cycled to the lakes during the early morning, and had a Little Owl on the way there. From the causeway, saw the White-cheeked Pintail at Windmill Pool again, plus a Grey Wagtail, and noted numerous Redwings, 1 or 2 Meadow Pipit, 5 Skylarks and 115 Woodpigeons (including a flock of 70) pass over. Also met a birder, Kevin Bates, who I've met previously - nice to meet you again. Moved on to Terry's Pool, where I had 3 Wigeons and 3 Tufted Ducks; then to Windmill Pool's south side, where I saw 5 Teals and (best of all) a Little Grebe. On I went to Earlswood STW, but the site was quiet apart from a Grey Wagtail over, and a Kestrel nearby. Coming back home along Wood Lane, saw 4 Mistle Thrushes in a field but they were soon flushed by trespassers.

Kevin returned to the lakes during the late afternoon, and at Windmill Pool he noted the White-cheeked Pintail, a pair of Teal, 3 Goldfinches over, and a Common Pheasant nearby. He also saw a Buzzard along Fulford Hall Road.

I took these photos today:

^ White-cheeked Pintail with two regulars, "Red Flanks" and a small white

^ Black-headed Gulls

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 17 October 2009

17th October 2009

Walked to the lakes during the early morning, but could only spend about two hours there. Even so, was pleased with my count of 321+ Redwings plus a flock of 16 Skylarks over the lakes after 90 minutes spent at the causeway. During the remaining half-hour, 3 Teals at Windmill Pool were the only other mentionable birds seen.

My mom then picked me up and dropped me off at Blythe Valley CP to meet Humphrey Miller and show another birder the nestboxes there for the project. Highlight for me was seeing a few Hornets (wasps) there, which I'd only seen once or twice before elsewhere in the midlands. As on previous occasions, Humphrey kindly took me home, but on the way back we stopped at Box Trees (north of Hockley Heath) where we saw a species we'd hoped would be there - 150+ Golden Plovers flying over the area before eventually landing in a field next to the island.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 16 October 2009

16th October 2009

Today was another very good one for me. Got to the lakes on the bike at c. 7:00 am hoping to see the Starlings leave their roost, but it wasn't until c. 7:30 am that they, an impressive flock numbering something around 600, got up and left. Terry's Pool was quiet, with a Treecreeper being the most notable bird, so I thought it would be an uneventful day. However, things picked up when I visited Windmill Pool's south side, and saw a Water Rail again in the same reedbed as before, plus 1 Wigeon and 6 Teal. Then amongst some distant Canada Geese I saw a duck with distinctive white cheeks - something unusual I thought. Moving to the east side to get a better view (during which a dog-walker pointed out a male Muntjac Deer in someone's back garden along there), I realised that it was an exotic and not really something I could tick; nevertheless, I wanted to ID it and after noting as many features as I could, back at home I concluded that it was an adult White-cheeked (Bahama) Pintail. Still at the lakes, I made my way back to the Malthouse Lane causeway where today's best bird was seen, albeit briefly - a Rock Pipit (lifer!). I'd have liked a much longer view of it at rest than the two few-second views I had before it took off, but it was noticeably bigger and darker than a Meadow Pipit, 2 of which landed on the causeway/dam not long afterwards, so I'm pretty sure the ID is correct. Numerous Redwings and a few Skylarks flew over the lakes again.

Coming home, I spent a few minutes looking at the Hungry Horse field and was rewarded with a Raven perched on one of the telegraph poles, plus a Jay flew over.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. At home, I saw a report of 15 Common Scoters at Upper Bittell Reservoir (Worcestershire) so, dreading the distance and hills I'd have to cycle but really wanting to see them, I made my way there during the late afternoon, finding just one other birder there, Mark, who I've met a couple times before and pointed the flock of 15 (lifer!) out to me. He kindly let me look through his scope (thanks!), so had a better view of them than I would've, but unfortunately the ducks kept well away from the dam. Also seen there was a Common Redshank, a lone Greylag Goose coming in for the night, and 400+ roosting Jackdaws.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

15th October 2009

Was dropped off at the lakes late in the day, and from the causeway couldn't see any of yesterday's reported waterbirds. However, a large flock of birds flying low over Engine Pool caught my attention and through my bins could see they were Starlings, 550+ I reckoned but they were very difficult to count properly as they flew about, before eventually roosting in one of the reed islands, along with 10+ Pied Wagtails. A nice spectacle, but meant it was too dark to check other parts of the lakes by the time the roosting birds were settled. Redwings were heard flying over.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

14th October 2009

I'd been feeling rather low and peeved recently; birders being the cause, which is disappointing. However, I'm now able to cycle again (thanks to my uncle who'd kindly spent a few hours yesterday fixing my bike's brakes, gears and two punctures!), so went on the bike to the lakes, hoping something good would be there to cheer me up - thank goodness there was (several in fact!).

Arriving at the causeway before first light, I soon noticed two small ducks on Windmill Pool. Whilst waiting for it to get lighter, I guessed they'd be Teal. Wrong! As it got lighter, I realised that they were actually 2 Rμ**Ϋ Ducks - only the second and third birds I've seen here. Other birds observed at Windmill Pool during the morning included 2 Wigeons, 4 Teals, a Mute Swan (which I was glad to see move on - this species doesn't seem to have much luck at Earlswood), a Tufted Duck and 2 Kingfishers. Whilst some good birds were on the lakes, there was quite a lot of visible migration going on up above, many birds of which seemed to be Redwings with 224+ counted, plus 5+ Skylarks and 2 Meadow Pipits, but a significant number of other passerines went unidentified; 6+ Rooks also flew back and forth over the lakes. There wasn't much of note at Terry's Pool, apart from 2 Wigeons that were almost certainly the same two seen earlier. Finally, I visited Windmill Pool's south side and after a c. 25-minute vigil saw a Water Rail in the small reedbed at the southwest corner - my third at the lakes this year but always nice to see this species. It showed well for just over 8 minutes, then on and off during the next half hour or so; 2 Buzzards were also seen soaring high over the vicinity. Came back through Forshaw Heath, and for the second time in the last few days saw no hirundines there. Still, easily one of my best days at the lakes this year so far.

M.P. Griffiths

Reminder: RSPB Solihull Local Group field trip to the lakes and surrounding woodlands this time next month. Provided I remember, I'll put one final reminder on here closer to the time.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

11th October 2009

Another early morning visit to the lakes to do my 10th WeBS counts, and had a Buzzard and a Kestrel on the way. At Terry's Pool, had a Kingfisher and 3 Tufted Ducks, and possibly 2 Siskins over but not 100% sure. There was no sign of yesterday's Wigeon despite spending well over an hour at the southern half of Windmill Pool hoping it might appear, but the 3 Teals were still there, as was probably a second Kingfisher, and a Common Pheasant was heard to the south. Also heard Redwing flight calls on a few occasions, with 1+2 seen. Of today's waterbird survey, I was pleased with my total count of 24 Moorhens, which is possibly my best count of this species at the lakes so far. Met a birder who'd had a Snipe and Pochards at the lakes in the last few weeks.

Was able to spend about 10 minutes at Forshaw Heath during the early afternoon, where 3 Swallows and a House Martin were still hanging around farm buildings, plus 1 or 2 Redwing passed over.

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 10 October 2009

10th October 2009

Set off quite early to the lakes this morning, seeing a Muntjac Deer in a field along Norton Lane along the way. The area was foggy, including the lakes which took well over an hour to clear and I didn't see much from the causeway during that time, although 1 or 2 Meadow Pipit and 2 Grey Wagtails rested there. As the fog began to disappear, thought I'd better get to Terry's Pool, but 3 Tufted Ducks, 2 Kingfishers, 3 Bullfinches and a Treecreeper were the best on offer there, and with nothing notable at Engine Pool I thought that yesterday's good ducks had all gone. However, eventually checked the southern half of Windmill Pool where I had 3 Teals and, best of all, a Wigeon (my first at the lakes this autumn); whilst in that area, I also saw 2 Ravens fly over the lakes.

Then proceeded on to Earlswood Moathouse NR, but a Treecreeper and a Coal Tit were the best I could see in there.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 9 October 2009

9th October 2009

Walked to the lakes and spent most of the morning there, and glad I did because there was a good variety of birds present, plus I had a patch tick! There were 3 Gadwalls, including a lovely adult male, at Terry's Pool, as well as a Teal, 4 Tufted Ducks and 2 Kingfishers. There was a Grey Wagtail at the causeway, and at Windmill Pool I had my first Redwing of the autumn (just the one, flew from a tree over the pool and out of view pursued by a Goldfinch!), plus 2 more Teal and 3 more Tufted Ducks. Visible migration included 2+ Meadow Pipits over the lakes (though I didn't really pay much attention to them); more notable were 4 Skylarks flying southeast over the lakes, followed by 2 more heading in the same direction over the scrubland south of Windmill Pool.

Got my mom to pick me up and take me to Forshaw Heath again, where some hirundines had gathered around farm buildings, including 10+ Swallows and 1 House Martin.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Seems that two people, at least one of which works at the craft centre, saw an "unusual large bird" at the lakes recently, and they've come to the conclusion that it was a Sooty Shearwater!!! I'm not sure about this though. Firstly this would be a first for the West Midlands region (as far as I know). Secondly, there were more Cormorants present at the lakes today than usual, so if this has been the case during recent days (can't say for sure as I hadn't done a thorough search of the lakes since the 3rd), then perhaps this would make them more noticeable to the general public, some of which don't seem to be familiar with them and it is usually the Cormorant that people point out to me and ask what it/they are. Then again, the observers might be familiar with Cormorants and have been able to eliminate the species from a list of possibilities. Also, Earlswood has one previous record of a shearwater - an immature male Manx Shearwater shot at the lakes in 1896. But do Sooty Shearwaters get seen inland? (Thanks to Ashley Grove and John Roberts for passing this recent record on to me.)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

6th October 2009

I was able to have a c. 5-minute look at the lakes from the causeway during the early afternoon, but 2 Grey Wagtails were the only birds of note visible.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 4 October 2009

4th October 2009

Left my house before first light, reaching the lakes at c. 6:50 am but was only able to watch them from the causeway for about 40 minutes, but still saw 16+ Pied Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail and a Mink there, before a mate took me birding elsewhere in Warwickshire. Oh, and I had a Little Owl in the area again.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 3 October 2009

3rd October 2009

Saw nothing different to yesterday during some late afternoon birding today, with 1 Shoveler at Windmill Pool and 2 Grey Wagtails still showing from the causeway. Got my mom to pick me up and take me through Forshaw Heath, where the 2 Swallows are still hanging around.

Now for a bit of fun. I've just added a new page to my website for birders to add their Earlswood lists, and see how they compare with others. Don't think that if you've seen more species at Earlswood than me that I won't put your details on - I will, and it'll give me something to aim for. Similarly don't be ashamed if your list seems low - it'll increase and might well overtake mine. Like I said, this is just for fun and I hope people don't take it too seriously.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 2 October 2009

2nd October 2009

During the early afternoon, had 12 Stock Doves and a mere 30+ Starlings in the Hungry Horse field, plus 4 Meadow Pipits on wires nearby, and a total of 3+ Jays along Norton Lane. The lakes were somewhat quiet, with a Shoveler, a Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtails at Windmill Pool, and not much elsewhere besides a Tufted Duck and possibly the same Kingfisher at Terry's Pool. As the afternoon progressed, I continued on to Forshaw Heath, finding 17+ Pied Wagtails in a field near Big Clowes Wood, whilst further on had 2 Swallows around horsestables and an unidentified wader flying high over (really annoyed I couldn't ID a wader in flight again - that's the third one in recent weeks!).
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

30th September 2009

Many thanks to Reg for his recent prompt post, but I must apologise for the recent lack of my posts; without my bicycle, walking to Earlswood is tiring so when I get home all I want to do is rest and has meant I'm behind with my record-keeping also, plus I've been on BirdForum quite a lot recently...

Anyway, this afternoon the lakes were quiet, with 1 Kingfisher seen at Windmill Pool and Terry's Pool (same bird?) and a Grey Wagtail at Engine Pool. My best sightings were at the Hungry Horse field, which after two hours observation produced 2 Ravens mobbing a Buzzard, 10 Stock Doves and an impressive 310+ Starlings (in two main flocks, birds on the ground moving in different directions and behind things, on wires, taking flight and just generally making things difficult for me to get a more precise count, but a wonderful sight and my best count for this species). As you'll see below, the recently ploughed fields along Norton Lane have been good for birds recently...

Addenda for September 2009:

27th: 1 Common Sandpiper at Windmill Pool.

26th (very good day!): A Little Owl seen during early morning (location withheld). A Shoveler at Windmill Pool; plus a Green Woodpecker in nearby field, and 2 Ravens and 2 Skylarks over scrubland to south. Total of 12 Meadow Pipits over lakes and surrounding area. At Hungry Horse field during early afternoon, saw a Wheatear (lifer!), a Kestrel and a Buzzard. Craig Reed had a Yellow-legged Gull in a different field along Norton Lane, which sadly I didn't see because I couldn't read his texts 'til my mobile had finished charging when it was too late. However, he's given me a good description and has seen the species before elsewhere, so I'm quite happy to add this species to the Earlswood list (just wish I could've seen a potential Earlswood first!). He also had 12 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 9 Herring Gulls, 106 Black-headed Gulls and c. 30 Stock Doves in the same field.

22nd: 1 Common Sandpiper at Windmill Pool. 1 Grey Wagtail and 1 Mute Swan (ringed) at Engine Pool. 2 Teals, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Greylag Goose and 1 Kingfisher at Terry's Pool. Total of 10 Herring Gulls at lakes (hope one wasn't the Yellow-legged Gull!!!).

21st: Early morning visit, with birds seen from causeway including 23+ Meadow Pipits (vismig), 12+ Pied Wagtails, 2 Grey Wagtails, a Sparrowhawk and a Kingfisher, plus an American Mink. Mute Swan (ringed) at Engine Pool, and 2 Teals at Terry's Pool.

20th: Early morning visit to do WeBS counts, with 3+ Rooks over Fulford Heath. 3 Teals and 2 Kingfishers at Terry's Pool. 1 Grey Wagtail and 1 Mute Swan at Engine Pool, with a Coal Tit nearby along Valley Road. 2 Shovelers, an American Mink and a dead Mute Swan at Windmill Pool. Back at Terry's Pool during early afternoon, 1 Lapwing over plus possibly a second American Mink seen!

19th: Early morning visit, with 2 Rooks seen over Norton Lane. 1 Common Sandpiper and 3+ Grey Wagtails seen from causeway, as well as 70 House Martins and a Kestrel over. 2 Kingfishers and 1 Mute Swan at Engine Pool. 2 Teals and 3 Tufted Ducks at Terry's Pool.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Recent lifers away from Earlswood have included a Snow Bunting (below) and 2 Stonechats at the Malvern Hills, and an Aquatic Warbler and a Whinchat at another site in Warwickshire.

First-winter male Snow Bunting, Worcestershire Beacon, September 21st
(© John Yardley)

Monday, 28 September 2009

28th September 2009

I had three separate sightings of Kingfisher on all three pools this afternoon, and two of Common Sandpiper on Engine and Windmill Pools.

Quite a few Comma and Speckled Wood butterflies were seen, plus three dragonflies, which I suspect may have been Migrant Hawkers based on their size and abdomen colour. Unfortunately I could not categorically clinch their identification.

A dead Mute Swan at the far end of Windmill Pool was a sad sight.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

16th September 2009

Walking towards Earlswood during the mid-morning, I was surprised to see a large congregation of gulls on a field at Fulford Heath that had been ploughed some days ago. I didn't have much time to spare before my mom picked me up in a car, but just about managed to count 180 Black-headed Gulls, 15 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Herring Gulls and 2+ Rooks there. I was also able to spend just over five minutes at the lakes at the causeway, where all I saw were a few more gulls including 4 Herring Gulls and 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, before continuing on in the car to Blythe Valley CP.

There I met Humphrey Miller and Barbara Oakley again to do some nestbox project work, during which we saw 2 Kestrels and a Buzzard.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

15th September 2009

Walked to Earlswood during the early morning. The lakes seemed quiet at first, but after waiting at the causeway for some time things improved, with 6+ Meadow Pipits, 4+ House Martins and 2+ Ravens over, plus a Kingfisher at Windmill Pool but no sign of the Mute Swan at Engine Pool. I also saw a wader flying over the lakes, gaining height then leave heading northeast (towards Marsh Lane?) but sadly couldn't identify it - seemed dark and a bit too big for Common Sandpiper, but couldn't make out a white rump though it was difficult making out any details at all - hopefully this wasn't the juvenile Spotted Redshank that was seen at Marsh Lane NR later in the day! Worst still, I saw probably a different wader fly over Engine Pool and leave heading northwards or thereabouts, but was distant and again couldn't make out much detail with my bins. Terry's Pool was alright, with 2 Marsh Tits (my first away from the SSSI), 10+ Long-tailed Tits, a Treecreeper and a singing Chiffchaff around the sides. I then went through the SSSI, covering quite a lot of it, and saw 4+ Jays and a Coal Tit; I noticed that the meadow area has been cleared and made much more accessible (photo added here) since I last visited that part, no doubt thanks to the good work of the volunteer work party. On I went around the Forshaw Heath area, visiting Graves Coppice for the first time and seeing another Coal Tit in there, whilst a Raven, 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Swallows and a Kestrel were seen over nearby fields. Despite being tired and having not had any lunch (apart from some sloe berries!!!), I returned to the lakes and upon reaching the causeway again at c. 3:40 pm, found 2 Shovelers at Windmill Pool. From there, I headed home via the footpath that runs through fields in-between Wood Lane and Rumbush Lane, but there was hardly anything there - was hoping I might see Red-legged Partridge there.

Whilst in my garden at c. 7:50 pm, heard 2 Tawny Owls calling nearby.

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 12 September 2009

12th September 2009

Another walk to Earlswood during the early morning was quite good again, with a Meadow Pipit heard at the Hungry Horse field (which was harvested yesterday, so will have to start paying more attention to it again). There were no terns at the lakes again, but couldn't spend much time there as I was meeting John Yardley for some birding elsewhere in Warwickshire.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 11 September 2009

11th September 2009

Having not had a chance to see to the bike's puncture, walked to Earlswood during the early morning. Making my way through New Fallings Coppice, I was really pleased to see (and hear) 2 Marsh Tits, as well as a Goldcrest, in there. Terry's Pool was quite good too, with a Kingfisher and a Kestrel (over, mobbed by corvids) seen, plus a Rook and 2 Muntjac Deer in one of the fields along the northern side. I also noted a Grey Wagtail along the Spring Brook near Windmill Pool's northeast corner, and a total of 6 Chiffchaffs singing occasionally around the lakes. Again, no Common Terns were seen.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

8th September 2009

On my way to Earlswood on the bike during the early morning, I realised my front tyre had a puncture but carried on regardless! Saw 4 Swallows along Cleobury Lane over the two farmhouses. Not a lot was at the lakes, apart from a Kingfisher seen and a Green Woodpecker heard at Terry's Pool, and a Chiffchaff heard near the causeway. Most notable though was the fact that not a single Common Tern was seen - this is the first time I haven't seen any at the lakes since the spring!

Despite the punctured tyre, I carried on to Blythe Valley Country Park because I'd planned to visit it today. I was rewarded with a Hobby briefly over the Blythe Meres area (swooped down at something but was apparently unsuccessful), a possible Willow Tit in Hawkeshaw Wood, a Kingfisher (heard only) along the River Blythe, 2 Tufted Ducks and 2 Green Woodpeckers near the hide, and 80+ Goldfinches at the Marlpit Fields area. By the way, the West Midland Bird Club's website now has a page about the Blythe Valley nestbox project.

Coming back through Earlswood on my way home, had 2 Kestrels and 124 Starlings along Wood Lane.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 4 September 2009

4th September 2009

During the afternoon, I saw 2 Common Terns, 112 Black-headed Gulls, 45+ Swallows, 20+ House Martins, 1 Sand Martin, 4 Goldfinches, a Tufted Duck and a Mute Swan, all from the Malthouse Lane causeway. Terry's Pool was quiet, with a male Tufted Duck and a Nuthatch being the only mentionable species. From the south side of Windmill Pool, saw a Kingfisher and 7+ Long-tailed Tits, and heard a Chiffchaff briefly.
M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 3 September 2009

3rd September 2009

After seeing that Shags had been reported at Upper Bittell Reservoir today, not that far from my beloved patch, I popped down to Earlswood Lakes during the late afternoon. At the causeway, saw that three other birders were there, which in my experience usually means that something good is there; upon asking one who was on his own he said that he wasn't aware that anything had been reported, but I missed asking the other two - anyone know if something was reported at the lakes today? Anyway, there were a lot of birds visible from the causeway, including 5 Common Terns, a Swift, 200+ Swallows, 6+ House Martins, 2 Sand Martins, a Kestrel (along Valley Road), 2 Tufted Ducks and a Mute Swan; also thought I heard a wader's call at one point, which reminded me that I thought I'd heard a similar call during another recent visit. Visiting Terry's Pool quite late, there was no sign of any Teal but a Kingfisher was heard.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

1st September 2009

Cycled to the lakes during the early morning, and from the causeway saw 4 Common Terns, as well as 2 Ravens flying quite high up heading north/northeast. There was a Tufted Duck at Windmill Pool, a Mute Swan still at Engine Pool and I reckoned there were 6 Grey Wagtails at the lakes. Met a birder who I've met on previous occasions (sorry I didn't get your name, but nice to meet you again) and went round part of the lakes with him, managing to see a Teal and a Kingfisher at Terry's Pool. Afterwards, passed through Forshaw Heath where apart from 4 Stock Doves there wasn't much around, though Swallows are still hanging around farms there and elsewhere in the area.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. From Forshaw Heath, made the journey to Bittell Reservoirs (Worcestershire) and saw a Barnacle Goose, 3 Greenshanks (lifer!) and 2 Common Sandpipers at Upper Bittell, and 2 Kingfishers at Lower Bittell, as well as a Little Owl on the way home. I later heard that 3 Ringed Plovers and 2 Yellow Wagtails had been seen there earlier, but there was no sign of these. At the time I was really pleased to have "found" a Barnacle Goose and noted as many distinguishing features as I could in case I needed to give a description, but I suspected it was of captive/feral origin, something which Brian Stretch has confirmed is almost certainly the case. However, I think I'll be naughty and count the Barnacle Goose as a lifer - need to get the life list up as I've a long way to go before 200 is reached!

Friday, 28 August 2009

28th August 2009

Braved the rain and got pretty wet again during the late afternoon, but there were good numbers of hirundines present with 140+ Swallows, 10+ House Martins and 2+ Sand Martins counted. Also seen were 2 Tufted Ducks and a Grey Wagtail at Windmill Pool, a Mute Swan at Engine Pool and a Kingfisher at Terry's Pool.
Leaving the lakes in a hurry after realising the time, took one of the sharp corners at the causeway too fast on my bike and hit the kerb, went over my handlebars a little and was saved from falling down the slope to Valley Road by the barrier fence - luckily the idiots who have been removing bits of the lakes' barriers haven't removed any on that side so far, or I might've been a goner! There was a car behind me, saw the whole thing but didn't stop to see that I was okay :-(
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

26th August 2009

Braved some windy conditions and the risk of rain, and cycled to the lakes during the afternoon. I got moderately soaked (in comparison to past soakings), but at the causeway was rewarded with a Hobby flying over heading towards the Red Lion pub at c. 4:45 pm and a little later a Sparrowhawk over, both probably attracted to the 80+ Swallows present but neither attempted a catch. Also seen were 7 Common Terns. At Terry's Pool, heard a Kingfisher but there was no sign of the Teal.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

25th August 2009

Spent quite some time at Earlswood today. First up as usual were the lakes, with a Tufted Duck at Windmill Pool, 1 or 2 Mute Swan at Engine Pool, and 7 Common Terns counted. A Teal and 1+ Tufted Duck were still at Terry's Pool, and also a Kingfisher. I then went to Earlswood STW where I saw 3 Grey Wagtails and 2 Pied Wagtails on the filter beds, a Fox along Malthouse Lane after the first gate, and a dead Buzzard on the railway close to the M42 bridge. At Forshaw Heath, eventually determined that there were 50+ House Sparrows at a field.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 24 August 2009

24th August 2009

The lakes were quite good again during the late afternoon today, with a Teal still present at Terry's Pool along with 5 Tufted Ducks, and a Hedgehog observed foraging in daylight in a newly cut field next to the channel that runs around the pool - was amazed that it had survived the tractor's grass cutter which had only just finished, and that the time of day didn't seem to concern it. Also noted at the lakes were 7 Common Terns, a Kingfisher, 40+ Swallows and 1 or 2 Mute Swan. Coming home along Norton Lane, saw 2 Kestrels over the Hungry Horse field.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 23 August 2009

23rd August 2009

Overslept, so had to do my WeBS counts during the early afternoon. However, the lakes were surprisingly productive, especially Terry's Pool where a Teal, a male Pochard, a Tufted Duck and a Greylag Goose were seen, and a Chiffchaff heard. At Windmill Pool, another Tufted Duck and 64 Black-headed Gulls were seen, and a Willow Warbler heard.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. After the counts, went to Upton Warren (Worcestershire) with John Yardley hoping to see a roosting Sabine's Gull. It had come into roost there for the previous three evenings, and I think one has also showed on all subsequent evenings up to the time of writing (27th - sorry this write-up is late), but the one evening it didn't show was this one - argh!