Sunday, 31 May 2009

31st May 2009

Was out birding from c. 6:20 am to just after 5:30 pm - over 11 hours!!! Much of this time was spent surveying tetrad SP07X for the atlas; though I could've spent just 1 or 2 hours doing that, walking through most bits of the tetrad will make it easier for me to estimate the tetrad's bird populations. When I finished at c. 3:20 pm, I'd managed to record 42 species in the tetrad, not including the 2 Black Swans (probably pinioned) as well as 2 species that I only saw flying over the tetrad and not using it - 7 Lapwings and a Greylag Goose - so unfortunately couldn't include them in the species list.
Among the species seen in the Earlswood part of the tetrad was a Cuckoo that I saw perched and calling - my best sighting of one so far. After the tetrad, I had a look at the lakes but 4 Common Terns were the best on offer there. I'd seen the Greylag Goose over Shawbrook (Wythall) heading for either Fulford Heath Golf Course or the lakes, but unfortunately there was no sign of it at either when I checked.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 29 May 2009

28th May 2009

Walked to Earlswood during the late afternoon, and was pleased to discover 3 Garden Warblers (Earlswood tick!), 6 Linnets and 1 Green Woodpecker in an area I'd never been to before. There wasn't much of note at the lakes, though Tufted Duck numbers had increased since my last visit. 2 Stock Doves at Windmill Pool were a little unusual, whilst the Mute Swan was still around at Engine Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Prior to Earlswood, I'd been walking through SP07X, a tetrad I've recently taken on for the present bird atlas - just doing my tiny little bit for this important project. As can be seen in the OS map below it includes part of my local patch including all of Fulford Heath and parts of Tidbury Green and Little Clowes Wood, but roughly half of the area lies in Worcestershire (west of the River Cole) and I was just familiarising myself with a few spots that I'd never visited before. Anyway, one such spot is Fulford Heath Golf Course and whilst there I was surprised to see 2 Black Swans (probably pinioned) and 2 female Tufted Ducks on one of the two large ponds, and also a Sparrowhawk which had caught something and at one point was seen plucking its victim in a tree.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

20th May 2009

A visit to the lakes during the late afternoon produced 12 Common Terns and 2 Sand Martins, with small numbers of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins also present. The Mute Swan was still at Terry's Pool.

Met Graham Fellows (nice to meet you) who said he had 14 Common Terns and something like 200 Swifts at the lakes yesterday.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 17 May 2009

17th May 2009

Nothing unusual seen during a few minutes observation at the Malthouse Lane causeway, before I went birding elsewhere with John Yardley and his mate Scott.

I cycled back to the lakes during the late afternoon, but there was still nothing unusual that I could see. Noted 70+ Swifts from the causeway, and the Mute Swan was still at Terry's Pool.

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 16 May 2009

16th May 2009

Got to Earlswood sometime after 8:00 am, spending a short time at the causeway before meeting John Yardley to do some birding elsewhere. Common Terns were present as usual, but I didn't count them properly. As John took me home, we came along the causeway but nothing of particular interest was seen. I returned to the lakes on my bike during the late afternoon, but didn't see what I was hoping for; though I did note 15+ Swifts at the causeway and the Mute Swan was still at Terry's Pool.

Once again, no Black Terns were seen by me, or reported, at the lakes.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 15 May 2009

15th May 2009

Not long after arriving at the lakes at c. 9:30 am, I heard a Cuckoo calling from the south of Windmill Pool. Before I left at c. 2:00 pm, I'd also seen 14 Common Terns, 15+ Swifts, 35+ House Martins and just 1 Sand Martin from the causeway; and the Mute Swan and a Kestrel at Terry's Pool. Easily the best bird I saw though was a Dunlin foraging at the northern corner of Windmill Pool, which gave excellent views because it remained pretty close to me the whole time it was foraging (I reckoned it was less than 10 metres away from me at one point). Although when I first saw it at c. 10:35 am I thought it was a Dunlin, it's black belly had only just started to develop, which confused me but fortunately another birder was there who confirmed its ID. At c. 11:35 am, the bird got spooked by a Carrion Crow but came back, but quickly got scared again by a fisherman (which I guess was too much) and, after gaining height, flew off heading northwards (I watched it in my bins until it became a dot in the sky, then disappeared completely).

It's a pity yesterday's plover didn't give equally good views; however, my thinking now is that it was probably a (Common) Ringed Plover, owing to the bird's size and the fact that a number of other Ringed Plovers were appearing at other sites in the West Midlands.

A return visit: my mom kindly dropped me off at the causeway, but from c. 7:50 pm to 8:20 pm the only notable difference from earlier was that 60+ Swallows were present. I didn't see any Black Tern today, and none seem to have been reported at the lakes either.

M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 14 May 2009

14th May 2009

The local Song Thrush woke me up really early this morning with its singing, so decided to cycle down to the lakes much earlier than usual, getting there at c. 5:45 am! Wasn't really worth it though as there was quite a lot of fog over the lakes and no sign of any Black Terns, but I did hear a Cuckoo calling to the east of Windmill Pool, apparently moving northwards, and saw 3 Pied Wagtails. At Terry's Pool, the Mute Swan was still present, and a male Bullfinch was also seen. I heard the previously unidentified warbler singing from one of the Engine Pool reed islands again, and managed to see the little songster distantly and very briefly on five or so occasions during 20 and 15 minutes of scanning the reeds; having listened to its song as well, I'm pretty sure that it was a Reed Warbler (lifer!).

At c. 10:15 am I heard an unfamiliar call then saw a plover (Charadrius sp.) fly over the causeway to Engine Pool then U-turn back to Windmill Pool, over which I lost it; I can't really remember what the call was like (idiot!) but listening to calls on the RSPB website, and judging by the bird's size, I'm leaning towards Ringed Plover. Not being familiar with these birds in flight, I spent the few seconds I had looking at its head when I should also have had a quick look at its wings (for wing-bars, or lack of wing-bars) - I still have a lot to learn. I then spent some time checking out the spots where I've seen Common Sandpipers, but had no luck relocating the plover. Interestingly, 2 Ringed Plovers were reported at Shustoke Reservoir (Warwickshire) today, where I don't think they're often seen.

Returning to the causeway at c. 11:50 am, I quickly noticed that a Black Tern had recently arrived; it was still present when I left at c. 12:30 pm. At c. 11:55 am, a Yellow Wagtail landed on the causeway's wooden railings briefly before a car scared it away (like last time!), and it headed off to the south/southwest. Other birds seen were up to 10 Common Terns, 30+ House Martins, 5+ Swallows, just 2 Sand Martins, 9 Herring Gulls and 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

I returned to the lakes at c. 5:40 pm, and saw that a Black Tern was present and it was still there when I left at c. 7:40 pm. Whilst there, I counted 50+ House Martins and 60+ Swallows, and enjoyed the company of two other birders who are both aware of this blog (good talking to you both).

Seems though that 2 Black Terns were seen at the lakes sometime today (BirdGuides, per Warwickshire Birding). Can't imagine this being a miscount, so one at least couldn't have been there long.

M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

13th May 2009

Braved the slight rain and arrived at the lakes at roughly 1:45 pm, and quickly saw that there were 4 Black Terns over Windmill Pool!!! Brilliant - another lifer! Also present were 12 Common Terns and 80+ Swifts, with the Mute Swan back at Terry's Pool. Going along Malthouse Lane, I saw 2 Collared Doves fly out of a tree, and there in the tree was a Sparrowhawk. At the scrubland south of Windmill Pool, I saw 2 Common Whitethroats near the installation, but best of all heard a Cuckoo at Windmill Pool, then saw it heading southwest over the scrubland, calling (first time I've actual seen one!). Returning to the causeway at c. 4:20 pm, saw that Black Tern numbers had increased to 6.

The 6 Black Terns were still present at Windmill Pool when I returned at c. 6:10 pm. Phil Carter was already there (nice to meet you) and 2 other birders arrived whilst I was there - these birds seem to have been enjoyed by quite a few birders today, probably because the species appears to have only been reported from 2 other places in the WMBC region. I also saw a Common Sandpiper flying over Windmill Pool, though a birder there was sure he saw 2.

Leaving Earlswood, I then checked out Trittiford Mill Pool (Birmingham) to see if any terns were there, but none were and a Kingfisher was the only notable bird seen.

John Yardley got to Earlswood during the evening, and had 6 Black Terns also. They've been reported on BirdGuides but I don't know details and assume no more than 6 were seen today.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

12th May 2009

Reached the lakes on my bike sometime before 7 am and stayed for roughly 3 hours. I managed to count up to 16 Common Terns and 42+ Swifts; and at Windmill Pool saw a Common Sandpiper and the Mute Swan.

I spent the rest of the morning looking at the ponds and nature reserve at Dickens Heath. Some "twit, t-woo" calls were heard coming from some trees, but all I could see was a Jay there, so I reckon it was imitating. My best sighting of the day was undoubtedly a Garden Warbler (lifer!), which I saw singing from trees along the Stratford-upon-Avon canal at the edge of this "village".

I was out on my bike again during the afternoon, hoping a Garganey that had been reported at Lower Bittell Reservoir (Worcestershire) was still there but there was no sign of it. Disappointed, I returned to Earlswood Lakes but 2 Grey Wagtails were the only birds present that I hadn't seen earlier.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 10 May 2009

10th May 2009

Did my WeBS counts at the lakes during the morning. The Mute Swan was still present at Terry's Pool, and 2 Common Terns and 1 Common Sandpiper were seen at Windmill Pool. With the counts finished, I passed Engine Pool again and was pleased to see a Common Whitethroat singing in trees near the path to the Malthouse Lane car park (my first away from the usual site); I also heard either a Sedge Warbler or a Reed Warbler singing from one of the reed islands. After Terry's Pool, I then walked through the SSSI, and heard 4 Chiffchaffs in or near Big Clowes Wood. I noted 5 Speckled Wood butterflies in various places.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 9 May 2009

9th May 2009

Went to Earlswood during the morning to meet John Yardley for a trip birding in Worcestershire, and had 2 Common Sandpipers at Engine Pool, as well as 15+ Swifts and 8 Commic Terns, whilst making my way to the meet-up spot.
Back at Earlswood just after 4:30 pm, saw a first-summer Mute Swan at Terry's Pool, and from the Malthouse Lane causeway counted 5+ Common Terns, 7 Herring Gulls, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 20+ Swifts, 30+ Swallows, 12+ Sand Martins and 2 House Martins.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Saw my first Hobby over the Moors Pools at Upton Warren (Worcestershire) today!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

6th May 2009

I was woken up by a Cuckoo calling near my village this morning.

At c. 12:25 pm, saw 8+ Swifts over the lakes whilst passing along Valley Road in a car.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 3 May 2009

3rd May 2009

Blister reported seeing 5 terns and 2+ Sand Martins, as well as Swifts, Swallows and House Martins at Earlswood today.

Later, I managed a visit despite my one knee still being a little painful to move, as my mom had kindly offered to drop me off there (earlier I'd said to her that I wondered what unusual migrant birds I was missing at Earlswood). I got to the lakes at about 3:10 pm. Tern numbers had increased, with 9 Common Terns counted, with 7 Herring Gulls and 2 House Martins also present. There was a dead Pike at Engine Pool's easternmost corner. Walking along the western side of Windmill Pool, I noted a resting Canada Goose pair with at least one gosling underneath. I did a reasonably good search of the scrubland to the south, and was rewarded with 3 Common Whitethroats. I'd wanted to search the SSSI and nature reserve woodlands, but was unable to.
M.P. Griffiths