Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Article reproduced

Last month's West Midland Bird Club Bulletin contained an article about Earlswood. I thought readers of this blog who aren't members of the WMBC (hope most of you are!) might like to have a read:

WMBC Bulletin 448: 13-14

The Earlswood area, which straddles the county boundary of Warwickshire and West Midlands, is a good place to go birding, with a number of different habitats present. It has attracted a fair number of bird species, and so far I’ve found records of 192 British species confirmed as having occurred there (see http://mpgriffiths.50webs.com/earlswood.html).

Firstly, may I draw readers’ attentions to an internet blog that I run, called “Birds of Earlswood …and surrounding areas”, at http://earlswood.blogspot.com. The blog’s main aims are to keep birders updated on the less usual species at Earlswood (and occasionally at nearby areas) and to encourage birders to submit sightings to me, for inclusion in the blog and a book/report that I’m hoping to produce.

This leads me to the second item that I’d like to mention: the book/report. I first considered writing something about Earlswood’s birds over a year ago. It became apparent that annual bird reports, articles and other similar printed works had been and continue to be produced for a number of sites in the WMBC region (see Club’s website). Naturally I was pleased to find that the birds of Earlswood, my local patch, had been described species-by-species in an article published in 1956 (West Midland Bird Report 23: 12-15). However, as far as I’m aware it was never updated. From memory (as I don’t have copies to hand), the third edition of "Where to Watch Birds in the West Midlands" has a few pages that are devoted to Earlswood, and a couple of shorter articles in back issues of "Bird Watching" magazine also deal with Earlswood, but these are intended to help visiting birders rather than detail every species occurring there. Of course relevant records appear in the Club’s Annual Reports, but these must be searched for amongst the numerous records for other areas; also, some locally notable occurrences either get left out or get mentioned but with no exact numbers or dates given. Therefore, I feel that it would be useful to bring together previously published and unpublished Earlswood bird records into one piece of work, for people to easily see just how common or rare each species is or was in the area.

My plan at present is to have this publication include the birds observed in the Earlswood area during the period 2000-09. The area to be covered is shown in Figure 1; properties with “Earlswood” in their address, the River Cole, Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, M42 and Alcester Road (A435) have been used to determine its boundaries. I’ve only been birdwatching Earlswood since late 2007 so I have little idea about what the area’s bird populations were like prior to then. I’ve managed to find a number of records for the period (mainly from websites and the Club’s Annual Reports), but more are needed, especially for the common species, so I’d really appreciate it if birders could send me their records. If anyone lives in Earlswood and notes the birds that visit their garden, any such information would be useful as I live just outside the area. Pre-2000 records would also be gratefully received, as I’m also thinking of producing some sort of history/handbook of the birds of Earlswood at some point later in the future, partly to cover the period from 2000 back to 1956. Anyone kind enough to loan me their note books can rest assured that these will be kept and handled carefully. As well as records, I’m also interested in:-

Borrowing or acquiring a privately produced work entitled “A survey of the birds of Earlswood” by John N. Sears and A. Winspear Cundall (1955) – I haven’t been able to find a single copy of it anywhere. If anyone knows the whereabouts of a copy, that would be good to know also.

Acquiring some of the older West Midland Bird Reports and Bulletins.

References to any articles and other publications that deal with Earlswood.

Memories of birding at Earlswood, perhaps for publication – I’m particularly interested in changes in the area’s habitats and birdlife.

Information can be sent to me at: [postal address removed];
or Email: matt_avesmaster@hotmail.com
Matthew Griffiths

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