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!