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.