Friday, 31 December 2010

21st-31st December 2010

I've still been feeling a bit under the weather lately so have only made four visits to the lakes during the last eleven days of this year - tut, tut, I know. Highlights have been 3 Water Rails and an adult Common Gull on the 27th, with 2 of the Water Rails still showing on 28th. Kevin Bates reported a Water Rail at Terry's Pool on the 24th.

As today (31st) should be the last day that my book will cover, I thought I'd cram lots of Earlswood birding in, managing about 8.5 hours (all of the daylight)! After seeing 17 Bullfinches (Earlswood record?) near Earlswood Train Station, I spent much of the day in the Forshaw Heath area, where I did a Bird Atlas TTV survey at the same time, and among the birds seen were 2 Ravens, 4 Siskins, 37 Fieldfares, 2 Goldcrests and 3 Treecreepers. With little more than an hour's decent light left, I moved on to the lakes but the only bird of note there was a redhead Goosander amongst the Mallards at Engine Pool. By late evening I was at the Springbrook Scrubland and was going to wait to see if any owl visited the scrubland in the dim light but then a woman with her 3 dogs, noisy and off their leads, came along and proceeded to walk through the scrubland - I imagine many of the thrushes that I saw going to roost there were scared off, so no owl would appear there anytime soon so I scrapped that idea *sighs*. Mammals seen today included 3 Red Foxes at Forshaw Heath, and a Mink at Engine Pool.

So nothing particularly unusual noted this month, but there's been some really good numbers of common birds around. Some of my counts for certain species this month may turn out to be patch records, including those above for Water Rail and Bullfinch, as well as Mallard, Mute Swan and Blackbird, so I'm rather pleased. On the minus side not a single grebe seen, and I didn't manage to see a Woodcock or anything else new for my personal patch list.

I managed to observe 113 bird species at Earlswood this year, compared to 99 in 2009. Looking forward to what 2011 brings!

Wishing everyone a happy New Year!

M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

1st-20th December 2010

Currently have flu for the second time this month. The first only stopped me visiting Earlswood for a day, but this second lot has meant my regular visits have ceased since the 17th, although I forced myself to do the Wetland Bird Survey counts on 20th (not much fun, especially when snowflakes go in your eyes in the middle of counting!). Have been doing a little birdwatching from my living room and today had a Moorhen fly and perch in a hawthorn in my garden!

Earlswood Lakes highlights so far this month have been a fly-over Common Snipe (3rd), a female Pintail last seen on 6th, Greylag Goose last seen on 8th, 3 fly-over Gadwalls (12th), 2 male Pochards (13th), up to 2 Common Gulls (adult and first-winter), up to 2 Water Rails and up to 56+ Siskins. Most notable bird on 20th was a Water Rail, currently favouring the channel along the north side of Engine Pool and usually seen sneaking away into some fallen branches.

The other Water Rail is much more difficult to see, favouring the reedmace in the channel along the southeast side of Terry's Pool, where I last saw it on 16th. Richard Greer also saw it there on 6th as well as a Common Snipe nearby.

I'm a bit disappointed that I still haven't found a Woodcock at Earlswood yet, and with just over a week to go, time is rapidly running out to add it or something else to the patch year list...

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 27 November 2010

24th-27th November 2010

The last few days have been really cold but also really productive at the lakes, with some cold weather bird movement.

24/11/2010: Heard/saw a Marsh Tit in New Fallings Coppice. 2 Water Rails (!) seen chasing each other at water's edge near southwest corner of Windmill Pool, plus 2 Little Grebes in that area.

25/11/2010: There were 2 male Gadwalls and a male Wigeon at Terry's Pool, plus a Raven over. A Little Grebe was at Windmill Pool in the reeds at the southwest corner.

26/11/2010: Heard/saw a Marsh Tit in New Fallings Coppice again. The male Wigeon was still at Terry's Pool, with 7 Siskins in alders and 2 Ravens over vicinity. A Water Rail (heard), a male Teal and a Little Grebe were at Windmill Pool.
The day got even better as my mom who'd been in Solihull Hospital for a week was alright to come out. Parking my car at the visitor car park, my window was open and I immediately heard Waxwing calls nearby!!! I quickly spotted them at the top of a tall tree at the edge of the car park, next to Grove Road; counted 10 Waxwings there, then they flew over the car park and away, probably to roost. Unfortunately I didn't have my binoculars with me, so definitely want to see more of these erratic winter visitors, which are starting to appear in the midlands in good numbers this winter.

27/11/2010: Another great patch birding day. 2 Mistle Thrushes were along Fulford Hall Road - haven't seen many of these this year. At the lakes, Terry's Pool was completely frozen over, so the other two lakes were hogging everything. Ducks comprised a female Pintail, 2 Goosanders (unusually they landed on Engine Pool briefly but they didn't dive for any fish), 5 Teals, 2 Wigeons, 12 Tufted Ducks and (I counted exactly) 300 Mallards.
Other birds included 3 Lapwings (high over) and 10 Herring Gulls at Engine Pool; plus just 1 first-winter Mute Swan and a Raven (heard overhead) at Windmill Pool, and 6 Stock Doves at one of the Gypsy Lane horse pastures. Highlight though was a Common Snipe, which landed on one of the fishing platforms near the causeway, not far from me and so I was treated to excellent views of it. Made the long walk to Earlswood STW, where saw 2 Meadow Pipits (on filter beds - my first here and long overdue), a Treecreeper and 3 Bullfinches. Walking back along Malthouse Lane saw a flock of c. 20 Lesser Redpolls in trees beside the railway near the bridge (my first decent-sized flock of this species at Earlswood), and 50+ Starlings.

Whilst this weather is proving to be great for bringing waterbirds to Earlswood and concentrates their numbers, making them a little easier to count, I hope it doesn't last too long for their sake.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

16th November 2010

Yesterday evening's talk by Ron Hill was really good, though I was expecting more people to turn up for it.

This afternoon, after many months waiting, finally managed to see more than 2 Kingfishers together today with 4 Kingfishers seen at Terry's Pool - a site record as far as I know. Also present there were 12 Goosanders, and thought I heard a Chiffchaff calling along southwest side but couldn't spot it with my bins. 2 Shovelers at Windmill Pool for second day, along with a Little Grebe.

There was no sign of the Pintail, but Tony Philp saw her yesterday morning, along with 8 Goosanders and about 3 Teals.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Earlswood wildlife talk

Just remembered I've forgotten to publicise this on here:

Ron Hill, warden of Clowes Wood and New Fallings Coppice, will be giving an illustrated talk entitled “Wild Wonders of Earlswood” at Earlswood village hall on Monday November 15th at 7:30pm. Cost £2.50 (including tea and biscuits).


Saturday, 13 November 2010

13th November 2010

Female Pintail at Terry's Pool this evening, with a Water Rail along southeast side.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

10th November 2010

Redhead Smew at Windmill Pool for a few minutes before flying towards Terry's Pool around 7:50 am.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

20th October 2010

Bingo! New birds at the lakes this morning were both at Terry's Pool, namely a Wigeon, plus an elusive redhead Goosander that might've arrived whilst I was there. A Chiffchaff around Terry's Pool showed well, and there were single Redwings perched around Both Terry's and Windmill Pools. Not much visible migration though.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Addendum for 19th October 2010

Keith Lovell had a Raven over Windmill Pool during the morning.

16th-19th October 2010

I'll try to keep these posts going!!! Recent highlights:

16/10/2010 = 9 Bullfinches around the lakes was my personal best site count for the species. 1 Wigeon at Terry's Pool and a Lesser Redpoll over Engine Pool. Along the west side of Windmill Pool, I started making whistles like Chiffchaff calls, got a response in one quiet call from amongst the willows and then saw a Phylloscopus warbler, which vanished when I moved my binoculars to my eyes, never to be seen again - late Chiffchaff, I reckoned.

17/10/2010 = Fairly good visible migration in the early morning, with 385+ Woodpigeons, 1 Linnet, up to 3 Rooks, 1 Skylark, 2+ Meadow Pipits, Redwings, and best of all my first definite vis-mig Song Thrush, over in ~90 minutes obervation from the causeway. Moving on to the Springbrook Scrubland, saw a Common Snipe and 60+ Redwings in flight, which were flushed by nearby clay pigeon shooting and dog-walkers. At Terry's Pool, the female Pintail was seen again, plus 3 Teals and 5 Wigeons.

18/10/2010 = Nil of note at the lakes, although I did leave it late visiting.

19/10/2010 = 194+ Starlings at the Hungry Horse field. At the lakes, 5 Mute Swans (family of 4, plus an adult). Just this minute looked out the window and the moon is out, so hopefully something new in at the lakes tomorrow morning... (please!)

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. On the 17th, I checked the canal feeder channel near the engine house, which has been dredged in the last couple of weeks so that now the water and east side are much more open, and much more of the channel can be seen from the gate. I'm quite excited to see how the dredging of the channel will affect lake water levels next year - fingers crossed the water levels will reveal the Engine Pool island for the first time since 2008, and attract some waders. The other feeder channel, easiest to view from Springbrook Lane, was dredged a month ago at least, and already seems to have become more suitable for Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail.
I must thank Tony Philp and Mike Holt who checked Earlswood during the weekend I was away - thank you both. Tony had a Shoveler and 1+ Wigeon at Terry's Pool on the 9th, but these had gone next day; whilst Mike had about 50-60 Redwings in the Springbrook Scrubland (south of Windmill Pool) on the 10th. Some of the photos taken by Tony at the lakes recently:

Wigeons and Mallard, 06/10/2010 (© Tony Philp)

Pochard, 13/10/2010 (© Tony Philp)

Friday, 15 October 2010

15th October 2010

Had a really good morning at the lakes today, with the best sighting being a juvenile Kittiwake (lifer!) at Windmill Pool for several minutes mid-morning, picked out amongst a small group of Black-headed Gulls on the water. Viewed from the sailing club slipway, I last saw it flying to Engine Pool but there was no sign of it by the time I reached the causeway. Also saw a female Pintail at Terry's Pool, and a Dunlin over (viewed from causeway). A Teal was flying around, a Wigeon was heard at Windmill Pool, and a late Swallow and 2 presumed Lesser Redpoll flew over Engine Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Kittiwake and Dunlin put me on 111 for my personal 2010 patch year list. Earlswood systematic bird list (link on right) updated.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

This Friday & weekend

The weather forecast for this weekend looks really, really good for something unusual turning up at Earlswood, with easterly winds blowing and a little fog in the mornings to ground birds, but can you guess who's not going to be able to cover Earlswood?! Having forgotten that I'd the WeBS to do Sunday, I'd agreed to go camping with a couple of mates in Wales Friday-Sunday and am really worried I'm gonna miss a rarity! I'm even gonna try to sneak half an hour's birding in first light Friday. It would be good if someone could check the lakes this weekend, at least the causeway where Rock Pipit or a tern are possibilities.

Earlswood is long overdue a really good bird, and the last twitchable one was the Grey Phalarope in early October 2007!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Pintail at Terry's pool, found this morning by Jon Chidwick, and seen by Kevin Bates and myself this evening.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

black tern at lakes atm

Monday, 16 August 2010

Common Redstart at scrubland south of Windmill Pool late morning. Also Hobby over Springbrook Lane.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Summer 2010: the long awaited post!

At long last, an update! Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few months, I've been busy with volunteering work, courses and coursework, lots of birding, and for over a month now a part-time gardening job. I have far too many notes to go through and pick out highlights for the last few months, so much of the following is from memory!

The Mute Swan pair at Terry's Pool hatched cygnets, of which two remain and are a good size now but sticking to Engine Pool. A male Mandarin Duck was seen again on several occasions, moulting into eclipse plumage, but was either very elusive or able to fly elsewhere as he pleased; last seen July 10th. A Shoveler put in an appearance at Terry's Pool. Tufted Ducks have been seen most visits, but no ducklings unfortunately. Great Crested Grebes have done well this breeding season, with six broods seen so far. I've seen single Hobbies a few times, including over the lakes twice, and Craig Reed had one over a Norton Lane garden. As usual, not many waders have been seen, apart from Common Sandpipers which I saw regularly during the Spring passage but very few so far during this return passage period. Had a probable Curlew/Whimbrel fly silently over the lakes distantly. Common Terns have been ever present in good numbers (reaching the 30s on one occasion), and it's been a good year for Arctic Terns, with birds seen on three more occasions since the previous posts (20 on May 6th was the most I saw - amazing!). 1 or 2 Cuckoos held territory in the area, and it seems very likely that a pair of Little Owls have bred.

Sky Larks were noted at Fulford Heath, and a Yellow Wagtail was seen around Windmill Pool one day. Following the Wheatear sightings along Springbrook Lane, I had 2 Whinchats along there on different occasions. The year has been really good for warblers, and I've now seen every species on the Earlswood list at Earlswood this year! Hot on the heels of the Grasshopper Warbler was a Wood Warbler I saw singing in Big Clowes Wood on May 4th, a county rarity and the first confirmed record for Earlswood since 2001 so a real highlight; only saw it because I tagged along with a birder doing a breeding bird survey in the woods on the other side of the railway! Earlier that same day I had a Sedge Warbler in scrubland near Earlswood Railway Station, which was a patch tick too! There was no sign of the Wood Warbler on subsequent visits. Thanks to recent habitat changes at the lakes, Reed Warblers have been present in record numbers but elusive; fortunately I managed to note 5 (4 singing) one day. Although really pleased with this year's warblers, I wouldn't mind seeing a Yellow-browed Warbler! Another highlight was finding a pair of Spotted Flycatchers breeding. I was quite concerned at the absence of Marsh Tit in the woods this summer, but am pleased to report that 2 were heard/seen in Big Clowes Wood on July 30th; if only Willow Tit would return. 2 Ravens were seen north of the lakes on July 15th, whilst a recently harvested field at Fulford Heath attracted 16+ Rooks (most I've seen in area, I think) on July 24th. I've been hearing a Yellowhammer singing at Fulford Heath on many occasions this summer.

Most recent highlight was an Oystercatcher flying over the lakes calling on July 26th, which is the 100th bird species I've seen at Earlswood this year, and puts me on 112 for the patch life list.

12/08/2010 = Noted 28+ Common Terns, 50+ Swallows, 18 House Martins, 2 Sand Martins, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Reed Bunting (feeding fledgling), 1 Reed Warbler (apparently feeding young in dense bushes) and 1 Common Whitethroat during two visits to the lakes.

Weather-wise, this weekend is looking good for birding...

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Thanks to those birders who've passed their sightings on to me in the last few months; as always these will be very useful for the Earlswood bird book I'm still planning to produce.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Moth Trapping Night

There's a moth trapping night being held at Clowes Wood tomorrow night. Further details at:

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

International Biodiversity Day walks at Earlswood

Currently on another course but have a break at the moment and have been alerted to this event coming up very soon at Earlswood:

More info at:

Anyone who's interested had better quickly register their interest in tagging along, as it's this Saturday! Not sure if it starts at 3:00 or 3:30 am, but will post here if I find out.


Edit: Paul Wilkinson (walk leader) tells me he's aiming to get there for 3:00 am.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

16th May 2010

A male Mandarin Duck flew low over Terry's Pool early morning.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 23 April 2010

23rd April 2010

2 Arctic Terns over Engine Pool, still present 7:00 pm. Also up to 11 Common Terns and 1 Common Sandpiper.

Grasshopper Warbler and Cuckoo at scrubland south of Windmill Pool yesterday.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 18 April 2010

8th-18th April 2010

As I'm so far behind with updating this blog, here's some main highlights:

08/04/2010 = Had my first Common Sandpiper and Willow Warblers (2) at the lakes this afternoon at Terry's Pool. Also saw 17 Fieldfares quite high over Clowes Wood. Steve Lloyd had a total of 4 Willow Warblers around the lakes in the morning. Later, Kevin Bates noted 4 Common Terns and a Sand Martin. Bob Roberts had a Kestrel along Wood Lane and a Reed Bunting at Gypsy Lane.

09/04/2010 = Saw 4 Buzzards soaring around Earlswood Common. During evening 2 Greylag Geese appeared at Terry's Pool and there were 14+ bats around Engine Pool.

10/04/2010 = Had a Rook, singing Skylark and a Lapwing along Norton Lane early morning. 3 Shovelers and a Kingfisher noted at the lakes.

11/04/2010 = 25 Tufted Ducks at Terry's Pool was probably the most I've seen at Earlswood. Kevin Bates had a few House Martins and 2 Swallows over the lakes in the evening.

14/04/2010 = Saw 2 Rooks and a Kestrel fly over the lakes. Probably the same Barnacle Goose x Greylag Goose hybrid that I saw earlier this year flew in and landed on Terry's Pool.

15/04/2010 = The Barnacle Goose x Greylag Goose hybrid was at Engine Pool, with a Grey Wagtail at Windmill Pool.

16/04/2010 = At the lakes, David Scott had 2 Willow Warblers at Terry's Pool, plus 4 Common Terns.

17/04/2010 = Had a Common Sandpiper over Engine Pool then gain height and leave, plus a Kingfisher at Windmill Pool. Passing through "Springbrook Scrubland" found my first Common Whitethroat of the year and 4 Reed Buntings, plus a Fox and a Muntjac Deer. At Springbrook Lane, spotted a distant bird on the railway embankment which I suspected was a Wheatear (reckon I saw the same bird next day). Moving on to Terry's Green, saw 11 Fieldfares in a field near the STW, but there was no point checking the STW as there were workmen present. Tired, but managed to walk back to the lakes and was rewarded with a Grass Snake on the path around Terry's Pool.

18/04/2010 = A Mistle Thrush was singing along Wood Lane near New Fallings Coppice. During my WeBS counts, had 4 Common Sandpipers including 3 on islands at Terry's Pool, and 4 presumed Lesser Redpolls flew quite high over Engine Pool. Passing through "Springbrook Scrubland" saw a Lesser Whitethroat (Earlswood tick!) singing, as well as a Common Whitethroat. Spent an hour at Springbrook Lane and just before giving up a male Wheatear appeared on fence posts along the Spring Brook feeder channel and showed well for about 10 minutes before flying off.

Common Terns noted on almost every visit.

Another update soon, I promise!

M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

7th April 2010

Easily the highlight of this afternoon's visit was an Arctic Tern with 5 Common Terns at the lakes, which I must've watched for over two hours because I knew it was very early and just had to make fully sure my ID was correct. With two Arctics also reported in Hertfordshire today, but none earlier that I'm aware of, this appears to be the joint-first Arctic Tern reported in the UK this year, and the earliest occurrence at Earlswood - well chuffed!!! Other birds of note were 15+ Sand Martins, a House Martin and 4+ Swallows.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

6th April 2010

Another afternoon visit but quieter today, with 2 Common Terns, up to 5+ Swallows, 7 Sand Martins and a House Martin all at Windmill Pool being the most notable birds seen. Met a birder, Phil Stainton, who's been visiting the lakes for many years and is kindly going to pass some records of his on to me - I know I keep asking for them, but if anyone else has Earlswood records then they'd be gratefully received and acknowledged in the book.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 5 April 2010

5th April 2010

Bob Roberts saw a Common Tern, 12 Swallows and a Chiffchaff (others heard) around Windmill Pool, plus a total of 16 Tufted Ducks at the lakes.


During an afternoon visit, I finally noted my first House Martin of the year at Windmill Pool, plus up to 3 Common Terns, 15 Swallows, 3 Sand Martins and a Sparrowhawk. 8 Lapwings flew over the lakes, whilst 3+ Chiffchaffs were observed around the sides.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 4 April 2010

4th April 2010

Walking to Earlswood along Norton Lane early morning, was nice to see a Skylark in song-flight over fields, plus c. 45 Fieldfares in trees and 8 Meadow Pipits pass over. Twenty minutes viewing lakes from causeway produced 2 Common Terns still, 2+ Greylag Geese and 4 Swallows.

I understand that 3 Common Terns were reported there later on.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. For those who get the WMBC Bulletin, I'd like to point out that my "article" in last month's bulletin had four of the five maps I'd spent a good few hours on removed, with just Figure 1 printed, yet the text at the side referring to Figure 5 was left - bit disappointing. Yet a whole page was given to a write-up of Birmingham Branch fieldtrips to places well outside of the midlands...!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

3rd April 2010

A 10-minute visit to the lakes mid-morning produced 2 Common Terns visible from the causeway, plus a Chiffchaff heard nearby. Looks like they'd been reported on BirdGuides before I got there. So first apparently the earliest Common Tern in Warwickshire this year, now two and still none reported elsewhere in Warwickshire, Worcestershire and West Midlands county - nice to see Earlswood beating other sites in the midlands for a change! ;-)

Craig Reed text me during the afternoon, saying 2 Common Terns were still at lakes, plus 11 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Herring Gulls and a Mute Swan there; also a pair of Bullfinches in a Norton Lane garden.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 2 April 2010

2nd April 2010

Given the recent poor weather, the presumed same Common Tern was present for its third day. A female Goosander at Windmill Pool was unusual both for the time of year and location, showed for some minutes after appearing from nowhere, whilst up to 9 Swallows, 2 Sand Martins, 2 Grey Wagtails and 2 Kingfishers were also there. A male Blackcap was still singing around Engine Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 1 April 2010

1st April 2010

Presumably the same Common Tern was still present at the lakes and showing well at times. Other notable sightings were 2 Ravens and a Meadow Pipit over the causeway, a Chiffchaff heard nearby and 8 Herring Gulls. 15+ Swallows and a Sand Martin were over Windmill Pool, a Blackcap was singing around Engine Pool, and 4 Treecreepers were around Terry's Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

25th-31st March 2010

As I'm really behind with this blog, here's a summary of my sightings, with a few from Bob Roberts and Steve Lloyd, for late March:

25/03/2010 = 2 Pochards, 1 Kingfisher and 1 Goldcrest at Terry's Pool, with 26+ Redwings in trees to the north. 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool. 2 Swallows and 7+ Chiffchaffs (most silent but seemed to be this species) at Windmill Pool.

26/03/2010 = Bob Roberts had just 1 male Pochard at Terry's Pool, plus 2 Mute Swans apparently nest-building again, 4 Tufted Ducks, 1 Goldcrest and 1 Nuthatch.

27/03/2010 = After helping with the nestbox project at Blythe Valley, Humphrey Miller kindly dropped me off at the lakes. There was no sign of any Pochard, but Terry's Pool held a male Gadwall (only my second sighting of this species at the lakes!) and 12 Tufted Ducks. 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool and 2+ Chiffchaffs at Windmill Pool also noted.

28/03/2010 = Presumably the same male Gadwall was still present, at Windmill Pool. Also 26+ Golden Plovers flew over the lakes (my first this year), heading towards the Hungry Horse but no sign of them by the time I got there. Otherwise, 3 Greylag Geese landed on Engine Pool, and a Chiffchaff was near the causeway. I wasn't able to check Terry's Pool.
Bob Roberts did check Terry's Pool and had 5 Greylag Geese and 9 Tufted Ducks there, plus a female Common Pheasant and 2+ Chiffchaffs along Gypsy Lane (track from Malthouse Lane to Windmill Pool).

Greylag Goose, 28/03/2010 (© Bob Roberts)

Song Thrush, 28/03/2010 (© Bob Roberts)

29/03/2010 = 3 small horses grazing on the lawn in my front garden were a big surprise this morning!!! Hightlight at the lakes was a male Blackcap singing from south side of Engine Pool. Also noted were 4 Swallows (flying through), 1 Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher at Windmill Pool; and 2 Mute Swans at Terry's Pool. 2 Chiffchaffs heard around lakes.
Steve Lloyd had a Swallow over Engine Pool as he drove past at 6:15 pm.

30/03/2010 = Someone reported 10 Swallows and 2 Sand Martins at the lakes on BirdGuides, which I only found out about later through Warwickshire Birding.
At Windmill Pool I too managed to see up to 10 Swallows, but up to 7 Sand Martins, plus a Sparrowhawk appeared to have a go at them. 1 Kingfisher and 2 Bullfinches noted at Terry's Pool, as well as 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool. 3+ Meadow Pipits flew over lakes. A notable increase in Tufted Duck numbers was apparent with 21 counted, and after an absence the "three musketeers" (small domestic ducks) had returned.

31/03/2010 = Highlight was a very early Common Tern showing well from the causeway. Also noted were 6+ Swallows and 4 Sand Martins at Windmill Pool, with a Chiffchaff near the causeway. 2 Mute Swans were back at Terry's Pool - this pair look set to breed this year so seems little point in keep mentioning them here.

Earlswood Lakes have been pretty good for migrant birds this month, with perhaps Warwickshire's first Common Tern this year, and Sand Martin and Swallow sightings possibly only preceded by sightings at Draycote as far as Warwickshire is concerned. Not a single House Martin though, unlike last year.

M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

23rd-24th March 2010

I was unable to visit the lakes during these two days, but following the request I put on here Tony Philp had a look around on both days:

23/03/2010 = 2 adult Herring Gulls, 7 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Tufted Ducks, 1 Muscovy Duck, 2 Long-tailed Tits and 1 Nuthatch at Windmill Pool. 2 male Pochards, 2 Mute Swans (nest-building on bank of western shallows), 6 Tufted Ducks, 10 Great Crested Grebes, 2 immature Herring Gulls, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Nuthatches and 2 Long-tailed Tits at Terry's Pool. 2 adult Herring Gulls and 14 Great Crested Grebes at Engine Pool. 1 Grey Heron and 1 Buzzard (over) along canal feeder channel. 20+ Common Frogs spawning in shallows at Terry's Pool.

Common Frogs, 23/03/2010 (© Tony Philp)

24/03/2010 = 2 Mute Swans (appeared to have abandoned building nest on Terry's), 16 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Grey Heron and 1 Black-headed Gull at Engine Pool. 2 male Pochards, 7 Tufted Ducks, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 1 juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Treecreepers, 1 Jay, 1 Long-tailed Tit and 3 Nuthatches at Terry's Pool. 1 Chiffchaff (heard), 5 Tufted Ducks, 7 Great Crested Grebe, 1 adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and 1 Buzzard (over) at Windmill Pool. Apart from the multitude of Common Frogs spawning everywhere you look, today's find was a pair of jack Pike spawning in the shallows of the canal feeder at the northern end of Terry's Pool.

Pikes, 24/03/2010 (© Tony Philp)

Monday, 22 March 2010

17th-22nd March 2010

As I'm so far behind with keeping this blog up-to-date, here's the highlights for mid-March:

17/03/2010 = 4 Pochards at Windmill Pool. A Rook and up to 3 Lapwings over lakes.

18/03/2010 = 2 Sand Martins over Engine Pool were my first summer migrants this year. 4 or 5 Goldcrests around lakes.

19/03/2010 = 1 Pochard visible at Windmill Pool amongst vegetation.

20/03/2010 = 2 Greylag Geese over Engine Pool. 2 Kingfishers at Terry's Pool. 3 Pochards and my first migrant Chiffchaff at Windmill Pool. Total of c. 170 Common Frogs counted at lakes.

21/03/2010 = 2 Sand Martins flew over Engine Pool, also seen by Kevin Bates who was with me. I also saw a Rook and a Meadow Pipit (others heard) fly over the lakes. Although almost certainly yet another escapee, I was very pleased to see a male Wood Duck at Windmill Pool. A Goosander and 2 Pochards were at Terry's Pool, with a 3rd Pochard and a Chiffchaff at Windmill. Missed the volunteer work party in the woods again unfortunately, but did hear a Marsh Tit in New Fallings Coppice.

22/03/2010 = 2 Meadow Pipits (others heard) seen over Rumbush Farm. 5 Greylag Geese, 2 Pochards and a Chiffchaff at Terry's Pool. 2 Swallows (my first this year) and 2 Sand Martins over Windmill Pool, also seen by Tony Philp, but no sign of Wood Duck.

The Muscovy Duck was seen on every visit, always at Windmill Pool, and looks set to stay so doesn't seem much point in continuing reporting it, but I am interested to see how long it stays.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

16th March 2010

Saw my first bumblebee of the year yesterday in my garden, and for the first time attempted identification - seems to have been a Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

Got up early, and after giving my bicycle's chain a good oiling (it had gone a bit rusty!) went out on it for the first time in a couple of weeks. Hightlight at the lakes was seeing 7 Mute Swans at Engine and Windmill, including 3 first-winters. Apart from 2 Goldcrests singing around Terry's Pool, all the other notable birds were at Windmill Pool, where 4 Pochards, a Kingfisher and the Muscovy Duck were seen, plus 2 presumed Lesser Redpolls flew over. As I was on my bike, decided to check out the eastern parts of Earlswood, managing 7 Lapwings and a Green Woodpecker (on telegraph pole), after which I very briefly checked the lakes again from the causeway and continued on to Terry's Green, where I'd hoped to check the STW but a recently cut hawthorn hedge scuppered that so had to make do with just a Buzzard overhead. Forshaw Heath was very quiet.

With the winds now blowing from the south or thereabouts since this afternoon and forecast to continue doing so for the rest of the week, I'm hoping Earlswood's first migrants will be seen very soon - tomorrow maybe??? Seems Warwickshire's first Sand Martin of the year was seen at Draycote Water today.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 14 March 2010

14th March 2010

I had good views of a Bullfinch, saw 3 Pochards, 3 Herring Gulls and the Muscovy Duck on Windmill Pool and another Pochard on Engine Pool.
Bob Roberts


Overslept a little this morning for the WeBS survey, hence I didn't get to the lakes til 8:40 am by which time other people were walking around, plus the boats were out at Windmill Pool by the time I got there, so the counts were no doubt affected. Just 1 Goosander was at Terry's Pool; 2 Mute Swans and a Pochard at Engine Pool; and 4 more Pochards and the Muscovy Duck at Windmill Pool, plus a Sparrowhawk (soaring over) and a Grey Wagtail. With the survey finished, I went back to Terry's, finding 2 Shovelers there as well as the lone Pochard that had relocated from Engine.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 13 March 2010

13th March 2010

Carrion Crow calls coming from near my bedroom helped to wake me up early this morning, and I was surprised to see a group of 30 Carrion Crows in trees nearby. I'd never seen so many in my village before but have seen even larger gatherings at Earlswood, and it just goes to show that groups of large crows should never be presumed to be Rooks.

Walking to Earlswood, presumably the same male Yellowhammer was still singing at Fulford Heath, and I also heard a male Common Pheasant there - my first at Earlswood this year at long last, though Bob Roberts has already had up to two in the area this year. Reaching New Fallings Coppice, 2 Goldcrests there caused me to change my plan and I decided to have a good search of the wood and Clowes Wood. I only managed to locate 1 more Goldcrest, but also 8+ Treecreepers, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 32 Redwings, a Buzzard and 3 Mallards (along brook - unusual). Also, after about 90 minutes of searching, I found a Marsh Tit in Little Clowes Wood, along the railway on the northern side - I've seen no more than one this year, whereas two were resident last year, so hopefully this species isn't going to disappear from the area.

On to the lakes, where a 4th Goldcrest was seen at Mereside Pools, plus a 9th Treecreeper around Terry's Pool. There were 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool, and 3 Pochards circled over before flying down to Windmill Pool; but with the boats out they were nowhere to be seen by the time I got there, though a Kingfisher and the Muscovy Duck were there.

I continued to Earlswood Moathouse NR, but a Buzzard overhead was the most notable bird seen, although a 5th Goldcrest was heard in a nearby Earlswood Common garden. Going home, noted a Kestrel along Springbrook Lane.

M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

10th March 2010

Walked to the lakes early morning, and counted 42 Fieldfares and 10 Redwings in a field along Norton Lane on my way there. Saw 2 Shovelers, 3 Pochards, 4 Mute Swans (until the one pair noticed the other!) and the Muscovy Duck at Windmill Pool; whilst 3 more Pochards, 2 Greylag Geese (over), a Goosander and a Kingfisher were seen at Terry's Pool. From the causeway, 3+4 Goosanders were seen flying over but I can only be sure that 4+ were at the lakes today; as well as a wader flying over from south of Windmill and quickly gaining height which sadly I was unable to ID - whatever it was it would've been very notable. It seemed rather dark overall with no noticeable wing-bars or white rump/tail (although viewing conditions were dull), and had quite a long bill that seemed too short for Common Snipe or Woodcock - was it a Jack Snipe??? I don't have much luck with waders in flight! :-(
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. In case anyone's been wondering what the Muscovy Duck looks like, here it is:

Muscovy Duck (right!), 07/03/2010 (© Bob Roberts)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

7th March 2010

Bob Roberts visited the lakes today and noted 2 Pochards, 5 Tufted Ducks and 2 Song Thrushes at Terry's Pool, plus 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool. Also 2 Nuthatches around the lakes, one of which he had a really close view of.


I went to help Ron Hill and the other volunteers in Clowes Wood today, and whilst on my way there along Fulford Hall Road it gave me great pleasure to see a male Yellowhammer singing again in the same area as last time - presumably this is the same male on territory. I had a good time helping the guys in the SSSI with work on the paths, after which I spent just over an hour at the lakes, but to Bob's sightings I can only add that the Muscovy Duck was still at Windmill Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 6 March 2010

6th March 2010

Spent much of the morning at the lakes. Engine Pool held 2 Mute Swans and a Reed Bunting singing from one of the reed islands. Terry's Pool held up to 13 Goosanders, 1 Kingfisher (heard only), the Muscovy Duck, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Bullfinches and 3 Treecreepers, with a Goldcrest heard at Mereside Pools. Windmill Pool held 3 Shovelers, 4 Pochards and 9 Tufted Ducks, plus the Muscovy Duck moved to there as the morning progressed. From the causeway, a Skylark was heard passing over. At the "Springbrook Scrubland", south of Windmill Pool, saw more Lesser Redpolls (I reckon there were 8+ in the vicinity of the lakes today) and heard 2 more Bullfinches.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. I've made what I hope are improvements to the Earlswood bird list, putting it in tables. I hope people find the column with the last year each species was recorded useful.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

2nd March 2010

A first for some years - a day spent at Earlswood without any form of optical aid!!! Yep, I left my bins and scope at home as I went to help some Nature Force volunteers with improving a section of path in Little Clowes Wood, having been invited there by Izumi Segawa (Warwickshire Wildlife Trust). I find it satisfying knowing I've made a small contribution to improving the woods, plus now there should be one less "muddy bit" in there. I plan to start helping the volunteers who go there on Sundays, when I can. Birds noted were a Buzzard along Fulford Hall Road, and a Goldcrest heard in Little Clowes Wood.

Humphrey Miller visited Earlswood, and noted 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming in the woods and 3 Goosanders at Terry's Pool.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Izumi (contact details) is leading a National Grid corporate team to carry on the path work in Clowes Wood on Tuesday 9th March, which I think other people are welcome to come along to.

Monday, 1 March 2010

1st March 2010

Cycled to the lakes early morning, enjoying the pleasant weather and it became clear there'd been more waterbird movement since yesterday. Great Crested Grebe numbers had increased some more to 20, and whilst most of yesterday's less-common duck species had left the lakes (including the Mandarin Ducks, sadly), there was a female Pochard at Windmill Pool. Terry's Pool held 5 Goosanders and 2 Kingfishers, with up to 6 (!) noisy Jays plus 2 Treecreepers and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers around the sides; 2 Mute Swans at Mereside Pools were unusual. Also unusual was a redhead Goosander I saw at Engine Pool (possibly one of the birds seen at Terry's), as well as a Grey Wagtail, and heard a Green Woodpecker nearby. As well as the Pochard, the Muscovy Duck was still at Windmill Pool, whilst 25 Lapwings (first flock I've seen at Earlswood this year) and 3 Buzzards passed over. Whilst talking to a lady (who reads this blog) along the track from Windmill Pool to Malthouse Lane, 3 Siskins were noted. Then along Malthouse Lane as I was leaving, met local birder Bob Roberts, who I've met before, and he too said he reads this blog - it's good to know some people are enjoying it and it encourages me to continue.

Bob hadn't seen the Mandarin Ducks today either, but did note the 2 Mute Swans at Mereside Pools, as well as 5 Goosanders, 5 Tufted Ducks, a Kingfisher and c. 40 Black-headed Gulls, amongst other birds, at Terry's Pool. He also kindly sent me details of a male Mandarin Duck he saw at Terry's Pool last year, together with this pic:
Mandarin Duck, 09/09/2009 (© Bob Roberts)

This is the third confirmed record of this species at the lakes in 2009 that I'm aware of. It's interesting to note that this species has been reported at the lakes every year now since 2007, so I'm confident others will be found, although most seem to only stay a day and could easily be missed.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 28 February 2010

28th February 2010

A super day! I was walking along Fulford Hall Road during the morning when I heard a call that sounded somewhat familiar and I thought "no it can't be", but it was - a male Yellowhammer singing from the top of a tree at Fulford Heath! This is only my second sighting of this species in the Earlswood area, since I saw 3 birds together one morning last year, so I was really pleased!

I'd hoped to meet Clowes Wood warden Ron Hill for some volunteer work, but I was a bit late (due partly to the yellow bird!) and it turned out he wasn't there, and as I was late and a newcomer I didn't want to bother the volunteers (who were busy with the good work they do) anymore than I had already. So I went on to the lakes, where my day got even better! Approaching Terry's Pool, I had a poor view of two ducks flying over the water/trees, and something about them made me think they weren't Mallards, so I made sure I kept an eye on the airspace in case they flew over again (the Gadwalls I saw last year were rather flighty). Sure enough, they flew over a little later and with better views I realised they were a pair of Mandarin Ducks! Later still they landed on Terry's distantly and so I hurried back to get closer views, which I got but these birds were wary - the male was the first I'd seen at the lakes. Terry's Pool also held 2 Shovelers (patch year tick!), a male Pochard and up to 19 Goosanders, so I guess there'd been some duck movement in the night; and the usual Kingfisher. Great Crested Grebe numbers had risen to 10, and 4+ Mute Swans were also at the lakes.

I texted a couple of birders, and John Yardley came out to see the Mandarin Ducks during early afternoon. They showed for him, whilst I had better views of them than before. At Windmill Pool, the 2 Shovelers had relocated there, and the Muscovy Duck also showed - wonder how long this bird will stay?

John Sheppard photographed these beauties today:

Great Crested Grebes (© John Sheppard)

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 26 February 2010

26th February 2010

Spent late morning doing my fourth and final bird survey of tetrad SP07X, and in the Earlswood part managed a Sparrowhawk at Fulford Heath, whilst in the Worcestershire part saw 5 Siskins and a Coal Tit in Fulford Heath Golf Course.

I was able to spend a bit of time at Terry's Pool after the survey, noting 9 Goosanders, 2 Nuthatches, a Treecreeper and a Coal Tit there. Also met Kevin Bates there, who'd had a Kingfisher and 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool, the latter of which I saw whilst passing in a car.

M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 25 February 2010

25th February 2010

Another late afternoon visit produced an elusive female Pochard at Windmill Pool (I'd have never seen her if I hadn't spent so much time at the causeway), as well as the Muscovy Duck. Noted 7 Goosanders fly over Engine Pool from Terry's Pool, which had 2 more still on the water when I got there. Great Crested Grebe numbers had increased to 3.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

24th February 2010

Saw a Kingfisher, 2 Mute Swans and the Muscovy Duck during a late afternoon visit. After an absence, 2 Great Crested Grebes had appeared at Engine Pool, whilst a flock of 90+ Jackdaws flew over Windmill Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 21 February 2010

21st February 2010

Another WeBS visit during early morning, with all the best birds at Windmill Pool - 3 male Pochards, flock of 16 Tufted Ducks, 2 Mute Swans and the Muscovy Duck - well, until the boats came out >:-(
With the counts done, I headed back to Terry's Pool and found the 3 Pochards had relocated there, plus 5 Goosanders and 2 Kingfishers were also noted. Saw a Muntjac Deer in Mereside Pools, then to my disbelief saw some nasty teenager chasing it away with a slingshot, missing I think when he used it, but then lobbing a snowball at it - not all anglers are nature lovers!!!
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 19 February 2010

19th February 2010

A somewhat quiet early afternoon visit to the lakes produced 2 Ravens over Windmill Pool; a Kingfisher (heard), 2 Song Thrushes and 2 Nuthatches at Terry's Pool; and a Reed Bunting (rose from reed island) at Engine Pool. Saw the Muscovy Duck at Terry's and Windmill, and I reckon it's a female. Leaving the lakes, noted 3 Stock Doves on telegraph wire along Wood Lane.

At 7:30 pm, I went to a meeting at Earlswood village hall, having been invited there by Clowes Wood warden Ron Hill. The formation of a new "Earlswood Partnership" group was discussed, and hopefully this group will be able to improve things for wildlife at the lakes, SSSI and other parts of Earlswood...

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Went to see a Great Grey Shrike at Morton Bagot (Warwickshire) a few days ago - great bird!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

14th February 2010

I spent most of the morning at the lakes and it turned out to be my best visit there this year. First checked Terry's Pool, and had 2 Kingfishers there, then Engine Pool which had nothing unusual. Then got to Windmill Pool and soon noticed a lovely male Goldeneye there (only the second time I've seen this species at Earlswood), and also saw 2 Siskins and a Raven (over). Back at Engine Pool, spotted the Muscovy Duck (had it roosted elsewhere?) and had a flyover Greylag Goose. I then spent some time at Terry's Pool again, watching Goosander numbers slowly build up to a peak of 20 (possibly a site record?!), 2 Mute Swans land on the water and a Pochard. Kevin Bates also saw the Goldeneye at Engine Pool and in flight, but I reckon the bird left the lakes during late morning.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 13 February 2010

13th February 2010

At the lakes late afternoon, things were very quiet with just a Kingfisher and the Muscovy Duck seen at Terry's Pool. However, just as I was leaving, thought I'd check the canal feeder channel on the opposite side of Valley Road to the engine house and was rewarded with what I presume was a Water Rail dashing away from me at the edge of the Lady Lane garden there.
M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 11 February 2010

11th February 2010

After being dropped off at the lakes late afternoon, saw a Kingfisher, the Muscovy Duck and 3 Pied Wagtails at Engine Pool. A total of 14 Tufted Ducks was counted.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

10th February 2010

At the lakes during morning, saw 2 Goosanders at Terry's Pool and a Kingfisher at Windmill Pool, whilst at Engine Pool saw a third Goosander (unusual) and the Muscovy Duck. Checked the Hungry Horse field, but 2 Stock Doves over were the only birds of note - this field has been very disappointing recently, with not a single Lapwing or Golden Plover seen there this year so far.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

9th February 2010

I was at the lakes for much of the morning. Saw a Sparrowhawk over Engine Pool again - have seen one on each visit this month so far - though this time the bird was being mobbed by a brave Collared Dove. At Terry's Pool, saw 4 Goosanders and a Kingfisher, plus just 1 Siskin and a Stock Dove, whilst a Buzzard flew over followed by a Raven a little later. To be honest, a pleasant surprise was a Muscovy Duck, which I first saw at Windmill Pool and then saw at the other two pools - okay it's just some escape, but I always find it nice to see an unexpected species at my patch, plus it seems to be a new one for Earlswood's Category D and E list *everyone rolls eyes*. Noted 8 more Stock Doves in a horse pasture near Windmill Pool, with 3+ Lesser Redpolls seen along the track in that area. Leaving the lakes, saw possibly the same Raven over Biddles Hill (Terry's Green). Noted a total of 3 or 4 Buzzards in the Earlswood area.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 5 February 2010

5th February 2010

Walking along Fulford Hall Road, saw 10 Redwings and 2 Mistle Thrushes in a field, and counted 21 Fieldfares and 4 more Redwings in another field along Wood Lane. A look in Big and Little Clowes Wood produced 2+ Treecreepers, a Goldcrest, 2 Coal Tits and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. At Terry's Pool, saw 12 Goosanders and 2 Kingfishers, plus a second Goldcrest at Mereside Pools. A Sparrowhawk flew over Engine Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 1 February 2010

1st February 2010

At the lakes during the late afternoon, saw 3 male Goosanders and a Kingfisher at Terry's Pool, and 5 adult Mute Swans and a Sparrowhawk (attempted to catch a wagtail) at Engine Pool. I helped a lady (who regularly feeds the ducks) to try to catch a Song Thrush whose beak was permanently open, using a net on the ground but we weren't successful.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 31 January 2010

31st January 2010

Nothing really outstanding to report among the usual residents. The best we could spot were 2 Goldfinches along Terry's Pool, a single male Goosander flying towards Engine Pool and a Grey Wagtail in the Wood Lane car park.
Tony and Barbara Philp


A late afternoon visit produced a Grey Wagtail at Engine Pool, and a total of 19 Tufted Ducks at the lakes was the most I'd counted here this winter.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 30 January 2010

30th January 2010

Couldn't sleep so decided to go out cycling, leaving the house at c. 5:30 am, hoping to find a Barn Owl in the Earlswood area but all I managed was a male Tawny Owl, heard only, before first light. Saw a Kestrel at the Hungry Horse field before moving on to the lakes. The most notable birds were at Terry's Pool, namely 15 (possibly 17) Goosanders, a Kingfisher and a Reed Bunting. Moving to Earlswood STW, saw a Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtails and 3 Redwings on the filter beds. Had a Raven whilst heading home along Cleobury Lane.
M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 28 January 2010

28th January 2010

Goodness knows what I've missed in the previous four days, but as this afternoon's visit was quite good I've a bad feeling... Anyway, today I saw a male Wigeon, 4 Goosanders and a Kingfisher at Terry's Pool, plus a Kestrel and 2 Stock Doves flew over. Along the footpath from Malthouse Lane to Windmill Pool, saw a Goldcrest and 45 Starlings. Windmill Pool was quiet, apart from a flock of 13 Pied Wagtails that appeared as it started to rain very lightly - probably my best count at this time of year for the species. I later found that the Wigeon had moved to Engine Pool, and at c. 4:20 pm 6 Greylag Geese flew in and landed on the water - made my heart rate increase at first, knowing that a Pink-foot had been seen elsewhere in Warwickshire recently, but still a personal site record count. I met the lady who feeds the ducks regularly, and she told me that the Coot I'd found stuck at Windmill Pool earlier this month was rescued (as I thought) but sadly the bird was put down.

Kevin Bates sent me this pic taken by John Sheppard at Terry's Pool last week, saying he was "struggling to identify one of the birds". I'm not sure of the exact species, but I know it hasn't occurred in Warwickshire for many, many years! Click on the pic to enlarge it.

M.P. Griffiths

Edit: just noticed there's two in the pic!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

23rd January 2010

Went down in the afternoon. 6+ Goosanders, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 3 Pochards all on Terry's Pool.
Kevin Bates


Was able to spend about 10 minutes at the lakes during the early morning. I saw a Kestrel hovering over the Hungry Horse field, whilst at Engine Pool the Great Crested Grebe was still present and 6 Goosanders flew over.

My mom then dropped me off at Blythe Valley CP, where six of us continued work on the nestbox project and have now almost finished all that needs to be done on-site before the breeding season. Whilst with Humphrey Miller and Mike Chadwick, Mike spotted a Woodcock in flight, which all three of us saw and was a lifer for me.

Humphrey kindly dropped me off at the lakes, and at Terry's Pool I saw 5 Goosanders and 3 Pochards. At Engine Pool, saw 14 Tufted Ducks and 5 Mute Swans. A Goldcrest was heard in the spruces in Mereside Pools.

M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

20th January 2010

Visited the lakes briefly during the late afternoon, and it was good to see that quite a lot of the ice had melted since yesterday. At Engine Pool, the Great Crested Grebe was still present whilst a Kingfisher was heard, and 2 Mute Swans were at Windmill Pool. A total of 12+ Herring Gulls was notable.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Please sign this and forward it to your contacts:

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

19th January 2010

Early morning start, with a Goldcrest heard along Norton Lane. At the lakes, was pleased to see a Great Crested Grebe had arrived at Engine Pool since my last visit (my first at Earlswood this year!), whilst the 5 Mute Swans were present for a while and 6 Goosanders flew over towards Terry's Pool. There were 9 Tufted Ducks at Windmill Pool, with a Green Woodpecker heard to the south, but the Pochard had gone. Along the track from Windmill Pool to Malthouse Lane, counted 2 Bullfinches and 20 Greenfinches - a decent number. More finches were at Terry's Pool, including 30+ Siskins, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 13+ Goldfinches and 2 more Bullfinches; there was also a male Goosander on the small amount of liquid water and 2 Reed Buntings were along the pool's dam. A total of 8 Herring Gulls was notable, probably because I made a special effort to ID two first-winters there! Just before leaving, 2 Ravens landed in a tree along Valley Road. Heading home through Manor Farm, noted a Lapwing, presumed Lesser Redpoll and 2 Stock Doves fly over.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 17 January 2010

17th January 2010

Today was a bit warmer and the only thing of note was a Mute Swan family - 2 adults and 3 young on Engine Pool. Apart from that it was mainly Black-headed Gulls.
Kevin Bates


Did my WeBS at the lakes during the morning, but prior to reaching the lakes saw a Goldcrest and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers in New Fallings Coppice. Terry's Pool had few waterbirds, but I heard a second Goldcrest in spruces at Mereside Pools. Saw a Coal Tit and a third Goldcrest around Engine Pool, whilst a Tufted Duck in a flooded field along Valley Road was unusual. A male Pochard at Windmill Pool was nice to see, whilst 6+ Redwings and 4+ Fieldfares were in a nearby horse pasture. 3 Skylarks passed over the lakes during the survey period. WeBS finished, I returned to Engine Pool and was pleasantly surprised to see 12 Goosanders fly over towards Terry's Pools (no sign there when I later checked), as well as a Raven a little later.
I then proceeded through Big Clowes Wood, and noted single Marsh Tit and Coal Tit. Forshaw Heath was largely quiet, apart from 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers near the M42, a Jay in Graves Coppice, and 1+ Skylark over, but things soon improved. For the first time, I took the footpath from Poolhead Lane northeast to Malthouse Lane and saw good bird numbers along there at sheep pastures near Small Lane Farm, including 360+ Starlings, 60 Fieldfares, 37 Redwings, 2 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk, whilst 3+ Stock Doves and a Skylark flew over. Certainly an area I'll be visiting again.
M.P. Griffiths

16th January 2010

Best spots were around Terry's Pool and were a large flock of Long-tailed Tits and a lone Nuthatch.
Kevin Bates

Thursday, 14 January 2010

14th January 2010

A brief visit to the lakes with my mom to check out the Coot during the late afternoon didn't produce much, apart from 5 Mute Swans and 7 Tufted Ducks still. There was no sign of any stuck Coot at Windmill Pool, but fewer waterbirds there and newly broken twigs nearby on the path suggested that someone had somehow managed to free it (yesterday I'd told a local who feeds the ducks regularly about it).
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Thanks to John Sheppard for sending me this photo taken at the lakes:

Robin, 10/01/2010 (© John Sheppard)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

13th January 2010

During the late afternoon, I noted 5 Mute Swans at Engine Pool; whilst at Windmill Pool saw a Coot apparently stuck to overhanging branches at the only unfrozen part of the lake (no doubt bl**dy fishing line involved as usual!!!), plus a Kingfisher along Spring Brook again.

I then got home and found a link to this Angling Times article posted on a bird email group I'm in - made me extra cross, especially as the whole article seems to have been written on the presumption that the assault was committed by a birder! Note the bit about anglers discarding hooks and line described as "utter nonsense"!!! Well, not in my experience at Earlswood: I've now seen 2 Coots, 1 or 2 Mallard and 1 Wren caught by the stuff in the last 10 or so months, plus a gull and Woodpigeon seen in flight with line trailing behind them, and picked up discarded line on a number of occasions, and who knows how many other birds have suffered unnoticed. Sorry for the little rant, and I do know some anglers are careful with their equipment and litter.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

12th January 2010

During the morning, saw the Barnacle Goose x Greylag Goose hybrid, 7 Mute Swans and 11 Tufted Ducks at Windmill Pool, plus a Kingfisher along the adjacent stretch of Spring Brook. Saw a second-winter or adult Common Gull at Engine Pool, plus 2 Ravens flew over. Springbrook Scrubland (south of Windmill Pool) held 2 Siskins, 9 Goldfinches and 4+ Stock Doves.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 10 January 2010

10th January 2010

An early morning one-hour visit wasn't too bad, with 5 Mute Swans at Engine Pool again but no sign of the hybrid goose nor most of the Canada Geese. At Windmill Pool, 2 Ravens flew over (1 landed briefly), whilst a Reed Bunting was seen along the western side.

I then moved on to Earlswood Moathouse NR, but the best I could manage in there were 3+ Redwings, a Coal Tit, 2 Nuthatches and a Jay. Along Earlswood Common, saw 2 Coal Tits (1 perhaps NR bird) and perhaps the biggest flock of Long-tailed Tits I've yet seen - 25 counted near the Reservoir pub.

Back at the lakes, saw 3 Herring Gulls (beware: one is rather small and a Common Gull look-alike!) and an impressive 50+ Siskins at Engine Pool, plus 10+ Goldfinches and 2 overhead Ravens (probably same birds seen earlier) at Terry's Pool. I'm very concerned about what this cold, snowy spell is doing to our wild birds and wonder what numbers I'll be noting once it's over, which I hear will be early February. I've noticed that Moorhens are much less evident around the lakes than in November and December - have the rest dispersed or perished?

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. I've started a thread on BirdForum about the hybrid goose here, in which I've uploaded some photos I took yesterday. I now think it's probably a Barnacle Goose x Greylag Goose, as I believe this is one of the more common goose hybrids, but I'm open to suggestion.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

9th January 2010

Another pretty good visit to the lakes during the morning. The hybrid goose was again at Engine Pool with its Canada Geese friends, plus 2 Greylag Geese, 1 Skylark (over), 1 Grey Wagtail and 8 Long-tailed Tits; also 2 Ravens landed on the ice during the early afternoon, which was particularly notable given that I usually see this species in flight only. Whilst at the causeway, saw a wader disappear below the dam on two occasions but each time too briefly to be sure what it was.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 8 January 2010

8th January 2010

Walked to Earlswood early morning, and had 3 Treecreepers and a Coal Tit in New Fallings Coppice. Like on my last visit, the lakes were almost all frozen with one small unfrozen area each at Engine and Windmill Pools. Saw 3 more Treecreepers around Terry's Pool, as well as a number of Siskins and 2+ Lesser Redpolls. 5 Mute Swans were at Engine Pool, along with a large number of Canada Geese, among which was a small goose hybrid, plus 2 Ravens flew over, and later 3 Greylag Geese appeared; 1 Grey Wagtail and 2 Coal Tits also noted. Star bird today though was a Common Snipe (patch tick!) seen over Windmill Pool and disappearing down among trees along the brook along Valley Road (I later saw probably the same bird distantly over Engine/Terry's Pool). Also seen at Windmill Pool were 3 Lesser Redpolls along the western side, whilst a Kingfisher was seen at the stream next to the Valley Road car park.
So, quite a good visit - I take back what I said in the previous post!!!
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 4 January 2010

4th January 2010

Well I haven't got my patch birding off to a good start this year, I'm afraid. This was my first visit to the lakes this year and it was quite brief, but 7 Mute Swans was almost certainly my best count of the species at Earlswood to date, 5 of which were a family and, according to someone who regularly feeds the birds, they'd arrived today. A first-winter Common Gull and 13 Tufted Ducks all at Engine Pool were also noted.

With all this cold weather freezing up the lakes and forcing birds to congregate at the unfrozen areas next to paths, I'm not hopeful of anything very good turning up until things warm up a little. I'd love to be proved wrong though, so would be grateful of updates. In the meantime, I'm busy sending my records to the BTO and county recorders, and currently have a backlog going back to November 2007!!! Don't forget that I'm still very interested in receiving people's 2000-2009 records for the Earlswood Bird Report.

M.P. Griffiths