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

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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