Thursday, 29 December 2011
Well, on Christmas Day I went to the lakes a little earlier than usual to avoid the inevitable crowds, and standing at the causeway at c.8:50 am, bingo: an adult Peregrine Falcon flew southeast over Engine Pool and the Valley Road area. Then next day, Boxing Day, I was walking through a marsh when a pigeon-sized bird flew over, apparently coming from the nearby scrubland, and I got my bins on it as it flew over the southeast corner of Windmill Pool and saw that it was the bird I'd been most wanting to add to my patch list - a Woodcock! Two patch ticks in two days, putting me on 138 species for my Earlswood life list and 127 for my Earlswood year list. Very pleased!
I've added 18 species to my patch life list this year, but very much doubt I'll add more than half this many in 2012 - new species just get harder and harder to find. Curlew is of course now the species I most want to tick, but I'll need excellent views or better yet have one calling. I'm also expecting to see Red Kite one of these days, as they expand their breeding range in the midlands further.
Saturday, 24 December 2011
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
Terry's Pool has been more productive than usual recently. Firstly Robin Moore alerted me to an interesting duck there, which is likely to have been the female Mandarin Duck that I saw in the same area today. Then Jon Chidwick texted me about two Gadwall there, a species I've been waiting all year to see at the lakes for my patch year-list, but alas it was a day that I was working a 6am-5pm shift so definitely no chance of twitching! Not expecting them to still be there based on past experiences, I managed to see them (two males) during a brief visit yesterday, my 125th bird species seen at Earlswood this year! Even more surprisingly, they were still present for a third day today when I did this month's WeBS counts, and also seen by Tony Philp. With rain forecast tonight there's a fair chance they'll still be there tomorrow. Also seen at Terry's Pool today was the long-staying male Shoveler and a flyover Mistle Thrush, with a male Common Pheasant showing briefly on the path along the south side of Windmill Pool. Another surprise yesterday was a first-winter Little Gull flying around the lakes, viewed from the causeway, with rather worn black markings on the wings and tail, which I think was a different bird to the one seen on the 10th; not certain though as the first bird was not seen as well given fading light so tricky to compare, and as I said I've missed visiting some days, when a bird wandering the local area might have made other visits. Interestingly a report of Little Gull came from nearby Bartley Reservoir today, but I don't know the details.
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Saturday, 10 December 2011
Monday, 5 December 2011
Thursday, 10 November 2011
Friday, 23 September 2011
P.S. The Barnacle Goose and female Mandarin Duck reappeared at Windmill Pool today.
Sunday, 11 September 2011
Also seen this morning were 2 Common Sandpipers at Windmill Pool, and a total of 28 Siskins flew southwest over Engine Pool in two flocks. A Yellow Wagtail was heard flying over too.
Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus = 293 sonograms
Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus = 77 sonograms
50khz Pip (Com or Sop) = 138 sonograms
Nathusius Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii = 2 sonograms (peak frequency 40.3khz and 40.0khz)(needs validation)
Noctule Nyctalus noctula = 4 sonograms
Daubenton’s Bat Myotis daubentonii = 21 sonograms (Probable, but with good observations to support)
Myotis spp = 11 sonograms
Brown Long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus = 1 sonograms
I challenge anyone to find a more active site for Soprano Pipistrelles! And the possible Nathusius! I recorded a pip here last year at 40khz too, I believe that common pips only get down to 41khz? The foraging is that good over the water bodies here that I am not surprised that a Nathusius might be tempted to make this a stopping point, we will have to scrutinise all the Pips found in any of the bat boxes now.
There were also larger Myotis flying across the main causeway but I have not picked up enough recordings to have been able to pin them down to a species, there was nothing this time to suggest Natterers, but we missed most of the woodland out this time.
Paul Wilkinson (06/09/2011)
Friday, 2 September 2011
Saturday 3rd September Moth & Bat night - meet at 8:30 pm Malthouse Lane Car Park. Come along for an informal short Bat Walk and to see how a moth trap works.
Thursday, 1 September 2011
Many thanks to everyone who contacted British Waterways with their comments on this issue, and a big thank you to British Waterways for coming to the right decision.
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Thanks to all those that turned out last night (32 people signed in) to witness a spectacular storm, a lightning bolt that must have blown the tern-raft out of the lake and got the local Tawny Owls talking, and a bit of rain to make sure we went home wet. Oh, and quite a few bats performed for us too.
The evenings tally on the Anabat recordings were:
Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus = 173 sonograms
Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus = 19 sonograms
50khz Pip (Com or Sop) = 10 sonograms
Noctule Nyctalus noctula = 3 sonograms
Daubenton’s Bat Myotis daubentonii = 6 sonograms (probable)
Natterer’s Bat Myotis nattereri = 1 sonogram (probable)
Myotis spp = 3 sonograms
Brown Long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus = 2 sonograms
As you can see, the Soprano Pipistrelle is by far the commonest and would have been the species flying around our heads and dive bombing towards our faces all around the lakes (non caught up in hair though).
The Myotis are a difficult group to separate from calls and I have given it my best guess, only checking the bat boxes will allow us confirmation of which Myotis we have on the site.
Paul Wilkinson (27/08/2011)
Thursday, 25 August 2011
You can see the boat this guy is using, a bright orange one just perfect for scaring birds with. He also writes that his blood was boiling after loosing four big fish. Well my blood is really boiling at the thought of three of those fish with hook and line still in their gobs, which will no doubt cause further problems to wildlife once dislodged or the fish die, plus line was caught in "weed" - problems caused by just one fisherman here but all too easily exacerbated by others. Also the big fish were only carp, which can be caught at comparable size and more easily at the other two pools without needing a boat.
Most concerning though is the choice of wording in the last paragraph about the Angling Trust "securing" Terry's Pool for kayak fishing.
Reading this account, I realise that kayak fishing is going to cause even more problems:
- Terry's Pool has many overhanging trees and aquatic plants that fishing line and hooks can get caught on, which if left are a major threat to wildlife, birds especially which I've seen suffering or killed by this on numerous occasions. Also, who would tidy up fishing line and hooks left behind - the volunteers (who do all litter-picking) don't have a boat.
- I suspect one of the main causes of Earlswood's blue-green algae problem is the large amount of groundbait that is put into them, because it is more of a problem at Engine Pool and Windmill Pool - the amount of groundbait I've seen thrown in by some people is staggering! I can't say I've noticed anywhere near as much algae at Terry's Pool, but that could change if the amount of fishing increases.
I urge anyone opposed to this to write a letter to British Waterways.
British Waterways, Peels Wharf, Lichfield Street, Fazeley, Tamworth, B78 3QZ.
Also seen were the female-type Mandarin Duck at Terry's Pool; plus a Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpipers, 4 Teals and a Greylag Goose at Windmill Pool.
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
St Patrick’s Church, Salter Street
“A striking & unexpected accent in a wholly rural landscape” (Quote from English Heritage)
Earlier this year, St Patrick’s Church, Salter Street achieved Grade II*listed status. The beautiful Victorian church, designed by Bidlake, had finally been recognised as the very special place it is; there are intricate carvings, ornate decorations, stunning murals and a wonderful ceiling.
To celebrate this, recently, there have been three open days allowing many people to come in and see the treasures for themselves. This will be repeated on:
Visitors will be welcome between 10am-4pm. There will be· accompanied tours
· a chance to sit quietly
· the Millennium Tapestry to see
· books for sale
· refreshments to enjoy
Saturday, 20 August 2011
It's only during the past few days that I've found out what is happening here. British Waterways are allowing Kayak fishing at Terry's Pool for a trial period of 12 months, after which they will review the situation. This trial has been started (3 months ago???) apparently with no consultation with anyone local, and certainly not with the Earlswood Wildlife Partnership.
A significant number of lakes in Warwickshire have been spoilt for birds due to the introduction or intensification of fishing, and there is bird count data to prove this. Naturally I am very concerned about the effects these kayaks will have on the waterbirds that breed at Terry's Pool - Great Crested Grebes, Coots, the Mute Swan pair and other species. Terry's Pool is also used as a refuge by visiting and resident birds, which are often disturbed by activities at the other two pools. My other concerns are damage to the Amphibious Bistort clumps, which are favoured feeding areas for waterbirds and I assume the fish too, and soil erosion on the banks used to access the water, since there is no slipway. There is also the danger of people seeing the kayaks on the water and going on the water with their own boats, homemade rafts, etc. which could be dangerous for them.
I appreciate that British Waterways is due to become a new charity next year, and will need to look for more ways to earn money from its waters, but this is a very bad idea in my opinion, for wildlife and human reasons.
If you have any comments on this please leave a comment on this post or send them to my email address, and I'll pass them on to the Earlswood Wildlife Partnership, who'll need to receive them before August 26th.
European Bat Weekend! Go bat spotting at Earlswood Lakes on a guided walk with British Waterways ecologist Paul Wilkinson. A great chance to see these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat and find out more about them. Wear outdoor clothing and sensible shoes. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Meet at the car park For more information, call Paul Wilkinson on 07919 552527. Grid ref: SP 11257438 Postcode: B94 6AD
Friday, 5 August 2011
Also frustrating in the last few days have been a couple of sightings that I've had to let slip: 2 possible Crossbills over, which would've been the first record at Earlswood in over 100 years, and a probable Gadwall, which otherwise would've been the first recorded this year. However, I was very pleased to find a juvenile Shelduck at Windmill Pool one morning, which was my 130th bird species at Earlswood, and in the last few days a female/juvenile Mandarin Duck has been present, the well-watched and long-staying male being last seen in eclipse plumage early last month. From memory, other particularly notable sightings in the last few months have been a Little Grebe, the odd Hobby, up to 2 Little Owls, a Yellow Wagtail and 2 pairs of Spotted Flycatchers. I've recorded 115 bird species at Earlswood so far this year, already smashing my previous personal record of 113 that I set last year, and the best months of the autumn passage are still to come - very exciting! This is out of a total of 122 bird species recorded at Earlswood so far this year.
Earlier today I walked all the way around Terry's Pool for the first time since late May - the path improvement work along the northern sides of the pool appear to be finished and I think they've done a good job. I was particularly pleased to see that the path has been raised so that damage to tree roots has been kept to a minimum. Already quite a few walkers were using it, which from my point of view and the birds' could be a bad thing, as disturbance here could now increase. We shall see...
Thursday, 26 May 2011
Saturday 28 May - Clowes Wood and Earlswood Lakes
The reserve is about 5 miles south of Solihull. Please park in small reserve car park at SP101743 in Wood Lane or carefully outside in the road. Ron Hill, the warden, will lead us around the site.
Targets: rare sedges, Wood Horsetail, Heath Spotted Orchid, Lily of the Valley, Bitter Vetch, Marsh Violet, Northern Yellow-cress.
Meeting will start at 10 a.m. and finish at about 3.30 p.m. or when everybody has had enough.
Please bring sandwiches and drinks. Walking will be limited to a couple of miles.
Weekday meetings will start at 10 a.m. and finish at about 1 p.m.
You do not need to be a member of the BSBI or anything else to come along. You can be a beginner or an expert, or just interested in identifying and finding plants. Please bring field guides and a lens if you have one.
Monday, 23 May 2011
A Garden Warbler appears to be holding territory along the west side of Windmill Pool at the moment.
Saturday, 21 May 2011
Note that one of the head plume feathers is visible in photo 3.
Not much else of note was around today, though a Garden Warbler singing along the railway in Clowes Wood was my first in those woods. Nearby, saw a Cinnabar moth at the Railway Scrubland (my first for a couple of years).
Thursday, 19 May 2011
The Night Heron was seen again this afternoon, and twice flew over Springbrook Lane, lastly at 8:55 pm which was the only time I saw it. So far the bird has been flushed just a few times, but I'm concerned that it could be excessively disturbed, so please search areas where it might be flushed after 5 pm to a) let the bird rest and b) allow more birders a better chance of seeing it. Around another 20-30 birders saw it today, and I think most of the people who've made more than one attempt have now seen it.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Many of the birders who've put the hours in have been rewarded now. Over 30 people have seen it so far. I hope more see it, but please keep disturbance at the scrubland to a minimum (breeding birds) - try scanning trees next to water. I still think the causeway is worth staking out too, though the bird is covering a large area (at least 1 x 2 km).
Everyone who's thought about the age of the bird agrees it's an adult.
Another highlight for me today was a Redshank over Engine Pool this morning, which John Sirrett put me on to (another patch tick).
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Also finally saw a Hobby over Engine Pool, and the Mandarin Duck and a Common Sandpiper were at Windmill Pool.
Sunday, 15 May 2011
The bird reappeared this evening, when I confirmed age as adult, first seen over Engine Pool before disappearing along Valley Road. It then rose and was back over Engine Pool, where it perched for a few minutes in a tree along the northwest side, and although distant the head plumes could be made out. It moved to Terry's Pool, where it was seen once or twice, lastly around 8:15 pm. Unfortunately when I refound it I was only able to text Mike Inskip before my mobile's batteries went dead (really sorry), after all the texts/calls I made this morning! Mike tried to contact some birders but none could make it. He was able to see the bird, making just four birders who've done so.
There's a good chance it'll still be there tomorrow if anyone's interested. Terry's Pool is the smaller, western one. Closest car park is at Malthouse Lane. Long overdue path maintenance work along the north side of Terry's Pool is due to start tomorrow, but not sure if this will mean less or more disturbance there.
Sunday, 1 May 2011
Saturday, 30 April 2011
Bank Holiday Monday 2nd May
From 10 am. - 4 pm.
Bring friends & family to see:
- the beautiful Grade II* listed building
- the decorations in church
- the Millennium Tapestry &
- the wild flowers in the churchyard
Anyone wanting just to come in & sit or light a candle in remembrance will be most welcome
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
mandarin duck still at windmill, with female teal there early morning, common sandpiper, swift over, yellow wagtail heard overhead
reed warbler singing from engine pool reed island
In case I don't update blog in next few days here's a few events organised by Earlswood Wildlife Partnership
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
mandarin still at windmill pool, and 2 whitethroat in scrubland to south
sedge warbler singing at one of the engine pool reed islands
Friday, 18 March 2011
Other notable birds at Terry's Pool were the female Pochard and a Greylag Goose.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
The birding walk on Feb 19th went okay. I was joined by Tony and John H, and despite it raining from the start, things started off well with the Water Rail in the usual place at Engine Pool. Two of us saw a Kingfisher at Terry's Pool, and there was a large flock of Fieldfares and Redwings in a field beside Big Clowes Wood. However, we got a good drenching and failed to see the Pintail or a Marsh Tit during the rest of the walk around the lakes and through Clowes Wood and New Fallings Coppice. For those that couldn't make this walk, I will be happy to do another or maybe a migation watch one day this spring, if people are interested?
Construction of the tern raft started on Feb 12th, with Ron, Bob, Barrie and myself making good progress, then Ron and I did further work on Mar 4th. Much work was done on the 13th, when about 13 people (mainly Clowes Wood volunteers) helped put the raft together at the playing field and then Terry's Pool dam before floating it. Next day, Paul and another guy from British Waterways used a boat to move the raft and anchor it into place (BW article). Unfortunately only a few people got to watch this work on the 14th, but I filmed most of it - links to videos:
These videos will take a few minutes at least to load (took at least 9 hours to upload the two you know!!!). The raft looked fine today, and I'm really pleased with the result, and how what started as just an idea has come to fruition and is now floating on Terry's Pool ready for the terns, due early next month - exciting! On behalf of the terns, many thanks to Ron, Izumi, Bob, Cheryl, Andrew, Barrie, John H, John, Paul, Robin, Simon and about four others whose names I'm afraid I forget or don't know, all of whom helped at some stage.
Don't want to dwell on this too much, but I was rather annoyed a few weeks back to see that someone had defaced a sign about the SSSI status of Clowes Wood and New Fallings Coppice with the words "stop cutting tree,s" in what looks like permanent marker, like they know how to best manage a woodland for nature. Warden Ron Hill and the other hard-working volunteers have been trying to make an area of hazel coppice to attract certain types of wildlife. See this article Managing Woodlands for Biodiversity (7 pages) to see how cutting a few trees down can benefit wildlife by letting more light reach the ground.
However, tree-cutting is obviously bad if done excessively, and the Earlswood area has lost three significant woods in the last 100 years, including Forshawpark Wood and Small Lane Coppice. Astonishingly, the third seems to have been cleared secretly in the last decade, and I'll be posting evidence of this in another post soon.
Other news is that I've set up an Earlswood wildlife slideshow/gallery for photos taken by anyone who sends them to me, visible in the righthand column of this page - will try to add more pics soon. Also, I have on loan the diaries of a birder who visited Earlswood in the late 1940s and 1950s, plus at long last a copy of "A survey of the birds of Earlswood" (1955), all of which make fascinating reading and will be most useful for my books. Turtle Doves, Tree Pipits, Willow Tits and Hawfinches all breeding, plus Nightingales and a Woodlark singing, all back then but how times change!!! Many thanks to John Sears for posting these to me.
On to sightings. Apart from long-stayers, it's been a fairly quiet period until the last few days, when migrants have started to arrive. Highlights:
Greylag Goose: one over Engine Pool on Mar 11th and 2 at Terry's Pool on 12th.
Mandarin Duck: a confiding male at lakes from Mar 4th to today, favouring Windmill Pool but has been seen at other two pools.
Pintail: long-staying female showing on and off, usually at Terry's Pool; last seen on 14th.
Shoveler: a pair at Terry's Pool today.
Teal: pair at Terry's Pool on Mar 3rd, male at Windmill Pool on 4th-5th, and a pair over Terry's Pool on 6th. Two on Mar 11th (Yvonne Heward)
Wigeon: male at Terry's Pool on Feb 14th.
Pochard: female at Windmill Pool on Mar 5th (Tony Philp), and subsequently seen at Terry's Pool up to today.
Goldeneye: 4 (inc. a young male) at Terry's Pool on Feb 27th - good number for Earlswood.
Little Grebe: one at Windmill Pool on Mar 13th.
Water Rail: long-staying rather confiding bird seen most days. Still present today (John Hunt). Many people including fishermen and walkers have seen it now.
Golden Plover: 80+ quite high over Windmill Pool on Mar 11th.
Lapwing: Singles over lakes on Feb 22nd and Mar 11th. At Hungry Horse field, one on Mar 4th and 9 on 6th.
Common Snipe: a couple flushed on two occasions.
Little Owl: one in area since Feb 14th (Tony Philp). Seen/heard for myself on Feb 18th.
Stock Dove: Peak of 11 in Hungry Horse field on Feb 22nd.
Kingfisher: up to 2 seen at once.
Grey Wagtail: finally, one over Windmill Pool today just before I left.
Redwing: 64+ in field along Wood Lane on Feb 15th.
Fieldfare: 60+ around Terry's Pool on Mar 2nd.
Chiffchaff: an early bird at Spring Brook Scrubland on Mar 13th, then singles noted at Windmill Pool and along Springbrook Road today.
Marsh Tit: At least two found in Clowes Wood on Feb 14th with two also seen on Mar 11th (John Oates). I've only managed to see one in there so far this year.
Greenfinch: 20+ at Spring Brook Scrubland on Feb 22nd (Tony Philp) - good count for recent years.
Linnet: 4 at Railway Scrubland today.
Lesser Redpoll: peak of c. 12 at Spring Brook Scrubland on Mar 13th.
Reed Bunting: a pair are present at Spring Brook Scrubland.
Also, on 14th, 106 adult Common Frogs spawning and a Buff-tailed Bumblebee queen at Terry's Pool, with 7+ more Common Frogs at Windmill Pool (peak number evidently occurred earlier there with much frogspawn present).
Patch year ticks were Marsh Tit, Common Snipe, Little Owl, Lapwing, Goldeneye, Mandarin Duck, Golden Plover, Little Grebe, Chiffchaff, Linnet and Grey Wagtail, bringing my personal Earlswood 2011 list up to 76. Many thanks to Tony Philp, John Oates, Phil Block, Yvonne Heward, Mike Holt and Des Ridge for their recent sightings.
Well done if you've made it to the end of this essay! Here's some of Tony Philp's recent photos taken at the lakes, some of which may be useful for identification purposes.
Friday, 18 February 2011
P.S. John H, you're welcome to join the walk (I had my reply to your email returned).
Friday, 11 February 2011
Other news: Mute Swan "V72" had fishing line and a hook for a while recently but was caught and the hook/line removed at the lakeside, so hopefully the pair will now be able breed again this year. Anyone who's visited Windmill Pool recently will have noticed that a number of trees along the east side have been cut down about a couple of months ago; I suspect this is for the benefit of fishermen, but it will be interesting to see how this area develops for wildlife now that more light can reach the ground there. The tern raft is going to happen, and construction is due to start tomorrow! Finally, the dark domestic duck that has been resident at Windmill Pool for several months now has recently been confirmed as a Muscovy Duck x domestic Mallard hybrid (see http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=190116).
Request: Could the person who reported the following on December 5th last year please contact me:
c25 Waxwings near Earlswood Lakes at Warings Green Wharf in oak tree briefly then flew off.
Waxwings are quite rare in the midlands most years, and I will need a description to accept this record, subject to acceptance by the county recorder.
Now for the sightings. It's been fairly quiet since my last post, except for some waterbird movement. Most notable was Tony Philp's Little Egret (now confirmed), with perhaps a second bird, seen with the naked eye flying along the canal feeder channel towards the lakes on Feb 6th - the second patch rarity of the year and I've missed them both!!! Sightings at the lakes during January included a female Pintail on 17th, 22nd-23rd and 28th-31st, with a flock of 4 briefly on 24th; peaks of 4+ Teals on 16th, 5 Shovelers on 24th-25th and 2 Wigeons on 28th-29th; a male Pochard on 19th-20th and a female on 31st; the Water Rail at Engine Pool on a number of occasions up to 31st; and a peak of 30+ Siskins on 25th.
February sightings so far include the female Pintail on 3rd and 8th-9th, 2 Wigeons today, 2 Shovelers on 8th-9th, a male Pochard on 10th (also seen by Tony Philp), a male Sparrowhawk on 1st, a group of 7 Jays on 3rd and 6+ Lesser Redpolls also on 3rd. After an absence the Water Rail reappeared in the channel along the north side of Engine Pool on 9th, and much to my astonishment saw it grab a Nuthatch from a nearby tree trunk and pin it down in the water before I intervened and the Nuthatch escaped; though I've read of Water Rails preying on smaller birds this is the first time I've witnessed it and thought it only happened during harsh winter weather (it was a mild day). In hindsight I have mixed feelings about whether I should've intervened (I did it without thinking), but I doubt the rail will starve as a result given the good weather at the moment, and it was still present today. Away from the lakes, the most notable birds I've seen were 4 Stock Doves at the Hungry Horse field on Feb 1st, and 2 Mistle Thrushes at Forshaw Heath on Feb 3rd. Personal patch year ticks besides the Pintails, Wigeons and Pochards were a first-winter Common Gull on Jan 16th and a Meadow Pipit roosting at a marsh next day - increasing my list by just five to 65 for 2011 :-(
P.S. an interesting Long-tailed Tit with a light head visited my garden on a number of occasions from Jan 18th-31st, and was also seen by my mom on 4th this month. Further details, pics and links to videos at http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=190334
Sunday, 6 February 2011
Thursday, 13 January 2011
I was gutted to learn that a Shelduck was seen on the ice at Engine Pool on New Year's Day by at least three people, one of whom has shown me a photo of it on his camera. I didn't think there'd be much at Earlswood that day because of all the people that tend to be there on bank holidays, plus I had a headache and the flu, so chickened out - best bird of the year so far and I missed it! As far as I'm aware, this is the 12th record for the lakes, the last in 2007.
As you can imagine, I was at the lakes early on the 2nd but the Shelduck had gone. Engine Pool was good though with 4 Teals, a male Shoveler and the Water Rail. 7 Siskins were seen at Windmill Pool. In the vicinity of the lakes, 2 Ravens (over), up to 3 Rooks (over) and 11 Greenfinches were notable, with a pair of Common Pheasants and 2 Stock Doves in a field along Gypsy Lane. Springbrook Scrubland was pretty good, with 118 Fieldfares (trees along Earlswood Common), 3 Bullfinches, 2 Reed Buntings, a Skylark (over) and a Lesser Redpoll (over) noted. I moved on to Earlswood Train Station, where the decent-sized Bullfinch flock was still present nearby, with 8+ counted, as well a Goldcrest and a Coal Tit. In Little Clowes Wood I saw another Goldcrest but the numerous dog-walkers in there put me off exploring the rest of the woodland. It was quite a good visit to Earlswood, and I managed 52 species for the year list - not a bad start.
A brief visit to the lakes on 3rd produced 25 Siskins and the Water Rail at Engine Pool; I was joined by the recently elusive Kevin Bates who got to see the latter bird.
I then moved on away from Earlswood to an area of farmland near Studley called Morton Bagot where I joined John Yardley and Chris Lane, and not long into the visit we found a Corn Bunting - a rarity in this part of Warwickshire and a lifer for me! Richard Harbird joined us near one of the pools there, and we subsequently saw 2 Mandarin Ducks, a Little Egret, 79 Wigeons, a Goosander (unusual there), 3 Great Black-backed Gulls (over), 6+ Bramblings and a Marsh Tit - another really good day, but a pity we don't have farmland or wetland habitat anything like that at Earlswood...
Subsequent visits to the lakes produced little, but notable birds (mainly additions to the patch year list) were:
04/01/2011: a male Kestrel over the Malthouse Lane causeway.
05/01/2011: a Green Woodpecker near Gypsy Lane, and a Tawny Owl (heard) near Reservoir pub.
06/01/2011: a Kingfisher (finally, but heard only) at Terry's Pool, and 2 Greylag Geese over Springbrook Scrubland. 135+ Fieldfares at fallen apples in an Earlswood Common garden viewable from Windmill Pool.
08/01/2011: 2 Mistle Thrushes low over Engine Pool, but highlight was the Water Rail taking Lynda's thrown bread!!!
10/01/2011: a Great Crested Grebe at Engine Pool was great to see at long last! Also 21 Lesser Redpolls at Springbrook Scrubland. Total of 16+ Bullfinches noted in Earlswood area (good winter for them it seems).
11/01/2011: A Sparrowhawk (over), the Great Crested Grebe and the Water Rail all seen at Engine Pool. A Kestrel distant over Malthouse Lane gardens (nice garden tick if anyone saw it!).
Other sightings included a Mink along the Spring Brook beside Windmill Pool on 9th. Rob Field saw a Kingfisher along the brook beside Clowes Wood on 9th - a good record for that area.
The Water Rail along the north side of Engine Pool has been seen a few times this month; today (13th) I saw it and also managed to see the second more-elusive bird at Terry's Pool for the first time this year. There was no sign of the grebe.
My 2011 Earlswood bird list now stands at a modest 60. I haven't seen anything particularly unusual yet, and there's still some common-ish species to be added before things kick off in the spring.
Addendum for 2010:
Tony Philp had 2 Shovelers at Engine Pool on December 31st.