Tuesday, 30 August 2011

European Bat weekend at Earlswood Lakes

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.

Thanks again,

Paul Wilkinson (27/08/2011)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

More on Kayak fishing

I've just found the website of the kayak fisherman I saw at Terry's Pool on August 4th, with his account of the day here.

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.
In my previous post on this subject, I neglected to mention the tern raft, which of course will have no chance of being used if even just one kayak is allowed on the water in the 2012 breeding season.

I urge anyone opposed to this to write a letter to British Waterways.

email: enquiries.westmidlands@britishwaterways.co.uk

British Waterways, Peels Wharf, Lichfield Street, Fazeley, Tamworth, B78 3QZ.


25th August 2011

Excellent morning, with an eclipse male Garganey feeding with Mallards on the "mudflats" at Engine Pool for about an hour before being disturbed and flying to Terry's Pool, where still present at 8:50 am. Being the first wild individual I've seen, this was a lifer for me! Also the first Earlswood record I'm aware of since 2003, and another example of how important Terry's Pool is as a refuge for birds disturbed at the other pools.

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.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

St Patrick’s Church open day

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:

Bank Holiday Monday 29th August

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

Tony Philp

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Kayak fishing at Terry's Pool‏

On the 4th of this month, I was surprised to see a man in a kayak fishing on Terry's Pool and assumed this was just a one-off instance of rule-breaking, as I knew for a fact fishing was only allowed along the side adjoining Engine Pool. However, two days later I found a Shoveler at Terry's Pool, then all of a sudden it flew off rapidly with a few Mallards, leaving the lakes. Walking round a bend I found the reason - there was a kayak with a fisherman in it again, and he was fishing next to one of the Amphibious Bistort beds.

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.


Warwickshire Bat Group walk

The Warwickshire Bat Group have organised a guided bat walk at Earlswood lakes and Clowes Wood next week, on Friday 26th, 8:45 - 10:00 pm, at the Wood Lane car park near the engine house. From their website:

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

Summer 2011

Yet another long-overdue post! Hard to believe that it's over two months now since the Night Heron was at the lakes, lastly on the evening of May 28th. Since then I've seen a number of other good birds at Earlswood, not nearly as rare but they're making for another great patch year. As expected with the low water levels exposing much lakebed, a number of waders have visited the lakes during July, signaling the start of the autumn passage, and so far I've recorded a Whimbrel, three lots of Black-tailed Godwit (only two previous Earlswood records!!!), Oystercatcher, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper (up to 12+ reported!) and Lapwing. In all 14 wader species have been recorded in the area this year to date, of which Woodcock is the only one I've failed to connect with; I'm expecting Greenshank to occur, but would most like to find Wood Sandpiper as it'd be the first since 1949! The only problem is that many people are walking on the lakes' beaches and scaring things off, with many of the waders disappearing by 8:00 am, and hardly any seen since the summer holidays started. One female dog-walker particularly annoys me, always allowing her Alsatians to run off lead and chase birds from the shore, and on one occasion I believe these dogs caused a few nesting Great Crested Grebes and Coots at Windmill Pool to desert as their nests were dangerously close to the falling water's edge at the time. Those two species haven't had a good year at the lakes this year, but Mallard have had an excellent one with many broods seen.

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...

M.P. Griffiths