Friday, 28 December 2012

Anyone know any of these observers?

As part of my research for the A History of the birds of Earlswood book, I wonder if anyone knows the forenames or contact details for any of the following people who have sent in Earlswood bird records to the West Midland Bird Club in the past? Any leads would be helpful. I'd like to contact them about further records/memories:

A. Abrahams
J.M.S. Arnott
D.W.H. Adams
P.J. Bateman
Miss E. Batchelor
R.F.E. Butler
R.S. Cropper
B.B. Daykin
K.A. Faulkner
P.P. Feeny
G. Fellows
N.D. Galloway
G.I. Giles
D.J. Harper
R.R. Higgins
C. Hill
B.J. Hulett
M.D. Humphreys
G.M. Ireson
M.R. Kimble
K.N. Kingscott
W.G.G. Lindley
E.C. Needle
J.E. Needle
C.D. Parnell
G.W. Rayner
J.R. Reynolds
G.L. Roberts
L. Salmon
Robert L. Smallwood (Bob?)
C.R. Stubbs
J.E. Sunderland (Ted)
D.M. Thomas
K.H. Thomas
Miss G. Thomas
A.A.K. Whitehouse
Miss O. Willetts
J.D.M. Wright

Red = recently added (08/04/2013).

Also, Peter Morgan, if you're reading this, I'm still interested in your records. As always, I'll be pleased to hear from anyone else with records/memories too!


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Earlswood 2013 Calendar

Tony and Barbara Philp have produced an "Around and About" Earlswood Scenes Calendar for 2013 (cover design below). It may not feature more than two wildlife pictures, but the views of the habitat will certainly serve as monthly reminders to those familiar with the patch. The calendar is on sale locally in Earlswood from Classic Pets, ACO Motors, Salon 4 and at the Tea Rooms of Earlswood Craft Centre - price £7.99. All profits go to St. Patrick's Church.

Monday, 15 October 2012


This blog was set up to provide people with news on birds noted at Earlswood but I've been struggling to keep it updated recently, which perhaps explains why I've received less emails reporting birds seen compared to previous years.

Anyway, regulars here will be pleased to know that I've set up a twitter account for posting brief sightings news for the Earlswood area. It remains to be seen whether I keep it up though - you know what I'm like! I still intend to use this blog for more lengthy postings.

The Twitter account is at


Monday, 6 August 2012

August 6th 2012

Super visit - a good day for migrants:
Common Sandpiper at Windmill Pool; presumably the same bird present since the end of last month?
Common Redstart male in horse pasture hedge south side of Gypsy Lane.
Grasshopper Warbler heard reeling in Spring Brook Scrubland, and whilst attempting to see it (without success) a flock of 8 Crossbills flew over calling.
A certain over-summering duck remains, currently at Engine Pool.

The Gropper takes my patch year list to 109. Due to late shifts at work, I've not done much birding in the last couple of months, but hope to write a summary of what little has been seen when time allows. Please email me your Earlswood sightings from recent months as I've likely missed anything interesting.

Water levels appear to be falling at the two main pools (over a foot below maximum) - if they drop further and expose more lakebed, will we get some waders?


Sunday, 10 June 2012

Earlswood wetland creation?

Waterfowl and waders are attracted to Earlswood Lakes, but many simply fly over finding nowhere suitable to land, or are disturbed off. A field near the lakes has come on the market recently, which I think could potentially be turned into a wetland nature reserve for these birds and other animals. I don't want to say too much on here, lest it attracts the attention of certain undesirable buyers, but if interested in co-purchasing or know someone who might be, please drop me an email. Thanks.

The field as it currently stands

Spring and outflow channel/ditch highlighted 

Just a very rough idea, probably subject to permissions!
(concealed hide to the right)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

14th April 2012

Apologies for the lack of posts on here, and delay replying to your emails - I've been very busy at work in the last few weeks, and along with resting, a little birding and other things, I haven't had much time to spend on the computer. Actually, I haven't been finding a great many birds recently, but today was the best for a while with four patch year ticks:
  • Male Redstart in hedge around larger horse pasture visible from the brick bridge (Gypsy Lane) at the southwest corner of Windmill Pool. I had a female in this same hedge last autumn, so evidently they like it.
  • Two Oystercatchers flying around the two main pools, briefly settling on one of the reed islands, then heading off over Terry's Pool.
  • A Yellow Wagtail flew straight over Engine Pool.
  • Three Rooks (finally) over Springbrook Lane area.
There were also c. 55 Sand Martins over the lakes, which is largest congregation of this species that I've personally seen at Earlswood. Migrants including Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Common Tern and all three hirundine species are around, with a few Common Sandpipers having passed through. Since the Firecrest, a few other good birds have been found in the area by other observers. From memory, these were a Short-eared Owl along Norton Lane (Craig Reed), A Red Kite along Forshaw Heath Road (Keith Lovell), 3 Oystercatchers over the lakes (Martin Lindop) and a pair of Gadwall (found by Tony Philp) which stayed for many days and were joined by a second pair at one point. John Sirrett found the first Swallow, House Martin and Common Sandpiper, Jon Chidwick the first Blackcap, and Mike Jeeves the first Common Tern, whilst I think I can only claim Earlswood's first Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Sand Martin this year. Up to 3 Shoveler have been at Terry's Pool, with two males present today. Many thanks to everyone who's sent me their sightings - coverage seems to have been pretty good, despite the reduced amount of time I've put in so far this spring.


Saturday, 7 April 2012

St. Patrick's Church open day

St Patrick’s Church, Salter Street

B94 6DE.

“A striking & unexpected accent in a wholly rural landscape” (Quote from English Heritage)

In 2011, 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 there have been several open days, allowing many people to come in and see the treasures for themselves. The next one is on:

Bank Holiday Monday 9th April

Visitors will be welcome between 10am-4pm. There will be

· accompanied tours

· a chance to sit quietly

· the Millennium Tapestry to see

· wildflowers in our churchyard conservation area

· books for sale

· refreshments to enjoy.

Car parking is available in the car park, 100m along from the church

Contact phone number:

Barbara Philp 07734 228500

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Earlswood Country Park proposal

The number of people who contacted British Waterways about Terry's Pool last year clearly showed that many care about the lakes, which is good to know. I hope users of the lakes and woods will be similarly compelled to comment on the proposed Country Park, the consultation period for which ends on the 30th of this month at 5pm. Stratford District Council have asked:

"Should the potential for providing a Country Park based on Earlswood Lakes be pursued and, if so, what issues need to be addressed?"

Click on this page for details on how to comment on this question. The simplest way would be to send this document to
Alternatively, you can leave a comment or email me, and I'll pass it on to the Tanworth-in-Arden Parish Council, who are involved in responding to the consultation process.

I am still of two minds on this proposal.


P.S. no further sign of the Firecrest since the initial sighting.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

March 8th 2012

Firecrest seen briefly in holly in Big Clowes Wood (section west of railway), at southwest side of wood along main path. Look for cows in adjacent field to find area where bird was seen. After 10-15 seconds it went into holly thicket and couldn't be relocated in about an hour's search.
Yesterday, a female Stonechat was seen on brook fenceposts along Springbrook Lane.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 25 February 2012

February 25th 2012

Earlswood has been rather quiet in the past week or two, but on reflection I suppose it's not been too bad a month for patch birding, with what was almost certainly a Crossbill flying straight over Engine Pool, and a female Blackcap along Gypsy Lane (the first I've seen wintering at Earlswood), which I was really pleased with. The Little Grebe remained but departed during the cold period, which was disappointing as I'd hoped it might stay and breed. The cold, icy weather also brought in a long-staying male Wigeon, up to 4 Teals, at least 4 different Common Gulls and an intersex Mallard. A peak of 491 Mallard appears to be another site record, whilst counts of 55 Robins and 73 Blackbirds around the lakes were equally impressive. Windmill Pool has had a regular Grey Wagtail along the dam and up to 6 Lesser Redpolls just south of the sailing club slipway. Terry's Pool has had up to 2 Water Rails, one of which seems to be holding a winter territory in reeds in the channel near the car park (very elusive bird though), and today I had a Reed Bunting in a tree briefly. Tony Philp reports accidentally flushing a Woodcock near Terry's Pool, and just outside my recording area he and his wife Barbara had a sighting of an apparent Merlin in the school field along Salter Street. Generally speaking though, since the ice on the lakes melted, it has been pretty quiet for birds with even the resident species seeming to be lower in numbers. Still, there is only about three more weeks to go before the spring migrants may start to appear...

Now for something that may have an adverse impact on the birds and other wildlife of Earlswood. I haven't mentioned this before, but earlier this year, it emerged that there are plans to have an Earlswood Country Park that covers the lakes, Clowes Wood and New Fallings Coppice. I don't know much else besides what I've read in the Stratford-on-Avon Draft Core Strategy document (which I've only just looked at quickly), namely:
  • "The creation of a Country Park based on Earlswood Lakes, Clowes Wood and New Fallings Coppice will be supported, in conjunction with the Canal and River Trust (currently British Waterways), Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Tanworth-in-Arden Parish Council, Warwickshire County Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council." (p67)
  • "Earlswood Lakes Country Park – creation of a new recreation-focused attraction to the south of Solihull, which also seeks to reduce woodland fragmentation and enhance the existing lakes and visitor attraction in the area. Solihull (along with Coventry) has the most significant deficit in terms of sub-regional GI resources. Earlswood Lakes are easily accessible by train from Solihull (Shirley) as well as from various settlements in Stratford-on-Avon District." (p70) GI = Green Infrastructure
  • Q79 - Should the potential for providing a Country Park based on Earlswood Lakes be pursued and, if so, what issues need to be addressed? (p72)
  • Scheme anticipated for sometime during 2016-2021 and requiring "comprehensive feasibility testing". (p218)
My key concern is that encouraging more people to visit the area will indeed result in more visitors, and therefore more disturbance to wildlife, plus put more pressure on habitats. I haven't looked into this fully, but at the moment can't see any advantages to Earlswood's wildlife from this proposal. However, another document entitled "Sustainability Appraisal of the Draft Core Strategy" contains a table that suggests that the biggest positive effect of the Country Park would be for biodiversity, but seems to give no details. I shall try to find out more, but am "on the fence" regarding this atm. Consultation ends Friday 30th March at 5 pm. See

On a brighter note, it was a really nice surprise to find "MATTHEW GRIFFITHS'S BIRD WATCHING DIARY (2003 onwards)" this evening. I don't remember doing much birding during my teens, which I really regret now, but two walks with binoculars around neck in the countryside near Whitlock's End stand out in my memories, most memorable because unusually I'd been allowed to go out on my own! I'd always remembered that I found my first ever Chiffchaff in the xmas tree farm at Shirley, by the Stratford Canal, and now know that the date for this was Sunday 30th March 2003. The other was a look at Whitlock's End Farm, where I remember seeing Fieldfares and Redwings in a field, and I now know that the Redwings were a lifer and the date was Saturday 15th March 2003. I shall cherish these memories even more now.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

EWP Newsletter 8‏

Earlswood Wildlife Partnership

Newsletter 8

Dear Member,

This year we want to build on the great start that we have already made on several projects in the area and hopefully start on more - but we will need your help! At the end of this newsletter you will find a list of dates and activities we have planned so please put the dates in your diary and if you are interested in helping with any of the projects please let us know so that we can keep you personally updated. You can contact us on

Bat Boxes

Last year we installed nearly 80 bat boxes in Clowes Wood and around Terry’s Pool. This year we want to install more but we also need to find out if any bats are using the boxes already put up. If you can help with installing the bat boxes come along and join us on Saturday 25thFebruary (see details below) and there may be an opportunity for a bat box survey (weather permitting) as we will have licensed bat handlers with us who will be able to check the bat boxes and show any residents to us.

It would be helpful if you could let us know in advance if you are willing to help so that we can plan how many boxes we can install.

We also hope to take the opportunity to install some dormouse survey tubes in Clowes Wood. Dormice are important as a “flagship species” – if dormice are present then you can be sure the environment is as good as it can be and will support a wide range of other woodland species. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust have a long-term project underway in Clowes Wood to encourage dormice so a view of the current population is necessary.

Bird Boxes

This year we would also like to help our feathered friends by installing more bird nest boxes around the area, but first we need to make them. We are hoping to hold a workshop on Saturday 24th March (details below) and again need all the helpers that we can get. If you have your own tools so much the better, but it is not necessary. Let us know if you are interested.

Earlswood Fete

Saturday 23rd June will be Fete Day in Earlswood and we will be there!

We hope to have a stall offering wildflower plants, bird boxes and bat boxes for sale, together with information on the projects we have started and hope to undertake in the future.

Butterfly Survey & Moth Recording

Again we will be running our Back Garden Butterfly Survey, a form will be attached to the next newsletter.

Thanks to everyone that returned their forms (if you still have one to return it is not too late). We are busily collating all of the information and will report back in the next newsletter.

Several members also ran moth traps in their gardens throughout the year and again we hope to share the results in the next newsletter. If you would like to join in, we have moth traps that you can borrow, and we hope to set up a “moth morning” later in the year so you can come along and see what it is all about. Once again let us know if you are interested.


Later in the year we hope to clean up the benches around the lakes, many people have commented that they are looking a bit tired and in need of some TLC. We will let you know when a date has been set for this.

And Finally……..

Our AGM this year will be held on Thursday 15th May at Earlswood Village Hall. We hope to see as many of you as possible. We would welcome your views on what we have done up to now and help us to shape the activities for the future.

Hope to see you at one of our activities


Dates for your Diary 2012

Sat 25th February Bat box survey 10.00 am Malthouse Lane Car park

Sat 24th March Bird box workshop 10.00am Malthouse Lane Car park

Sun 15th April Woodland Walk 2.30pm Clowes Woods Car park

Sat 21st April 1st Reptile Survey 10.00am Malthouse Lane Car park

Sun 6th May Dawn Chorus Walk 4.30am Clowes Woods Car Park

Sun 13th May Spring Walk 2.30pm Clowes Woods Car park

Tues 15th May AGM 7.30pm Earlswood Village Hall

Sat 23rd June Earlswood Fete 12– 4. pm Malthouse Lane Car park

Friday, 3 February 2012

February 3rd 2012

Deary me, two weeks since my last sightings post - how time flies! However, only a few notable birds have visited since then. Today, ice covered much of the lakes; a pair of Wigeon were at Windmill Pool and an adult Common Gull was at Engine Pool, and Tony Philp informs me that the long-staying Little Grebe remains at Terry's Pool. Yesterday, I had a pair of Gadwall at Engine Pool, which Tony later relocated at Terry's, but there was no sign of any today. The female Mandarin Duck has been seen on-and-off (lastly on 30th), and a male also paid a two-day visit last month when the female was absent, though whether this was a different male to the one that joined the female earlier this winter I'm not sure. The Mandarins are rather elusive and it is very likely that they are being overlooked some days, so please report all sightings to me even if you think I've probably seen them. One other notable bird last month was a finch/bunting type which flew quite high straight over Terry's Pool, which from the flight call appears to have been a Yellowhammer.

The best recent sightings have actually been mammals! I had a good view of a Field Vole at its burrow entrance along the main dam on the 30th, which was my first sighting of a live one, and saw a Bank Vole around Engine Pool in late January. However, Bob Roberts spotted a Weasel around Terry's Pool on the 29th, and subsequently Tony has had one sighting of it, managing this shot before a dog scared it. I've never seen one, so am very keen to see my first on-patch.

M.P. Griffiths

Weasel, Terry's Pool, 01/02/2012 (© Tony Philp)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Ponds at Earlswood

It seems to be a little-known fact that once upon a time there was a fourth water of significant size in the Earlswood area, though much smaller than the three lakes. Little-known, hence the only information I've been able to find out about it is that which I've gleaned from maps and aerial photos. It was a large pond called Cleobury Pool, situated to the northeast of the junction of Norton Lane and Rumbush Lane. It seems to have been fed by a brook which ran through the pond and out towards Big Cleobury Farm, and was surrounded by broadleaved trees. It was certainly as old as the lakes, being present in the first OS map of the area in 1831, but could have been much older as in an article by B.K. Roberts it's included as a fishpond in a map reconstructing how the local area would've looked in c. 1350! OS maps from the 20th century suggest that the pond was gradually silting up, with the trees becoming woodland and the surface area of water decreasing and, although still present in the late 1950s, by the early 1970s the site is shown as two fields with a little woodland, and it has remained in a similar state ever since. I recently had the opportunity to see these two fields from Rumbush Lane, whilst there are no leaves to obstruct viewing, and there is indeed no sign whatsoever of the pond. I often wonder which bird species might've visited it, and if anything unusual like Teal might've bred there, but suspect I'll never know for sure. Hopefully the fields might come up for sale and I'll buy them and re-create the pond! ;-)

Cleobury Pool, 1887 and 1955

I'd love to hear of any records of birds seen at this pond, and if anyone has any further information or memories of it, do please get in touch. I intend to write about how the habitats and landscape of Earlswood have changed over the years in my book, as it is very relevant to the study of birds.

I just can't stop thinking about the "wildlife pond" that's been proposed, and eagerly await news of whether permission is given or not. It would be 2 acres - a similar size to the extent of the Cleobury Pool in the 1950s, and could potentially be great for wildlife, especially as there is no public access to the field, and many of the best nature reserves for birds in the midlands are centred around shallow pools (e.g. Upton Warren). If part of the meadow was restored and no further trees planted, such a shallow pond would be an ideal breeding ground for Lapwing and Redshank. Another species that doesn't breed at the lakes but might do at this pond is Little Grebe, whilst Green Sandpiper might over-winter. It could act as a refuge for waterbirds fleeing from the lakes at weekends! Other wildlife that could particularly benefit are amphibians and invertebrates, such as damselflies and dragonflies.

At Morton Bagot (about eight miles from Earlswood), there are two shallow pools similar in size to the proposed "wildlife pond". These two pools have attracted over 40 species of waterbird in recent years including White-fronted Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Shelduck, Garganey, Pintail, Little Egret, Wood Sandpiper and Ruff, plus both Water Pipit and Rock Pipit. Lapwing breed there, and in winter flocks of over 100 are frequently seen, whilst large numbers of Wigeon and Teal have also been recorded. This proves how good a 2-acre pond could be for the birds of Earlswood. I'll take this opportunity to mention that Richard Harbird has set up a blog for the birds of Morton Bagot at


Edit: I wrote most of the above a few days ago, but earlier today found out that the planning application for this pond has been refused, although the reasons for this have not yet been given. If the landowner would like to push for a wildlife pond, permission for it may be more likely if it had the backing of the Earlswood Wildlife Partnership; please get in touch if interested.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

2011 summary

Birding at Earlswood seems to get better each year. By my reckoning, a total of 133 species were recorded in the Earlswood area in 2011. I ticked 127 of them, easily beating the 113 species I had in 2010. Painfully, the six species I missed were:
Pink-footed Goose - two of unknown origin (Martin Lindop).
Little Tern - three at the lakes briefly (Martin Lindop).
Hoopoe - one at Manor Farm briefly (Richard Greer), which was the first record at an Earlswood property but the second for my recording area.
Stonechat - one seen from Springbrook Lane (Mike Jeeves).
Grasshopper Warbler - one heard near the pumping station south of Windmill Pool (Jim Winsper).
Crossbill - a pair at Terry's Green (Mike Jeeves), the first confirmed record for my recording area.

Still you can't see everything. The only other major disappointment of the year and a big embarrassment was overlooking the 2 Ruff, even though a number of dog-walkers saw them without binoculars, but at least I saw the one of them.

On the plus side I added 17 species to my patch life list, which were:
Night Heron (had to put this at the top!)
Barnacle Goose
Little Egret
Little Ringed Plover
Black-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit
Sandwich Tern
Short-eared Owl
(site first!)
Tree Pipit (both birds heard only but still counting them!)

As far as Earlswood is concerned, I'm sure 2011 will be best remembered for the long-staying Night Heron, which allowed numerous midlands birders to see it; a county tick for many Warwickshire birders too. However, it was also a better year than usual for waders (16 species), Shelduck (3 records), Little Egret (4 records), Little Gull (4 or 5 records) and terns (5 species). Another highlight for me (though not in Earlswood) was finding a putative Northern/Continental Long-tailed Tit in my back garden, which if accepted by the national British Bird Rarities Committee would actually be the rarest bird I've found to-date. I intend to put another post on here of 2011 bird photos taken at Earlswood soon...

Having more or less given up on my website, I've learnt how to add a page (rather than a post) to this blog and so have added the systematic list here. This will actually be much easier for me to update than the website, so perhaps this change is for the better. I will give people a couple of weeks to see which species were recorded last year, before updating it for 2012.

So on to this year. The Earlswood Wildlife Partnership have some more events planned (I'm going to start posting their newsletters on here), and the Olympic torch is to make a visit. Work is ongoing with my book.

Potentially the most notable event for the birds of my recording area could be the creation of a large shallow "wildlife pond" in a private meadow near the village, if planning permission is given. In size and depth, the plan for this pond sounds similar to a pool at Morton Bagot (near Redditch), which has proven to be rather good for birds. However, prior to putting the application in the landowner sprayed and ploughed up the meadow allegedly as part of its management, which has eliminated any interesting wildflowers that would've been impacted by the digging and spoil-spreading associated with pond creation - a wildflower meadow removed for a "wildlife pond"!!! Therefore, this proposed pond could turn out to be a very useful habitat for a variety of waterbirds that normally visit Earlswood infrequently and/or in very small numbers (most waterfowl and wader species); or it could turn out to be a pond of little wildlife value, of the "managed, neat and tidy" kind seen in large gardens or, heaven forbid, yet another fishing lake. It all depends on what the landowner's true intentions are and whether they're happy to take advice from people who know how to make ponds great for wildlife. If planning permission is given, I'm hoping the Earlswood Wildlife Partnership will be able to give advice on the pond, and perhaps the restoration of at least part of the meadow.

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 21 January 2012

January 21st 2012

A slightly better visit than the previous couple, with a Greylag Goose seen over Windmill Pool, and the Little Grebe along the northwest side of Terry's Pool still. I haven't seen the Mandarin since the 18th, but of course she could still be around. Annoyed to see a pair of fishermen at Terry's Pool fishing near the entrance to the woods, where they shouldn't be - evidently it isn't enough that they have the other two pools, the dam side of Terry's and the Mereside Pools to use for their "sport"! I told the water bailiff but I don't think he did anything about it. There is fishing line in a couple of places around Terry's Pool too, which I can't reach. >:-(

Good to meet John Yardley at the lakes, and walking around we had 15 Siskins at Engine Pool and a flock of c. 160 Lapwings over Windmill Pool, the latter being the largest flock of this species that I've seen at Earlswood. Although I haven't seen any in the last few days, Golden Plovers have been flying over the area in large numbers this winter too, with Tony Philp recording a flock of 600+ over the Hungry Horse field (WMids) on the 11th.

Invasion of the Golden Plovers, 11/01/2012 (© Tony Philp)

There have been quite a few more Mute Swans present at the lakes this month, with a peak of 13 so far, though presence/absence of rings and ageing indicates that more individuals than this have visited.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 20 January 2012

January 20th 2012

Another fairly quiet visit, though at Terry's Pool I relocated the Little Grebe amongst branches along the northwest side (which I didn't check yesterday) and heard Greylag Goose calls coming from the other pools. At the causeway I had flyovers of 3 Lapwings and a Sparrowhawk.
M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 19 January 2012

January 19th 2012

A quiet visit, with just a female Teal at Terry's Pool the main bird of note, whilst there was no sign of the Little Grebe or Mandarin Duck.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

January 18th 2012

A warmer day with less ice on the lakes than yesterday. For the third day, workmen were cutting trees and branches along Valley Road, opening it up more along there, which hopefully will also be beneficial for the flora along the brook. The Little Grebe and Mandarin Duck were still at Terry's Pool along with a flock of 13 Siskins. At Windmill Pool, a Grey Wagtail rose from the Spring Brook and a Raven passed over.

John Hunt reports seeing a presumed Marsh Tit in the woods on the 15th.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

January 17th 2012

Even more ice covering the lakes today, but still not as much as on many occasions last winter. There was nothing notable new in but lingering birds included the Little Grebe at Terry's Pool near the weir, the female Mandarin Duck at Engine Pool and a male Teal at Windmill Pool. For me though, this visit's highlight were the Mallard (yes, the Mallard!), and with birds concentrated at the unfrozen patches and hardly any movement between those patches, I counted 478 - probably a patch record!!!
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. I've been trying to update the systematic list of birds and birders' lists pages, but it seems my account has expired and the company want my card details, even though it's free, so looks like I'm gonna have to move this elsewhere.

Monday, 16 January 2012

January 16th 2012

More ice on the lakes than yesterday, and evidently some movement overnight as a few new birds had appeared, namely a Little Grebe at Terry's Pool near the weir, and at Windmill Pool a female Pochard, 2 Wigeon (pair), 4 Teal and a Common Gull. The female Mandarin Duck was still at Engine Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

2 Wigeon at Windmill Pool, 16/01/2012 (© Tony Philp)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

January 15th 2012

During this month's WeBS counts, I saw 2 Kingfishers at Terry's Pool, the female Mandarin Duck at Engine Pool (later at Terry's), and a male Teal and Grey Wagtail at Windmill Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 14 January 2012

2012 so far

Just wanted to wish everyone a late "happy New Year". Late, because I've recently had computer problems, with my computer's mains supply / fan going bang and being forced to use my sister's laptop which is slow and overheats quickly! Having finished the Warwickshire bird news for next month's Birdwatching magazine (been doing it for a few months now), I am now going through a backlog of emails sent to me, so apologies to everyone who I'm late replying to. It's been a better January for good patch birds than usual, but rather than repeat what I'd written, I've included something for the local Residents Association newsletter in the post below. The main bird of note today was a female Gadwall at Windmill Pool, the first female I've seen at Earlswood in ages, whilst yesterday I saw a Marsh Tit around Terry's Pool, my first around the lakes since last spring. I haven't seen the pair of Mandarin Ducks since the 10th, but they can be elusive.

Obviously I'm very excited about what 2012 will bring in terms of birds and it's looking good so far, though it will take a lot to beat last year, which was possibly the best year at Earlswood on record in terms of number of species. I hope to write a summary of 2011 in another post, including the many photos sent to me which I've so far failed to put on here. May I take this opportunity to thank everyone who's sent me their sightings and/or photos - they're much appreciated, so please keep them coming :-)


Winter summary

Here's a couple of paragraphs that I've written for the local Residents Asociation newsletter:


A number of uncommon birds have visited Earlswood so far this winter, and it will be interesting to discover what else occurs in the next few months now the water levels are much higher than they had been. Whilst water levels were still very low back in November, a Shelduck, a Dunlin and a Rock Pipit visited the lakes. This winter's undoubted highlight though was in December when a Short-eared Owl circled briefly over Windmill Pool (a first for Earlswood), whilst other good birds visiting the lakes in that month were a Peregrine Falcon flying over, two Gadwall, a Shoveler and a Little Gull. More recently this year, a Kittiwake blown inland by the strong winds, two Shelducks flying over, a Little Owl, four Wigeon, another Gadwall and another Shoveler were seen. A pair of Mandarin Ducks have been present for a while, favouring Terry's Pool, and several Teal have been seen. A Woodcock appears to be over-wintering in the vicinity of the lakes, as does a Kestrel which strangely has even been seen in Earlswood Common gardens backing onto Windmill Pool. Peaks of 600+ Golden Plovers and c. 110 Lapwing have been seen flying over the area, with flocks being seen on many more occasions than usual. Other winter visitors like Redwing, Fieldfare, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll are also residing at Earlswood this winter, but perhaps in lower numbers than the 2010-11 winter. In the Manor Farm and Hungry Horse area along Norton Lane, the Peregrine was seen on two consecutive days, apparently feeding on prey, and was photographed. In a garden near the lakes, up to five Brambling have been reported visiting.

Talking of gardens, I'd love to hear from residents about interesting birds they see in their gardens or the local area and can be contacted via email ( Perhaps you have a Blackcap wintering in your garden, or you've counted a large flock of House Sparrows visiting your feeders? Maybe something unusual like a Brambling or even a Black Redstart or Waxwing pays a visit? Perhaps on a walk around the local area you find something "strange"? Do please get in touch. (N.B. obviously photos are very useful for identifying or confirming something unusual).

Matt Griffiths