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

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