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.



BoD said...

Matt I wonder what"creation of a new recreation-focused attraction to the south of Solihull," means it could be anything from a fun park to a Tea Room. I understand your concerns but I would prefer a country park to more houses. I am also concerned the mention of reduced woodland that is scary.

Matt Griffiths said...

Hi Carrie,
Good point - perhaps a Country Park would make it even harder for more houses to be built around the lakes? Reducing woodland fragmentation would probably involve joining the woods with other woods, but I'm not sure how a Country Park alone could do this.

Carrie said...

Matt it looks like we are in for more houses as well looking at SDC LDF.