Thursday, 1 December 2016

Reservoir Plantation

Some habitat photos and location map of the woodland owned by the Reservoir pub, which adjoins the eastern side of Windmill Pool:

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

From C&RT: "Minor tree works" at Engine Pool

Dear all,

Just to let you know that our contactors will be onsite on Friday 2nd December and the following week from Tuesday 6th December to cut, prune and remove overhanging limbs, branches and bushes that are having an impact on anglers, casting or playing fish from the wooden platforms around Engine pool. They will be working their way round visiting each platform and carrying out any necessary work to allow for safe angling. Many will require no work, with the majority of the works being from pegs 15 to 40.

Kind regards

Carl Nicholls
Fisheries & Angling Manager
Canal & River Trust

Monday, 21 November 2016

Three pieces of good news!

I've reported a fair bit of bad news for Earlswood wildlife on here this year. On top of this, I neglected to mention such things as the clearance of the scrubby field beside the railway in-between Clowes Wood and Earlswood station during the breeding season, the continuing gradual cutting of trees in the copse adjoining the northernmost side of Terry's Pool, and most recently the bund of earth with leylandii conifers planted on top that is now at Rose Farm. Apparently the landowner of Rose Farm is also not allowing Earlswood Wildlife Partnership to replace the dilapidated owl box that's there, which was formerly used regularly by Stock Doves. :-(

Anyway, I have three pieces of good news to pass on:

Housing development

There was concern about 10 sites in the Earlswood recording area being considered for suitability for development, after they were included in a "Call for sites" document published by Solihull Council earlier this year. However, the council have now published their Draft Local Plan for the borough, to guide housing development up to the year 2033, and I'm pleased to see that none of the sites proposed to be developed lie within the Earlswood area. Having said that, a few sites are fairly close and an increase in the human population locally will still impact Earlswood, most notably through increased visitor numbers to the area. The Draft Local Plan document and maps of proposed development sites are available at:

Terry's Pool fishing

Another concern was the proposals submitted to Canal and River Trust regarding expansion of fishing at Terry's Pool. Fortunately, thanks to everyone who sent in objections, the proposals will not be considered further, though I suspect they'll be pushed for again in the future. The following email contains some further potentially exciting news:
Dear All

Thank you, on behalf of Earlswood Stakeholders Group, for your contribution to the consultation regarding fishing on Terry’s Pool Earlswood. Ian Lane, The Canal and River Trust’s Waterways Manager for the West Midlands, has considered all the correspondence  regarding the issue and made the following statement: -

I have now informed Mr Verney that I will not be changing my stance on fishing around Terry’s pool and it will continue to be used as a place for nature with no increase in fishing. We want to raise its profile and introduce more educational visits to it, including pond dipping etc. I also want to try and regain the old SSSI status it once had as well as using it for spawning of fish (if possible) and other water based creatures. Please pass on my thanks to those that helped in the consultation process.

I am sure you will all be as pleased with the result as we were.

Kind Regards

Len Cresswell

Member of Earlswood Lakes Stakeholders Group representing CRT, West Midlands Waterways Partnership 

If anyone knows anything about the SSSI designation which Terry's Pool formerly had, please get in touch with me as I can't find anything on it.

Terry's Pool, 17/11/2016
Earlswood Springwatch

Thirdly, Earlswood Springwatch 2017 is happening, and the date has been confirmed as Saturday May 13th. I should be free to attend this and I'm currently considering doing a "Birds of Earlswood" display! Perhaps in conjunction with the West Midland Bird Club. I kind of struggle with talking to people, especially groups, so I'm looking for at least one other Earlswood regular to join me on the day for a bit of moral support and to help talk to the public about our patch. No doubt the WMBC folk will also help but it would be good to have someone who can talk about recent sightings, etc. Anyone interested?


Monday, 12 September 2016

Proposals to expand fishing at Terry's Pool... again

We've been here before, but again proposals have been submitted to Canal and River Trust regarding expansion of fishing at Terry's Pool, and apparently the fisherman pushing this is taking them to court over it! Currently fishing at Terry's Pool is restricted to the eastern side that adjoins Engine Pool. The following is from Earlswood Wildlife Partnership, and the expansion proposals are in the image at the bottom:


Dear Members
Attached are details of proposals sent to Canal and River Trust regarding changes requested to fishing rights on Terry’s Pool.
Earlswood Wildlife Partnership will oppose these changes which we see as detrimental to the wildlife of this area but we have been asked to forward this proposal to our members in order that as many people as possible have the opportunity to make their views heard.
Any views you may wish to put forward should be sent to Len Cresswell:
no later than 19th September to enable him to compile a reply to these proposals based on interested parties views (we would be grateful if you could send a copy of your response to us as well).
Please do forward a copy of this to anyone you feel maybe interested in this proposal and may wish to make a response but, most importantly, please send your responses to Len Cresswell BEFORE 19th September.
Best regards
Cheryl Roberts (Secretary)
Earlswood Wildlife Partnership

Rose Farm habitat changes

In the wooded part of Rose Farm adjoining Little Clowes Wood, trees have been cut down and the stream dredged. It's no longer possible to access Clowes Wood meadow via here as the stream has been re-directed around the culvert, which formerly you could walk on to cross the stream. Most alarmingly though is the fact that this has been done in the immediate vicinity of bat boxes, and some of the trees felled may have had bat boxes on them! Some of this land may be owned by Canal and River Trust too, but as far as I know this work has been done by the Parker family who are the new owners of Rose Farm! Pictures taken today:

Trees have been cleared all the way along the stream to where it joins Terry's Pool feeder channel

Cleared area looking towards the railway

Cleared area looking towards the railway

The now defunct culvert, the stream having been re-directed around it

Cleared area right next to bat boxes :-(

Cleared area right next to bat boxes :-(

Cleared area looking towards Terry's Pool

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Earlswood autumn all-day birdwatch 2016

This autumn's patch all-dayer produced a cumulative total of 57 bird species. Many thanks to John Sirrett for compiling the following list for the day:
  1. Mute Swan
  2. Greylag Goose
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Mallard
  5. Tufted Duck
  6. Little Grebe
  7. Great Crested Grebe
  8. Cormorant
  9. Grey Heron
  10. Sparrowhawk
  11. Buzzard
  12. Kestrel
  13. Pheasant
  14. Moorhen
  15. Coot
  16. Common Sandpiper
  17. Black-headed Gull
  18. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  19. Herring Gull
  20. Stock Dove
  21. Wood Pigeon
  22. Collared Dove
  23. Swift
  24. Kingfisher
  25. Green Woodpecker
  26. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  27. Sand Martin
  28. Swallow
  29. House Martin
  30. Meadow Pipit
  31. Grey Wagtail
  32. Pied Wagtail
  33. Wren
  34. Dunnock
  35. Robin
  36. Blackbird
  37. Song Thrush
  38. Mistle Thrush
  39. Blackcap
  40. Chiffchaff
  41. Goldcrest
  42. Long-tailed Tit
  43. Blue Tit
  44. Great Tit
  45. Nuthatch
  46. Treecreeper
  47. Magpie
  48. Jay
  49. Jackdaw
  50. Carrion Crow
  51. Raven
  52. Starling
  53. House Sparrow
  54. Chaffinch
  55. Greenfinch
  56. Goldfinch
  57. Bullfinch
I could only manage to find 40 species (re-counted) in the 4 hours I could spare due to uni coursework, so many thanks to John Oates, John Sirrett and Jim Winsper for also participating. It rained for part of the day, and many of the passerines were elusive, often just heard-only observations in vegetation still in full-leaf, so conditions were especially challenging. Seeing as we got 56 species on the all-dayer last autumn, 57 this autumn was a very good score!

By the way, I realise that I never got round to writing up the results of the Earlswood all-dayer back in the spring. The 77 species recorded in one day was a fantastic result and must surely be a patch record - one which we may never beat again! I got 67 species which was a personal best. Many thanks to the participants on that day, who were Jon Chidwick, Paul Fitzgerald, Yvonne Heward, Mike Jeeves, John Oates, Barbara Philp, Tony Philp, John Sirrett and Jim Winsper.

I'm so proud of Team Earlswood! :-)

Monday, 22 August 2016

Call for development sites at Earlswood

Solihull Council have recently published a "Call for sites" schedule, presenting sites submitted by landowners and developers to the council for consideration of suitability for housing development. Somewhat alarmingly, 10 of these sites are situated within the Earlswood recording area (all in Tidbury Green parish) and some are quite large, but all have yet to be assessed for their suitability at this early stage. Certainly something to keep an eye on...

Here's a map of the sites with the site names (and promoters/agents)

37 Bowyer Farm (landowner)
39 Field adjacent to Tudor Croft (landowner)
42 Big Cleobury Farm (landowner)
58 Land at Cleobury Lane (John Shepherd Estate Agents)
69 Norton Lane (PRW Strategic Advice)
70 Kidpile Farm (landowner)
71 Land at 149-163 Wood Lane (Tyler-Parkes Partnership)
73 Earlswood Caravan/Ambleside Nursery (ACL Consultants)
141 Land around Earlswood Station (Bilfinger GVA)
206 Land at Norton Lane (DS Planning)

Sunday, 15 May 2016

West Midlands Spring Bird Race 2016

This year and hopefully in subsequent years from now on, the Warks bird race took place on the same day as the spring all-dayer that has been organised at Upton Warren for many years, and at other key West Midlands region birding sites more recently too. The "Ladywalk Loons" did really well to come first in this #WestMidsBirdRace list as well when you look at the competition! I'm really pleased with Team Earlswood's position here too for the same reason. But all patches got good scores, so well done all :-)

1. Ladywalk - 93
2. Belvide - 90
=3. Grimley - 89
=3. Middleton Lakes - 89
5. Sandwell Valley - 85
6. Upton Warren - 84
7. Marsh Lane - 83
=8. Earlswood - 77
=8. Salford Priors GP - 77
=9. Clayhanger / Ryders Mere / Stubber's Green - 74
=9. Draycote - 74
=9. Venus Pool - 74
10. Charlecote - 73
11. Farnborough Park / Burton Dassett - 59
12. Morton Bagot - 54

A re-match in the autumn is on the cards! >:-)

Phil Andrews has posted species lists for most of the participating sites here.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Warks Patch Bird Race 2016 - results

May 7th 2016

A total of 6 patches took part in this year's Warwickshire patch bird race. I hope everyone who participated enjoyed it as much as I did! The final results are as follows:

1. Ladywalk - 93 (Adam Archer, Steve Cawthray, Peter Forbes, Steve Haynes, Dave Hutton, Donna Mallon, Pete Sofley, Kevin Whiston, Mick)

=2. Earlswood - 77 (Jon Chidwick, Paul Fitzgerald, Matt Griffiths, Yvonne Heward, Mike Jeeves, John Oates, Barbara Philp, Tony Philp, John Sirrett, Jim Winsper)

=2. Salford Priors GP - 77 (Jon Bowley, anon)

3. Draycote - 74 (T. Crawford, Bob Hazell, John Judge, Tim Marlow, I. Martindale, Richard Mays, Steve Valentine)

4. Charlecote - 73 (Gus Ariss, Jack Bradbury, Lizzy Bradbury, Roland Hopkins)

5. Farnborough Park / Burton Dassett - 59 (Gareth Blockley, Dan Watson)

6. Morton Bagot - 54 (Mike Inskip)

A total of 115 species were recorded during the day, including a few recorded at non-participating sites. My thanks to Gus Ariss, Steve Haynes and John Judge for putting day lists together for Charlecote (C), Ladywalk (L) and Draycote (D) respectively. Species recorded at Earlswood are denoted with E.

  1. Great Crested Grebe - D, E, L
  2. Little Grebe - C, L
  3. Cormorant - C, D, E, L
  4. Grey Heron - C, D, E, L
  5. Little Egret - L
  6. Mute Swan - C, D, E, L
  7. Greylag Goose - C, D, E, L
  8. Canada Goose - C, D, E, L
  9. Shelduck - L
  10. Wigeon - C, L
  11. Gadwall - D, L
  12. Teal - Brandon
  13. Mallard - C, D, E, L
  14. Shoveler - L
  15. Tufted Duck - C, D, E, L
  16. Goldeneye - D
  17. Goosander - L
  18. Red Kite - D, L
  19. Sparrowhawk - D, E, L
  20. Buzzard - C, D, E, L
  21. Kestrel - D, E, L
  22. Hobby - L, L
  23. Peregrine - L
  24. Grey Partridge
  25. Red-legged Partridge - C, D
  26. Pheasant - C, D, E, L
  27. Moorhen - C, D, E, L
  28. Coot - C, D, E, L
  29. Water Rail - L
  30. Oystercatcher - D, E, L
  31. Avocet - Salford Priors GP
  32. Lapwing - D, E, L
  33. Ringed Plover - L
  34. Little Ringed Plover - L
  35. Common Sandpiper - C, D, E, L
  36. Wood Sandpiper - Morton Bagot
  37. Dunlin - D
  38. Greenshank - Brandon
  39. Redshank - Brandon
  40. Curlew
  41. Common Gull - D
  42. Great Black-backed Gull - D
  43. Herring Gull - C, D, E, L
  44. Lesser Black-backed Gull - C, D, E, L
  45. Black-headed Gull - C, D, E, L
  46. Black Tern - Salford Priors GP
  47. Common Tern - D, E, L
  48. Feral Pigeon - D, E, L
  49. Stock Dove - C, D, E, L
  50. Wood Pigeon - C, D, E, L
  51. Collared Dove - C, E, L
  52. Turtle Dove
  53. Cuckoo - C, E, L
  54. Barn Owl - L
  55. Little Owl - C, E
  56. Tawny Owl - E, L
  57. Swift - C, D, E, L
  58. Kingfisher - C, D, E, L
  59. Great Spotted Woodpecker - C, D, E, L
  60. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  61. Green Woodpecker - C, D, E, L
  62. Skylark - C, D, E, L
  63. Sand Martin - C, D, E, L
  64. Swallow - C, D, E, L
  65. House Martin - C, D, E, L
  66. Meadow Pipit - C
  67. Pied Wagtail - C, D, E, L
  68. Yellow Wagtail - D, E, L
  69. Grey Wagtail - C, D, E, L
  70. Wren - C, D, E, L
  71. Dunnock - C, D, E, L
  72. Robin - C, D, E, L
  73. Blackbird - C, D, E, L
  74. Song Thrush - C, D, E
  75. Mistle Thrush - C, E, L
  76. Spotted Flycatcher - E
  77. Pied Flycatcher
  78. Cetti's Warbler - L
  79. Grasshopper Warbler - D, L
  80. Sedge Warbler - C, D, L
  81. Reed Warbler - C, D, E, L
  82. Blackcap - C, D, E, L
  83. Garden Warbler - C, D, E, L
  84. Whitethroat - C, D, E, L
  85. Lesser Whitethroat - C, D, E, L
  86. Willow Warbler - C, D, E, L
  87. Chiffchaff - C, D, E, L
  88. Goldcrest - C, D, E, L
  89. Long-tailed Tit - C, D, E, L
  90. Great Tit - C, D, E, L
  91. Blue Tit - C, D, E, L
  92. Coal Tit - C, E, L
  93. Marsh Tit - C, L
  94. Willow Tit - L
  95. Treecreeper - C, E, L
  96. Nuthatch - C, E, L
  97. Jay - C, D, E, L
  98. Magpie - C, D, E, L
  99. Jackdaw - C, D, E, L
  100. Rook - C, D, E, L
  101. Carrion Crow - C, D, E, L
  102. Raven - C, E, L
  103. Starling - C, D, E, L
  104. House Sparrow - C, E, L
  105. Tree Sparrow - D
  106. Chaffinch - C, D, E, L
  107. Greenfinch - C, D, E, L
  108. Goldfinch - C, D, E, L
  109. Lesser Redpoll - E, L
  110. Siskin - E, L
  111. Linnet - C, D, E, L
  112. Bullfinch - C, D, E, L
  113. Yellowhammer - C, D, E, L
  114. Reed Bunting - C, D, E, L
  115. Corn Bunting

Monday, 7 March 2016

Warks Patch Bird Race 2016 - participants

May 7th 2016

The 2nd Warwickshire patch all-dayer is taking place on May 7th this year, to coincide with the regular annual all-dayer at Upton Warren, Belvide, Middleton Lakes, Sandwell Valley and Marsh Lane. The idea is for teams of birders to visit their patch and put a bird species list together for the day, hopefully resulting in some interesting finds. Preliminary patches and participants, all tbc:

Gus Ariss
Jack Bradbury
Lizzy Bradbury
Roland Hopkins

John Judge
Steve Valentine

Jon Chidwick
Paul Fitzgerald
Matt Griffiths
Yvonne Heward
Mike Jeeves
John Oates
Tony Philp
Barbara Philp
John Sirrett
Jim Winsper

Farnborough Park / Burton Dassett
Gareth Blockley
Dan Watson

Adam Archer
Steve Cawthray
Peter Forbes
Steve Haynes
Dave Hutton
Donna Mallon
Pete Sofley
Kevin Whiston

Morton Bagot
Jon Yardley
?Mike Inskip

Salford Priors GP
Jon Bowley
?Paul Hands

Also taking part but not in Warwickshire:

Clayhanger / Ryders Mere / Stubber's Green
Kevin Clements

Friday, 15 January 2016

Birds of Earlswood 2015

I guess this is better late than never. Earlswood finished on 129 species reported during 2015 (subject to confirmation), the highlights of which were:
  • Cetti's Warbler - a bird in reedmace around Terry's Pool, found late one evening in the autumn (MPG), the 1st record for Earlswood. I've been cautious with this record given that it was heard-only but can't think what else it could've been!
  • Goshawk - one over Windmill Pool (P. Fitzgerald), a potential 1st for Earlswood though there are a couple of other unconfirmed reports from previous years.
  • Yellow-legged Gull - a first-winter visited for 3 days during the autumn (MPG, J. Oates, J. Sirrett et al.), a long-overdue 1st for the lakes, and the 2nd record for Earlswood.
  • Caspian Gull - a second-winter visited the lakes early in the year (J. Chidwick, B. Philp, T. Philp, MPG et al.), and returned in third-winter plumage during the autumn (J. Oates et al.) and has just about made it into 2016, there only being one previous record of this species back in 2003.
  • Short-eared Owl - one over Manor Farm (J. Oates), the 3rd record for Earlswood.
  • Ring Ouzel - a male at Gypsy Lane (MPG), the 3rd record for Earlswood.
  • Red-breasted Merganser - a pair seen flying over the lakes (A. Archer), the 3rd or 4th record for Earlswood subject to confirmation.
  • Hawfinch - a bird seen flying over the lakes and later seen in a yew tree at Manor Farm (MPG), the first record for Earlswood since 1949. Being both a finch and a county rarity, and me having only seen the species once before in the Forest of Dean, this was the top patch bird of the year for me! Sorry gulls and heard-only birds!
  • Firecrest - a male briefly around Terry's Pool (MPG, J. Sirrett), the 4th I've found at Earlswood!
  • All 10 species of gull on the Earlswood list being recorded during the year, this including Kittiwake, Little, Mediterranean and Great Black-backed besides the above two.
Other birds noted in 2015 which haven't occurred annually in recent years were a Goldeneye, long-staying Pintail, 4 Red Kites, a Dunlin, Greenshank, Little Owl, Lesser Spotted WoodpeckerTree Pipit, 2 White Wagtails, a few Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Marsh Tits, a few Bramblings and a Crossbill. Another personal highlight for me was closely watching a Cuckoo eating caterpillars along Springbrook Lane, my best views ever of one and the first time I've seen one feeding. A Rock/Water Pipit which flew over the lakes calling frustratingly didn't land and would've made I nice round 130 species.

The systematic list of birds recorded at Earlswood has now been updated for 2015.

I finished the year on 120 species, adding 4 new species to my Earlswood life list: Caspian Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Cetti's Warbler and Hawfinch. This was marginally better than the 119 species I had in 2014 (although of the two new ones I had that year, one was a Yellow-browed Warbler!). The species I missed were:
  1. Red-breasted Merganser (A. Archer) - pair seen in flight from causeway early morning if I recall correctly - if only I'd got up early that day! Fortunately I saw the previous one in 2003.
  2. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (J. Chidwick) - one calling around Terry's Pool, the 1st record since 2013.
  3. Whimbrel (J. Sirrett) - a flock of 4 flew over the lakes in the spring. Especially disappointing to have missed these as I'd managed to see this species for 4 consecutive years!
  4. Crossbill (J. Oates) - a fly-over so not twitchable.
  5. Greenshank (J. Oates) - one flying around the lakes so not twitchable. A bit of a bogey species for me at Earlswood, as I think this is the 3rd recorded at the lakes since my one and only sighting ever in 2011.
  6. Redstart (J. Bowley) - one along Braggs Farm Lane during the autumn. I'd seen birds at Earlswood every year since my first in 2010, but Gypsy Lane just didn't deliver this species in 2015.
  7. Little Owl (J. Oates) - One around Engine Pool was the 1st record since 2012 but sadly appears not to have stayed in the vicinity.
  8. Short-eared Owl (J. Oates) - I was at Earlswood at the time and John rung me up quickly but the bird simply didn't hang around.
  9. Goshawk (P. Fitzgerald) - yep another fly-over, that's six!
Even so, 2015 was my 3rd best year on patch for quantity of species, not bad considering I made much fewer early morning starts than previous years and for that reason I could've done much better. To be honest, I lost some enthusiasm, after facing a moral dilemma early in the year, in which by doing the right thing for my conscience I really hurt myself emotionally and it's taken a long time to accept what happened, clear my head and move on; I won't go into detail but I've largely recovered from this now. Also, I've been studying part-time at university since October, which with coursework and lectures has kept me away from Earlswood for days at a time and will continue to do so for the next 3 years. I must make sacrifices and prioritise though, as uni will hopefully help me to get a job I love with a better wage than my current one, and to ultimately achieve what is now my number 1 ambition of buying a house at Earlswood. 2015 has shown me that I'm happiest when I'm around people, places and things I love, and I am dead-set on living on my beloved patch.

Many thanks to everyone who has tweeted, emailed, texted or phoned their sightings to me. May 2016 bring you good fortune, in birding and life in general :-) x