Thursday 30th Dec 2010 - Shenstone & Hartlebury

Today I decided to spend some time around the Heath Lane area of the patch. At the paddock there were 3 Linnets on the wires and 22 Redwings were in the trees between the paddock and the Islamic School. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard calling from the trees next to the schools playing fields.

Large numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares were feeding on the stubble in the model aircraft field and when (at one point) they all went up I estimated that there were c.100 Redwing and c.40 Fieldfare. Along the hedgerow on the left side of the field were a flock of 8 Yellowhammers (2 adult ♂). A Common Buzzard was also seen at the rear of the field.

Prior to visiting the patch I had done a bit of gull watching at the nearby Hartlebury landfill site. The things you do during the winter months to make your birding more varied....roll on Spring migration! Actually its not as bad as it sounds and during certain tines of day the gulls all sit in a nearby field which allows for easier scanning and a much more pleasant experience!

On today's visit there were c.200 Black-headed Gulls, c 60 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 20 Herring Gulls present. The highlight though was a single adult Yellow-legged Gull, a scarce but increasing bird in the county. Also present in the same field were 9 Pied Wagtails.

Wednesday 29th Dec 2010 - Shenstone

Finally, I felt the lanes had cleared enough to get back out around the patch today...just a pity that the place was shrouded in fog!

I started at a very frozen Captains Pool where there were 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 38 Black-headed Gulls on the Ice. Whilst here I also counted 45 Mallards, 2 Canada Geese and 3 Moorhens. Earlier this morning 17 Siskins and 10 Goldfinches were seen feeding on the ground below an Alder (TS).

Stanklyn Lane paddocks were empty so I swiftly moved onto the beet field where there were 17 Starlings, 2 Mistle Thrushes, c.60 Wood Pigeons and a Robin.

From the beet field I headed to the carrot field footpath. Here a large mixed finch/bunting flock of c.100 birds was present. With them was a single ♀ Brambling which I managed to get a good look at and I'm pretty sure it is the same bird that I have been recording around the Stanklyn Lane area in November and early December. The flock mainly consisted of Chaffinches with small numbers of Greenfinches, 4 Yellowhammers (2♂)and 3 Goldfinches. Also present in the hedgerow at the back of the carrot field were 2 Redwings and a Blackbird.

After finishing Stanklyn I popped up to Heath Lane where the only birds of note were 1 Common Buzzard and 3 Redwings.

Monday 27th Dec 2010 - Bewdley

This morning I popped a couple of miles up the road to the River Severn at Bewdley. I decided to pop here to see the immature drake Smew that was found there yesterday by Craig Reed (

On arriving at the river I was greeted by good views of Kingfisher sitting in a bush near the Blackstone bridge and 17 Goosander flying down river. The river was almost completely frozen looking towards Blackstone but was free flowing going towards Bewdley. I managed to catch up with the Smew on the river near Bewdley School and it was a very showy bird. On the River I also saw another 2 Goosander, 4 Goldeneye, 3 Tutfed Ducks, 3 Little Grebes, 2 Mallards, a Canada Goose and a Grey Heron.

A Treecreeper was seen in the trees near Blackstone bridge and another was in the trees at the car park.

Smew - Bewdley, 27th December 2010:

Sunday 26th Dec 2010 - Kidderminster

I managed to catch a short period of time this morning to do a bit of garden birdwatching before recommencing the yuletide festivities.

There were now 3 ♂ Blackcaps feeding in the garden today. This means that with the ♀ Blackcap seen on the 12th December, there have been 4 individuals visiting my humble little garden this winter (it just shows what you can attract, even on a terraced street in an urban area). 7 Long-tailed Tits, 5 House Sparrows and a Starling were also present.

A flock of 7 Fieldfare flew over and 2 Ravens were present on top of the Weavers Wharf chimney stack for about 30 minutes from11am before flying WSW straight over our garden!

Friday 24th Dec 2010 - Garden Birdwatch & Seasons Greetings

This morning at 8:15am an incredible 52 Cormorants flew NW straight over my garden. Prior to this sighting 4 had been the maximum that I had recorded here. The cold snap is certainly producing some interesting cold weather movements.

The 2 ♂ Blackcaps were again present at the bird table this morning.

Finally, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday 21st Dec 2010 - Kidderminster

The 2 Blackcaps were again visiting the garden today. 11 Blackbirds, 13 House Sparrows and a Robin were also present. 14 Fieldfares flew over heading SW and a Common Buzzard flew towards the Bewdley Road being mobbed by a Carrion Crow.

The highlight today was a Peregrine that was seen perched on top of the old brick chimney stack at Weavers Wharf retail park. I can see this stack from the bedroom window and below I have attached a dodgy distant record shot (taken through the window). Double glazing, poor light, distance and digiscoping...not a good combination!

Peregrine - Weavers Wharf, 21st December 2010:

Sunday 19th Dec 2010 - Snow, snow and more snow

Well, I'm not able to get out to the patch at the mo. The snow hit fairly hard around here and I wouldn't risk driving around the lanes at Shenstone at the mo and living approx 3 miles away I'm don't really feel inclined to walk there and back. So to make the most of a bad situation Ive been doing a bit of garden bird watching.

Sunday 19th Dec 2010 - Garden Birdwatch
The harsh weather had pushed many thrushes into the back gardens. Within a day they had stripped the Rowan (there goes my chance of more Waxwings!). At one point I counted 15 Blackbirds, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Redwings, a Fieldfare and a Song Thrush all in or around the gardens. In fact, when I opened the back door, 7 Blackbirds flew out of my Pyracantha. Also of note today were 2 ♂ Black Caps feeding at my bird table and 3 Cormorants that flew over heading SE.

Redwing - Kidderminster, 19th Dec 2010:

Wednesday 15th Dec 2010 - Slimbridge WWT

Today, myself and Tony went off patch and popped down the motorway into Gloucestershire to visit the Slimbridge WWT reserve. It wasn't due to a particular rarity being present or to tick anything particular but I do like to pop there in the winter months to see the good numbers of Bewick's Swans and other wintering wildfowl that are present.

Bewick's Swans are Britain's smallest Swan and migrate from their Arctic breeding grounds between October-November. They return between March-April. In the UK, they are found mainly in eastern England, around the Severn estuary and in Lancashire with concentrations at the Ouse and Nene Washes (Cambridgeshire), Martin Mere (Lancashire) and Slimbridge (Gloucestershire).

On today's visit there were 207 Bewick's Swans present with good numbers being seen at The Rushy. Also seen at this part of the reserve were a single Pink-footed Goose, many Greylag Geese, large numbers of Pintails, Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Shellducks and small numbers of Teal. One drake Pochard was seen that had been tagged with a sky blue nasal saddle and the alpha numeric code read 'C='.

A Water Rail was seen by the feeders opposite the Robbie Garnett hide. c.100 Barnacle Geese were seen at Tack Piece and 35 Dunlin flew out towards the estuary whilst we were there. A number of White-fronted Geese were seen in the field behind Tack Piece.

Things were pretty quiet at the Holden tower with the only birds of note being 15 Dunlin that flew past.

The South lake held 2 adult Common Gulls, 2 Herring Gulls (1 adult) and c.200 Black-headed Gulls. Also seen here were a number of Gadwall and a Great Crested grebe.

C.400 Wigeon and c.70 Lapwing were seen from the Kingfisher hide. 4 Common Buzzards were seen from the Zeiss hide.

All in all, not a bad day out. It was worth visiting to see the Bewick's Swans and the large numbers of Pintails (you don't get a much smarter looking bird than a drake Pintail!). Although if I were to moan it would be about the price of admission. I think that £9.75 per adult is extortionate! I could also live without the ornamental collections of wing clipped birds there but I guess it brings in the kids/families...but with all the extra income that the zoo (sorry wildfowl collections) generate they could lower the entry fee. And please don't post that its expensive to feed the wild swans £5 per adult there would still be enough money with the amount of visitors they get. Sorry...rant over ;-)

Bewick's Swan - Slimbridge, 15th Dec 2010:

Pintail (drake) - Slimbridge 15th Dec 2010:

Pink-footed goose - Slimbridge, 15th dec 2010:

Pochard (with nasal saddle) - Slimbridge, 15th Dec 2010:

Common Gull - Slimbridge, 15th December 2010:

Gulls and Rings

On Tuesday 7th of December, prior to visiting the patch, I popped to the new Hartlebury landfill site. The landfill site is literally a mile or so down the road from the edge of my patch at the bottom of Witch Lane. It is in an area that I have watched for a couple of years and prior to being a landfill it was used for sand extraction. Past species recorded there include Green Sandpiper and Turtle Dove. I may at some point extend the southern boundary of my patch to include said area.

Anyway, back to the 7th. When they are not feeding on the landfill, a large flock of up to 500 Gulls will sit in the opposite or adjacent fields. On scanning through the gulls I recorded c.300 Black-headed Gulls, c.80 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, c.40 Herring Gulls and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

I noted that one of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls was colour ringed (see photo at bottom of this entry). The ring was black with a yellow 4 digit alpha numeric code that read T2HC. I checked out the ring details on the "European Colour - Ring Birding" website and it appeared that this colour ring and prefix was used in a project up at Tarnbrook Fell, Forest of Bowland. I emailed the projects coordinator and have since received a email back confirming that it was indeed a Tarnbrook bird.

The Lesser Black-backed was ringed as a 30 day old juvenile at the colony on Tarnbrook Fell (SD6258) on 11.07.1998. The sightings history of the bird is as follows:

11/07/98 Tarnbrook Fell, Lancashire
22/11/02 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 4 yrs 134days)
27/11/02 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 4 yrs 139days)
17/12/02 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 4 yrs 159days)
24/12/02 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 4 yrs 166days)
31/12/02 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 4 yrs 173days)
15/01/04 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 5 yrs 188days)
29/01/04 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 5 yrs 202days)
01/11/04 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 6 yrs 113days)
03/12/04 WEL Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 6 yrs 145days)
20/12/04 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 6 yrs 162days)
13/01/05 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 6 yrs 186days)
18/01/05 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 6 yrs 191days)
24/01/05 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 6 yrs 197days)
08/02/05 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 6 yrs 212days)
14/02/05 SAN Gloucester landfill, Gloucestershire (242 km, S, 6 yrs 218days)
07/12/10 JKN Hartlebury, Worcestershire (188 km, S, 12 yrs 149days)

I would like to thank the NW Gull Project's coordinator David Sowter for his swift reply and providing me with this information. To report a colour ringed bird either go to or

Lesser Black-backed Gull T2HC - Hartlebury, 7th Dec 2010:

Monday 13th Dec 2010 - Shenstone

Only had time for the briefest of visits to the patch today so I focused my efforts on the Butts Lane/Back Lane area. A small mixed flock of Buntings were presenty here which consisted of 3 Yellowhammers (2♂), 2 Corn Buntings and a ♀ Reed Bunting. 15 Fieldfares, 6 Blackbirds and 5 Redwings were present in the Hawthorn hedge. A ♀ Sparrowhawk was perched on a fence post along Butts Lane.

At 9:10 this morning, 25 Siskin were present in the Alders at Captains Pool for short period of time (TS).

2 ♂ Blackcaps were again present in my back garden.

Sunday 12th Dec 2010 - Shenstone

My apologies for not updating the site as often as I would like, things have been hectic of late...its that time of year. I really should clear the backlog of posts I need to do so... I shall make a start...

Arrived at the patch midday today. The weather was initially sunny but slowly turned overcast. Temperature wise things were a little milder. I started my visit on Witch Lane where 1 Common Buzzard, 4 Fieldfares, 7 Black-headed Gulls, c.60 Wood Pigeon and a Meadow Pipit were recorded.

At the Back/Butts Lane triangle there were 13 Fieldfare, 6 Blackbirds and 2 Redwings in the Hawthorns hedge next to the A450.

Heath Lane paddock held 2 Robins, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Fieldfare and a Blackbird. Another Fieldfare and a Blackbird were in the Hawthorns at the bottom of Heath Lane.

On doing my walk around the beet field I saw 1 Common Buzzard, a ♀ Kestrel, 1 Jay, 1 Robin, 15 Fieldfares, and 29 Linnets. A Grey Heron flew over heading towards Captains Pool and c.60 Skylarks were flushed from the adjacent stubble by a dog walker. The Carrot field was quiet with the only birds of note being 2 Redwings and 4 Chaffinches. Stanklyn Lane paddocks held 2 Green Woodpeckers and 16 Redwings. A flock of 11 Long-tailed Tits was also recorded along the lane.

Also of interest today were 3 Blackcaps (2♂ & 1♀) that were seen visiting my back garden (BK). This is an excellent winter record as I live on a terraced street in the middle of a town. Last winter I recorded a single Blackcap and this was the first for my garden list.

Saturday 11th Dec 2010 - Shenstone

16 Waxwings were present on the patch for a short while this afternoon perched in a tree along the A450 close to Mustow Green island until 2:40pm (MP).

Unfortunately I just missed them by about 30 minutes as I was in Birmingham at the in-laws when Mark found them. I guess I will have to wait a little longer for that patch tick.

There was some consolation in the fact that there were 2 Waxwings seen in the back gardens for about 10 minutes (BK) and when I was walking the dog mid-morning i had a further 6 Waxwings at Perrett Walk.

Friday 10th Dec 2010 - (yet more) Waxwings!

I had a bit of a messing about day today so was unable to do the patch. I did however have more Waxwings on my street. In the morning, whilst walking down the road there was a single Waxwing perched and calling from a tree by Perrett Walk. Then, early afternoon a flock of 23 Waxwings descended on the Rowan two gardens down (Wood Street) and remained for about 10 minutes before flying over to Perrett Walk. Mid afternoon I took the dog for a walk around Perrett Walk and the adjoining streets but there was no longer any sign. I wonder what tomorrow may bring.....

Tuesday 7th December 2010 - Shenstone

It has to be said that the patch looked simply stunning today as every single tree was covered by what can only be described as 'the mother of all hoar frosts'.

I started today at the Butts/Back Lane triangle where 4 Fieldfares, 2 Blackbirds and a Redwing were busy feeding on the Pyracantha hedge until being flushed by a ♀ Sparrowhawk. Also of note in this area was a single Common Buzzard perched in its usual tree at the back of Stone Manor.

I then parked up on Stanklyn Lane and walked a circuit through the beet field, down to Captains Pool and back. The beet field seemed fairly quiet with only 7 Linnets, 5 Dunnocks, a Robin, a Wren and a ♀ Kestrel noted. That was until c.120 Skylarks were flushed from the adjacent stubble by a dog walker whose pooch wasn't on a lead. The path down to Captains provided me with 12 Chaffinches, 6 Robins and a Jay. A ♀ Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in the trees at the back of the pool.

On arrival at Captains pool I started scanning the alders and bingo! I finally managed to connect with some of the Siskins. In total there were 4 Siskins (1 adult ♂) along with 6 Goldfinches feeding in an alder by the dam. Seen on the pool were the usual Mallards, 60 Canada Geese, 17 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Moorhens.

On the walk back I noticed 2 small birds perched in the large tree that stands in the middle of the beat field. At first I thought Linnets but the on viewing them in the scope I could see that they were both Lesser Redpolls....result, they are fairly scarce birds on the patch with only a handful most winters.

Fieldfare - 7th December 2010:

Redwing - 7th December 2010:

Siskin - 7th December 2010:

Hoar Frost - The Beet Field:

Monday 6th December 2010 - Captains Pool

This morning c.30 Siskins were present in the Alders at Captains Pool along with 30+ Goldfinch and a single Lesser Redpoll, the first of the winter. (TS)
Having been tied up in the morning and with the majority of the patch fogged out, I decided to pop down to Captains Pool to see if I could pick up any Siskins. But, by the time I had arrived there was no sign. There was 2 Goldfinches and a Pied Wagtail feeding on the ground underneath the Alders but that was all. A ♀ Great Spotted Woodpecker was also seen in a nearby tree.

The pool itself was still frozen with the Mallards keeping a small area free. A Grey Heron was also perched on the ice nearby. Ive attached a couple of photos (taken the day afterwards) to illustrate how little of Captains Pool is left free from ice.

Captains Pool - 7th December 2010:

Sunday 5th December 2010 - Shenstone

I finally got back out on the patch this afternoon. Temperatures were a bit milder (just above freezing) and it was sunny with clear blue sky. There was however some rather treacherous Ice patches on the such one on Stanklyn Lane sent me for a right burton!

I started at Back Lane where 5 Blackbirds, 3 Redwings and a Fieldfare were feeding on the Hawthorn hedge at the top of the triangle. Heath Lane was devoid of birds and Stanklyn Lane paddocks were not much better with a single Common Buzzard being the only bird of note.

Luckily the Stanklyn Lane beet field was much more productive with c.80 Linnets feeding below the large tree in the middle of the field. c.60 Wood Pigeons were feeding in the adjacent stubble and c.40 Skylarks flew up there when spooked by a walker. C.40 Starlings, a ♀ Kestrel and a ♀ Great Spotted Woodpecker were present in the trees bordering the field. The mixed finch/bunting flock was again feeding at the back of the carrot field and as well as Greenfinches and Chaffinches, it still contained 3 Yellowhammers (2♂), the ♀ Brambling and small numbers of Goldfinch. 11 Long-tailed Tits were seen along the hedgerow here and 2 Sparrowhawks (1♂ & 1♀) went through the finch flock on a couple of occasions.

Greenfinch - 5th December 2010:

2nd, 3rd & 4th December 2010 - Captains Pool

Unbelievably, I have come down with a stinking cold - my third bug in three weeks....what an immune system! Needless to say I haven't been out birding for the past couple of days and have been missing out on some of these cold weather movements. I have however received some Captains Pool sightings from (TS).

Thursday 2nd Dec 2010: 2 Grey Herons were over frozen pool having a tussle and 15 Siskin were in the alder near boathouse until being seen off by a Jay.

Friday 3rd Dec 2010: c.25 finches were in or around the alders today. They were mainly Goldfinches, a few Siskin and Chaffinches on the ground eating fallen Alder seed. At 3.30 pm a Song Thrush was in the leaf litter hammering away at a snail until it was bullied by a male blackbird. The Mallards continue to keep a small area of the pool ice free.

Saturday 4th Dec 2010: A flock of c.20 Goldfinches and small numbers of Siskin were feeding in the Alders on the North side of the pool today. The drake Shoveller had returned to the pool today. 2 Jays were also present.