Thursday 30th September 2010 - Shenstone

This mornings visit to the patch provided me with my first Redwings of the Autumn, with 14 Redwings seen flying South West over Stanklyn Lane beet field. Also of note along Stanklyn Lane were 2 Jays and 1 Green Woodpecker.

Huge numbers of Skylarks were on the move today with c.120 Skylarks seen flying South over Heath Lane. Also along Heath Lane were a flock of 40 Linnets and a ♀ Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen on telegraph pole. 5 Common Buzzards were up soaring high above the fields opposite the Islamic School.

A further 12 Skylarks Flew South West over Witch Lane. Lapwing numbers have decreased significantly with only a small flock of 14 Lapwings present. 47 Herring Gulls and 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were in one of the ploughed fields along Witch Lane. A Grey Heron, 2 Kestrels and a Common Buzzard were also present in the area.

Kestrel hovering - Shenstone, 30th Sept 2010:

Wednesday 29th September 2010 - Shenstone

Another quiet day around the patch today. Popped to Captain's pool this morning where 4 Great Crested Grebe (1 adult & 3 juv) were still present and an immature Swallow was flying around over the water.

On the wires at Heath Lane paddocks there were c.140 Starlings and 7 Linnets. 2 Green Woodpeckers were in one of the paddocks along Stanklyn Lane and Skylarks were heard singing from 3 different locations around the patch.

The Lapwing count was slightly down today with only 81 Lapwing present along Witch Lane. In the same field 7 Mallards, 1 Grey Heron and 1 Black-headed Gull were present. An adult ♀ Kestrel was also seen hovering over this field and a flock of c.120 Linnets were still in the area. The 'bean field' along Witch Lane held 19 Herring Gulls, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Black-headed Gull and 2 Common Buzzards.

Also of interest was a Shaggy Ink Cap fungus in someones front lawn along Butts Lane.

Monday 27th September 2010 - Shenstone

After Saturdays excitement it was business as usual around Shenstone this morning. c.100 Starlings were present on the pylons along Stanklyn Lane and a Jay and a Green Woodpecker were present in the paddocks. A further 27 Starlings were on the wires over Heath Lane paddock and 17 Mistle Thrushes were in the ploughed field opposite the Granary, along the A450.

59 Large Gulls (Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls), 2 Black-headed Gulls and 11 Pied Wagtails were in the, now ploughed, bean field along Witch Lane. a Further 24 Large Gulls were in the ploughed field on the opposite side of the road. The Lapwing flock has re-located along Witch Lane and now numbers 96 Lapwings. A flock of c.120 Linnets were also present flitting around over this field. Its always nice to see good flocks of Linnets and cruel as it may seem leads me to think Merlin food!

A ♀ Kestrel and a Common Buzzard were also seen along Witch Lane and 9 Meadow Pipits flew over heading in a South Eastern direction.

If any of you were wondering why I tend to get such numbers of gulls 'on the deck' in an arable area, it's due to Shenstone's proximity to Hartlebury landfill site which is only about 1 mile as the gull flies.

Saturday 25th September 2010 - Shenstone

Its days like today that make local patch birding all the more worth while. On the face of it what seemed to be a completely dead day turned out to be anything but with me picking up a Shenstone mega and patch tick.

I was unable to get around the patch until early afternoon at just before 2pm along Witch Lane I saw all the Large Gulls go up from one of the ploughed fields. I raised my bins and scanned for a possible raptor. Indeed there was one gliding low across the field with its wings held in a shallow V and on seeing its white upper tail coverts and barred tail I knew I had a female/immature Hen Harrier (or 'Ringtail' as they are commonly known). This is not the first Hen Harrier I've seen in Worcestershire but to get one on my patch...I was elated. The bird then flew in an ENE direction towards Chaddersley Corbett and Bluntington when I lost sight of it.

This is the second record of Hen Harrier for Shenstone with the previous one being recorded some years before by fellow local birder John Cox along Heath Lane.

Also of note around the patch were c.120 Large Gulls (Herring & Lesser Black-backed Gulls) that settled in a ploughed field the other side of Witch Lane after the Harrier went through. Also along Witch Lane were a ♂ Kestrel and 2 Pied Wagtails. A single Meadow Pipit flew over Butts Lane and there was no sign of any Lapwings today in the field that they had been favouring along the A450.

Friday 24th September 2010 - Upton Warren & Shenstone

On my way out to Shenstone this morning I decided to pop for a cup of tea at Tony's Cafe (they will let any old riffraff in there its great!). Whilst there both myself and TS received a message saying that a Marsh Harrier was at Upton Warren Flashes and had gone to ground in the reed bed. We decided to go for it and on arriving at the hide we were told it hadn't gone up yet. The waiting game was on. After about half hour the farmer whose land is adjacent to the reed bed went across the edge of his field in his Range Rover, this was enough to put the bird up and we were treated to cracking views of this stunning ♂ Marsh Harrier. Eventually it was mobbed by many corvids and flew off into the distance not to be seen again that day. In my opinion this was a bird well worth going for, as most sightings in Worcestershire of this fairly scarce (in this county) raptor are brief flyovers and this infact was a county tick for me. Also of note on the flashes were 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper and c.60 Shoveller.

After spending a while at Upton we decided to go and check out Grimley. First call was the farm shop for a coffee to warm the cockles. Whilst consuming our beverages another message came through from Worcester Birding (I highly recommend subscribing to this relatively inexpensive service to all local birders). This time the message was to let us know that a Pectoral Sandpiper had dropped in at Upton Warren Flashes. Needless to say we returned to Upton to see this scarce American passage wader and I'm so glad we did. The bird was showing really well not too far away from the hide and what a superb looking bird this immature Pectoral Sandpiper was, especially when the sunlight caught it. My second county tick of the day. After a good while, and many photos later, TS and I left and headed back to Kidderminster.

Pectoral Sandpiper - Upton Warren, 24th Sept 2010:

From Tony's I then quickly shot round Shenstone. The number of Lapwings in the field alongside the A450 continues to increase with 76 Lapwings present today. A covey of 6 Red-legged Partridge were in the field opposite the Islamic School, Heath Lane and c.70 Linnets were in the harvested cereal field along Butts Lane. The large ploughed field along Witch Lane is drying out and only contained 3 Pied Wagtails today. The same field also contained 21 Herring Gulls and 29 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 4 Stock Doves were also present. 2 Grey Herons were sat in another field along Witch Lane.

Worcester Birding/Birding Today news service:

Wednesday 22nd September 2010 - Shenstone

Autumn passage is really beginning to slow down around the patch and the only noticeable signs this morning were a single Yellow Wagtail that flew over Heath Lane heading South West and 6 Swallows that flew South over Witch Lane.

The Lapwing flock in the field along the A450 is increasing, with 68 Lapwings counted this morning.

There were signs that the finches are beginning to flock together for the Autumn/Winter with a mixed flock of c.200 birds present in Heath Lane paddock. This flock consisted of c.100 Greenfinches, 40 Linnets and smaller numbers of Chaffinches & Goldfinches. Also present in the paddock were 9 Mistle Thrushes, 1 Song Thrush and a single Meadow Pipit on the Wires.

8 Swallows were still present around the barn at East Field Farm, Butts Lane.

Tuesday 21st Sept 2010 - Chelmarsh & Clee Hill

I decided to have a change of scene and a break from the patch today and headed off across the county boundary out of Worcestershire into Shropshire.

My first stop was Chelmarsh Reservoir near Bridgenorth. This is a seriously under watched/reported site that consists of a large reservoir and a smaller reserve at the North West corner that are split from each other via a causeway. The Scrape itself was very quiet with the only notable birds being 1 Dunlin and c.40 Teal. From the reserve I then viewed across the main body of water from the causeway. From here I picked up a Little Egret along the West shoreline.

I then followed the track that runs parallel to the West side of the reservoir to the hide that looks over the water towards the dam. Just before getting to the hide I had great views of 3 Willow Tits flitting around in the damp woodland. I was really chuffed to see these as they are a species that are virtually extinct in Worcestershire. From the hide I picked up an adult Mediterranian Gull with large numbers of Black-headed Gulls. 21 Goosander were counted whilst they were all sat up on the dam wall. Seen on and around the water were Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Cormorants, Grey Heron, Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Gadwalls, Tufted Ducks, Mallards, Coots and Moorhens.

Also seen during the visit were 1 Reed Bunting, 3 Chiffchaffs and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A Grey Partridge was heard calling from the field behind the parking area.

A number of butterflies were on the wing today and i recorded 1 Small Copper, 4 Comma, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Peacock, 2 Speckled Wood and a Small White.

View across the scrape at Chelmarsh:

Comma - Chelmarsh, 21st September 2010:

Mid afternoon I headed across from Chelmarsh to Titterstone Clee Hill. At the summit I did a walk around and I picked up a female/immature Merlin sweeping over the short grass and putting up a flock Linnets. There were at c.60 Linnets present in the area. I also had great views of 3 Wheatears near the summit car park. Other birds of note included 6 Kestrels, 3 Common Buzzards and 3 Ravens. c.200 House Martins passed through heading SSE and along the road to the summit there were at least 300 Meadow Pipits present.

All in all an enjoyable days birding and a welcome change of scenery, although to be honest I kept thinking "what if there's something good at Shenstone?" ah well.

Wheatear - Titterstone Clee, 21st september 2010:

Sunday 19th September 2010 - Shenstone

A good variety of birds were 'on the plough' along Witch Lane today, with the following species recorded: 14 Pied Wagtails, 4 Linnets, 22 Black-headed Gulls, 40 Herring Guls, 23 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 18 Stock Doves and a Common Buzzard.

60 Lapwing were again present in the ploughed field along the A450 and a juvenile Common Whitethroat was seen in the hedgerow opposite the model aircraft field at Heath Lane (BK)

A Jay was seen burying acorns at the back of Stanklyn Lane Paddocks and 2 Green Woodpeckers were also present nearby. 2 Swallows flew over heading SE.
The highlight of today's visit though was seeing a Mole run from its hole up against a gate post along Stanklyn Lane to another nearby. Its unusual but not unheard of to see one in the daytime and I guess this individual had found he couldn't tunnel through the gate post/foundation and legged it to an earlier hole.

Lapwings - Shenstone, 19th September 2010:

Linnet (juvenile) - Shenstone, 19th September 2010:

Saturday 18th September 2010 - Shenstone

After the past couple of eventful visits to the patch, Autumn migration has slowed down again. 2 Meadow Pipits and 6 Swallows flew over Heath Lane heading WSW this morning. Whilst the large ploughed field along Witch Lane only contained 3 Pied Wagtails, 1 Meadow Pipit and 30 Linnets today.

A ♀ Great Spotted Woodpecker was on a fence post along Heath Lane paddock and a ♂ Great Spotted was in the small orchard at the junction of Stanklyn Lane and Butts Lane. A Nuthatch was calling from the nearby Stanklyn Wood. A Corn Bunting was heard calling along Butts Lane and a ♀ Kestrel was on the telegraph pole at junction of Butts Lane and Vicarage Road. 2 Green Woodpeckers, 20 Starlings and a Jay were present in Stanklyn Lane paddocks.

40 Lapwing were present in a ploughed field along the A450 between Heath Lane and Torton. 65 Lapwing had been recorded in this field earlier this morning (TMH)

Late afternoon, 2 ♂ Yellowhammers were in the hedgerow alongside the model aircraft field, Heath Lane and 50+ Starlings were in the gallops field along Stanklyn Lane (TS)

Friday 17th September - Shenstone

The Wheatear at Heath Lane hay bales was still present this morning although not perching up as much and spending a lot of time on the ground in the stubble. Also over Heath lane today whilst I was there were 6 Meadow Pipits, 3 Pied Wagtails, 9 Swallows and 2 House Martins, all moving in a general West/South West direction.

The large ploughed field at Witch Lane is still the best area on the patch at the moment with one of yesterday's Wheatears still present. Also, there were c.50 Pied Wagtails, 30 Meadow Pipits and c.60 Linnets. A Common Buzzard, a ♀ Kestrel and a ♀ Sparrowhawk were also seen over Witch Lane.

2 Sparrowhawks were also seen at Witch Lane earlier this morning being mobbed by a number of corvids (TMH)

Thursday 16th September 2010 - Shenstone

After visiting Tony's cafe this morning (I can highly recommend the tea there!), myself and TS went to check if anything new had dropped in around Shenstone. There had obviously been some movement overnight, and the large ploughed field along Witch Lane contained 2 Wheatears, c80. Pied Wagtails, c.80 Meadow Pipits and 30 Linnets.

A 3rd Wheatear was in the model aircraft field along Heath Lane flitting between the ground and the hay bale and a Chiffchaff was singing from the trees next to Heath Lane paddock.

Wednesday 15th September 2010 - Shenstone & Grimley

On my rounds around Shenstone this morning I picked up 2 Yellow Wagtails. One flew over Heath Lane going East at 9:30am. The 2nd was in the large ploughed field along Witch Lane with 22 Pied Wagtails, 12 Linnets and a Meadow Pipit. A Chiffchaff was in the trees next to the Islamic School along Heath Lane and c.60 Starlings were also present.

From Shenstone i popped to Grimley New Workings to see the juvenile Black Tern that arrived there yesterday. On arriving at the Causeway I was greeted what can only be described as a ball of hirrundines., with c.200 House Martins, 2 Sand Martins and 3 Swallows present. A Swift was also seen over the field on the east side of the pits. The juvenile Black Tern was still present and at 11:45 am a 2nd juvenile Black Tern dropped in and stayed. Also present were 2 Greenshank, 3 Little Egrets and 6 Common Snipe.

Whilst at Grimley New Workings I received a call letting me know that a fellow Worcestershire Birder (Andy Warr) had just had a Grey Phalarope circle over the Old Workings and fly towards the Wagon Wheel Lane pits. I headed back to my car and across to the Wagon wheel Lane pits. On approaching (AW) waved to me that it was still there. The Phalarope seemed quite unsettled at first and took off and flew over the pit a few times but eventually settled and was present till mid afternoon. This scarce passage wader was a 1st winter bird. I have posted a couple of distant record shots below. A Greenshank was also present at Wagon Wheel pits.

Grey Phalarope - Grimley 15th September 2010:

Monday 13th September 2010 - Shenstone

Just as I was beginning to think the fields around the patch were beginning to 'dry up' in terms of Autumn migration, I find another Wheatear. Today's bird was perched on top of of a hay bale in a field along heath lane.

c.60 Starlings and 12 Mistle Thrushes were present in Stanklyn Lane paddocks. 10 Linnets were present in the Stanklyn Lane beet field. A Meadow Pipit flew over heading South.

In a freshly ploughed field along Witch Lane there were 11 Pied Wagtails, 8 Stock Doves, c.80 Large Gulls (Herring & Lesser Black-backed) and 7 Black-headed Gulls. A charm of 27 Goldfinches were feeding on nearby seed heads.

Sunday 12th September 2010 - Grimley

This afternoon, after a visit to a rather dead Shenstone (it was so dead in fact I think avian rigor mortis had set in!), me and the other half decided to Grimley new workings.

At the Camp Lane gravel pits (Grimley New Workings) we saw 2 Greenshank, 3 Little Egret & 10 Common Snipe. The variety of wildfowl is also starting to increase and as well as the usual Mallards, Tufted Ducks & Gadwalls, we saw 4 Teal and 3 Shoveller. The highlight of the visit was a Hobby that flew over heading SSE. 3 Chiffchaffs were seen around the Causeway.

A flock of c80 Linnets were seen from the track next to Top Barn Farm Shop.

Saturday 11th September 2010 - Shenstone

Due to other commitments I was unable to get around the patch until early evening. Things seemed generally pretty quiet. Today's highlight were 14 Lapwing in a ploughed field along Witch Lane. Lapwings aren't uncommon around Shenstone during the winter months. In fact during the winter of 2008/2009 I was regularly recording around 200 Lapwing. Also in this ploughed field today were 51 Mallard (probably from the nearby fishery).

At Heath Lane there were 11 Swallows, 16 Mistle Thrushes, 60 Starlings, 4 Linnets and a light-phase Common Buzzard present.

Thursday 9th September 2010 - Shenstone

Autumn migration actively continues and on visiting the patch this morning a number of warblers were seen in one scrubby area (along Butts Lane). These birds were predominately Sylvia warblers with 1 juvenile Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Common Whitethroats (2 juveniles) and a single Garden Warbler. Also present in this area of scrub (which contains Bramble, Elder, Hawthorn and Willowerb) were 2 Chiffchaffs. A single Chiffchaff was also present along Stanklyn Lane. The Lesser Whitethroat was especially pleasing as it was a patch first for me!

Wednesday 8th September 2010 - Shenstone & Grimley

There was no sign of any of yesterday's migrants on the patch this morning but, there was a new arrival in the form of a stunning adult ♂ Redstart that was flicking in and out of a Hedgerow between the paddocks along Stanklyn Lane.

In the large ploughed field along Heath Lane there were 17 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 12 Herring Gulls.

From Shenstone I popped to the former gravel pits at Grimley New Workings where I recorded no less than 5 Greenshank (a good count locally of this passage wader). Also of note were 3 Little Egrets, 1 Common Snipe and 2 Ravens. A Sedge Warbler was still present along the causeway.

Tuesday 7th September 2010 - Shenstone and Elmley Lovett

Things have been moving again and there appears to have been a bit of a 'fall' locally. This morning a Golden Plover was a new arrival on the ploughed field along Heath lane and a Whinchat was also seen (for a brief period) along a hedgerow of the same field (TMH).

I managed to get to the patch early afternoon by which time the Whinchat had moved on but the Golden Plover was still present. In the small ploughed field, opposite the junction of Stanklyn Lane and Heath Lane, I found 2 Wheatears. Although some time later, one of the Wheatears, was spooked by a ♀ Sparrowhawk hunting over the field and flew off .

Also of note on the patch was a single Corn Bunting on the wires next to Heath Lane Paddock alongside c100 Starlings. A Little Owl was showing well its usual spot.

Wheatear - Shenstone, 7th September 2010:

Little Owl - Shenstone, 7th September 2010:

From Shenstone I travelled just off patch to another of my regular migrant watch points at Elmley Lovett. Here I was rewarded with yet another Wheatear. All in all a good day, well worth braving the showers for.

Wheatear - Elmley Lovett, 7th September 2010:

Monday 6th September 2010 - Shenstone

After yesterday's excitement, things have gone a bit flat again. The high point today was a lone Cormorant that flew over Heath Lane heading South East, a fairly uncommon sighting over Shenstone. Also of note along Heath Lane were a covey of 7 Red-legged Partridge, a juvenile Kestrel and 'Gammy' the Common Buzzard lying on top of a Hay Bale. If you are wondering why I have named this bird 'Gammy', well its because its got a gammy bowed leg so instead of perching it tends to lye down where ever possible. The bird itself seems to be coping ok and it is now the second year that this Buzzard has been kicking (or is that limping) around the local area. 8 Swallows were present along Butts Lane.

Sunday 5th September 2010 - Shenstone

It's been a good day on the patch today and the birds seem to on the move again. Today's highlight was when I had 4 Golden Plover fly across the large ploughed field on Heath Lane and drop in to feed, staying for the rest of the afternoon.

An adult Yellow-legged Gull was seen in the ploughed field along Heath Lane this morning (TMH) and was present this afternoon with 12 Herring Gulls, 18 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 1 Black-headed Gull, until they flew off at 13:50 towards Hartlebury.

The spent broad bean field along Witch Lane was also productive with 3 Yellow Wagtails (2 adult & 1 Juv) seen with 11 Pied Wagtails.

Ive posted some video footage of the Golden Plovers at the below link:

Golden Plovers - Shenstone, 5th September 2010:

Yellow Wagtail - Shenstone, 5th September 2010:

Saturday 4th September 2010 - Grafton Wood

Today, myself and TS popped to Grafton Wood (near Grafton Flyford, Worcestershire) looking for Brown Hairstreak butterflies. Grafton Wood is at the centre of the last remaining colony of Brown Hairstreaks in the Midlands and is jointly managed by Butterfly Conservation and the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. Needless to say we dipped out but it is a great woodland reserve to walk around all the same. I have cheated and added a photo of a Brown Hairstreak that I took at Grafton Wood last year just to illustrate what beautiful butterflies they are.

During the walk we recorded the following butterflies: 34 Speckled Wood, 7 Brimstone (5♂ & 2♀), 2 Commas, 1 Red Admiral, 2 Gatekeepers, 4 Green-veined Whites and 3 Small Whites. 2 Holly Blues were observed near the churchyard at Grafton Flyford.

A number of the woodland birds were flocking together and one such 'Tit' flock contained 3 Marsh Tits, Coal Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Great and Blue Tits. Treecreepers were also within this flock. A variety of birds were heard calling in the woods including Jays, Chiffchaffs, Buzzards and Great Spotted Woodpecker. A Raven was seen flying over.

Brimstone - Grafton Wood, 4th September 2010:

Small White feeding on Scabious - Grafton Wood, September 2010:

Brown Hairstreak - Grafton Wood, 16th August 2008:

Friday 3rd September 2010 - Shenstone

A good day in terms of visible migration on the patch today. This afternoon I had 27 House Martins and 2 Sand Martins fly SE over Stanklyn Lane. Sand Martin is a patch lifer for me (although they have been recorded in the area previously). Also along Stanklyn Lane were 2 Chiffchaffs, a flock of 16 Mistle Thrushes, 50 Starlings, 3 Yellowhammers and 1 Common Buzzard. Whilst on Heath Lane, a flock of 7 Yellow Wagtails flew SSE

Butterflies of note were 2 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Speckled Wood. 2 Hornets were also seen.

A Kingfisher was seen at Captains Pool this morning (TS) and was present this afternoon when I visited. This is a great record and the first for 2 years. Another Sand Martin was seen over Captains Pool and a further 15 House Martins were seen going SE.