Friday 28th January 2011 - Shenstone

I started today's visit at Witch Lane where 22 Skylarks were flitting about over the stubble field opposite the old grain store. A Linnet was perched up singing from a nearby tree (its amazing the difference a bit of sunshine makes). Whilst on Witch Lane I counted 118 Black-headed Gulls that flew over heading to the freshly ploughed field along the Driotwich Road. There was no sign of any Yellowhammers today and the field they had been favouring has now been ploughed, so they've probably moved on to pastures new.

Next stop was Butts Lane which seemed very quiet. 2 Common Buzzards were up soaring and a Goldcrest was showing well at the edge of the warbler scrub opposite Eastfields Farm. Try as I might I couldn't turn the bird into a Firecrest...ah well one day!

I then parked up on Stanklyn Lane and walked the beet field and across to summerfield and back. Again, there was no sign of any Corn Buntings and bird numbers in general seemed lower here today. Two of the fields next to the sheep field have now been the lack of stubble wont help. Of note on this walk I recorded 46 Linnet, 20 Chaffinch, 6 Greenfinch, 4 Pied Wagtails, 2 Stock Doves and a Song Thrush.

My final stop was Stanklyn Lane paddocks. These held 40 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare, 2 Goldfinch and a Pied Wagtail. The Redwings were then spooked by a Common Buzzard that landed on one of the fence posts.

7 Shoveller (3♂ & 4♀) were present on Captains Pool (TS).

Song Thrush - Summerfield, 28th Jan 2011:

Wednesday 26th Jan 2011 - Wyre Forest

After spending the morning at Forest Dog Rescue, I decided to pop back to the Wyre and have another look at the Hawfinches and hopefully connect with the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. TS came and met me at Dry Mill Lane and we walked the disused Railway Line. No sign of Lesser Spot today but we did get cracking views of a Hawfinch near Lodge Hill. I actually managed to get a half decent photo...a miracle considering the poor light.

Also of note whilst in the Wyre were a Raven, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Nuthatch, a Tree Creeper, a Goldcrest, 2 Jays and 2 Bullfinch (1♂ & 1♀).

Local birders please note: The carpark at Dry Mill Lane will be closed from the 1st to 12th of February 2011 due to improvements being undertaken.

Hawfinch - 26th January 2011:

Tuesday 25th Jan 2011 - Shenstone & Hartlebury

My visit to a rather overcast drizzly Shenstone started at Witch Lane. I only saw 7 Yellowhammers near the old grainstore today and 2 Stock Doves were also present nearby. Further up the lane I recorded 35 Fieldfare, 20 Starling, 10 Chaffinch and a Grey Heron.

From Witch Lane I headed over to Heath Lane paddock. It was really quiet in this location with only 9 Fieldfare, 12 Starling and 2 Linnets of note.

My final stop was Stanklyn Lane where I walked through the beet field and past the sheep field at Summerfield to to come out on the lane near the railway bridge. Disappointingly there was no sign of the Corn Bunting flock today. C.100 Linnet, c.40 Chaffinch, 7 Yellowhammer and a ♀ Kestrel were noted.

Prior to visiting the patch I had been to Hartlebury landfill to indulge myself in spot of gull watching (glamorous eh?). There were approx 500 gulls present in the fields today with the highlights being 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and an adult Great Black-backed Gull. Also present were c.300 Black-headed Gulls, c.200 large gulls (Herring & Lesser Black-backed Gulls). 2 Pied Wagtails were also seen.

Sunday 23rd Jan 2011 - Shenstone

I arrived at Stanklyn lane just before mid-day and my first stop was Summerfield to check on the Corn Bunting flock. Today there were 21+ Corn Buntings present but the flock was fairly mobile (AC, JK, & MP). There were also 9 Yellowhammers, c.80 Chaffinch, a ♂ Reed Bunting and a Green Woodpecker in the area. Linnets were very numerous today with numbers close to c.200 around the Stanklyn Lane fields.

From Stanklyn Lane I headed to Heath Lane where the paddock was also chuffing with birds. Here I noted c.80 Fieldfare, c50 Redwing, c.100 Starling, 24 Goldfinch, 7 Chaffinch, 2 Blackbirds, 1 Mistle Thrush and a Common Buzzard.

My final stop was at Captains Pool. This morning there had been 3 Shoveller (1♂) present (TS), but unfortunately the had moved on by the time I was there. 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 51 Black-headed Gulls were present.

Corn Buntings - January 2011:

Common Buzzard - 23rd Jan 2011:

Mistle Thrush (honest) - 23rd Jan 2011

Thursday 20th Jan 2011 - Shenstone & Hartlebury

It was noticeably colder on the patch today with a fair bit of ground frost. No blue skies either just dull grey and overcast. To add to the sombre feel of the day Witch Lane, Butts Lane and Heath Lane were practically bird less bar a few Corvids and Wood Pigeons. It was beginning to look like I was gonna have one of those 'Deadstone' days...thank heavens for the fields off Stanklyn Lane that's all I can say!

On arriving at Stanklyn Lane, I walked through an equally quiet beet field and took the path to Summerfield and Tuesday's rather productive sheep field. I was disappointed, on arrival I saw 30+ Corn Buntings, 9 Yellowhammers and 4 Reed Buntings along the hedgerow. c.150 Linnets were feeding in the adjacent stubble fields. A large mixed finch flock was also present in the trees next to the stubble including the ♀ Brambling (I'd wondered where she'd got to), c.100 Chaffinch, 20 Greenfinch and 5 Goldfinch. Also nearby were 10 House Sparrows and a ♂ Great Spotted Woodpecker. On returning to the lane I saw a ♀ Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk, whilst a Raven could be heard 'kronking' nearby.

So what I was expecting to be a bad day on the patch didn't turn out too bad after all!

Prior to arriving at the patch, I had visited another of my regular haunts, Hartlebury Landfill. This morning there were c.80 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, c.40 Herring Gulls and c.200 Black-headed Gulls present in the adjacent fields. The highlight though was a brute of an adult Great Black-backed Gull. It is quite possible that it is the same individual I flew over Witch Lane on the 15th January with 4 LBB Gulls, the two sites are only just over a mile or so apart and the bird was flying in that general direction. Unfortunately the light was poor today so I didn't get any I'm going to cheat and put up a shot of a Great Black-backed Gull that I took last year from a location no where near the patch...ah well.

Great Black-backed Gull - October 2010:

Tuesday 18th Jan 2011 - Shenstone

Another day..another visit too the patch, but what a day it would turn out to be!

Today, myself and TS, started by checking out Witch Lane. There was no sign of yesterday's Brambling but the 30+ Yellowhammers were still present. 7 Stock Doves were also seen feeding in the stubble opposite the old grainstore.

From Witch Lane it was over to Butts Lane/BackLane triangle where a mixed Bunting flock of 5 Reed Bunting and 2 Yellowhammers were showing well on the hedgerowns and fenceposts. Also seen at this location were 7 Linnets, a ♀ Kestrel and 2 Common Buzzards.

At Heath Lane paddock there were c.50 Fieldfare, c. 50 Redwing, 6 Starling and 2 Goldfinch feeding on the ground. 20 Linnets flew up from the adjacent stubble and landed on the wires. The model aircraft field was quiet with 2 Yellowhammers being the only birds of note.

The final stop was Stanklyn Lane. On arriving here a Coal Tit was seen with a small Tit flock. We decided to walk through the beet field and along the footpaths to the area where (JT) had recorded 5 Corn Buntings last week. On arriving at the Sheep field we immediately picked up 4 Corn Buntings. They then were joined by a load more from the nearby stubble. Now I counted 27! The flock then flew over the stubble and wheeled back round landing in the opposite hedge. I set up my scope and panned along counting 34 Corn Buntings in total. I was elated as this was the highest count that Ive ever had on the patch. Prior to this 17 Corn Buntings was my maximum, although there have been occasional reports of c.30 birds over recent winters.

Also present nearby were c.60 Chaffinch, 2 Yellowhammer and a Green Woodpecker. c.100 Linnet were present in the beet field.

Corn Buntings - 18th January 2011:

Monday 17th Jan 2011 - Shenstone and Wyre Forest

A ♀ Brambling was with a number of Chaffinch along Witch lane today. 40 Linnet were also seen and the flock of 30 Yellowhammer were still present (TMH).

2 Tawny Owls were heard calling at Captains Pool from 9pm this evening (TS).

This morning after I went and did my voluntary work for Forest Dog Rescue at Far Forest, I decided to pop into the Wyre to see if I could connect with the Hawfinches that have been present for the past couple of weeks. On arriving at the orchard next to Lodge Hill farm it struck me being unusually bird less. I set my scope up and scanned through the tall trees where the had been seen...nothing. after about 30 minutes I decided to head back to the old bridge and view from there so I may pick up a few other bits and pieces. Within a few minutes I heard a Hawfinch calling and saw it perched in a tree at the edge of the disused railway line. It flew after about 30 seconds but then I noticed a second bird deeper in the tree lower down. I set up my scope and had some nice views but before I could connect my camera it was flushed by a Chaffinch, typical. Still, it is always a pleasure to see this good looking bird that has become scarce these days.

Saturday 15th Jan 2011 - Shenstone

Its been a bit of a messing about day today and I only managed to steal about an hour to pop to Shenstone. With this in mind I decided to focus my attention on the Witch Lane area.

Shortly after arriving on the Lane I was greeted by a ♀ Kestrel sat on a nearby fence post. Also along the lane were 6 Stock Doves and the 30+ Yellowhammer flock remains in the area of the former grainstore. Whilst standing on Witch Lane scanning I was treated to a patch first in a Great Black-backed Gull that flew SW alongside 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

The flock of 20 Goldfinch was still present along Heath Lane, although today they were located in the trees opposite The Granary Hotel.

Friday 14th Jan 2011 - Shenstone

Finally! I have transport I was straight back out on the patch. I wasn't able to get any photos today though as the lighting was pretty rubbish.

I started today's visit at Butts Lane where c200 Wood Pigeons were in the stubble. 2 Common Buzzards were up and a Grey Heron was seen on the small drainage pool.

At Heath Lane paddock I recorded 42 Fieldfares, 30 Redwings and 20 Goldfinch.

Stanklyn Lane beet field held 53 Linnets and 10 Chaffinch. A Cormorant flew over heading W. Elsewhere along Stanklyn Lane were 2 Mistle Thrush, 6 Fieldfares, a ♀ Kestrel, a ♀ Sparrowhawk and a Common Buzzard. 2 Pied Wagtails were in the paddocks.

Earlier today a large mixed flock of birds were seen feeding in the stubble along Witch Lane. This flock included Greenfinches, Linnets, Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits (TMH).

Wednesday 12th Jan 2011 - Shenstone

Before I go on with my blog entry for today I would just like to mention a couple of sightings by others from the patch today. A Common Snipe was flushed from a stubble field just of Witch Lane (Mike Southall) - this is a patch first and an excellent record. Also, 5+ Corn Buntings were seen on a hedgerow at the sheep field along Stanklyn Lane (Jared Tibbets).

Today, Tony very kindly taxied me around so that we could do the a good tour of the patch. We started on Witch Lane where the flock of 30+ Yellowhammers were again located near the former grain store. Also whilst on Witch Lane 25 Lapwings flew over heading WNW. 3 Pied Wagtails were also seen.

From Witch Lane we headed over to Heath Lane where a flock of c.60 Redwings & 10 Fieldfares were present. A charm of 30 Goldfinch were also seen near the paddock. C40. Greenfich, 6 Goldfinch and a Chaffinch were in the orchard at the top of Witch Lane.

Final stop was Stanklyn Lane where we walked through the beet field to Captains Pool and back. Small numbers of Linnet were seen in an otherwise quiet beet field. The path down to Captains was more productive though with a Brambling, c.40 Chaffinch and 10+ Goldfinch present. Captains pool was relatively quiet with the highlights being 17 Black-headed Gulls and a ringed Mute Swan. The Mute Swan didn't have a darvic colour ring but it did have a metal ring (W16329) on its left leg. I have forwarded these details on to the BTO and I will let you know the results when I find out. Also present in the trees near Captains was a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Monday 10th January 2011 - Worcester

As some of you may be aware, I'm car less at the mo. So, as it was my wife's day off, we jumped on the train and went to Worcester for a bit of shopping (what joy!) and a bite of lunch. Little did my wife know that I had packed my bins and camera in my shoulder bag so I could use the trip to catch up with the Whooper Swan that has been resident on the River Severn in the city centre for the past week.

On arriving at the Riverside I was greated by the site of c.120 Mute Swans. Scanning across I picked up the Whooper Swan on the far side preening itself. After a few minutes it began to swim towards me. At one point it was only about 6 ft away allowing for some nice photo opportunities. I then decided to undertake a walk for about 1/2 mile or so upstream. Other birds seen along this stretch included 10 Tufted Ducks (2 drakes), 1 Cormorant, 2 Coots, 1 Moorhen and too many Mallards to count.

I then met back up with the other half for lunch and a trudge around a few shops...ah well not many shopping trips are this productive or enjoyable ;-)

Whooper Swan - Worcester, 10th Jan 2010:

Ring details

On Wednesday 15th of December 2010 whilst visiting Slimbridge WWT reserve in Gloucestershire I recorded a drake Pochard with a sky blue nasal saddle. The number on this saddle read (3=) so I forwarded the details to the Euring website and I have now received the following details:

The bird was ringed as a 1 year old adult on 16/11/2005 in France at Saint-Philbert-De-Grand-Lieu. It has since been recorded every winter at Slimbridge. The re-sighting details are as follows:

30/12/2006 SLIMBRIDGE Gloucestershire UK
18/01/2007 SLIMBRIDGE Gloucestershire UK
10/12/2008 SLIMBRIDGE Gloucestershire UK
14/12/2008 SLIMBRIDGE Gloucestershire UK
09/01/2009 SLIMBRIDGE Gloucestershire UK
03/12/2009 SLIMBRIDGE Gloucestershire UK
20/10/2010 SLIMBRIDGE Gloucestershire UK
27/10/2010 SLIMBRIDGE Gloucestershire UK
15/12/2010 SLIMBRIDGE Gloucestershire UK

Thanks to Alain Caizergues of the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage for sending me this information.

Pochard - Slimbridge, 15th Dec 2010:

Friday 7th Jan 2011 - Car Trouble!

Well folks..I'm out of action (patch wise) for a few days as my car officially died on me today! Ive since bought another old banger to tide me over but I cant tax it yet till the insurance docs come through...Grrrr! So for now its back to the garden birdwatching and other such pastimes till later next week!

I will However try and use this time to start putting together a 2010 Shenstone keep checking back.

Kidderminster - Fri 7th January 2011:
The 3♂ Black Caps were again present on the feeders today and 7 Cormorants flew over late afternoon.

A Raven was on top of the chimney stack at Weavers Wharf retail park until it was harried off by a Peregrine.

Wed 5th Jan 2011 - The Wyre Forest

Today, TS and I decided to pop a couple of miles up the road to the Wyre for a walk and to hopefully pick up the Hawfinches that have been visiting the orchard at Lodge Hill Farm.

We started our walk down along Dowles Drook where we connected with a large Tit flock that included 2 Marsh Tits, a Coal Tit and Goldcrest, as well as good numbers of Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long-Tailed Tits. A Nuthatch was also heard calling from this wooded area. Further along the Dowles brook we had great views of Dipper (which kept flying every time I was about to take a Ive attached one I took last year).

We arrived at Lodge Hill Farm about mid-day and spent a good hour or so scanning for the Hawfinches but had no joy...ah well another day. We did however get good views of 2 Bramblings which are always a pleasure to see.

Also of note during the visit to the forest were a Common Buzzard, a Raven and a number of Jays. Another Marsh Tit was seen near the car park at Dry Mill Lane.

Brambling - Lodge Hill Farm, 5th Jan 2011:

Dipper - Dowles Brook, 2010:

Tuesday 3rd Jan 2011 - Shenstone & Hartlebury

Today, I divided my time on the patch between 2 areas: Witch Lane and Stanklyn Wood.

At the bottom of Witch Lane on the hedgerow just past the old grain store was a flock of 30 Yellowhammers. This was really heartening to see as it is the biggest Yellowhammer flock I've recorded on the patch and to be honest its been best part of 10 years since I've seen a flock of more than 20+ Yellowhammer in Worcestershire. Also along Witch Lane were c.300 Wood Pigeons and 5 Stock Doves.

On arriving at Stanklyn Lane I walked the edge of the privately owned Stanklyn Wood...Its a shame I cant get in there but at least this time of year you can see into the woods fairly easily. Here I had 8 Siskin feeding in the tops of one of the Alders. A Common Buzzard was also present in the wood. In the field opposite was a Raven which was kronking away whilst being sat on a fence post (an ideal photo opportunity) and guess what, by the time I was about to take the shot it flew off being mobbed by a Carrion Crow!

Prior to visiting my patch I had undertaken a gull watch at Hartlebury landfill. There were c.180 Black-headed Gulls, c.80 Lesser Black-backed gulls and c.30 Herring Gulls sat in the nearby field. With them was an adult Yellow-legged Gull and an adult Great Black-backed Gull, which looked huge next to the Lesser Black-backs. After a while they were all put up by a ♀ Sparrowhawk, with only about half the birds returning to the field and the others heading back to the tip.

Great Black-backed Gull - Hartlebury, 3rd Jan 2011:

Sunday 2nd Jan 2011 - Shenstone

Happy New Year to you all. So here we go my first visit to the patch in 2011. Not the nicest of days weather wise, overcast and gloomy (so no photos today folks). Anyway on with the post....

I started at the Butts Lane/Back Lane triangle where 1 Linnet, 2 Common Buzzards and a Pied Wagtail were present. 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew N and c.30 Redwings flew over heading S.

From Butts Lane it was over to Witch Lane where c.200 Wood Pigeons were seen feeding in the stubble. 17 Black-headed Gulls, 9 Starlings and a ♀ Kestrel were seen here. 30 Skylarks flew up out of the stubble field opposite the old grain store. 2 Stock Doves were also in this field.

Heath Lane paddock contained 2 Fieldfare, 1 Mistle Thrush, 4 Blackbirds, 1 Robin and a Green Woodpecker. c.60 Wood Pigeons were on the adjacent stubble. 19 Fieldfare and a Common Buzzard were over the large field over the road from the paddock. 20 Linnets and 4 Yellowhammers (3♂) were present at the model aircraft field. A real highlight of today's visit were 2 Ravens that flew over 'kronking' away heading E. 7 Long-tailed Tits were seen in the trees opposite the aircraft field.

My final stop was down on Stanklyn Lane where I undertook a walk through the beet field to Captains pool and back. The beet & stubble field held 11 Chaffinch, 3 Yellowhammers (1♂), 45 Linnets, 36 Starlings, 5 Blackbirds, 1 Jay and a Kestrel. No sign of the large finch flock or the female Brambling though today :-( Along the path to Captains was a Tit flock that contained 1 Marsh Tit (a scarce bird on the patch), 4 Long-tailed Tits and a number of Great Tits & Blue Tits. Also seen along the path were 2 Jays and a House Sparrow. C.60 Rooks were in the field along side the footpath.

Captains Pool was still pretty much frozen with 36 Black-headed Gulls on the ice and a number of Canada Geese and Mallards in the small unfrozen area. On returning to Stanklyn Lane I recorded the Light-phase Common Buzzard, a ♀ Pheasant and 16 Jackdaws.

All in all not a bad haul of birds for my first patch visit of the year....I cant wait to see what future visits will bring.