Tuesday 29th March 2011 - Clee Hill, Shropshire

Today, after completing my voluntary work for Forest Dog rescue, I decided to pop to Titterstone Clee Hill. I was already across the county border into Shropshire so it was only another 20 minutes or so away.

I'm glad I popped up here as I picked up 2 stunning 'morning suit' ♂ Northern Wheatears and 4 Stonechats (1♂). At one location where a pair of Stonechats were present I watched a colour ringed female collecting nest material and disappearing off into the gorse. It's great to know that there are still breeding birds around after the harsh couple of winters we've had.

Also seen were 6 Ravens, 2 Common Buzzards, a handful of Linnets and good numbers of Meadow Pipits.

<Seeing the Wheatears and Stonechats today has whet my appetite to get back around the patch tomorrow looking for spring migrants. I think it does you good to have an away day now and then. By giving yourself a break from the patchch and bit of birding variety it keeps things fresh. Ultimately you end up wanting to get round your patch all the more...just in case that mega turns up.

Stonechats - Clee Hill, 29th March 2011:

Monday 28th March 2011 - Shenstone & Grimley

I managed to get to the patch for just after mid-day. The weather was mild and started off sunny but turned cloudy as the afternoon drew on.

I started off at Butts Lane where I recorded 2 Common Buzzard, a ♂ Kestrel, 8+ Skylarks, 1 Yellowhammer, 7 Linnets, a Goldcrest and 3 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. A Chiffchaff was a new arrival, singing from the trees at the back of Stone Manor.

The 2 Curlews were again present in the Back Lane sheep field. A Chiffchaff was 'wheating' nearby and a Common Buzzard soared over. Witch Lane was quite with the only birds of note being 8 Linnets on the plough and a Peacock butterfly.

3 Greylag Geese arrived at Captains Pool this afternoon (TS). 3 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Mute Swans were also noted.

Yellowhammer - 28th March 2011:

Mute Swan - 28th March 2011:

After finishing the rounds at Shenstone I decided to pop down the road to Grimley. At the 'old workings' there was an Oystercatcher, 1 Teal, 2 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Grey Herons.

There was a ♂ White Wagtail present on the plough next to 'Wagon Wheel Lane pits' but unfortunately the heat haze was to bad to get any decent photos. I have decided to attach a photo of one that I had at the same location in April 2010. Also present at Wagon Wheel Lane pits were 2 Little Ringed Plovers (one displaying), 2 Redshank, 14 Lapwing, 2 and 12 Tufted Duck.

At the 'Camp Lane pits' I noted 3 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Redshank, 4 Shoveller and 20+ Gadwall. Whilst there a flock of c.40 Sand Martins dropped in before flying off towards the River Severn.

White Wagtail - Grimley, 7th April 2010:

Sunday 27th March 2011 - Shenstone

Today there were 8 Common Buzzards soaring just south of the model aircraft field. 6 Fieldfare were present at Stanklyn Lane paddocks. A Cormorant flew East over Butts Lane and good numbers of Skylark, Yellowhammer and Linnet were also present (MP).

Friday 25th March 2011 - Shenstone

Today a further 3 Great Crested Grebes arrived at Captains Pool making a grand total of 6 (TS). The pool is only really big enough to support 2 pairs at most so needless to say things began to kick off. Much posturing, shouting, fighting and attempted drownings ensued. You wouldn't think such stunning looking birds could be so viscous. I popped down to Captains to watch the soap opera unfold and whilst there I could also here a Chiffchaff singing at the dam end.

Afterwards TS and I did a tour of the patch. We started at Butts Lane which was fairly quiet with a ♂ Pied Wagtail on the plough, 4 Yellowhammers, a ♀ Kestrel and a few singing Skylarks being the only birds of note. A Comma & a Small Tortoiseshell were also seen here.

There was little of note at Heath Lane but the singing Chiffchaff was still present along the track opposite the model aircraft field.

The highlight of today's visit came at Stanklyn Lane. Whilst at the paddocks 63 Meadow Pipits dropped in and started feeding and perching up on the wires for 20 minutes or so before flying off North. Meadow Pipits may be regarded by some as LBJ's (little brown jobs) but they are actually smart looking birds and a very much a passage migrant at arable areas such as the patch. 2 Mistle Thrush were present at the paddocks and a Robin was flitting down to ground and back at 'Redstart hedge'. Another Small Tortoiseshell was seen here.

A Corn Bunting was singing further down Stanklyn Lane at Summerfield and a further 2 Corn Buntings flew past and up the field along the hedge line. A Peacock butterfly was also seen here.

A quick walk around the edge of Stanklyn Wood gave us good views of 3 Common Buzzard chasing low through the trees. A Song Thrush, a Goldcrest, a Coal Tit and a Moorhen were also present.

The final stop was Back Lane where there was no sign of any Curlew. The Chiffchaff was still present however. Another Small Tortoiseshell on the wing here.

Meadow Pipit - 25th March 2011:

Wed 23rd March 2011 - Shenstone

Still very little sign of any passage migration on the patch again today. Perhaps the weather has been a bit too nice with sunshine and clear blue skies allowing many migrants to fly over at height. Could do with a bit of mist or rain to push a few down. Still good weather for butterflies so its not all bad!

I started my visit at Stanklyn Lane paddocks where 5 Meadow Pipits, 1 Jay, 1 Skylark and a Common Buzzard were present. 2 Skylarks were up singing nearby over the gallops field. A Small Tortoiseshell was also seen here. Elsewhere on Stanklyn there were c.60 Linnets in the beet field and c.50 Chaffinch at Summerfield.

Heath Lane paddock held 43 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 1 Yellowhammer, 1 Meadow Pipit and a Yellowhammer. 2 Skylarks were singing over the field opposite. There was very little in the way of birdlife at the model aircraft field but 2 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were present.

Only one Curlew was present in the sheep field at Back Lane today and the Chiffchaff was still singing nearby. 2 Common Buzzards and a Kestrel were also recorded.

Tuesday 22nd March 2011 - An Old Patch Revisited

Today my car was in the garage over at the Black Country so I ended up spending most of the day over at my parents house in Halesowen. Whilst there I decided to visit a former patch of mine called 'Hawne Park'. Its basically an area of woodland and scrub sandwiched between a housing estate and 3 suburban roads. Needless to say, being an urban area, litter and antisocial behaviour can be a problem here. Then again, in the past I recorded some good birds here including Cuckoo, Woodcock, Willow Tit, Marsh Tit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. I also discovered a colony of Purple Hairstreak butterflies here. Anyway enough about the area and on with today's sightings.

The walk around the area was more difficult than it used to be due to the spread of Blackthorn and Bramble - many paths were now inaccessible. Still I managed to record 3 singing Chiffchaffs, 3 pairs of Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Bullfinch. A Common Buzzard also soared over.

There seemed to have been a mass emergence of the over wintering butterflies as, in just this small area I counted 8 Small Tortoiseshell, 3 Comma and 2 Peacock.

All in all this was no Shenstone but it was a pleasant enough trip down memory and killed some time whilst waiting for my car to be fixed.

Comma - Hawne Park, 22nd March 2011:

Monday 21st March 2011 - Shenstone

It certainly felt spring like around the patch today and things are definitely starting to move now. The number of Chiffchaffs is now up to 3 with birds singing at Heath Lane, Back Lane and Captains Pool. There are now 3 Great Crested Grebes on the pool and the male seems to be going between the female on the nest and the new arrival which it has been displaying with. at one point he tried to mount the newcomer but she wasn't having a bar of it. This is really interesting behaviour as Great Crested Grebes are supposed to be monogamous. I also saw my first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly along the dam at Captains pool.

The only winter thrushes seen today were at Stanklyn Lane paddocks where 7 Fieldfare were on the ground feeding. Also present was a Song Thrush, a Jay and a Skylark.

Today's highlight came from Back Lane where 2 Curlew were present in the sheep field. A Peacock butterfly was also seen at this location.

Curlews - Back Lane, Shenstone:

Saturday 19th March 2011 - Shenstone

I arrived at the patch on this glorious sunny day around mid-day. My first stop was Witch Lane to try and locate the 2 Curlew that TMH had found in the morning. There was no sign now but whilst on Witch Lane I recorded my first Red Admiral and first Peacock butterflies of the year. I had seen a ♂ Brimstone butterfly on the way to the patch but unfortunately it was outside my patch boundaries...ah well. Bird wise I saw 23 Linnets, 2 Common Buzzard and a pair of Kestrels whilst here.

Heath Lane was very quite and seemed almost bird less except for the Chiffchaff that was still present near the Islamic School playing fields.

I decided to check out the ploughed fields at Summerfield next. A large flock of c.120 Chaffinch were here. They were mostly feeding on the ground although some individuals were flycatching from the trees. I also saw another Peacock butterfly here.

My final stop was Butts Lane where I recorded 3 Corn Bunting, 5 Yellowhammer, a single Reed Bunting and a Common Buzzard. An area of Coltsfoot was in flower in the arable headland just off the public footpath.

Coltsfoot - 19th March 2011:

Wednesday 16th March 2011 - Shenstone

I started today's rounds on Stanklyn Lane where on arrival 2 Corn Buntings and a Yellowhammer were singing. 4 Skylarks and 2 Green Woodpeckers were seen feeding in the paddocks. The beet field held c.100 Linnets.

Next up was Heath Lane. 3 Fieldfare were in the lower paddock and a Red-legged Partridge was in the model aircraft field. 2 Skylarks were on the plough here and 2 Yellowhammers were on the hedgerow. Also seen in the Heath Lane area were a ♀ Kestrel & a Common Buzzard.

The final area that I walked today was Butts Lane. 20 Skylarks were feeding in the stubble at the triangle. 7 Meadow Pipits dropped into the adjacent stubble field. 5 Corn Buntings, 8 Yellowhammers and a Reed Bunting were also present. Whilst on Butts Lane I also saw my first Honey Bee of the year.

Tuesday 15th March - Belvide Reservoir, Staffordshire

Today, I travelled with Tony to the West Midland Bird Club's Belvide Reserve in Staffordshire. This is a members only reserve and in my opinion definitely merits inclusive membership.

One of the highlights of today's visit was seeing good numbers of Tree Sparrow at the feeding station infront of Gazebo hide. There were also large numbers of Reed Bunting visiting these feeders. Nearby, 3 Goldeneye (1♂) were in gazebo bay. Also, 4 Oystercatchers and 2 Shelduck were along the shoreline.

During the walk from Gazebo Hide to West Hide there were at least 2 Chiffchaffs singing. From the West Hide we picked up 3 Little Ringed Plover, 4 Dunlin and a Redshank. Whilst walking back from this hide we had c.50 Fieldfare fly over heading NE.

For the latest Belvide news and sightings visit Belvide Birding at:

For more info about the West Midlands Bird Club:

Tree Sparrow - 15th March 2011:

Shenstone odds & ends

My apologies for not keeping the blog updated over the past week - things have been a little hectic but normal service will now resume. I have a couple of entries that will follow this post but for now, here is a round up of sightings on the patch from fellow local birders:

  • A ♂ Siskin was present at Captains Pool on Saturday 12th March (TS)

  • A Shoveller was present on Captains Pool on Monday 14th March & a Chiffchaff was heard calling along Heath Lane (TS)

  • A Comma butterfly was seen (just off patch) in garden near Captains Pool on Thursday 17th March (TS)

  • 2 Curlew were present in a stubble field along Witch Lane in the morning on Saturday 19th March (TMH)

  • A Brimstone Butterfly was seen at Captains Pool on Saturday 19th March (TS)

Sunday 13th March 2011 - Shenstone

A somewhat quieter day around the patch today. No sign of any passage Stonechats here as of yet but today did herald the arrival of my first Chiffchaff of the year. With this individual 'wheating' away in the trees next to the Islamic school on Heath Lane. A Pied Wagtail and 2 Mistle Thrushes were on the ploughed section of the model aircraft field.

Winter thrush numbers are still decreasing with no Redwings seen today and only 3 Fieldfares present at Stanklyn Lane paddocks. A flock of c.120 Linnets was still present at the beet field and 12 Chaffinch were also in the area.

8 Corn Buntings were recorded around the patch today with 5 at Butts Lane, 2 at Heath Lane and a singing individual at Stanklyn Lane. 2 Yellowhammers were also seen at Butts Lane.

Skylarks were up singing in many parts of the patch.

No sign of my first butterfly of the spring yet but there certainly seem to be increasing numbers of Bumble Bees about.

Fieldfare - 13th March 2011:

Saturday 12th Mar 2011 - Shenstone

I started today's visit at Captains Pool. Being a weekend there was a fair number of fishermen here so it was pretty quiet. I did however take the opportunity to take some photos of the Great Crested Grebe sitting on the nest. I would like to thank the owner of a property there who very kindly allowed me to go on his land and take a few shots from the water's edge. Whilst at Captains I could hear a Raven kronking away but couldn't see the bird.

At the Stanklyn Lane paddocks there were 3 Fieldfare, 1 Jay and 2 Common Buzzards. 3 Skylarks were up singing in the gallops field and a Meadow Pipit flew over. Further down the lane, the beet field held 12 Chaffinch, a Song Thrush and a singing Skylark.

The Butts Lane triangle again had the highest concentration of buntings with 11 Corn Buntings and 14 Yellowhammers feeding in the stubble. Another Corn Bunting was perched up in a tree singing on the opposite side of the triangle and I managed to record some video footage of this bird (see video at end of this entry). A flock of 10 Linnets and 2 Common Buzzards were also seen in this area.

Witch Lane was to thrushes what Butts Lane was to buntings with c.80 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing and a Mistle Trush recorded. 20 Starlings were also present.

Great Crested Grebe on nest - Captains Pool:

Corn Bunting singing - Butts Lane:

Thursday 10th March 2011 - Shenstone

I decided to walk a different part of my patch today and took the footpath that runs across the field next to Stanklyn Wood (near the Stone side of Stanklyn Lane). Believe it or not in the 4 or so years that I've regularly been doing this area as my local patch I've never walked this path. On following the path it takes you down to a small brook/gutter and a footbridge the path then heads across another ploughed field to the A448 and the most northern boundary of the patch. I'm glad I did walk it though as I saw my first few Lesser Celandine of the year in flower along the gutter. There was also a flock of 9 Siskins (4♂) in the Alders here and a Grey Heron flew over and dropped in at the nearby Stanklyn Pool.

The next area I visited was the Butts Lane triangle. The bunting numbers were down on yesterday's count, but then the flocks should be disbanding about now as individual birds set up territories. In total I recorded 8 Corn Buntings and 14 Yellowhammers. A ♀ Kestrel was also present.

I then decided to pay a visit to Back Lane (Shenstone Village) to see if there was any sign of Grey Partridge. As with yesterday's visit there were none to be seen. There were however 3 Common Buzzards up soaring and 2 Ravens down on the ground in the large sheep field.

Heath Lane paddock was empty and I didn't fair much better at the model aircraft field with c.300 Wood Pigeons and a single Buzzard being the only birds of note.

My final destination was Stanklyn Lane paddocks where 26 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Stock Doves and a ♂ Green Woodpecker were present. Incidentally, if anyone was wondering how to tell the difference between male and female Green Woodpeckers, it is by checking the colour of its malar stripe (the bit that looks like a moustache). In a female this is a solid black stripe and in a male it is red with a black border. That concludes today's lesson ;-)

Green Woodpecker - 10th March 2011:

Lesser Celandine - 10th March 2011:

Wednesday 9th March 2011 - Shenstone

I started today's visit at a very quiet Witch Lane. The only birds of note were a pair of Kestrels down the bottom of the lane near the former grain stores. Hopefully they will breed in this area.

My next port of call was the Butts Lane/Back Lane triangle. Again it was Bunting central here with 16 Corn Buntings, 20+ Yellowhammers and 2 Reed Buntings feeding in the stubble. Also seen in this area were 3 Skylarks, 20 Linnets and a ♀ Kestrel.

Heath Lane paddock held 2 Mistle Thrushes, 8 Redwings, 7 Fieldfares and 2 Goldfinch. A single Corn Bunting was on the wires. A Pied Wagtail flew over the model aircraft field heading NE.

There were c.120 Linnets still present at the Stanklyn Lane beet field. The farmer has now started harvesting the beets so the Linnet flock will probably move on. 12 Chaffinches and a Common Buzzard were also seen at this location.

My final stop off was at Stanklyn Lane paddocks where 37 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 40 Starlings and a Green Woodpecker were present.

Tuesday 8th March 2011 - Shenstone

What a morning! I finally connected with the elusive Shenstone Grey Partridges. All will be explained...

I started my tour on this lovely sunny morning at Witch Lane. As with yesterday it was pretty much devoid of birds. I decided to head up to Back Lane (the one at Shenstone village) next and view across the field where I had seen the Curlew last week. All that was of note was 2 Common Buzzards down on the ground and 21 Fieldfare flew over . I then crossed over the road and noticed a brown shape in the winter wheat. My first thought was that it was a Brown Hare sat down but on getting my scope on it I realised it was just some old rubbish or other. I then carried on scanning the field and then presto! I picked up 2 Grey Partridge (1♂ & 1♀). Although they were only showing just above the cover of the crop at times I still managed to get a few photos (I've attached one at the end of this entry). I was overjoyed and relieved...no longer would Grey Partridge be my 2011 patch bogey bird. A single Meadow Pipit also flew over whilst at this location.

Elsewhere on the patch there were c.200 Linnets at the Stanklyn Lane beet field. Stanklyn Lane paddocks held c.40 Chaffinch, 4 Fieldfares, 2 Redwings, 2 Mistle Thrushes and a Song Thrush. 2 Corn Buntings were also singing along the lane. Heath Lane was quiet with only 2 Mistle Thrushes being of note in the paddock.

The Butts Lane/Back Lane area was again productive with 15 Corn Buntings present along with a number of Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings (JK & John Ridley).

Also, at 3pm today, a Raven flew high over Captains Pool heading WSW (TS).

Grey Partridges - 8th March 2011:

Monday 7th March 2011 - Shenstone & Churchill

This afternoon, TS & I did a whistle stop tour of the patch.

We started at Captains Pool where one of the Great Crested Grebes was sitting on the nest. Great Crested Grebes can have more than one brood a year so fingers crossed this may be a good year for the Captains Pool pair. Also of note were 2 Mute Swans.

Witch lane was pretty much devoid of birds and Heath Lane was much the same, with the only highlight being a single Common Buzzard sat perched on a hedgerow next to the model aircraft field. Earlier today, a Red-legged Partridge had been seen at Heath Lane(TMH).

Thank heavens for the Back Lane/Butts Lane area where a flock of 15 Corn Buntings were feeding in the stubble. 4 Yellowhammers, 4 Linnets and 4 Stock Doves were also seen at this area.

Prior to visiting Shenstone I had been a few miles up the road checking out an area called Churchill. Whilst here at approx 2:15pm a flock of 7 Golden Plover flew over heading NE towards Hagley.

Friday 4th March 2011 - Shenstone

A fairly quite day around the patch today...or so it seemed on first inspection. For starters I still haven't connected with the elusive patch Grey Partridges and today I didn't see a single Corn Bunting! All was not lost and the Back Lane/Butts Lane area proved top be the most productive area today.

At the Back Lane/Butts Lane triangle there were 16 Yellowhammers and 8 Reed Buntings present. These birds were feeding on the adjacent stubble and then perching up along the hedgerow. As the sun was shining and the wind was calm I managed to get off some nice Reed Bunting photos which was very pleasing. At 1:00 pm, whilst on Back Lane, I had a Goosander (redhead) fly over from the SE heading towards Stone. This may be the same bird that TMH recorded a couple of days back or just another flyover. There certainly have been good numbers of Goosander a few miles up the road at Hagley...so it could be possibly one of those. 5 Skylarks were up singing along Butts Lane.

Also of note around the patch today were: a Goldcrest at the edge of Stanklyn Wood and a single Redwing in trees by college along Heath Lane. A Common Buzzard and a ♀ Kestrel were also along present in this area.

At Stanklyn lane 90 Linnets (a flock of 40 and another of 50) were present (TMH)

Reed Bunting - 4th March 2011:

Thursday 3rd Mar 2011 - Shenstone & Kidderminster

I've had quite a bit of running around to do today so haven't been able to give the patch my full attention. I did however have a quick whistle stop tour around mid-day.

At the Butts Lane/Back Lane area i recorded 16 Yellowhammers and 3 Linnets. 3 Skylarks were up singing. Heath Lane was desperately quiet with a Common Buzzard being the only bird of note. There were c.70 Wood Pigeons in the paddock (its a sign I'm getting desperate when I start counting Wood Pigeons!) Witch lane was equally quiet.

The highlight of Toddy's visit came from a part of the patch I don't watch as often as I should. I pulled up along at Curslow Lane on the eastern edge of my patch and scanned the large sheep field that runs across from the A450 to Back Lane at Shenstone Village (not the stretch of road also known as Back Lane that joins on to Butts Lane - confusing eh!). On scanning this field I picked up a Curlew that was walking along and probing the ground with its long decurved bill for worms. Typically, as I was setting my camera up, a Buzzard flew across the field and flushed it. The Curlew then flew of towards Witch lane. I was pleased to have picked up this bird as it was my first Curlew on the patch for 2011.

The 3 Shoveller returned to Captains Pool today and a Nuthatch was present in a tree nearby (TS)

Prior to visiting Shenstone I had walked the dog around the block late morning. I live in quite a built up part of Kidderminster consisting of rows of terraced houses but what I found heartening this morning was the sight of 3 Common Buzzards soaring over Wood Street and a further 2 Buzzards which could be seen soaring over the Franche Road. The increase in this species over the past 15 years is amazing and now days you cant drive a mile or so down a country lane in Worcestershire without seeing one. I certainly never tire of seeing them.

Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 - Shenstone

A Goosander (redhead) was seen flying over the Back Lane/Butts Lane triangle just after mid-day (TMH). This is a great record as usually only one or two days a year there are single birds recorded on Captains Pool. Also of note were c.200 Linnets in the Stanklyn Lane beet field (TMH).

I managed to do a quick whistle stop tour of the patch early afternoon and recorded 10 Corn Buntings, 40 Linnets and 1 Yellowhammer at Butts Lane. Also, 3 Mallard flew over. Heath Lane was fairly quiet a ♀ Kestrel was present at the model aircraft field and 3 Corn Buntings were on the wires at the paddock. A further 7 Corn Buntings were seen along Witch Lane. 2 Skylarks were seen having a 'sing off' and 9 Stock Doves were feeding in the stubble.