Saturday 25th June 2011 - Grimley

Today, myself and a fellow local birder (Mark P) popped to Grimley Gravel pits for a bit of  a nose around.  Its a site that can be confusing if you are not  used to the various pits/pool locations and as Mark hadn't been here before I thought I would show him whats what.

We started at the newly landscaped North end of the Camp Lane pits.  It was pretty quiet here birdwise but the area next to where we were stood was very good for the insects.  At this rate I will have to change the name of the blog to the Shenstone Entomologist!  Only kidding but it does fill a gap nicely during the summer birding lean spellsAnyway back to the post.  In this area we recorded 6 Marbled Whites, 1 Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnett Moth and a handful of Common Blue Damselflies.

We then popped down to the causeway to view the South Pool and the Camp Lane main pit.  The only notable waders were a single Common Sandpiper, 2 Oystercatchers and a few Lapwings.  There were 6 adult Common Terns present and one pair had 2 very young downy chicks that looked freshly hatched.  There were a number of Gadwall on the pool including one family with 4 reasonably sized chicks.  Also of note were 2 Little Grebe, 2 Teal, Tufted Ducks and Great Crested GrebesSedge Warbler and Reed Buntings were calling along the causeway and a few Sand Martins were hawking for insects over the water.  In terms of insects we recorded a further 6 Marbled Whites, 2 Small Skippers, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, many Common Blue Damselflies and 1 Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly.

Our final stop was Wagon Wheel Lane pits.  In the ploughed field next to the pits were a flock of 30 Lapwing and 3 Little Ringed Plovers.  The pits themselves were quiet but for a pair of Tufted Ducks but we did have 4 Oystercatchers dropped in and a Hobby went over. In fact at one point we had Hobby, Kestrel and Common Buzzard up in the air at the same time.  

All in all a good day's just a pity I had to spend it in the company of a Woverhampton Wanderers supporter..the shame of it!  (just kidding Mark)

Marbled White

Common Blue Damselflies

Friday 23rd June 2011 (Part 2) - Hartlebury & Shenstone

After the morning's visit to Penny Hill Bank we headed back home via Hartlebury (which is only about 2 miles of patch).  

Our first stop was at a small reserve situated at the rear of the County Museum called 'Old Moat Coppice' which is a site where Spotted Flycatcher have bred in the past...needless to say we saw none.  Just as we pulled off the carpark and onto the entrance drive I noticed something flying over a mixed patch of Comfrey and was a Scarlet Tiger Moth, followed shortly afterwards by 2 more.  We pulled over the car to check out this area and in total we counted 10 Scarlet Tiger Moths

Next stop was an area of lowland heath (and local dog latrine!) called Hartlebury Common. The target species here was Small Heath and we saw at least 7 of these diminutive little butterflies.

The final stop of the day was a quick visit to the patch, in particular Butts Lane set-aside.  Of note here was the first patch Small Skipper of 2011, 2 Essex Skippers, 2 Small Tortoiseshells and many Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Small Whites.  All in all a very enjoyable insect day.

Scarlet Tiger Moths - County Museum, Hartlebury

Small Heath - Hartlebury Common

Small Skipper  - Shenstone

Friday 23rd June 2011 (Part 1) - Penny Hill Bank

I'm still catching up on the backlog of blog posts so please bear with me....

Today, me and Tony had a bit of a mini tour around North Worcestershire, with the intention of picking up a few of the local more specialised butterfly species.

We started our rounds at the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust's Penny Hill Bank reserve near Martley. The reserve itself is a small wildflower rich area of grassland on a lime-rich soil hillside.  On arrival at the reserve and the unimproved field next to it, the thing that first struck us was the number of Pyramidal Orchids there were in flower.  There were also good numbers of Common Spotted Orchids, although many of these were past there best.

On the butterfly front there were large numbers of Marbled White butterflies that were present.  In total there were c.50 Marbled Whites on the wing in this area.  Other butterflies seen included many Ringlets and Meadow Browns, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Small Skipper and a Small Tortoiseshell.  Last year we picked up Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper and Brown Argus at this site but we were a bit late for them this year.

Other insects of interest seen included Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnett Moths, Six-spot Burnett Moths, A Longhorn Beetle (Strangalia maculata) and a Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis).  On checking under the various sheets and corrugated panels on the reserve we counted an astounding 37 Slow Worms.  What a fantastic reserve!

Marbled Whites

Longhorn Beetle (Strangalia maculata)

Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis)

Pyramidal Orchid:

Common Spotted Orchid

Slow Worm

Thursday 23rd June 2011 - Shenstone

There was no real change in the lack of bird activity on the patch today although a highlight was a partially eclipse drake Tufted Duck on Captains Pool.  This is an unseasonal record as they only tend to visit here in the autumn/winter months 3 juvenile Swallows were also over the pool.

There was a noticeable increase in the number of Ringlet butterflies in the Butts Lane area and I also recorded my first Essex Skipper of the year there.  Also of note in this area was good numbers of young Cinnabar Moth larvae feeding on the Ragwort.

Just for a bit of variety I have also included a few photos of some of the patch flora below.

Cinnabar Moth larvae on Ragwort

Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum)

Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Lords & Ladies (Arum maculatum)

Tuesday 21st June 2011 - Shenstone

With things being pretty quiet on the patch bird wise, I decided to again focus on the small and take a look at the areas invertebrates.

I started at the set-aside along Butts Lane where on arrival I saw an adult Common Buzzard approach the nest site near Stone Manor with prey and could hear the juveniles calling (great news indeed!).  

The most numerous butterfly on the walk was Ringlet with 10+ recorded.  I also counted 5 Large Skipper, 1 Speckled Wood, 1 Comma,  2 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Meadow Brown, 7 Small Whites and 2 Green-veined Whites.  Moths were represented by 1 Narrow-bordered Five-Spot Burnett, 2 Six-Spot Burnett, 1 Cinnabar and many Timothy Tortrix (Aphelia paleana).

Other insects of note in the Butts Lane area were 1 Broad-bodied Chaser on the drainage pond, 3 Common Blue Damselfly and 1 Bramble Sawfly (Arge cyanocrocea)  .

I then checked out the strip of set-aside at Stanklyn Lane.  It was sadly lacking in butterflies but I did record a couple of species of Hoverfly:  Hoverfly (Eristalis arbustorum) and Hover Fly (Syrphus vitripennis).



Timothy Tortrix (Aphelia paleana)

Bramble Sawfly (Arge cyanocrocea)

Hoverfly (Eristalis arbustorum)

Hover Fly (Syrphus vitripennis)


I would like to apologise for the lack of posts this week...things have been a bit chaotic and the blog has fallen behind a tad.  Although things have been slow around Shenstone this week, there are still entries I need post.  I will endeavour to address this over the weekend.

There has however been no sign of the Quail since Wednesday when it was flushed by a local resident's Jack Russell terrier when it ran into the cereal field.

Whilst I am updating the blog feel free to browse my photos on my Flickr page by clicking on the following link:

I will a permanant link to this page in the side panel of the blog 

Cheers Jase

Shenstone News

Common Quail still present in large cereal field along Butts Lane.  Heard singing in the morning on both Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June.

Sunday 19th June 2011 - Shenstone

Today I popped back to Butts Lane with TS to listen too, and hopefully record, the Quail singing. 

After about 10 minutes the Quail started singing and continued to do so every few minutes whilst we were stood there.  I tried to record the bird but the wind was that strong it was really buffeting the mic.  I have uploaded a sound clip in this post which I have cleaned up the best that I can using Audacity
After enjoying the aural delights of the Quail we undertook an isect walk along Butts Lane.  During the walk we saw a variety of butterflies including the first 2 Ringlets of the year.   Also recorded were 4 Meadow Browns, 4 Large Skippers, 6 Small Whites, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and a Speckled Wood.  2 Six-spot Burnett, 1 Narrow-boredered Five-spot Burnett and 4 Cinnabar Moths were seen.  2 Cinnabar Moth Larvae were also recorded.  Other insects present included 1 Broad-bodied Chaser, 2 Blue-tailed Damselflies and a Black Soldier Fly

As we were walking back we could hear the Quail calling from quite close by.  It must have moved across the field as we were undertaking the butterfly walk.  I headed back there and it called again just a few metres away.  I started setting up my sound recorder on a fence post with the intetion of finally getting a good recording.  I dint, instead the bird flew up from about 3-4 metres away and flew low over the cereal before dropping down in the middle of the field and continuing to sing. This is the first Quail I have actually seen (I have heard a fair few!) is a curious bird in flight - a small dumpy bird with down turned wings flapping frantically...its cryptic plumage reminiscint of a Common Snipe.  What a bird...what a day! is the sound may need to turn up the speakers.

Quail - Shenstone, 19th June 2011 by Shenstone Birder


Large Skipper 

Six-spot Burnett Moth

Cinnabar Moth Larvae

Saturday 18th June 2011 - Shenstone News

The Quail is still present and singing from cereal field at Butts Lane early afternoon (JC).

Thursday 16th June 2011 - Shenstone

Today it was back to the norm and my normal insect walk around Butts LaneI arrived just after mid-day and walked up to the vicarage, took the path across the fields and then came back along the set-aside.  On the face of it, it didn't  seem that productive a walk although I did record 3 Meadow Browns, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Large Skippers, 1 Common Blue, 1 Speckled Wood, 4 Cinnabar Moths and 2 Blue-tailed Damselflies.

Whilst on the walk I thought I heard a distant snippet of a Quail calling but then it didnt call again...that was until I was almost back at my car.  I turned back and walked to the triangle.  After about 5 minutes it started calling again from the large cereal field.  It then proceeded to call numerous times in the next half hour.  After a while I was joined by TMH and whilst we were listening to the Quail we had a Hobby fly over heading West.

What an afternoon!  in the space of a couple of hours I had picked up the two patch target species that I had been after for the past few weeks.  Amazing but then thats local patch put in the time and you (eventually) reap the rewards.  Although it has to be said days like this are few and far between. 

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Tuesday 14th June 2011 - Shenstone

I decided to mix it up a bit today and spend some time looking at what butterflies and other insects were around Stanklyn Lane.

I started by walking the footpath around the 'gallops field' where I counted 9 Skylarks all up in the air at one point.  Another Skylark was seen on the ground with a beak full of insects.  I also recorded 14 Meadow Brown butterflies here.

I then went and checked out the set-aside at the edge of what was the 'carrot field'.  This strip of set-aside runs the whole length of the field and is at least 3 to 4 metres across.  It is incredibly rich with lots of Knapweed, Ox-eye Daisy and Red Clover.  In the area that I checked I counted 11 Meadow Browns, 2 Large Skipper, 4 Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Green-veined Whites.  There were also 6 Cinnabar Moths and 5 Burnett Moths (6-Spot and Narrow-bordered 5 Spot).

I then walked back across the diagonal path through the gallops field.  In the small field between the gallops and Stanklyn Wood were 3 Mistle Thrushes and a Green Woodpecker.  2 Common Buzzards were soaring overhead. 

Stanklyn Lane set-aside

Six-Spot Burnett Moth

Narrow-bordered Five-Spot Burnett Moth

Green-veined Whites

Monday 13th June 2011 - Wyre Forest

Today it was time for a change of scene so I visited another of my favourite local places, the Wyre Forest.  Its now getting to that time of year where less songbirds are singing and the leaf cover is that dense that it is quite hard to pick birds up that are in the canopy. 

Walking along Dowles Brook there was a Dipper and 4+ Grey Wagtails.  A Wood Warbler was heard singing and 2 ♂ Blackcaps were showing well.  Along this stretch were good numbers of juvenile Blue Tits & Great Tits (mmm Raptor fodder!).  A juvenile Coal Tit and a juvenile Robin were also seen.

The target species today was Small Pearl-borderded Fritillary and in the meadow along Dowles  I saw at least 8 of them. An added bonus was a mass emergence of Chimney Sweeper moths with a 100+ present at this location. A couple of Six Spot Burnett Moths were also seen.

On the walk back along the dis-used railway there was (surprisingly) a Tree Pipit still singing.  A Garden Warbler was showing well at Lodge Hill bridge and 2 Slow Worms were also seen on the Gorse covered embankment during the walk back.

Chimney Sweeper

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary ()

Slow Worm

Sunday 12th June (evening) - Shenstone

I had been out and about listening for non-existent Quails this evening and on my way home I decided to cut through Shenstone to see if I could perhaps see the Little Owl again.  It was a no show but as I was driving past Stanklyn Wood (at approx. 9:50pm) a Tawny Owl flew across in front of me and perched for a few minutes in a tree at the roadside...what a result.  It is only the second Tawny that I've managed to see on the patch so needless to say I went home a happy man.

I've got no record photos of this particular Tawny Owl to post on the here is one I prepared earlier!

Tawny Owl

Friday 10th June 2011 - Shenstone

I only had time for a quick insect walk at the patch today, so with TS in tow it was off to Butts Lane first.
On first inspection things were fairly quiet with not many butterflies on the wing but by the time we completed our walk we had recorded 2 Meadow Browns, 4 Large Skippers, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 ♀ Common Blue and 2 Small Whites.  The only day-flying moths of note were 2 Cinnabar Moths.

A ♀ Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly was seen along Butts Lane, as were 4 Blue-tailed Damselflies (including one ♀ of the form rufescens).  Also of inerest was a Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) and a Scorpian Fly (Panorpa communis) that was seen feeding on the remains of a Garden Chafer.

From Butts lane we popped to Heath Lane where a number of 2-Spot Ladybirds and Harlequin Ladybirds were seen.  There were also good numbers of 7-Spot Ladybird Larvae present.  An Orange Tip butterfly larvae was also seen.

Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens)

Scorpian Fly (Panorpa communis)

Garden Chafer

Blue-tailed Damselfly (♂)

Blue-tailed Damselfly - ♀ form rufescens

7-spot Ladybird Larvae

Meadow Brown (♂)

And arty shot of a 
♀ Common Blue taking flight

The Butterfly Gallery has been updated.

Just a quick note to let you know that the butterfly gallery has now been updated. New to the gallery are additional Large Skipper and Small Tortoiseshell photos.  Photos of butterfly larvae have been added where available.

The Butterfly Gallery can be viewed by clicking the below link:

Wed 8th June 2011 - Shenstone

I decided to prioritise my visit to Shenstone today on the Witch Lane area.  My thoughts being that with the large cereal fields here it is probably the most likely area of the patch for Quail.  It is also quite a high point with good panoramas giving views to the Clee Hills, the Malvern Hills, Abberley Hill, and the Clent Hills. It is an ideal place to watch for raptors and being the birding optimist I am I was hoping for a Hobby or perhaps a Red Kite.  I didn't get any of the above but I did pick up something far better....I will get onto that in a minute.

I spent about 1 1/2 hours scanning and listening along Witch Lane when suddenly I picked up a fem/imm. Marsh Harrier flying South over the large cereal field opposite.  How do I know it was a Marsh Harrier you may ask...well the the lovely creamy/buff coloured head was a bit of a give away.  The bird also had an all dark chocolate brown coloured body and fairly long tail.  I couldn't determine whether this bird was a female or immature as, at this distance it was difficult to discern if the leading edge of the birds wings were noticeably lighter.  I was absolutely chuffed with this sighting as it is a patch lifer for me! 

This is the 3rd Marsh Harrier recorded on the patch with a male being seen on 11th October 2010 over Stanklyn Lane (TMH & AW) and a fem/imm. on 27th April 2011 (MS).  It is possible that this bird is a failed breeder or may even be summering somewhere in North Worcestershire as Marsh Harriers are now increasingly moving into arable areas and nesting in Maize and Rape fields.  Who knows but I'm glad I was there at that time to pick it up.

Also along Witch Lane were large numbers of Swifts (c.80) and on the nettles along the lane there had been a mass hatching of Peacock butterfly larvae (there were literally hundereds of them). Ive taken a short video showing them on just one nettle and there were about 6 more nettles here that were like this.  Also seen in this area was a Small Tortoiseshell and a Small White.

On the way back I stopped of at Heath Lane paddock where along the verge there was an Orange Tip larvae and good numbers of 2-spot, 7-spot and (unfortunately) Harlequin Ladybirds.

Small Tortoiseshell:

Orange Tip larvae:

Peacock Larvae: