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:


  1. Goodness! There shouldn't be any shortage of Peacock Butterflies round your way :)

    Well done on the Marsh Harrier.

  2. Thanks Shy. I was totally amazed by the number of Peacock caterpillars in this area...plenty of food for the birds and enough should survive for there to be a good number of Peacock butterflies too!


  3. I missed this post Jase! Great news on the Marsh harrier, good to get a patch lifer :-)

  4. Thanks Warren...I was chuffed to bits as you can imagine!


    p.s. Im still having problems logging into my profile for comments etc.