Tuesday 30th August 2011 - Gailey Reservoir & Shenstone

Today myself and Tony travelled up to Gailey Reservoir in Staffordshire to hopefully see the long staying summer plumage Red-necked Grebe.  As members of the West Midlands Bird Club access to this reservoir is allowed with your WMBC permit.

On arrival at around 12:45pm we walked on to the causeway and it was long before we had great views of the stunning looking Red-necked Grebe.  The only down side was the light was so poor that I was unable to get any photos to do the bird justice.  I did however get a bit of video footage which I will put up later in this post.

Things got even better and at just before 1:30pm an adult Sandwich Tern dropped in and started plunge diving for fish, coming pretty close to the causeway at one point.  We watched the bird successfully catch a couple of times before it went and rested up on the island.  The bird was still present and fishing when we left at 2:30pm.  What a result!  I've attached a record shot below.

Also of note at Gailey was a single Ringed Plover that was working the mud on the opposite side of the reservoir from the causeway, 8 Swifts and a single drake Pochard.  There were good numbers of Tufted Duck, Great-crested Grebe and Little Grebe present.  The only gulls we recorded were Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Sandwich Tern with Black-headed Gulls

Click on photo to enlarge

Click on video to enlarge


As I was about to drop Tony off home something strange happened, I missed the turning and headed on auto-pilot to Shenstone.  Well it would be rude not to have a quick look after that, so we headed to Stanklyn paddocks.

When we arrive my old friend 'horse bloke', his missus, 2 teenagers and a dog were just leaving.  Of course, after hours of their furtling about the paddock was birdless. What was interesting though was that literally minutes after they had gone 6 Pied Wagtails dropped in and started feeding around the feet of the horses.  Better still 2 imm. Common Redstarts flitted out of the hedgerow and onto the wooden fence.  These were new birds in so to say I was pleased was an understatement!  A family party of 3+ Chiffchaff were flycatching and flitting around the left-hand hedgerow and 2 Robins also made there presence known.

Nearby, a ♀ Sparrowhawk was sat perched in a bush next to the gallops field and a Jay was making a racket from Stanklyn Wood.  I'm glad i missed that turning after all  ;-)

Monday 29th August 2011 - Shenstone

Due to car booting this morning, I didn't get around the patch until late afternoon.  The sky was so dark and oppressive I almost turned my car around and went back home (almost!).

I started at Stanklyn Lane paddocks but unfortunately the bloke was in there with his horses.  I've got nowt against people keeping horses, they are nice animals and paddocks are great for passage migrants.  But this bloke must spend 8 hours every day in there just fannying about! 

I then went on to check the beet field where 7 Stock Dove were the only birds of note. A Common Buzzard was seen soaring over Stanklyn Wood.

From Stanklyn I headed up to Heath Lane where an incredible 600+ Wood Pigeon were feeding in the stubble fields.  20 Linnets were on the wires at Heath Lane paddock.

Next stop was Witch Lane.  On arrival I recorded a flock of 38 Mistle Thrush that flew out of the spent bean field.  Further down the lane were 30 Greenfinch and a ♀ Kestrel.  I then scanned across the small brassica field next to the old grain stores and picked up a stonking adult Wheatear perched on a weed stem. Unfortunately the little beggar dropped to ground before I could get a photo. Also of note whilst at witch lane was a single Swift that flew over heading South and 34 Canada Geese that came honking over heading SSE.

At Butts Lane there were 9 Swallows and 27 House Martins, but there was little else of note.

Before heading home I decided to check out Stanklyn Lane paddocks again.  This time the horse bloke had gone and there was now birds present there again.  A Wheatear, 7 Pied Wagtails and a Linnet were all down on the deck.  The Wheatear was a new bird in and was a rather dark scruffy looking individual...I managed to get a couple of record shots of this bird but the light was pretty poor so don't expect too much.  Whilst viewing the paddocks a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across to Stanklyn Wood and the young Swallow was again being fed at the stables.

All in all it was a productive visit with a good mix of species, yet I still came away feeling a bit flat..I think the rather grim dark foreboding skies had got to me...ah well it might me brighter tomorrow!

Northern Wheatear

Sunday 28th August 2011 - Chelmarsh Reservoir (Shrops)

Today, me and my better half popped 16 miles up the road to Chelmarsh Reservoir near Bridgenorth in Shropshire.  A juvenile Arctic Skua had been there for the past few days but there was no news forthcoming this morning...we thought we would chance it.

We parked just before the private stretch of road to the sailing club and walked the bridle way behind the club that rises up to give you fantastic views across most the length of the Reservoir.  It wasn't long before we picked up the Arctic Skua flying low across the water and it was soon wheeling about acrobatically harassing gulls so they would eventually regurgitate there food (which the Skua then catches in flight).  

A great series of photos of the Skua mugging a Gull can be seen at Jim Almond's Shropshire Birder blog at http://shropshirebirder.blogspot.com/2011/08/chelmarsh-arctic-skua.html

After a while we headed to the other end of the reservoir to check out the scrape.   Things were pretty quiet here but we did see a single Green Sandpiper, a Kingfisher, c.20 Teal and 4 Grey Heron.  
Two Brown Hawker dragonflies were also noted.

Before we went we spent some time scanning the NW end of the Reservoir from the causeway.  Whilst here we were treated to the sight of  61 Goosander dropping in (at least 25% of them were juvenile birds).

All in all a very enjoyable away day...but its back to my patch again tomorrow.

For the latest sightings news from Chelmarsh check ot the Shropshire Ornithological Society website at:   http://www.shropshirebirds.com/bird_reports.htm

Friday 26th August 2011 - Shenstone, Woodrow & Tanwood

The 2 Wheatears were still present at Stanklyn Lane paddock this morning and 2 Redstarts were new birds in (TMH)

I arrived on the patch early to mid afternoon and headed straight for Stanklyn Lane.  There was no sign of this morning's Redstarts but there were now 3 Wheatears in the horse paddocks.  Also present were 18 Mistle Thrush, c.60 Starling, 6 Linnets and 11 Pied Wagtails.  A highlight for me was watching a young Swallow that was perching on a vent slat of the stable being regularly fed by its parents.  I've managed to get some video footage which I will put up later in this post.

2 Common Buzzards were on the fence posts at Heath Lane paddocks but otherwise it was very quiet there.

There were good numbers of hirrundines over Butts Lane with c.30 House Martins and c.40 Swallows present.  Whilst scanning through these in the hope of picking up a Sand Martin or a hawking Hobby.  I noticed a line of 5 dumpy looking birds flying WSW.  On closer inspection I could see that they were Golden Plover.  It's bit early I would have thought for migration but something (perhaps the weather) had caused them to be on the move.

Northern Wheatear

Prior to arriving at Shenstone I had checked out the nearby areas of Woodrow and Tanwood.  At Woodrow there was a Yellow Wagtail in the small horse paddock with 6 Pied Wagtail and at Tanwood I was treated to an imm. Common Redstart.  So all in all a good day with plenty of bird movement.

Thursday 25th August 2011 - Shenstone and Grimley/Holt

I arrived at the patch this morning at around 10am and decided to check out the paddocks/fence posts at Stanklyn Lane first.  For once the bloke who uses the first 2 paddocks wasn't in there having a furtle with his horses and it showed.  What is usually a bird less paddock held 2 Yellow Wagtails (1 adult & 1 imm.), 10 Pied Wagtail, 6 Linnet, 5 Mistle Thrush and 20 Starling.  After about 20 minutes the Wagtails flew off on mass heading SW, the rest of Stanklyn Lane was relatively bird less.

I then headed up to Heath Lane where a flock of 30+ Linnet were wheeling about at the rear of the large stubble field.  Two more Linnets and rather downy juvenile Greenfinch were on the hedgerow at the model aircraft field.  A light-phase Common Buzzard went over heading East.

I then headed over to witch Lane where the only birds of note were 2 Common Buzzard and 6 Stock Dove.

The number of butterfly species being recorded around the patch is decreasing as the season draws on with  only Speckled Wood and Small White putting in an appearance today.

Speckled Wood

From Shenstone I headed 10 miles or so down the road to Grimley.  I dropped in to check Sling Pool at Holt first, as there had been a Greenshank present there the previous day.  Greenshanks are not an uncommon passage wader in Worcestershire but I always feel that they are a smart looking bird that is a joy to watch.  On arriving at Sling Pool I picked up the Greenshank immediately, 2 Green Sandpipers were also present.  I noticed that along the near edge of the field there was a sandy mound (large areas of North Worcestershire is on sandstone and it tends to have very sandy).  On scanning the mound I picked up a Wheatear and seconds later an imm. Common Redstart on the adjacent fence/hedge.  A family of Chiffchaff were flitting about nearby.  What a good day this was becoming.

I then headed to the Camp Lane pits where I had 4 Yellow Wagtail at the North End.  A Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper were along the edge of the main pitA Common Tern and small numbers of Sand Martin were through.

Along the causeway were 2 Migrant Hawkers and a Brown Hawker dragonfly.

Northern Wheatear

Click on image to enlarge

Greenshank with Teal

Click on image to enlarge

Late afternoon 2 Wheatear were present at Stanklyn Lane paddocks (JC)

Wednesday 24th August 2011 - Shenstone

I finally got my motor back today (although not until late afternoon), so I decided to do a quick whistle stop tour of the patch.

I started my visit on Witch Lane  and was soon greeted by a ♀  Kestrel that was hovering nearby.  A Common Buzzard was perched up on top of a stack of hay bales and another was over the field opposite.  The highlight at this location was 2 Sand Martins that flew over heading SSE.

Next stop was Heath Lane.  To be honest it was fairly disappointing with the only note worthy birds being a flock of c.60 Starlings on the telegraph wires and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull that flew over heading E.

An adult Green Woodpecker was present in Stanklyn Lane paddocks and 20 House Martins and 11 Swallows were over.

That about sums up the visit...not great but it was still good to be back.  I'm looking forward to going back in the morning and doing a proper walk.

A brief note....

I finally get my car back tomorrow, so normal coverage of the patch will recommence...to say I can't wait to get back out there is an understatement. 

Thanks again to Terry, Tony and Mark for helping me out over the past week.


Saturday 20th August 2011 - Elmley Lovett & Grafton Wood

Today, to my shame,  I accepted transport from a Wolves supporter.  I didn't realise what I was in for until Mark P turned up in his horse and cart!  (just kidding Mark...I really appreciated you helping me out)

The plan today was to head to Grafton Wood to hopefully get MP his first Brown Hairstreaks.  On the way we stopped of at Elmley Lovett.  Its about 3 miles from Shenstone and another place where I usually pick up passage migrants.  We scanned the fence posts but there wasn't a chat to be seen.  There was however 200+ Hirrundines in the sky and after a short while they were joined by a Hobby that started hawking them.  At one point a House Martin narrowly escaped by a less than a couple of inches.

We then headed to our main destination, Grafton Wood.  As we walked from the church to the woods the weather got worse and the drizzle started.  Undeterred we carried on..."well the weather might improve"...it did eventually but not until it had rained fairly heavy for half the visit, but we stuck it out and the sun did eventually shine.

On starting our walk around the woods we were greeted by the sound of a Muntjac Deer barking.  During the walk we didn't see a single Brown Hairstreak but we did get a number of other butterfly species including:  1 Silver-washed Fritillary, 2 Brown Argus, 1 Small Copper, 1 Holly Blue and many Common Blues, Speckled Woods, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Small Whites.

The following dragonflies/dameselflies were recorded:  6+ Migrant Hawker dragonflies, 3 Common Darters and a ♀ Banded Demoiselle.  Small numbers of Common Carpet Moth were also seen and 2 Common Frogs were seen at the edges of the damp rides after the showers. 

Birds of note seen included a Marsh Tit, 2 Blackcaps and 2 Common Buzzard.  All in all an enjoyable day out.

Brown Argus

Common Blues

Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)

Below is a sound recording of the Muntjac Deer barking.  As I didn't have my sound recorder with me I improvised and used my mobile phone.

  Muntjac Deer - Grafton Wood, 20th August 2011 by Shenstone Birder

Friday 19th August 2011 - Shenstone

Today it was Tony's turn to play chauffeur, picking me up late afternoon so that we could do a tour of the patch.

We started down at Stanklyn Lane paddocks where 8 Mistle Thrush, 1 juvenile Green Woodpecker and a Stock Dove were present.

A Hobby was present and showing well, hawking over the Heath Lane cereal fields.  Hobbys are perhaps my favourite raptor, they are so fast and agile in the air. Also of note was a single Corn Bunting that was perched on the telegraph wires near the paddock.

Other than the above things were very quiet.  The butterflies were nowhere to be seen, with only Small Whites putting in an appearance.

Earlier today 2 Grey Partridge (1 adult & 1 juvenile) were present along Witch Lane (TMH)

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Thursday 18th August 2011 - Out and about

Unfortunately I am without transport until the middle of next week (long story...I wont bore you with the details)...so I'm depending on the hospitality of my fellow local birders to help me out.  Today Terry very kindly picked me up so we could do some birding.

We started the rounds at the privately owned Westwood Great Pool, where Terry is a permit holder and I visited as his plus one.  Things where fairly quite at the pool although we did see 2 Green Sandpipers and 2 Common Sandpipers along the shoreline.

From Westwood we headed to Bittell Reservoirs.  We checked out Upper Bittell first only to have just missed a Hobby by seconds (doh!).  Still it was interesting to see how low the water levels were and we still managed to pick up 2 Yellow-legged Gulls.  There was little of note at Lower Bittell.

On our way back we headed to Shenstone...well it would be rude not too.  The adult Common Redstart was showing again at the Stanklyn Lane paddocks.  We now believe that the Redstart sightings this week have been of a family party (an adult , adult ♀ and an immature ) that have been showing individually or occasionally with one another all week.  Also of note were a flock of 60+ Linnets on the Heath Lane telegraph wires

All in all an enjoyable day...so thanks again to TMH.

Yellow-legged Gull 

Wednesday 17th August 2011 - Shenstone

Today I popped for a whistle stop tour of the patch with Tony.  We started at Captains Pool where earlier TS had recorded a Kingfisher (not common on the patch these days).  In fact I was lucky enough to see the bird zip across the pool whilst I was there.  A Grey Heron was also present.

Stanklyn Lane paddocks were quiet with the only birds of note were 2 Pied Wagtails and a singing Chiffchaff.

On checking the lower paddocks on Heath Lane Tony picked up a distant small bird perched in a Copper Beech.  I got my scope on it and confirmed our suspicions, it was a ♀ Common Redstart.  Whether this was the same bird from a couple of days before or a new migrant through is any ones guess.

An adult Little Owl was showing well along Heath Lane and 2 juvenile Common Buzzards were on the fence posts at the top paddock.  A flock of c.70 Linnets were also present.

I've attached a rather poor record video of the Redstart below...just check out that heat haze!

  Double click on video to view larger version

Tuesday 17th August 2011 - Shenstone News

I was unable to get around Shenstone today, so here is a round up of sightings on the patch by fellow birders: 

Grey Partridge have successfully bred at Shenstone with 5 Grey Partridges (2 adults and 3 juv) recorded early evening.  A Common Redstart was present at Stanklyn Lane paddocks and a Hobby was seen over Witch Lane.  A flock of 20+ Mistle Thrushes was also present there (TMH)

2 Corn Buntings were present along Butts Lane this evening (TS)

Also recorded along Witch Lane this evening were 70 Lapwing, c.30 Mistle Thrush, 2 Swift, 25 House Martin and a Kestrel (MP)

Monday 15th August 2011 - Shenstone

I popped to the patch around mid-day to check 'Redstart hedge' to see if yesterday's birds were still present.  On arrival I bumped into Terry Hinett and his wife Rosemary.  Whilst Terry and I scanned for the hedgerow, Rose saw a Stoat run across Stanklyn Lane (typical!).

After about 15 minutes of scanning it became apparent that neither of yesterday's male Redstarts were present.  Then suddenly a bird flicked out of the hedge and back.  We quickly got onto it only to find that it was a really crisp looking ♀ Common Redstart.  This must be a new bird in and now takes this Autumn's Common Redstart passage total to 5.

After a while the bird flew further into the hedge and didn't show again (so no pics I'm afraid folks).  I did also see a Painted Lady fly over the paddock, a patch first for this year.

There was no sign of any Lapwings on the patch today and the nearby Podmore flock only numbered 63 Lapwing.

Sunday 14th August 2011 - Shenstone & Grimley

I had a text this morning from Mark P letting me know he had found 2 Common Redstart (an adult and an imm. ) along Stanklyn Lane, a Lesser Whitethroat had also been present (MP).

As soon as I got chance myself and Bev headed over there.  When we arrived and scanned 'Redstart hedge' we were only able to pick up the young male but it was showing well. I did however return on the evening and see both Redstarts.

Also of note around the patch today were a Raven on Stanklyn Lane and 6 Lapwing along Witch Lane (TMH). 

Common Redstart (imm. )


Common Redstart (adult )

Photo by Mark Peacock

From Shenstone Bev and I headed over to the Camp Lane pits Grimley to while away an hour or two.  At the North End we saw a Little Egret working its way along one of the channels and had a Yellow Wagtail flyover heading towards the Old Workings.

Down at the main pool there was a Barnacle Goose with the Canadas (OK, I know it's a bit plastic but its still a nice looking bird).  There was also a stunning Common Redstart flicking in and out the bushes along the causeway (found by my wife I have to admit!). The real highlight for me was the Hobby which came down low over the South Pool hawking the hirrundines, giving great views for a short while.  There were still 8 Common Tern present  and reasonable numbers of Sand Martin were seen too.  Disappointingly though we didn't see a single wader at the pits.

There was a good selection of dragonflies and damselflies along the causeway including:  ,  Ruddy Darter, Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker and many Common Blue Damselflies.  Butterflies recorded were 2 Common Blue, 1 Small Copper, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Speckled Wood and a number of Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and the ubiquitous Small White.

All these great birds and dragonflies and we only managed photos of the common stuff...ah well.

Common Blue Damselflies

Photo by Bev Kernohan


Saturday 13th August 2011 - Deadstone

I had been out and about with my better half today mooching around Bridgnorth,  so I didn't get down to the patch until tea-time. After scouting all possible fence posts, scrubby bushes and bare fields I came away without a single passage migrant.  It was even worse in terms of butterflies...1 Gatekeeper, 2 Large Whites and a handful of Small Whites.  There was one ray of light though in the form of 2 Ravens that were down in the small grassy field along Butts lane...its not until you see them on the deck that you realise just how large and powerful these birds are.

Just off patch at Podmore the Lapwing flock numbered 86 Lapwings today, with a good mix of adults and immature Lapwings.  It's only a matter of time before they drift over the road and on patch to Witch Lane.  Curiously enough there is a single Starling that has been present with this flock everyday...it obviously thinks its a plover, taking off and wheeling about with them whenever they go up!

Friday 12th August 2011 - Shenstone

Blimey, I think I might have to sit down for a minute, I'm actually up to date with all my blog posts! 

Prior to visiting the patch today I quickly visited nearby Podmore where the Lapwing flock was up to 83 Lapwing today....with a bit of luck they will venture onto Witch Lane soon.

I started today's visit on Witch Lane on arrival I saw a Sparrowhawk and 2 Common BuzzardsAlso, over the lower section of the lane, there were 16 House Martins, 6 Swallows and 3 Swifts.  Further up the lane I scanned the harvested bean fields and recorded 7 Yellow Wagtails (5 juveniles) with at least 15 Pied Wagtails flitting about and feeding amongst the remains of the crops.  Another sign that, in terms of migration, Autumn passage is starting to pick up.

The North side of the patch was pretty quiet.  2 Common Buzzards were along the fence of Heath Lane paddock and a flock of c.30 Linnets were in the harvested cereal field opposite. 13 Swallows were present over Butts Lane, as were a flock of 40+ House Sparrows near the junction with Vicarage Road.

Also, 50+ House Martins were seen hawking over Captains Pool early afternoon (TS).

 Double-click on video to view it in larger format

Thursday 11th August 2011 - Just off patch

Today, after doing a bit of running about, I decided to do a quick whistle stop around Shenstone.  Not a single passage migrant was to be seen, in fact there seemed to be a distinct lack of anything full stop!

I finished my disappointing scoot around the patch at the bottom of Witch Lane.  I decided to cross over the Droitwich Road (off patch and into an area called Podmore), to check out the large harvested field at the start of Ryeland Lane.  This field has got large areas of bare sandy soil and looking across I counted a flock of 78 Lapwing sat in the field.  Better still were 2 Yellow Wagtails that were also present.  The annoying thing was the fact that these birds were only a few hundred metres of patch...ah well them's the breaks!

Wednesday 10th August 2011 - Grafton Wood

Today TS and I decided to pay a visit to Grafton Wood.  Grafton Wood nature reserve is jointly owned and manged by Butterfly Conservation and the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and is the county's stronghold for the Brown Hairstreak butterfly.....our target species.

The walk around Grafton was very pleasant and (unlike last year when we didn't see any) we saw a Brown Hairstreak along the first ride, feeding on the flowers of Angelica.  In total we saw 4 Brown Hairstreaks during the walk around the wood, 3 of which were feeding on the aforementioned flowers.

Other butterfly species recorded during the walk were 1 Silver-washed Fritillary, 2 Red Admirals, 1 Small Skipper, 2 Common Blues and numerous Speckled Woods, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Small Whites.

The flora of the reserve was abundant with an interesting variety of flowers including:  Bettony, Common Fleabane, Devil's Bit Scabious, Enchanters Nightshade and Hemp Agrimony.

On the final stretch of  the walk we had a bonus of seeing a family of 4+ Spotted Flycatchers in and around the dead oaks.  At one point we even saw an adult food pass to a juvenile in mid-air...what a privilege.

On the walk back from the woods across the fields towards the church we had yet another Brown Hairstreak that flew past from the nearby Blackthorn hedgerow.  What a nice way to end a good day.

For more information about Grafton Wood please click on the below links:



Brown Hairstreak

Common Blue

Tuesday 9th August 2011 - Tanwood

I wasn't planning any birding today as it was my wife's day off.  Early afternoon we decided to pop to a garden centre near Chaddesley Corbett for lunch.  As we were heading home I suggested nipping just up the road (literally) to Tanwood.....it's funny how a pair of binoculars can find their way into one's car.

Stopping of at Tanwood I scanned across the fields and picked up a ♀ Wheatear sitting on the fence post...result.  We decided then to do a short butterfly walk but there was little about other than Small White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and a single Common Blue.  Still, not bad for an impromptu visit.

Sunday 7th August 2011 - Shenstone

Today I met up with Mark P (Wood Dingle sorry I mean Woodwolf) at Shenstone to try and help him add Brown Argus and Essex Skipper to his list.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't very favourable for butterflies and after what was a nice start to the morning it all went a bit dull and cool.

We started off by doing a walk though some of the butterfly hot spots along Stanklyn Lane and did indeed pick up an Essex Skipper as well as Small Skipper, there was no sign of Brown Argus however.  Other butterfly species recorded during this walk were Common Blue, Small Copper, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Small White and Large White.  There were also good numbers of Pied Hoverfly present.  A highlight for myself was of the flora variety when I discovered some nice patches of Hare's Foot Trefoil in the gallops field.

From Stanklyn we headed over to Barrs Lane/Butts Lane where we added Small Tortoiseshell and Comma to the days list.  Not surprisingly we didn't get Brown Argus as they are very much an only fly when the sun is shining species.  I also found an even better patch of Hare's Foot Trefoil just off Butts Lane.

Down by the, almost dried out, drainage pond we were really pleased to see a 2 juvenile and an adult Corn Buntings.  There were also good numbers of juvenile Linnets, a Yellowhammer and a Pied Wagtail.  As we were watching these birds a juvenile Whinchat popped up onto the top of the soil mound next to the pond before disappearing.  I later relocated across the road in the small field near the broom bushes.  What a great way to end the day!  

I've put up a video of the Whinchat at the end of this post.


Juvenile Corn Buntings

Hare's Foot Trefoil (Trifolium arvense)

Essex Skipper


Tuesday 2nd August 2011 - Shenstone

I only popped to the patch for a whistle stop visit today.  I was on my way back home from collecting my dog's prescription from the vets and thought I would just check out some of the likely spots for passage migrants.

I Heath Lane and Butts Lane were dead, so I headed over to Stanklyn Lane.  Things were better here and at the beet field there was a juvenile Garden Warbler in the hedgerow.  To my knowledge they haven't bred on the patch this year so this is likely a first year bird that was passing through.

I then checked out the paddocks where I found a stunning Common Redstart perched along 'redstart hedge'.  I call it 'Redstart hedge' as approx. 80% of all patch Common Redstarts have occurred here).  This bird was showing really well but unfortunately I hadn't got my camera with me (doh!).  At times the Redstart was being harassed by the resident Robin who didn't like the presence of this bird on its territory.

All in all I'm glad I stopped off on the way back home.

Also on Tuesday 2nd August a Lesser Whitethroat was seen along Stanklyn Lane (TS)

The Common Redstart was present again on Wednesday 3rd August and a ♀ Redstart was also present (JC) and 2 Ravens were present along Stanklyn Lane on the eveining (TMH)

Monday 1st August 2011 - Shenstone & Tanwood

Today was my first proper chance to get back 'on patch' since my hols.  The sun was shinning and there were many butterflies on the wing.  There was no sign of any Autumn passage migrants around though.

I started on Heath Lane where there were 14 Swifts and 7 Swallows over the large stubble field.  Other than the aforementioned species it was very quiet.

Next, I spent some time at Stanklyn Lane beet field.  This area was very good for butterflies and I was more than happy when I discovered a new colony of Brown Argus here.  I only saw 1 Purple Hairstreak flitting around the top of an Ash.  There were at least 4 Holy Blues in this area and 2 Red Admirals (1 of which was unusually small at nearly half the size!).  Other species recorded along Stanklyn Lane were Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Skipper, Small White and Large White.  I didn't however see Common Blue or Peacock.  All that was of note here bird wise, was a number of Willow Chiffs that were 'wheating' away in the hedgerow.

Elsewhere around the patch, I recorded 30+ House Martin over Witch Lane and the juvenile Common Buzzards were heard calling at Butts Lane.

From Shenstone I decided to pop approx 3 miles up the road to Tanwood (another good local area for passage passerines).  On arrival I picked up a Wheatear on the wall of the adjacent barn conversion.  After a few minutes it flew and perched on a nearby fence post only to be joined a few minutes later by an imm. Common Redstart.  

I was beginning to think things couldn't get any better I saw a butterfly fly up from the field to my right and I thought Marbled White...only for the said butterfly to be plucked out of the air by a Swallow.  I decided to walk the footpath into the adjacent field and saw 3 Marbled Whites.  I was really happy with this find as to my knowledge no-one has recorded them at this site before.  Good numbers of Common Blue were also seen at Tanwood

I just need to find Marbled White at Shenstone, I now know to 3 sites within a few miles of my patch where they can be found....so fingers crossed!

Brown Argus

Speckled Wood


Northern Wheater - Tanwood

Marbled White - Tanwood

25th to 28th July 2011 - The New Forest (Hants)

As you are all probably aware I was 'off-pach' and away for 5 days last week.  I went camping down the New Forest with one of my mates who, although not a birder, enjoys the outdoors. Much walking, drinking and talking saftness was done.  The New Forest is a wonderfully varied area that has woodland, heaths, lawns and bogs.  It is also fairly close the coastal marshes of Keyhaven and Pennington.  Anyway, below is a summary of the wildlife seen during this break.

Monday 25th July
After pitching the tent up at Ashurst Campsite we took the opportunity to sit in the sunshine with a nice cold bottle of beer.  2 Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen flitting around the edge of the campsite.  A number of juvenile Nuthatch were present at the site.  We then walked through Ashurst Wood where we picked up Spotted Flycatcher and over to Matley Heath.  Not long after stopping for a sit down (on a handy tree stump) did we see the first of the areas speciality birds, a stunning Honey Buzzard that flew over from Matley Wood towards Ashurst.  After a while we headed back to the campsite....beer and BBQ were calling!

Tuesday 26th July
Today saw us undertaking a coastal walk from Keyhaven to Hurst Castle.  Walking along the shingle spit gave great views over the adjacent salt marsh.  Notable birds seen here included - 3 Sandwich Tern, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Turnstone, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Redshank, 1 Curlew, 10+ Oystercatchers, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls and 4 Little Egrets.  An adult Gannet was seen out over The Solent and 3 Rock Pipits were seen near Hurst Castle.   There were also some rather interesting plants seen including Yellow Horned Poppy, Golden Samphire and Hare's Foot Trefoil.

We were back at the site mid afternoon so we decided to do another walk over the heath.  During this walk we saw 4 Fallow Deer, 5 Stonechat (2m, 2f and 1 juv), 2 Curlew and a Black-tailed Godwit that flew over calling.

Later that evening we undertook a slightly wobbled Glow Worm walk in Ashurst Wood.  We did manage to see one of these incredible insects, I took some very shaky beered up photos and my mate fell in a ditch...ha!

Wednesday 27th July
Today we undertook a walk from Ashurst across the Heath to the pub at Beaulieu Road Station (approx 3 miles).  During the walk there I saw a Hobby hawking over the Heath and a m Stonechat.  It was a good walk for butterflies with good numbers of Grayling seen.  Disappointingly, only a single Silver-studded Blue was seen.  After a bite to eat and a few pints of real ale it was time to make the return journey.  This was also productive with us hearing and seeing 2 Woodlarks.  

A Woodcock was seen roding over Ashurst campsite at 9.10pm.

Thursday 28th July
Today we undertook a walk from Beaulieu Road Station over Shatterford to Denny Lodge and back.  This area is usually good for Dartford Warbler but disappointingly there was no sign.  It was however a good walk for insects(especially around the bogs/pools) with a couple of the speciality species, Small Red Damselfly and Southern Damselfly, seen.  Also recorded were Keeled Skimmer, Ruddy Darter and Broad-bodied Chaser.  Good numbers of Silver-studded Blue were also present today.  In one of the pools there was a Marsh Frog (a recent introduction to the UK that is spreading up from the South East).  Near Denny Wood there was a f Common Redstart and a juvenile Spotted Fycatcher.

After finishing this walk we popped a few miles up the road to Starpole Pond.  I was shocked when we got there as this renowned pool for dragonflies had all but dried out.  There was just a muddy pool of about 10ft by 6ft left.  The only dragonflies present were 2 Emperor Dragonflies and a Keeled Skimmer.  There were a few Silver-Studded Blues flitting over the surrounding heather and 2 Common Redstarts (1f & 1 juv) were nearby.

That pretty much sums up the wildlife side of the holiday other than the moths.  I ran the moth trap for 2 nights (although rain put pay to one!).  There were a few interesting species caught including 1 Rosy Footman, 2 Yellow-tailed Moths, 1 Scalloped Hook-tip, 1 Dingy Footman and 2 Eilema Footman agg. (either Common or Scarce I'm not sure).  

So there you have it...below are a selection of photos from the trip.

Rock Pipit - Hurst Castle

Oystercatcher - Keyhaven Marsh

Yellow Horned Poppy  - Keyhaven

Grayling - Matley Heath

Sundew - Matley Heath

Small Red Damselfly - Shatterford

Marsh Frog - Shatterford

Silver-studded Blue - Starpole Pond

Yellow-tailed Moth - Ashurst

Scalloped Hook-tip - Ashurst

And finally, proof that taking photos whilst wearing beer goggles doesnt always pay....here's my attempt at a Glow Worm ...ahem!