Mon 30th May 2011 - Upton Warren & Grimley

The weather was really wet and lousy today so I decided to pop to Upton Warren and see the 2 Red-necked Phalaropes that were present.  There had been 1 present for a few days but a 2nd bird had dropped in this morning and there are times (and weather conditions) when sitting in a hide is welcome.

On arriving at the 'Flashes' and a rather busy hide, I quickly picked up the 2 Red-necked Phalaropes.  They are smart little birds but I'm afraid my 'record shot' photo doesn't do the birds justice.  Whilst there I was also treated to cracking views of a Peregrine that flew through, putting everything up as it did

As I was leaving Upton the rain started to ease off so I decided to drive across to Grimley to see the Turnstone that had been reported there.  During the 20 minute journey from Upton to Grimley the sun started to break really does lift the spirits.  I managed to get reasonable views of the Turnstone and the 7 Dunlin that were also present.  All in all a good 'off patch day'...but I will have to put some time in there as the week draws on.

Red-necked Phalaropes - Upton Warren:

Dunlin - Grimley:

Turnstone - Grimley:

Please Note

The 'Butterfly Gallery' has now been re-vamped and updated.  Please click on the link in the additional pages section (right hand side of blog) to view the gallery.  The 'Equipment Used' page has also been updated to incclude sound recording equipment.

Also I would just like to inform my fellow bloggers that I am still experiencing issues with blogger software with regards to posting and responding comments.  Lets hope they rectify this soon.


Friday 27th May 2011 - Shenstone

At Captains Pool, the 2nd pair of Great Crested Grebes have now hatched 3 young.  The original pair of Grebes are still sitting on the 2nd brood (TS).

This morning, due to the rather frustrating lull in bird activity at Shenstone, TS and I decided to spend some time looking at the invertebrates along Butts Lane.  Although quite dull it was good for seeing fairly inactive butterflies and day-flying moths that were perched.  In total we recorded 3 Brown Argus, 3 Common Blue (2♂ & 1♀), 1 Large White and my first patch Large Skipper of the year.   We also recorded the first ever patch Burnet Companion moth (to my knowledge), 2 Cinnabar Moths and a Blue-tailed Damselfly.

All in all a good visit...thank heavens for the 'inverts' during the summer lull between bird migration periods thats all I can say!

Common Blue (♂):

Common Blue (♀):

Brown Argus:

Large Skipper:

Blue-tailed Damselfly:

Thursday 26th May 2011 - Wyre Forest

Today I visited an undisclosed part of the Wyre Forest where I knew a pair of Common Redstarts are nesting.  I set up my scope/camera a good distance away from the tree where they were nesting as not to disturb the birds and recorded some video footage.  On editing this footage I was pleased with the results and have attched a video of the birds further on in this post.

Also of note nearby were a number of Nemophora degeerella Long-horned Moths that were fluttering around with the sunlight catching their metallic gold wings. I also managed to get a photo of one of these moths perched on a leaf.

Nemophora degeerella:

Common Redstart (Male):

Common Redstart (Female):

Wednesday 25th May 2011 - Shenstone

Today I decided to do an evening visit to Shenstone to listen for a possible returning Quail or maybe even pick up a Barn Owl.  I arrived just before 8pm and let just before 10pm.  Needless to say I managed to bag neither.  I'd also taken my bat detector with me but that wasn't needed either.  But hey, with patch wildlife there is always something to see.

On the wires along Back Lane were 2 juvenile Collared Doves along with an adult and at one area of Heath Lane I had 2 adult and at least 1 juvenile Common Whitethroat.  Added to that the red sky looked stunning as the sun went down at dusk.

Dusk at Shenstone - 25th May 2011:

Tuesday 24th May 2011 - Shenstone

After the previous day's away day, it was back to the serious business of getting around the patch. 

As with other recent visits, there was nothing exceptional on the patch in terms of birdlife.  The most notable bird was a Garden Warbler that was perched out singing for a short while from a bush along Barrs Lane.  17 House Martins and 4 Swallows were over Butts Lane.  At Stanklyn Lane paddocks there was a large mixed flock of c.150 corvids present.  At least 100 of these were Rooks, with smaller numbers of Jackdaw and Carrion Crow also with them.  1 Common Buzzard was also present here.  A Chiffchaff was singing from Stanklyn Wood and 3 Swallows were feeding over the beet field.  There were12 Swifts present over Heath Lane.  Skylarks, Linnets, Yellowhammers, and Common Whitethroats  were singing from a number of locations around the patch.

Due to the slightly milder brighter weather it was quite good for the 'inverts' down at Butts Lane.  During my set aside walk I recorded the following butterflies: 4 Brown Argus, 2 Common Blues, 1 Small Copper, 4 Small Whites, 1 Large White and 1 Green-veined White.  I also had a really nice Mother Shipton moth.  This moth is named so because the marking on its wings resembles the face of an old hag from 16th century Yorkshire who was known as 'Mother Shipton'.  If you look at my photo below you can make out the face of an old witch. 

Also of note were an interesting looking little creature in the form of a Bramble Sawfly. Thick-legged Flower Beetles were still numerous and a number of Hoverflies were feeding on the Cow Parsley.  2 Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies were at the small drainage pond.

Common Blue:

Small Copper:

Mother Shipton:

Hoverfly (Chrysotoxum cautum):

Thick-legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis):

Bramble Sawfly (Arge cyanocrocea):

Please Note

Hi Folks,
This is a quick post to let you all know that I'm having a few issues with blogger today and is not letting me reply to any comments on my blog.  I have spent the last hour trying to get my comments reply posted but its been to no avail.

Its also not letting me leave comments on other peoples blogs where login is required.

If any of my fellow bloggers have any pointers on how to overcome this issue then please let me know.


Monday 23rd May 2011 - Grimley (and a little bit of Captains)

Today with the patch being so quiet birdwise and the cold, dull windy weather not really being conducive for butterflies, myself and TS decided to pop down the road to Grimley gravel pits where a Pectoral Sandpiper had been discovered this morning.

We arrived at Camp Lane pits and got fairly good views of the Pectoral Sandpiper.  This North American wader looked splendid in its Summer plumage, its just a pity that the light wasn't great for photographs....still I've attached some record shots of them below.  Also of note here were 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 Redshank, 1 Oystercatcher and 6+ Common Terns.

After spending a while enjoying the sandpiper we popped down to the 'old workings'.  A pair of Common Terns were at the 'island pool',one of which appeared to be sitting on eggs on the tern raft.  The pair of Oystercatchers that bred on the island had successfully fledged to young and both the adults and juvs were wheeling around chuntering as they flew.

We then headed back to the patch and finished our days birding at Captains Pool.  The 2nd pair of Great Crested Grebes were still sitting on the nest near the waters edge.  The original pair of Grebes are now sitting on the eggs of their 2nd brood on the nest at the edge of the island.  Also, the Canada Geese have hatched 4 chicks although 2 seam to have been predated already.

Pectoral Sandpiper - Grimley, 23rd May 2011:

Friday 20th May 2011 - Shenstone

This morning's walk around the patch was more of the same in terms of birds (or lack of).  Still it was nice to see Common Whitethroat displaying and here the Skylarks & Linnets singing.  There were 14 Swifts over Heath Lane.  Kestrels were seen both here and Butts Lane. 6 Common Buzards (2 juveniles) were in the Back Lane/Curslow Lane area, one of the adults was a stunning light phase individual with a white head and chest.  

So with things quiet on the bird front I decided to spend some time at the entomological hot spot of Butts Lane.  The first thing that was noticeable was the amount of 'cuckoo spit' there was on the various plants.  Cuckoo spit is the common name for the white, frothy substance produced by Froghopper nymphs as they feed inside plant stems.  It is the undigested excess plant sap that they blow out of their back end to hide them from predators.

The weather wasn't ideal for butterflies but I still managed to see 1 Brown Argus, 2 ♂ Common Blue, 1 Small Copper and a Small White.  I also disturbed (unintentionally may I add) a Cinabar Moth.  A number of ♂ Thick-legged Flower Beetles (Oedemera Nobilis) were also noted.

It can be tricky identifying Brown Argus from female Common Blue when the wings are closed but there are a couple of ways.  The easiest is to look at the spots on the underside of the hindwing.  Two of the spots on the leading edge of the hindwing are relatively-close in the Brown Argus, almost forming a "figure of eight" or a "colon" shape.   In the Common Blue the hind wing spots are more evenly spaced apart, with only a single spot in the position where the Brown Argus has two.  I was lucky enough to get photos of the undersides of both the Common Blue and Brown Argus today and have put together a picture below highlighting the difference. 

Brown Argus & Common Blue comparison:
Double-click on photo to view larger image

Brown Argus:

Common Blue (♂):

♂ Thick-legged Flower Beetles (Oedemera Nobilis):

Tues 17th May 2011 - Shenstone & Grimley

I was without my motor today so Tony very kindly offered to give me a lift so I could check out the patch.  Things were deathly quiet in terms of the bird life, the only highlight was watching a Common Buzzard kill and partially eat a Rabbit at Stanklyn Lane paddocks (a bit macabre I know... but hey its natures way).  A Small Copper butterfly was also seen at the paddocks

Due to a lack of success with the birds we decided to take a look at the invertebrates in the set-aside along Butts Lane.  Butterflies were fairly scarce with only a few Small Whites and Green-veined Whites on the wing.  We did however see a Small Tortoiseshell caterpillar on a Nettle leaf, 2 rather nice Lacewings (Chrysopa Perla) and a ♀ (Oedemera Nobilis) beetle

Small Tortoiseshell Caterpillar:

Lacewing (Chrysopa Perla):

Thick-legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera Nobilis):

From Shenstone we headed down the road to Grimley gravel pits.  Our first stop was Holt...a traditional place for Turtle Dove and Spotted Flycatcher.  We didn't manage to get either of these species but I did take the opportunity to photograph a rather stunning ♀ Beautiful Demoiselle.

We then headed on to the Camp Lane pits at Grimley.  At the north end (which is currently being landscaped with pools and scrapes being put in) we recorded 6 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 1 Little Ringed Plover and 4 Lapwing

On the main pool were 1 Dunlin, 5 Lapwing, 1 Oystercatcher, 8 Common Tern, c.60 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 5 Herring Gulls and 3 Black-headed Gulls.  A Sedge Warbler was singing at the SE corner of the main pool and another from along the causeway.  Reed Buntings were also heard singing.  Other species seen were were Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Canada Geese and a single Greylag Goose.   Also along the causeway was an immature Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly.

Common Tern - Grimley:

Black-tailed Skimmer (imm.) - Grimley:

Beautiful Demoiselle () - Holt:

Monday 16th May 2011 - Lower Bittell Reservoir

First up I would like to let you know that posts on this blog may be a bit scarce this week.  My wife has got a week off work and we have a number of things going on, so the amount of time I can dedicate to Shenstone and this blog will be very limited this week.  Anyway, now thats out of the way, on with today's post.

This morning Bev and I decided to pop and see the Summer plumage Black-necked Grebe that has been present for a couple of days at Lower Bittell Reservoir.  The reservoirs at Bittell are right on the edge of Birmingham but still just in Worcestershire. 

On arriving we were quickly put onto the bird by a fellow birder.  It actually wasn't too far out and was slowly moving closer, diving at regular intervals on they way.  I had only previously seen winter plumage Black-necked Grebes so it was a real privilege to see such a stunning summer plumage individual at a fairly close distance.

I have attached some record shots of the bird but they are not as good as I would like...the perils of digiscoping a constantly moving and diving subject...ah well.  I've also attached a snippet of video footage (snippet being the operative word)

Black-necked Grebe - 16th May 2011:

Fri 13th May 2011 - Wyre Forest

Today, the wife and I, went on a butterfly walk around the not-so-secret rocket testing facility in the Wyre Forest..  There was no sign again of any Grizzled Skippers leading me to think that they may have already finished after their notably early emergence. But other butterfly and moth species were seen in good numbers.

During the walk we recorded 20+ Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, 4 Small Coppers, 2 Speckled Woods, 1 Green-veined White and 3 Large Whites. Day flying moths recorded were 17 Speckled Yellow, 2 Cinabar and 1 Burnet CompanionGreen Tiger Beetles were also seen on some of the sandy areas and I also noted a Scorpian Fly (Panorpa Communis)

In terms of notable birds we saw a Garden Warbler and heard Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers.  A Tree Pipit was heard singing nearby.

Burnet Companion Moth:

Scorpian Fly (Panorpa Communis):

Pearl-bordered Fritillary:

Small Copper:

Pearl-bordered Fritillaries by Bev Kernohan:

Thurs 12th May 2011 - Shenstone

I was unable to get around Shenstone this morning due to voluntary work commitments but in my absence Terry popped round and checked out the patch.  

There were 2 Yellow Wagtails (1♂) on the plough at Witch Lane and a ♀ Wheatear at Heath Lane model aircraft field (TMH).

When I managed to get to Shenstone early afternoon there was no sign of the Yellow Wagtails but the Wheatear was still present and showing well.  No photos though as the wind was to severe to digiscope.  Also over the aircraft field were 18 Swifts, 2 Swallows and 1 House Martin.  A Garden Warbler sang for a while from the hedgerow to the left.  2 singing Common Whitethroats were also present nearby.

I then decided to do an 'invert' walk along Butts Lane.  With the wind being strong I didn't pick up much although I did see a nice Common Blue butterfly and a Cantharis Rustica soldier beetle.

Common Blue - 12th May 2011:

Cantharis Rustica Beetle - 12th May 2011:

Tues 10th May 2011 (evening) - Wyre Forest

Firstly, I would like to apologize to readers of this blog for a lack of posts for the past few days.  Unfortunately the blogger software has been offline for 2 days causing a number of problems.  I will endeavour to catch up over the next day or so...anyway on with the post.

Just before dusk this evening myself and TS popped to the Wyre Forest to watch the roding Woodcock.  We arrived a little early at the clearing and a number of Willow Warblers, a Cuckoo, a Yellowhammer and a Tree Pipit were singing.  As we had a bit of time to spare we walked the ride to the small pool and back and on doing so we flushed a Pearl-bordered Fritilary (it's kind of strange seeing one as the light was getting dusky). 

Just as we were about to head back to the clearing we heard the high pitch ‘tsiwick’ call of an approaching Woodcock, shortly afterwards it flew over us at tree-top height making its trade mark grunting sound.  On arriving back at the clearing we heard a Tawny Owl calling and we went on to have about 10 more sightings of Woodcocks before the light diminished (roughly seeing one every 5 minutes).  At one point we saw 3 roding at the same time.  Better still I managed  to get a sound recording...a fitting end to a good day.

Willow Warbler - 10th May 2011:
If you listen closely you can also here the Cuckoo in the background
Willow Warbler - Wyre Forest 10.05.11 by Shenstone Birder

Woodcock - 10th May 2011:
This is a fairly quiet recording so turn up the volume to hear the birds grunting sound
Woodcock 2 - Wyre Forest 10.05.11 by Shenstone Birder

Bluebells at dusk - 10th May 2011:

Tuesday 10th May 2011 - Shenstone

Things were all very quiet around the patch bird wise today so I decided, after seeing a m Orange Tip butterfly along Heath Lane, to spend some time along Butts Lane looking at the various insects in and around the wildflower rich set aside.

It was noticeable than other than a handful of Green-viened Whites, a couple of Large Whites and a single Speckled Wood...there was very few butterflies on the wing.  But, there were however plenty of other creatures of interest to see.

At the arable headland near the junction with Barrs Lane I picked up a Silver Ground Carpet.  Unfortunately I was unable to get any pics of this day flying moth.  Walking along the lane there were good numbers of the tiny Cock's Foot Moth (Glyphipterix simpliciella)  feeding on the Dandelion flowers. Red Soldier Beetles were still in good numbers as were Garden Chafer Beetles.  Perhaps my favourite find was a Common Malachite Beetle (Malachius bipustulatus).  Although this small green and red beetle is fairly common, its a species I've never noticed before.  So all in all an enjoyable morning looking at some of Shenstone's smaller residents.

Other news:  A Common Tern was at Captains Pool early evening (TS)

Green-Viened White - 10th May 2011:

Garden Chafer - 10th May 2011:

Red Soldier Beetle - 10th May 2011:

Common Malachite Beetle - 10th May 2011:

Cock's Foot Moths - 10th May 2011:

Mon 9th May 2011 - Shenstone & Tanwood

I started today's patch visit at Tony's Cafe at Captains Pool...its always worth having a brew before starting birding.  Whilst at Captains Pool I took the opportunity to take some photos of the Great Crested Grebe (2nd pair) on the nest.  At one point the Grebe hopped of the nest to do a bit of maintenance on the structure.  Whilst the bird was off I counted 4 eggs, lets hope they all hatch.

From Captains myself and TS went  to Butts Lane.  Other than a pair of Green-veined Whites there was little in the way of butterflies about, although we did pick up a Cinnabar Moth and there were good numbers of Red Soldier Beetles about.

Whilst on Stanklyn Lane the heavens opened up and the rain hammered down.   We drew blanks on both Stanklyn Lane & Heath Lane, so we moved on to Witch Lane.  The rain eased off and soon the Skylarks were up singing.  A Yellow Wagtail flew over heading East.  The Lapwing was still present amongst the poly sheets that are covering the bean crop. 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 5 Stock Doves were also in this field.  A Kestrel was seen hovering near the grainstore.

Great Crested Grebe - 9th May 2011:

Cinnabar Moth - 9th May 2011:

From Shenstone we popped a couple of miles up the road to an area known as Tanwood.  This area is known to be a good spot for Spring migrants dropping in so we thought we would have a look in case the rain had grounded something interesting.  On arrival we started scanning and it wasn't long before I picked up a ♀ Whinchat on one of the fence posts.  Its a pity it wasn't at Shenstone but I wont knock seeing a Whinchat any day of the week.  Those that know me know that the chats are my favourite family of birds. 

Whilst we were enjoying this bird a Red Kite drifted over circling the area for a short while until it was confronted by a rather unhappy Common Buzzard.  Saying that the Kite jinked and put its claws up to the Buzzard, who then soon backed off. I managed to get a record shot of the bird but digi-scoping birds in flight is difficult so don't expect too much.  The Kite then flew off North towards Drayton...thus ending an enjoyable few hours birding.

Whinchat - Tanwood, 9th May 2011:

Red Kite - Tanwood, 9th May 2011: