Friday 2nd March - Upton Warren & Shenstone

Today Tony and I headed down the road to Upton Warren NR for a change of scenery.

We started by visiting The Flashes first and on the way there we dropped into Hen Pool hide to see if we could see a Water Rail.  We sat there for about 20 minutes to no avail and all we saw was a single Coot.  Whilst in the hide both Tony and I clearly heard a Marsh Tit calling from the scrub to the right.  It called its nasally "Pitchoo Chickabeebeebee" call 4 or 5 times.  On leaving the hide it had stopped calling and we were unable to locate the said bird, quite possibly it had moved on with a roving Tit flock.  I was later informed by John Belsey that Marsh Tit was a site scarcity with only a handful of records in the past, the last being in the mid-80s, a fact which I was not aware of otherwise I would have made an immediate effort to locate the bird.

Later that evening I posted about hearing the bird on the Bird Forum Upton Warren thread only to have it pulled apart by the 'inner circle' of Upton regulars.  To read the ensuing discussion click on the following link:  I clearly know what I heard and it is a species that I am more than familiar with and still encounter regularly during my numerous visits to their local breeding stronghold at the Wyre Forest.  It just smacks of a bit of sour grapes to me.

Anyway I've said my bit, on with the rest of the day.  At the Flashes we were pleasantly surprised how functional the new hide actually was after all the negative comments we had read about it and from the hide we had good views of the 5 Avocets that were present. A single Oystercatcher and 6 Curlew were also of note here.

At the Moors Pool the highlight was a very showy Little Grebe outside the concrete hide.  Also of note at the Moors were 4 Oystercatchers and a ♂ Shelduck.

On the way back we decided to pop to Shenstone to see if there was any sign that the Little Owls had returned.  We were in luck and saw the pair of Little Owl...result and my personal highlight of the day.  I even managed to get a photo of one so I was very pleased.  Down on Stanklyn Lane,  there were were still a flock of 27 Corn Buntings present.  2 Green Woodpeckers were in the paddocks.

Little Grebe - Upton Warren

Avocets - Upton Warren

Little Owl - Shenstone


  1. When I read the beginning of the post my immediate thought was how that illustrates the benefit of having the skills of ID by sound, (something I have always struggled with no matter how hard I try) only to then read that some have doubted your observation! Your experience with Marsh Tits clearly says to me that you definitely KNOW what you heard!!

    Well done on the Little Owls...great photo!

    Re the previous post, a shame you didn't locate the Brambling, I have barely seen them mentioned on blogs this year. The last two Winters I have been privileged to have them in my garden but have not seen them this time. Mind you I really haven't looked as much as I should as I thought the Blackcaps were not around either but yesterday I spent an hour or so at the window and saw a male feeding which was very pleasing.

  2. I don't get this 'history' thing sometimes with birding, Marsh Tits occupy habitat just a few miles away, and at this time of year roving tit flocks are constantly passing. The fact there has not been a record of this 'relatively' common bird lately probably makes it MORE likely, not less that one will eventually swing by...if it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck

  3. Lovely photos, my favourites are the Little Owl and of course the Avocet.

  4. I still find it incredible that such a passive past-time such as bird watching can stir such acrimony Jason!

    Stick to yer guns mate ;-)

  5. Jason - if the UW 'mafia' do'nt see or hear it you will be lucky to get anything accepted......

  6. Jan - Thanks for your views and support on 'Marshgate'. Yes Bramblings are very scarce this winter. I dont think as many have come across from the continent, probably due to the combination of the mild winter and a good crop of Beech mast over there.

    Mark - This is a problem when people put too much emphasis on historic data. It can blinker them from what may occur. Sometimes it takes a different pair of eyes (or ears) to pick something up. This happened on my patch a few years back when someone visiting for the first time picked up a Stone Curlew in a distant part of the patch that myself and other regulars such as TMH and TS wouldnt have looked. Fortunately the bird stuck around all day affording many people views.

    Bob - Thanks mate mch appreciated. I'm with you on Little Owl

    Warren - Yes it amazes me too. Its amazing how quickly regulars at certain sites can close ranks. Some of them I have known in birding circles for many years too but when its on 'their patch' and one of them isnt involved...thats when problems start

    Laurie - I couldnt have put it any better mate!

  7. Don`t take any notice, Jason. You heard what you heard.
    There`s too many birders too ready to diss any decent record, at all levels on Birdforum.

  8. I agree with all of the above comments Jason. Such disrespectful replies to such an experienced birder as you most definately are.

    Love your new header..that Little Owl is a beauty!

  9. Dean - Thanks for the vote of confidence mate. You are right though, many threads on Bird Forum are rife with it.

    Pam - Thanks, much appreciated. Being a local birder you are probably already aware how cliquey certain sections of the Upton birding fraternity can be.

    As for the Little Owls well they are probably my favourite patch bird. They are such charismatic little birds

  10. I am fully aware Jason! I rarely read the 'Upton' thread these days as there is only so many 'pat on the backs' one can stomach.

  11. Jason - I'm a little surprised at the tone that your replies to the comments on this section of your blog have taken. It appeared to me (and please note that I voiced neither doubt nor support, at the time, or indeed now) that after your Marsh Tit 'call' and the ensuing discussion, you left the thread (having shared your photos of Little Grebe and Cormorant) open minded, using phrases such as "... but as it was just a heard only we will probably never know..." and "I guess we will never know..." and having discussed the recent downturn in numbers of the Marsh and Willow Tit with the assembled Forum members.
    Now, here in the sanctuary of your blog (as you are perfectly entitled to do) you use phrases such as "...only to have it pulled apart by the 'inner circle' of Upton regulars.", "It just smacks of a bit of sour grapes to me." and "...probably already aware how cliquey certain sections of the Upton birding fraternity can be."
    Double standards, perhaps?
    As for the comments on your blog and reading the Forum episode again, I see:
    a. no dissing of decent records
    b. no disrespectful replies, and
    c. no particular acrimony
    This is meant as constructive criticism, but whether you (or your blog's followers) see it that way, either here or on the UW thread, remains to be seen.


    Sy V

  12. Sy V, my comment 'disrespectful' was made because in my view Jason's initial post where he mentioned 'hearing' a Marsh Tit should never have been questioned. We are talking about a very experienced Birder!

    My apologies to you Jason for posting this reply, I hope you do not mind.

  13. SY - I take on board your comments but I only highlighted the fact that the hearing of the Marsh Tit was dismissed so easily by certain sections of the Upton community. I was being diplomatic on the forum as it is an open community. I know many of the birders who I mentioned and have for many years but was disappointed by the views and the dismisal by those who think that they decide what goes for the Reserve.

    Upron Warren is a place that I have visited on many occasions since the late 90's, formerley with great regularity and I am more than familiar with the reserve and its birding possibilities. Just because I do not go there weekly or attend the work parties doesnt make me any lesser a birder. In fact last autumn winter I discovered Shropshires first Desert Wheatear, a Tundra Bean Goose at Chelmarsh and a Black Redstart on my own patch at Shenstone...I know that it was Marsh Tit I heard.

    By yourself posting what you did on my blog and the susequent your just highlighting the unwillingness to respect the views of a non-Upton regular.

    I know we have conversed before on the forum (re. certain sections of the digital photography franternity getting too close to the subject) and back then you took a re-active and arguementative stance against certain peoples views.

    As for Upton, I actually like and respect many of the birders that I had the discussion with on the forum but I do feel there is sometimes a tendancy to close ranks.

    That is all I have to say

  14. Jason

    Please, nobody dismissed your claim. Discussion, comment and questioning doesn't necessarily constitute dismissal, honestly. I know that all of the regulars at UW would be only too happy for someone (anyone) to discover a relative rarity.
    Furthermore, you don't have to prove your credentials to me, I see enough reports on Birding Today to know that you are an accomplished birder.
    My posting on your blog was meant as nothing more than I explained at the time - constructive criticism. You have explained your diplomatic Forum stance, and I accept and understand that. Should you decide to interpret my posting for anything other than what it was meant, is again, your prerogative, but having taken the time to further explain myself, I'll be even more dismayed.
    Lastly, I don't specifically remember ever having conversed about anything with you, but if you say we have then so be it. Would it have been the Waxwing debate, per chance? As I recall that being the only time that I've encountered the 'red mist' on Forum discussions.
    Let's hope the Marsh Tit materializes - I'll be the first one to shake your hand (should you wish to accept the gesture).

    @Pam We'll have to agree to disagree as to what constitutes 'disrespectful'.

    Sy V

  15. Ok Sy, I take on board your comments and I appreciate your criticism. I think we should now let the issue lie.

  16. Agreed. Let's move on...