The Kidderminster Peregrine

As readers of this blog, many of you will know that I occasionally mention the ♂ Peregrine that has been frequenting a town centre chimney stack for a 2 or 3 years now.  Sometimes I am unable to see this bird as it varies which side of the stack it perches up on and I can only see the one side from the bedroom window.

On Christmas Eve, whilst sat wrapping presents, i noticed that it was showing very well and decided to set the scope up to have a better view of him.  One of the highlights came when, at 12:40pm the Peregrine was mobbed a couple of times by a passing Sparrowhawk.  I'm sure the Sparrowhawk wouldn't have tried that if the Peregrine was airborne, as they are not only the most skilled aerial hunters out there, but also the fastest animal on the planet (able to reach over 200 mph during its hunting dive).

Also of interest is the fact that most days at around 10:30pm a pair of Ravens alight the tower for 20 minutes or so to pick through the Peregrine's left overs.

Anyway, below I have attached some footage of the Peregrine.  It's not great but it does serve as a record. Really the bird was too far for digiscoping especially taken through the double glazing on a dull day, but I had a go all the same.

Click on YouTube logo to enlarge

Sunday 23rd December 2012 - Shenstone

Early afternoon, I managed to grab a bit of time and pop down to the patch for what may be my last visit over the festive period. 

I had been messaged by fellow blogger and local birder Craig Reed (Midlands Birder) who had popped down to catch up with the Corn Bunting flock and I decided to pop down and catch up for a natter.  Craig had recorded a count of 64 Corn Buntings and also managed to get decent views of the ♀/imm. Merlin that has been knocking about around the area for a few weeks now.

On arrival, the Merlin had been flushed but many of the Corn Buntings were still present.  Also of note in this area were 3 Yellowhammers, 1♀ Reed Bunting, c.60 Chaffinch and 30 Linnet.  In the hedge/bushes along the footpath to Captains Pool there was a group of 5 Goldcrests present.

At Stanklyn paddocks a Green Woodpecker and a Jay were noted, but otherwise things were fairly quite there.  A ♀ Kestrel was observed hovering over the gallops.

In contrast Heath Lane was chuffing with birds.  On arrival I was treated to the spectacle of 2 Ravens having a right ding dong at a Common Buzzard down on the ground in one of the fields.  The large field opposite the Islamic school was very productive with c.200 Fieldfare and c.100 Starlings busily feeding away.

Further up the lane a ♂ Kestrel was on the wires over the paddock and another Common Buzzard was also noted.  5 Fieldfare were perched up in the trees between the school and the paddock.  In the adjacent field 86 Fieldfare, 7 Redwing, c.40 Starlings and 20 Chaffinch were noted feeding on the deck.

The Butts/Barrs Lane area was very quiet although I did add 2 more Yellowhammers to the day's list.

As this is most likely my last post of the festive season, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christamas!

♂ Kestrel - Heath Lane

Fieldfare - Heath Lane

Garden Birdwatching

With the festive period almost upon us it's getting to that time of the year when birdwatching (for me) is taking a bit of a back seat to other things such as catching up with friends and family, Christmas meals, Christmas shopping etc.  This week I haven't managed to get out and do any birding on the patch or else where for that matter.  So to get my fix I have spent a bit more time each day watching the garden birds.

As I have mentioned in a post earlier this year we live in a terraced house in a built up part of Kidderminster  and it only has a fairly small narrow garden.  That said, over the last few years we have seen the number of birds visiting our back garden increase considerably. In the garden we have feed dried meal worms, sunflower hearts, peanuts and homemade fat cakes. 

During the winter months I buy some apples, that have gone past there best, from a local farm shop and cut them into halves and stick them on the branches of some of the shrubs. The hope with these apples is to attract Waxwings, Winter Thrushes and Blackcaps.  We have certainly seeing the results with the latter, with 3 Blackcaps (2♂, 1♀) present in winter 2010/2011 and 4 Blackcaps (3♂, 1♀) in winter 2011/2012.

So with that bit of background below is a summary of the past week or so's garden highlights:

Thursday 13th Dec 2012
Greenfinch was seen feeding on the sunflower hearts.  Believe it or not they are a scarce garden visitor for us with only a handful of records over the last 10 years.

The day's highlight though was seeing a ♀ Blackcap feeding on the aforementioned apple halves...result!  A single Coal Tit was seen feeding on the fat cakes. 

Regular visitors noted feeding in the garden included c.30 House Sparrows, 14 Starlings, 12 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, 1 Robin, 1 ♀ Blackbird, 2 Collared Doves and a Woodpigeon.  (I won't post these species again during this post as they tend to visit daily)

Friday 14th December 2012
The female Blackcap was again present, this time feeding on both the apples and the sunflower hearts.  A single Coal Tit was also noted.

Tuesday 18th December 2012
Today there were 2 Blackcaps (1♂ & 1♀) visiting the apples and the feeders. A Coal Tit and a Dunnock were also noted and a single Cormorant flew over heading SE.

The past week I have seen no sign of the ♂ Peregrine on Weaver's Wharf chimney stack but 2 Ravens were present there on the 10th December and a single Raven on the 16th.

Click on Youtube logo to enlarge

Saturday 15th Dec 2012 - Holt & Grimley

I have always been bought up to with the principle of looking after those less fortunate than  your self, such as the elderly, the sick, the homeless and Wolves supporters.  There has never been more of a time to be charitable than at Christmas and as Mark P (Doorstep Birding) falls into the latter group, I thought I would do my bit for festive charity and take him out birding! 

Joking aside, I had looked at the weather and thought it may be worth checking out a local wetland.  The wetlands had been fairly frozen with the cold conditions over the previous week, this had been followed by a day of rain on Friday and today's milder conditions.  There would be more free water today and there was a chance that change in weather had moved things around a bit.  With this said I picked up Mark (who had had similar thoughts) and we headed to Holt & Grimley.

The first area we checked out was Sling Pool at Holt.  Much of the field next to the pool was under water and this area and the adjacent grassy field was chuffing with birds.  The undoubted highlight was 2 Black-tailed Godwits that were feeding away at the waters edge.  Black-tailed Godwit, although a common passage migrant in Worcs,  is a scarce winter visitor so this was a very pleasing find.  These were not the only waders present as a Green Sandpiper was flying over the water on a number of occasions, 22 Common Snipe and 100+ Lapwing were also noted.

The wintering duck numbers at this site were also good with large numbers of Teal and Shoveler noted, with smaller numbers of Wigeon present.  The usual suspects for this site:  Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Mallard, were also present in good numbers.  The wildfowl highlight though was 2 Shelduck which, although not scarce, are not an every day bird here. 

Camp Lane pits by comparison was fairly quiet with the only notable addition to the day's wildfowl being the ♀ Goldeneye that has been present for a while now.

We pretty much drew a blank at Wagon Wheel Lane pits, so it was off to Top Barn farm shop for a hot sausage roll each.  A good way to round off an enjoyable few hours birding.

Common Snipe (from the archives)

Thursday 13th December - Hartlebury

Just after mid-day I decided to nip over to Hartlebury to see if there was any sign of the Waxwings.  They are certainly coming and going at this site with them disappearing for a while and then returning.

On pulling up near their favoured Rowan trees on the trading estate I initially picked up 2 Waxwings feeding on the berries.  Before long they were joined by 10 more Waxwings that dropped into the adjacent taller trees.  I then enjoyed these for a good while at a respectable distance and I even managed to get a bit more video footage. 

Also present in this area of trees were 2 Redwing, 5 Fieldfares and 6 Blackbirds.  A Pied Wagtail was flitting around on the roof of a nearby unit.

Whilst enjoying the Waxwings I was treated to another treat in the form of a flock of 9 Golden Plover that flew over in a skein like formation heading South.

Later, I was joined by Dave (, Phil  ( and a couple of their collegues after I had texted Dave to let them know the Waxies were showing well.  Needless to say a good old natter ensued!

Waxwing - 13th December 2012

Fieldfare - 13th December 2012

Click on YouTube logo to enlarge

Monday 10th December 2012 - Shenstone

Today I spent the majority of my patch visit undertaking my BTO Winter Thrush Survey around the Stanklyn Lane fields. 

There certainly are not many winter thrushes present on the patch at the mo with only 4 Mistle Thrush and 3 Fieldfare observed feeding on the deck and a further 2 Fieldfares noted flying over heading NW.  I also recorded 9 Blackbirds feeding in the hedgerows.

The walk wasn't a complete loss though as I did pick up a patch scarcity in the form of a ♀ Reed Bunting which was part of a mixed bunting flock that also included 21 Corn Buntings and 5 YellowhammersReed Buntings are only ever recorded on a handful of occasions each year at Shenstone, usually during the winter months.  That said a pair did attempt to breed at a site just off Barrs Lane in 2010.

There were 2 Green Woodpeckers present in the paddocks and an imm. Cormorant was seen circling over Stanklyn Pool.  Also of interest during this walk was a ♀ Sparrowhawk, a ♀ Kestrel, c.40 Chaffinch, 4 House Sparrows and a flock of 11 Long-tailed Tits.

After completing the survey walk I decided to quickly whistle-stop around some of the other patch areas to see what may or may not be about.  Heath Lane was pretty much devoid of birds but for a Green Woodpecker in the top paddock and a ♂ Kestrel that was hovering over the adjacent field.

Witch Lane was more productive with 22 Fieldfare and 3 Redwing feeding down in the fields.  An adult Cormorant, a ♀ Kestrel and a covey of 7 Red-legged Partridge were also observed.

Corn Bunting - 10th December 2012

Winter Colour - Stanklyn Lane

Thursday 6th December 2012 - Upper Bittell

Today I decided to pop to Upper Bittell Reservoir which lies in Worcestershire near the county border with Birmingham (West Midlands).  The reason for this visit was to catch up with the 2 Long-tailed Ducks that have been present there for a number of weeks now.  With very little doing locally an away day seemed like a good idea.

Long-tailed duck is actually a species that I needed for my county life list.  That said I am not much of a list chaser these days hence the couple of  weeks delay before deciding to go and see the birds.

On arriving at the reservoir I headed to the dam first on the off chance that I could pick the birds up from there to save trekking over the fields to view the NE corner.  I was out of luck and there was no sign from here.  That said there were 49 Goosander (16 ♂) on the water not too far out from the dam.  My scanning also picked up an adult Yellow-legged Gull perched on buoy number 4.  Along the edge of the opposite shore 44 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall were also noted.

After giving it a while on the dam I decided to walk back and head up the lane to the stubble field to scan for the LT Ducks.  Stood at the edge of the field I set my scope up and scanned the north east bay.  It wasn't too long before I picked up the ♀ Long-tailed Duck and had distant views of it before it dived and disappeared out of sight.  I then walked down the stubble field path attempting at various points to view through the hedgerow branches and fencing...yes it can be that crap at times to see Upper Bittell birds.  Eventually I managed to pick up the 1st winter ♂ Long-tailed Duck, which was the nicer looking of the 2 birds.  Before it disappeared out of sight tucking in by the near shoreline and that was that.  I was cold and rather uninspired so I headed back home.

So there you have it, not the greatest views of Long-tailed Duck I have ever had.  I have had far more satisfying ones at coastal regions in the past.  They were also way too distant to even digiscope a record shot.  Bittell has its merits and does attract some good birds but I'm b**gered if I would pay £30+ a year for the privilege of viewing them from the sailing club...if I lived closer or membership was half the cost it may be appealing but as I only visit 3 or 4 times a year I cant justify it.

Goosanders - Upper Bittell

Monday 3rd December 2012 - Captains Pool

There was no intention of undertaking any birding today as it was a bit of a messy one with various appointments throughout the day.  That said late morning I received a text off TS informing me that he had got a mixed flock of finches feeding in one of the Alders at the edge of Captains Pool.  In total he had recorded 5 Lesser Redpolls, 10 Siskin and 15 Goldfinch.  These were the first Lesser Redpolls on the patch this winter so I headed over.

Unfortunately, when I arrive only 2 Siskin (1♂, 1♀) and 8 Goldfinch remained.  Still they were nice to see and I managed to get a bit of Siskin video footage so it wasn't a wasted journey.  A cracking looking Nuthatch was also showing in the adjacent trees.

The pool itself was now partially frozen and stood on the ice were 41 Black-headed Gulls and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Click on Youtube logo to view enlarged video

Friday 30th Nov 2012 - Grimley & Shenstone

Today I met up with Tony and we decided to have a mooch around the gravel pits at Grimley to see if anything of interest was about. 

First port of call was Holt Sling Pool.  There was extensive flooding of the field next to the pool but unfortunately most of it was frozen.  Although on the area of free water there were 9 Wigeon present and on the adjacent field c.50 Lapwing were also noted.

The first thing that struck us on arrival at Camp Lane Pits was how high the water level now was.  The causeway wasn't far off becoming submerged, with the one at the south end having been submerged for many weeks now.

At the north end there was a good mix of wildfowl present with highlights being a single ♀ Goldeneye and 6 Shelduck.  Other species noted included Gadwall, Pochard, Shoveller and Tufted Duck

The only waders noted were 6 Common Snipe that were feeding on the eastern shoreline.  16 Cormorants were also present.

A cracking looking Brown Hare showed well for us as we watched it bounding along a track across the nearby field.

On the way back we checked out a few areas around the patch, with the first stop being at Witch Lane.  It was full of bird life here and whilst on the lower stretch we noted 8 Lapwing that flew over heading South and 9 Cormorant that flew over heading NW.  In the large tree next to the pull in a flock of 11 Long-tailed Tits were also noted.

In the large recently sown field along the lane there were huge numbers of finches present with a flock of c.250 Linnets and c.80 Chaffinch noted.  A Kestrel and a Common Buzzard were also present.

Heath Lane was the only area we had any winter thrushes with c.60 Fieldfare and 6 Redwing in the large field opposite the Islamic School.  C.80 Starling were also present.

Our final stop off was Stanklyn Lane where there was a large Bunting flock in the beat field.  In total we counted 60 Corn Buntings and 8 Yellowhammers all perched up in the large trees to the right of the field. This was the largest count of Corn Buntings on the patch this winter so it was worth stopping off.

Tufted Ducks - Grimley, 30th November 2012