Tuesday 27th March 2012 - Captains Pool & Chaddesley Wood

Early this morning  I popped to Captains Pool to check the moth trap which I had run through the previous evening.  Before I continue I would like to thank Tony & Jean for letting me run the trap on there land at the waters edge.  We had set up the trap under the large Oak tree there and I was secretly hoping to catch an Oak Beauty,  needless to say I didn't!

On emptying the trap we discovered that we had only caught 2 moths. In all honesty there are not a great number of species on the wing this time of year but it is worth running the trap periodically to trap some of these early season specialities.  The two moths we trapped were a Clouded Drab and a Hebrew Character (so called because of the black mark on it's forewing that is shaped like a Hebrew letter).

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)

Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)


Early afternoon Tony and I decided to pop to Chaddesley Wood to try and catch up with the Orange Underwing and possible Light Orange Underwing (day flying) moths that Mark P had seen a couple of day's before.  Chaddesley Wood is only about 4 miles from the patch so we didn't have to travel far.

On arrival at the main entrance we saw an Orange Underwing that had come down from the tree tops to the side of the road.  Unfortunately I was unable to take a photo as it went up as a car went past...typical!  This was the only Orange Underwing we saw.

We then proceeded to walk the main ride which was literally chuffing with Light Orange Underwings.  I estimate that there were 20+ present and many were coming down from the tree tops and basking on the ride in the warm sunshine.  Every so many feet we were seemingly flushing another of the track only for it to land further back behind us...it was really great sight to see.

Also of note during this walk were 2 singing Chiffchaffs. The butterflies that we observed were 1 Peacock, 1 Small White and 2 Small Tortoiseshells. A Bee Fly (Bombylius major) was also noted.

Light Orange Underwing (Archiearis notha)

♂ Light Orange Underwing (Archiearis notha)

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Monday 26th March 2012 - Shenstone

My quest for a patch Wheatear continued today (in vain).  What ploughed fields I have just look too dry and the grassy paddocks are already starting to yellow...and its  only March.  This sure is an unseasonal and prolonged spell of warm weather.  On a positive note it is bringing out the butterflies...so mustn't grumble!

I started my rounds at Stanklyn paddocks where 18 Fieldfare were feeding on the ground.  Two Chiffchaffs were singing nearby and a Skylark was singing it's heart out whilst perched on a molehill.

From Stanklyn I headed over to spend some time on Witch Lane.  Whilst attempting to photograph some butterflies on the wildflowers at the edge of the concrete pad I inadvertently flushed 2 Grey Partridge from the nearby Rape field.  About 10 minutes later I saw the same pair of birds fly over the lane and land in the adjacent field.  Unfortunately I was unable to relocate them amongst the dense cover of the crops.  Also of note here birdwise were 5 Common Buzzard that were up high soaring, 1 Meadow Pipit and a number of singing Skylarks.  At the bottom end of Witch Lane, near the junction with the Droitwich Road, there were 2 Red-legged Partridge present.

The Witch Lane area was particularly good for butterflies today and it was here I recorded my 1st patch Peacock and 1st Small White of the year.  I also counted 9 Small Tortoiseshell present along the lane.

I then headed from Witch Lane to an area of the patch I don't tend to check as regularly as I should do, Back Lane near Shenstone village. In one of the trees at the edge of the lane there were 34 Fieldfare and 1 Redwing perched.  This time of year it is always nice to see these over-wintering thrushes as you know they will be heading back north to Scandinavia any day now.  In the large sheep field that runs along the lane there were 2 Ravens present.  A Kestrel and a singing Chiffchaff were also noted here.

My last stop was Butts Lane which was very quiet.  The only birds of note were 2 Common Buzzards.  4 Small Tortoisehell were also observed during my walk here.

P.s. I will try and put up another blog post later as I need to catch up with the backlog! Too much time spent in the field and not enough time spent blogging. That pesky sunshine!

Saturday 24th March - Titterstone Clee Hill

Today I popped out for a day's birding with Mark (Door Stop Birding).  The weather conditions were superb and we headed into Southeast Shropshire to the high point of Titterstone Clee Hill.  Mark was hoping to see a passage Ring Ouzel and I was hoping for a bit of raptor movement.  But we both knew that even if we didn't get any of our target species the views would be fantastic up there.

Just before reaching the summit car park Mark clocked an interesting raptor going away from us over the adjacent grassland.  Mark stopped the car and I grabbed my bins for a look. I didn't have much of a view before the bird disappeared over the brow of the hill but my gut  feeling was it was Red Kite.  We headed on up to the carpark.

We decided to walk towards around the summit, past the old quarry, towards the NATS radar station building first.  On the way around we saw 2 cracking ♂ Northern Wheatears and a ♂ Peregrine was performing well over the quarried area.  On the gorse bushes below the NATS buildings a cracking pair of Stonechats were showing well the only trouble was the spent most of the time facing away from where we were stood...see the attached photos.  Also of note were a couple of Meadow Pipits that were seen displaying with their parachuting flight in this area.

Walking back past the quarry the local sheep farmer came up to us on his quad bike and pointed out that a Red Kite had landed on a fence post over by his fields.  I quickly got the bird in the scope and we enjoyed somewhat distant views of Red Kite...still that's not to be sniffed at.  

Checking out some of the crystal clear pools at the edge of the acid grassland within the quarry we managed to see a Smooth Newt and a few Water Boatmen.  There were also a handful of Peacock butterflies on the wing in this area.  

Shortly afterwards we bumped into a group of Black Country birder's that we knew, who had popped up there with the same idea.  It was particularly nice to see and chat with John Hingley who is now getting out and about again after recent serious health problems. 

After chatting for a while we headed back past the carpark to the opposite side of the summit.  All that was of note here was another ♂ Northern Wheatear and 2 more Peacock butterflies.  On returning to the car we were treated to what I feel was one of the day's highlights.....3 Red Kites came over the summit and were performing in the sunlight above us...what a cracking sight!!!!  In fact at one point we had the 3 Red Kites, 4 Common Buzzards and the ♂ Peregrine all up at the same time...forget your rarities, birding doesn't get much better than this!

Also noted whilst in the summit area were 7 Ravens, a Kestrel and 6 Pied Wagtails.

We then drove across to the land next to the working quarry.  Here we were treated to another of the day's highlights when 3 Peregrine (2♂ & 1♀) came over low over our heads and started performing for us.  The 2 males in particular were getting feisty, chasing and calling.  Also in this area were 2 more Northern Wheatear (1♂ & 1♀) and c.30 Meadow Pipits.  All in all it was a great day's birding and although we didn't get Ring Ouzel it was certainly all about the raptors!

♂ Northern Wheatear - Titterstone Clee

♀ Stonechat - Titterstone Clee

♂ Stonechat - Titterstone Clee

Friday 23rd March 2012 - Shenstone

This morning, with the sun shining I decided to head down to the patch to enjoy the Spring weather.  I cannot tell you how much a bit of blue sky and sunshine lifts my spirits.

Around the patch I noticed there had been an increase in the numbers of singing Chiffchaffs from a number of localities: 2 along Stanklyn Lane, 1 along Butts Lane, 1 along Witch Lane. (TS) also reported one singing near Captains Pool.

The Corn Bunting flock was located along the hedgerow of the model aircraft field at Heath Lane.  A maximum count of 52 Corn Bunting was recorded by both myself and (TMH).

Raptors noted around the patch today included 1 ♂ Kestrel, 4 Common Buzzard and 1 Little Owl.

The warm weather had also bought out a number of butterflies with 7 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Red Admiral and an early Green-veined White seen on the wing.  Also of interest was a Honey Bee that was seen gathering pollen from the Coltsfoot along Butts Lane.

Honey Bee on Coltsfoot

Shenstone - a tale of two Merlins

As readers of this blog you will probably already be aware that on the morning of last Sunday (18th March 2012) I observed a really stunning ♂ Merlin, feeding on it's prey, in a ploughed field along Witch Lane.

Last night I received an email from a local birder (Jon Cartwright) who had popped down to Shenstone late afternoon to try and see the male Merlin that I had reported earlier that day.  Jon did see a bird perched in a tree in the area and managed to get a photo.  On comparing it to my video he was unsure if it was the Merlin, sop he forwarded a copy of the photo to me to see what my thoughts were.  On looking at the pic I was gobsmacked, it was indeed a Merlin but this one was a ♀ Merlin!  This means that during the same day there were two different Merlins knocking about in the Witch Lane area of the patch.

Jon has very kindly given me permission to use his photo, so I have posted it alongside a video grab of my ♂ Merlin for comparison at the end of this entry.

This the time of year raptors such as Merlins are leaving there lowland wintering grounds and heading back to their upland breeding areas.  But to have 2 separate birds pass through the patch on the same day is an exceptional record for Shenstone.  So again, I would like to thank Jon for sharing his sighting and photo with me.

Merlin (male) - Shenstone, 18th March 2012

Merlin (female) - Shenstone, 18th March 2012

Thursday 22nd March 2012 - Eymore Wood

This afternoon, whilst the sun was shining, I decided to go for a stroll at Eymore Wood.   Eymore Wood is situated next to the River Severn and is only 4 miles from where I live.  It's a place that I used to visit regularly with Danny, when he was in better health, and its cracking place to go for a wander.

During my circuit around the wood I saw a number of the common woodland birds including 2 Treecreepers, 6 Goldcrests and 3 Coal Tits.  There were also 4 singing Chiffchaffs on site which really lifts the spirit hearing these summer migrant warblers singing away.  I only encountered 2 butterflies and both of them were Small Tortoiseshell (oh...when will I see a Brimstone or Comma this Spring!)

On returning to the upper carpark I was treated to a huge flock of 100+ Siskin that flew out of the adjacent Larches and wheeled around and landed in the tree tops further up the way.  The sound and volume of these small finches chuntering away was deafening.  

Just before leaving I was treated to brief views of a ♂ Common Crossbill that perched in a tree near my car (just a pity he didn't want to pose nicely for the camera).  All in all an enjoyable walk and a pleasant way to while away an hour or two on a sunny afternoon.

♂ Common Crossbill - 22nd March 2012

Tuesday 20th March 2012 - Shenstone

After yesterday's enjoyable away day it was time to get back to the serious business of working the patch.  It was another mild, sunny day and I was hopeful of something interesting.

I started off the morning by undertaking my walk around Butts Lane/Barrs Lane and across the adjacent field.  Whilst walking the footpath I heard my first patch Chiffchaff of the year singing away from the trees at the rear of Stone Manor...result! all ready the trip had been worthwhile and I had only just started.  Also recorded during this walk were 3 Corn Buntings, 13 Skylark, 1 Meadow Pipit and 9 Linnet.

Next up was Witch Lane where other than a few Skylarks up singing there was very little of note so I headed across the A450 to Heath Lane.  It was almost as quiet here although a Kestrel and a Common Buzzard were welcome additions to the visit.

Just after arriving at Stanklyn Lane I was joined by fellow Worcestershire birder Mike Inskip, who had popped down to see the Corn Buntings.  We scanned the scarified field (and nearby trees) and had good views of c.30 Corn Buntings.  Also present here were 9 Yellowhammer and c.60 Chaffinch.  A Red Admiral was on the wing here and was my 1st patch butterfly of the year.  Before Mike left we exchanged mobile numbers so he could contact me if he picked up anything of interest locally. 

It was also nice bumping into and chatting with local photographer Qiuxia, who had popped down to Stanklyn Lane to photograph some of the area's birds.

From Shenstone I headed over to Elmley Lovett to look for passage Wheatears.  Just as I arrived I had a call of Mike Inskip who was now on Witch Lane.  He had just had 2 Grey Partridge walk across the lane in front of him and disappear into the vegetation in the adjacent field.  I headed straight back and met up with Mike. we decided to walk the footpath that runs across part of the field to see if we could see them.  We hadn't gone much above 10 yards along the path when out of the cover flew the 2 Grey Partridge and disappeared further up the field over the rise.  Result! another patch year tick...what a day this was becoming! 

During this return visit to Witch Lane I also observed 3 Meadow Pipits flyover and 4 Common Buzzards were up on the thermals.  I also noted another Red Admiral and my first patch Small Tortoiseshell of the year.  What a patch visit and it is still only the beginning of Spring!

Small Tortoiseshell - 20th March 2012

Monday 19th March - Shenstone, Warnden and Grimley

Today I decided to pop out and about with Tony to a few other sites in Worcestershire. 

Naturally, I had to skirt through Shenstone on the way and I actually counted 9 Common Buzzards up in the air over the patch.  The ploughed fields were birdless and, as I had put in a fair few hours there the previous 2 days, we decided to head on to our next destination.

From the patch we headed to Warnden (on the outskirts of Worcester) to see the Yellow-browed Warbler that had been discovered there 9 days earlier by local birder Steve Whitehouse.  I have got to be honest, I have seen a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers in the past (one at Upton Warren in 2003 and one in Norfolk in 2010) and I can honestly say that neither time I was particularly excited by the views I had of the small leaf warbler flitting about busily in the back of a bush.  So with this in mind I had been in no rush to see the Warnden bird and decided to leave it till the mood took me.  In the end I was glad I did.

On arriving at the scrubby tree lined cycle path sandwiched between a main road and a modern housing estate (glamorous eh?) I began scanning for the bird.  I was informed by TS (who had seen it previously) and another birder that it was favouring the area between the large oak near the dog litter bin (even more glamorous) and where the footpath crosses the cycle way.  We gave it about 30 minutes in this area with no joy so I decided to walk past the cross way and scan the lower section of the path.  Within a few minutes I picked up a the bird flitting deep in a bush (typical I thought) but then to my surprise it flew into the top of a silver birch and flitted around there in the open in the sunlight, giving me the best views of Yellow-browed Warbler that I have ever seen.  Seeing it in this light I amended some of my views and could actually finally appreciate what a smart looking little bird it was.

We stayed on the bird for another few minutes as it worked along the hedge before we lost it and decided to call it a day on Warnden.  Also of note whilst there was a cracking ♀ Blackcap and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

Our final destination was the gravel pits at Grimley & Holt.  At Sling Pool there was little of note other than 2 Oystercatchers.  The Camp Lane pits were also pretty quite although the sight of an imm. ♀ Peregrine perched on a fence post at the North end was welcome.  A Chiffchaff was also heard singing there.

We rounded of the day by visiting the Wagon Wheel Lane pits and this was by far the most productive part of the Grimley leg.  On the shoreline of the rear pit were 4 Common Snipe, 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Redshank and 14 Lapwing.  Of note on the water were 12 Gadwall and a ♂ Teal.  Whilst enjoying the waders here we were treated to the bonus of a Brown Hare running across the edge of the field where we were stood.

All in all it was an interesting and productive tour but I know that I really do need to put in some serious patch time tomorrow!

Peregrine (imm. ♀) - Camp Lane Pits, Grimley

Click on image to enlarge

Sunday 18th March 2012 - Shenstone

Today I decided to visit Shenstone mid-morning.  The weather was dull and rather wet but previous experience has taught me that, during migration periods, its worth going out in these conditions as something good could be put down on the patch.   There is no fair weather birding on this blog ;-)

I started my visit by checking out the Butts Lane/Barrs Lane area.  Even in these conditions I counted for Skylarks up singing.  On the plough there was c.40 Linnets, 1 Yellowhammer, 8 Stock Dove and a cock Pheasant present.

Next up was Witch Lane.  There was no sign of the previous day's Curlew in the field behind the fishery so I scanned the adjacent freshly ploughed field.  Result!  sat in the field feeding on some prey was an absolutely stunning adult ♂ Merlin.  I managed to get some video footage of the bird before it flew.  Its just a shame that the footage wasn't great due to the poor weather conditions and the distance of the bird...still it is better than nothing.  Either way I was chuffed with the find as it is only the 2nd adult ♂ Merlin I have recorded at Shenstone.  The others have all been ♀/imm. type birds.

Also noted at Witch Lane were 1 ♀ Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 flyover Meadow Pipit and 2 Skylarks up singing.

Along Heath Lane there were still c.100 Linnet present.  A ♂ Kestrel, a Little Owl and 2 Fieldfare were also noted in the area.

My final stop was the scarified field along Stanklyn Lane.  Here there was an incredibly large mixed Bunting/Finch flock feeding.  The flock consisted of 19 Corn Buntings, 11 Yellowhammer, 1 ♀ Reed Bunting, c.150 Chaffinch. There were also a small number of Skylarks present with them.  On the adjacent hedgerow there were 6 Greenfinch and 1 Goldfinch.

Click on YouTube logo to enlarge

Saturday 17th March - Shenstone

This morning I popped for my first proper visit to the patch in over a week.  I was hoping to perhaps hear my first patch Chiffchaff of the year or even pick up an early Wheatear.  I had no joy on either but it was an enjoyable visit all the same.

I started off by scanning the paddocks along Stanklyn Lane.  Here there were 15 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare and 5 Skylark present.  Further down the lane in the scarified field were  11 Corn Buntings, 4 Yellowhammers, c.60 Chaffinch and 3 Greenfinch.  A Common Buzzard was up over Stanklyn Wood.

At Heath Lane there was still a flock of c.100 Linnet present.  A Kestrel and 3 Skylark were also noted.

The Butts Lane/Barrs Lane area was quiet although a Stock Dove and 11 Linnet were on the plough.  I also observed a pair of Long-tailed Tits gathering nest material.

The days highlight however came from Witch Lane where a single Curlew was present in the grassy field behind the fishery.  Also noted along Witch Lane were 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Yellowhammer, 1 Wren and a Pied Wagtail.

Curlew - 17th March 2012

Click on image to enlarge

Thursday 8th March 2012 - Shenstone

I'm a little behind with my blog posts due to last week's sad events but I thought it was time to start posting again.  This entry is from last Thursday afternoon.

I started my visit to the patch at Stanklyn Lane where 19 Redwing, 7 Fieldfare and 2 Green Woodpecker were in the paddocks. I could hear a number of Corn Bunting calling from the beet field and walked over to investigate.  Large numbers of finches and buntings were feeding on the newly scarified field.  At one point some thing spooked them and they all flew up.  The Corn Buntings separated from the mixed flock and all perched up in the top of the lone tree in the middle of the field.  There seemed to be a large number so I scoped through them a number of times to get an accurate count and see if they were all Corn Buntings.  They were and in total I counted 76 Corn Buntings!  I was stunned as this was a new patch record count.  The highest previous total was 47 earlier this winter. Also of note on this field were 10 Yellowhammer, c.60 Chaffinch, 10 Greenfinch, 2 Goldfinch and 4 Skylark

From Stanklyn I headed over to Butts Lane to undertake the walk across the field and back along the lane. It was fairly quiet but there were a few Skylark up singing. There was also one rather showy individual who had decided to perch up on top of a sprout stem...cue  photo opportunity!

Skylark - 8th March 2012

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A sad note....

It is with much sadness that today we had to say goodbye to our elderly rescue dog Danny.

We took him on from Forest Dog Rescue 18 months ago.  A few months previous I had lost my job and had been recovering from depression.  Adopting Danny really helped me back to mental well being when I was at a really low point. He gave me companionship and purpose at a time when during the daytime, whilst Bev was at work, I felt I had little.

With us Danny learned to trust people again.  He found love, warmth, food and shelter...a far cry from when he was picked up on the street by the warden 2 years ago.

I really don't know what else to say except both Bev and I will miss him loads.

R.I.P.  Danny

Tuesday 6th March 2012 - Titterstone Clee Hill

As it was a beautifully clear day and the sun was shining, Bev and I decided to have a drive out to the highpoint of Titterstone Clee Hill in Shropshire.  Titterstone is about 20 miles away but on a clear day it affords great views across to the Welsh mountains.  The drive out there is also very pleasant.

Before heading up to the summit we checked out Catherton Common on the lower slopes.  It was pretty much devoid of birds except a ♀ Reed Bunting perched on the Gorse and a single Kestrel.  

Next we checked out the viewpoint next to the quarry pool.  Again it was birdless but the warmer weather had brought out 2 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

On the wires along the lane up to the summit carpark were a handful of Meadow Pipits and a single Linnet.  Just prior to the summit a  ♂ and ♀ Stonechat were showing on the Gorse.

We then walked around the hill a wee way and sat and enjoyed the views.  With such conditions and the time of year I was hoping for a passing Hen Harrier, Merlin or Red Kite.  This never happened but there were a few raptors showing, the highlight being a rather stunning Peregrine that went through.  Also noted were 4 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel.  As ever with Titterstone the Ravens were very much in evidence.  At one point we had 14 Ravens up kronking away and entertaining us with their acrobatic displays.

All in all it was a very enjoyable day out rounded off by a bag of chips from the Chippy at Clee Hill village...it doesn't get much better!

♀ Stonechat - 6th March 2012

♂ Stonechat - 6th March 2012

Monday 5th March 2012 - Wyre Forest (Worcs)

Today I popped out with Tony for a couple of hours to the nearby Wyre Forest (quite possibly my favourite wild place in Worcestershire).  Having attended the Worcestershire Recorders annual meeting on Saturday and listening to an informed talk on the Adders of the Wyre I decided to go and have a look see if I could catch up with one of these locally endangered reptiles.  This time of year the males are laying out near their hibernacula and basking in the early Spring sun.

On commencing our journey down the disused railway line we bumped into Mark (http://doorstepbirding.blogspot.com/) who was just completing a walk there.  As we stood nattering I noticed nearby some Yellow Brain Fungi growing on an old dry stem of Dog Rose.  We left Mark to head back to his car and continued our walk.  Along the railway embankment we came across a huge Wood Ants nest that was very active in the late morning sunshine.  

Not long afterwoods we bumped into fellow local birder/wildlife enthusiast 'Kinver Jim' who joined us for our search for Adders.  I'm not going to post any locations/site specifics folks for fear of disturbance due to the sensitive nature of this locally declining species.  Needless to say it wasn't long before I managed to locate a stunning ♂ Adder basking in the sun.  We watched from a distance using the close focus on our binoculars and then moved on.

We headed to the bridge at Lodge Hill Farm next where 2 Common Buzzards were up soaring. Also seen from here were a ♂ Siskin, a number of Goldfinch, a Goldcrest and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

We then parted ways with Jim and headed through Knowles Coppice and back along Dowles Brook.  In the coppice we had great views of a Redwing perched lowdown in a nearby tree.  On the brook we saw a single Dipper.  4 Song Thrush were also noted. 

♂ Adder - 5th March 2012

Click on image to enlarge

Yellow Brain Fungus (Tremella Mesenterica)

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Sunday 4th March 2012 - Captains Pool....a patch lifer!!!!

I hadn't intended going birding today, the weather was fairly grim in the morning and the only journey out was to Stanley's Farm Shop for the veg for the Sunday lunch.  This changed though mid-afternoon when I received a call of TS informing me that a drake Pochard was on Captains Pool.  I headed over there straight away as Pochard is less than annual on the pool and was still a patch lifer for me.

On arriving at the pool I picked up the Pochard almost immediately, as it floated on the pool in that typical head tucked in Pochard way.....result! I then took a series of shots but the bird didn't want to play ball.  I wasn't bothered this bird now took my life list to 112 species seen on/over the patch.  The total number of bird species seen on the patch is 125.

Also of note on Captains Pool were 3 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Coots. 

Pochard - Captains Pool, 4th March 2012

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank local photographer Qiuxia Vaughn who has emailed me a selection of wonderful photos she has taken of the birdlife down at Captains Pool this year....Thank You.

Great Crested Grebe - Captains Pool
photo by Qiuxia Vaughn

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:  http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=8097&page=361  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

Thursday 1st March 2012 - Shenstone

This morning I heard the news that fellow Worcestershire birder and videographer, Steve Avery, had found a ♂ Brambling with the large mixed finch/bunting flock along Stanklyn Lane.  He had also noted c.30 Corn Bunting still present there.

I headed over to the patch early afternoon and spent a good hour and half scanning through the flock that was regularly feeding on the recently fine ploughed field.  I didn't manage to catch up with the Brambling but there was still plenty to see.  On the plough there were 34 Corn Buntings, 12 Yellowhammers, c.60 Chaffinch, 10 Greenfinch and 8 House Sparrows.  A ♀ Kestrel was also present along Stanklyn Lane.

It was also nice to bump into a reader of the blog (Mike T) and have a good natter about birds, wildlife and the joys of the Pembrokeshire coast (one of my fave places in the UK) 

♀ Kestrel - Stanklyn Lane

Corn Bunting - Stanklyn Lane


Below is a short sound recording I took of one of the Corn Buntings singing during my visit.

  Corn Bunting - Shenstone, 1st March 2012 by Shenstone Birder