Shenstone News - 29th August 2012

The juvenile Whinchat and ♀ Common Redstart were still present this morning.  After this afternoon's heavy downpour there was a small fall of migrants with 2 adult ♂ Common Redstarts and a Spotted Flycatcher also present along Stanklyn Lane (TMH)

At Captains Pool, all 4 juvenile Great Crested Greebes are still present and nearing full size.

Tuesday 28th August 2012 - Shenstone

This morning I took advantage of the sunny weather and spent a few hours on the patch. 

I started my visit at Stanklyn paddocks where one of the juvenile Whinchats was still present. Nearby a Common Redstart (♀/imm.) was present on the adjacent hedgerow.  Also of note were 2 Ravens that flew over heading West.  Two Small Copper butterflies were also observed as they started to mate.

Whilst at the paddocks I was joined by my old mate Jared (aka Bellamy).  His botanical knowledge really is exceptional.  In fact he pointed out that there was a fairly rare plant right under my nose!  Across the lane from where I was parked is an area of verge containing a couple of hundred Tower Mustard (Arabis glabra) plants.  Tower Mustard is classed as vulnerable in the UK and only occurs at a handful of sites in Worcestershire.  For more info on this species click on the below link:

Also of note along Stanklyn Lane were a single Purple Hairstreak butterfly and a Migrant Hawker dragonfly.

I drew a blank at Heath Lane so I headed over to Butts Lane to undertake my regular walk.  This proved more successful with 3 Common Buzzards, 2 Stock Doves, 3 Sky Larks and 2 Linnets recorded.

The highlight of the day though came in the form of a butterfly, a ♂ Common Blue.  I know...Common Blue? I hear you cry.  Well, this year they have been in fairly short supply locally (probably due to the wet Spring) and believe it or not this is the first one I have recorded on the patch for 2012!  Other butterflies noted during this walk were1 Essex Skipper, 1 Small Copper, 1 Peacock, 2 Meadow Browns and 2 Green-veined Whites.

Also of interest on the insect side of things was a single ♀ Common Darter dragonfly, a Meadow Grasshopper and a Roesel's Bush Cricket.

Whinchat (juvenile)

Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus)

Tower Mustard (Arabis glabra)

Click on image to enlarge

Tower Mustard (Arabis glabra) flower

Shenstone News

Saturday 25th August 2012:
The 2 Whinchats and a Northern Wheatear were present at Stanklyn Lane paddocks at 7am (Terry H)

A Common Redstart was reported at Stanklyn Lane paddocks mid-morning (per Birding Today)

A Yellow Wagtail flew over Stanklyn paddocks heading East mid afternoon and 4 Swifts also passed through.  The 2 Whinchats were still present but there was no sign of Wheatear or Redstart (Jason K). 

Sunday 26th August 2012:
The 2 Whinchats were still present at Stanklyn paddocks this morning and a Common Redstart was also observed (Terry H)

Also, 2 Common Redstarts at Heath Lane paddock and a Peregrine and 5 Common Buzzards up over the patch this afternoon (Craig Reed)


Friday 24th August 2012 - Shenstone, Woodrow & Tanwood

On switching on my phone this morning I had received a text message from TMH informing me that he had found 2 juvenile Whinchats at 7:45am this morning at Stanklyn Lane paddocks.  I couldn't pop down to see these birds until later in the day as I was completing a job application that I wanted to get handed back in today.

When I arrived at approx 2:30pm the 2 Whinchats were still present at the paddocks.  Also of great interest though was the increased number of Swallows (mainly juveniles) that present and perching on the fence wires.  Today I counted 24 Swallows at the paddocks (8 more than the previous day). Also present at the paddocks were 6 juvenile Goldfinch and a Chiffchaff  was in the hedgerow opposite. 

As the patch had already been covered I decided to spend some time looking elsewhere locally to see if I could find some more passage migrants.

On turning into Woodrow Lane I decided to check the paddock near the road junction.  This turned out to be a fortuitous move as I picked up 3 juvenile Yellow Wagtails with 4 Pied Wagtails.  The other areas of Woodrow however were very unproductive, so I headed over to nearby Tanwood.

Tanwood has been one of the more productive local areas for migrants this autumn passage with both myself and Terry recording a good mix of birds here.  Today was no exception and I soon observed the seemingly ever present ♂ Common Redstart flicking down from the hedgerow and back in typical Redstart fashion. 

Even more exciting was picking up a cracking Lesser Whitethroat that was also flitting about at the front of the same hedge.  This is the first Lesser Whitethroat that I have seen this autumn and it was a welcome sight indeed!

Whinchat (juvenile) - 24th August 2012

Swallow (juvenile) - 24th August 2012

Thursday 23rd August 2012 - Shenstone & Tanwood

Today's visit to the patch was one of the most unproductive that I have had for a long while.  Stanklyn Lane paddocks didn't hold a single chat or wagtail.  In fact the only thing of note in this area was 16 Swallows and 2 Ravens that flew over!  In fact the most excitement I had at this area was when a Chinook helicopter flew over!

The only bird of interest at Heath Lane was a Blackcap that could be heard singing on/off from the bushes next to the Islamic School. A Migrant Hawker dragonfly was noted at Heath Lane paddock.

The Butts Lane, Barrs Lane and Witch Lane areas produced nothing...not even a Linnet or a Skylark.  So with my spirits rather deflated I headed off a couple of miles up the road to Tanwood.

On arriving at Tanwood I was soon greeted by the site of the moulted adult ♂ Common Redstart that has been present for the past few days.  I continued scanning and I picked up what was the undoubted highlight of the day, an adult ♂ Northern Wheatear.  Unfortunately It was just a bit too distant to get a decent photo of but it was a welcome sight all the same.
Hopefully I would have a better day at Shenstone tomorrow.

Tuesday 21st August 2012 - Grimley

This afternoon Bev and I decided to pop to Grimley to see (yet again in my case) the Great White Egret.  Herons are Bev's favourite family of birds and she hadn't had an opportunity to see this stunner as yet, so with the sun shining we head off!

On arrival we bumped into blog reader Mike T and his other half and, needless to say, a good natter ensued.  We walked the causeway to get a better angle on the bird and got great views as it flew across the water to the flooded western side.  Here the Great White Egret could be seen next to 2 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons, giving a real appreciation of the size of this huge bird!

Whilst Bev was enjoying the bird and me being the birder that I am, I continued scanning the Camp Lane pits to see what else was about.  This was a good decision as I picked up a Black-tailed Godwit working the northeast shoreline.  The bird still retained much of its summer plumage and had a lovely orange colour to it's head and chest. 

Also of note at Camp Lane were 3 Common Terns (2 adult and 1 juv) and 2 Sand Martins passed through.

To view more photos of the Great White Egret and Grimley birds in general click on the following link to the Grimley Wildlife Flickr group:

If you have a Flickr account and have any photos taken at Grimley/Holt please feel free to join the group and share your images

Monday 20th August 2012 - Shenstone

Having arrived back from my weekend away I decided to do a quick whistle stop tour of the patch.

I started at Stanklyn Lane where TMH had observed 2 Redstarts on Saturday 18th August.  There was of course no sign but now the meadow had been cut next to the hedgerow it looked considerably more likely for passage chats.

I then proceeded to check the numerous fence lines at the paddocks and was soon rewarded with a cracking juvenile Whinchat

Next stop was Heath Lane paddock where a light-morph Common Buzzard was perched along the left-hand fence line and a ♂ Sparrowhawk was perched in the hedgerow opposite.

My final location on my whistle stop visit was Butts Lane.  At Eastfields farm a juvenile and an adult Green Woodpecker was present.  There was very little of note in the fields opposite.

Whinchat - 20th August 2012

17th to 19th August 2012 - Rutland Water

Over the past few days myself, Bev and her sister Natalie have been up at Rutland Water for the British Birdwatching fair. 

Thursday 16th August
We arrived on the Thursday afternoon and spent some time mooching around Oakham before going to our accommodation.  On the evening we decided to nip down the road to Manton bridge to get our first view of Rutlands Ospreys.  We were treated to great views of 4 Ospreys (2 adult and 2 juv).

Friday 17th August
Friday saw us spend our first full day at the fair and was primarily taken up by mooching around various marques looking at various books, optics, equipment etc. I tend to avoid the birding/wildlife holiday stalls as I haven't got the saft money that they ask for guided holidays. 

We also took in a couple of interesting talks today by Simon King and Dave Lindo (The Urban Birder).  On the evening we went to the enjoyable celebrity lecture by Bill Oddie and Stephen Moss.

Saturday 18th August
On getting out of the car I heard the familiar call of flyover Yellow Wagtail.  I looked up to see 2 Yellow Wagtails overhead.  A good start to the day!

Today consisted of  more looking around the marques.  At one point I decided to take a breather from the fair and have a look at the inverts in the wildflower areas near the Anglian Water centre.  Whilst going through the gate towards the ponds I noticed that tv wildlife man Johnny Kingdom was coming towards me with a group of kids that he had just taken out on a wildlife safari.  I duelly opened the gate for them to pass at which point Johnny looked at me, shook my hand and said in his broad accent "alright mate"....what a pleasant man!

We spent a few hours in the afternoon on the reserve itself.  On lagoon 4 we had views of a single Black Tern and a Hobby.  Also of interest were 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper and 1 Common Sandpiper.  We also noted 4 Ringed Plovers, 4 Dunlin, 2 Shelduck and 9 Little Egret.

It was a really hot sunny day and the inverts were very active.  We recorded the following species of butterfly:  Brimstone, Small White, Large White, Green-veined WhiteSmall SkipperRed Admiral, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell,  Peacock, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown & Gatekeeper

Odonata recorded were Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Southern Hawker, Common Darter, Ruddy Darter, Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly and Blue-tailed Damselfly.

A White Ermine moth caterpillar was also noted along one of the tracks.

Red Admiral

White Ermine Larvae

Sunday 19th August
On the morning of our final day at the birdfair we decided to pay a visit to the Lyndon Reserve which is situated on a different part of the reservoir to the fair.  At the visitors centre we watched 6 Tree Sparrows using the feeding station.  A welcome sight as they are no longer seen at the feeding station next to the Anglian Water Visitors Centre at Egleton

At the "shallow water hide" we had great views of the 4 Manton Bay Ospreys (2 juvs) and were even treated to a visiting Osprey that dropped in for a while.  It is thought that, due to the colour of its ring, the bird was one of the Welsh Ospreys from Aberdovey that had stopped off during it's migration.

Also of interest here were the good numbers of Common Tern that were performing over the water.

Mid-late afternoon was spent again at the fair buying, in my case, more natural history books and picking up more freebies (well it would be rude not too!).  Talking of freebies, by the end of the weekend I had acquired 5 lens cloths, 3 notepads, 5 packs of wildflower seed, a carabiner, 3 hand magnifiers and many biros to name but a few.

So there you have it...a busy but enjoyable weekend at the Birdfair.  If you've never been to the British Birdwatching Fair you should try it one year.... you never know, you may enjoy it. 


Common tern

Please Note

Just to let you know, I won't be posting on the blog until early next week as I am away for a short break to Rutland Water for the Birdfair.  After which normal service will resume.

And now onto a few patch snippets....

Wednesday 8th August 2012
2 Marbled Whites (1♂ & 1♀) were observed and photographed just off Stanklyn Lane at Summerfield.  Two were also recorded at this location on 23rd July 2012 (Qiuxia Vaughan). 

To view Qiuxia's excellent photos of these butterflies (and many more besides) visit

Tuesday 14th August 2012
A flock of 30 Corn Buntings was seen perched up in one area of Shenstone yesterday (Terry Hinett)

Monday 13th August 2012 - Out and about in Worcestershire

Today I decided to visit a few local sites, starting with the patch of course,  to see what was about.  For this birding adventure I was accompanied by my old mate and sometimes cantankerous chuffer Tony.  We started the day with a quick cuppa at Tony's now famous cafe...the new outdoors tea garden is very nice...anyway I digress, on with the post.

Captains Pool & Shenstone:
The Great Crested Grebe chicks are really developing well with all 4 juvs looking fit and healthy.  At Stanklyn Lane paddocks the late summer flock of 19 Mistle Thrush were feeding.  There was little else of note on the patch today and still not a sniff of a Wheatear or Yellow Wagtail so I decided to head up the road to Woodrow.

As with Shenstone we drew a blank at Woodrow with the passage chats.  This however was soon forgotten when we were treated to superb views of a Red Kite that proceeded to circle fairly low over the woodrow area for 5 minutes or so before heading north.  This was so pleasing as these magnificent raptors are not breeding in the county as yet and personally I only tend have 1 or 2 sightings in Worcestershire a year.

There were good numbers of Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper butterfly present along the footpath and we even recorded 2 Essex Skippers.

Next stop on the magical mystery tour was Tanwood.  The previous day TMH and I had seen a ♂ Redstart there and 2 imm. Northern Wheatears.  Today there was no sign of these birds but there was another Wheatear present.  This was a different bird however and had much more of a buff flush to its chest.  Also noted at Tanwood were 4 juvenile House Sparrows on the wires and 2 Yellowhammers (1 adult & 1 juv).

Northern Wheatear

Holt & Grimley:
The last part of our tour was to Holt and Grimley.  We stopped off at Holt Sling Pool first where 1 Common Sandpiper and 4 Green Sandpipers were noted.

It was then onto Camp Lane pits at Grimley.  The Great White Egret was still present and showing well but now there were also 3 Little Egrets present....the size difference is incredible.  Also of note were 9 Common Terns and 2 eclipse drake Wigeon.  The Wigeon were a bonus as it's unusual to see them at this site during the summer months.

To round off the day we headed back to the garden terrace at Tony's Cafe and enjoyed another brew.  A fitting end to an enjoyable day out.

Friday 10th August 2012 - Prestbury Hill (Gloucestershire)

For a couple of years now, since I first heard about the site, I have toyed with the idea of going to Prestbury Hill near Cheltenham to catch up with some of it's speciality butterfly species, all of which would be lifers for me.  I  didn't go earlier in the year when Duke of Burgundy and Small Blue were on the wing but with this latest warm spell I decided to try for Chalkhill Blue. 

Earlier in the week MP had suggested possibly going down to a site in Gloucestershire today to see the latter species but as the week drew on my fellow local patch blogger's plans changed from Gloucestershire to Shropshire to East Worcestershire and finally to doorstepville.  However the Chalkhill seed had been sown in my mind and I decided to visit Prestbury.

Prestbury Hill has two areas of reserve owned by Butterfly Conservation the first on the south side of the hill is the Bill Smyllie reserve and to the north is Cleeve Common.  I decided to visit the Bill Smyllie reserve first and was immediately hit by how rich the flora was.  There was Scabious and Knapweed everywhere and much more besides.  I saw two rather stunning flowers that I hadn't seen before:  Viper's Bugloss and Clustered Bellflower.  But it isn't just the flora and fauna that make this Cotswold hillside special, the views are absolutely fantastic!

Anyway on to the butterflies.  On this reserve I counted 10 Dark Green Fritillary, c.30 Marbled Whites, 5 Small Heath, 1 ♂ Common Blue, 2 Peacock and 1 Small TortoiseshellEssexSkippers, Small Skippers, Small Coppers, Ringlets, Gatekeepers and many Meadow Browns were also noted, as were Green-veined, Large and Small White.

The highlight for me though on the Bill Smyllie Reserve was seeing a Dusky Sallow moth.  This day flying moth was a new species for me and one that I hadn't expected (although this is its preferred habitat)

I then headed up the road to Cleeve Common.  I had spoke to a couple of butterfly enthusiasts earlier who had said that there were small numbers of Chalkhill blue present on the lower slope on the old quarried surface.  When they said it was steep they were not kidding but it was worth the effort as I saw 4 ♂ Chalkhill Blues flitting around there.  As previously mentioned it was a lifer for me and it just about kept my spirits up as I nearly hyper-ventilated on the ascent. 

Also recorded on Cleeve Common were 2 Brown Argus, 1♂ Common Blue, 10 Small Heath, 13 Dark Green Fritillary and 20 Marbled Whites.

Not much to mention birdwise although there were a few Yellowhammers singing and a Raven was kronking away from a nearby woodland.

All in all an enjoyable day out and now I know the lie of the land a place I shall visit earlier next year for Duke of Burgundy.

The Bill Smyllie Reserve

click on image to enlarge

Dusky Sallow

Dark Green Fritillary
(crappy record shot...they were very flighty!)

Chalkhill Blue

Monday 6th August 2012 - Shenstone & Tanwood

I timed today's visit to the patch after one of the morning's showers.  My thinking was that the rain may put down a passage migrant.  As it so happened it didn't! Although there were a few highlights.

Along Stanklyn Lane there was a party of Willow Warblers working the hedge row with one occasionally breaking into a line or two of its melodic spiralling warble. 

At Heath Lane there were 4 Swifts over the model aircraft field and 3 Yellowhammers were present on the adjacent hedgerow.  Small numbers of rather damp looking Gatekeeper butterflies were perched on the roadside vegetation.

The walk around the Butts Lane area proved more successful on the butterfly front with 6 Essex Skipper, 2 Small Skipper, 2 Gatekeeper, 4 Meadow Brown and 1 rather tatty Ringlet.

Butts Lane was also more productive on the bird front.  A juvenile Common Buzzard was calling from the roof of the one of the WW2 refugee camp buildings and an adult was also seen over Butts Lane.  The adult Common Buzzard had actually moulted a couple of its primary feathers, showing a nice gap in its wing whilst in flight. During the walk I flushed 12 Skylarks and 4 Linnets from the field.  Whilst 7 House Martins and 3 Swallows were working the area.  14 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew over heading north.

At Witch Lane another juvenile Common Buzzard was present with an adult having successfully fledged from the 2nd of my patch Buzzard nest sites.  2 Pied Wagtails were present along the lane and 2 Swifts flew over heading south.

Elsewhere on the patch TS observed a juvenile Sparrowhawk on the roof of the boat shed at Captains Pool.


Essex Skipper

From Shenstone I headed over to nearby Tanwood to see if i could pick up the Redstarts that TMH had found there on the previous couple of days.  On the 5th Terry had observed a moulting adult ♂ and on the 6th he had seen 2 imm. Redstarts.

On arriving I soon picked up one of the immature Redstarts, this one had quite a nice pale orange flush to it's chest. Not long afterwards I had great views of the rather showy moulting adult ♂ Redstart which curiously seemed to be being followed around some of the time by a juvenile Pied Wagtail.  After a bit of scanning i picked up the second imm. Redstart on the hedgerow opposite the barns and a fair distance from the other two.  This individuall was much paler on the chest and easily identifiable from the other much brighter juv.  This was a pleasing sight as I could now confirm that all 3 birds that TMH had observed were still present.

Also of note at Tanwood were 5 Pied Wagtails (3 juv), c.40 Starling, 4 juvenile Goldfinch and a ♂ Great-spotted Woodpecker.

The odd couple...

Click on image to enlarge

Shenstone update

Friday 3rd August 2012:
There was no sign of the adult ♂ Whinchat at Stanklyn Lane today. The bird wasn't relocated after extensive searching of other likely areas around the patch either.  I can only assume that now its favoured gallops field has been cut it has resumed its migration.

Thursday 2nd August 2012 - Shenstone & Grimley

To say the weather was variable today would be an understatement.  One moment lovely sunshine next torrential downpours.  It was during one such sunny spell that I decided to pay a visit to the patch. 

On arriving at Stanklyn Lane I was aghast to see the farmer in his tractor cutting down the vegetation in the gallops field.  Incredibly the ♂ Whinchat was still present on a Ragwort whilst the tractor was taking out the rest of its perches.  The bird would either be gone by tomorrow or would relocate elsewhere on patch whilst continuing its moult.  The other downside of this field being cut is the impact it may have on the numerous butterflies present there, especially the Small Coppers and Meadow Browns.

From Shenstone I headed over, with Tony, to Camp Lane pits at Grimley to see the Great White Egret that had been discovered there earlier that day by local birder and fellow Baggies supporter John Hingley.  On arriving at the North end I soon picked up the bird working it's way along the Eastern shoreline.  What was interesting was when it walked past a Grey Heron and you could get an appreciation of the size of the bird.  I started to take some video footage when the mother of all downpours came down.  I kept filming for a minute or so before I conceded that it was just too wet.  We headed back to the dry of Tony's car and waited for the rain to didn't.  After waiting in the car for what seemed an age it became apparent that this weather was pretty much set in and we decided to head back home.  Still it was a worthwhile visit and gave us good views of a fairly scarce bird.

Great White Egret

Click on box right of the YouTube logo to enlarge
Patch News:
I heard of Terry H today and the Whinchat has now relocated to the paddocks opposite the gallops field

Wednesday 1st August 2012 - Shenstone

Just after lunch I received a call of the mechanic saying that my motor was ready to collect.  After picking it up I headed straight to the patch, to undertake a much needed walk around Stanklyn Lane.

On walking down the lane towards the entrance I picked up a family party of Garden Warblers flitting about and contact calling in the hedgerow.  This was a great sight as there were 3 juveniles present.

In the gallops field I soon picked up the ♂ Whinchat that was still present.  The bird is now looking quite scruffy as it advances through it's moult.

The conditions weren't great today and the wind was really blowing some, so it wasn't great for invertebrates and even worse for photography.  I did however record the following species of butterfly:  Essex Skipper, Holly Blue, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and Small White. Small numbers of Six-spot Burnett moth were also noted.