Sunday 28th October 2012 - Grimley

Today Mark P very kindly picked me up so we could do a spot of birding at Grimley.  It comes to something when you have to rely on the hospitality of a Wolves supporter, but needs must when you have no transport! 

We arrived at the North end of Camp Lane pits mid-morning and began scanning the area.  Soon after we picked up a Kingfisher that flew across the lagoon and perched on a part submerged fence post below where we were stood.  Also of note here were 12 Wigeon that were feeding on the grass amongst the Canada Geese on the Eastern side.  There was a nice mix of ducks present with the following species also recorded:  Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal and Tufted Duck.

Whilst we were at Camp Lane there were good numbers of Fieldfare almost continually passing through in varying numbers.  The largest flocks consisted of 40 and 80 Fieldfare

Other birds of note at Camp Lane were 8 Lapwing, 16 Cormorant, 4 Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 22 Mute Swans and a single Greylag Goose.

From Camp Lane we headed to Wagon Wheel Lane pits.  This was by far the most productive area and on arrival we were met with c.100 Gulls sat on the back pit.  Most were Black-headed Gulls (including one with a lovely pink flush to its chest).  There were also 6 Herring Gulls (5 imm. and 1 adult) and 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls present.  With them were 2 Common Gulls (1 adult and a 1st Winter bird).  The latter was a real highlight as they are not actually that common locally away from the main gull roosts.

Also of interest at Wagon Wheel pits were a cracking Peregrine that performed overhead for a short while, a light-morph Common Buzzard and a Green Sandpiper.  A single Song Thrush was also noted on the adjacent bushes.

No scarce/rare species were to be found but an enjoyable couple of hours "steady birding" was had all the same.

Common Gull (1st winter):

Click on image to enlarge

Out of action (for a shortwhile)....

In case any readers of this blog were wondering why there has been a tail off in activity it is due to car woes.  On Wednesday last week whilst driving home from doing my voluntary work the gearbox went on my motor.  Not only is it a very costly repair it also means that I am without transport until middle of next week at the earliest.

So for the next week I will be spending some time at home doing some of those jobs that always keep getting put off.   Will also be hoping to get out once or twice with a couple of my birding friends in a bid to prevent myself going stir crazy.

Normal service will resume.....

Sunday 21st October 2012 - Rifle Range/Devil's Spittleful NR

Today I embarked on a fungi foray with the Mark  (Doorstep Birding) at the nearby lowland heath reserve of Devils Spittleful and Rifle Range.  The morning started fairly misty but soon cleared as the sun burned through.

We were hoping to see Parrot Waxcap fungi today and pre-armed with a bit of info from the Ranger (Adam) we had a good look but it was to no avail.  Still Mark and I did manage to see a good variety of species and it was a pleasant walk all the same.

Whilst on the Devil's Spittleful side of the reserve we noted Brick Tuft, Brown Birch Bolette, The Deciever, Penny Bun, Rosy Bonnet, Scarlet Waxcap and The Sickener.  On the Rifle Range side we added Birch Polypore, Meadow Waxcap, Parasol Mushroom, Yellow Brain Fungus and Yellow Stagshorn too the list.

A few birds were noted including a flock of 6 Redwings that flew through heading South East, 2 Ravens, 4 Common Buzzards and a ♂ Kestrel.

The only butterfly recorded was a single Small Copper (and no...I don't mean a vertically challenged policeman!)

All in all another enjoyable walk around another of the local area's excellent reserves, with a good mix of species recorded.

Brick Tuft (Hypholoma lateritium)

Rosy Bonnet (Mycena Rosea)

The Sickener (Russula emetica)

Yellow Brain Fungus (Tremella mesenterica)

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

Friday 19th October 2012 - Springfield Park & Shenstone

On my way out this morning I decided to pop to Springfield Park in Kidderminster to photograph a particular fungi, the Blue Roundhead.  I had been given the heads up by a friend, Cass, who had taken some cracking photos of them there the previous week and decided I would go and have a look at them myself.

The Blue Roundheads were growing on wood chippings that were on the ground surrounding some young trees.  I took a few photos of these blue/green slimy capped fungi before embarking on a bit of a walk around the area for a general mooch. 

In the trees next to the car park were 4 Siskins were flitting about making a racket (in the way only Siskins can).  Also of note was the incredible number of Blackbirds that were present on the scrubby bank to the NE of the car park. There were at least 40+ Blackbirds present in this small area busily feeding.  Many of which were 1st winter birds with dark bills and most likely new arrivals from Scandinavia.

As time drew on I decided to hit my local patch and boy what a contrast.  It was so quite there that I was half expecting a ball of tumbleweed to blow past me like in the old westerns.

Stanklyn Lane was the most productive area where I noted a single Raven on a pylon, 1 Common Buzzard and a Jay.  A single Red Admiral was also recorded.

Heath Lane was just as desperate with the only notables being a single Mistle Thrush in the paddock and a solitary Small Tortoiseshell.

The only positive I could take from this part of the day was the fact that I managed to relocate the Lapwing flock, just off patch, at Podmore.  There were 78 Lapwings present in total and there is every chance that they will drift back on patch over coming weeks.

Blue Roundhead (Stropharia caerulea)


Thursday 18th October 2012 - Habberley Valley NR

Today I undertook another local walk looking at fungi and the destination was Habberley Valley nature reserve.  Habberley valley is an interesting reserve that contains a mosaic of habitats in a relatively small area.  These include lowland heath, grassland, woodland and sandstone cliffs.

On arrival at the carpark I was struck by the number of people here walking there dogs and thought twice about continuing but I did and I turned out to be a very productive walk.

I  had a bit of a mooch around the first grassy area I came too left of the road between the carpark and the visitors centre and found small numbers of Scarlet Waxcaps

It was the wooded slopes that were the most productive however as here I found a number of species including Cep, Common Earth Ball, Ochre Brittlegill and a rather yellow looking example of Velvet Shank (they are normally much brighter orange).  Also of interest was the bright orange balls of a Slime Mold (Lycogala terrestre), which initially I thought to have been a fungi.

It's funny how though sometimes when you are out walking looking at certain natural subjects you tend to see other things.  Today's  highlights were two such things and the came in the form of invertebrates.  The first was a ♂ Vapourer moth that flew past me and landed on the leaf litter.  The other was a Cream-spotted Ladybird that was perched on some fungi.  The latter being a new species for me.

All in all a really enjoyable mooch around a local reserve that I have overlooked in the past but will certainly return to in the future!

♂ Vapourer Moth

Click on images to enlarge

Cream-spotted Ladybird


Ochre Brittlegill

Scarlet Waxcap

Slime Mold (Lycogala terrestre)

Velvet Shank

Tuesday 16th October 2012 - Wyre Forest

I think many of my fellow birders and wildlife bloggers would agree that this autumn has been an odd one to say the least.  Certainly in Worcestershire it has been very poor for some common passage migrants let alone scarcities and rarities.  Things have been no different at Shenstone of late so I decided that I would spend my outdoors time doing a few different local walks looking at one of Autumns highlights...fungi.

For today's outing I decided to visit the Worcestershire side of the Wyre Forest.  I walked partially along the disused railway line, through Town Coppice through the orchard at Lodge Hill through Knowles Coppice and back along Dowles Brook.  I can honestly say that in terms of bird life it was the most unproductive visit I have ever had in the Wyre.  I didn't even see one of the resident Dippers today.

Thankfully I was focusing on the fungi today which was a more productive affair.  The highlight of which was seeing some lovely examples of Scarlet Waxcap in the orchard.  Other fungi of interest during my walk included Amethyst Deceiver, Birch Knight, Glistening Inkcap, Orange Peel and Stagshorn.

Scarlet Waxcaps (Hygrocybe coccinea)

Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

Birch Knight (Tricholoma fulvum)

Sunday 14th October 2012 - Mount Segg

Today I decided to meet up with Mark P on his local patch (well I think it is...the boundaries seem ever changing!).  Anyway jesting aside, we had decided to meet up to undertake a fungi foray at Mount Segg.  Mark had been there the previous day and seen some interesting species and knowing that I become a bit of amateur mycologist this time of year invited me over to do this walk.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the area,  Mount Segg is located between Stone, Harvington and Blakedown.  It is a sandstone hillock that is wooded on it's slopes with a small area of heathland on it's summit.

The lower slopes were fairly unproductive but as we were about a third of the way from the summit the leaf litter and path side grassy areas became much more productive.  Here we noted Amethyst Deceiver, Common Puffball, The Deciever, Earth Ball, Lilac Bonnet, Ochre Brittlegill and Purple Brittlegill.  The highlight in this area was a single Fly Agaric which was, as usual, in close proximity to some Silver Birch trees.  This was a new species for Mark on his patch and a pleasant surprise for myself as I wasn't expecting any here.

At the summit area Mark pointed out a massive Penny Bun (Cep) that he had found the previous day and I discovered a small group of Brown Birch Bolettes.

Birdlife was thin on the ground and the only notables were a 'kronking' Raven and 2 Jays.  A single Hornet was noted near Barnett Brook and 2 Shaggy Inkcap fungi were along the footpath near Deansford Lane.

It was interesting to catch with Mark and share some of his patch wildlife with him and we had a fine selection of fungi to boot.  I wonder what I may have missed at Shenstone today?  very little I should guess with how quite Worcestershire has been on the bird front this Autumn!

Amethyst Deciever (Laccaria amethystina)

Brown Birch Bolette (Leccinum scabrum)

The Deciever (laccaria laccata)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Lilac Bonnet (Mycena pura)

Penny Bun / Cep (Boletus edulis)

Purple Brittlegill (Russula atropurpurea)

Saturdaty 13th October 2012 - Shenstone

Late morning I headed to the patch for a brief visit.  There was no sign of the previous days Stonechat just off Barrs Lane and I was unable to relocate it elsewhere on the patch.

It was a fairly quite day in terms of birds with one exception, Common Buzzard.  Up on Witch Lane I had an incredible 11 Buzzards soaring over above me all at the same time, a real sight to behold!  The only other notable in this area was a single Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

At Stanklyn Lane there were 2 Ravens perched on a pylon and a single Common Buzzard over Stanklyn Wood.  At the paddocks I noticed a rather stunning little fungus, the Yellow Field Cap.  This was a new species for the patch so I was rather pleased at the find.

Heath Lane was almost a complete blank until a single Meadow Pipit flew over heading WSW.

At Butt's lane I didn't fare much better although 3 Cormorants flying over heading SW did help lift my spirits.

All in all a mixed day. But, it's a funny time of year for arable patch birding so thank heavens for fungi!

Yellow Field Cap (Bolbitius Titubans)

Wednesday 10th October 2012 - Rhayader

This week Bev and I popped for a short break to Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border. for those of you who are unaware, Hay is know as "the town of books" and boasts over 20 second-hand bookshops (some of which are very large indeed).  For an avid reader and collector of natural history books like myself it is a wonderful place.  Needless to say our savings took a bit of a bash but i did come back with some interesting titles.

On the Wednesday we decided to pop into the Welsh values, some 30 miles from Hay, to Gigrin Farm at Rhayader. Gigrin Farm is the site of the UK's first and probably best Red Kite feeding station and is also home to a rehabilitation centre for injured kites.  For more information on Gigrin visit there website at

We arrived at Gigrin at just gone 1:30pm a good hour and a half before feeding time.  Already there were c.60 Red Kites circling over the farm and many more were perching up in the surrounding trees.  The weather was quite overcast and drizzly and actually made for a better experience as more of the Kites were down lower pre-feeding, some of which were just at barn roof height...yes that low. Many are usually are high up on the thermals until the feeding frenzy begins.

Also of interest were 42 Pied Wagtails that dropped into the field next to the visitor centre.  Most likely migrant birds stopping off for a quick feed before commencing their journey South.

We headed to the hides at about 14:20 and sat watching as Kite numbers increased in the build up to feeding time.  Also congregating were at least 5 Common Buzzards and half a dozen Ravens

At just before 3pm we could here the distant noise of the tractor approaching with its trailer of laden with raw meat.  Suddenly the sky was full of Kites it was like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds.  As the farmer shovelled out the meat, throwing it across the ground there were Kites diving down almost immediately.  Red Kites don't feed on the ground but prefer to swoop down, grab it and eat it on the wing when safely away.  It really is amazing to watch.  On this particular visit I estimated that there were between 200-300 Red Kites present.

I could keep harping on about what majestic birds Red Kites are but i won't, instead I will let my photos and videos do the talking....

Red Kites:


Click on YouTube logo to view larger videos

A quick message...

Sorry for the lack of posts over the past week but Bev and I decided to go away for a few days break to the Welsh borders.  Needless to say a blog post will follow.

Not much has happened at the patch during my absence with the exception of an adult ♂ Stonechat that was present today (TMH)

Saturday 6th October 2012 - Titterstone Clee Hill

Today I met up with Mark P ( for a trip across the county boundary to the nearby Shropshire highpoint of Titterstone Clee Hill.  We had hoped that at that elevation on such a clear day that we may pick up an interesting passage raptor.  As it was we didn't but a good few hours was had all the same.

On arriving at the summit carpark we walked around to the radar station.  Very little was of note birdwise except the large numbers of Meadow Pipits and to a lesser extent Linnets that were seemingly every where around the summit.  Also of note was a single Pied Wagtail.  The fungi was starting to become apparent on the areas of short acid grassland with Meadow Waxcap particularly numerous.  A single rather mature Common Puffball was also noted.

We then decided to walk around the disused quarry area.  This was a good call as it not only produced a rather stunning looking Fox Moth caterpillar but also an area with a few fruiting bodies of Blackening Waxcap, both of which were new species for me.  Blackening Waxcap starts of as a yellow/orange colour when it is young turning brown/black as it matures.

By the time we were focusing on the area of the hill to the North West of the summit the thermals were picking up as were the birds.  At one point we had an incredible 31 Ravens all in the sky at once tumbling, kronging and generally performing as Ravens do.  They never fail to put a smile on my face...great birds!  

On this side of the hill we picked up a single Northern Wheatear that was hopping about on the path nearby.  This may well be the last one I see locally this year as autumn migration rolls on.  I also found a rather nice Yellow Stagshorn fungi there.

After quite a while scanning the skies, 6 Common Buzzards and 3 Kestrels later, we decided to head back to the car for a nibble on Mrs P's most delightful baps (no not those baps you filthy minded so & so's... I mean her freshly prepared ham and cheese ones!)

We then headed to another part of the hill to check out the area near the working quarry.  Again there wasn't  much of any exception birdwise here although we did see our only Stonechat of the day perched briefly on a gorse bush before flitting of down the slope out of sight.

The small pool to the left of the track held a single Common Hawker but that was about it for dragonflies today.  We had fared better with butterflies with 8 Small Tortoiseshells and 3 Peacocks noted during our travels.

All in all it was a very pleasing visit with a variety of wildlife on offer.  I can see myself returning there again in the very near future!

Fox Moth Larva (Macrothylacia rubi)

Click on images to enlarge

Meadow Waxcap (Hygrocybe pratensis)

Yellow Stagshorn (Calocera viscosa)

Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)

Blackening Waxcap (Hygrocybe conica)

Friday 5th October 2012 - Woodrow

Today I met up with fellow Shenstone birder Terry H and popped a couple of miles 'off patch' Woodrow to see the 2 Stonechats that he had found there.  

On arrival we soon picked up the 2 chats working the fence line.  I never tire of seeing these smart looking passage migrants and spent some time enjoying them as they flicked down to ground and back whilst the fed. 

Stonechat was a common wintering bird in North Worcestershire up until the hard winter of 2009/2010 when numbers plummeted.  The 2010/2011 hard winter knocked back numbers further still leading to passage numbers to fall considerably in the region.  They are now a scarce passage bird in the north of the county.

At Shenstone there were 2 pairs of Stonechat over-wintering in 2007/2008 and 1 pair over-wintered in 2008/2009.  Passage birds haven't been seen at Shenstone since Spring 2010.  This is a similar picture at a number of tradition Stonechat sites within the county, so you get the idea of how scarce they have become! 

Anyway back to Woodrow.  There was little else of note there with the exception of an escaped Canary that was picking about on the plough next to where we were stood.  Ok, i know it's an escape but it was a handsome looking all yellow bird with a white tail. 

Stonechats - Woodrow, 5th October 2012

Shenstone - Two posts for the price of one

Ok so I am guilty as charged for not keeping on top of my blog posts again, so i have decided to combine 2 patch visits into this one post.

Monday 1st October 2012:
This morning the weather was cloudy with a rather cool westerly breeze.  I started my visit at Heath Lane where 37 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 32 Herring Gulls and 1 Black-headed Gull were present on the fresh plough.  Nearby there were 4 Pied Wagtails on the model aircraft field plough and 1 Yellowhammer & a single Corn Bunting on the adjacent hedgerow.  2 Meadow Pipits flew through heading SW and 3 Swallows went through heading SE.  A ♀ Kestrel and 2 Common Buzzards were also noted.

At Stanklyn Lane there was a Common Buzzard, 1 adult Green Woodpecker and a Jay present at the paddocks.  C.120 Starlings were present on a nearby Pylon.

I then decided to head over to the south side of the patch and arriving at Witch lane I noted 6 Pied Wagtails on the cricket pitch.  Further down the lane I noted a charm of 39 Goldfinch, a covey of 8 Red-legged Partridge and a ♂ Kestrel.   6 Swallows flew through heading South. 

The weather warmed up slightly whilst at Witch Lane and as a result a handful of inverts were noted:  1 Common Darter, 1 Red Admiral and 1 Small White.

My final stop off was at Back Lane where 16 Mistle Thrush , 40 Starling and 17 Linnets were on the telegraph wires.  Sat in the sheep field opposite were 4 Herring Gulls.

Thursday 4th October 2012:
It was much warmer at the patch this morning and I was greeted by clear blue skies.  I started today's rounds at Stanklyn Lane where bird movement was very much apparent.  Skylarks were on the move with a groups of 3 and 2 heading East and a single Skylark through going SW.  I also observed 5 Swallows flying through heading WSW.  A single Chiffchaff was present at the junction with Heath Lane and a single Song Thrush was in perched at the edge of the beet field.  3 Red Admirals were also noted.

Lesser numbers of gulls were present on the plough at Heath Lane with 27 Lesser Black-backed  Gulls and 5 Herring Gulls noted.  There were however good numbers of Skylark present in this field with a count of 28 Skylarks noted.  A single Pied Wagtail was on the model aircraft field plough. A single Chiffchaff was singing from the grounds of the Islamic School.

At Heath Lane paddock there was a charm of 21 Goldfinch feeding on the seed heads.  A Jay and a Common Buzzard were present.  A Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Red Admirals were also recorded there.

The adjacent fresh plough was quite productive with 8 Meadow Pipits , 3 Pied Wagtails, 2 Skylarks, 4 Linnets and a ♂ Chaffinch all down feeding.

At Witch Lane there were 74 Lapwing and 2 Pied Wagtails present on the large freshly sown field. A Pied Wagtail and a Skylark went through heading SW and 2 Common Buzzards went through high heading SSW.

My final area of coverage today was Back Lane.  Here it was apparent that Linnet numbers were starting to build as I recorded 51 Linnets on the wires.  2 Ravens flew over heading South and 2 Meadow Pipits went through heading SW.  Also of interest were 2 Red Admirals were present on the Ivy flowers and a dead Hedgehog further down the lane.  I know the latter is a bit grim but it is a species that I have very rarely seen on the patch but this roadkill shows that they are still present locally.

Linnets - Back Lane