2014.... A fresh start

For a number of reasons 2013 wasn't a great year for myself and this was reflected at times with this blog.  As a result blog posts were (intentionally) less frequent and so were my patch visits.  Towards the later third of the year I had almost completely lost my birding/wildlife mojo...almost. 

But as 2014 approaches I feel a renewed sense of positivity and have plans in place to make both my patch visits more interesting and blog posts more frequent. 

So what does 2014 hold in store for myself and the patch I hear you ask.  Well, some aspects will stay the same.  I will still do regular counts/checks on the resident patch birds and look out for passage migrants during the migration period.  But there is a lot of time when an arable patch such as Shenstone can be quite unproductive so in 2014 I have decided to use such 'dead time' and more to focus on a 1km square area of the patch and try and undertake a bio-blitz of the area.

The 1km square area I have chosen is on the Stone side of the patch and I will endeavour to record as many species of fauna and flora I can within the said area. A map of my chosen area is shown at the end of this post.  Fellow wildlife blogger and patch plodder Mark P (http://doorstepbirding.blogspot.co.uk/) is also doing the same on his patch, which is 2-3 miles up the road.  It will be interesting to compare our finds from the two sites and I think it's fair to say there will be a fair bit of banter and needling between us!

So that's the plan...let's see what 2014 brings.


Map of the 2014 BioBlitz area

Click on map to enlarge

More Shenstone Snippets....

Tuesday 17th December 2013

A ♂ Tufted Duck was new in at Captains Pool this morning (TS) and remained for the rest of the day.  Late afternoon a pair of Shoveler were also present (JK).  It just shows what can turn up on the days that the pool isn't being fished.  Other birds of note on the pool were a single Grey Heron and a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Tufted Duck

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Wednesday 18th December 2013

Three Cormorants circled over Willow Marsh Fishery before heading south.  There has been a fair bit of Cormorant movement over the patch during the past week.

Friday 20th September 2013

The finches are starting to flock together for the winter with  c.120 Chaffinch, c.40 Greenfinch and c.60 Linnet all feeding together in one field at Shenstone.  Also feeding in said field were c.80 Fieldfare, a single Redwing and a single Song Thrush.

At Butts Lane a pair of Teal flew over mid afternoon heading ENE towards Dunclent.


This will probably be my last post of 2013 but I have some interesting new plans for 2014 that will hopefully kick start my local patch recording and associated blog posts.  So please do check back in the New Year.

Until then I would like to wish you all a  
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



Shenstone Snippets....

Monday 8th December 2013

A ♀ Goosander was present on Captains Pool (TS) in the morning and stayed for the remainder of the day.  Also of note was a Great Spotted Woodpecker that was drumming from the adjacent wooded area.


Thursday 12th December 2013

I only had time for a quick whistle stop tour of the patch this afternoon and what struck me during this visit was the sheer number of birds feeding at Stanklyn Lane paddocks. Here there were c.80 Fieldfare, c.120 Redwing and c.110 Starling all feeding on the ground, even though there is still an abundance of Hawthorn berries in the hedgerows.

Also of note, and on a totally different subject, was a rather splendid looking cluster of Velvet Shank fungi. Their stunning orange caps were literally glistening in the damp weather.

Velvet Shank

Saturday 14th December 2013

Today there were an incredible 200+ Fieldfare feeding in Butts Lane triangle and the adjacent hedgerows.   By comparison, Stanklyn Lane paddocks were virtually birdless with no winter thrushes present. 

At Heath Lane, a ♂ Kestrel was busy hunting over the paddock and 8 Redwing were perched in the trees next to the Islamic School.

A long overdue post....Shenstone catch up

Firstly I'd like to apologize for the lack of blog posts over recent months.  I had made a conscious decision at the start of 2013 to decrease the amounts of posts that I would do on the blog, with editing photos and writing the posts it's very time consuming.  That said more recently I have been going through a period of ill heath and have not gone out quite so much or had the inclination to blog about it.  That said I do wish to keep the blog going and I'm hoping that in 2014 I can start building the blog back up with a new impetus.  For now, please do keep checking back as I will still be putting up the occasional post over the next few weeks.

Thanks for listening.  Now on with the blogging.


Sunday 10th November 2013
I started today's visit by walking around the beet field and down the path to Captains Pool.  On the stand of Holly trees there were 6 Redwings feeding on the berries.  Further along the hedgerow a flock of 11 Long-tailed Tits were flitting around. 

Whilst walking the path to Captains Pool I noted 3 Jays and a Nuthatch.  Over the adjacent stubble field there was a flock of c.100 Linnets wheeling about.

The pool itself was dead with very little of note other than the ubiquitous Mallards and 6 Black-headed Gulls.  Needless to say I didn't linger here.  The walk back along the footpath on the other hand was quite productive as I recorded 4 species of fungi including Jelly Ear, Shaggy Parasol and a new one for the patch, Clavulinopsis subtilize.

I then headed over to Butts lane where my walk along the footpath across the field flushed 8 Skylarks.  Nearby, the Eastfields farm area was a hive of activity with 12 Fieldfare and 3 Scandinavian type 1st winter Blackbirds all feeding on the Hawthorn berries.  Also observed in this area were a Common Buzzard, a ♀ Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Pied Wagtails.

Shaggy Parasol

Clavulinopsis subtilis

Friday 15th November 2013
I started the day by making a long overdue visit to Tony's Café.  The tea was of it's usual high standard but the company left a lot to be desired (just kidding Mr Smith). 

Whilst at Captain's Pool a flock of 8 Siskin dropped into one of the waterside Alders and began to feed.  With them was a single Goldfinch.  On the pool itself a single Barnacle Goose had arrived with a flock of 30 Canada Geese.  This goose is most likely part of the UK's feral breeding population but it was still a looker and a welcome addition to the patch.

We then headed over to the fields to check on the Corn Buntings.  We soon located them and the flock had now increased to 14 Corn Buntings.  On the adjacent stubble there were c.30 Skylarks feeding.

Barnacle Goose

Friday 22nd November 2013
I only managed a brief whistle stop visit to the patch today and I focused my attentions on the Stanklyn Lane area.  In the hedgerows along the lane there had been a noticeable increase in Scandinavian Blackbirds, with these winter visitors busily feeding on the abundant berry crop.

Also of note was the slight increase in the bunting flock with 16 Corn Buntings now present in the area.  A small number of Redwing were still feeding in the Holly stand.

On the invert front I spent some time looking for galls on the nearby OaksCommon Spangle Galls were abundant and seemingly on every other leaf and small numbers of Oak Marble Gall were also recorded.

The Common Spangle Gall is caused by a tiny gall wasp (Neuroterus quercusbaccarum) and can be found on the underside of oak leaves in early autumn. A single leaf can host up to 100 galls, each containing a single larva. The galls fall to the ground and the larvae continue to develop through the winter, and emerging as adults in April. 

The Oak Marble Gall is caused by another small gall wasp (Andricus kollari).  The adult wasp lays its egg in an oak bud. The larva as it feeds secretes a chemical which causes the tree to grow the gall from the bud giving the larva a safe place to pupate until it is ready to emerge as a wasp its self... pretty amazing stuff!


Common Spangle Galls

Oak Marble Gall


Thursday 7th November 2013 - Catherton Common

Today I returned to Catherton Common on the lower slopes of the Clee Hills in Shropshire.  I decided to start today's visit by walking around the boggy pools at the NE side of the common but before I had even walked a few paces toward the pools 5 Common Snipe flew up. 

When flushed, Common Snipe behave in a totally different way to Jack Snipe (see 24th October post).  Common Snipe will fly up as soon as the see you (which can be some distance away, they fly in quite a zigzag fashion and tend to fly off as opposed to dropping back down a short(ish) distance away.  They also tend to make quite a harsh scrapping 'chack' call as they take off.

As I continued my walk around the Common I checked out a number of the pools but to no avail, not a single Jack Snipe on this visit.  That said I did note 4 Stonechat (2♂, 2♀), 3 Raven, 1 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel.

Other wildlife highlights encountered at Catherton included 2 Brown Hares that were cavorting around and a single Peacock butterfly that was making the most of the Autumn sunshine.

View from Catherton Common towards Titterstone Clee Hill

Snipe Pools - Catherton Common

Common Snipe (from the archives)

3rd & 4th November 2013 - Shenstone

Sunday 3rd November:
Today, I arrived on the patch mid afternoon and decided to undertake a walk around the 'beet field'.  This proved rather successful as I picked up a flock of 8 Corn Buntings feeding there.  This was the first sign of them starting to flock together for the winter.  Also of note during the walk were 12 Linnet, 7 Meadow Pipits, 1 Yellowhammer and a Common Buzzard.
Heath Lane was relatively quiet but for a charm of 23 Goldfinch perched up on the wires above the paddock.  A single Mistle Thrush and a Common Buzzard were also observed.
Witch Lane was fairly productive with 13 Fieldfare over heading South and a Cormorant & Grey Heron also over.  A 2nd Grey Heron was sat in the field at the rear of the fishery.  A Kestrel, a Common Buzzard and a Jay were also noted.

Elsewhere on the patch...a drake Shoveler was present on Captains Pool (TS).
Corn Buntings - 3rd November 2013

Monday 4th November:
I only had time for a brief visit to the patch today, so only concentrated on a couple of areas.

At the top of Witch Lane (near the junction with the A450) there was a White Saddle fungus growing. This was the first time I had noted this species at Shenstone. 

 Further along the lane a covey of 4 Red-legged Partridge were noted and a Grey Heron was again sat in the field behind the fisheries.

Along Butts lane I discovered my 2nd new fungi for the patch when I came a cross 4 fruiting bodies of Boletus cisalpinus near Eastfields Farm.  The only birds of note here were a ♂ Kestrel, a Common Buzzard and a single Pied Wagtail.

Boletus cisalpinus

Wyre Forest Local Group - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust

Some of you may or may not know but I have recently offered to help the Wyre Forest Local Group of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust with their IT side of things and thought I would use the blog for a bit of PR for the group and mention the forthcoming indoor meeting...

There is a talk on Peregrine Falcons in Kidderminster on Thursday night by fellow wildlife blogger Jim Almond (http://shropshirebirder.blogspot.co.uk/). 

The indoor meeting is held at the Holy Innocents Community Hall in Kidderminster and starts at 7:30 pm and runs until approx. 9:30 pm.  Entry is £2 and refreshments are provided.

Jim is one of the best photographers I know so it should make for an interesting talk... for more details click on the below link:


Anyway PR over...cheers for taking the time to check out this page.

Cheers Jase

Thursday 24th October 2013 - Titterstone Clee Hill & Catherton Common

This morning I decided to head up to Titterstone Clee Hill in Shropshire.  My aim was to photograph some of the amazing array of fungi that are present there and also try and pick up any possible passage migrant birds that may be present.

It was sunny with blue skies when I left Kidderminster but when I went through Cleobury Mortimer the skies were becoming dull and cloudy.  By the time I had  reached Clee Hill I couldn't see the summit it was totally fogged out.  This would scupper my visibility on the bird front but I decided to go up there and photograph the fungi regardless.

The mossy acidic grassland surrounding the summit is exceptional for fungi (especially Waxcaps) and the variety on offer today didn't disappoint.  As usual this time of year I noted large numbers of both Meadow Waxcap & Snowy Waxcap, with Blackening Waxcap & Scarlet Waxcap also noted.  Other interesting species of fungi noted included  Hairy Earth Tongue, Meadow Coral and Turf Mottlegill.

As the morning turned to afternoon the fog eventually started to clear and I finally got to see a few birds, including  3 Stonechats that were present just below the summit car park, a Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrels, and 7 Ravens

Now the visibility had cleared I also picked up three flocks of Fieldfare that flew through (containing 57, 30 & 82 birds).

From the summit area I popped down the road to checkout the area next to the working quarry.  Here
an adult ♂ Stonechat, c.60 Meadow Pipits and 7 Pied Wagtails were present.

From Titterstone I drove down to Catherton Common which is located a couple of miles down the road on the lower slopes of Clee.  Along the lane a ♂ Stonechat was perched up on a gorse bush and a few Linnets were on the wires.

I parked up at the North East side of the common and undertook a short walk along some of the sheep tracks through the heather.  Not far into the walk a bird took off from one of the boggy pools next literally about a foot away and I nearly jumped out of my skin.  Before I lifted my bins, to get a better view as it flew, I knew what it was, a Jack Snipe!  This made my day as I hadn't expected to flush one at the common and didn't even know they occurred up there. 

Jack Snipe are small compact waders that are more compact than Common Snipe, around a third smaller and has four yellow stripes that run the length of it's back that are easily identifiable in flight.  The length of the bill of a Jack Snipe is about half that of it's larger relative and, unlike a Common Snipe, a Jack Snipe doesn't have a central crown stripe.  Another quirk of the Jack Snipe is that it will sit tight and hanker down if it senses a threat until that threat/perceived threat is literally on top of it when it will fly up.  Common Snipe however will fly off pretty much as soon as they see you getting closer.  Anyway, enough of the id pointers on with the post.

I continued my walk across the heath and didn't get very far when a 2nd Jack Snipe flew up from my feet and made me jump so much I almost caused me to fill my pants with cake!  They are that well camouflaged they are hard to spot amongst the vegetation.  This one flew off in a straight line for about 60-70 metres before dropping down again amongst the heather. 

After a while I lost the track I was following and ended up in in a dense area of heather, so I decided to double back and head to the car.  What a great end to a day that started off so dull!

Turf Mottlegill

Hairy Earthtongue

Blackening Waxcaps


Tuesday 15th October 2013 - Shenstone

It was a sunny afternoon on the patch and I decided to take advantage of the day's mild weather and undertake a walk looking for inverts and anything else that I may see along the way.

I decided to walk the footpath from Stanklyn Lane to Captains Pool and return back via the path formerly known as the 'beet field'.  What actually struck me was the amount of bird activity in this area.  A highlight was seeing a Redwing feeding on the Holly berries along the path, the first one I have actually seen down feeding on the patch this autumn.  Two Chiffchaffs were present along the hedgerow and one was occasionally bursting into a few notes of song.   12 Meadow Pipits were down feeding in the stubble and a further three were perched up on the hedge.  Also of interest bird wise were 2 Corn Buntings and 3 Yellowhammers that were perched up at the back of the 'carrot field'.

During the walk I recorded the following butterflies:  1 Comma, 1 (worn) Small Copper, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 6 Small Whites.  I also noted good numbers of Nettle-tap moths and 1 Ruby Tiger moth larva.

I also recorded two species of fungi during this walk:  Meadow Waxcap and Parasol Mushroom.

From Stanklyn I headed up Heath Lane, where a single Comma was the only notable, and onto Barrs Lane.  At Barrs Lane I recorded a White Ermine moth larva and another Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar.

My final stop off was at Witch lane where I flushed 33 Skylarks from the stubble field whilst walking the footpath.  On a patch of mint, near the concrete pad, I recorded a diminutive 24-spot Ladybird and three 7-spot ladybirds.  A single Comma was seen feeding on the Ivy flowers.

Meadow Pipit

Ruby Tiger Moth Larva

White Ermine Moth Larva

24-spot Ladybird

Friday 11th October 2013 - Grimley

Today, Tony and I popped to the Camp Lane Pits at Grimley to see the 2 Whooper Swans that had been discovered there (by Mike Bourne) earlier that morning.  Whooper Swans are scarce passage visitors in Worcestershire and can be less than annual.

On arrival we were greeted by a small group of local birders who were huddled under the trees at the North end of the pits trying to avoid the rain.  I set up my scope and it was long before we had reasonable views of the 2 Whooper Swans that were in the middle of the main pool.

After a while we were nattering away (as birders do) when a Merlin flew low over the field on the NW side and flushed all the Meadow Pipits that were feeding there...result!  this bird was a young  male Merlin, possibly 2nd calendar year as it was showing patches of blue/grey in it's otherwise brown upper parts.

6 Little Egrets were also of note at Camp Lane Pits and good numbers of Wigeon were also present

Whooper Swan

29th September & 5th October 2013 - Shenstone

Sunday 29th September:
This afternoon I undertook my first tour of the patch since returning from Devon.  As it was a sunny day and the temperature was fairly mild I decided to undertake a walk around the Butts Lane area to see what inverts were about.

The walk itself produced a nice mix of butterflies and moths with 2 Comma, 1 Small Copper, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Silver Y of note.  Also of interest was a Speckled Wood larva I found near the entrance to Eastfields Farm.

From Butts Lane I headed to a very quiet Heath Lane where only a Red Admiral and a Comma were of note.

At Witch lane a group of 4 Alba Wagtails flew over heading SW and a single Meadow Pipit was also noted.

Speckled Wood larva

Saturday 5th October:
Today's visit to the local patch proved to be the most productive that I have had in a long while.  Shortly after arriving at Barrs Lane I picked up an absolutely cracking ♂ Stonechat....result!   This was the first Stonechat that I have recorded at Shenstone in over 3 years, so needless to say I was chuffed. Stonechats used to overwinter on the patch (with 2 pairs being present most years) but not since winter 2008/2009.  Since then they have only been recorded as occasional passage migrants and only then during autumn migration.  So, although not a scarce species of bird, this really was an exciting find for me.

Stonechat ♂

After a short while I was joined by Tony S and whilst we were watching the Stonechat and gassing away a juvenile Hobby came over heading SW.

The day had also been very productive on the invert front too!  At Barrs Lane there were 2 Ruby Tiger moth larvae on the nettles and also a new species of ladybird for the patch, 22-Spot Ladybird.  Other species of ladybird observed today were 2-Spot, 7-Spot and Harlequin.

Ruby Tiger Moth Larva

At Witch Lane it was all about the butterflies with a Painted Lady and 7 Comma all feeding on the Ivy flowers.

What a great patch day...it's just a pity they are not all like this one!

Painted Lady

22nd to 27th September 2013 - South Devon

This week Bev & I headed down to the South coast for a weeks holiday.  We stayed in a village called Galmpton that lies just outside of Paignton.  The village is home to a decent real ale pub called The Manor Inn...but I digress.  The holiday itself wasn't so much a wildlife holiday but I did squeeze in a bit of that type throughout the week, as I will highlight in this post.

Sunday 22nd September - Clennon Valley
On the Sunday I met up with a mate of mine, Mark Brook, who I know from a Facebook wildlife group called Nature Twats.  When Mark said that he would take me 'up the Clennon Valley' I was rather concerned that it was a euphemism for something else but, luckily for me, Clennon Valley is actually a local nature reserve near the centre of  Paignton. 

The reserve is made up of a mixture of habitats.  Parts of the reserve was quarried and since returned to nature with a number of wildlife rich pools. Other areas consist of  limestone grassland and ancient woodland.

The walk we undertook was rather pleasant with our first stop being the pools.  Here we were treated to Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtails and a rather photogenic Grey Heron.  Two Peregrines were also seen over the reserve.   On the pools there were still good numbers of dragonflies present with Common Darters and Southern Hawkers seen in good numbers.  A Comma butterfly was also present on the plants near the water's edge.

The path that runs along the pool was full of warblers with many Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers 'wheeting' away.  A personal highlight along this path was seeing a juvenile Bullfinch being fed by an adult male.

Ascending the slopes of the valley we were treated to a Clouded Yellow butterfly that flew fast across the bracken.  A Red Admiral was also present here.  Also in this area a Common Buzzard was seen soaring over head, 2 Jays flew through and a large party of Long-tailed Tits were seen flitting about.

Further up the valley, in the tree lined summit area, there were large numbers of Speckled Woods present.

It was at this point that we decided to head down the valley for some liquid refreshments.  We headed down to the Inn on the Quay at Goodrington Sands, where we were joined by another Devonian nature twat, Al Wyatt.  Needless to say the draught Tribute Ale was going down a bit too easily and things got somewhat messy later!  What a superb start to the holiday!

Grey Heron

Oh dear, things are about to get messy....

Monday 23rd September (am) - Berry Head:
This morning Bev and I headed to Berry Head  National Nature Reserve, near Brixham. This headland is renowned for it's see watching and has a good mixture of habitats just behind the cliff tops.  That said, as we left the car park,  it also became very apparent that this is probably the most popular dog walking spot in the whole of south Devon!  I've never seen so many pooches!

On arriving at the cliffs we were treated to seeing at least five groups of Gannets (5-7 birds in each) go past.  A number of single Gannets and a single Guillemot were also noted.  Perched on the rocks just off shore there were both Shags and Cormorants.  Whilst we were there, large numbers of Swallows (and small numbers of House Martins) were seen leaving the coast and heading South on there migration.

The highlight of this visit though came in the form of the cetaceans with 2 Harbour Porpoise showing well and wheeling about just off shore.  Further out to see a Dolphin was seen jumping out of the water.  Superb!

On the walk back we were treated to cracking views of a Peregrine that came past just above the cliffs.  Two Oystercatchers were on the rocks near by.

Monday 23rd September (pm) - Labrador Bay:
On the afternoon we headed up the coast to the RSPB's Labrador Bay reserve (which lies between Shaldon and Maidencombe)  in the hope of connecting with Cirl Bunting.  Labrador bay is a coastal reserve that is farmed and managed sympathetically to provide the correct habitats for the aforementioned species.

Initially the walk through the reserve was unsuccessful although there were 2 Peregrines, 2 Kestrels and a Common Buzzard showing well above the fields.

On the walk back Bev and I split up as she didn't want to walk the direct route through a field full of cows.  Bev took a small path off to the right and I did my macho bit and waded through the cows.  Suddenly my phone went.  it was Bev and she thought she had a Cirl Bunting on a hedgerow along the path she had taken.  I quickly rushed over and got on a cracking male Cirl Bunting...get in!  This was a lifer for me, as the species is limited to a handful of sites in South Devon.  Five more then flew up to the hedge from the adjacent stubble field, some of which were juveniles.  Unfortunately our joy at seeing them was soon cut short when a para-glider landed in the adjacent field and put everything up.  Ah well, mission accomplished all the same.

Cirl Bunting (record shot)

Tuesday 24th September - Totnes to Buckfastleigh:
Today we had a change of pace and had a ride out on the South Devon Railway from Totnes to Buckfastleigh.  The SDR is a steam railway that runs for 7 miles alongside the beautiful upper stretches of the River Dart.  I love Steam Railways, and no I'm not a train spotter but there is something nostalgic and beautiful about Steam Engines.  The sights, sounds and  smells...just great.

Whilst on the journey, and with the line running so close to the River Dart,  I was able to undertake in a bit of  'steam birding'.  From the comfort of my seat I observed 2 Dippers, 2 family parties of Mandarin duck, 2 Grey Wagtails and a Grey Heron.

On returning to Totnes the sun was shining and the walk along the River dart there was also quite rewarding with 2 Little Egrets showing very well along the muddy shoreline.  On a Buddleia near the footbridge there was a nice selection of autumn butterflies with 4 Red Admiral, 2 Comma, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Green-veined White and a Small White present.  A Speckled Wood was feeding on a nearby Golden Rod and a Migrant Hawker dragonfly was hawking about nearby.

Little Egret - River Dart

Speckled Wood

Wednesday 25th September - Slapton Ley:
Today we decided to drive further south and pay a visit to Slapton Ley NNR.  Slapton Ley is the largest natural lake in south-west England. Although it is only separated from the sea by a narrow shingle bar, it is entirely freshwater. The lake itself is surrounded by reed beds, marshes and woodland.

On arrival I was struck by how long and impressive the shingle bar/ beach at Slapton Ley is.  To look at it reminded me a lot of Chesil Beach in Dorset.

We started our visit by undertaking a walk around the reed/marsh side footpaths at the north end.  the walk wasn't as productive as we had hoped as much of the lake was covered in algal blooms at the north end.  That said we did see plenty of insects feeding on the Ivy flowers including a Red Admiral and a Hornet.  As the walk progressed the heavens opened up and we were subjected to a torrential downpour that lasted for the next few hours.  We hurried back to the car to dry off and decided to drive down to the south end of the Ley.  Here we sheltered from the rain in the car park hide where a Sedge Warbler was showing well on the reeds in front. 

The water was clearer on this section of the Ley and subsequently there was more wildfowl present including Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Wigeon.  No migrants or birds of any real interest were present.  The rain persisted so we headed back home.

Sedge Warbler


Red Admiral

Friday 27th September - Greenway:
Today Bev & I visited the National Trust property of Greenway house & gardens.  This house was the holiday home of Agatha Christie and her family, most of which were avid collectors of nic nacs and this property is jammed full of these collections (which are much more interesting than fine china etc. in my books!)

The estate/gardens were absolutely stunning and gave really good views over the upper areas of the River Dart.  There were plenty of butterflies present feeding on the variety of flora including a lovely Painted Lady.  At the garden pool there were a few dragonflies present with 3 Southern Hawkers and a ♂ Common Darter noted. 

On the River Dart itself we could see yet another couple of  Little Egrets.  They are certainly fairly numerous down these parts.

This walk was a nice relaxed way to round off our week and I look forward to returning to the south west again in the not to distant future.

Painted Lady

Common Darter

1st to 10th September 2013 - Shenstone & Captains Pool

Sunday 1st September
I undertook a quick tour of the local patch this afternoon.  At first it seemed like it was going to be a 'dead day' but things improved when a cracking Hobby came through over Heath Lane.  The other highlight of the visit was at Witch Lane where the flock of Lapwing has increased to 43.

Monday 2nd September
I started today's visit at Captain's Pool.  The pool itself was very quiet on the bird front with notables being a Grey Heron and 3 Black-headed Gulls.  

Things were much better on the invert front with 1 Migrant Hawker, 1 ♀ Common Darter, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Comma, 1 Peacock, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Speckled Wood and a Large White all recorded along the dam.

At Stanklyn Lane paddocks there were 2 juvenile Green Woodpeckers present'  A moulting adult Robin was present at 'Redstart hedge'

At Heath Lane there were c.200 Starlings, 8 Mistle Thrush, 2 Chiffchaffs and  a charm of 12 Goldfinch present.

Red Admiral

Common Darter ♀

Tuesday 3rd September
Today I paid a dusk visit to the patch to look for owls & mammals armed with my binoculars and bat detector. Things were pretty quite this evening though I did see a Little Owl was seen over one of the paddocks and a Noctule bat was active over Heath lane.

Wednesday 4th September
This afternoon's visit proved quite productive with a Whinchat new in and perched up on Fat Hen at Butts Lane, Stone.  This is the 4th juvenile Whinchat on the patch this autumn and its definitely a good year for them this year here.  It's a pity I cannot say the same about Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail having not recorded either on the patch this migration period! 

Also of interest in the Butts Lane area today were 2 Clouded Yellow, 1 Common Blue, 3 Speckled Wood and a Migrant Hawker.

Whinchat (record shot)

Saturday 7th September
It was fairly quiet around the patch today with only a few highlights.  On the hedgerow at Heath Lane paddock a juvenile Common Whitethroat and a juvenile Chiffchaff were present.

In the Witch Lane area,  3 Red-legged Partridge, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Lapwing and a Brown Rat were recorded.

Tuesday 10th September
Today I undertook a walk around the Butts Lane area and flushed 13 Meadow Pipits that were feeding near the public footpath.  Also recorded on the walk were 3 Skylarks & 5 Linnets.

Along Barrs Lane I was pleased to find the pupa of a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly hanging from the underside of a Nettle leaf.

At Stanklyn Lane paddocks there were 3 Green Woodpeckers (1 adult & 2 juv) and 18 Goldfinch present.

Small Tortoiseshell Pupa

Friday 30th August 2013 - Titterstone Clee Hill

Today I decided to pay a visit to the near(ish) Shropshire high point of Titterstone Clee Hill in the hope of picking up a passage migrant or two.
 On arrival at the summit car park I walked to the right, past the long narrow pool, towards the old quarried area.  On arriving at the entrance to the old quarry I picked up on an orange/brown butterfly that landed on the track next to the small acidic pool.  On looking at it in my binoculars I was over-joyed to see that it was a Wall butterfly.  The first I have seen locally for many years.  Unfortunately it flew before I could get of any photos but I was happy to have seen it all the same
The Wall was once widespread across much of the country and wasn't uncommon in the Midlands.  But, from the mid 80's and during the 90's, the Wall had a major collapse of it's inland colonies with the Midlands particularly badly hit.  The only time I had seen Wall in recent years was along coastal footpaths whilst on holidays. 

The Wall has survived in the Midlands in a few isolated colonies with the nearest being at the quarried areas along Wenlock Edge in  Shropshire.  To my knowledge it has completely gone from Worcestershire (although I am happy to be corrected if that wasn't the case)

Wall - (photo from my archive)

Birdwise the summit was reasonably productive with 6 Wheatear, 3 Stonechat (1♂, 1♀ & 1 juv), 7 Kestrels, 2 Buzzards and 4 Ravens recorded.

Common Hawker dragonflies were present on the summit pools and good numbers of Golden Waxcap fungi were present within the old quarried area.


Golden Waxcap (Hygrocybe chlorophana)

From the summit I drove down to Catherton Common on the lower slopes of Clee where I saw not one but two adult Whinchats perched up on one of the gorse bushes.  Also of note at the common was a juvenile Stonechat being fed by it's mother, 4 Kestrels, a Common Buzzard and small numbers of Meadow Pipits.

All in all it was an enjoyable away day from my local patch and one that I think I will repeat over coming weeks through the autumn migration period.

Meadow Pipits