Saturday 19th January 2013 - Captains Pool

As some of you will be aware I am pretty much out of action on the birding front at the mo with a knee injury.  That said it's improving and my garden birding has been very good of late...but that's for another post.

This post's sightings are from patch deputy, Captains Pool birder and all round curmudgeon Tony S.  

I'm glad TS has been keeping an eye on Captains because on the 19th January not one but two patch scarcity dropped in there for a short while.  These being a Great Black-backed Gull and a Common Gull.  There have only been 2 previous patch records of Common Gull since 2007, both on fresh plough with large numbers of other Gulls and (recorded by JK and TMH).  Great Black-backed Gull is equally scarce with only 2 flyovers previously recorded.

Also present at the pool were 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and the usual 40 or so Black-headed Gulls

Common Gull (leftmost bird)
Photo by Tony Smith


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21st January 2013 - Somewhat out of action....

Just before the recent cold snap hit I had decided to de-silt the pond and do a bit of tidying up around the garden.  Unfortunately I twisted my knee and for the best part of a week it has been fairly painful.  That said yesterday it was feeling a little better and with the roads clearing I decided to drive to Stanklyn Lane and do a short walk across the fields to Captains Pool and back.  I took it steady and was fine...or so I thought.  

On returning home I got out of the car and my knee just buckled causing incredible pain.  Today it is swollen and quite painful so I have decided to rest up for a few days and just do a bit of garden birding.  

Hopefully it will clear over the next few days else a trip to the quacks may be in to keep the posts coming here is yesterday's sightings:

 Monday 21st January 2013 - Shenstone:
On arriving at Stanklyn lane I was greeted by the sight of a sizeable flock of 106 Fieldfares flying over heading SE.  Nearby a Common Buzzard flew across the gallops fields and perched up on an electricity pylon.  2 Fieldfares perched at the edge of the paddocks

Along the footpath to Captains Pool were 4 Fieldfares, 14 Chaffinch, 3 Greenfinch and a handful of Tits (excuse the pun!).  A single Jay and a Dunnock were also noted.

Captains Pool was 3/4 frozen with a small amount of free water near the dam where very Canada Geese and Mallards were the only species noted.  On the ice itself were 46 Black-headed Gulls which went up twice when a ♀ Sparrowhawk flew over the pool.

One of the highlights of the walk was hearing a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming from the adjacent wooded area, the first one I have heard this year.  Also of note in this area were 2 Coal Tits and a Nuthatch.

The Alders that surround Captains Pool were seemingly alive with Goldfinches and Siskins and, in one particular tree I located 3 Lesser Redpolls.  One of which was a stunning adult male!

Heath Lane was very quite and not very easy to drive along due to the ice and compacted snow.  The only bird of note here was a single Goldcrest flitting around in the Holly next to the paddock.

Black-headed Gull - 21st January 2013

Common Buzzard - 21st January 2013

Early January - A quick round up

As I was pre-occupied with my ever-growing 2012 blogging odyssey round up at the start of this month I never got round to posting what was happening at the time but I do have a few snippets I would like to share.

1st January - Garden
The new year got of to a cracking start when I had 3 Blackcaps (1♂ & 2♀) visiting the garden feeding station.  As this was the maximum I have had this winter I decided to submit my sightings to the BTO Garden Blackcap Survey :

It is a useful exercise and if you have Blackcaps wintering and visiting your garden, get involved as the information will be of great use to the organisation in looking at migratory trends and garden food sources.

3rd January - Shenstone
On a quick patch visit I located the wintering Corn Bunting flock, which seems to have dispersed a somewhat with only 26 Corn Bunting present.  At a different location on patch I observed a further 3 Corn Buntings.

5th January - Wyre Forest
A walk in the Wyre with Bev was a great way to blow away some of those post festive cobwebs.  We didn't connect with the Hawfinches on this occasion but we did see a nice mix of species including 22 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Mandarin Ducks (1♂, 1♀) and 2 Marsh Tits.

6th January - Grimley & Holt
A trip to Holt & Grimley with TS made for a nice change of scene with a variety of wildfowl on offer.  The highlight of which being a pair of Pintail.  I cannot begin to describe how smart looking a drake Pintail is but needless to say they are one of my favourite ducks.  Holt was fairly quite on the wildfowl front but the c.240 Lapwing on the flooded field were a welcome sight.  Also of note was a flock of c.40 Siskin and a handful of Lesser Redpoll that were feeding in the nearby Alders.

♂ Siskin - 6th January 2013

6th January - Shenstone
On the way back from Grimley we decided to pop into the patch and do a walk to check out the finch/bunting flocks.  This paid off as I managed to locate the ♂ Brambling, that had been present at the end of last year, with the Chaffinch flock.  Also of note was a single ♀/imm. Lesser Redpoll, 80 Linnet, 40 Corn Buntings and 3 Yellowhammers.

9th January - Shenstone
I observed a flock of 29 Golden Plover fly, in typical skein like formation, over Witch Lane late afternoon heading SW.

10th January - Hanbury Wharf/Hadzor
Today I undertook a BTO Winter Thrush Survey core site walk.  It was at an area I had never been to before and didn't really know what to expect in terms of bird numbers there. In total I only recorded 22 Redwing and 77 Fieldfare but i did have a bonus bird in the form of a ♀ Brambling that was feeding with a large Chaffinch flock near Hanbury Wharf. 

14th January - Hartlebury
Today I paid a visit to Hartlebury trading Estate to see if the Waxwings were still present.  They were and in total I noted a flock of 13 Waxwings still visiting that location

15th January - Eymore Wood
Early afternoon I headed to Eymore wood to look for Common Crossbills.  I had no joy on that front but did see a flock of 11 Golden Plover flyover heading East.  Most likely a bit of cold weather movement.

15th January - Brake Mill Pool
From Eymore wood I headed over to Brake Mill Pool near Hagley.  Here there were 11 Goosander (5♂) present.  Also of note were 2 Little Grebes.

Friday 18th January 2013 - The Winter Arrives....

Well here I am posting my first proper post of 2013.  At some point I may do a summary of a few interesting bits and bobs from earlier this month but for now I want to concentrate on today and the wintry conditions.

As most of you will be aware, the snow has come down heavy over much of the country and it really feels like winter has finally arrived.  Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a nice snowy winters day, but let's be honest it is  also an inconvenience and, more importantly, it has a big impact on our wildlife.

So today I have been spending my time feeding and watching he garden wildlife. Our feeding station is fairly well established now with homemade fat cakes (courtesy of Bev), Sunflower hearts, Dried Meal Worms and Peanuts on offer.  

During the winter months I also buy apples, that are going past it and reduced in price, from a local farm shop.  I then cut them into halves and push them onto various tree/shrub branches around the garden.  These not only attract wintering Blackcaps to the garden but are also used by a variety of other birds.  Today I have been watching 2 ♀ Blackcaps feeding on said apples.

With the weather being harsh I have been out a few times during the day and with a broom knocked the snow of the Pyracantha and Cotoneaseter.  They literally glow like a beacon to the birds and today it paid dividends when a Fieldfare dropped in on the Cotoneaster and gorged itself on the berries this afternoon.  This is the first Fieldfare that I have had in the garden this year so i was dead chuffed.

Another thing I have done today is clear the snow under the ground feeding cage and put down some salt to keep it thawed.  This cage stops pigeons getting to the food and it's pegged down to help protect the birds from cats.  A number of birds prefer to feed on the ground including Robins and Blackbirds and they are unlikely to use the hanging feeders.

So far today the garden has been a non-stop whirly dervish of activity with the following species also visiting:  c.30 House Sparrows, 18 Starlings, 1 Coal Tit, 18 Blue Tits, 1 Great Tit, 1 Dunnock, 1 Robin, 2 Blackbirds, 1 Carrion Crow, 1 Collared Dove and 2 Woodpigeons.

I've also made sure that the bird bath is free of ice to allow birds to have fresh drinking water...something that is also vital in these conditions.

Nearby, the ♂ Peregrine has been keeping a watchful eye from its favoured town centre high point and even flying off for the occasional sortie in the poor conditions.

So there you have it.  Even if you are housebound due to the weather you can make the most of your garden and what it has to offer.  In fact I think we all should do our bit for the garden birds during this harsh weather...providing a lifeline to our feathered friends!

Fieldfare - Back Garden, 18th January 2012

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2012: A Blogger's Odyssey - Part 4

Phew! so finally here it is, my final round up of 2012.....


The odd day of sunshine at the start of the month meant that the last of the patch dragonflies and butterflies were seen on the wing with Common Darter, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White recorded.

Birdwise there was little of note happening at Shenstone in October with a highlight being on the 13th when 11 Common Buzzards were up soaring over Witch Lane.  Up to 74 Lapwing were still present this month and it was noticeable that the Linnets were starting to flock together.

I spent much of October visiting a number of local sites to see the fascinating array of fungi that was on offer.  I won't break down what was seen where but I will say that a few personal favourites were Blackening Waxcap, Blue Roundhead and Scarlet Waxcap.


The month started with an incredibly productive away day  to Titterstone Clee Hill with Mark P on the 3rd November.  This day was memorable for 2 reasons:  we found an autumn passage ♂ Ring Ouzel and we were treated to incredible views of 49 Ravens performing in the skies over the summit.

Another walk from Blackstone to Rifle Range on the 7th November provided me with views of my first Brambling (♂) of the winter.

During a walk on the 8th November at Habberley Valley nature reserve I discovered a county rarity in the form of a Lemon Slug (Malacolimax tenellus).  This slug has only been recorded in recent years in 2 Worcestershire locations:  the Wyre Forest and Shrawley Wood. 

What makes it special is that fact that it emerges in the autumn to specifically feed on fungi.  I hadn't realised what I had seen until a week or two later when chatting to local naturalist Brett Westwood and he mentioned to me about this species.  Suddenly I remembered seeing the mollusc he had told me about feeding on Candle snuff fungus at Habberley.  I dug out my photos and sent it to the county recorders for was indeed the Lemon Slug and a I had discovered a new site where it existed.

November was a great month on the patch in bird terms.  The undoubted highlight was when I saw a Barn Owl there on the evening of 18th November.  This was the first one that I had seen at Shenstone since summer 2008.

Other patch highlights included seeing a ♀/imm. Merlin on 20th November and a Goosander (TS) on Captains Pool on the 26th.

During the month Fieldfares, Redwings and Scandinavian Blackbirds had returned big time and were busily stripping the Hawthorn hedgerows of berries.  On the 13th November I located the winter Corn Bunting flock (44 birds) and it seemed.  The flock had increased to 60 Corn Buntings by 30th November.  In the same area 8 Yellowhammers were also noted. Somewhat worryingly Yellowhammer numbers seem to be down this year,  I hope it isn't a trend that will continue.

Another personal highlight in November was discovering a flock of 14 Waxwings at Hartlebury Trading Estate.  It was a site I had been visiting every few days for the previous few weeks and in the end it paid off with these cracking birds showing really well as the fed on the Rowan berries.


By the start of December the Lapwing flock had left the patch and moved on to pastures new.  More winter visitors were now being noted with 5 Lesser Redpolls and 10 Siskin in the Alders at Captains Pool on the 3rd December (TS). 

On the 10th December I noted a ♀ Reed Bunting with the mixed finch/bunting flock at Stanklyn.

On the 23rd December the winter flock numbered 64 Corn Buntings and the ♀/imm. Merlin was seen with prey (CRe).

Right at the death, on the 30th December, TS discovered a ♂ Brambling on the patch and later that day I discovered a second, a ♀ Brambling.  These were the first this winter for the patch.


An even bigger patch bonus came on the 30th December when I was treated to views of an adult ♂ Merlin hunting low over a field.  This is only the second ever ♂ Merlin I have recorded at Shenstone...what a great way to end the year!

Here's to 2013 and what it may bring.....

2012: A Blogger's Odyssey - Part 3


July is generally a quieter time on the patch in terms of birds so most years I tend to make the most of the insects this time of year.  I recorded 15 butterfly species on the patch this month with the undoubted highlight being Marbled White as this was a patch firstLarge Skippers were on their way out but both Essex Skipper and Small Skipper were now beginning to emerge.  Also new this month were Gatekeeper, Holly Blue and Small Copper.

A number of day-flying moth species were also recorded at Shenstone including Cinnabar, Lime-speck Pug,  Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnett, Silver Y, Six-spot Burnett and Yellow Shell.

Patch Odonata in July included the following dragonflies: Broad-bodied Chaser, Common Dater and Southern HawkerAzure and Blue-tailed Damselflies were also noted.

The birding highlight of the month was the 7 adult Common Terns (TS) that arrived at Captains Pool on 14th July and visited daily for the best part of  a week.

The first signs of the patch Corn Buntings successfully breeding were also this month when 4 juveniles were observed at one location.  Elsewhere on patch juvenile Common Whitethroats were noted and the Captains Pool Great Crested Grebes were observed with 4 juveniles riding on their backs.

A rather showy ♂ Whinchat (TMH) was present on patch the last 2 weeks of the month giving great views as it progressed through it's moult.

A number of invertebrate based away days were undertaken this month.  The undoubted highlight was catching up with a migrant Red-viened Darter (BS) at Camp Lane Pits, Grimley....another dragonfly lifer.

Monkwood was also very productive this month with with Purple Hairstreak, White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies observed.  The ponds at Monkwood were excellent for dragonflies with Emperor Dragonfly, Ruddy Darter and Emerald Damselfly being highlights.


On Patch, the adult ♂ Whinchat was still present for the first two days of the month.  A family party of Garden Warblers (3 juv) were present along Stanklyn Lane with this being my first record of this species breeding on the patch.

On the 20th August I found the first juvenile Whinchat of the autumn for the patch.

From 24th August there were 2 juvenile Whinchats (TMH) present for a few days. Small  numbers of passage Common Redstart (with a maxima of 3) were noted on many days throughout the month!

On the butterfly front it was disappointing to see only a single Purple Hairtreak at Shenstone during August this year.  Common Blue numbers were also very low!

Away days this month included a number of visits to Grimley to enjoy the long-staying Great White Egret and a trip to Prestbury Hill in Gloucestershire to see Chalk Hill Blue butterfly (a new species for me).


At the start of the month I took a blogging break for a week but soon got back into my flow there after.

A flock of Lapwing was present on patch for most of the month with a maxima of 74 Lapwing recorded on 18th September.  The highlight of the Shenstone birding month was 3 Golden Plover that were present on 28th September.

On the 9th September I saw my lats sighting of a Little Owl at Shenstone.  A pair had tried been seen near a known nest site earlier in the year but they seemed to abandon early with no sign of succesful breeding.   Also on the 9th I observed a single flyover Yellow Wagtail.  This was to be my last this autumn.

A rare day of sunny mild weather on the 27th September made for an awesome patch butterfly day with one 30ft stretch of Ivy holding no fewer than 15 Red Admirals and 9 Commas.  Nearby 1 Small Copper, 1 Speckled Wood and 5 Small Whites were also noted.

The only dragonfly species of note at Shenstone this month were Migrant Hawker and Common Darter.

Away days this month included a very productive trip to Titterstone Clee Hill  with Mark P which produced 13 Northern Wheatears, 5 Stonechats and 2 Peregrines.  The highlight though was observing good numbers of Common Hawker dragonfly...a speciality of the acidic pools up there.

Another productive trip was to Eymore Wood on the 17th September where I was treated to good views of a flock of 14 Common Crossbill.


2012: A Blogger's Odyssey - Part 2


Spring was finally getting into full flow on the patch this month with a variety of butterflies on the wing, with Comma, Green-viened White, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White recorded in April.

April is a good month for passage migrants at Shenstone and this April didn't disappoint. For this reason I spent pretty much the whole month on patch.

The undoubted highlight was finding my first ever patch Ring Ouzel (♂) on the 16th April.  There had only been 2 previous records of Ring Ouzel at Shenstone with the last being in 2007 (just before I started working it as my local patch).

The first Yellow Wagtail through was an adult ♂  on 7th April.  A ♂ White Wagtail was noted on the 12th April as was a stonking ♂ Common Redstart.    Two more ♂ Common Redstarts were present on 16th April with one remaining for the next 4 days.

Northern Wheatears were recorded, in varying numbers, on most days throughout April with a fall of 13 on the 28th being the maximum.

Returning warblers made there presence known on the patch during this month with Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler noted.  

Hirrundines were recorded passing through this month with both Swallows and House Martins noted.

Winter Thrushes had all but left the patch by early April although during a period of heavy movement on 3rd April I recorded an incredible 266 Fieldfare and 2 Redwing feeding on fresh plough along Curslow Lane.

My undoubted patch highlight of the year came at the end of the month when, on the evening of 30th April, I had cracking views of a Short-eared Owl quartering over fields off Heath Lane before being mobbed by corvids and being sent off high.  A first record for the site and a patch lifer too...what a great Spring this was shaping up to be!


In complete contrast to the previous month I started May with an away day.  On  the 4th May I visited the nearby Wyre forest with Tony to pick up some of its returning migrant specialities.  An enjoyable day was had and in the Worcestershire side we observed 2 Pied Flycatchers (1♂ & 1♀),  5 Wood Warblers, 3 Tree Pipits and a ♂ Common Redstart. In the Shropshire side of the forest we noted 2 Tree Pipits and a single Wood Warbler.

Back on patch the first Swift of the year was noted on 5th May.    On the 9th May I found the first patch Whinchat of the year, a cracking male.  The same day i also recorded my last patch Northern Wheatear of the Spring.

More butterfly species were added to my patch tally in May with Brimstone, Brown Argus, Small Copper and Speckled Wood noted.  Unfortunately the 2 Brown Argus seen on the 23rd May at Butts Lane were to be the only ones i recorded on the patch this year.

During the middle of the month I enjoyed a weeks holiday in Pembrokeshire where I was treated to all the usual coastal specialities of the area including Chough, Fulmar, Gannet, Guillimot, Kittiwake, Puffin, Razorbill and Shag.  Other highlights included seeing the 4 Glossy Ibis at Marloes and 2 Otters at Bosherton.  I also managed to pick up a dragonfly lifer in the form of Hairy Dragonfly and see my only Wall Brown butterflies of the year.


On the 17th May, I decided to undertake a butterfly walk in the Shropshire side of the Wyre Forest.  This proved an enjoyable and productive visit with 17 Pearl-bordered Fritillary,  4 Grizzled Skipper, 5 Dingy Skipper, 7 Speckled Wood, 1 Brimstone and 2 Peacocks noted.

The month was rounded off with a trip up to Chartley Moss in Staffordshire with Mark P.  Chartley Moss NNR is the largest example of a floating peat bog, in Britain.  The reserve is only opened to the public once a year for guided walks due to the sensitive nature of the habitat.  Our target was the nationally scarce White-faced Darter dragonfly which we saw a number of.  Another highlight of this trip was seeing good views of Green Hairstreak butterfly.




For me June was all about the dragonflies.  I had decided I wanted to catch up with some local specialities this month and I started my quest with a visit to the River Severn at Blackstone to see emerging Club-tailed Dragonflies (thanks to Craig Reed for keeping me posted on them during this period).  Also of interest here were a number of newly emerged White-legged Damselflies, Mother Shipton moths and Burnet Companions.

My next dragonfly sojourn was to the Wyre Forest (Worcs) with Bev to try and see Golden-ringed Dragonfly.  We were in luck and treated to a cracking ♂ Golden-ringed Dragonfly along Dowles Brook.  Also of interest on this walk were 5 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries
and many Chimney Sweeper moths.

My dragonfly highlight though was discovering a colony of Scarce Chaser dragonflies at the unlikely habitat of Hillditch Pool, Hartlebury.  I spent many days watching them from newly emerged to mating..this really was one of my high points of the year.  There was a good variety of other Odonata at Hillditch including Large Red-eyed Damselfy.

An away day to Penny Hill Bank on the 20th June with Tony  gave us cracking views of 2 Grass Snakes and a number of Slow Worms.  The main reason for visiting Penny hill though is for the butterflies and this trip didn't disappoint with  20 Marbled Whites, 8 Meadow Browns, 4 Common Blues, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 rather worn Brown Argus noted.  Also of interest was a Peregrine that was performing well over the hill. 

Back on patch there were 2 Common Terns visiting Captains Pool daily throughout the month from the 5th June.   On the 20th June I recorded my first Hobby over and a Common Buzzard was observed taking prey to a calling juvenile at an on patch nest site.  

A small number of Large Skipper butterflies were seen on the wing around the patch in June.  During June, the weather was starting to get greyer and wetter and from here on in it wouldn't be a great butterfly year, as it would become one of the wettest years on record!

To be continued......

2012: A Blogger's Odyssey - Part 1

Right, to start off this new year I thought that I would do the old review of the year thing.  It's not something I have done before but, I know some of my fellow bloggers do and I thought it may be interesting to give it a whirl.  So here goes....


It's no secret to those that know me that I absolutely hate the winter, especially post New Year. Now don't get me wrong, I love the beauty of walking on a crisp frosty winters morn but sadly our winters are becoming increasingly grey and wet.  I find that on the patch that I have already recorded and enjoyed winter finch and thrush flocks and, with having not much in the way of bodies of water other than a fishing pool, winter wildfowl isn't at a premium on patch.  So this time of year I tend to go and visit other sites more to keep my birding fresh.

In early January I visited a local site to see roosting Tawny Owls.  On this occasion there was only one showing but it was still great to see, it really is sight that I never tire of.


My next away day was to Chelmarsh Reservoir (Shropshire) with my old mate Tony.  We had headed here to catch up with the long-staying Red-throated Diver and see what else was about.  We were in luck as I spotted that a sizable flock of Graylag Geese were feeding in a field behind the Reservoir and after scanning through them we discovered a Tundra Bean Goose.   There is nothing quite like self-finding birds, it really does give you a buzz!

Other local walks at Eymore Wood, Trimpley and the Wyre Forest added a number of interesting species to the month's tally including:  Common Crossbill, Dipper and Mandarin Duck

Back on patch, well you know how I said about a lack of wildfowl, well actually Captain's Pool delivered with a ♀ Wigeon and a ♂ Shoveller present on the 17th January.  Corn Bunting numbers peaked this month at 46 on the 13th January and  on the 26th January the Linnet flock present along Heath Lane numbered around c.300 birds.

The month was rounded off with a trip to WWT Slimbridge with Mark P to see the vast array of wintering wildfowl and waders.  A personal highlight was seeing the huge flock of Golden Plover wheeling about over the Tack Piece after a Peregrine went through but then I guess seeing the Bittern would be a close second


Other than a handful of days out in the Wyre and at Trimpley, and a trip into south Staffs to see the Firecrest at Penn, my time was mostly spent on patch with some good rewards for this time of year, including a patch lifer!  

On the 2nd February a Barnacle Goose arrived at Captains Pool and stayed for 10 days. 

On the 7th of February I found that patch lifer I mentioned, a ♀ Mandarin Duck.  This was only the 2nd ever record for the site and was my first.

On the 16th February, at Barrs Lane,  there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull present down on the fresh plough with c.400 mixed Gulls.   Also on this date the flock of c.300 Linnets was still present at Heath Lane.

On the 21st February a ♀/imm. Merlin flew through Heath Lane and on the 27th February there were 31 Corn Bunting and 14 Yellowhammer present just off Stanklyn Lane.

At home, my back garden feeding station came up tops on the 13th February when it was visited by my first Blackcap of the year.


Things were starting to hot up on patch in March and an early highlight was seeing a pair of Little Owls back near to a known breeding site.

On Tuesday 8th March I recorded a new patch record count for Corn Buntings when a flock of 76 Corn Bunting was present near Summerfield.  12 Yellowhammer were also present in the area.

On the 17th March a single Curlew was present along Witch Lane.  

Another patch highlight came at Witch Lane on the 18th March when a ♂ Merlin was present down on the deck feeding on what looked like a Skylark.  This was my first male that I had recorded at Shenstone so I really was chuffed!

The first singing Chiffchaff of the year at Shenstone was heard on 20th March and on the 30th March my first patch Northern Wheatear of the Spring was recorded at Back Lane.

Captains Pool came up trumps again for wildfowl on the 4th of March when Tony S discovered a drake Pochard there.  Yet another patch lifer for me, as they are very scarce birds on my humble patch duck pond!  


On the 31st of March there were 4 Tufted Ducks (2♂) present at Captains, the first for 2012.

A handful of enjoyable away days were had in March which included a trip to Warnden to see the long staying Yellow-browed Warbler and a superb day up at Titterstone Clee with Mark P when we  had cracking views of 3 Red Kites, 3 Peregrines and 5 Northern Wheatear.

Non-birding excitement was provided on the 27th March by 20+ Light-orange Underwing moths that were showing well along the main ride at Chaddesley Woods.  A single Orange-underwing moth was also noted.

To be continued.......

Sunday 30th December 2012 - Shenstone

Although this post is from 2012 and I am actually typing it up in 2013, I would like to wish you all a happy New Year.

My visit to the patch on the 30th of December was to be my last of the year.  I had spoken to Tony earlier that day who informed me that he had seen a ♂ Brambling and 2 ♂ Lesser Redpolls just off Stanklyn Lane whilst out walking that morning.  Both of which would be patch year ticks for me so I headed over early afternoon.

On arriving at the patch it wasn't long before I picked up the flock of c.50 Corn Buntings and 5 Yellowhammers.  There was lots of finch activity in the area with 2 flocks each containing c.30 Linnet and a flock of c.40 Goldfinch wheeling about over the stubble fields.  Continuing my walk I connected with a mixed flock of c.100 Chaffinch and 10 Greenfinch that were perching up periodically in the nearby trees.  On scanning through them with my scope I soon picked up what I was after, the ♂ Brambling and not long afterwards I added a 2nd Brambling (♀) to the day's tally.

Not long after enjoying the Bramblings everything went up from the stubble field, so I quickly scanned for a raptor.  I was in luck, heading low and fast over the stubble field was a cracking ♂ Merlin.  It was the first ♂ I had seen this winter although I have recorded a ♀/imm. locally on a handful of occasions.  The bird continued across the stubble heading NE until it was lost to sight.

On my way back along the footpath I encountered a group of 3 Goldcrests (1 adult ♂) and managed to connect with a single ♀/imm. Lesser Redpoll.

Heath Lane by contrast to the previous area was incredibly quiet with the only notables being a Common Buzzard at the paddock and 2 Red-legged Partridge at the model aircraft field.

This was by far my most productive and enjoyable patch visit in a long while, with two patch year ticks and a male Merlin right at the years end.  It will be interesting to see what 2013 brings (better weather hopefully!)

Brambling - 30th Dec 2012

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