AprilSpring 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!
MayIn 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.
JuneFor 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......