OctoberThe 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.
NovemberThe 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 confirmation...it 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.
DecemberBy 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.....