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



  1. The birds and mushrooms are superb, and the header, it is fantastic Jason.

  2. Must catch those Corn Buntings at some point, great photo's I love the Buzzard.

  3. It takes a lot of time and commitment to keep up a regular blog Jase, I know!! :-) When there is little to blog about, and everything is stuck in the same routine, it's hard to find the enthusiasm to write about it. I always try to write something daily, just to look back on so as to compare the same dates of a different year. Hope you find the time and some enthusiasm next year mate, and have better health too.

  4. Dave - Cheers mate. Let me know when your free at some point and I will meet up with you down there

    Warren - Thanks for your kind words mate. 2014 will be a new year and hopefully a renewed focus

  5. Glad you've got your blogging mojo back a bit. That Buzzard and it's surroundings look mighty familiar to me too ;)

  6. Thanks Mark. It's funny you should mention about the Buzzard...perhaps it was taken whilst interloping on your very own patch! ;-)

  7. I think we all lose a bit of impetus at times Jason. I'm the same at the moment. Just do it when you feel like it, that's my motto :-)

  8. Hope you feel better soon Jase. Also hope you manage to keep the blog going, I find it especially interesting as I live close to your patch and you not only inform me what I should be looking for, or more often what I have just missed!

  9. Thanks Mike. Have no fear, I will def. keep the blog going! I have plans for 2014. I am going to undertake a bio-blitz on a 1km square area of my patch to record as many species as possible birds, inverts, fungi, plants the lot. I will still do the other parts of the patch at times for birds etc. but it will give me a renewed focus...especially outside migration periods. My mate Mark P (Doorstep Birding) is also going to do the same on his patch so it could make for an interesting exercise