17th and 18th April - Shenstone

Wednesday 17th April:
After my voluntary work at WBRC today I decided to skirt through Shenstone.  On the rolled seed bed at Curslow Lane I was treated to a bit of a mini wagtail fest with 3 Yellow Wagtails and 6 White Wagtails all busy feeding.

At Witch lane I heard my first patch Blackcap of the year singing and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was also noted.

My final stop was Stanklyn Lane where 1 ♂ Northern Wheatear was present in the gallops and a single Fieldfare was present at the paddocks.  This was to become my last Fieldfare sighting of the Spring.

Thursday 18th April:
There had been a bit of a "fall" of migrants on the patch today.  A cracking ♂ Common Redstart was showing well at the paddocks and 5 Northern Wheatear (3♂, 2♀).  At Barrs Lane there was a single ♂ Northern Wheatear on the plough and at Witch Lane a further 2♂ Northern Wheatears were at Witch Lane.

Also of interest was that the pair of Swallows had returned to the stable building where they nest along Stanklyn Lane.

Northern Wheatear (♂) - 18th April

Common Redstart (♂) - 18th April

Tuesday 16th April - Shenstone and Holt/Grimley

Today I caught up with my old mate and long time curmudgeon Tony S to whistle-stop through the patch and then head over to Holt/Grimley.

Our first stop was Barrs Lane where TMH had recorded 2 Northern Wheatears early morning, but there was no sign.  The only notable bird here was a very showy Yellowhammer that was feeding near the pull in.

Also earlier that morning TS had recorded 2 Greylag Geese on Captains Pool but they also didn't hang around.  That said it was nice to hear Willow Warbler singing at Captains Pool.

At Heath Lane the winter thrush numbers were still decreasing with only 29 Fieldfare still present.  The only other bird of note was a single Common Buzzard.

Yellowhammer - Barrs Lane, 16th April

The flooded area next to Sling Pool at Holt looked very good for birds and with a bit of scanning we picked up 5 Yellow Wagtails (4♂), 6 White Wagtails, 6 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Oystercatchers and a ♂ Sparrowhawk.  A ♂ Brimstone butterfly was also seen in flight over the fields.

At Camp Lane Pits we counted an incredible 30 White Wagtails, the most I have ever seen at a single site.  Also of note were 3 Yellow Wagtails, 1 ♂ Northern Wheatear, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Redshank and 8 Little Ringed Plover.

Dunlin - Grimley, 16th April

Yellow Wagtail - Grimley, 16th April

Monday 15th April 2013 - Shenstone

This afternoon's visit was a sunny affair with the rare treat of clear blue sky!  This milder weather worked wonders for bringing out a few invertebrates, with the highlight being a stonking ♂ Brimstone butterfly that was flying along Stanklyn Lane. 

Also along Stanklyn Lane were 2 singing Chiffchaffs and 2 singing Corn Buntings.

The Butts Lane/Barrs Lane area was unusually quiet with the only notable birds being the pair of Common Buzzards that were showing over Stone Manor.

Heath Lane was the most productive area on the bird front with 118 Fieldfare present in one of the fields.  A Corn Bunting was singing at the top end of the lane and near the paddock I recorded a new invert for my patch list in the form of a Pied Shieldbug.

At Witch Lane, 2 more Buzzards were up soaring and a Chiffchaff was singing near the cricket pitch.  A queen White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) and a 7-spot Ladybird were also noted.

My final stop was Back Lane where a 4th Chiffchaff was heard singing and a swallow went over heading NW.  A queen Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) was also noted.

Pied Shieldbug (Tritomegas bicolor)

Click on image to enlarge

7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)

Sunday 14th April - Shenstone & Grimley

The weather today was mild but overcast with light drizzle. No photos for today's post I'm afraid...the weather just wasn't conducive!

On arriving at the patch I checked out Stanklyn Lane paddocks first.  Little was happening here but for a single Swallow that passed through heading NW. 

My walk around the edge of Stanklyn wood proved more productive with 2 Teal (1♂, 1♀) present again in the wet woodland.  A Chiffchaff was singing from within the wood and a Nuthatch was showing well.

At Heath Lane, a 2nd Swallow flew over also heading NW.  A Yellowhammer was showing well at the model aircraft field and a ♂ Kestrel was hunting at the paddock.  The field adjacent to the paddock was quite productive and held 26 Fieldfares, 1 Redwing and a single Corn Bunting.

Next stop was Witch Lane where I walked the wooded footpath to view across the far fields.  A single Jay was present along the path and 26 Stock Doves were on the fresh plough.  6 Swallows (two groups of  three) flew over heading North.

My final stop off was Barrs Lane and this was by far the most productive area of the patch today.  An incredible 198 Fieldfares, 4 Redwings, c.80 Starlings and 26 Meadow Pipits were still present on the newly sown field.  A Yellowhammer was present singing from the adjacent hedgerow and a Corn Bunting was singing from the rear of Stone Manor.

From Shenstone I headed over to Holt & Grimley to check out what was about at the gravel pits.

Sling Pool at Holt and it's adjacent flooded field held a good mix of species with highlights including 1 adult ♂ Yellow Wagtail, 3 White Wagtails, 5 Pied Wagtails, 3 Green Sandpipers, 2 Oystercatchers, 1 Common Snipe, 18 Gadwall and 13 Shoveler.  Other species noted included Lapwing, Teal and Tufted Duck.  Large numbers of Sand Martins were hawking low over the water.

Next up I popped to the Island Pool at the old workings.  Here there were a further 2 Oystercatchers (one of which looked like it was sitting on eggs), 5 Gadwall, 23 Tufted Duck, 1♂ Teal and 2 Sand Martin

At Camp Lane pits I had my undoubted highlight of the day when I found a cracking ♂ Northern Wheatear along the east side of the pit.  Also of note here were 3 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Common Sandpiper, 8 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Redshank, 1 Oystercatcher an a ♂ Wigeon.

Shenstone Round Up....

The ♂ Ring Ouzel was present for an incredible 6 consecutive days from Tuesday 2nd to Sunday 7th April and was enjoyed by birders during that period.

Below is a round up of the other patch goings on over the past week or so:

Wednesday 3rd April:
First patch Chiffchaff arrived.  Seen flitting around in Alder at edge of Captains Pool (TS)

Friday 5th April:
Greylag Goose was present on Captains Pool and 3 Teal (1♂, 2♀) were also present (TS).  Greylag is a scarce visitor in patch terms and can be less than annual.

Saturday 6th April:
I decided to visit the patch early evening to have yet another look at the Ring Ouzel.  Whilst stood on the public footpath I was treated to the sound of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling 8 or 9 times from the woodland on the opposite side of the road.  This really lifted my spirits as I am yet to see one on the patch although there were a couple of reports of one not far from there last winter.

Wednesday 10th April:
Undertook a dusk visit to the patch looking for Owls.  No joy but did have cracking views of a Muntjac Deer near Stanklyn Wood.  A patch lifer!

Thursday 11th April:
Early pm Tony recorded 20 Sand Martins and 8 Swallows through at Captains Pool.  I popped there late afternoon and recorded 5 Sand Martins, 4 Swallows and a single House Martin.  Two Chiffchaffs were singing from the trees surrounding Captains Pool.  A ♂ Great Spotted Woodpecker was showing well in an Oak at the water's edge.

After partaking of refreshments at the lakeside tea room, Tony and I headed out to do a tour of the fields.  They were very quiet with the exception of Barrs Lane where 165 Fieldfare and 5 Redwing were seen feeding on the freshly sown field.  A further 9 Redwing were present in Stanklyn paddocks.

The undoubted highlight of this visit was seeing the Little Owl showing very well.  I really do love this species!

Little Owl - 11th April

Friday 12th April:
The Corn Bunting flock is now breaking up with only 11 remaining flocked together at one location.

A Yellowhammer was singing from a hedgerow along Stanklyn Lane.  There were 6 Fieldfare present in the paddocks and a Chiffchaff was singing nearby.

In contrast to the previous day, Barrs Lane was very quite with only 12 Skylarks of note on the freshly sown field.  A single Meadow Pipit flew over heading WNW.  A Corn Bunting and 16 Linnets were present in the Butts Lane area.

At Heath Lane a Mistle Thrush and 7 Fieldfare were present  in the field adjacent to the paddock.  The seemingly ever present ♂ Kestrel was on the wires and an Orange Underwing moth sp. was seen flying over the paddock in the sunshine and landed in the canopy of one of the tall trees between the paddock and the Islamic school.  Nearby, 2 Ravens were present at the rear of the model aircraft field.

Saturday 13th April:
There were 3 Willow Warblers and a ♂ Blackcap present in the trees at edge of Captains Pool (TS).

Heath Lane Development Proposal - Latest News

Yesterday, I  received word friend who works for WFDC that the Shenstone site was no longer on the agenda for last night's council planning meeting as it has been withdrawn by the applicant.

If this is just a temporary reprieve I have yet to find out.  It may be just a tactic of the developer to withdraw an application as they don't feel that all the t's are crossed and i's are dotted.  They could well resubmit it at a later date rather than face an outright refusal.  Then again,  perhaps they will withdraw to cut their losses. 

For now it is at least a slight respite coming into the bird's breeding season.  I will keep you posted as I hear more.

Tuesday 2nd April - Shenstone

Early afternoon I decided to spend a few hours working the local patch as there had been a very small number of passage migrants reported in the county the previous day.  the weather was very mild and spring-like and the sunshine was a real spirit-lifter!

Stanklyn Lane was very quiet but for two Yellowhammers that were in one of the paddocks.  There was little else of note with no sign of the large numbers of winter thrushes that had been present. 

Heath Lane was also quiet with the usual ♂ Kestrel being the only bird of interest.

I then decided to head over to Butts Lane to undertake my walk across the fields and back around the lanes.  This provided to be far more productive on the bird front with 12 Skylarks and 9 Linnets flushed.  A Red-legged Partridge, a Common Buzzard and a single Meadow Pipit were also noted.  The invertebrate side of things was poor though with a single Honey Bee being the only one of note.

Witch Lane, Curslow Lane and Back Lane were all devoid of birds and I felt that the day was going down the pan rapidly.  So, I decided to have a break and nip to Hartlebury to get some bits and bobs from Wigley DIY. 

On the way back home I decided to hit the patch again and check out Stanklyn Wood (from the lane) in the hope of a Chiffchaff or the like.  The woodland was partly flooded and on the flood water that had spilled over from Stanklyn Pool there were 2 Teal (1♂, 1♀)...Result!  This was a patch year tick and only the 2nd time I had recorded Teal there.  However things were about to get even better....

On heading back to my car I scanned across the paddock, just past the 90° bend, that looks towards Stone Church.  This has been one of the least productive areas of the patch and your lucky if you get a Carrion Crow or a Magpie in there to be honest...but not today.  On the near slope was a cracking ♂ Ring Ouzel...Get in!  This is the 4th record for the patch and the 2nd that I have self-found.  It's hard to express in words the excitement you get in finding this spring passage migrant on low-level farmland, as they most often tend to drop of on the county's high point's on there way back to their upland breeding territories.  Bird's like this are what patch watching is all about!

♂ Ring Ouzel - 2nd April 2013

Click on image to enlarge