For the last 7 years I have worked Shenstone as my local patch and enjoyed the majority of time doing so. I have found some good birds there: Black Redstart, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Quail, Ring Ouzel & Short-eared Owl to name but a few. I have also discovered colonies of new butterflies for the site: Brown Argus, Essex Skipper, Marbled White and Purple Hairstreak. But, the main drawback with Shenstone/Stone is the lack of public footpaths. There are a few between Stanklyn and Summerfield and one on Butts Lane. To walk a circuit it mostly involves staying on the lanes and viewing the habitats from the roadside. Some of these lanes are used as a cut through between 'A' roads. After a while this becomes quite demoralising.
Compounding the matter in 2014 is the fact that a number of the lanes their are going to be closed off for major water pipeline replacement works, which could last up to 10 months. Also, Heath Lane paddock may be lost to become a travelling show people site and the knock on effect of this on such as the nearby nesting Little Owl & Corn Buntings could be catastrophic. Other areas of the patch have already gone down the proverbial swanny in terms of the migrant birds with 'Redstart hedge' now having wooden horse shelters etc. built in front of it and other paddocks being constantly used and attended to by the horse owners. there is rarely a bird in sight there these days.
So it is with mixed feeling that I have decided to suspend the Bio Survey and have a break from Stone/Shenstone, spending 2014 going out and about to a number of different sites locally and enjoy there wildlife and maybe make a few interesting finds on the way. In some ways this is quite saddening but in another it feels quite liberating, like I am throwing off the shackles. It will be great to go out and just enjoy the wildlife again, wherever and whenever I chose without beating myself up about neglecting the patch. That said I shall return for the odd visit to Shenstone but when and how often who knows, either way I wont be pressuring myself to do so. I will also keep an eye on the area's Corn Buntings and keep fighting their corner.
So this post represents a new dawn if you will and I will happily keep blogging on this site about my travels. To tie in with this change of approach I am renaming the blog title but keeping the same web address (http://shenstonebirder.blogspot.co.uk/) to avoid too much confusion.
So enough of my prattling on...I hope you will all continue enjoying the blog posts as I leave Shenstone behind and head out 'Wild and Wandering'....