Back on patch (again)

Well, considering I was supposedly going 'Wild and Wandering' this year I haven't actually wandered that fair this past week.  In fact most of my birding time has been spent back on the patch.  Anyway here is a round up:

Sunday 8th February:
This afternoon I decided to spend a bit of time over at Witch Lane.  On the way there I cut through Butts Lane/Barrs Lane where c.50 Linnet were again present in the trees by the pull in.

At Witch Lane I parked up by the concrete pad.  In the large field opposite there were c.80 Fieldfare and a Common Buzzard present. A ♀ Sparrowhawk also flew through

I decided to have a mooch around the old rotting railway sleepers next to the concrete pad to see if there was anything off interest.  Underneath the one was a snail known as a Strawberry Snail (Trochulus striolatus).  It is named so as it likes to feed on Strawberries amongst other things and can be a garden pest.  That said, you are just as likely to encounter them in the wider countryside. 

Also of interest amongst on one of the railway sleepers was the alien looking golf tee shaped fruiting bodies of a lichen known as Cladonia fimbriata

Strawberry Snail (Trochulus striolatus)

(Cladonia fimbriata) Lichen

Tuesday 18th February:
This afternoon I decided to walk the beet field looking for the ever elusive Corn Buntings.  Whilst walking the stubble field I put up 3 Skylarks and a Meadow Pipit, when a small group of birds perched in a tree top caught my attention, result it was 2 Corn Buntings and an absolutely stunning Yellowhammer.

The rest of the walk produced little else but, on returning to my car I, a flock of a further 30 Corn Buntings flew up from the opposite field and into the adjacent tree tops.  With a couple of them even singing their unmistakable jangly song.

The buntings had been feeding down amongst the weedy vegetation and had been out of sight until they had perched up. They hadn't been alone in feeding there as, shortly afterwards, something spooked the birds feeding there and c.60 Redwing and 16 Goldfinch flew up.   At this point in time the majority of the Corn Bunting flock flew towards Summerfield leaving just a handful remaining in the tree tops. 

Wednesday 19th February:
On driving through the patch late afternoon I picked up on a familiar shape perched up in one of the trees.  I pulled over my car a bit further up the lane and walked back to take a good look.  Result,  it was a Little Owl...I am always happy to see them on patch (or anywhere else fort that mate)...stunning birds.  This individual didn't want to play ball when I was trying to take a record shot and flew across to a nearby tree and partially out of sight.  Still it was great to see one again.

There was no sign of the Corn Buntings around the Stanklyn Lane area today.

Little Owl - 19th February 2014

Thursday 20th February:
Had a quick drive out this afternoon between the showers.  Shenstone had become virtually birdless compared to recent days.  That said, the flock of c.50 Linnet still remained at Butts Lane and Skylarks could be heard singing from a number of locations.

Just off patch there was a flock of 48 Lapwing wheeling about over the fields off Ryeland Lane, Podmore.

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