Sunday 23rd February 2014
Spent some time today walking around the perimeter of Stanklyn Wood to see if there was much going on, where a Coal Tit was a long overdue addition to my patch year list. The highlight though was seeing 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers (2♀,1♂) chasing about, with the females getting particularly feisty towards one another. After a while things settled down with just 1 female and a male remaining within the area. This then led to me observing (and hearing) the ♂ Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming against a tree and the remaining ♀ drumming back in response. These short bursts of drumming are part of the bird's courtship behaviour.
At Butts Lane/Barrs Lane there was a large mixed winter thrush flock feeding in the stubble with c.200 Fieldfare and c.80 Redwing noted. A flock of c.80 Linnets were also present.
The South side of the patch was fairly quite today although 2 Tufted Ducks (1♂, 1♀) were notable at Willow Marsh Fishery.
Thursday 27th February 2014
Today was most definitely one of those good patch days. I started my visit walking the footpath next to the freshly sown field along Stanklyn Lane. The field was literally alive with birds and I recorded 40+ Corn Buntings, 10 Yellowhammers, c.60 Chaffinch, 8 Greenfinch and 6 House Sparrows feeding there. Also present were small numbers of Goldfinch, Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Skylark. It was a real pleasure to see such large numbers of birds in such a small area!
Yellowhammer - 27th February 2014
From Stanklyn I headed over to Butts Lane/Barrs Lane area where the undoubted highlights (note the plural) of the day were about to come. On scanning the field edge from the top pull in on Barrs Lane I picked up an absolutely cracking ♀ Stonechat, get in! This is only the second Stonechat I have recorded on the patch over the last 4 years, with the other being a passage male last autumn. There were at least 6 Skylarks up singing and chasing over the stubble fields and the flock of c.50 Linnets was also still present.
Stonechat - 27th February 2014
I contacted TS & TMH to let them know about the chat as, both being Shenstone regulars, they were both likely to want to come and see it. Tony arrived first and whilst we were chatting we were treated to the second highlight of the day when a ♀/imm. Merlin flew low over Butts Lane triangle and headed towards heath lane. At one stage it even did it's undulating flight, mimicking a Mistle Thrush, in a no doubt opportunistic attempt to take a Linnet or a Skylark!
What an amazing patch day!
Friday 28th February 2014
The female Stonechat was still present today (no further sign on Saturday 1st March). Also of interest were 3 Green Woodpeckers that were present on the telegraph poles at Eastfields Farm.