Friday 2nd April to Monday 5th April 2021

Friday 2nd April 2021 - Back Garden, Kidderminster

Today the sun was shinning and I decided to spend a little time looking at the wildlife in my back garden.  Although we live in a terraced house near the centre of Kidderminster the wife and I have always treated our back garden as a wildlife garden and actively encouraged a diverse range of species.  When I spend some time out there it feels like our own little nature reserve and there is usually something interesting to see.

Today's time spent in the garden proved very worthwhile and I was pleased to see that the Red Mason Bees had emerged from the bee hotels.

Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis) male - 2nd April 2021

Another solitary bee observed today in the garden was a Gwynne's Mining Bee that was busily feeding on the Grape Hyacinth flowers.

Gwynne's Mining Bee (Andrena bicolor) - 2nd April 2021

It was also great to see Dark-edged Bee Fly feeding on the Wild Primrose flowers.  These strange looking bumblebee mimics have a long proboscis that they use  to reach the nectar of their favoured foodplants as they hover.

Dark-edged Bee Fly (Bombylius major) - 2nd April 2021

But the best species I saw today was a Dotted Bee Fly.  This species was formerly scarce but has expanded it's range considerably through Worcestershire over recent years.  This is the first time I have recorded one in my garden and it is a more than welcome visitor.

Dotted Bee Fly (Bombylius discolour) - 2nd April 2021

Saturday 3rd April 2021 - Private Farmland, Stone/Summerfield

Today I returned to the farm for a wander around and whilst walking through the paddocks I was greeted by the 'kronking' sound of a Raven.  I looked up and there were 2 present overhead, so I quickly took a record shot.

Raven (Corvus corax) - 3rd April 2021

Also of note today were 2 Common Buzzards, a Stock Dove that was sat on the edge of one of the barns and a Robin that was singing his heart out in the dappled sunlight at the edge of the pine tree paddock.

Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - 3rd April 2021

Monday 5th April 2021 - Podmore

3 White Wagtails were present alongside 7 Pied Wagtails in a field off  Ryland Lane this afternoon.  White Wagtails are the nominate race of what we know as Pied Wagtail and breeds across much of mainland Europe.  Our Pied Wagtails are one of a number of subspecies of White Wagtail and is mostly limited to Britain and Ireland.  Where as White Wagtails are genuine passage migrants to the UK and pass through on Spring migration between early March and May.  White wagtails look much more silver-grey on their mantle which contrasts distinctly with the head and wings.  They really are good looking and often over-looked birds.

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba) - 5th April 2021 

Thursday 25th to Tuesday 30th March 2021

Thursday 25th March 2021 - Private Farmland, Stone/Summerfield

What initially seemed to be a quiet visit to the farm actually turned out to be very productive. Raptor movement was the order of the day.  On walking the track I was treated to views of a male Merlin as he went low through the field heading NNE flushing 12 Meadow Pipits. Sadly it was all over too quick for photos.  The raptor magic didn't stop there though, as 10 minutes later whilst walking between the barns a Red Kite drifted over heading north.  Luckily this time I was able to capture some record shots.

Red Kite (Milvus milvus) - 25th March 2021

Tuesday 30th March 2021 - Pound Green Common

With today's sunny/mild weather I decided to pay a visit to Pound Green Common in the Wyre to look for reptiles.  Sadly I had no joy on that front but the trip wasn't a waste as I was treated to seeing a female Goshawk up over the Forest.  The warm weather had also bought out a few invertebrates with Pine Ladybird, Dark-edged Bee Fly, Tawny Mining Bee and Peacock butterfly all of note.

Pine Ladybird (Exochomus quadripustulatus)

Dark-edged Bee Fly (Bombylius major)

Walking back from Pound Green Common I also observed 2 Fallow Deer in a field at the woodland edge.  Always a pleasure to see in the wild.

Fallow Deer (Dama dama)

Tuesday 30th March 2021 (late afternoon) - Hartlebury Common

As the weather was so good I decided to drive over to Hartlebury Common late afternoon to see if any male Emperors were on the wing.  I popped out my pheromone lure and within 10 minutes I had 2 Emperors Moths flitting around it.  I was lucky enough to get one to settle and get a few photos before it continued it's patrols of the heath.  For those of you that are unaware the pheromone lure recreates the scent of a female and attract in the dayflying males that a patrolling a site.  Using this method through the season allows for recording if the species is present and also builds up a picture of the abundance of the species at the site

Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia)

Also of note at the Common this afternoon was the number of Green Tiger Beetles now active across the heath.

Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris)

Wednesday 10th to Tuesday 16th March 2021

Wednesday 10th March 2021 - Spennells Valley NR and Stone

On my way out today I decided to pay a quick visit to Spennells Valley NR to see if there was any activity at a Nuthatch nest site I have watched for the past 3 years.  On arrival at the site I was greeted by the sound of a Nuthatch calling and shortly after one approached the nest hole and started tidying up the mud around the wholes entrance.  Nuthatches use holes in large, mature deciduous trees to build there nest in and will often plaster mud around the entrance hole until it meets their opening size requirement.

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) - 10th March 2021

From Spennells I then headed over to Heath Lane (Stone) to see if much was happening on the bird front.  It was very quiet compared to usual but a female Kestrel was showing fairly well at the model aircraft field.

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) - 10th March 2021

Monday 15th March 2021 - Hartlebury Common

Today, the wife and I decided to take a walk around Hartlebury Common.  As always I was on the look out for invertebrates and even though the weather was mild and sunny but sadly the butterflies were somewhat lacking.  That said along the embankment we did encounter a number of  Ophion scutellaris Ichneumon Wasps.   

Ichneumon Wasp (Ophion scutellaris) - 15th March 2021

At the SE side of the Common we heard our first Chiffchaff of the year singing from the Oak wood.  For me hearing my first Chiffchaff of the year is the herald of Spring.   Also in the Oak wood was an unusually obliging Jay who stayed put long enough for me to take a quick photograph.

Jay (Garrulus glandarius) - 15th March 2021

Tuesday 16th March 2021 - Stone/Summerfield

This afternoon I paid another visit to the farm that I've been invited to record at.  During my amble around I could hear good numbers of Skylark singing and was pleased to see a single Corn Bunting perched up on the fence at the rear of the farm.

At the Pine tree paddock there were 2 Lesser Redpolls perched up in the trees and incredibly a male Common Crossbill that was perched up near one of the Larches.  This was a patch first, the first time I have seen one of these at the Stanklyn/Stone area in 14 years of birdwatching and wildlife recording around here!  They do occur in the Wyre Forest and a few over winter at Eymore Wood near Trimpley most years but to see one in an arable area was incredible!

Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) male - Tuesday 16th March 2021

Tuesday 2nd to Sunday 7th March 2021

Tuesday 2nd March 2021 - Stone

There were 6 Lesser Redpolls still present along Heath Lane this afternoon showing reasonably well in the sunshine and periodically feeding on the weedy vegetation at the edge of the model aircraft field. Also showing well in the sunshine was a humble Dunnock.  An often overlooked species but I like them.

Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret)

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

Friday 5th March 2021 - Stone/Summerfield

Today I visited an area of private farmland which falls within my local patch that I have been very kindly given permission to record the birds and wildlife on.  I won't elaborate as to where this is or name the farm as I respect the farmer's privacy but I will share with you some off the wildlife I see there in this blog.  

Notable arable birds recorded included 9 Skylarks and 5 Meadow Pipits.  Also of note were 14 Redwings and surprisingly a Grey Wagtail that was flitting about near the manure piles.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

Sunday 7th March 2021 - Hartlebury Common

Today, I thought I would take advantage of the continuing fine weather and visit Hartlebury Common to look for some early Spring invertebrates.  It was actually a lot quieter on that front than I had hoped for although, on the Lower Poolands area, I did record quite a few Pine Ladybirds, a 7-spot Ladybird & a Gorse Shieldbug amongst the Gorse.

Pine Ladybird (Exochomus quadripustulatus)

Gorse Shieldbug (Piezodorus lituratus) & 7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)

Friday 26th to Sunday 28th February 2021

Friday 26th February 2021 - Pound Green Common

Today's weather conditions were sunny and mild so I headed over to Pound Green Common to look for reptiles.  Adder was my target species but sadly I had no joy on this occasion.  That said I did see my first basking Common Lizard of the year which made the walk worthwhile.  

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

Also of note at Pound Green was a male Linnet back on territory busily singing away.  

Linnet (Linaria cannabina)

A feature I  like at Pound Green Common is the old moss covered ant hills of the Yellow Meadow Ant.  They make for a really interesting feature at the site.

Yellow Meadow Ant (Lasius flavus) ant hills

Saturday 27th February 2021 - Stone

The nice mild weather continued and on visiting the Heath Lane area of Stone I saw my first butterfly species of the year, a Small Tortoiseshell. That said there was very little else of note during my able around.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

Sunday 28th February 2021 - Hartlebury Common

For a third consecutive day the nice weather continued and for today's walk I visited Hartlebury Common.  It was great to see that the water levels were back up at The Bog and both a Moorhen and a pair of Mallards were present. On the nearby Rush Pool a second pair of Mallards were present.  

The Bog at Hartlebury Common

Whilst walking the Common I decided to check on a few of the reptile mats to see if they were still in situ and was surprised to find an early instar Oak Eggar moth caterpillar basking on one.  Result! and the undoubted species of the visit.

Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) larva