Friday, 2 September 2016

last days of summer.......

Overall disappointing end to the month with little evidence of passage birds.
The parakeet has been heard more often and a male kingfisher (all dark bill) was watched fishing successfully north if the water bridge raising the question of the gender of the bird at the prefabs,.
last Thursday's gloom produced my only sighting of a large mixed flock made up of at least 40 birds.  Unfortunately the light was so  poor and they moved so quickly that I could only pick out goldcrest and the commoner tit species.
Friday was better with a group of blackcap in the hanging gardens along with willow warbler and both common and lesser whitethroat.  Another willow was with a couple of blackcap at the wetland.
Then it went downhill with nothing to report/
1st of September was almost an exact repeat of last Friday at the hanging gardens but presumably they were different birds. A treecreeper was seen at the metal bridge, my first for a couple of months but they will have been there and hopefully raised young.  It seemed to be with a very loose mixed flock which included nuthatch in bright weather.  Was the tightness of last weeks flock due to the gloom??
Finally having reported the seeming departure of the bigger groups of goldfinches I am now seeing the odd little group of 3/4 but they are all juveniles-could they be from 2nd broods?

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Subtle changes

More to report this week with a good range of birds and a noticeable change in behaviour.
2 kingfisher sightings yesterday at prefab weir and today reported by a regular dog walker by the meccano.  Could be a bird establishing a winter territory.
A calling parakeet from the paddock continues the recent run.
Blackbirds foraging on ripening berries rather than on the ground is a portent of autumn.
A singing chiffy at t6he wetland yesterday was very hesitant and seemed to be a juvenile whereas todays bird was more confident but unseen.  Which raises an interesting question about autumn singers. Also a silent willow warbler yesterday and a calling bird today. And a garden warbler at the hanging gardens (NW barleyfield today).
Biggest surprise today was a flock of 9 cormorant flying south.
Mondays bird of the day was a high flying duck over the paddock which initially puzzled me.  I got as far as that's not a mallard and is it a goosander before getting the bins on it-a rather uniform pale buff elongated slim bird with set back wings-but needed a look at the books to realise it was a pintail.
Other species encountered in the last 2 days have been green woodpecker, collared dove, and a (mega) house sparrow where we saw an adult and juvenile last year.
Finally flocking behaviour with 2 family parties of bullfinch temporarily giving a flock of 9 but goldfinch and mistle thrush seemingly joining larger flocks elsewhere.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Well into August

Had been waiting for something to happen before doing a post and maybe with stormy weather this weekend it will, but so far it has been a quiet month.
Star bird was a juvenile cuckoo which made a brief visit to the wetland last Saturday.
Otherwise pretty thin pickings, an adult lesser whitethroat at the wetland on 1st, the odd willow warbler, and passing swifts.  Our swift had left by the end of July but passage birds were apparent for the first 10 days of Aug, with best count of 20 on 3rd. (also a flock of 11 at i54 last sunday must surely have passed thru the valley.
As far as breeding is concerned sir Geoffrey has confirmed the third moorhen brood at the wetland, though they are very hard to see and 2nd brood of great crested grebe at pool hall.  Recently fledged
birds indicate 2nd broods of blackbird, song thrush, chiffchaff (5 birds feeding on last years bulrushes at wetland) robin and dunnock.
Calling kestrel and raven at castlecroft bridge raise hopes of breeding.
Only one parakeet sighting high over paddock coming from ridge and a similar report.
Southern and migrant hawker dragonflies.

Saturday, 13 August 2016


Newbridge,  13th August 2016

 

Thanks to the ants

its a falcon feast . . .

 

Summer’s got that slightly past-it feel now, long-grass browning and the pink of willow herb fringing roads and tracks.  Evenings are shorter, sunsets are earlier, and resident and migrant birds have all but finished breeding.  Many avian visitors to the UK are already on their way back to southern Europe and Africa, and some are stopping off in the Smestow Valley to rest and feed.  So, time to report on what’s happening now, and on what have been a relatively quiet couple of months for local wildlife.

 

Highlight so far this month has been the appearance of three Hobbys high over Dunstall Park and the Farndale housing estate, seen from Crowther Road, Newbridge, in the early afternoon of Friday 5th.  A large flock of gulls, mostly Black-headed, had been noted minutes earlier, circling against the cloud base on a close and oppressively warm day, almost certainly feeding on clouds of flying ants, huge numbers of which had been leaving their nests since mid-morning.  Hobbys appear annually but irregularly over the valley in the summer months, but this was the only the second time three had been seen together (three were over Aldersley on 9/8/2001).  For several minutes they swooped and dived among the gulls, picking insects from the air and eating them on the wing before moving further away as the airstream carried the ants eastwards, and eventually disappearing  The earliest local record for these beautiful migratory falcons has been April 20th and the latest October 3rd.  House Martins nesting on the Farndale were for decades mid-summer targets for Hobbys feeding nestlings at breeding sites in South Staffordshire and elsewhere, but this agile and fast-flying raptor has been all but absent from the valley in 2012.

 

Wader migration is well under way, and on August 5th and 12th four Green Sandpiper were noted on the shoreline of Dunstall Park lake, equalling the site maxima recorded on 21/8/2010.  There have been a handful of winter sightings for this species locally in the last 30 years, but most birds are seen on mid-summer/autumn passage at the racecourse, with reports in 2010 stretching from June 28th to September 9th.

Other summer reports from Dunstall Park include two Cormorant moving south westwards on 11/6, two Sand Martin on 26/6, a male Reed Bunting singing by the lake on 11/6, two male and a female Tufted Duck on the lake on 17/6 and a flock of 42 Lapwing on grass near the lake on 24/7.  An early female Teal was on the lake island on 15/7, and 20-plus Goldfinch were by the lake on 5/8.  Gull numbers have increased dramatically since the beginning of this month, with no less 248 Lesser Black-backed Gull resting and preening on the central grass area on 12/8.  The large percentage of juveniles in this total reflects the growing number of gulls now breeding in the Birmingham/Wolverhampton conurbation.  A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull in the flock was one of several of this species seen recently at regional roost sites such as Belvide reservoir near Brewood.  An unusual feature of early summer came in the shape of regular visits to the lake by two pairs of Greylag, evidence of an increasing number of this goose species at lakes and reservoirs across the West Midlands.  A sign of a good breeding year for thrushes came with the appearance of 32 Mistle Thrush at Dunstall Park on 11/8.

 

It’s been a mixed breeding story this summer at the racecourse, but Little Grebe have taken advantage of increased shoreline vegetation at the lake, with two pairs producing at least four youngsters, one of which is now adult-sized and diving for its own food.  Coot too have had a good year with at least three pairs raising young (a fox was seen catching a non-breeding adult on 31/5), but a Mute Swan pair first seen nest-building in late winter at the lake have lost seven of the eight cygnets which hatched in late-May (the adults are very likely the pair which lost all five of their cygnets last year at the lake).  Canada Goose breeding attempts failed for the second year running, with all nests on the lake island robbed of their eggs.  At the other end of the site at least four pairs of Swallow nested in the stables and second broods have now fledged successfully.  Three House Martin pairs nesting under the eaves of the nearby hotel have produced fledged young, a pair of Pied Wagtail have again bred in the same area, with three juveniles seen foraging along drainage ditches by the grandstand on 11/6, and juveniles were among at least 30 Starling making daily visits to the lake island daily in late May and early June.

 

Elsewhere along the valley at least one pair of Grey Wagtail have nested, a singing Goldcrest was heard by Newbridge playingfield through May and into June, and Tawny Owl calls came from Newbridge wood over the same period.  Also at Newbridge two pairs of Swift nested (adults and youngsters had departed by the end of July), House Martins were faithful to what is now a traditional nest site under house eaves near Tettenhall Road, and a Treecreeper was in a mixed bird flock moving through gardens next to the playingfield on 28/6.  The Rose-ringed Parakeet trail has gone cold, despite the fact a pair was seen checking potential nest holes in a Smestow Valley wood in late April.  The only recent report has been of a bird flying low along Henwood Road towards Compton on 27/6.  Raptor records have been intermittent, but a Buzzard was seen carrying prey low over Wightwick fields on 18/6.

 

Missing bird makes up the numbers

 

As reported in a previous post, our May morning local bird blitz produced 64 species, falling just short of the Smestow Valley record of 66 seen in 24 hours.  Well, we were even closer than that, since some careless counter had in some way managed to exclude Blackbird from the total.  Apologies all round, it’s just that I can’t read my own writing.  We were close, but no cigar . . .

Monday, 25 July 2016

More breeding news

Species already reviewed
Swift seem to be departing but a reasonable year
Whitethroat finally a juvenile at top of barley field and at the difficult to access lupin field
Kingfisher a dark bird at aldersley junction probably worn adult rather than youngster
Goldfinch a good year throughout the valley

Species not previously reviewed
Buzzard 2 juveniles at both wightwick fields and Tettenhall ridge, distinguished by their pristine plumage as compared to the increasingly worn adults
Sparrowhawk juvenile at Compton
Chaffinch 2 juveniles in hanging gardens
Song thrush an excellent year and finally stopped singing
Blackbird again a very productive year
Blue and great tits both done OK but more so the former, yet to find juv coal tit but several family parties of long tails.

Negative on kestrels which had hoped would breed at wightwick

Saturday, 16 July 2016

london busses-more thoughts on breeding season

Yeah I know nothing for weeks and then 2 posts in 2 days.
Truth is I forgot to mention the bird of the year on the barleyfield.
Reed warbler;  A singing bird took up residence at the wetland for 8 days in early july (and could still be there sil;ently). Lord angus had reported 4 from dunstall in june so it could have been one of these.
Bullfinch; several juveniles this morning
Coot; 2 adults and 5 juvs by waterbridge.  Presumably bred on dunstall.

An early morning visit today produced a surprise when a bird flew up from the ground in the main paddock flashing an orange tail.  despite searching I could not relocate it so it will have to go down as redstart sp(ecies).  Interesting though after sir Geoffreys's black redstart last year july and mine this year at pool hall (see ydays post), some consolation was a spotted flycatcher.

Apparently absent as breeders this year are willow and garden warblers and last years mega house sparrow.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Breeding season review

Time for some early thoughts on this years nesting season in the valley.  The mild winter had induced some species to nest early but I suspect they were caught out by the cold spring.  Some species will still be rearing young or sitting on eggs but the majority have now completed their breeding cycle and young have fledged and dispersed from the natal area.  Thus we are starting to see records of birds moving into or through the area.
Moorhen;  Badly affected by the canal dredging work and only a few young raised of which 3 at MS centre is the seemingly the only success on a stretch of canal which might have 6 nests.  The exception is the new wetland where the first brood of 2 are now fully grown and helping to raise the second brood of 4.  There is every chance of a third brood something I haven't seen since 2009 at the water bridge immediately before the harsh winter that year almost wiped out the local population of this sedentary species.
House Martin; Good numbers nesting around local streets and feeding over the barleyfield with food passing noted at beginning of July,
Swallow; nesting at north and south of valley.
Swift; numbers seem to be on a par with recent years.
Kingfisher: Occasional sightings but no evidence of  repeat of breeding of 2 years ago
Grey Wagtail;  2 juveniles regularly at wetland suggest local breeding around Compton as does 3 birds by spill weir in the week.
Green Woodpecker; juvenile on canal towpath opposite tennis club today.
Nuthatch; juvenile in station paddock last weekend
Goldfinch;  family party of 7 on bfield
Chiichaff; many juveniles and 2/3 still singing
Blackcap; one still singing and birds suddenly more obvious but may have bred elsewhere, whereas 2 weeks ago several still singing and a family party in main paddock.
Whitethroat; bit of a puzzle this year, did well at turner's field 4 singing birds and 2 family parties but apparently absent from the bfield in May but 3 singing birds into July.
Jay; family party of 4 on bfield

Gulls have returned now with 80+ black headed this morning. Only 1 juvenile but have had 3. wonder where they bred.  Also juvenile lesser black back which presumably bred in town.

Other birds passing through this week on bfield were meadow pipit, reed bunting and lesser whitethroat.

Down at pool hall the great crested grebes which have raised 2 young seem to be sitting again, a common tern adult visits regularly (surely too far to have come from belvide although I saw it flying in from that direction) and a surprising black redstart last sunday which could not be relocated.

Finally a stunning red kite (untagged) on 1st june on perton golf  course (back of 14th green) so keep eyes open,

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

end of may review

I have been back for over a week but still wish I was in the wilds of assynt and the far north west.
First reaction when I headed into the paddocks was to be overwhelmed by the greenery. More surprisingly I was taken aback by the amount of birdsong, by far the loudest of the year. When I caught up with Geoff he had noted the same dramatic but short lived cacophony.  We speculated as it was the third week of may perhaps the late april/early may cold snap had caused many nests to fail and the noise reflected a resurgence of interest in breeding.
Blackbirds were the dominant species closely followed by song thrush also 11 chiffchaff singing.
the amount of song has settled down now but still plenty of blackcap, song thrush and a resurgence of dunnock.  The lack of any passerine young birds would seem to support the theory.
There is also a contrast between the ornithological desert formerly known as the barleyfield and the rest of the valley although the lupin field is also disappointing.
This is most notable for whitethroats which are quite numerous in the surrounding area and 4/5 were singing on turners and sand fields-see map, also a willow warbler sang there repeatedly-all on Saturday.
A treecreeper was a nice find at the metal bridge on sunday where a kingfisher has been occasional. A female grey wagtail fed on the tow path at the spill weirs yesterday and flew off low towards Compton lock and in the paddocks a fully independent juvenile blackbird showed that some early breeding succeeded and a little ringed plover flew fast overhead towards the wetland but was not relocated.

Friday, 20 May 2016


Newbridge,  20th May  2016

 

Morning’s bird blitz

so near to the record

 

Ian had forsaken us for a fortnight in God’ Country (it starts at Gretna) so it was down to Geoff, Gareth and myself to see just how many bird species we could tot up in or over the valley on a weekend morning in May.  The record number seen or heard locally in 24 hours stands at 66, achieved some years ago by Gareth and his dad Kevin.  But they were up at dawn and considered it over only when the fat Tawny Owl hooted, so we didn’t expect to top their total (us ancient birders do need our rest).

So, the Saturday before last (May 7th) yet-to-be-ancient Gareth went straight from a night shift to cover Pool Hall, Wightwick fields and Turner’s fields, Geoff took in the mid-section centred on the Compton barleyfield, and yours truly trudged northwards from Newbridge, taking in Aldersley, Oxley and Dunstall Park.  Migration had slowed (the north end of the valley continues to be quiet for the second spring running) high pressure weather didn’t help, but comparing notes over a welcome Cupcake coffee at Newbridge station around mid-day we were more than pleased with the result.  Sixty four species, a total which would have been bettered had we seen among others Rose-ringed Parakeet, Little Owl, Garden Warble and Bearded Vulture.

As it was, we managed to list Kingfisher, the first Spotted Flycatchers for the year (single passage birds by the barleyfield and Wightwick fields), Great Crested Grebe feeding youngsters at Pool Hall, singing Skylark, nesting Barn Swallow, House Martin and Mute Swan, and a singing Sedge Warbler. Among other species seen were Bullfinch, Lapwing, Linnet, Herring Gull, Grey Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Swift, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Rook, Raven, Jay, Collared Dove, Stock Dove, Mistle Thrush, Coot, Tufted Duck, Greylag, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel. A male Pheasant called from a rough grass field just north of Windmill Lane, and Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer were seen and heard near Castlecroft canal bridge.

All in all, not bad for patch that at its furthest point is less than four miles from the centre of Wolverhampton.  At a time when monoculture agriculture is degrading large tracts of the British countryside in terms of wildlife variety it’s refreshing to see a relatively small mixed-habitat linear park on the edge of one of Britain’s largest conurbations produce such an extensive list of bird species.  Here’s to the Smestow Valley!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

small postscript

Thanks to lord Angus for an excellent roundup. And now the weather has dried up so to some extent have the birds. Wandering round the mid and north sections has only produced a singing sedge warbler 100 yds north of aldersly junction in the canal scrub and a stunning lesser whitethroat on the western border showing down to 10 yds. Interestingly both birds were accompanied by a willow warbler.  At the moment only a single common whitethroat seems to have set up territory in barley field, as usual in new corner.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016


Newbridge,  3rd May  2016

 

Forget the weather,

it’s time for a chat

 

Sleet, squalls, stair-rod rain, hail and snow last week, winds from the north, frost at night.  Spring has been somewhat unsprung, but nights have often been sharp and clear, and, as Ian, Gareth and Geoff have reported, bird migration is well under way.  Despite the wintry conditions, chats, wagtails, pipits, waders and warblers are calling in on the valley on their way to breeding grounds, some of them staying on to nest locally, others feeding up and moving on . . .

 

Star birds for 2016 so far are in fact non-migrants, Gareth’s and Ian’s Goshawks, only the seventh and eighth of their kind reported locally since 1990.  Gareth’s male bird attacked a Buzzard over Wightwick ridge late in the morning on 2/4, Ian’s sighting involved a bird over Aldersley playingfields on 20/4, and there was a reliable late-winter report of one flying over the Mermaid pub at Wightwick.  Goshawks nationally are now being seen more frequently in or near to urban areas, and these records may have involved a bird or birds from a small Shropshire/South Staffordshire breeding population.  Another top raptor sighting came from Gareth in the shape of a Red Kite flying northwards over Wightwick fields towards Tinacre Hill on 9/4.  This is a prime time of year to see wandering birds of this species locally, and there have been around eight valley records since the first sighting of a Welsh-tagged bird over Newbridge on May 5th 1996.  Just as Buzzards moved eastwards to nest in and beyond the Wolverhampton conurbation in the late 1990s, so Red Kites have already spread into Shropshire (more than 30 breeding pairs were reported in the county last year).  It can only be a matter of time before these beautiful birds hold nesting territories close to the Smestow Valley.

On a smaller scale, but none the less impressive, three chat species have been recorded passing through the valley in recent weeks.  First up was a single male Wheatear seen on 26/3 on Dunstall Park, a site visited annually by this perky species.  Totals since the end of March at the racecourse have reached double figures, including eleven present on 12/4, with birds feeding in and alongside drainage ditches near to the grandstand.  Ian’s female Common Redstart on the Compton barleyfield on 23/4 was reported on the same morning as a male Whinchat was seen feeding near the Smestow brook on Wightwick fields.  Other migrant records at the racecourse include two Little Ringed Plover on 24/3, a Lesser Whitethroat by the lake on 20/4, a male Yellow Wagtail on 4/4, a Sand Martin on 15/4, a Meadow Pipit on 3/4, and by far the valley’s earliest ever Sedge Warbler singing on the Birmingham Canal side of the site on 8/4.  Three Barn Swallows were back at their racecourse nest area on 12/4, fifteen House Martin were over the same site on 15/4, and two Willow Warbler were at Dunstall Park on 6/4.  Chiffchaff have been vocal all along the valley since late March, with Blackcap totals increasing over the same period (adverse weather meant that females were catching up with males, the two sexes appearing within days of each other.)  Migration for other later warblers is, just as last year, relatively slow, with only four Common Whitethroat reported from their main valley breeding ground at Aldersley/Oxley on 30/4.

 

Records in late winter and spring for resident species include two pairs of Grey Wagtail active at former nest sites, Stock Dove pairs displaying, Green Woodpeckers calling, and Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker seen mating.  Goldcrest and Coal Tit have been reported all along the valley, Goldfinch have been singing at Wightwick, Newbridge, Aldersley, Compton and elsewhere, Nuthatch pairs have been seen narrowing nest holes with mud at a traditional breeding site, at least 12 Rook nests had been built in the oak copse at Dunstall Park by the end of March, Linnet have been singing at last year’s nest site and a male Reed Bunting was in voice by the racecourse lake on 2/4.  Little Grebe, a pair of Mute Swan and at least three pairs of Coot have set up at the lake, but Canada Goose nests on the island have been abandoned for the second year running.  Sparrowhawk activity has been limited, but Buzzard pairs have been seen daily since late winter, with plunge-diving displays over what are now traditional nest sites (at least 14 birds were seen at the same time over Wightwick and out towards Pool Hall late in the morning on 5/4).  A pair of hunting Kestrel suggests the species may be nesting again in the valley after an absence of several years.

Sawbill surge as waters rise

 

Water levels at Dunstall Park lake are still high after a warm, wet winter, and although this may have put off passage waders this spring, good numbers of a sawbill diving duck have been reported.  Goosander have been using the lake as a stopping-off place to rest, preen and fish, with regular sightings there and along the valley since December.  Records include two males and a female on the lake on 20/4, and eight birds flying along the line of the canal by the racecourse towards Newbridge on 10/4.  Reports of other wintering duck at the racecourse lake include a pair of Tufted Duck on 28/3 and 2/4, ten pairs of Teal on 23/1, three males and a female Shoveler on 5/3 and a pair of Gadwall on 26/1 and 3/4.  Snipe numbers at the lake peaked at 14 on 15/2 and a wintering Green Sandpiper was in the open culvert of the Smestow brook by the lake on 15/2 and 16/2.  Other racecourse records include a Cormorant seen moving south westwards on 30/1, fourteen Greylag Goose on 20/2, a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull on 15/2, a moulting adult Mediterranean Gull on 20/2 and a Peregrine flying over the site on 20/3.

 

NB   Dunstall Park is a closed commercial site.  Access is strictly controlled.

 

Late-winter and spring records from elsewhere along the valley include sightings of at least three Rose-ringed Parakeet, three late-departing Redwing near Tunstall Water Bridge on 12/3 and at least ten Siskin by the old railway south of Hordern Road on 12/3.  Two Red-legged Partridge were seen on Wightwick fields on 17/4, a male Pheasant called from a field just north of Windmill Lane canal bridge at Wightwick on 5/4 and 6/4 and a Kingfisher was by the canal run-off stream at Wightwick fields on 11/3.  A Tawny Owl called from Newbridge playingfield on 5/3 and 1/4, and Little Owl were reported regularly at dusk near Castlecroft canal bridge by Wightwick fields.

 

A sad postscript:  A dead Barn Owl found under a hedge at the southern end of Wightwick fields on 11/3 may well have been the bird seen regularly quartering the same area in late January.  This beautiful species bred in the valley in the late 1990s, and birds could be seen at dusk hunting over grass fields north of Smestow School, Wightwick, and over Wightwick fields.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

two at a time

2 birds I forgot to mention overflying last Sunday a raven flying due south and a lapwing due north both over the Meccano.
2 swallows flying low through the paddocks yesterday morning
2 greylags flying towards west park this morning
2 common tern at pool hall yesterday
 2 great crested grebe chicks again at pool hall
2 whinchats reported yesterday at wightwick fields thanks David also a lone redpoll
Too many blackbirds to count especially early doors in the station paddock, both male and female which suggests young being fed
Otherwise a pretty disappointing weekend especially the lack of whitethroats.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Where did I put my gloves

This post covers the last six days covering the whole of the valley. All visits have been early morning when the frost has been in the ground. Generally the northerly winds have held up migration
Star bird was a female redstart found on Saturday which promptly disappeared into the blackthorn on northwest corner of the barley field never to be seen again. This was rivalled by a whinchat found by lord Angus at wightwick fields.
Mallard, having seen a typically large early yr brood just outside the valley it was surprising our first, at castle croft, was a single 2 day old chick. Had others been predated.
Tree creeper, Sunday on old railway by paddocks.
Willow warbler, songsters on Sunday at metal bridge and smestow heights
Blackcap seemingly a further arrival with several singing birds above Compton lock. Whereas as the paddock birds, also in good numbers.
Whitethroat, 2 on Saturday 3 Sunday both midsection 1 each of the other days including at lupin field which was the only one to give a sense of staying.
Swallow 2 over aldersly orchard flying north on weds.
Mistle thrush, having seen none all week 5 were well spread out ground feeding in the midsection today when long tails and bullfinch were also visually prominent.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

stale news

Catch up on last week first.
Midweek walks ranged from wightwick to Oxley,
29 singing chiffchaff -6 south of Compton and 11 in northern section.
4 singing willow warbler 2 in paddocks-either end on Tuesday and 2 in north on Wednesday.
1 by aldersly tyres and 1 from canal but on racecourse. the latter was still singing from the same spot today. But only 9 blackcap which seem scarce this year-altho by far the commonest warbler on somerset levels at the weekend.
Yesterday mid section 7-9
mainly thrush and blackbird song to start with but eventually got to 8 blackcap but only 4 songsters,
Swallow parakeet and 2 cormorant all overfjew the paddocks.
today very pleased to see a male grey wagtail collecting food at a spot where I had seen a pair recently also just outside the valley on the Shropshire union my first brood-12 newly hatched mallard,

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Sunshine and song

17th April 16               morning              mid section

sunny,  4-9°c,  1015 mb,  NW 4-8 mph


 Plenty of activity and song this morning in chilly but sunny conditions. A sparrowhawk seen soaring in the distance probably over Aldersley area eventually drifted of north, then just minuets later three found soaring over Compton Park, then again minutes later two buzzard soaring very nearby. The only singing willow warbler that I am aware of in the mid section was behind the station cafe again but this will be a passing migrant ( they always are here ) so will one yet turn up to breed this year?


Grey Heron 1 >> NE over Compton Park
Sparrowhawk 1 soaring N of Tett Rd,   3 soaring over Compton Pk,
Buzzard pair over Barleyfield
Moorhen 1 sitting Wetlands
Green Woodpecker calls Tettenhall Ridge
Swallow 2 >> N over mid section
Wren 15 singing mid section
Dunnock 4 singing mid section
Robin 6 singing mid section
Blackbird 5 singing mid section
Song Thrush 4 singing Barleyfield
Blackcap 8 ( 7 singing ) mid section
Chiffchaff 6 singing mid section
Willow Warbler 1 singing Station Paddock
Goldcrest pair Station Paddock
Long Tailed Tit 3 mid section
Coal Tit 2 singing Station Paddock
Great Tit 6 singing mid section
Chaffinch 4 ( 2 singing ) mid section
Goldfinch 1 >> W over Barleyfield

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Back to winter and snow

16th April 16           morning              mid section

mostly sunny,  3-7°c,  1004 mb,  NNE 9-11 mph


 A cold and slow start to the day, as it warmed up ( a little ) the birds became more active.                               Later another trip just up the road to Pendeford Hall Lane, Coven, where the last few days has been home to a ring ouzel ( a mountain blackbird ) proved bountiful again. Along with the ROuzel was a whinchat, yellow wagtail, 13 white wagtail and 3 wheatear, Also the other end of the lane a green sandpiper and little egret.


Mallard 2♂ Wetlands
Buzzard 1 over Barleyfield
Moorhen 1 sitting Wetlands
Stock Dove 1+ singing Station Paddock
Green Woodpecker calls Tettenhall Ridge
Great Spotted Woodpecker calls Smestow Bridge
Wren 13 singing mid section
Dunnock 2 singing mid section
Robin 5 singing mid section
Blackbird 5 singing mid section
Song Thrush 5 singing mid section
Blackcap 6 (5 singing) mid section
Chiffchaff 11 singing mid section
Willow Warbler 1 singing Station Paddock
Long Tailed Tit 1 Station Paddock
Coal Tit 1 Station Paddock
Great Tit 6 singing mid section
Chaffinch 3 singing mid section
Bullfinch 1♂  Hanging Grds

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

A rare visit to Dunstall Park

12th April 16              morning                Dunstall Park

mostly cloudy,  8-11°c,  1005 mb,  W 4-6 mph


  I knew Gazz had seen 2 wheatear yesterday at Dunstall whilst not finding any little gulls, so I thought it worth a trip this morning. Eleven wheatear were on view, one of which was bright enough to be of the greenland race. Also 2 singing willow warbler and 2 chiffchaff.


Little Grebe 2 Dunstall Park
Mute Swan 4 Dunstall Park
Greylag Goose 2 Dunstall Park
Canada Goose few Dunstall Park
Mallard 6 Dunstall Park
Buzzard 2 Dunstall Park
Moorhen 2+ Dunstall Park
Coot 6 Dunstall Park
Lesser Black Backed Gull few Dunstall Park
Herring Gull 3 Dunstall Park
Swallow 3 Dunstall Park
Pied Wagtail 1 over Dunstall Park
Wheatear 11 Dunstall Park
Song Thrush 1 singing Dunstall Park
Mistle Thrush 1 Dunstall Park
Chiffchaff 2 singing Dunstall Park
Willow Warbler 2 singing Dunstall Park
Great Tit 1 singing Dunstall Park
Rook few Dunstall Park

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A lovely sunny morning


10th April 16            morning                south section

sunny & warm, 6-12°c,   1007 mb,  SE 8-13 mph


But nothing special bird wise.  Plenty of buzzards soaring everywhere, Kestrel and a singing skylark was good to see. Not many small songsters noted. Pool Hall res only viewed from dam. No little owl ( or tree pipit, white wag ,red kite or peregrine that Gazz had yesterday ).


Great Crested Grebe 2 Pool Hall
Grey Heron 1 Perton Mill Fields
Canada Goose 3 Pool Hall
Mallard few Pool Hall
Tufted Duck c10 Pool Hall
Buzzard plenty South Staffs area
Kestrel 1♀ over Perton Mill Fields
Coot 1+ Pool Hall
Lapwing 1 Bridgenorth Rd fields
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over South Staffs area
Green Woodpecker Calls Wightwick Fields
Skylark 1 singing Pool Hall
Pied Wagtail 2♂ Perton Mill Fields
Wren song Wightwick Fields
Dunnock song Wightwick Fields
Chiffchaff song Wightwick Fields
Jackdaw few Perton Mill Fields
Raven 2 Perton Mill Fields
House Sparrow few Small Holdings
Chaffinch song Wightwick Fields
Greenfinch song Wightwick Fields

Should have been at Pool Hall

sat 9th April 16            morning            mid section

sunny,     6-9°c,   1001 mb,  NW 5-SW 6 mph


 Ian and I seeing plenty of species with chiffchaff and blackcap numbers building nicely, but, a continuous text conversation with Gazz at Pool Hall  / Wightwick area involving tree pipit, 2 white wags and red kite put things in a different completion.


Sparrowhawk 1♂ over Wolves Training Grd
Buzzard 2 over Tettenhall Ridge
Moorhen 1 wetlands
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Kingfisher 1 Prefabs
Green Woodpecker Calls Tettenhall Ridge
Grey Wagtail 2 mid section
Pied Wagtail 1♂ Wetland Field
Blackbird 4 singing mid section
Song Thrush 3 singing mid section
Blackcap 6 singing mid section
Chiffchaff 12 singing mid section
Long Tailed Tit 2 pair mid section
Coal Tit 1 singing Station Paddock
Great Tit song mid section
Nuthatch 2 calling mid section
Chaffinch 2 singing mid section
Greenfinch Calls Top Roses
Goldfinch 2+ mid section
Bullfinch 2 pair mid section

Just Whitethroat to come

fri 8th April 16             morning                mid section

cloudy, brighter last hour,  8-11°c,  1013 mb,  W 6 mph


 Both Ian and myself have had chiffchaff,blackcap and willow warbler in the mid section and Gazz had all three at Dunstall Park, so that just leaves whitethroat to go, as far as our regular summer breeding migrants are concerned. Whitethroat should be with us in 10-14 days. The Loopinfields are a good area to find the earliest.


Mallard 2♂ 1♀ Wetlands
Buzzard Pair over Compton Rough
Moorhen 1 Wetlands
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 drumming Annex Barleyfield
Pied Wagtail 1♂ Wetland Field
Wren 13 singing mid section
Dunnock 4 singing mid section
Robin 16 singing mid section
Blackbird 5 singing mid section
Song Thrush 2 singing mid section
Mistle Thrush 2 singing mid section
Blackcap 5 singing mid section
Chiffchaff 7 singing mid section
Willow Warbler 1 singing Station Paddock
Long Tailed Tit pair Graiseley Cnr
Great Tit 11 singing mid section
Chaffinch 4 ( 1 singing ) mid section
Greenfinch 1 singing Prefabs
Goldfinch 4 mid section
Bullfinch 9 mid section