Compton to Birmingham Canal - Lock 19 area.
A late start on Saturday produced nothing of note other than 2 Greylag Geese that flew West to Meccano Bridge, then twisted, heading North along the canal, illustrating just how important a navigational tool the valley is!
An early start on Sunday showed all the signs of being quite again on my mid-section patch. The news of the Common Sandpiper in the week tempted me to take a rare trip North of Newbridge. After the Reeling Warbler nightmare at the top of the Barleyfield, I was armed with the camera.
On the way a Willow Warbler was singing at Eddy's Alders, with 3 Chiffchaff together nearby. A keen Blackbird was attempting to build a nest in one go, barely able to fly over the canal with the material it had collected!!
A Goldcrest was singing at Newbridge. A Chiffchaff was singing in Newbridge Wood and a Grey Wagtail flew over Hordern Road Bridge. A Blackcap was singing by the Wildside Activity Centre and a Grey Heron flew up from the North along the canal, landing nearby.
A pair of Bullfinch were by Dunstall Water Bridge and at least 2 Jays were squarking in Hawthorn Wood.
A Chiffchaff sang from the Racecourse Oak Coppice and a pair of Blackcap were also by the canal opposite there. Just North of the coppice 2 Willow Warbler were together with one singing.A Nuthatch called from the NW corner of the Dunstall Park along with singing Blackcap, Song Thrush and Chiffchaff.
At Aldersley junction, I made my way up to the Lupin Field before joining the Birmingham canal at Lock 19.
I was so glad that I had made this trip and my thanks certainly go to those who took time out to report the Sandpiper in the week. (Unfortunately, the Graisley Culvert description of an odd bird was too vague and inconclusive to be accepted, but please please blog readers, keep up those reports to the birders, because it helps us so much. Thank you!!)
First to the Lupin Field, noting 3 Bullfinch, and 2 male and a female Blackcap on the way. A male Common Whitethroat sang near the factory fence and a male Kestrel hunting over the field was most welcome, as our mid-section bird has long since vanished, so we dont get to see them. Then another beautiful encounter. As I was trying to locate a calling Pheasant, a pair of Reed Bunting, lifted off the ground heading down the bank towards the canal.
|Male Reed Bunting near Lock 19 on Birmingham Canal|
Then came the prize - a valley first for me. As I passed lock 19, I became aware of a flash of white bobbing on the mud on the opposite side of the canal - Common Sandpiper!!
Although these birds are seen annually at the racecourse (private land), I was surprised after flicking through the valley archives, just how irregular they have been away from that site. I have often seen Common Sandpiper on the canal by Pool Hall over the years, but there have only been 2 days since May 2001 up until December 2010, when the species has graced our canals and brooks. Funny enough on this same date in 2002, one was reported on the Birmingham canal and 2 were at Wightwick Mill. Then there were no records away from Dunstall Park until 20/4/2009 when a single bird was seen along the canal between Newbridge and Compton.
So was my Common Sandpiper the one that had been reported in the week?? Well the above statistics, together with the fact that there have been suspected long-stayers at the racecourse before (One that seemed to have remained from 25/4/2007 to 7/5/2007, for instance), means that in all likelihood it was.
So!! thank you again to those who reported the bird, because I wouldn't have made the trip otherwise, and I would have probably had to wait a few years for such an encounter!!!
|Back to the patch! A Grey Heron (With a Crow waiting to pounce!) |
by Newbridge old Canal Bridge on my return home.