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Old Sunday 1st January 2006, 17:22   #1
Sedgley
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In and around South Staffordshire.

What better way to start the New Year than with a bird watching session? Visited Baggeridge Country Park and with a reasonably mild and definitely dry day forecast, everything looked good for the first trip of the year.

Hoping that it was a good omen for the year, the moment I stepped foot in the park, and thus began the session proper, I spotted a male bullfinch feeding at the top of a tree in the lane. Certainly out of the common birds, bullfinches are my favourite species.

There has been a firecrest in the park for a while now and although I have made several visits, I have yet to see it. Until today that is. A great start to the year. The bird came quite close and although it was very active and difficult to get a prolonged view due to the evergreen foliage, nevertheless I managed some brilliant moments. At one stage, the bird was no more than 2 metres away. A male bird.

Also heard a tawny owl, but every time I got to the vicinity of the bird it went quiet. Then I would leave the wood and it would start again. So I would return, only for it to go quiet. I'm sure the bird must be a sandwell town supporter...

Four tit species ticked - long tailed tit, blue tit, great tit and marsh tit, with the latter being a single bird whilst multiples of the others were seen.

Numerous water birds on the pools I visited but nothing special, just the usual species. Most seen were on the Spring Pool - 32 mallards (20 m, 12 f), 6 moorhens and 3 coots. On the pool also ticked 26 black headed gulls, a straight split between adult and first winter birds.

Three great spotted woodpeckers (2 m, 1 f) and a female green woodpecker. The former were all high up in trees, the latter flew from grass as I approached.

Birds seen (in order): bullfinch, robin, greenfinch, dunnock, great tit, blue tit, collared dove, chaffinch, wood pigeon, magpie, carrion crow, firecrest, goldcrest, great spotted woodpecker, jackdaw, marsh tit, nuthatch, blackbird, long tailed tit, black headed gull, green woodpecker, mallard, moorhen, fieldfare, kestrel, grey heron, starling.

Quite funny really. Saw a firecrest but didn't see a wren.

5 hour session - 27 species
Total for the year - 27
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Old Sunday 1st January 2006, 18:08   #2
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After I left you this morning I made my way through the wood down to spring pool and saw the same birds that you reported,(no Kingfisher today).Retraced my steps back to Lydiates trying to track down that elusive Tawny Owl. No luck but it was still calling when I finally gave up. Hope It enjoyed the game of hide and seek more than I did. Returned to car park via The Bag pool hoping to see Redpoll or siskin in the Alders. Nothing doing there either. Never mind, the sightings of the Firecrest more than made up for the minor disappointments. If the weather is ok I will try and return tomorrow, this time with the camera. Also finished on 27 birds, saw a wren, Little Grebe and Tree creeper but not Green woodpecker, Fieldfare or Jackdaw.
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Old Monday 2nd January 2006, 18:54   #3
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A little excursion across the county boundary today into Shropshire. Only had an hour, but that's better than nothing. Not as as good as two hours, but you don't always get what you want in life do you? If every dream came true, then Wolves would be in the Champions League and sandwell town would be but a bad nightmare of something in the dim past.

Visited a small pool complex near the town of Bridgnorth. Nothing beyond the usual species for such pools, just moorhens and mallards spotted. Also regular black headed gulls, most seen at one time - 15.

Saw my first wren of the year, and just like the proverbial bus, they kept coming. Every few yards of undergrowth seemed to have its own resident bird. Unless it was the same one that kept following me of course.

Lots of bullfinches, most seen at one time was a flock of 7 feeding alongside one of the pools. A flock of 28 goldfinches flew overhead at one stage, but they carried on and didn't land. But a new bird for 2006.

Four redpolls briefly landed in an alder tree before they continued on their way too. A single siskin also was a first tick of the year.

Had a good sighting of a male sparrowhawk as it flew across a field and landed in an oak tree. And to complete the new birds for the year, a male pheasant flushed as I walked past one of the pools.

1 hour session - 18 species.
Total for the year - 33
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Old Tuesday 3rd January 2006, 21:20   #4
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A couple of hours this morning and I did a local route that I really enjoy - a short lane walk and then a section of Penn Common and back.

This route is always good for finches and today ticked greenfinch, chaffinch, goldfinch, bullfinch, with the latter being a pair in the lane and a group of 5 (2m, 3f) on the actual common. Both sightings were prolonged and left me a happy man just for them, as I absolutely love bullfinches.

Also saw 4 redpoll, feeding in the lane itself. Had a great view until a car came past and scattered them. But by then it was time to leave anyway.

Saw my first redwing of the year, initially a single bird in a field at the top of the lane, but later a flock c.80 birds feeding in another field further down.

Also my first grey wagtail of 2006, a bird on the gravel alongside Penn Common brook.

Flock of c.70 starlings feeding in a field alongside the lane. Very nervous birds, continually in the trees, then back on the ground, then in the trees and so on.

Lots of magpies around, mostly single birds or smaller groups. Largest flock 13 birds perched in a couple of trees.

2 hours - 22 species.
Total for the year - 35
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Old Wednesday 4th January 2006, 17:40   #5
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I only had time for a quick birding trip to Baggeridge today as it is the day to make the weekly trip to the local tesco.Never mind I did manage to see 2 kingfishers flying together up and down the Spring pool,also Green woodpecker,Pied wagtail,Redwing and Fieldfare around the park.I also saw Mistle and Song thrushes,but "the Throstles" are not my favourite topic of conversation,especially as they are in a higher division than we are.
This takes the total to 38 so far.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2006, 12:51   #6
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Not a birding session but on the Staffs/Worcs canal in South Staffordshire added a little grebe and a kingfisher to the new list of birds seen this year.

The little grebe was a single bird sighting, they are quite common on the canal although usually seen in pairs. It was active, diving quite regularly.

The kingfisher was also a single bird sighting. The bird was flying low and fast along the route of the canal.

Total for the year - 37

(Watch out John, I'm only one behind you)
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Old Thursday 5th January 2006, 18:06   #7
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Had a very pleasant surprise when I looked out the window this morning. 'That looks just like a male blackcap' I said to my wife. Sure enough, focusing in with the binoculars, that's just what it was. I was working on the table in my office, but from then on found it very difficult to concentrate on anything but the bird table. The bird returned again, just before 1.00 pm.

Also had a female blackbird and a wood pigeon on the table. But not at the same time, the pigeon takes it over, although I have had two in there before now.

Black headed gulls perched on the roof of the building behind. Counted a maximum of 17 birds.

Flock of 20+ starlings flew into a tree in a garden a few houses down.

Total for the year - 38.

(Watch out John, I've caught you up)
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Old Thursday 5th January 2006, 18:45   #8
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Great news on the Blackcap,unfortunately no new species today. Tomorrow I will try and get that elusive Tawny and the Baggeridge Blackcap. ATB John.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2006, 18:59   #9
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John, watching the blackcap while sitting by the fire with my feet up. Comfort birding or what?

If you fail to see the one over Baggeridge, I am selling tickets for my garden.
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Old Saturday 7th January 2006, 19:00   #10
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Another short excursion across the county boundary in Shropshire. Not a birding trip, but this is the time of the year when you add a few new species almost every day.

I was on the River Severn just below Bridgnorth and added four new birds for 2006.

A single mute swan and a single cormorant were big enough birds and didn't need binoculars. The former was on the river itself, the latter flying north from the direction of Chelmarsh reservoir.

A group of 9 goosander were also on the river. They kept their distance but were easily identified. They are very common on the Severn in this area and I always see at least a pair when out and about.

Finally added common buzzard to the 2006 list. Two single birds flying in and out of a wood alongside the river. Also heard another bird calling in the wood itself. It hasn't been that long ago that you had to go into Wales to encounter a buzzard, now they are common right across the local area.

The blackcap was also sighted at 8.00 am on the bird table in my garden. I am still chuffed at having an overwintering bird in the back yard. It's been a good year so far, enjoying it very much.

Total for the year - 42

(Watch out John, I've overtaken you)
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Old Sunday 8th January 2006, 15:13   #11
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Still lagging behind you Stewart,but at least I have managed to drag the list into a slightly more respctable total of 40 species,one of them being the all elusive Tawny Owl. John.
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Old Sunday 8th January 2006, 19:38   #12
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Well done on the owl John. Was it in the same area? I shall have to see if I can see it on my next visit to the area. last couple of trips been down the lane by you and then on to the common.

Is the firecrest still showing well? Still lots of people out and about after it?
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Old Sunday 8th January 2006, 19:47   #13
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Another walk down a local lane and then on to Penn Common. Added a couple of new species.

First of all, a single song thrush ticked. When I was younger these birds were everywhere, yet now sadly they are not as common. Lovely birds though, this one was working the field along a hedge.

Also added coal tit for the year. A pair of birds were chasing each other from tree to tree in mating style. Saw these on the common itself.

Also on the common a group of bullfinches (1 male and 3 females) in a bush. They were there for a while and I took advantage of that. At the risk of repeating myself too much, I really do love those birds. Brilliant!

Flock of 16 goldfinches feeding on the ground, also two female chaffinches in with them. A single greenfinch completed the finches seen.

Starlings still showing in numbers in the fields around the lane, flock contained about 80 birds.

Right at the end a kestrel flew across the farm in the lane. Only a brief sighting, enough to identify the species but not the sex.

2 hours - 20 species
Total for the year - 44
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Old Monday 9th January 2006, 17:20   #14
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Went to Baggeridge again today,the Firecrest is still giving fantastic views. It was in the ivy on the side of the wall while I stood on the path,you could almost reach out and touch it.Don't ask where the camera was! I left it at home because I did not think there would be enough light for a long lense. That will teach me I could have photograhed it with a mobile phone.Yes the tawny was in the same area yesterday where we searched on new years day. Species at Baggeridge this year= 42. John.
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Old Saturday 14th January 2006, 08:39   #15
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Had a busy week, that four letter word known as 'work' came in the way of any regular birding. Managed a very short trip to Penn Common though this week.

Added a couple of new species for the year. Pair of pied wagtails perched on a telegraph wire right on the edge of the Common and a group of 8 house sparrows in a bush in the same area. The latter are regular in that area, you can guarantee that a walk along that section of the Common will result in the birds being seen. I actually like house sparrows, I suppose their demise has developed an affection .

I can't stop seeing bullfinches either. Although the single male bird was right at the very end as I was putting everything away in the car to drive home.

Flock of 9 long tailed tits on the Common. Also several blue tits and great tits.

1.25 hours - 15 species
Total for the year - 46
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Old Tuesday 17th January 2006, 10:13   #16
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A change of venue is always good for new birds and so a couple of hours on a local nature reserve (Lime Park Pits, Rushall) added 6 new species for the year.

Top sighting was a small group of tree sparrows. Just as I spotted them, a man came along with two dogs that were racing everywhere and they scattered. He even encouraged the dogs to go through the field and hedgerows as he said that he would do me a favour by flushing all the birds out for me to see! I explained it was OK, but by then it was too late.

In a short section of hedgerow and field there was a large concentration of birds, mostly chaffinches, but also reed buntings and yellowhammers, with the odd goldfinch.

The woodland pool had 14 tufted duck (11m, 3f) and the canal section had 20+ Canada geese grazing in the adjoining fields.

Also saw my first jays of the year. A pair of birds were in trees near meadows and a single bird in bushes near the car park.

Birds of prey seen - common buzzard and a kestrel.

2.25 hours - 27 species
Total for the year - 52
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Old Wednesday 18th January 2006, 18:52   #17
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Is the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker around Baggeridge at present? I gather it likes the pools and shows early spring really well. I have been to Whites Wood a few times only seen the Firecrest once. Is it still around?

I had 3 Blackcaps in my garden at my old house in Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton - a few years ago. They overwintered.

P.S. Were either of you the fellow Wolves fan I met at Parkgate (Dee Estuary) on Sunday just gone?
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Old Wednesday 18th January 2006, 21:27   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfbirder
Is the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker around Baggeridge at present? I gather it likes the pools and shows early spring really well. I have been to Whites Wood a few times only seen the Firecrest once. Is it still around?

I had 3 Blackcaps in my garden at my old house in Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton - a few years ago. They overwintered.

P.S. Were either of you the fellow Wolves fan I met at Parkgate (Dee Estuary) on Sunday just gone?

Hi wolfbirder,The Lesser spot has been seen feeding on a fatball which is suspended from a tree on the edge of Whiteswood in a place called sparrow copse, which is close to Lydiates.I have not heard or seen the Firecrest since last Wednesday,but that is not saying it is not there because it had been seen about 150 yards away from it's usual place and as you know there is no shortage of appropriate habitat. Unfortunately I was not the Wolves fan you met Sunday but maybe We will bump into each other one day. All the best John.

ps The lesser spot shows and drums really well in early Spring and I have personally seen 3 different birds.

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Old Thursday 19th January 2006, 08:28   #19
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Wasn't me either on the Dee. But it seems that Wolves and birds mix quite well.

The blackcap in my garden hasn't been seen since my last report of it.
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Old Friday 20th January 2006, 17:03   #20
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Suppose we have to make do with our second love at these difficult footballing times eh!

Had a bad days birding today. Toured south staffs, good start with a visit to Marquis Drive feeding station at Cannock chase, over 60 Brambling around the feeders, and a couple of Bullfinch too. Someone said there was a flock of Crossbill nearby but there was no sign for me. Went on to the hard-to-find hamlet of Ingestre near Great Haywood (near Rugeley), but it was midday and I could not find the 2-3 hawfinches seen in the churchyard in the mornings. Its a funny little place, I felt a bit out of place to be honest, its just a few stables and a church. I heard a bird drumming in the churchyard, could have been a lesser spot, but also a Great Tit was feeding on the ground, dashing up the tree & they do sometimes bang seed on bark to open it. There was meant to have been 4 Bean Geese at nearby Hixon but i couldnt find them either, but I do not know this area well at all.
Went on to Walton On Trent but the Great Grey Shrike couldnt even be found and it is usually loyal to the area! I saw it here last year by the football pitch by the river. So I went back to nearby Croxall & Whitmore Haye, plenty of ducks including Goldeneye but no sign of the 2 drake Smew seen. No Merlin or Short Eared owls seen either, nor any Corn Buntings or even Whooper Swans, but 2 Peregines were causing chaos in the Lapwing flock.
So I returned home cold and disappointed.
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Old Friday 20th January 2006, 18:30   #21
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Sounds like a typical days winter birding.... Time is so short at this time of year, and the weather uninviting. Another 10 mins at each site may have made the difference, but the time and the weather urge you onwards. Been there, had that day...Still there's always the weekend!
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Old Saturday 21st January 2006, 09:12   #22
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too right tim, i have had wonderful days in winter, yesterday was just one of those where nothing went as hoped.
Going to swallow moss tomorrow, hope to see hen harrier or two coming in to roost . fingers crossed!
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Old Sunday 22nd January 2006, 09:11   #23
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My wife needed to go into Wolverhampton so I took advantage by dropping here off and going birding, albeit for a very short session. Visited the Valley Park Nature Reserve, right on the edge of the city.

Keep seeing bullfinches everywhere, a flock of 6 spotted briefly in a hedge before flying off and then a single male feeding in a bush.

A reed bunting spotted in a hawthorn bush in scrub.

Highlight though was the number of song thrushes seen. Saw two pairs and three singles, could possibly have been more, but couldn't say for sure that they weren't repeat sightings. But the 7 definite individual birds was enough, as I don't usually see large numbers at any one time and certainly not in a relatively small area.

Lots of feral pigeons in Wolverhampton itself on the way back. Group of c.50 alone in a tree on the ring road.

1.5 hours - 18 species
Total for the year - 53
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Old Sunday 22nd January 2006, 19:07   #24
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not a great deal at valley park really, usually a buzzard or two, maybe a kingfisher shooting along the canal if yoom lucky, and those colourful bullfinches. I was at the adjacent Aldersley Sports stadium a few weeks back, looking out onto the track there was about 30 mistle thrushes and a buzzard perched on the grass in the middle. very bizarre. There is a pool in the middle of nearby dunstall racecourse which is really hard to view but they do get snipe on there and a few other waders at times.
There is a pied wagtail roost outside macdonalds in wolverhampton. this can be quite good with upto 100 birds.
I went to swallow moss today but it was covered in fog...so i failed to see any hen harriers and my recent dismal run continues!
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Old Sunday 22nd January 2006, 19:11   #25
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I always check on the pied wagtails when I do Molineux winter games. Last year they roosted in the trees just outside the covered section by Littlewoods but last game (v Luton) the tree was empty. However they were around the Mcdonald's area, but not roosting, instead feeding on the ground.

Next game to check on them is Stoke in the first week of February.
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