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Withymoor - Amblecote, Stourbridge.....

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Old Thursday 26th March 2020, 20:12   #1401
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rollingthunder View Post
6 hours in the field to be precise

No new species of Spring migrant were recorded unfortunately


Laurie
Only managed 4 hours today myself during my alloted exercise session around Clent and Walton Hill, was hoping for a little something around the well known Wheatear/Ouzel paddock but nothing!!

Only the thought of plodding through the centre of Stourbridge puts me off a walk over to Bellsmill area along the canal and possible up to Gothersley Rough, plus the stream of sweated joggers/mountain bikers throwing out spittle in all directions!

Maybe I'll find a quiet corner of Stourbridge crem and count Colld Doves

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Old Thursday 26th March 2020, 23:16   #1402
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Originally Posted by Phil Andrews View Post
With the greatest respect Laurie, how is spending 5.5 hours out exercising in line with the Government's guidance on Covid to "even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home"?
I have NO respect Laurie, I see you`ve increased to 6 Hours.

In a nutshell GET-Off your bike and stop at home like the rest of the responsible birders

Dont bother responding
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Old Friday 27th March 2020, 06:40   #1403
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I am following guidelines which is open to interpretation and as it is my thread i will respond whenever i like👍🏻

I am exercising common sense which is something i suggest others do.

I also suggest that you save your invective for dickheads like these

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-englan...shire-52047532

I have been railing against these tog idiots for quite a while. A % of the current crop of newbie birders, mainly older people with time/money/car etc, contribute nothing and take whatever they can. This personally has led to me becoming even more insular, if that is possible, in my dealings when out in the field. I find i have to ‘weigh up’ approaching birders and decide whether to even acknowledge their passing presence and whether to ‘shoot the breeze’ with them or will they demand info e.g. ‘what’s about’? The advent of social media has been a double-edged sword and i owe it to nobody to pass on information and will be circumspect, even with birding friends, on exact details of breeding species in particular. You only have to read about the wall-to-wall braindead at a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker site in Wyre - no wonder they are scarce

Elsewhere on this forum a well-known patch-worker and twitcher puts a case that joggers and cyclists pose more of a risk than does a twitcher in a car who stands a couple of yards (we have left the EU btw). Lone twitchers in a one-person car driving miles with their smartphones and GPS are hardly the poster boys for small carbon footprints and are unlikely to be on St Greta of Thunberg’s Xmas card list

Garden birds are fine, i still have a feeder up, but let’s face it not much happens - might as well set up a webcam and fast forward to the ‘action’

As for Stourbridge - it’s like a set from a science fiction movie. Virtually everything is closed. What will all the ‘seats’ at all the haidressers, nail bars and tanning salons do? Not a legal PAYE employee exists at any of the 20 or so premises in the Town. Hopefully these money-laundering franchises will go to the wall - karma or what

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Friday 27th March 2020, 08:13   #1404
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Your posts are shameful Laurie!
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Old Friday 27th March 2020, 09:09   #1405
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No shame here Pam - oh and nice to hear from you

As i have already stated please save your ire for the idiots chasing a Ring Ouzel instead of finding their own...

Laurie -
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Old Friday 27th March 2020, 09:13   #1406
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A Warbler in a Willow and a Capped Black.....

Only 4 hours in the field yesterday...

The weather is forecast to change and altho pressure will remain high it is centred over Scandinavia thus the winds will be in the North. This will curtail my activities, good news in some quarters, the birding conditions will be the deciding factor and not any Hectoring Cassandra's on here or elsewhere - 2 words derived from the Trojan War so hopefully something has been imparted today

It is of note that the Worcs Wildlife Trust has closed its reserves to not only the general public but members as well. A shame as at this time of year it is virtually an alternative postcode for one or two regulars and i look forward to seeing what is moving there as i consider it a barometer for local seasonal movement. For those seeking a bit of daily exerecise there are Public footpaths in the vicinity where a scope could be set up whilst en-route to do your shopping...

8-10 would have found me at Fens Pools - looking good but still no cigar! I was hoping for a wader sp or possibly some recently arrived Sand Martins but it was Chiffies just into double figures. The Williams pool drew a blank but last Spring produced 3 Wheatears and 6 spp of singing Warbler on the same visit so it has to be checked. Back via the 9 Locks where a smart Willow Warbler was feeding in an area of mainly dwarf Sallows interspersed with Blackthorn. These 2 species are worth targeting as they are an important source of nectar early in the migrant season I normally click with Blackcap before WW so it was an unexpected surprise and a reward for a bit of effort.....and flak! The Delph flats were scoured for Peregrine but no sign altho there have been 2 birds reported over the Autumn/Winter. Withymoor held 4x LBB. CC's were absent from a day ago so it shows how ephemeral these birds are when recently arrived - they are 'hot to trot'.

The now regular 4 mile round trip to Wordsley Basin yielded nothing. I decided to take the Dog further to the Bells Mill bridge. Dippers nest upto half a mile either side so it is worth 15 mins to see if you catch a moving bird. A singing male was present in February and the do breed every year somewhere in the vicinity. Upon departing my ears pricked up with a scratchy song that turned into a robust affair revealing a smart male Blackcap - first of the season 3 for the day

Finished with a toodle around local fields from Churchill to Hagley noting an occupied Sparrowhawk nest recently refurbished but drew a blank on 2 Raven sites one of which had a Buzzard rearranging the bedding.

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Sunday 29th March 2020, 09:32   #1407
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A few pics locally.....

Sadly 2 of a dead Badger almost in the centre of Stourbridge, just off the Ring Road up Worcester St past the Waggon and Horses

I have no time for these people - what sort of speed does a car driver have to be doing to hit one of these beautiful creatures? The poor animal had not been knocked out of the way it was lying where it was hit.....by the pavement.

I hope the idiot that was responsible for this has a sleepless night and if reincarnation exists he comes back as one - maybe, hopefully, the World will have changed by then and the genes of these braindead boy-racers have been bred out.

I blame Jeremy Clarkson.

A solitary Heron down Fens Pools 'King of the Hill' and a singing male Blackcap down at Hurcott on Friday.

I haven't been out yesterday and neither will today it is far too cold - i will post some notes from Friday at some stage

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 05:57   #1408
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Friday was the last of the Sunny days for the foreseeable future, certainly according to the BBC weather. Fingers crossed because although Meteorology is a science forecasting is not an ‘exact’ branch of it. It is cloudy all the way with the odd break in them but mercifully dry with pressure remaining high but cool cyclonic winds dominating from very light to moderate. Migration has all but stopped at Portland Bill which is my birding barometer of choice. I also check Birding The Strait but although their blog is interesting it consists of video clips comprising local stuff and organised trips and their Twitter feed appears to be moribund. They have, as expected, had to drop everything for the foreseeable future so i wish them well for the Autumn

My socially-distanced bimbling on Friday lasted 3 hours and i covered 16 miles on my Red Brompton. I cycled out to Sugar Loaf Paddocks where a sprinkling of owners were to be found involved in Horsiculture - all drove there of course. From Iverley to Ismere and Island Pool. For those that know it i position myself by the water ‘bunker’ adjacent to the steep set of little steps cut into the hillside. This means the overgrown pool is to one side and a couple of hundred yards of Blackthorn scrub to the other. Chiffchaffs were in double figures with a couple of Blackcaps for support. At the top of the steps is an interesting area of Gorse and Heath where Stonechats still breed afaik and is also a spot where local BBC sleb Brett Westwood is to be found on New Years Eve - Brett lives in Stourbridge when not in Bristol. From there over to Hurcott where i bumped into 2 more birders, one i know and one i didn’t. 5 Teal dropped in 2m3f but as usual little else on the pool. Again CC’s and BC’s were present - about half a dozen of each.

I did not bother going out at all over the weekend due to the biting wind. When you cycle everywhere the conditions that you bird in are the most important factor - no mobile hide to skulk in or roll a window down for Winter Gull roosts etc. Yesterday just a 4 mile round trip with the Dog to Wordsley Basin picking up just 1 each of the usual suspects en route.

I will be out for exercising and shopping this week as long as the wind allows...

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 07:17   #1409
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Before posting yesterdays notes a few snippets...

The BBC posted an article about the results of a 20-year survey on Spanish Nightingales. The paper reveals that birds are having smaller broods with shorter wings. It hypothesises that this is due to ‘global warming’ and that it will inhibit returning migrants from sub-Sahara to Northern Europe. Here in the UK they have been declining for years due to habitat degradation. Twenty years seems too short a study period to my mind. Perhaps birds are not travelling South of the Sahara? I have birded during this period in Morocco in November and December and have encountered Nightingales ‘out of season’ every time.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52111309

In the light of current events i wouldn’t want any birder’s experience of a Nightingale to be a spell recovering in the new ‘hospital’ at the converted Excel Centre in that London place.....

On a lighter note here is Andre Rieu’s Nightingale Serenade

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YmDNhi07_Ho

Laurie -
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 07:25   #1410
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What a difference a day makes - a day in the life of BBC weather forecasting that is.....!

Yesterday’s doom and gloom drum roll of cloud n cool has been replaced by Sunny spells and double figures - none of this was on offer when i posted yesterday. Presumably the high pressure is slowly moving South with the winds pulling in warm air.

Attached is a screenshot along with another noting, encouraging, local birders to take their permitted exercise and find good birds accordingly

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 07:57   #1411
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Yesterday i managed a 2 hour jaunt around the Fens Pools / Merry Hill area in reasonably pleasant conditions actually better than i saw forecast. I decided to pop out late morning and eventually set off at midday returning at 2ish. Birding later means that any breeze is warmer but considering it is Brierley Hill and 'locked down' it does mean that by Noon the manhole covers are well and truly up and a sprinkling of locals with tins and spliffs was not entirely unexpected - i will make it earlier in future.....

As expected there were no waders and the group of Teal and solitary Shoveler that Todd Chater had reported had departed. A handful of Chiffchaffs were singing and a group of ca5O large gulls were assembled on the Top Pool. They looked the usual mix of Herring and Lessers but i generally photograph these groups and check later on the PC for anything more productive.

En-route there and back using different roads there were more Chiffchaffs singing. I think i probably encountered more than were reported on Portland ystda which is going thru a dire patch particularly as there are no visitors to the Obs to check the fields and quarries etc. Should the forecast stick then things will change somewhat over the next week or so

My route back took in Merry Hill and as i approached i could see a Corvid in some Alder and stopped 'just in case' and it turned out to be a Raven. The bird then called. It was a couple of hundred yards from the nest and was presumably the male calling to the female to sit tight. I didn't and don't hang about. The site can be viewed from a mile away along the canal which is where i will observe for the foreseeable future now it is obvious that a female is sitting.

An hour with the Dog down the cut to Wordsley yielded a couple more CC's.

Good Birding -

Laurie

Attached: a couple of yesterdays bad boy at MH...
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Old Friday 3rd April 2020, 06:46   #1412
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Things have finally picked up at Portland with overnight rain downing a range of species for yesterdays tally including around 40 Wheatears (34 the day before) and 150 Willow Warblers around the Bill alone

I sallied out from 10-12 to take the local pulse. I haven’t failed to record a Wheatear locally in March for as long as i have been back round here birding and certainly the last 20 years around Stourbridge. I have also never recorded a March Willow Warbler around here but still no former and the latter picked up over a week ago. Looking for migrant birds and forecasting the weather share the same vagaries of not being an exact science.....

I cycled a leisurely 14 miles yesterday in a light to increasingly moderate cool wind with clouds becoming noticeably ‘dark-bottomed’ towards the end. It did however brighten up later in the afternoon.

Over to Gothersley where the Flashes have noticeably reduced in size no doubt the wind has played an important factor in water evaporation. With the forecast of double-figure days ahead i doubt whether much will remain beyond the month end without some heavy precipitation. We have had enough rain imho so no fingers crossed here for more of the wet stuff. Both Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were evenly scattered down as far as the Stewponey Lock. I made a point of scanning every ploughed field i could see, which were plenty, alas still no Wheatear but i did clock a party of foraging Fieldfares c50 in the roadside fields around Whittington Sewer works - must check the adjacent Stewponey Tip for Raven this week. Whittington Track also held no surprises and no sentinel Peregrine either.

The weekend promises to be good birding weather with things picking up on Saturday and Sunday looking excellent - plenty of scope for exercise with a bit of shopping thrown in. Judging by posts, threads and blogs i have looked at there are a lot of birders out patch-working with discretion

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Saturday 4th April 2020, 08:00   #1413
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Black Beauty...

The Grand National might be cancelled but there are other 'Black Beauties'

Only a coupla hours out ystda. An hour each down Withymoor with the Dog and another up at the West Hagley Fields. This 2 hours provided me with the best birds of the week after all the cycling / shopping / exercising...

The spur railway line up to Brierley Hill is only about 300 yards from the house en-route to the Golden Puddle. It usually provides the first encounters with migrants, local stuff like Bullfinch, Foxes and yesterday a low-calling Raven that was beating up and down the track. At this time of year adults should be paired so this bird, probably a male, should be nesting fairly close but it could be the male from earlier on in the week as that nest is about 2.5 miles away. Either way i never tire of watching and listening to this increasingly urban species

The pool held no waders, i hope to not have a second consecutive blank year down there. There are 2 distinct scrub areas within the Lake perimeter. One is Sallow scrub that is in bright Sun and is usually crawling with insects at this time of year and the other is in dappled shade at the other end. Both are sheltered depending on the wind. The dappled area held several feeding Chiffchaffs yesterday afternoon. Hagley Fields again held no Wheatear but there are only 2 suitable fields this Spring. I did however pick up a distant tinkling Corn Bunting and a subadult Yellow-legged Gull flew off out of one of the stubble fields.

Anyone doubting the late Spring? Portland only recorded its first Ring Ouzel ystda - this could be linked to lack of coverage...

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: Raven, singing male Starling and distant Corn Bunting.
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Old Sunday 5th April 2020, 05:33   #1414
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Yesterday i took off as soon a i saw the Sun break thru at 9 o/c and headed to Fens Pools..........big mistake By the time i got there the skies had closed in threatening either rain or fog of sorts and more to the point it was very cold which, for me, takes all the enjoyment out of it. Despite always being prepared i simply do not like birding if it is cold as being on a bike there is no shelter from it...

The Pools themselves gave up nothing despite scanning and re-scanning the copious shoreline. Narrowing of eyes could not turn mishaped stones and large pebbles into crouching Stints A solitary pair of Tufties on the Top Pool was about it. A handful of Chiffchaffs and a couple of Blackcaps provided background music and that was it as they say.

I am optomistic that things will change this week with the long Sunny periods and Southerly winds that are forecast - a steady trickle of Swallows at Portland yesterday promises more and variety this week although a mate has a pair of Swallows back outside his house on the telephone lines in that Kinver place. I have yet to see a Sand Martin

I ambled back via the Raven site and was rewarded with brief but 'socially distant' views of the female appearing to be turning eggs so all is well. A mile away along the canal at the Delph i picked up another alighting on an area of grassland and feeding. After about 10 mins it flew off with a low kronk and tracked a convoluted 'S' flight back to the nest to disgorge whatever it had gleaned.

Today is Sunny from 7 until 7 and i intend to be out cycling, exercising, shopping etc etc for large chunks of it. I note that Government guidelines are now morphing into 'instructions' but i satisfy myself that the latter are for the idiots in the parks and on Brighton beach whereas the former are for the more discreet and discerning

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: male Raven alighting to feed and en-route with breakfast for his bride (i know the feeling mate).
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Old Monday 6th April 2020, 08:13   #1415
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Kite flying.....

With a 'glorious' day forecast i was chomping at the bit and by 0645 i had consumed my 2 cups of tea, posted the previous days ramblings on here, taken my Meds and did a walkaround of the bike checking tyres etc much like combat pilots do before off on a 'sortie'

First off up the cut to the Delph to listen for warblers and check for perching Peregrines. Warblers comprised the usual 2 species but no cigar. I had Fens Pools, literally, to myself with only a solitary jogger in 1.5 hours. Shoreline was checked and rechecked but to no avail. It was fairly breezy on the Causeway so i spent an hour down in the shelter of the Top Pool. Equal numbers of both Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps both well into double figures of ca15 singing birds for each species. I also picked up my 1st Willow Warbler of the season for the site, my 2nd of the year. A pair of Tufties present both there and on the Grove Pool - 2 Sparrowhawks also clocked.

A quick check on the Raven site with the added bonus of a marauding Red Kite. Ironically whilst looking at it i was looking towards the distinct 'golf balls' on Clee Hill - a site where i would expect to see both species rather than in urban West Midlands

From there to the Williams Pool then up to Netherton Hill to look for Wheatear and Rouzel. A no show for me but i did note 3 other birders doing the rounds. One of which was the one and only Todd Chater who i haven't seen or chatted to for a while He had seen the Kite about an hour earlier and had just seen 4 high-flying House Martins heading North over Netherton Razzer. He also mentioned a smart male Wheatear somebody had had late last week in a paddock by Saltwells Wood - the first i have heard of locally...

All in all 0645-1045 four hours in the field before midday. By 10 o'clock the cloud had closed in and winds although warm had become blustery. I didn't go out later on. Today will see a reverse MO i shall take the Dog out after breakfast and the up to Fens Pools after lunch.

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: Red Kite over Merry Hill.
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Old Monday 6th April 2020, 09:57   #1416
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Reported this morning:

Redstart, Netherton Hill, Gropper reeling in the lower Snipe Field and a Cuckoo calling over towards Merry Hill - i had what i thought was the 2nd syllable of a Cuckoo call ystda from the MH direction whilst on NH but thought no more of it as i heard nothing further
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Old Tuesday 7th April 2020, 05:28   #1417
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Yesterday’s combination of exercise, birding and shopping (Aldi, Brierley Hill) was moved to an afternoon slot. This for 2 reasons: the weather had iffy overtones up until lunchtime and although i am very much an early birder catching the worm these visits do not allow for anything that has landed following post breakfast departure although this has to be weighed against more people being about at sensitive habitats like lake ‘edge’.

2.5 hours were spent out from 1430-1700. This comprised about 1.5 at Fens Pools the rest en-route etc. There were individuals and groups up at FP and although there is copious edge birds are not predictable and are just as likely to depart after flushing as relocate to another area or a different pool. The weather altho pleasant was breezy at times when a series of small showers moved through. These showers were not heavy enough to force anything down but just to wet the optics

The shoreline held zilch but the scrub, there is a lot of it, held a few Chiffchaffs, a coupla Blackcaps and at least half a dozen Willow Warblers. That was only on my figure of 8 meandering - i will look in some other areas this morning. Of note, for me, was a solitary Swallow that flitted thru in one of the showers.

Back via the Raven site and William’s Pool. The Cuckoo reported earlier could be heard about a mile away calling from the Saltwells Wood area. It says something when you can hear a Cuckoo in the middle of a Black Country shopping centre - it highlights the lack of traffic rather than a Cuckoo ‘comeback’ methinks. I feel vindicated from my solitary syllable calling individual a day before

I shall be out by 7 this morning to repeat yesterday’s itinerary plus Netherton Hill...

Good Birding -

Laurie
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Old Wednesday 8th April 2020, 05:31   #1418
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An early 0700-1100 to kick off the day with 15.3 miles covered. Along the Cut to Fens Pools which i had to myself for the first hour. The usual 3 Warblers with Willow pipping the others for singing birds with at least 8 on my circuit. No waders still and the edge will not get much better or more of it. The trouble is that a day missed is something which troubles me so it has to be done. A smart immature Buzzard was perching on a Hawthorn, the strong pectoral band and lower breast spotting reminded me of a Martial Eagle i saw many years ago in Kenya. In addititon a singing male Reed Bunting was a nice addition. Withymoor held about 8 LBB's and my first Willow Warbler of the year for the site.

I departed at 0830 for Netherton Hill via the Merry Hill Raven site. Nothing doing so i dropped down the hill and looked back to see both birds wheeling and calling eventually settling on a row of Conifers for the male to feed the female - she, like the nestlings, covers her eye with the nictating membrane whilst receiving food. Netherton Hill was quiet so i had a cigar over the next hour. A nanosecond of what was possibly a female Redstart, or was it a Robin?, was the only bird of note altho the 3 others were present. Todd Chater and his Snipe-flushing mutt were spotted but moved thru quickly - No Gropper singing but i didn't go there for a reported bird i went for the habitat. Back via the Delph and Withymoor.

Out for an hour later down the canal to Wordsley with the Dog and finished from 1530-1730 up at Sugar Loaf Farm, Iverley where 3 newly-arrived Swallows were on the lines but nothing in the Paddocks. Likewise over at Hagley Fields which unless the remaining fields are tilled i will stop visiting although there is an active Sprawk nest adjacent.

A mate texted and said he had his first Wheatear of the Spring over at Whittington track, he only uses a car and only goes to 'known' sites - damn his eyes

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Thursday 9th April 2020, 05:26   #1419
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Another fine Sunny and dry day with hardly a breath of wind

Out at 7 and up to the local high point of Walton Hill, Clent. Commanding views of 7 counties to the west and a mix of short grassland, Heath, Gorse and scattered Birch. Walton Hill Farm has grazing, rough grassland, mature hedges and woodland all nestling in a compact rolling valley which provides landfall, food and shelter for both Spring and Autumn migrants. It is a well known site for passage Ring Ouzel and i believe if you got up their for first light you might, just might score with Dotterel one of these days

For the first time ever i virtually had the place to myself with just a couple of dog walkers and one other birder who should have been in Lesbos! What did all 3 have in common? They were all relatively local and had, wait for it, walked up there. Both car parking areas at Clent (Nimmings) and Walton Hill are closed and taped off with Police ‘crime scene’ stuff. It brings it home just how many birders rely on a car to visit their ‘local’ sites. WH is 6 miles away but is 1200’ at the high point so it is a bit of a trek.

Apart from local species both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were vocal with a coupla Blackcaps. A lone Swallow and a distant, high, Raven were noted but no Rouzel. There had been 3 at first light ystda with the last one departing by 9. There will probably be 3 today but none were on show. On the + side i did not have to give short shrift to Togs wandering around asking if there is anything about

Back for 10 and breakfast.

Out again at 3 until 5pm. A mooch over to Wollaston Paddocks and down to Gothersley. Nothing of note except that the smaller pool at Gothersley has all but gone and the other is unlikely to last into May. A single Swallow on the lines and an immature Swan in the pool. Not much birdsong at this time of day but all 3 Warbler species were noted. Another Raven heard - there are several sites around there which i will probably check this afternoon.

Over to Whittington Track checking newly tilled fields en route. All the non-permanent grassland in the area appears to be in the process of being harrowed for crops some have already been ‘ridged’ for spuds whilst others will presumably be drilled or sown with cereals. I saw zilch on the Track and finished with little to show for a total of 5 hours in the field and ca35 miles covered. I haven’t decided on todays plan but will be out by 7am.....

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Friday 10th April 2020, 05:16   #1420
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A quieter day for me yesterday with only a couple of hours up at Fens Pools from 7-9 and an hour down the canal to Wordsley with the Dog from 2-3. The routine of pounding the same sites without producing anything new needs a couple of days elsewhere before focusing once again on local 'notspots'. I spent a much-needed few hours sorting out a new batch of Red wine to ferment and moving 2x25L batches to the next phase - i use single variety 10L concentrate kits with excellent results at 2 quid a Litre

I could also do with a break from seeing what is becoming depressingly common road litter. With an eye for these sort of things i have noticed some subtle changes in the composition of the discarded detritus that the anti-social scumbags that use our roads see fit to deposit for all to see like their own version of a gamekeepers gibbet! We have a newly-opened McD's and KFC on Stourbridge ring road. Since their opening you will find on the major routes out to Kidderminster and Hagley for upto 2 or 3 miles discarded packaging - not the best adverts for these junk-food outlets..... Due to their closure, unfortunately only temporarily, this distinctive rubbish has now been replaced with disposable gloves, wet wipes and face masks These will be from the same people who just do not give a toss. The mentality is the same just a different product. Some of them will be the same idiots that put their Dog crap in plastic bags and hang it on the fences around the Hagley Fields - a level of idiocy that plumbs new depths. Also of note is a distinct lack of those little Silver metal capsules that druggy Chav drivers are addicted to. I am sure a Social Psychologist could explain all this but in the meantime i followed one bloke back from the fields a while ago and handed them back to him with a warning that i would puncture his car tyres the next time

Rant over - on my 9 mile pre-breakfast session all 3 Warblers were present en-route. Blackcaps were the most vocal with Chiffchaffs and a couple of Willow Warblers supporting. This probably reflects the levels of what is passing thru each day with birds moving on fairly quickly in the current favourable conditions. From my mental notebook it is noticeable, certainly for me around here, that Willow Warblers are very prominent this year. Fens Pools were breezy and cool to begin so i dropped down to the shelter of the Top Pools for an hour. About 50 large gulls were present most were preening and bathing, the usual mix of mainly LBB's but a few Herring and a couple of BHG's - the GBB's that are present during the Winter are absent presumably off to the coast to breed - hence 'maritimus'... A quick scan over the Middle Pool revealed a solitary Sandpiper, no not a..... but the first Spring wader for me at the site a Common feeding at the far end. On my way around for a closer look i bumped into a local who was desperate to socialise which means that by the time i got there it had gone

A quick look at the Merry Hill Ravens as the male returned with a full crop and although i stopped my bike about 300 yards away he still did not go back but alighted nearby before giving a low trill and flying off to a pylon about half a mile away.

Off at 7 this morning over to Gothersley and the Navigation heronry and try to pick up some new species in different habitats.

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: some wood offcuts painted by local children that were by a bridge at the Delph canal and more male Raven stuff.
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 05:36   #1421
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A really lovely morning to be out and about yesterday but it is noticeable how the Biased Broadcasting Corporation are downplaying the weather forecasts with the accent on the little bits of shower and cloud that the UK might get - Oh to be a fly on the wall at that little Social Engineering committee.....

Anyway, off at 7 and out until 9:45 returning with about 20 miles under my belt although the GPS app went AWOL over at Highgate Common but i will put up a map on another post today along with a loud male Tawny shots from 3:30 this morning!

I headed to Gothersley via the Wollaston Paddocks. The Paddocks are basically a man-made forest of dead trees in the form of fences with little Horse 'huts' here and there giving it the look of a 3rd World shanty-town - visually intrusive but providing lots of potential perches for passerines. As usual around here the potential is there but seldom delivers.....and it didn't yesterday. Blackcaps were the most numerous en-route with the odd Chiffchaff but Willow Warblers weren't heard until Highgate Common. Zilch at Gothersley so on to The Mere. The Mere is set in rolling farmland and is one of quite a few as the aerial map showed a couple of years ago. I visited about a dozen of them then and they were all full. 2 years ago when we had the lovely dry hot Summer The Mere went thru a Purple patch as the combination of drought conditions and its water being utilised for nearby Potatoes made it a very productive patch indeed with 3 spp of wader present most days and a juvenile Greenshank staying for nearly 3 weeks in September. There is also a 2nd one nearby that held the same apart from the Shank. Since then the water levels are back to normal and you will struggle to click with anything but never say never.

Highgate Common was pleasant enough but by 8:30 the dog walkers had arrived and its no wonder that Nightjars will never breed there again - all i enquired with had travelled at least 5 miles and some upto 15.....to walk a Dog. Birdwise a couple of Tree Pipits were displaying and quite a few WW's singing. A lone Raven was being dive-bombed by a Carrion Crow and turned upside down to present an open beak and claws which is something i have not seen before.

I returned via Wordsley and had a quick look into the grounds of the newly-opened Roe Buck PH. Up until last year Ravens had nested in the conifers for at least 5 years but with the sale of the place and the building work that went on last season it was a no-go and appears to be the same this year but with increasing numbers i am confident they will return.....

Today is back on the Fens Pools agenda - a day missed meant Todd finding the 1st Sedge Warbler of the year

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached:

Navigation Heronry - i counted a minimum of 12 nests some with well-grown young and lots of bill-clattering from adults.

Oak and Ivy - 'country folk' still engage in this peculiar pastime which is a shame because Ivy is only 'parasitical' in using trees as support and is a perfectly natural element of the UK countryside but what do we 'townies' know...

Highgate Common - pre Dog-walkers.

Tree Pipit.

Roe Buck PH and Raven wood.
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 19:07   #1422
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A couple of shots of this mornings' male Tawny Owl calling from the car park. I popped out and took a few shots and was surprised at the ambient light from the 'new' Moon and in very mild conditions - Both male and females call from here regularly from mid-Nov to March. It is only a bit of scrap woodland and offers no nesting sites but presumably is used by birds to 'hook up'.....

Good birding -

Laurie
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Old Sunday 12th April 2020, 17:18   #1423
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Yesterdays' (Saturday) notes.....

Pleasantly milid to begin but turning cooler and overcast so i only did a short session from 0700-0900 before returning for breakfast...

Upto Fens Pools via Withymoor and Williams Pool where there was nothing of note but Blackcaps en-route. Where i leave the canal at Level Street a Raven, presumably the male, was picking up grit so i took a few distant shots and let a passing jogger flush it. Fens Pools was very quiet either yesterdays Sedge Warbler was still in bed or had departed - Chiffchaffs added for the day but no Willow Warblers singing at all this morning. Cutting my losses i returned via Merry Hill and picked up the male Raven bringing a full crop of food

I noted an Avocet at Barthole so will be back up to FP just after first light tomorrow and intend to put a bit more time in.

The weather is due to pick up this afternoon with temperatures of 22c forecast which means about 25c so i shall seek sheltered habitat and add to this post at a later stage.

I ummed and arred about an afternoon jaunt but my mind was made up by the..........neighbours

By this time, this year, i should have returned from an Eastern Mediterranean locale and be two weeks from a Western one but we are where we are. I should be anticipating eating if not al Greque then at least al Fresco with Nightingales and exotic Sylvia Warblers in the Maquis and Cicadas in Olive groves but no it's the bloody West Midlands so i have to make do with the Sink Estate Serenade of Flymos and Jet Washers

Following this mornings' 8.5 mile ride i opted for a 20 mile follow up as it was going to cloud over and cool. Over to the Roundhill Sewage works and Stewponey Quarry. The former is a new type where everything is dealt with 'scientifically' as opposed to spreading it out on the huge acreage where i went in the 80's and see upto 1000 Curlew in addition to a supporting cast of waders - indeed Brett Westwood found a Spotted Redshank in nuptial plumage. The sandpit has not been worked in a decade and like the 'night soil' works is a shadow of its former self. I last recorded breeding Sand Martins 5 years ago and indeed censused them from the mid-80's for a while. Without new 'faces' being revealed by seasonal working the area is now being colonised by vegetational succession as habitats do. Ravens have prospected several times usually after considering nearby Bunkers Wood but i have not proved breeding.....yet. Down the main road to the lower half of Whittington Track and then on to Ismere. The afternoon trips are generally a listening exercise and to possibly catch something large flapping thru. Straight thru Hurcott but too early for Reed Warblers. Still widespread Blackcaps in song with the odd Chiffchaff but no Willow Warblers at all today.

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: Raven at Level Street.
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Old Monday 13th April 2020, 04:38   #1424
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Get the Buntings out!

A delayed start so not out until 8 o/c and back at 9:45 as clouds had started rolling in but a promise of better light in the afternoon...

For the 2nd consecutive day the male Tawny Owl was calling this time further away but for longer - 0315>0415.

The usual ‘rat run’ along the canal to the Delph/Level Street via Withymoor. A nice surprise was a singing Garden Warbler a few hundred yards away on the railway line. Although i still check Portland first thing they only had their first record of Sedge Warbler yesterday whereas Fens Pools had one a coupla days ago likewise Reed Warbler at SV. Singing Warblers were well down with a few Blackcaps and the odd Chiffchaff. Mixed large Gulls washing at Fens Pools and that was about it. The male Raven was seen taking a crop full of food on the way back.

I took the Dog up to the Hagley Fields from 3-4:30 and gave the fields a good grilling. Finally i nailed a female Wheatear! It was feeding in fairly long recently sown grass and was extremely elusive so no record shots were obtained. A number of fields still have stubble so i presume they will be tilled shortly for Spuds. More of note was the presence of 3 singing Corn Buntings with another in one of the hedges so 4 in total. I personally have never had more than 2 singing birds in the Spring but they seem to become elusive if/when breeding.

As i type there has been overnight rain and it will just about hit double figures later today due to a moderate 15mph NW breeze but it might have grounded some birds so i shall venture out no later than 8am. The weather is forecast fine for the foreseeable i.e. 2 weeks so unless something nudges the high pressure it’s game on

Good birding -

Laurie

Attached: the Highgate map from Friday ca20 miles and the Saturday map ca19 miles.
W - Whittington lower track.
I - Ismere.
H - Hurcott.
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Old Wednesday 15th April 2020, 05:55   #1425
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Getting out for 8 on Monday, or at any other part of the day, was optimistic to say the least and would have been an exercise in futility with moderate NE winds of 15+ mph i just didn't bother.....

Tuesday kicked off at 0245-0300 with not one but two male Tawny Owls having a 'hoot off' at the back of the garden but still no answering female. This was followed by a Dawn Chorus of local stuff, about half a dozen species, from 0500 for a relatively short half an hour.

Out at 8 noting the slight frost due to clear skies and still night. Up onto the Delph towpath and straight away clocked a soaring Peregrine above the flats about 3/4 mile away he then descended and mounted a female, copulating on the brickwork - something probably learnt from some of the residents judging by the amount of beer tins in certain areas Adults should be on eggs by now so this may well be a pair-bonding exercise or 'first-timers' - who knows, only time will tell. On my way back i checked suitable ledges for signs but nothing noted.

Fens Pools was quiet but in addition to en-route Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs i picked up my first Willow Warblers for a coupla days and whilst scanning the middle, now Serpentine, Middle Pool from some scrub a smart but elusive Garden Warbler was scribbling away to itself and a passing Raven kronked. I worked some more scrub and then departed for Merry Hill where i picked up the male Raven circling and calling before bumping into him again half a mile away with a full crop.

After lunch and battery top up a 1 hour 4.5 mile trot down to Wordsley Basin with the Dog listening for any new Warbler species - more people out than over the Bank Holiday weekend, i put it down to the weather. 4-6 and over to the Hagley Fields but the only sighting of note was Perry 'of the yard' an ex Detective Inspector who lives adjacent to the fields and is a keen local birder. I hadn't seen Perry for nearly a year, as he informed me, (like i had been in jail) so it was good to catch up and even better that he hadn't clicked with a Wheatear yet...

Good Birding -

Laurie

Attached: Raven and Peregrine.
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