Yesterday i started with a 7-9am stint over at Fens Pools bumping into 2 other birders in the process. One of which i have met this Spring up at Walton Hill and who lives local to me in nearby Wollaston. Due to being 'furloughed', another corruptive American import, he has rather got used to being on 80% wages and able to if not spend it then spend time birding. But that avenue of pleasure has now been closed and he was Bilston-bound for his sins. He told me that he and a mate had covered WH every day bar 2 in April and recorded 10 Ring Ouzels between them and the highlight being a male Black Redstart seen for an all too brief couple of minutes...
The Oldsquaw was still present snoozing on the ample expanse of Middle Pool mud. Paul Legge sent me a cracking photo taken by Ian Whitehouse so check out his Twitter for more. A few warblers and a suspicious-looking juvenile 'White-headed' large Gull and that was about it.
In the afternoon, after putting the finishing touches to 5 gallons of Elderflower wine, i decided to arrange a meet-up with the mate that i undertake the local breeding surveys with.
I cycled over to what i call the 'Shatterford Triangle' - the area beyond Kingsford Lane towards Shatterford Lakes that being the apex of a triangle with Kinver and Romsley being more or less the others - there is leeway on all 3 sides for exploration. Once you leave behind the car park and ice cream vans at Kinver rock houses and avoiding the feckless picknickers and litterati down Kingsford Lane it is another world. There is hardly any through traffic and the narrow lanes are a mix of sand-filled troughs and Hazel bowers where growth arcs over from either side - very Tolkienesque! Small fields, hay meadows and mixed grazing are the order of the day that include Llamas and Jacob Sheep along with the more traditional 'wammals'. I clocked up about 20 miles in 3 hours with nary a vehicle passing me - a handful at most. My mate was discreetly parked and we decided to check out a number of areas on foot that we had pencilled in plus existing ones to chart progress and a very enjoyable and productive session ensued...
First off a quick check on a pair of regular Gos. These birds, along with Raven, have nested for a few years but tolerance can be stretched and so it appeared to be. The earlier nest that the Ravens had put finishing touches to in March was now occupied by Gos. This pair have form and have driven off the Ravens and possibly killed any young they might have produced. 3 years ago they killed all 4 chicks not even bothering to take them as food for their own young - nature Red in tooth and claw and not a Springwatch camera to spoil the view!
Next up was the main object of the exerecise - Curlew.
This species appears to have undergone a catastrophic decline in lowland Britain almost certainly due to farming practices. Calling birds were noted mid-March and thus far 6 adults are residing in several fields but only one pair appears to have bred. The nest area has been marked and 2 local farmers informed. They are more than aware of the presence of Curlew and are pleased that they have them as potential breeders and have agreed to mow any hay later or around the marked area. it is fortuitous that Curlews tend to breed in the middle of fields usually. The breeding pair have 4 week-old chicks that made the road crossing ystda to another hay meadow. Both parents were constantly calling until the last one made it across - now there are only the Crows to contend with until they are about 3 weeks old and safe.
Of note is that 2 of the adults have Yellow Darvic rings with Orange bands. One of these is a parent of the young and the other is feeding with another bird. The markings on the ring show that they were rung in Mid-Wales 3 years ago and have not been reported or controlled since.
In the cluttered row of boundary field Oaks a pair of Hobbies have taken to refurbishing a Carrion Crow nest and should have started laying as one bird has been feeding constantly and taking prey back. The nearby Shatterford Lakes are a good source of Odonata until the young require juvenile passerines. There is quite a size difference between these 2 birds more striking than i normally see. As a bonus a Quail called from another nearby meadow. This species will be listened out for over the next week to 10 days at a number of sites and areas.
I do have some nice shots of yesterdays Curlews but am having trouble getting the card read on this laptop so will take some more today at some stage...
Good birding -