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Withymoor - Amblecote, Stourbridge.....

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Old Thursday 23rd May 2019, 05:54   #1326
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Yesterday.

A quick mooch around Withymoor just to confirm that the Little Grebe would not be there was needed and that indeed was the case! Records average 2 a year with 3 Spring records of 2 birds and all stopping for several days so this bucked the trend and as i haven’t seen it it will be in brackets until the expected Autumn bird

Which reminds me now that the dust has settled on the All-Dayer. Perusing notes from the Goldfish Bowl revealed how scarce Coal Tit is on the day and as usual with usually commonly encountered species one tends to not bother. I did however pop in to last years and after parking at the Moors and having a brief chat with JTB who appeared to be the Reserve concierge on the day made our way around the hides. We finished at the Salwarpe Hide and noted the day list before spending 5 mins by the river recording a singing Coal Tit in the process. Being a species that i would have thought recorded several times that day i thought no more of it.....

The Million
I spent a pleasant 4 hours in and around this area of Woodland, in the Kinver/Enville area for those unfamiliar, ystda afternoon in pleasant sheltered sunshine. 3/4 of the site is Conifer plantation established post WW2 i believe and is managed accordingly. The area has had continuous thinning over the last 30 years and will be yielding its harvest ver the next 30 and so should provide a good range of habitats during this process. It will have had both breeding Woodlark and Nightjars and current overspill Goshawk is a possibility in one or two undisturbed corners. The usual dog-walkers and MTB Lycra crowds utilise the place but if you can bird midweek between 10 and 5 you can pretty much have the place to yourself

Due to the thinning the woodland has a shrub and ground layer of sorts certainly better than most younger platations around here. Consequently Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Garden Warbler were recorded well into double figures with a handful of Willow Warblers and several Whitethroats in the open clearfell. This is the area that i came and left after negotiating access for my bike using my trusty Felco C7’s One of 2 Tree Pipits seen displaying there. Screaming Swifts and at least 2 calling Cuckoos made for a very ‘early Summer’ feel with only the odd car passing on the distant road as interruption. I shall visit the other mixed broadleaf area today and update accrdingly tmrw. A downside is that if ever an area was crying out for nest boxes this is it

Attached are 2 photos of The Million.
One showing its geographical position to Enville to the West and Highgate Common to the North. The 2nd enlarged image shows the clearfell area which is still unfelled on the photo and todays access from down at the Gothersley Flashes which will take me to the remaining 1/4 of the wood which is primarily mixed broadleaf tree and shrub regeneration which could be a target for some homemade nestboxes next year for spp like Redstart and Pied Flicker...

Good Birding -

Laurie
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Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 05:37   #1327
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Thursday...

Withymoor remains quiet still with attendant non-breeding LBB's being very vocal and seeing off any others that enter their airspace - they scramble like Typhoons at the slightest blip on their radar of interlopers.

Attached:
Local stuff, an inquisitive Mutt and you can see why they are called Swifts!
OK it's just a feral Pigeon but they are a beautiful family of birds just look at our own Turtle Dove now critically endangered as a breeder and once taken for granted.....just like the Passenger Pigeon and the Dodo.

Good Birding -

Laurie
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Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 05:55   #1328
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Thursday...

I didn't revisit the Million but instead spent 4 hours cycling to and around Hurcott and the local lanes listening for stuff. Hurcott held 2 singing Reed Warblers and i sat for an hour with a Cigar on the dam between the reedbed and the newly-invigorated wet woodland. i then set off towards Churchill taking in Whitethroats in double-figures, this species really has made a comeback locally over the last ten years. I screeched to a halt and nearly overtopped the handlebars when i saw a clump of Dianthus on the sandy verge. I thought it could be a nice show of Maiden Pink, an increasingly rare annual of sandy places here in the West Midlands, indeed my last sighting was on the central reservation on the dual carriageway at Ombersley some ten years ago on information given to me by our very own polymath naturalist Brett Westwood. It wasn't to be as it lacked the fine indents to the leaves and was a shade too dark. I finished via the West Hagley Fields with one each of singing Corn Bunting and Lesser Whitethroat on 'the Grassy Knoll' down by the railway cutting plus a handful of Whitethroats in song.

Laurie

Attached:
Dianthus clump, females of Green Woodpecker and Grey Wagtail and Beautiful Demoiselle Damselfly - i was too engrossed in the latter to notice a native White-clawed Crayfish in the Blake Brook as it scuttled away.
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Old Saturday 25th May 2019, 06:00   #1329
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I make no secret of the fact that i like Gulls, it's all there is to look at of any interest for half the year for me, and when in breeding plumage i think they are absolute stunners. The pair of LBB's at Withymoor are a couple of birds that i actually sit an observe rather than looking for stuff and moving on. When other LBB's are around they are very animated and vocal it's just a pity they are not breeding but now the raft is available...

Good Birding -

Laurie
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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 10:28   #1330
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Bank Holiday Monday.....

A pre-breakfast post-Brexit Party jaunt from 8-10 paid off with a single calling Quail at Sugar Loaf Farm (South Staffs) tucked away in a small triangle of sparse hay field adjacent to the large hedgerow Oak that hosts a Little Owl from time to time. A nearby Lesser Whitethroat rattled away during a series of light showers. The habitat looks good at the moment with several grassy areas left for sileage. I meandered thru the fields at West Hagley (West Midlands) but only picked up Whitethroats. There are several good-sized Barley fields for passage birds and a ridged spud field that could hold late passage Wheatears and/or alba/flava wagtails.

Good Birding -

Laurie
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 08:41   #1331
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Withymoor continues to uninspire and this Spring saw no records of Common Sandpiper for the first time since i have been watching the place altho i am only down there on a hop and a catch. The good news is that there are some new kidz on da block in the form of 3 Mute Swan cygnets Over at Fens Pools a pair have 7 and as egg production is usually linked to available food it highlights how much less is available down at the Golden Puddle...

I have been mooching down the Stour Valley which is and will remain a pleasant enough walk.....until the School holidays kick off - i might just feed one or two of the brats to the Giant Hogweed!

Good Birding -

Laurie
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Old Tuesday 11th June 2019, 11:21   #1332
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Out and about on Sunday just to take the pulse of sites that are nearly moribund at this time of year.....

0700 at Fens Pools with Lesser Whitethroat singing and 20+ Swifts for company.

0630 and 0830 at Withymoor with Blackcap and still 3 Mute Swan cygnets.

1045-1230 at Upton Warren which at least had plenty of activity if nothing of note migrantwise. Having worked at mixed Gull and Tern colonies i like the sound of Gulleries etc, there’s always something going on and recent fully-fledged juvenile Black-headed Gulls are, to me, in their most attractive plumage phase. It was also very heartening to see so many well grown and healthy looking Avocet chicks. It is hard to believe that if there was little predation and nice weather that there could be ca150 by the time they depart. All credit to those that work to achieve this

On a depressing note i did not record a single Swift or Hirundine in 2 hours - these species are becoming the Canary in the mine for both air quality and associated insect numbers and ignoring the decline would be bad for all concerned but i am not optimistic of any reversal with the ever-increasing population density, current farming practices and the British obsession with tidyness.....

I did note a solitary Black-tailed Godwit on the Flashes and entered it into the notebook which was empty despite a dozen people being present

I am off to Northern Poland next weekend around the Belarus border and then down to the German border via Gdansk. I am looking forward to scruffier countryside and the Baltic coast for wetland birding so will put one or two pics up during this jaunt.

Good Birding -

Laurie
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Old Sunday 16th June 2019, 02:59   #1333
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Arrived in Warsaw yesterday about 12:15 local after the obligatory late arrival by WizzAir of some 45 mins. A quick first pint of Polish Lager before the 2.5 hour train ride North to Bialystock. 200+ kilometres and not a piece of litter seen from the carriage. Everywhere is sooo clean and tidy it is a real eye opener compared to wading thru the crap back in Blighty

Birds seen from the carriage include:
Marsh Harrier x2 males
Green Sandpiper - 2 birds flying around a pool
Common Rosefinch
Hooded/Carrion Crow - both present
Raven
White Stork - odd adults and a bird feeding young on a rooftop nest

A mooch adjacent to the hotel yielded:
Swift
House Martin
Buzzard
Black Kite
Fieldfare

A few pints and 2 superb local 15” Pizzas at about 9 o/c finished off the first day with the temperatures around 30-34c but forcast cooler and thundery showers for a coupla hours tomorrow whilst we continue up to the Biebrza marshes...

Good Birding -

Laurie
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Old Thursday 20th June 2019, 16:05   #1334
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Poland.....

Leaving Biebrza Marshes today after 2.5 days at the Bartlawisoz hotel which is situated right on the edge of the National Park about 2km from the village of Goniadz. The hotel is low-rise nestling in amongst woodland and serves both Polish Lager and specialises in smoked meats and local fish caught in the Park so if you like sieving your fish through zillions of bones then Pike is just the thing for you. The smell from the on-site smoker is akin to the daily brewing aroma from Batham’s up at the Delph.

What i would emphasise from the start is that if you wish to explore all or a lot of the known locales for species and notably the 7km boardwalk where the Aquatic Warblers are at their densest then a car is a necessity as a taxi would be a non-starter and public transport is non-existent. Bike hire was available at either £2.50 per hour or the excellent rate of £7.50 for the whole day dawn to dusk. The downside is that all the bike trails start about 20-30km across the river in the Polish hinterland so i ended up doing most of my birding within 500m of the hotel save for a 2km walk to a tower hide across the river. I also have never rented a bike that doesn’t offer a puncture repair kit or tools with a spare inner tube and the hotel did not. I have a morbid fear of breaking down in the boonies and being stranded without any recourse to rescue.....

I am treating this trip as a pre-cursor to not only Poland but to this part of Eastern Europe where there are relatively wild habitats and far less intensive farming pressure. A return is already planned with a mate who not only sells cars but just loves driving. Indeed he visited on a spur-of-the-moment 5 day trip only 2 weeks ago with his girlfriend - something which made our eyes narrow so we have changed our plans in order not to replicate or emulate so NO obligatory visits to either holocaust death-camps or drinking in overpriced salt-mines! He did comment on the value for money car-hire at just under 70 quid for 5 days and fuel cheapish.

We are travelling by very reasonably-priced trains in 200-300km chunks.
Polish trains are modern, roomy, clean and travel at about 60mph so it is sedately and allows you to bird from the windows - certainly by eye if not with binoculars. One thing you will NOT see from either the windows or much of anywhere in Poland is LITTER. I am not saying it is non-existent but there is hardly a speck and i can honestly say i never saw a plastic bag in 200km.

So far i have had 95 spp of bird including from the train from Warsaw>Bialystock and from Bialystock>Goniadz all but 2 (Rook And Black Kite) have been seen on in and around the Hotel marsh which is pretty good seeing as i am only recording birds moving in and over the area. Also considering peak movement has finished i saw very few waders (Lapwing, Green Sandpiper) and only Grey Heron and Little Egret from that group. 2 other targets for a lot of birders who visit the area are Woodpeckers and Owls but these are outside the scope of my trip for a number of reasons.

Another reason for visiting at this time of year is specifically to see species that i have only ever encountered in the UK as Autumn vagrants (mainly on Scilly) during the 1980’s as first-winter / juveniles and non-singing in non-breeding plumage.

Notable species so far include:

Hooded Crow - there seems to be both morphs here.

Raven - seen a number of times.

Marsh Harrier - everywhere. There is so much suitable habitat the breeding numbers must be in the tens of thousands.

White Stork - Poland has an estimated 1/4 of the European population so that is a minimum of 75k pairs.

Goshawk - being chased, by all things, by a pair of Wood Pigeon but tbf it was a nob-adult bird.

Common Rosefinch - plenty of males still singing.

Golden Oriole - a few seen with singing males at 0400.

Black Kite - a single so fa at Bialyostock.

Fieldfare - plenty and nice to see on the breeding grounds.

Marsh Warbler - only one head so far again at Bialyostock.

Serin - the tinkling song characteristic of the Med is also here.

Cuckoo - seen and heard everywhere. The habitat and associated species is something that has been ‘farmed away’ over in the UK - no ruminating or excuses, climate-warming blah blah.....it is farming that is slowly but surely killing the British countryside.

Spotted Eagle - single birds seen on several days. I am happy with my ID but i am not saying that i ID every one positively.....so i don’t!

Lesser Spotted Eagle - several on 3 days. Again comparison and plumage features allows ID of most i saw.

Thrush Nightingale - present around the hotel and although skulky they do appear out in the open.....briefly!

Blyth’s Reed Warbler - thankfully the song is distinctive enough to not have to bother with a short primary projection and there are related species for comparison. Several birds heard and one seen thus far.

Tree Sparrow - noted because i seldom see them in the UK.

Black Tern - parties and individuals seen over the marshes often calling.

River Warbler - a singing bird or possibly 2 on several days.

White Wagtail - unexpectedly there are dark-mantled birds like we get.

Kingfisher - breeding pair hunting and calling avidly by the hotel.

White-tailed Eagle - a most impressive adult seen on 2 consecutive days slowly circling over the marsh. An alabaster-White tail, very pale head and custard-Yellow bill.....could have been the same individual.

Yellow Wagtail - quite a few heard and seen, i haven’t assigned the ones i photographed yet as i haven’t looked them up.

Montague’s Harrier - a male mobbing a Lesser Spotted Eagle was a nice sight.

Hawfinch - 3 flyover birds calling whilst having an evening meal nearly ended up with me regurgitating food for the bride!

Aquatic Warbler - i am not in immediately suitable habitat but a singing bird at the base of a stunted scrub-covered Pine, 2 calling birds and the arse-end of a flyer is all i have managed to date. We travel to the German border after Gdansk where there is another stab at a second much smaller population of Europe’s most threatened migrant species. Only 20k pairs breed and the Southern colony is said to be part of the ‘genetically distinct’ Pomeranian population.....

Little Gull - single adult early 0500 one morning.

Citrine Wagtail - several males and a few females noted.

Great Reed Warbler - a lively male cranking out his song and others present along the River Biebrza locally.

Bearded Tit - pairs of juveniles noted.

Hoopoe - one seen.

Common Tern - single calling as it flew past.

Black Redstart - seen in all areas.

Great White Egret - single from the train en-route to Gdansk.

The folk are friendly, helpful and like a beer. The females are a varied lot and my theory as to why Mistletoe appears to be so common in Poland is that it is it is virtually never harvested and rarely used.....

Good Birding -

Laurie

Attached: the only Cormorant bagged thus far
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Old Thursday 27th June 2019, 07:03   #1335
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Finally summoned up the enthusiasm and took the Dog down to Withymoor - after all, this is where i live so the bullet has to be bit

It’s good to see the 3 juvenile Mute Swans still present plus 1 each of adult Herring and LBB the former being a particularly pale bird in the early morning light (0645) - ‘argentatus’ means decorated with Silver and this one certainly was.....a solitary singing Blackcap was also noted.

Good Birding

Laurie -
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Old Thursday 27th June 2019, 16:54   #1336
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Part 2

I will say from the off that i did not break any records with my trip total adding only another 20 species to the final tally. We took a 5 hour train to the home of Solidarnosc at Gdansk for 2 nights, one complete day, on a non-birding hiatus that coincided with the religious festival of Corpus Christi. Happily for me i wasn't bothered about active birding due to having pulled my back bending over to pick up my rucksack and still hobbling on my heavily swollen ankles.

Prior to a gardener giving us a lift (for a tenner) to the railway station i birded the marsh from the wooden jetty for 5 hours picking up a calling female Tawny Owl en-route. Early hunting Marsh Harriers, hawking Black Terns, fluting Orioles and the trips' only Hoopoe is not my usual early morning fayre so no complaints here. This would be my last chance until Swinouje for the reedbed specialities and i reaquainted myself with close Great Reed Warbler, several Blyth's Reed Warblers, a couple of Sprossers, juvenile Reedlings and the first Common Tern of the trip.

I will reiterate - transport is essential as walking is limited by river crossings and at this time of year so is..........some sort of Mosquito repellant! I am not normally over-affected by them but the Bride is and packs a net for over the bed although in areas prone to them i cannot see why mesh covers are not put over the windows? It is important to close windows etc when turning the light on at night as that is the signal that the blood banks are in-situ. I now realise where i got all the bites, some 50+ in total. The last afternoon i crossed the bridge to a distant tower hide that gives you extensive views over the marshes (that area anyway) and what looks like habitat that is being managed for Aquatic Warblers as they prefer vegetation less than a metre. I decided to walk through about 1/4 of a mile of this diagonally to the river gaining views of several birds a couple of calling individuals and the arse end of a flyer plus Yellow Wagtails and a pair of presumably breeding Green Sandpipers. Long trousers and socks would have pre-empted having days of pain but hey-ho. Management work at Biebrza has shown that regenerated meadow habitat can boost breeding AW's by upto 20%.

Whilst waiting for the Gdansk juvenile Black Redstarts were being fed with alba Wagtails and Spotted Flickers noted. The train ride was sedate and uneventful but with plenty of Marsh Harriers quartering damp meadows were White Storks strutted their stuff the pressure on with hungry mouths to feed. More Ravens, 2 more Cranes and the only Great White Egret of the trip added variety. We had a nice day in Gdansk Old Quarter listening to street bands a belter of a Pizza because if i see a pukka stone oven i have to try a slice at least. More Polish craft lager toasted a handful of new additions to the trip list namely -

Kestrel
Rook
Herring Gull
Lesser Black Back - are they the Baltic 'fuscus'?
Yellow-legged Gull
and plenty of Black Redstarts who seemed to be singing from every Church spire.
Friday the 22nd saw us catching another train with one change to the coastal town of Swinoujie which took a total of 10 hours. The train station stops on the side with the German border only about 6kms away but we had to get a 5 minute ferry to Swinoujie town centre - they operate every 10 minutes and are freeeee!
More species added from Cormorants and a passing Common Gull to 2 adult Red Kites soaring on the thermals.

Two complete days does not give a lot of time particularly as the Bride wanted to cycle into Germany for a few beers on the Sunday so a chunk of Saturday had to be spent at the flagship reserve back on the other side in the area known as 'the 44 islands'. This area is large with a central core of open water and reedbeds c/w a tower hide and a series of paths of various allowable access depending on whether they had been mown or a tractor had been down there.....this year! By June a lot of the wet fields suitable for passage waders etc has gone so you are left with vegetation that is 2-3 metres where all the key species in fact most stuff skulks, flits, calls and sh1ts. This led for some frustrating birding. I had got the bus which was pennies and spent nearly 6 hours in baking Sun but a light breeze gave welcome respite and kept the Mozzies off. The flagship species is the Aquatic Warbler which here is classed as part of the 'Pomeranian population' and according to what i have read is genetically distinct altho i do not have any details and it is not a subspecies afaik. I once again clicked with the species both calling and flight views and a display just above the reeds. I have never twitched one or clicked with a Marazion bird so compared to a little stab at Biebrza i was more than happy. Plenty of Sedge Warblers for comparison allowed me to get my eye in to a paler more Yellowy bird and i found easily distinguished when in flight with its 'humbug' braces on the mantle. I went off-piste for a couple of hours down tracks that in the centre were 3-4 feet but easily moved through - this left vegetation upto 8-9 foot either side of me leading to a degree of degraded spatial awareness. I also fell over half a dozen times due to the uneveness of the terrain which led to me scouring the ground ahead like a Marine on point in those Vietnam movies checking for trip-wires and sharpened sticks! Plenty of Blyth's and Great Reed Warblers in addition to Reed and Sedge - no Cetti's as they don't get them. New species appeared from bits of scrub e.g. Linnet, Great Crested Grebe, Whimbrel and Tufted Duck but the quality was also there with 6x White-winged Black Tern and a stonking male Red-backed Shrike. Plenty of stuff already note elsewhere e.g. Marsh Harriers, Beardies, Black Tern, wild Greylags and several Lesser Spotted Eagles. The local Konik ponies are smart looking and i am used to seeing them locally as a small group are used for grazing on a nearby reserve. Although i didn't actually see a Beaver there were quite a lot of Birches with their characteristic chisel markings and i saw two lodges that had been constructed.

Mission accomplished it was back to the ferry, food and it was fast approaching Beer o'clock.
Sunday was more genteel with the hire of 2 bikes at about 7 quid each and we set off for Germany mid-morning. Newbies were Wood Warbler, Firecrest and Coal Tit.

Monday and it was time for another 10 hour train ride back to Warsaw after watching a dozen Cormorants 'kettling' like raptors from the ferry something which i have never seen over here. The train journey was not as interesting as others had been with 10 hours of fields, wet meadows, woods ad infinitum. Poland is a lot more undulating and flatter than i thought with high ground restricted to the South e.g. Carpathians, Tatra and a couple of other places which are a trip in themselves. 'Pole' means field so Poland is aptly named.
4 more species namely Collared Dove, Corn Bunting, Stock Dove and Turtle Dove bought the final tally to 116 and that as they say was that. A few beers and a meal in Warsaw and then up at 3 for a 4 0/c taxi on Tuesday morning meant touching down at Birmingham at 0820 donning my unused waterproof as we landed in a monsoon. An hour and a half later saw us devouring the Breakfast of Kings in the local Wetherspoons in Stourbridge and about 5 hours kip until mid-afternoon catching up after train-lag.

I enjoyed the trip but would do it differently next and spend time in the old-growth forest at Bialoweza in order to click with the specialised groups such as Woodpeckers and Owls. This will be done with a birding buddy not on a pushbike. Considering the 2 groups mentioned and very few waders i didn't do too badly but i see what i see finding and identifying stuff for myself which is what i find satisfying on my trips. Looking at my field guide and species that i thought would be jumping out at me e.g. Wryneck, Bluethroat etc just don't unless you go to suitable areas. A lot of Poland, except for the groups mentioned, is the same stuff as us with an Eastern bias for some species. For example Citrine Wagtail had only just started breeding in Poland when the 2nd edition was published and Greenish Warbler was on the Polish rare bird site with a singing individual in a Gdansk park before my departure. What is does have is numbers of our birds that are still common something which has now gone in the UK and this is down to our industrial farming and too tidy demeanour imho. Having said that - the Poles do like to strim it appears to be their equivalent of the Brits washing their cars on a Sunday morning. Strimmers are responsible for a lot of degraded habitat in urban areas here in the UK and i cannot stand them and the wanton destruction they cause to invertebrates and wild flowers.

I found the Polish people kind and helpful. The food, for us, was nothing to write home about and i have had my fill of smoked things and pickled produce.....particularly for breakfast! We cook and eat a lot of Mediterranean style food so we were grateful to get an Aubergine dish during our stay. I will finish by saying that Poland has a population of about 38 million people and 98% of the countrys' residents are Polish (the other 2% must be over here) they are hard-working busy industrious people in a country that is IT savvy. It was refreshing to visit a country that leaves you in no doubt as to where you are and has not developed places where you do not feel Polish - i will leave it at that.....

Good Birding -

Laurie -
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Old Friday 28th June 2019, 09:49   #1337
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Distant at Biebrza but pencilled in as a Greater...

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Old Friday 28th June 2019, 10:02   #1338
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You just know you are in Poland when you see one of these - it hosts 1/4 of Europes' White Storks...

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Old Saturday 29th June 2019, 08:30   #1339
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An hour or so up at the West Hagley Fields at 4:30 which is abour an hour or so before o'clock The fields are a mix of Malting Barley and Potatoes and i managed to pick up a male Corn Bunting trilling away. I did entertain the possibility of calling Quail and / or hawking Hobby but put it down to post holiday optimism before the Blues set in

The weather looks set for the next 2 weeks at least. The source of the warm Saharan winds is Algeria and Libya hence the heatwave of France, Germany and Poland rather than the usual high pressure from the Canaries, Azores and Morocco which would give Iberia a roasting - either way it is welcome as far as i am concerned after the awful Spring we have had

Good Birding -

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Old Sunday 30th June 2019, 12:07   #1340
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A few more from Biebrza plus a Cat that thought it was a Lynx...
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Old Monday 1st July 2019, 12:34   #1341
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3 pics of a solitary Black-tailed Godwit (with juv BHG's) that i picked up down at Upton Warren on a Sunday in mid-June - a species that i didn't click with in Poland.....

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Old Wednesday 3rd July 2019, 14:55   #1342
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A few more.....

Photographically the trip was disappointing.

Apart from the larger raptors and the more common passerines i didn't get a single acceptable picture of any of the specialists and skulkers! I tried believe me but stuff was so elusive. Plenty of songs and calls but just fleeting glimpses that were just about acceptable with binoculars. I always try for good views first before photographing species. I also had a higher than normal % of species only recorded once - about 25% when 10-15% is my norm

I took my two Bridge cameras on this trip because i find them very handy for snapping when mooching particularly when set on 'burst'. I have 2x Panasonic Lumix an older FZ72 and an upgraded FZ330 the latter is a terrific improvement and sports 4k burst I decided on lightness and portability but now because a lot of the time was early morning and off the seating and boardwalk at Biebrza wish i had taken one of my 2 Canon 7D bodies and at least my 150-600mm Tamron zoom as the weight and slog of lugging it around would not have been an issue and the optical superiority and higher CMOS would have yielded good results

I will not be making that mistake in September when we return to Georgia and the spectacle that is the Batumi bottleneck for migrating raptors

Attached: White Stork, Black Tern, Marsh Harrier and Lesser Spotted Eagle.
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Old Monday 15th July 2019, 13:56   #1343
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Now i have snapped out of the two week post trip depression that usually follows when returning from abroad to the Bird Denuded Triangle that is the West Midlands it's time to crack on with the area that you actually live in..........i have to continually tell myself

Black-headed Gulls have returned post breeding with upto 15 inc a smart Gingery juv down at Withymoor. The first juv Chiffchaffs c/w their distinct call are present along with singing Blackcaps. The water level is good for passage waders - it would be nice as their wasn't one recorded this Spring! Contractors have been persuaded to not mow a couple of the better areas with instant results for butterflies, bees etc.

A couple of trips to the West Hagley Fields for possible Quail has yielded only a solitary singing Corn Bunting in the usual location although a mate had 3 singing birds a couple of weeks ago which is the most i have heard of.

The same friend has been heavily involved in surveying work over the last few years, something which i have helped out with time to time, but has decided to give it a break and do general birding this season and possibly a bit of twitching

He has targeted species within 15 miles of Stourbridge including Dippers for which he has put up dozens of nest-boxes with a large % being occupied - these are mainly from Bewdley to Neen Sollars but also some more local.

Goshawk has been a perennial undertaking and in his opinion they are more than holding their own with traditional sites being used regularly. The core breeding area of contiguous mixed woodland of Wrye Forest is the obvious site and although he has had potential breeders away from there from Bewdley back towards the Black Country he has yet to prove breeding as they are susceptible to casual continuous disturbance and desert early. An example would be Bunkers Wood locally - we have had displaying birds in February but the continued presence by dog-walkers results in a no-show and he is not convinced that they will take up breeding status anywhere around here unless they become more tolerant. Contrast that with the Park in Central Berlin where ca6 pairs breed and they hunt in close association with human presence.

Red Kites get ever closer but he hasn't found any locally in the adjacent Worcs/Staffs border areas although quite a few in Shropshire.

The jewel is the Raven which has bred a mile and a quarter from Stourbridge Town Centre and we have found 20 breeding pairs within 10 miles. It is nice to know that some species are making gains when a large % are not - where are all the Hirundines and Swifts???

Attached - local stuff and the Dog Hettie.

Good Birding

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Old Today, 05:55   #1344
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Anybody else pissed off about this sort of thing?

https://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/v2/C...&applefix=true

The time is rapidly approaching where people, like the moronic perpetrators of the above, will take direct action against these people - Why? Because the Law doesn’t take wildlife crime seriously that’s why.....

You can ring as many RSPB/Wildlife hotlines as you like but until people are jailed, Estates named, shamed, fines and owners jailed for vicarious liablity sweet FA is going to happen

Every week, in the usual locations, Golden Eagles go missing, Hen Harriers disappear or die in agony and God knows how many Peregrines are disturbed, Goshawk nest blown out with shotguns and pot-shots taken at anything with a hooked beak and talons. What happens from time to time is a patsy gamekeeper gets fined, wrists slapped (instead of being broken) sacked and then re-employed when the dust settles

Elements of the Judiciary, Police and participating landowners are all part of a cosy cartel all quite happy with their equilibrium which is being rippled by ‘Townies’ and the odd birding celebrity. They even have those Paper Tigers from English Nature offering to give licenses to cull Ravens and relocate Raptors

You couldn’t make this SH1T up i kid you not.

They laugh at this sort of thng when they are down the pub with their thick-as-thieves, or is it pigsh1t, mates. Wildlife and particularly birds are under serious threat in this country mainly due to farming and habitat degradation. That’s fine if you live on or by undeveloped coast or Cley is your local patch but that is not the real World - try birding around here on foot or by bike.

If you, like me, do not wish to have to visit a managed nature reserve to see a few different bird species then things have to change at a more basic local level.
Yesterday i liaised with local contractors where we live (sink-estate Stourbridge) to not mow several meadow patches until September. They were inclined banks so they agreed - a few more weeks of nectar production and a useful addition to the seed bank.

Whilst this is not in the headline-grabbing league of the horrific death of the Hen Harrier it is subtly symptomatic of the treatment of wildlife and habitats. If proof is needed just go to scruffier countries like Spain, Portugal or Morocco where it is a joy to see and find your own stuff

In fact anywhere but most of inland UK!

Rant over, good birding -

Laurie -
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