Thursday, 21 June 2018

Shustoke Reservoir.

Nice visit to Shustoke Reservoir early this morning where it was nice to see so many Mallard Ducklings, I counted thirty seven in different stages of growth from tiny little young ones to others who are now only slightly different to the adults, also seen were four Mute Swan Cygnets, seven Coot juveniles as well as the following, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Robin and Carrion Crow, in fact the wooded area between the farmers field and the fly-fishers pool there was an amazing amount of juvenile birds which were mainly the aforementioned Tits and Finches, also heard but not seen were calling Great Spotted Woodpeckers, I also saw one Mute Swan on the nest and a Great Spotted Grebe trying to build a nest, they always find it difficult to build a nest on the reservoir.

The water fowl weren't present in great numbers today but there was a good flock of c.40 Canada Geese which is unusual for this location, there was actually more going on above the water with hundreds of House Martin, Swift and Sand Martin.

It was great to see two Skylark today of which were above separate farmer's fields, hopefully if they have nests in the fields they are left undisturbed.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Skylark, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow, House Martin, Swift, Sand Martin, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Canada Goose.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Meriden Park, Cole End Nature Reserve, Solihull.

Great visit to Meriden Park and Cole End Nature Reserve in Solihull this morning which was ironic because it wasn't the location that I originally intended to visit but then again anybody who knows me knows that I do like to change my mind at the last minute.

Firstly I'll start by saying how this park has a 'Green Flag' award is completely beyond me as on this visit just like the previous occasions it's a disgusting mess, I really do feel sorry for the wildlife that inhabit the water as it's always full of litter, shopping trolley's in double numbers, plastic and cans etc and to top it off the section by the college stinks, which it always has done, sadly this is a great park which is purely let down by the location and the people that live there, it's no wonder that Solihull don't actually want Chelmsley Wood to part of it, all the same I must give top marks that there is a sign to discourage people from feeding the ducks bread and the Amey workers always pick up the the litter every morning.

Now I've got that off my chest what about the birds I hear you say, obviously the only place to start is the juveniles and there were plenty of them, everywhere I went today there were Blue Tit and Great Tit seen and heard and you sure can hear them, also seen and heard where the not so vocal baby Long Tailed Tits, in the wooded area there were juvenile Robin's who looked like they'd just fledged, it was great to watch them for over ten minutes, I saw three but there may have been more, there were clearly a lot of juvenile Starling, you certainly can't miss them, I dare say there were also baby House Sparrows but I didn't spot any, along the river amongst the vegetation both juvenile Mistle Thrush and Blackbird were seen, disappointingly the Mute Swans didn't have any young but I did see fifteen Mallard Duckling and three Moorhen chicks, I didn't see any Coot chicks but I did see three Coots on the nest. 

I also saw a Buzzard nest in a tree on the edge of the river, worryingly the nest is located right where the juvenile Mallard and Moorhen's are, one of the raptors made an unsuccessful attempt at taking one of the very young ducklings but with them only looking days old and there being plenty of them I can't see them avoiding the Buzzard's for too long. 

On the River Cole that heads towards the A452 it was great to see Grey Heron, Little Egret and a good mixture of birds, most of the birds today were seen in that area as was copious amounts of Rabbits, it's great to see that they've held onto this area despite houses being built on the opposite side of the river.

The area where the rabbits are located is known as Cole End Nature Reserve which like I say is great for birds but it's also an excellent area for many types of wildflower, I've never seen so much birds-foot trefoil in one location as there was today but the best spot for was finding a lovely Bladder Campion plant (it's the one in the fifth picture above), I only saw one plant but that was still great to see, just a pity today was dull and rainy as otherwise the area would have seen many butterflies and insects if the sun would have been out, so I'll have to pay there another visit soon when the suns out.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Starling, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot and Domestic/Greylag hybrid.

Also in the garden I've had a huge influx of juvenile House Sparrow and Starling which is great news !

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Southfields Farm, Coleshill.

Nice visit to Southfields Farm in Coleshill today where the were plenty of juveniles present, there were huge numbers of baby House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Starling with Carrion Crow and Magpie seen in much lower numbers.

I spoke to John the Farmer before I set off and he told me that Lapwings have nests in one of the farrow fields, unfortunately I couldn't locate it but knowing they are nesting on the land is good enough for me, funnily enough John deliberately set aside a patch of land for the Lapwings to nest on but as wildlife tends to do they've decided to completely ignore it and have settled where they want to, also be rest assured John told me that the land will not be touched until the Lapwings have fledged.

I'm not sure whether this is a good or bad thing but there were a lot of Buzzard present, I suppose in the big scheme of things it's good have a bit of balance but I just thought there were a lot for how many I saw on the area I covered this morning.

Even though the wildflower meadow was a bit disappointing as at the moment most flowers haven't come into their own yet there was a pleasant surprise in one of the fields as where I've only seen crops before there was a massive area awash with many different kinds of wildflowers, when I say massive area I really do mean it, not sure why that field is now full of wildflowers as I didn't see John again, hopefully I'll find out next time, either way there was a flock of c.60 Goldfinch, which included many juveniles feasting on all the seed that were on offer. 

I was hoping to spot Yellowhammer today which I didn't manage to do but I did see and hear many Skylark which is a good second.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Skylark, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Starling, Blackbird, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, House Martin, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie and Grey Heron in one of the fields that's adjacent to the river.

If you were planning to visit the farm this weekend for 'Open Farm Sunday', sadly John's not having one this year due to various reasons but he's going to have one next year that's bigger and better.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.

Being as I enjoyed my walk along the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal on Monday I thought I'd go back today and start my walk from The Boat Inn but walk in the opposite direction.

Today's story starts before I even got out of the car as on the way there I spotted Blue Tits feeding young at the top of a street sign outside a school and when I parked up I noticed a pair of Blue Tits going to and from the roof at The Boat Inn who were clearly feeding their young, funnily enough I plastered the room below the roof many years ago.

So in what was already a good start to the day, when I got to the canal the Goslings were still present in the garden and they had been fed giant Yorkshire Puddings which is first for me I must admit but they were enjoying them either way and even though I still thought there were ten, there were actually eleven Goslings when I looked back at the photos I had taken, which is great news especially when you see the size of them. 

Other juveniles seen were seven Moorhen chicks, it was a pleasure to watch them foraging among the vegetation, just a pity there was a lot of plastic litter as well which has now sadly become commonplace, other juveniles seen were Starling, Blackbird, Magpie and Feral Pigeon, the juvenile Blackbird looked as if it had just fledged as it was very noisy and was constantly following the parents and begging for food at the same time.

In one of the farmers fields were there was a lone tree, there was the unusual sight of a Kestrel chasing away Corvids and not being mobbed by them as usually happens, as the Kestrel only left the tree to chase off the Corvids I suspect it had a nest there but it was located on the opposite side of the canal and too far way to be certain.

As was the case on Monday, wherever there were homes there were House Sparrows and plenty of them, no juveniles yet though but in the same area there were plenty of Starling juveniles, who were making their custom racket, I haven't always been a fan of the noise they make but I'm now definitely a fan.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Kestrel, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Starling, Jay, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Moorhen, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Canada Goose as well as the following juveniles, Canada Goose Gosling (11), Moorhen (7), Blackbird, Starling, Magpie and Feral Pigeon.

I also paid a visit to Coleshill this morning and there were plenty of juvenile Starling present and then when I get home I could here that customary noise of juvenile Starlings and above is the first one that I saw in the garden.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.

Nice little visit, mostly anyway, to one of Birmingham's many canals this morning, namely that of a stretch of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal around the Tyburn and Minworth areas and I when I say early it was and I was finished at around 9:30 a.m.

It was great to see four ducklings with attentive parents and ten goslings all from the same parents, even though they were fairly big a Carrion Crow was showing an interest in them but the parents wasn't letting it near, they were located in a garden opposite The Boat Inn but were too far away for decent photos.

As always it was great to see and hear much House Sparrow activity, they were present wherever there were homes on the canal except for where there are new homes on the former Cincinnati factory site where sadly the trees that have been felled there were no signs of Song Thrush whereas on every previous visit they were ever present.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Starling, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Little Egret, Moorhen, Mallard, Canada Goose as well as the following juveniles, Mallard Duckling (4), Canada Goose Gosling (10), Woodpigeon and Magpie, also Starlings were observed taking off food clealry meant for their young.

Large parts of the canal did look wonderful with all the trees, bushes and flowers in full flow but sadly that was masking the inevitable...

There were four seperate Feral Pigeons that had been caught up in netting under the Minworth Bridge and clearly died of starvation which is against the law under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 whether it was a deliberate act of cruelty or not, also large stretches of the water were a complete and utter disgrace, there were hundreds if not thousands of empty crisp packets and plastic bottles, not only did the water look a complete and utter mess which is clearly not ideal for the wildlife which inhabit the canal and then there was the obvious litter on the canal sides mainly made up of beer cans, plastic carrier bags and for some unknown reason lots of dumped machinery, clearly this canal is treated as 'out of sight, out of mind', well that's not the case anymore because I shall be raising my objections to the relevant bodies.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Edgbaston Reservoir.

Great trip to Edgbaston Reservoir today where there wasn't a single cloud, just blue skies for as far as the eye could see.

As well as blue skies it was great to see juvenile birds, birds on the nest as well as building nests and the flowers and trees really coming to the fore, the trees in particular looked stunning.

I saw eight juvenile Coot, two sets of four, but there have may have been more as they were still actually on the nest with the parent still present, there were also at least twenty nesting Coot with others building nests.

In one of the two main areas of woodland I inadvertently scared off a Buzzard which was good news for all the birds present in that area of the reservoir, as well as all the birds you'd expect to see and hear there was a Mistle Thrush singing to it's hearts content, it was a pleasure to hear it having a good old sing song.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Wren, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard and Canada Goose.

Butterflies seen today were Small White, Speckled Wood and Orange Tip.

I did notice upon arrival that the water levels were extremely high and talking to a local who's lived adjacent to the reservoir for over twenty three years he told me he's never seen them so high himself, what was more amazing was the amount of water running into the canal from the reservoir, it was gushing out at a very high speed without making any difference to the water levels.

As you can see from the above photo there were also very large Carp present, these fish clearly migrate to the warmer areas of the water as their were a good number in one of the shallow 'corners' where I've never seen them before.

As you can see I've left the most depressing aspect from today until last, when I went to the section where the newer trees have been planted to check how many were still intact I could smell burning wood when I noticed the above aberration, what an absolutely disgusting thing to do, sod nature, sod wildlife, in fact sod everybody else but us because we are so selfish, totally unacceptable and abhorrent, still I picked up all of the litter which included over forty bottles of empty lager, as well as empty food packaging etc, for some reason I decided to smell the rubbish which was an extremely bad idea as it made me throw up, I won't do that again ! Apart from that most of the trees still remained intact with only a few snapped by the mindless morons that do such things. I must also say thank you to the people at 'Midland Sailing Club' who are located on the reservoir for allowing me to use their facilities to wash my hands after I'd deposited all the litter.

I'll finish on a good note and say that it's great to see the Mason Bees enjoying the warm weather in my back garden today, they are never active for very long but it's great to see them when they are.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Whitacre Hall Farm, Nether Whitacre.

Always nice to visit somewhere new especially when it turns out to be a very good decision as was today's first visit to Whitacre Hall and Farm in Nether Whitacre, Warwickshire.

There are two great areas of established woodland which hold an impressive amount of trees and two large swathes of bluebells as well as two separate areas of honey bee hives, at the moment there is also a building in the farm with plenty of holes where there are hundreds of Red Mason Bee as well as another larger and darker bee, sadly I'm not a bee expert so I couldn't tell you what they were.

Highlight of the day was seeing a majestic Muntjac Deer crossing from one piece of the woodland to another, unfortunately I was too slow to get a photograph.

There were no shortage of Buzzards above the fields hunting as was the case on my journey there and back from the farm, it was obviously great to see Skylark, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and my first Willow Warbler of the year.

Sadly I didn't see or hear a single House Sparrow which could have been because there were no intensively bred cows or pigs, even though there is a 'wild bird cover' corridor, there are no wildflower meadows or fields which grow seed for the birds in the autumn and winter which may have been why there was not a sighting of any Yellowhammer.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Skylark, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Greylag Goose, Domestic Goose, Moorhen, Coot and Mallard, also on the farm there were Muscovy Duck, Domestic Duck, Chicken, and Peacock.

Whitacre Hall and Farm has a few open days in April and May, including tomorrow - Sunday 22nd April, as well as Open Farm Sunday on Sunday 10th June, there are two very well sign posted walks you can undertake, one of about 45 minutes and other of approximately ninety minutes, clearly I went on the longer walk especially as that consisted of the two woodland walks, when you've finished you can have a nice cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake, all details can be found on their Facebook page. Whitcare Hall Facebook page.