Thursday, 29 March 2012

Middleton Lakes. RSPB Nature Reserve.

Another trip to Middleton Lakes, on what turned out to be a gloriously sunny day. Straight to the highlights of the day, first was seeing my first ever Skylark, hovering and singing above me, it was actually the singing that diverted my attention to it, what a great song it has and if that wasn't good enough I saw a pair a few moments later, which had a hover and sing together before promptly disappearing onto the ground in one of the farmers fields, hopefully they are a pair which will successfully breed this year, because it's another of one of our countryside birds which have suffered a dramatic decline in numbers mainly due to modern farming practices. Another highlight was seeing the very sociable Robin again on the way up to and coming back from the lakes, he was eating out of my hand again, he was gratefully accepting some dried mealworms, one of which he'd take to another Robin (presumably the female) on the river bank and he'd have the next one himself, he also had some bird seed left on one of the hand rails, along with numerous Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches and other more timid Robins. Another highlight was seeing a very sociable Pheasant Hen, which was also loving some bird seed, she was flanked by a Pheasant Cock but he wasn't quite as adventurous as the female. There was also a great flock of approximately thirty Mealy Redpoll foraging on the floor  while in the air was an impressive flock of two hundred plus Woodpigeon. The Grey Heron are still busy making their nests, there must be at least thirty now, with some juveniles already born but obviously haven't left the nest yet. Birds spotted today were, Skylark, Mealy Redpoll, Treecreeper, Blackcap (male) Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redwing, Pheasant (Hen and Cock), Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Kestrel, Buzzard, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Sandpiper, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose and Cormorant. My House Sparrow colony in the garden are still nest building with plant material from the garden, which is great, the more House Sparrow chicks the better I say, along with the blackbirds who are also doing the same. It's sad to see from the RSPB Big Garden Watch results, that even though the Starling has hung onto second place it has suffered a bigger decline than last year, they weren't always that welcome to my garden but I've come to love them over the years, how can you not like such a stunning if not a bit of a bully boy bird, it's a shame we've forced them out of the countryside and now a lot of them are reduced to running around our shopping centres scratting about for discarded Greggs pasties, oh that's it now I've mentioned pasties. The Fudgers has escaped yet another visit to the vets, her third visit in five months, this time she's got laryngitis and alopeciao on both ears, they don't why the alpoceia keeps reappearing, it seems to come and go but thankfully she's alright at the moment after having to endure yet another two injections.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Plantsbrook Nature Reserve.

A trip to Plantsbrook this morning, of which for us early risers started out very foggy and misty but did eventually turn out to be a nice sunny day by about 11:00 am. Easily the highlight of the day was seeing some male and female Tree Sparrows, the first time I've ever seen them in Birmingham, I'd put some apple, bird seed and fat ball on the fence in the car park, when all the usual Tits, Finches and Buntings etc were helping themselves when all of sudden said Tree Sparrows appeared, personally House Sparrows are one of my favourite garden birds, the garden wouldn't be the same without them so it was a real pleasure to see some Tree Sparrows especially as their decline has been even more dramatic and tragic than their House Sparrow cousins. Another highlight was to see a Great Crested Grebe on the nest, they've probably got the best looking chicks of any waterfowl, there was also six Coots on the nest. I also noticed two birds that were ringed today, namely a Tree Sparrow and a Robin. Birds spotted were, Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Reed Bunting, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Canada Goose and Mallard. The disgusting amount of black bags and litter dumped in the Plants Brook that you can see in the last picture has all been photographed and documented as well as all the manufacturing components, packing and even distinctive masking tape and will forwarded to the relevant authorities and I will name and shame them if and when I find out who the culprits are, I can't stand litter in the first place so fly tipping winds me right up especially in a nature reserve, unfortunately this part of Plantsbrook backs onto an industrial estate with vandalized fences which is shame because its frequented by Wrens, Robins, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Jays in particular. Anyway back to happier times, the House Sparrows in the garden are frantically gathering twigs and weeds etc. to line their nests for this years young, I love to watch the adults teaching the chicks how to feed and forage and the chicks fluttering their wings, also in the garden, yesterday in fact, I had some Long Tailed Tits in the garden, foraging about the apple tree and feasting on the fat balls, that was until next doors cat made an appearance, which was a shame. So now really is the time to get out and about, with all the birds and wildlife getting ready for a busy Spring and Summer, I'd rather be out and about, unlike both of my boring neighbours, whose life consists of work, shopping or staying in, when they could be out enjoying all the wonderful nature and wildlife there is to experience out there.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Witton Lakes and Brookvale Park.

Witton Lakes.

Brookvale Park.

One hour visit apiece to Witton Lakes and the adjacent Brookvale Park whilst in the area on other business, was the order of the day today, for the first day of Spring 2012. Birds spotted at Witton Lakes were, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, House Sparrow, Robin, Song Thrush, Starling, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Coot, Canada Goose and Mallard including a couple of male and female Silver Appleyards. It is ironic that I saw my first Chiffchaff today being as it's almost a year to the day that I saw my first one this time last year. It was great to see two separate Greenfinch, about twenty foot apart having a good old sing song, equally as nice to see was twelve Coot nests, they're not everybody's cup of tea, but I like them with their funny looking feet. Then was along to the nearby Brookvale Park, where the birds spotted were, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Pekin Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Canada Goose, Mallard, including a female Indian Runner, which was very strange to see in the wild with it's long neck and upright stance and being twice the size of your average Mallard. Brookvale is always fantastic for Mute Swans but today was exceptional with over fifty, it's always great to see a stretch of water replete with majestic Mute Swans. The Coots weren't as busy here as they have been at Witton Lakes with only two nests constructed so far. There was also a Dunnock collecting feathers from the waterfowl no doubt building it's own nest. Another thing Brookvale has a lot of is Grey Squirrels, which is why I always take some food with me for them and some of last years windfall apples cut into quarters went down a right treat, it's always funny watching them run up and grab their prize and then scurry off back up the tree for a good nibble.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Pype Hayes Park.

Nice trip out to a very pleasant Pype Hayes Park this morning. Birds spotted were, Grey Wagtail, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, Redwing, Song Thrush, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Goosander, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Coot, Canada Goose and last but not least, the humble Mallard. Today was the first time I'd seen Goosander on the fishing pool, even though there was only one lone female today apparently there have been up to fifteen males and females on the pool in the last week. As usual there was plenty of bird activity today, I noticed Jackdaws, Carrion Crows and Magpies building nests today, as well as plenty of Song Thrush, Tits and Robins singing. The Plants Brook that runs adjacent to the park is running dangerously low, it's only about four or five inches deep instead of the usual couple of feet, unless there is a decent amount of rainfall soon, which isn't predicted, there is a real danger it's going to dry up altogether, which is certainly bad news for the Kingfisher and Grey Heron in particular. Spring is now only three days away, so let's hope all the birds have a successful breeding season this year and we also have a bit of rainfall.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Lady Bradford's, Castle Bromwich.

Another wee trip to Castle Bromwich, where it was nice to see flowers in bloom and plenty of saplings and trees with leaf shoots, especially the Horse Chestnuts, which look great before the Leaf Miner gets to them and do their damage. Birds spotted were, Pheasant (Hen), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redwing, Song Thrush, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Starling, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon and a couple of Canada Goose flying over head, probably to the nearby Plantsbrook or Pype Hayes Park. I scared off the Pheasant, which was foraging by the path in front of me, I didn't see it until it flew off, the females do blend in very well with the surroundings though. It was also nice to see a few Woodpeckers as well, especially as the local chavs seem to like setting fire to the old trees which we all know Woodpeckers love.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Shustoke Reservoir.

Another trip to Shustoke Reservoir, where it was another one of those days that felt like it was Spring. Birds spotted were, Mealy Redpoll, Treecreper, Nuthatch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Wren, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Robin, Starling, Song Thrush, Redwing, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Pheasant (cock), Lapwing, Wigeon, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Canada Goose and Cormorant. It was great to see a small flock of Mealy Redpoll feeding on some Alder seeds, with it being overcast, you could see them and their colours perfectly. On the far end of the reservoir there were plenty Great Crested Grebe, upwards of fifty, it's just a pity they don't breed very well there, unfortunately there is nowhere suitable for them and most of the eggs are lost or the chicks drown, what with it being windy, the boats and no suitable places for securing a nest, if you get a handful of chicks a year, they're lucky, which is a real shame, it would be great to see the reservoir awash with Great Crested Grebe chicks. There were plenty of Song Thrush about again, singing or foraging in the undergrowth and grass looking for a tasty worm or two. There was also twenty of more Redpoll in the horses field, also foraging for worms and the like, it might be the last time I see them for a while or maybe they'll stick around for a while longer being as it's pretty mild. The only other wildlife seen was a horse in the field, which enjoyed my gift of an apple, and there was also plenty of rabbits about, I saw one them looking rather confused where a fence has been newly erected, cutting them off from one of the fields, I needn't have worried because it promptly disappeared down a hole and reappeared the other side to join up with the other rabbits. 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Ward End Park.

Quick ninety minute meander around a mildish Ward End Park. Birds spotted today were, Kestrel (being mobbed by Carrion Crows) Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Chafffinch, House Sparrow, Robin, Starling, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Mute Swan, Pekin Duck, Muscovy Duck, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Cormorant plus plenty of Gulls including some Herring Gull. Today was the first time I've seen any waterfowl building a nest, said bird being a Coot, thankfully it was near one of the islands and not near the waters edge by the path. It was nice to see some bees and wasps doing their thing on some Cherry Blossom, equally as pleasant was watching a Grey Squirrel tucking into some of last years windfall apple I've saved from last year that I'd put on a tree stump, I always save some windfall to put out for the wildlife over Autumn and Winter when I'm on my travels as well as the bird seed I always leave in various places for the birds, after all they need all the help they can get. Talking of feeding the birds, the sunflower hearts in the back garden are going down a storm, so if you don't buy them for your birds already, I strongly recommend you do, the birds love them. Here's a short article on the amount of birds visiting the nations gardens.