Thursday, 26 April 2012

Plantsbrook Nature Reserve.

First trip to Plantsbrook in nearly five weeks and it looks a lot greener and browner and more colourful than the last visit, it was also quite pleasant being as rain was forecast. Highlight of the day was seeing a male Blackcap singing and a female Mallard with eight very young Ducklings (that's them disappearing further into one of the pools in the sixth picture) I also saw four Coot chicks, two of each from different families. There was also a Mute Swan on the nest, she's gone back to her usual nesting place and not the different spot she chose last year for some reason, other nesting waterfowl were, Great Crested Grebe (1) Canada Goose (1) and Coot (12), as I've said before, the more chicks the better. Birds spotted today were Blackcap (Male), Reed Bunting, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Jay, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Canada Goose. The cat in the last picture didn't appear to be a stray being as it had a nice coat and seemed fit and well fed, but what winds me up is that it had no collar and more importantly no bell, just the simple act of putting a bell on the collar of a cat saves many birds lives a year, my cat has four on her collar, blinged up to the max she is.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Babbs Mill Nature Reserve, Kingshurst.

First trip to Babbs Mill, Yorks Wood and this stretch of the River Cole in seven weeks and to be honest I did expect to see some young waterfowl but unfortunately nothing at the moment but there was four Coots and four Great Crested Grebe on the nest, talking of nests, today's highlight was seeing a pair of Whitethroat collecting nest material on the outskirts of Yorks Wood. In the same area it was also great to see and hear a Song Thrush treating me to it's great range and repertoire of wonderful songs. Birds spotted today were Buzzard, Whitethroat, Blackcap (male) Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Wren, Robin, Jay, Song Thrush, Starling, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Canada Goose, Domestic Goose and Mallard. As you can see in the fourth and fifth picture, the River Cole is still critically low, we are supposed to have a months rainfall in thirty six hours in Birmingham, which will obviously not do any harm but in the long run will it be enough, I doubt it, saying that somebody I spoke to did see a Kingfisher on the river today so fingers crossed they'll be okay.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Pype Hayes Park.

First trip out for a week due to it raining on the days I could go out, still you can't moan when it rains because it'll be for the greater good in the long run and I did have the added bonus of seeing my first juvenile Robin of the year in the back garden foraging about for insects in one of my log piles, I also saw the female Sparrowhawk on a couple of occasions who was unsuccessful in taking any birds. I also had to curtail my visit to Pype Hayes today because of the rain, on the two hours I was there, birds spotted were Buzzard, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Coot, Mallard and Canada Goose. Today was the first time I've seen a Great Crested Grebe on Pype Hayes fishing pool, it was a shame for it though because for some reason it was being chased aggressively around the pool by the two Mute Swans even forcing the poor creature under the water. I also saw some Pulmonaria plants more commonly known as Lungwort and if you were watching Gardeners' World on BBC2 on Friday, you will know that this is an increasingly rare plant in the wild.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Shustoke Reservoir.

As usual a good days birding was to be had at Shustoke Reservoir where it was a bit chilly even though the sun was out but at least the predicted rain showers failed to materialise. Highlights of the day were seeing the first Swallows of the year, only about twenty at the most but good to see all the same, also I've never seen so many Blackcap in one day, they were practically everywhere I went, mainly males but I did spot a couple of females as well. It was also nice to see a Coal Tit diligently collecting nest material. Birds seen today were, Swallow, Blackcap (male and female) Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Sparrowhawk, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Pheasant (cock), Grey Heron, Cormorant, Mute Swan (15), Lapwing, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Canada Goose and Mallard. There is only a single Coot on the nest, but as I've said before Shustoke isn't a great place for nesting birds, the Great Crested Grebe have a torrid time what with the water levels going up or down and the very high winds and the Coots don't fare much better. Another nice thing I saw today was seeing plenty of bees, wasps and insects buzzing about the few sections there are at Shustoke with wild flowers, personally I love to see a patch of land replete with wild flowers, they always look great with their many colourful plants especially when left to their own devices. I was listening to Keith Arthur's Fisherman’s Blues on TalkSport this morning and he was saying (in my opinion he is a environmental expert) that the low water levels are already having a devastating effect on the fish breeding which is of course effecting the Kingfisher, Grey Heron and wading birds, as we all know if there isn't major rainfall soon and none is predicted that the knock on effect will be disastrous to the birds, fish and wildlife in general, very worrying times lay ahead.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Shard End Lake

Actually got out birding again for a change, the two W's have curtailed my outdoor activities lately, weddings and the weather. I had a walk around the lake and a walk along a section of the River Cole. Birds spotted today were, Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Robin, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Carrion, Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Coot, Canada Goose and Mallard. As of yet there are no birds on the nest at the lake, it's only a small lake and it's still early days though. The River Cole even though was very low wasn't as low as I'd expected it to be, but with a long dry summer ahead predicted it doesn't look good, which is probably why there is a shortage of Grey Heron about at the moment. Along the path by the River Cole I saw a male Blackbird courting a female Blackbird, doing it's funny run, head-bowing movements and with it's open beak, I hope to see plenty juvenile Blackbirds this year, another one of my favourite underrated British birds, I love their scampering around the back garden plus they are one of our greatest song birds, talking of British birds that get overlooked, here's an article on trying to reverse the decline of the House Sparrow. the certainly get looked after in my garden, if I see any in the garden, I go out and give them a bit of extra seed or sunflower hearts on the bird table or one of the coconuts in the tree and they have six receptacles to drink and bathe from, including two bird baths.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Ward End Park.

A short visit to a chilly Ward End Park today. Birds spotted were, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Starling, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Pekin Duck, Muscovy Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Canada Goose and Mallard. At the moment there are two Coots on the nest, the one in the picture on a grand nest in the water, the other has cleverly erected it's nest on one of the islands. It's always great to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker, but it was equally pleasing to see plenty of Song Thrush and Starling, but not so great was not seeing any House Sparrow, even though I did hear some chirping. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view, there's a local Sparrowhawk visiting my garden on what must be a daily basis because I see it most days and must be coming the days I don't manage to see it, I haven't actually seen it take anything yet but a House Sparrow and a Collared Dove have had a close escape in the last couple of days but does that mean a male and female are on the prowl being as the male normally only goes for birds up to the size of a Sparrow, while the female, being larger, will go for birds as big as the size of a dove, it swoops literally out of nowhere and all the birds scatter and don't come back for a while. I think that it's down to the fact  that there's hardly anyone else by my garden feeding our feathered friends, so they converge on my garden thus creating a Mcdonalds fly through for the Sparrowhawk, coincidentally I've also seen a Buzzard riding the thermals high above my house, but never seen one venture into my back garden yet. Talking of garden visitors, I've also got a pair of Long Tailed Tits visiting on a regular basis, they love foraging about the dwarf apple tree and even taking the odd seed out of one of the half coconuts in the tree that I fill up with seed, mealworm, suet pellets and sunflower hearts etc, they then have a very skittish bath, they don't stop in the water long, they just have a lot of short visits to and from the bath and apple tree.