Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Shustoke Reservoir.

Great trip to Shustoke Reservoir in North Warwickshire this morning, the trip was planned for Wednesday but I went today because rain was forecast for tomorrow, ironically rain is now not forecast but going today was a massive bonus which included a thirty minute spell of birding which I'll probably never beat.

Before I even got out of the car there was a female Blackbird feeding at least four noisy fledglings in a tree adjacent to the car, then when I get to the reservoir there were juvenile Mallard ducklings and Coots aplenty with a female Mallard with eight juveniles, further down from the entrance there was a Little Egret present which is not a common spot at this site also all around the waters edge there were plenty of Pied Wagtails with many juveniles among them, I haven't seen Grey Heron here for a long time but today I saw two including one of this years juveniles.

Then I get to the space in between the reservoir and the fly-fishers pool and there was a lot of bird activity from one tree to another in the wooded area which includes many pine trees and from there on in it was seeing one great spot after another, in no particular order the birds seen which included both adults and juveniles were, Goldcrest, Siskin, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Robin (there were at least four juveniles), Song Thrush and Blackbird, too see that many juveniles in the same area and in a twenty minute time span was truly amazing especially as in same area there was a pair of Treecreeper and a Great Spotted Woodpecker pecking away at one of the trees. 

Little then did I know when I turned around and looked on the pool what I would see, first of all I noticed two separate pairs of Coot juveniles, that's not all that amazing I hear you say but upon closer inspection they were indeed juvenile Little Grebe, as I was observing them three Tufted Duck ducklings came into view which was yet another highlight and something you don't see very often, so then what do I notice, only a female Tufted Duck with ten ducklings ! they looked amazing even more so as they were mimicking everything their mother did, like I said what an amazing half an hours worth of birding.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Goldcrest, Siskin, Blackcap, Treecreeper, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Wren, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Jay, Stock Dove (I've neevr seen them here before), Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Pied Wagtail, House Martin, Cormorant, Lapwing, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Canada Goose.

A full list of juveniles seen today are, Goldcrest, Siskin, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Pied Wagtail, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Moorhen and Coot.

Not a great deal of wildflowers at this site but it was nice to see Ragwort very abundant and many were full of Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.

Butterflies seen were, Green Veined White, Small White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Small Tortoiseshell. 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Castle Vale Nature Conservation Area/Meadows.

Tried something a little different today which was a visit to Castle Vale Nature Conservation Area and meadows which at present covers an area of about 5.4 acres and is made up of a variety of habitats, bordered by 2 descent size disused paddocks, which have developed into open mixed grassland, huge meadows and have a lovely selection of wild flowers, trees and shrubs.

The downside is that most of the areas can only be walked on the periphery, which still leaves some great views of fields of Ragwort etc, but doesn't leave much scope to go and explore, the upside though is the wildlife, wildflowers, trees and shrubs are just left to their own devices and are none the worse for it, in fact apart from Colebank Nature Reserve I've never seen so many rabbits.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Starling, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, House Martin, Pied Wagtail and Moorhen.

Obviously it's always great to see and hear House Sparrows, as well as juvenile Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail and Magpie that were spotted. Talking to locals there are plenty of Green Woodpecker present but I didn't see any and in the Winter the paddocks are home to hundreds of Fieldfare and Redwing.

Wildflowers seen were, Chicory, Common Vetch, Birds Foot Trefoil, Lady's Bedstraw, Ragwort, Wild Blue Geranium, White Clover and Rosebay Willowherb, the paddocks and meadows also saw plenty Small skipper butterflies which could have easily numbered in the thousands.

It's not a place I will be regularly visit but I shall go back in the Autumn and Winter especially if there will be plenty Fieldfare and Redwing present.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Souhfields Farm, Coleshill.

Great visit to Souhfields Farm in Coleshill, North Warwickshire, where my primary objectives were to see Yellowhammer and as identify as many wildflowers as I could, well I saw Yellowhammer including juveniles and saw quite a few wildflowers of which I could identify more than I could before Wednesday when I attended wetland/wildflower walk courtesy of Tame Valley Wetlands and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

It was one of those funny days when you don't see as many birds as you thought you would when you left the house but where would the fun be in seeing every single bird every time you went out birding.

Needless to say the highlight had to be seeing a couple of Yellowhammer juveniles and to see them singing was even better, other babies I love seeing are Pied Wagtails and there was also quite a few of them around especially in the livestock fields, other juveniles seen were, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow and Magpie.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Kestrel, Yellowhammer, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Robin, Wren, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Swift, House Martin, Swallow and Moorhen.

There are obviously (thanks to John the farmer who runs the farm) plenty of wildflowers on site, especially in the huge meadow and extensive borders that are adjacent to the hedgerows, the meadow looked amazing with so many bright and wonderful flowers.

Wildflowers seen today in the order spotted were, Oxeye Daisy, White Clover, Birds Foot Trefoil, Field Chamomile, Groundsel, Knapweed, Meadow Buttercup, Lesser Trefoil, Purple Clover, Self Heal, Red Clover, Musk Mallow, Lady's Bedstraw, Red Campion and Rosebay Willowherb, there were probably countless more varieties but as previously stated I am by no means an expert.

I must also mention that I will never tire of getting out of the car and seeing and hearing so many House Sparrow, they are quite literally in every direction you look, great to see so many.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Whitacre Heath Nature Reserve (SSSI), Tamworth.

Great afternoon spent yesterday at Whitacre Heath Nature Reserve in Tamworth on a wetland and wildflower walk courtesy of Tame Valley Wetlands and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

I would normally put a list up of all the birds I saw on the visit but most of the time was spent looking down rather than up and I also made the schoolboy error of forgetting my binoculars, only the second time that that's ever happened !

So instead I'll list all of the wildflowers we saw, I am by no means a wildflower and wetland flower expert so it was great to find out how many there were in such a small area and also to learn which flower you're most likely to be growing in certain locations and soil types.

Here is a list of flowers seen in the order they were find starting from the car park and around the reserve, Lady's Bedstraw, Oxeye Daisy, White Clover, Red Clover, Birds Foot Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Hogweed, Knapweed, Willowherb, Ragwort (many were full of Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars), Burdock, False Oat-grass, St John's Wort, Black Medic, Weld, Marsh Thistle, Rosebay Willowherb, Teasel, Broom, Creeping Thistle, Fairy Flax, Blue Fleabane, Smooth Hawks-Beard, Common Vetch, Tufted Vetch, Spotted Orchid, False Fox-sedge, Meadowsweet, Tufted Hair Grass, Water Figwort, Hawkweed, Hemlock, Cocksfoot, Cut-leaf Cransebill, Mugwort, Hedge Woundwort, Dog Rose, Creeping Buttercup, Forget-Me-Not, Self-heal, Wild Raspberry, Perennial Rye-grass, Yorkshire Fog, Bentgrass, Foxglove and Sticky Weed, there were also other plants identified but unfortunately I can't read what I've written down.

My favourite wildflower that I saw was Blue Fleabane because it can only found at a handful of locations in Warwickshire and was actually very abundant at this location.

Staying on the wildlower theme all being well I shall be visiting Southfields Farm in Coleshill the weekend to see how the wildflower meadow is looking, I was told yesterday that it looks fantastic, I shall also remember to take my binoculars this time so I can do the all important bird list.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Babbs Mill Nature Reserve, Solihull.

Nice trip to Solihull to visit Babbs Mill Nature Reserve for a walk around the lake, a section of the River Cole.

Great to see that Mute Swans have reared three healthy looking Cygnets, also nice to see were two Domestic Goose juveniles especially as on my first visit here in 2010 there were fourteen adults and there are now only six, a couple of harsh winters back then when the lake completely froze over making them easy prey for the local Foxes, also the council have destroyed eggs and even killed young in years gone by, I've always had a soft spot for the geese at this location as they were dumped here and just left to fend for themselves, other juveniles seen were Great Crested Grebe (1), Coot (4) and countless Mallards who were between juvenile and adult status.

Birds seen today were, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Wren, Starling, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Collard Dove, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Swift, House Martin, Swallow, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Domestic Goose and Canada Goose. 
It was also a pleasure to see so many wildflowers in various locations, the main spot being along the waters edge by where the scrape was created a few years back, most the common wildflowers were present including, Knapweed, Musk Mallow, Birds Foot-Trefoil, Oxeye Daisy, White, Red and Pink Campion, also seen was Vetch which is a wildflower that I don't see very often on the other hand I see Ragwort everywhere when it's in flower as was the case today so soon there will be Cinnabar Moth caterpillars galore feeding on them.