Monday, 4 September 2017

Babbs Mill Nature Reserve, Solihull.

Strange visit to Babbs Mill Nature Reserve in Solihull today because the day started off foggy but very muggy which eventually gave way to a torrential downpour of rain which basically ended the birding session because I had other things to do after and as you might guess when I was doing them it was blue skies and sunshine, oh well that's how it goes I suppose.

Highlight of the day would be the highlight of most days if you were lucky enough to witness it, namely that of a sighting of Goldcrest juveniles, if that doesn't get you excited then you're doing the wrong hobby, even better than though was that there were at least four fledglings, I'd guess by the noise that they were making that there were more but it was hard to tell because they were high up in an apple tree but they were fairly easy to observe all the same and if that wasn't enough the tree also held Chiffchaff juveniles, what a great sight to see two sets of amazing juveniles in the same tree, other juveniles spotted today were Moorhen, Jay, Carrion Crow, Magpie and Woodpigeon including fourteen forging on the grass.

High in the skies both Buzzard and Kestrel were seen who were both ironically being mobbed by Carrion Crows.

Nothing out of the ordinary was spotted on the lake even though it was nice to see a Moorhen juvenile and a couple of Cormorant who have avoided the persecution of the local 'fishermen', there was more action above the water with hundreds of House Martin still present.

With the foggy and misty morning it was great to see all the spiders webs that you can't usually see, it even almost made the Himalayan Balsam look good, talking of the Himalayan Balsam it's gone completely out of control at this location with some paths almost unwalkable saying that the Wasps were taking full advantage of it because the plants were literally buzzing and along the main stretch where the dreaded plant is located between the lake and the River Cole there were two separate Wasps nests spotted. On a brighter note talking of plants getting out of control there were hundreds of blackberries so there will hopefully be plenty left in the Autumn and Winter for the Blackbirds and Thrushes to enjoy.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Kestrel, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Wren, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, House Martin, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Domestic Goose and Canada Goose.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Shustoke Reservoir.

Nice trip Shustoke Reservoir today which was only spoilt by events when I got home but I'll come back to that at the end of this post.

Funny day because even though the sun was out and there was mostly blue skies there was still a chill in the air saying that I was supposed to visit this location yesterday, the boots were on and the car was loaded up when it started to rain which didn't stop all day so at least I was spared that today.

The water was quiet for the most part apart from the inaccessible stretch by the sailing club which held plentiful amounts of Lapwing, Canada Goose, Coot, Mallard and of course Gulls, also on the water in front of the club were fourteen Mute Swan which was great to see because you can visit this location on many occasions and never see a Swan.

Also nice to see were lots of this years juveniles still evident, among them were, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Blue Tit, Great Tit, House Martin, Mallard and Coot.

Like I just stated the water was very quiet so the action was with the other birds, namely that of seeing a Green Woodpecker in the car park, also seen were great amounts of Goldcrest, Coal Tit and Nuthatch among the many great mixture of trees that are adjacent to the reservoir.

Birds seen today were, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Wren, Robin, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, House Martin, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Canada Goose.

The only downer on the day was coming home and seeing plenty of House Sparrows on the feeders so I thought I'd leave topping up the feeders and cleaning and putting fresh water in the birdbaths until it went quiet, so I left it for ten minutes and then looked out, good it's quiet I thought, how wrong I was because there right in front of the kitchen window was a pile of feathers and to the right was a Sparrowhawk with it's 'prey', so I left it too it so it would hopefully not fly off and kill another bird, when I eventually ventured into the back garden there was yet another pile of Sparrow feathers so presumably it's taken two of my babies today. You can see a video of the Sparrowhawk on my Twitter account if you haven't already seen it on the following link. Sparrowhawk kill.

On a brighter note it was excellent to look out of the front window early yesterday morning to see two adult Woodpigeon foraging on the grass with four juveniles, don't think I've seen four from one family at once before.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Cole End Park Local Nature Reserve, Coleshill.

Nice early morning visit to Cole End Park Local Nature Reserve in Coleshill where there wasn't a huge amount of birds to see but that didn't mean that there wasn't some great sights to see all the same.

Highlights were seeing all of the following, Green Woodpecker, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and plenty of House Sparrow in more than one location.

Birds seen today were, Blaclcap, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Green Woodpecker, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Moorhen and Mallard.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Edgbaston Reservoir.

Being as I was in the area attending Ladywood Fire Station Open Day it would have been rude not to visit the reservoir being as it's practically opposite the station and I don't visit this area as often I used to.

Even though I have seen the water levels much lower than today I was still shocked to see them so low, it was more like Edbgaston-On-Sea than a reservoir with parts completely taken by vegetation some of it six foot high, in the one 'corner' where the Coots, Mallards and Moorhens are usually happily swimming around there were foraging Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon and Carrion Crow, very strange ! Let's just hope the birds and wildlife adapt to these unusual conditions, which I'm sure they will.

Even though it was great to pay the reservoir a visit there was unfortunately not a huge variety of birds but that was made up by the fact that most of the birds that were observed were seen in large numbers, especially a colony of House Sparrow who numbered 40-50 of which 30-40 were dust bathing in the sand when I first saw them but that soon come to halt with an appearance of a juvenile Carrion Crow, it was hard to correctly count their number because they were in and out of the nearby vegetation but there were definitely 50+, which is great news.

Birds seen today were, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Wren, Robin, House Martin, Pied Wagtail (juvenile), Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard and Canada Goose.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Meriden Park, Solihull.

Nice visit to Meriden Park in Solihull today, saying that though it was mostly nice as the day mostly consisted of the three R's, Ragwort, Rabbits and rubbish !

How locations such as this get a Green Flag award is completely beyond me as sites such as this and Ward End Park are always in a terrible state, you could see some of the shopping trolleys and litter had been in the water for months which is completely unacceptable when they are supposed to be a much needed haven for wildlife in inner city Birmingham, it certainly didn't help seeing two workmen in a van drinking tea in the car park form at least 8 to 8:30am, I shall spare you seeing the many photos I took as they are too depressing.

Anyway enough of the negative, what about the other two R's I hear you ask, well I've never seen so many Rabbits at any location before let alone this one, maybe it's because I was the only person around where they congregate but there were at least forty present, darting in different directions whenever I appeared, but even that number was dwarfed by the shear amount of Ragwort with hundreds of plants present along the river and the wooded area and of course they were full of very hungry Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars which are always great to see, also seen as you can see was a Five-Spot Burnett which was feeding on Field Scabious, this is the only location I've ever seen them so let's hope for the sake of them, the Rabbits and the wildlife in general that the land is never built upon like has scandalously happened on the land on the other side of the river, especially as along that stretch of river I always see Grey Heron and Little Egret.

Birds seen today were, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Canada Goose and a hybrid Greylag/Domestic Goose.

Then when I got home there were approximately thirty of this years juvenile House Sparrow in the back garden stripping the feeders of the seed and double numbers of juvenile Blue and Great Tit in the tree eating anything they could get near, choices for them include, black sunflowers, sunflower hearts, fat balls, home made suet and peanuts, great to see so many young birds choosing to come to my garden to feed.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Witton Lakes and Brookvale Park.

Two birding locations were visited today being as they are practically adjacent to one another, visiting these sites is long overdue so it was nice to go to them for a change, first off it was Witton Lakes which are a pair of former drinking water reservoirs between the Perry Common and Erdington areas of Birmingham and then the short drive to Brookvale Park which is located in the Stockland Green Ward of Erdington Constituency. I'd like to say how wonderful it was to see so many House Sparrows at both locations including many juveniles, the House Sparrow will always remain to be one of my favourite birds, they are always a delight to see.

Witton Lakes.

Witton Lakes has a bit of checkered past what with people killing ducks and swans and their young and destroying their nests for many a year now and the shameful murdering of seven Ruddy Ducks in a Government backed initiative in March 2013, at least a raft has now been built on either lake to give the waterfowl some refuge and a location for nests and during the breeding season The Friends of Witton Lakes patrol the lakes to deter people from harming the breeding birds and their young.

The day started off with a mini drama because when I got to the first bend of the first lake I could hear a bird calling where there is an overflow so went to investigate but I couldn't locate the bird so there was nothing for it, the camera and the binoculars went on the floor and I jumped over the rail and into the water and there it was, a few days old Coot hiding in the corner chirping away where there was a small space of spare concrete, I scooped it up as fast as I could because if it had gone into the fast flowing water it would have been irretrievable, then through the water again and back over the fence, which wasn't easy holding a baby Coot and reunited it with it's parents and siblings, which had the added bonus of getting some acclaim from the locals present which was nice but as always I did it for the wildlife and not myself.

Also in the skies above there were hundreds if not thousands of Swift who were enjoying the nice early morning weather.

Being as I'm on the subject of juveniles there were three Cygnets, twenty five Coot, five Mallard Ducklings, House Sparrow, Woodpigeon and fourteen nesting Coot.

Birds seen today were, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Wren, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Swift, Mute Swan, Little Grebe, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Canada Goose.

Then it was off to...

Brookvale Park.

There were a lot of juvenile waterfowl at this location but because a lot of it is hidden by the trees and bushes I have recorded only what I saw which was, two Cygnet, five Coot, House Sparrow, House Martin, Woodpigeon, Magpie and two nesting Coot, like I said there were probably many more but a lot of it is out of sight and inaccessible to the nefarious people that visit this location, a Black Swan was killed and eaten here by Eastern Europeans in February 2013.

There is a good mixture of waterfowl here which is always good to see, with c.50 Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Domestic Goose, Domestic Duck and Cormorant resident all year round.

Brookvale Park has always been a great place for breeding House Martin what with the old houses and the adjacent lake and this year has proved no different with many hundreds of them in the air over the water and houses.

Birds seen here were, House Sparrow, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Domestic Duck, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, hybrid Greylag/Domestic Goose, Coot, Moorhen, Cormorant, Swift and House Martin.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Kingsbury Water Park.

Great visit to Kingsbury Water Park today where there was plenty to see and do especially where juvenile birds were concerned. 

Being as juvenile birds took up most of the visit then that's a good place to start, all of the following were seen in large numbers, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Starling and House Martin, also seen but in lesser numbers were, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird and Carrion Crow, strangely the most notable were a pair of Carrion Crow who were being fed on the path by the parents, all I had to give them were suet pellets, they can't have fledged very long because they were still very noisy and defendant on the adults which was very evident because when I scattered the pellets on the floor they waited to be fed them rather than running over and grabbing them like corvids normally do. Waterfowl juveniles were as follows, Mute Swan Cygnet (8) one of which was a 'Polish' Mute Swan Cygnet which is an all white juvenile, I must confess I have never seen one before and had to google to find out exactly what it was, just a pity it was too far away to get a decent photo, Great Crested Grebe (4), Coot (23), Moorhen (1) and huge numbers of Mallard and Greylag Goose, there were c.150 Greylag Goose of varying ages which is by far the biggest number I've ever seen at this location.

Talking of large numbers of wildlife a large number of Rabbits were seen today but because of the changeable weather hardly any butterflies, but it was great to see large swathes of teasel and ragwort which is good news for Finches and Cinnabar Moths respectively.

Birds seen today, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Starling, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Pied Wagtail, House Martin, Swallow, Common Tern, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Greylag Goose and Canada Goose as well as the following juveniles, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Starling, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Cygnet, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard and Canada Goose.

I had also planned to see if the Sedge Warblers had successfully bred this year especially after huge sections of their habitat had been wantonly destroyed by the implementation of flood defences a couple of years ago but it was not to be as huge but fairly brief torrential downpour put paid to that plan.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Southfields Farm, Coleshill.

Another trip today to Southfields Farm in Coleshill, primarily to see what juvenile birds were around and to see what the wildflower meadow looked like.

The wildflower meadow as you can see was stunning with all the usual wildflowers present as what you'd expect to see, Birds Foot Trefoil, Oxeye Daisy, Cornflower, Knapweed, Red and White Clover among many others, strangely though there are no Poppies in the meadow they are in an adjacent field instead. The meadow was also buzzing with bees, butterflies and banded demoiselles.

I started and finished my walk with some great juvenile bird sightings, firstly at the beginning of today's walk it was my great pleasure to see a pair of juvenile Goldcrest, even though they are not as colourful as the adults they are still a stunning little bird, judging by the calling I could hear there were more than two but I only spotted one pair, I'm not complaining though as it's not everyday that you're lucky enough to see fledgling Goldcrests. Then at the end of the walk it was juvenile bird heaven, with a good fifty spotted in and around the area where John leaves huge logs and and there are many trees and bushes, juveniles seen in this small area were House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Pied Wagtail and last but not least House Martin, the Sparrows and Finches were either feeding or drinking from the ground or getting insects from the trees and bushes whereas the House Martin chicks looked like they had very recently just fledged because they were still being fed by the adults on a ledge under a disused farming construction, I have never seen so many juveniles in one place before maybe that was because there is quite a large visible area to observe them and it's a great habitat for many birds with large open dusty spaces, fields, the farm buildings and plenty of weeds etc, all in a relatively small area.

Birds seen today, Goldcrest, Skylark, Linnet, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Starling, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Pied Wagtail, Swift and House Martin.

Also seen and definitely heard were a pair of Hare, you can't miss them with those large ears and you can't help but hear them when their feet are thumping the ground when running.