Saturday, 28 January 2017

Southfields Farm, Coleshill.

Another great to visit to Souhfields Farm in Coleshill today, this time for a winter farmland bird walk courtesy of Tame Valley Wetlands and experts from Natural England and of course the owner of the land, 'John The Farmer'.

As I've stated on many occasions before this location is a wonderful place for the wildlife and John does outstanding work creating ideal habitats for everything from the birds and butterflies right down to Hares and encouraging insects to the farm to create an ideal location for all of our great birds, insects, flora and fauna that we are lucky enough to have in this country.

If you've read this blog before you'll already know that I love the humble House Sparrow and I've said before that this location is replete with many of these wonderful and charismatic birds, so it was great to hear John say that their numbers have gone back to their 1960 levels, they are literally all around the farms outbuildings, always a pleasure to see and hear them.

Like I said beforehand John does a great job on the farm for the birds which ranges from creating the right habitats for them all year around such as cutting, leaving them alone at the appropriate times and creating new hedgerows for nesting birds and creating fallow fields for nesting Lapwing and Skylark in the summer, planting bird friendly crops such as kale, linseed and oilseed rape for birds such as Linnet, Redpoll and Thrushes and providing them with much needed supplementary food in the Autumn/Winter months and creating a huge wildflower meadow field which really is something else to see when it's in full flow in late Spring, with wildflowers such as Common Knapweed, Musk Mallow, Field Scabious, Cornflower, Birds-Foot Trefoil, Oxeye Daisy and Field Poppy present in large numbers.

Highlight of today was seeing so many Yellowhammer with forty to fifty seen in total, about ten were seen at the beginning of the walk by the first path where supplementary food is located and a up to c.30 located on the second path near the end of the walk, other birds seen taking advantage of this much needed food source were, Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Robin, House Sparrow, Greenfinch and even the odd Magpie, also seen flying overhead was a small flock of Linnet and three Buzzard circling high above in one field and another two Buzzard in an adjacent field. I didn't see a wide variety of birds as I have seen on previous visits but if you saw the same birds every time you went out, where would the fun be in that ? But it was still nice to see plenty of Tits, Finches, Redwing and of course Yellowhammers, House Sparrows, Linnets and Reed Buntings.

Birds seen today were, Buzzard, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Robin, Redwing, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Magpie.

I hope you've all enjoyed reading this entry to the blog especially you John, you do great work, keep it up !

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Castle Vale Waxwing special !

I'd originally planned to go to Sutton Park today, then decided that the fog forecast wouldn't make the trip worthwhile.....then I noticed that my good internet friend Ragged Robin, blog raggedrobinsnaturenotes and Twitter CarolineIrwin3 had alerted me to the presence of Waxwings on Castle Vale in Birmingham so I thought I'd go regardless of the weather, what a great decision, c.100 Waxwings and blue skies and sunshine.

Only one word sums up the Waxwings, WOW ! What a completely amazing bird, it looks, sounds and even flies with such grace, when I arrived there at approximately 8am, there they were 100+Waxwing singing away in a tree, unfortunately for them the main source of berries were rowan trees adjacent to the road so as soon as they got near the berries traffic would go past and scare them up into the air, if they actually managed to get in one the trees with no traffic on the road then one of the Mistle Thrush present in the nearby trees would fly in and scare them away form 'their' berries, as well as that I also witnessed a Kestrel taking an interest in them twice. All the same it was an absolute pleasure to see them for the first time in my life.

Also seen in and around the area in the four hours I was there, are the following birds, Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, (an abundance of) House Sparrow, Wren, Robin, Starling, Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow and Magpie.

Obviously the highlight was seeing the Waxwing but it was great to see and hear so many House Sparrow, I've never realised  before that this location was a stronghold for the humble House Sparrow, they were literally everywhere in the area, from in front of the swimming baths, right the way down to the stables, long may that continue.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Castle Vale Conservation Area.

Great day to visit Castle Vale Conservation Area and do something I've always wanted to do, namely that of partaking in a spot of tree platning, this was done thanks to the lovely people at Tame Valley Wetlands just a pity the weather was a bit of a letdown, instead of the blues skies and sunshine that was forecast it was instead misty and dank, all the same it didn't stop anyone having a good time and do what we came to do, plant trees !

I also got there nice and early and did a spot of bird watching but I'll come back to that, the trees to plant came in six different varieties, Alder, Wild Cherry, Field Maple, Pedunculate Oak, Common Lime and Silver Birch, being as I was given the choice of two to plant, I predictably opted for bird friendly Alder and Silver Birch, the Alder is in the top photo, the birds in the second photo were right in front of me when I was planting my trees and what a sight they were. It was nice to see so many people planting trees, especially children, hopefully this will lead to many of them understanding and appreciating nature and wildlife for many years to come.

So what about the birding I hear you ask, in the very first field past where the horses are kept there was one of the best sights I've seen in a long while, namely that of c.200 Fieldfare, there were so many that's probably an underestimation because they covered the floor and were in all the trees in the surrounding area, including the one in the second photo, when I'd done a full lap of the area, they had then been joined by Redwings, what a wonderful sight to see a large field and all the trees surrounding the area filled to the brim with Fieldfare and Redwing, also seen in the field was a Green Woopecker, large flocks of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch, three pairs of Bullfinch, small flocks of Blue and Great Tits and last but not least a Fox which very nearly had a male Blackbird for it's lunch, always great to see a Fox, especially in the daytime especially when it's not being chased by a load of posh people who should know better, who's sole intention is in killing the animal, what scum those 'people' are, we should be enjoying our wildlife and not trying to eradicate it.

Birds seen today on my short walk were, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Dunnock, Robin, c.200 Fieldfare, Redwing, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow and Magpie.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Kingsbury Water Park.

Great trip to North Warwickshire to visit Kingsbury Water Park where the highlight of the day could easily have been seeing .c200 Lapwing take to the sky and have a fly around which was a wonderful sight in itself, or could have been observing .c20 Little Egret congregating on of the islands but as you can see by the first photo the highlight had to be seeing a Black Swan, this is only the second time I've ever seen one, the other being at Brookvale Park in Erdington which was sadly killed and eaten by Eastern Europeans (which is not conjecture by the way, that information came directly from the park ranger), I actually walked past the bird at first but didn't notice it because it was with two Mute Swans and in the direct sunlight they all appeared to be Black Swans, what a wonderful bird to see which certainly made the trip worthwhile for that sighting alone.

On the water it was great to see Goosander, Gadwall and Pochard and large numbers of Great Crested Grebe while elsewhere it was nice to see Redwing and of course it's always a pleasure to see Goldcrest, Siskin, Coal Tit and my personal favourite, the humble House Sparrow.

The only downer on the day was seeing a one legged Mallard, which has now been at the park for many years, such a pity that anglers don't get rid of their rubbish properly, it's such a shame to see him hopping around and it's also not nice to see so many of last years Greylag Goose juveniles with angel wing at least they were fed bird seed today by myself. 

Birds seen today were, Goldcrest, Siskin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Robin, House Sparrow, Wren, Redwing, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Pied Wagtail, Cormorant, Pied Wagtail, Lapwing, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Black Swan, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Goosander, Gadwall, Pochard, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Greylag Goose and Canada Goose.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Shustoke Reservoir.

First trip of 2017 was a lovely frosty and blue filled sky visit to the wonderful Shustoke Reservoir, it makes me laugh when I hear people running from their house to the car moaning it's cold, personally I think this time of year is great and as everyone should know that when it comes to birding and nature there's always something to see all year round.

Highlight of the day was first of all hearing and then observing a large mixed flock of Goldfinch and Siskin, I do love to see Siskins, a much underrated bird in my opinion, I would say there was approximately fifty birds in the flock, hard to tell though because they were spread out among four alder trees, it was also nice to see a pair of Nuthatch, which I could have easily missed if I hadn't first heard their tell tale call, further down from them was a small flock of Redwing.

There wasn't actually that many birds about at all today, in fact I've never seen so few birds on the reservoir as I did today, even fewer than on my last visit, I didn't even see a Mallard until half way around the water, saying that by the time I'd done a full circuit there were plenty of Mallard and Canada Goose present, the Canada Geese were also ominous by their presence apart from a pair half way around but they were unable to fly due to a severe case of angel wing, at least I fed them and the Mallards present plenty of bird seed which is obviously much better for them even though the I can't undo the damage done to them by people feeding them bread.

Birds seen today were, Siskin, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Redwing, Jay, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pheasant, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Little Grebe, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Canada Goose.

Over the winter as well as the Grey Wagtail visiting everyday, I also have a male and female Blackcap coming everyday, they are partial to a bit of apple and scraps of fat and peanut that have dropped to the floor from the apple tree where are a lot of my feeders are located.