Saturday, 31 January 2009

31st January 2009

4 Goosanders on Terry's Pool today reported (Birding Today).

Thursday, 22 January 2009

22nd January 2009

During the afternoon, I saw a Kestrel along Wood Lane near the woods. In New Fallings Coppice, I spotted a male Common Pheasant running through the undergrowth from some noisy people, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Nuthatch. At the lakes, I saw 2 Goosanders and 1 Bullfinch at Terry's Pool; 18+ Siskins around Engine Pool; and 93 Black-headed Gulls and 1 Grey Wagtail at Windmill Pool. A total of 9+ Tufted Ducks were also seen.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 18 January 2009

18th January 2009

I did my first Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) counts at the lakes from 8:50 am to 11:35 am - possibly only the second time I've reached Earlswood during the early morning! I think it went quite well, though I probably shouldn't have spent so long doing each of the three counts. At Terry's Pool, I saw 6 Tufted Ducks and 2 Cormorants; as well as 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Jays fly over. Waterfowl were low in number at Engine Pool (birds at the nearby canal feeder and a flooded field along Valley Road made up most of my count for this pool), but I did see a Collared Dove and two Siskin flocks, numbering 30+ and 12, around the edges. Most of the waterfowl at Windmill Pool were hiding under the trees along the western side, amongst which were 4 Pochards.
After the counts, I decided to check out the field in-between Ambleside Garden Centre and the Hungry Horse, and was rewarded with 22 Golden Plovers, 220 Lapwings, 11 Stock Doves and 18 Starlings. A good number of thrushes were present in another field along Norton Lane, of which I could make out 10+ Fieldfares.
I then proceeded along Rumbush Lane. Near Rumbush Farm, I saw a man shooting Woodpigeons in a field and didn't like what I saw, as among the 20 or so motionless pigeon bodies lying on the ground there, 2 of the birds were actually injured and tried to escape when the man approached them; he quickly grabbed one then the other by the head and shook them 'til they stopped moving - hardly humane in my opinion. A Kestrel flew and rested quite close to where the pigeon shooter was at one point, but he didn't try to shoot it. Reaching Earlswood Railway Station, I was able to see 3 Bullfinches at the side of the railway from the bridge. I continued on along the roads to Blackoak Wood, which is situated next to Junction 3 of the M42, but nothing particularly noteworthy was seen at this very noisy site (as expected). After taking a footpath that runs alongside Checkley's Coppice and The Plantation, I saw a single Meadow Pipit and a flock of 8 Pied Wagtails in fields in-between Poolhead Lane and the M42. From Poolhead Lane, I then took another footpath that took me to Clowes Wood, at which I saw 1+ Buzzard and heard a Common Pheasant.
Boy was I tired when I got back home!
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 16 January 2009

16th January 2009

Went with my uncle to Earlswood during the afternoon. In New Fallings Coppice, we saw a Treecreeper and heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch. At Terry's Pool, we saw 8 Goosanders, 7+ Tufted Ducks, 2 Grey Herons, 1 Cormorant (fly over) and 1 Bullfinch. Another Tufted Duck was seen at Engine Pool, along with 10 Goldfinches. At Windmill Pool, there were 5 more Tufted Ducks, 5 Pochards, 2 Pied Wagtails and 1 Grey Wagtail present. Great Crested Grebe numbers at the lakes have increased to 4. There was no sign of any Golden Plover in the fields north and east of Earlswood railway station; however we saw a good-sized flock (80+ estimated) of Lapwings, among which I thought I could see at least 1 Golden Plover, in the field in-between Ambleside Garden Centre and the Hungry Horse (where I've seen both species previously), but it was evening at that point.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

6th January 2009

I wasn't sure whether to go to Earlswood or stay at home in the warm today. However, whilst in my Tidbury Green garden I saw 3 adult swans fly over (probably from Edgbaston) heading towards the lakes at c. 12:55 pm, so Earlswood it was. Along Norton Lane, I saw 2 Lapwings in a field near Ambleside Garden Centre and 3+ Goldfinches. At the lakes, I found the 3 swans, which were all Mute Swans, at the only unfrozen part of Windmill Pool. All three had been ringed (orange ALD, orange H29, yellow 8NA) and I'll be reporting them to the BTO later. They left during the late afternoon.

Waterbirds at Windmill Pool (both © M.P. Griffiths)

At c. 2:50 pm, I saw a Kestrel fly over Windmill Pool and then, after briefly hovering, it swooped down on to the grass at the side of the Malthouse Lane causeway and then flew off, I believe with something in its talons. Also at the lakes were 12+ Tufted Ducks, 1 Greylag Goose, 50+ Black-headed Gulls and still just 1 Great Crested Grebe.

Waterbirds at Engine Pool (both © M.P. Griffiths)

Preliminary map of the Earlswood area
I've now replaced the Wigeon photo with an OS map of the area covered by this blog. It's "preliminary" because it doesn't actually show the boundaries of the area, but I've drawn red circles around people's properties that have an Earlswood address to give an idea of the area's extent. I've also added the boundaries of Earlswood Moathouse NR. Earlswood birders are welcome to download/print this map for use in the field, describing where they've seen a bird, etc.

M.P. Griffiths

Addendum for 1st January 2009

I've recently heard from Phil Carter who saw and photographed (below) the Mandarin Duck. He says that it was definitely there around midday at Engine Pool, 300 yards or so from the car park.

Mandarin Duck (© Phil Carter)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

4th January 2009

I was at Earlswood Lakes between 9:30am and 11:00am this morning. The area was fairly quiet, possibly as it was so cold, but there were some good birds to be seen amongst the usual suspects.

A large flock of long-tailed tits was present in the trees around Terry's Pool, as were three great spotted woodpeckers, which may be the same birds that were reported recently. All three birds were very noisy and not as shy as usual, allowing me to get quite close to them. Further along, a small charm of goldfinches held a couple of siskin, but no lesser redpolls were seen.

Three greenfinches were noted where Terry's Pool meets Engine Pool. On Engine Pool itself, a small flock of Canada geese had settled on the ice, along with one grey heron, small numbers of black-headed gull and herring gull, and one lesser black-backed gull. A small area of unfrozen water held many mallard, a few coot, one lone great crested grebe and one tufted duck.

Windmill Pool was also relatively quiet, although a goldcrest and a female bullfinch were seen just past the sailing club. A second patch of unfrozen water on the opposite side held more mallard, Canada geese, tufted duck and gulls.

A kestrel was patrolling the area along Valley Road, regularly perching in the trees and on the top of a telegraph pole. A few pied wagtails were seen by the engine house.

There was no sign of any goosander or the mandarin today.

Possibly of interest to anyone birding the area surrounding Earlswood Lakes, four golden plover were seen with approximately 1,000 woodpigeon in the field opposite Earlswood station, OS reference SP094745. Also, about a dozen meadow pipit were seen near Ambleside nursery at OS reference SP109746.

Friday, 2 January 2009

2nd January 2009

Ice was still covering much of the lakes, but some unfrozen areas fortunately remain. There was no sign of the Mandarin Duck or the Pochards at the lakes during the afternoon, but I did see the Greylag Goose, 11 Tufted Ducks and just 1 Great Crested Grebe. I also saw 1 Common Pheasant at the boggy area south of Windmill Pool, 2 Fieldfares and 1 fearless Goldcrest around Windmill Pool, and 12+ Siskins (probably a lot more present) in trees around Terry's Pool. A total of 16 Moorhens were in fields surrounding the lakes - a good count for the site.
In New Fallings Coppice, I saw 1+ Jay, 1 Coal Tit, 2 or 3 Nuthatches, 2 Treecreepers and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker. Whilst there, I met a couple of birdwatchers who said they'd seen 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers at the western side of Terry's Pool. In a field along Wood Lane, a very large flock (300+ estimate) of Woodpigeons were foraging.
M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 1 January 2009

1st January 2009

A male Mandarin Duck at Engine Pool was reported on BirdGuides during the morning. Unfortunately, I found out about this sighting quite late in the day and, once I was at the lakes, was only able to check Engine Pool reasonably well before it became too dark to ID birds. I didn't see the Mandarin Duck there, but it could've been at Windmill Pool as I saw the silhouettes of quite a concentration of waterfowl at an unfrozen area. The interesting thing about this reported sighting is that it's almost exactly a year ago to the day since a Mandarin was last reported at the lakes (also a male, 31/12/2007), which seems rather coincidental.
As already indicated, ice was covering much of the lakes and forcing waterbirds to the unfrozen areas which fortunately were mostly at the sides. At Engine Pool, I had good views of 4 Pochards and 9+ Tufted Ducks, as well as a Grey Heron walking on ice. As expected, a lot of people were walking around the lakes today, and it might be the same tomorrow.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. As can be seen, on December 29th I renewed my request for records of birds observed at Earlswood to be emailed to me... Do people prefer submitting their sightings elsewhere (e.g. BirdGuides, BirdForum), and do they mind me reporting such sightings here without their permission? Also, are people even aware of this blog, reading it and finding it useful? Comments welcome.

News for 2009

WeBS counts
I have recently taken over the responsibility of conducting monthly WeBS counts at Earlswood Lakes, and am due to start later this month - this means that I should be posting to this blog at least once a month from now on, though I hope to be able to visit the lakes at least a few times per month.

WMBC Field Meeting
The Solihull Branch of the West Midland Bird Club have organised a field trip to Earlswood this year on Sunday 22nd March, as follows:
Earlswood Lakes and Clowes Wood (SP109739) Meet in the Malthouse Lane car park at 10:00 am. A mixture of broad-leaved woodland and common water species, perhaps early Chiffchaff.
Further information about Solihull Branch field trips can be found here. Birders who are not members of the WMBC are also welcome to attend this trip, I believe.

As you can see, the Birds of Earlswood website has just one page devoted mainly to a systematic list at present. However, I'm hoping to expand the website sometime soon. My plan is to add Earlswood bird photos to the list, add a map showing the boundaries of the Earlswood area, and add a page for birders' Earlswood patch lists.

For some time now I've been considering producing a "Birds of Earlswood" article, partly because one such article in the West Midland Bird Report for 1956 doesn't appear to have been updated. One problem that I'm having at present though is defining the boundaries of Earlswood. In their 1956 "The birds of Earlswood" article, A. Winspear Cundall and John N. Sears mentioned that "the area covered lies about eight miles south of Birmingham and consists of three pools covering 85 acres, about 200 acres of mixed woodland and surrounding farmland and houses". They noted that a considerable amount of detail in their privately produced "A survey of the birds of Earlswood" had to be omitted from the article. I believe this survey will be the key to the success of any future Birds of Earlswood article produced, and I'm hoping that it contains details about the area covered. Sadly, however, the survey seems to be rare and I've found no copies of it in the libraries I've checked, so if anyone knows of the whereabouts of a copy, or could loan or sell me one, I would be very, very grateful to hear from you. My email is

Good 2009 birding,

M.P. Griffiths