Friday, 31 July 2009

31st July 2009

Did my second and last breeding season survey of the tetrad SP07X for Bird Atlas 2007-11, but saw less species and breeding evidence in the tetrad on this occasion, partly because I spent less than three hours at it and so covered less ground. I should note that the BTO only expect fieldworkers to spend one hour (two hours optional) surveying a tetrad, as I imagine not everyone would want to spend the amount of time I have recording every bird species they see. I managed to observe 37 species, with the best being 4+ Linnets and a Blackcap all in the tetrad's Earlswood part; also saw a Red Fox at Shawbrook (Wythall) carrying what might've been a young Common Pheasant in its mouth.
After the tetrad work, I walked through a few of the fields that border Big Clowes Wood, but a Jay, 4 House Martins and 12 Swifts were the best birds seen there. However, whilst near the railway footbridge, saw what I believe were 2 Ravens distantly and high up to the north (somewhere near Norton Lane I reckon).
M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 30 July 2009

30th July 2009

Visited the lakes during the late afternoon. Saw 6 Common Terns from the causeway, and noted that just 1 Mute Swan appeared to be at Engine Pool. Undoubtedly, the highlight was seeing 3 Great Crested Grebe chicks with their parents.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Have had 8+ butterfly species visit my garden during the last few days, which is really nice to see. Only saw a Speckled Wood today; but had 2 Painted Lady, a Small Tortoiseshell, 2 or 3 Red Admiral, 2 Comma, 2 Gatekeeper, a Peacock and a few unidentified whites all on the 28th.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

23rd July 2009

Passed the lakes and southwest parts of Earlswood on my bike, but not much noted although saw a flock of c. 60 House Sparrows at Forshaw Heath, which was possibly the biggest flock of this species that I've ever seen. I was on my way to Worcestershire, where some pretty good birds were seen...
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. The "pretty good" Worcestershire birds seen were 2 Ravens, a Hobby and a Kestrel at Weatheroak Hill; all seen within about 5 minutes of each other, with the two falcons seen in the air at the same time (they didn't seem to pay any attention to each other). Also, saw a distant Little Egret at Upper Bittell Reservoir, but there was no sign of a Yellow-legged Gull reported there recently.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

21st July 2009

Cycled to Earlswood during the early afternoon, and left during the evening. Laugh you might, but in my opinion the most notable birds seen at the lakes were 2 Sand Martins over Windmill Pool (have only seen small numbers of this species here this year). Also seen at the lakes were 9 Common Terns, 25+ Swallows, 5 Grey Herons and 4 Pied Wagtails (inc. 2 juveniles). A Kingfisher was heard at Terry's Pool. I then spent some time searching the lanes of the eastern parts of the Earlswood area; the best birds there were 10 House Martins and 1 Stock Dove at Waring's Green, 24 Swifts over fields and 2 Common Pheasants.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. A Pomarine Skua was seen at Bartley Reservoir today, before it flew off southeast at c. 12:50 pm and wasn't relocated at the Bittell Reservoirs. There was no sign of it at Earlswood, though I didn't reach the lakes until just after 3:15 pm.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

18th July 2009

Cycled to Earlswood during the late afternoon. Highlight of the trip was seeing a Muntjac Deer in a potato field along Dickens Heath Road on my way to the lakes. Earlswood itself was pretty quiet, but I noted 2 juvenile Moorhens at Terry's Pool and the 2 Mute Swans were still at Engine Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 17 July 2009

17th July 2009

Not much of note at the lakes today, just a House Martin (my first here for some weeks, I think), 8 Swallows and the 2 Mute Swans were present.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Since my previous post, I've updated the OS map on the right. The Ordnance Survey updated their online maps earlier this year, and so the new map here now has Earlswood Moathouse NR and the Mereside Fishing Pools among other new things marked on it (though I believe the nature reserve is marked in the wrong place; see Google map). Also, I've added a red line to mark the Earlswood area's boundary. However, whilst I'm happy with the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, M42, Alcester Road (A435), River Cole and northwest part of Norton Lane being used for the boundary, I'm still undecided about where this should be placed at the northern parts along Rumbush Lane and Cleobury Lane. Many of the properties along these lanes have "Earlswood" in their address, but it's not clear whether the nearby fields are classed as part of Earlswood or Tidbury Green or Dickens Heath. I'd welcome people's thoughts, via email or leaving a comment.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

12th July 2009

Today's WeBS counts didn't produce anything unusual, though there was a juvenile Moorhen at Terry's Pool. The Coot brood at Terry's Pool was down to 1 chick, but there were still 3 chicks at Windmill Pool. I also noted a Reed Bunting at Terry's Pool, 2 Bullfinches at Engine Pool, and single Gatekeeper and Speckled Wood butterflies at Windmill Pool. 15 Common Terns were seen from the causeway.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Went birding with John Yardley in Worcestershire and saw a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Little Egrets, both of which were lifers for me.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

A date for your diary

The RSPB Solihull Local Group have announced that there will be a morning walk around Earlswood Lakes and the surrounding woods later this year on Saturday 14th November. Meet at Malthouse Lane car park (see map below) at 10:00 am. Contact details and further info can be found at I'll put a reminder on this blog closer to the time.

Back in late 2002 or early 2003 (before I got into birding properly), my late Dad and I went on one of these walks with the group around the lakes and we enjoyed it, even though I don't think my Dad had a pair of bins and I may only have had my first pair of bins to take at the time, which have hardly any magnification and are made of metal! Anyway, good times!

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 10 July 2009

10th July 2009

Having noticed that a good number of Quail have been observed in Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire this year, I decided to have a late afternoon cycle around Earlswood, taking in as many of the area's arable fields as I could in the 70 or so minutes I had available. No Quail was heard, but I hope to have another cycle around in case one visits (one did visit nearby Blythe Valley Park for two days in 2004 so it's not impossible!).

Today's best sighting was outside Earlswood in my village, namely a partially leucistic Jackdaw (most of white on primaries) amongst a flock of 220+ of the species.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

7th July 2009

Another late afternoon visit produced little, though along Spring Brook Lane I saw 3 Grey Herons all flying from near the STW, as well as a raptor that I'm pretty sure was a Sparrowhawk (didn't have a great view of it but noted blue-grey upperside, quite thick wings with wingbeats interspersed with glides) - had thought it might've been a Hobby even though the wings suggested otherwise.

However, the wings of another medium-sized raptor that I saw fly over gardens near mine at c. 9:50 pm (just after I got home in late evening) certainly did suggest the falcon, even though I only saw its silhouette for about a second - wings were long and pointed (like a Swift) and so I'm pretty sure it was a Hobby. Surely the time of day and the fact that I've only seen a Kestrel on one occasion in my village ever further helps confirm this ID?

M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 6 July 2009

6th July 2009

A visit to Earlswood during the late afternoon, with rain on-and-off, produced 25+ Common Terns and the 2 Mute Swans at the lakes; as well as 2 Buzzards, 28+ Swallows, and a Linnet along Spring Brook Lane.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 3 July 2009

3rd July 2009

Cycled to Earlswood during the early afternoon and remained there 'til the evening. First stop as usual was the lakes. From the causeway, up to 15 Common Terns (inc. 3 juveniles) were seen at a time along with 18+ Black-headed Gulls. The 2 Mute Swans and a singing Reed Warbler remain at Engine Pool. At Terry's Pool, saw a Kingfisher and a Coot brood of 3, and heard a singing Common Whitethroat. At Windmill Pool, the older Coot brood remains but is minus a chick, and I also saw the same or another Kingfisher, 2 Tufted Ducks and a juvenile Great Crested Grebe (recently flown in). A total of 8 Grey Herons were seen.
I then went to the Sewage Treatment Works, and was rewarded with 8 Grey Wagtails (easily the most I've ever seen) and a Reed Bunting (my first here) on the filter beds, as well as a low-flying Buzzard. Elsewhere in the area, possibly saw a Hobby but it flew straight towards the low-lying sun making it very difficult to watch.
M.P. Griffiths

Red Kite alert
A Red Kite has been reported seen near Portway on June 20th and 30th, and now two days ago (July 1st) at Kings Norton Golf Course. All Worcestershire sightings, but very close to Earlswood! Seems to me that a bird could be hanging around the area, and might venture into Earlswood so keep your eyes peeled!