Saturday, 25 February 2012

February 25th 2012

Earlswood has been rather quiet in the past week or two, but on reflection I suppose it's not been too bad a month for patch birding, with what was almost certainly a Crossbill flying straight over Engine Pool, and a female Blackcap along Gypsy Lane (the first I've seen wintering at Earlswood), which I was really pleased with. The Little Grebe remained but departed during the cold period, which was disappointing as I'd hoped it might stay and breed. The cold, icy weather also brought in a long-staying male Wigeon, up to 4 Teals, at least 4 different Common Gulls and an intersex Mallard. A peak of 491 Mallard appears to be another site record, whilst counts of 55 Robins and 73 Blackbirds around the lakes were equally impressive. Windmill Pool has had a regular Grey Wagtail along the dam and up to 6 Lesser Redpolls just south of the sailing club slipway. Terry's Pool has had up to 2 Water Rails, one of which seems to be holding a winter territory in reeds in the channel near the car park (very elusive bird though), and today I had a Reed Bunting in a tree briefly. Tony Philp reports accidentally flushing a Woodcock near Terry's Pool, and just outside my recording area he and his wife Barbara had a sighting of an apparent Merlin in the school field along Salter Street. Generally speaking though, since the ice on the lakes melted, it has been pretty quiet for birds with even the resident species seeming to be lower in numbers. Still, there is only about three more weeks to go before the spring migrants may start to appear...

Now for something that may have an adverse impact on the birds and other wildlife of Earlswood. I haven't mentioned this before, but earlier this year, it emerged that there are plans to have an Earlswood Country Park that covers the lakes, Clowes Wood and New Fallings Coppice. I don't know much else besides what I've read in the Stratford-on-Avon Draft Core Strategy document (which I've only just looked at quickly), namely:
  • "The creation of a Country Park based on Earlswood Lakes, Clowes Wood and New Fallings Coppice will be supported, in conjunction with the Canal and River Trust (currently British Waterways), Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Tanworth-in-Arden Parish Council, Warwickshire County Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council." (p67)
  • "Earlswood Lakes Country Park – creation of a new recreation-focused attraction to the south of Solihull, which also seeks to reduce woodland fragmentation and enhance the existing lakes and visitor attraction in the area. Solihull (along with Coventry) has the most significant deficit in terms of sub-regional GI resources. Earlswood Lakes are easily accessible by train from Solihull (Shirley) as well as from various settlements in Stratford-on-Avon District." (p70) GI = Green Infrastructure
  • Q79 - Should the potential for providing a Country Park based on Earlswood Lakes be pursued and, if so, what issues need to be addressed? (p72)
  • Scheme anticipated for sometime during 2016-2021 and requiring "comprehensive feasibility testing". (p218)
My key concern is that encouraging more people to visit the area will indeed result in more visitors, and therefore more disturbance to wildlife, plus put more pressure on habitats. I haven't looked into this fully, but at the moment can't see any advantages to Earlswood's wildlife from this proposal. However, another document entitled "Sustainability Appraisal of the Draft Core Strategy" contains a table that suggests that the biggest positive effect of the Country Park would be for biodiversity, but seems to give no details. I shall try to find out more, but am "on the fence" regarding this atm. Consultation ends Friday 30th March at 5 pm. See

On a brighter note, it was a really nice surprise to find "MATTHEW GRIFFITHS'S BIRD WATCHING DIARY (2003 onwards)" this evening. I don't remember doing much birding during my teens, which I really regret now, but two walks with binoculars around neck in the countryside near Whitlock's End stand out in my memories, most memorable because unusually I'd been allowed to go out on my own! I'd always remembered that I found my first ever Chiffchaff in the xmas tree farm at Shirley, by the Stratford Canal, and now know that the date for this was Sunday 30th March 2003. The other was a look at Whitlock's End Farm, where I remember seeing Fieldfares and Redwings in a field, and I now know that the Redwings were a lifer and the date was Saturday 15th March 2003. I shall cherish these memories even more now.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

EWP Newsletter 8‏

Earlswood Wildlife Partnership

Newsletter 8

Dear Member,

This year we want to build on the great start that we have already made on several projects in the area and hopefully start on more - but we will need your help! At the end of this newsletter you will find a list of dates and activities we have planned so please put the dates in your diary and if you are interested in helping with any of the projects please let us know so that we can keep you personally updated. You can contact us on

Bat Boxes

Last year we installed nearly 80 bat boxes in Clowes Wood and around Terry’s Pool. This year we want to install more but we also need to find out if any bats are using the boxes already put up. If you can help with installing the bat boxes come along and join us on Saturday 25thFebruary (see details below) and there may be an opportunity for a bat box survey (weather permitting) as we will have licensed bat handlers with us who will be able to check the bat boxes and show any residents to us.

It would be helpful if you could let us know in advance if you are willing to help so that we can plan how many boxes we can install.

We also hope to take the opportunity to install some dormouse survey tubes in Clowes Wood. Dormice are important as a “flagship species” – if dormice are present then you can be sure the environment is as good as it can be and will support a wide range of other woodland species. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust have a long-term project underway in Clowes Wood to encourage dormice so a view of the current population is necessary.

Bird Boxes

This year we would also like to help our feathered friends by installing more bird nest boxes around the area, but first we need to make them. We are hoping to hold a workshop on Saturday 24th March (details below) and again need all the helpers that we can get. If you have your own tools so much the better, but it is not necessary. Let us know if you are interested.

Earlswood Fete

Saturday 23rd June will be Fete Day in Earlswood and we will be there!

We hope to have a stall offering wildflower plants, bird boxes and bat boxes for sale, together with information on the projects we have started and hope to undertake in the future.

Butterfly Survey & Moth Recording

Again we will be running our Back Garden Butterfly Survey, a form will be attached to the next newsletter.

Thanks to everyone that returned their forms (if you still have one to return it is not too late). We are busily collating all of the information and will report back in the next newsletter.

Several members also ran moth traps in their gardens throughout the year and again we hope to share the results in the next newsletter. If you would like to join in, we have moth traps that you can borrow, and we hope to set up a “moth morning” later in the year so you can come along and see what it is all about. Once again let us know if you are interested.


Later in the year we hope to clean up the benches around the lakes, many people have commented that they are looking a bit tired and in need of some TLC. We will let you know when a date has been set for this.

And Finally……..

Our AGM this year will be held on Thursday 15th May at Earlswood Village Hall. We hope to see as many of you as possible. We would welcome your views on what we have done up to now and help us to shape the activities for the future.

Hope to see you at one of our activities


Dates for your Diary 2012

Sat 25th February Bat box survey 10.00 am Malthouse Lane Car park

Sat 24th March Bird box workshop 10.00am Malthouse Lane Car park

Sun 15th April Woodland Walk 2.30pm Clowes Woods Car park

Sat 21st April 1st Reptile Survey 10.00am Malthouse Lane Car park

Sun 6th May Dawn Chorus Walk 4.30am Clowes Woods Car Park

Sun 13th May Spring Walk 2.30pm Clowes Woods Car park

Tues 15th May AGM 7.30pm Earlswood Village Hall

Sat 23rd June Earlswood Fete 12– 4. pm Malthouse Lane Car park

Friday, 3 February 2012

February 3rd 2012

Deary me, two weeks since my last sightings post - how time flies! However, only a few notable birds have visited since then. Today, ice covered much of the lakes; a pair of Wigeon were at Windmill Pool and an adult Common Gull was at Engine Pool, and Tony Philp informs me that the long-staying Little Grebe remains at Terry's Pool. Yesterday, I had a pair of Gadwall at Engine Pool, which Tony later relocated at Terry's, but there was no sign of any today. The female Mandarin Duck has been seen on-and-off (lastly on 30th), and a male also paid a two-day visit last month when the female was absent, though whether this was a different male to the one that joined the female earlier this winter I'm not sure. The Mandarins are rather elusive and it is very likely that they are being overlooked some days, so please report all sightings to me even if you think I've probably seen them. One other notable bird last month was a finch/bunting type which flew quite high straight over Terry's Pool, which from the flight call appears to have been a Yellowhammer.

The best recent sightings have actually been mammals! I had a good view of a Field Vole at its burrow entrance along the main dam on the 30th, which was my first sighting of a live one, and saw a Bank Vole around Engine Pool in late January. However, Bob Roberts spotted a Weasel around Terry's Pool on the 29th, and subsequently Tony has had one sighting of it, managing this shot before a dog scared it. I've never seen one, so am very keen to see my first on-patch.

M.P. Griffiths

Weasel, Terry's Pool, 01/02/2012 (© Tony Philp)