Monday, 30 November 2020

Heart of England forest morning walks

Barn Owl
                                           Fantastic habitat here
Tawny Owl
                                                  Better views
Lets make it a pair
                                                 Lesser Redpoll

I am are always pleased that habitat is being left to support wildlife by farmers at various locations. The farm by the pits and at the Hen Harrier location are great examples but I wonder if there were any hidden areas closer to home I am not aware of. The Heart of England Forest continues to expand so it might be best to try areas between Studley & the forest.

After a bit of mooching I found two super fields that looked brilliant for wildlife. After recording 20+ Lesser Redpoll & a pair of Stonechat I picked up a Barn Owl in flight which landed in the hedgerow between myself and the castle. The public right of way skirts the field which is good and viewing is possible for a central gate.

Good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing were flying over and the hedges had attracted Goldcrest & Long-tailed Tits. On the far side of the field I found a roosting Tawny Owl. I took a couple of record shots before moving on. Certainly an area that is worth checking more often. 

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Wolverton Hen Harrier makes stunning viewing

Hen Harrier proved to be a stuggle for the bridge camera

                                              A visit in better light

                                            Gloomy late afternoon 
Red indicates walk from village (very muddy, park by village hall)
Yellow is field most often seen
Blue is field seems to be second favoured field
Pick indicates wider circuit observed

Local birding continues to throw up some nice opportunities. It's been a decent winter to date with the White-fronts, Hawfinches & Crossbills all within a very short drive and more importantly lots of open space.

I've made two visits up to Wolverton where a ring-tail Hen Harrier has been discovered in some fantastic habitat. The ring-tail has been giving some fantastic viewing opportunities from across the meadow in which it has been hunting. The bird on occasions does undertake a much larger circuit but always returns to the same area. With the bird staying loyal to the area there appears to be a stream of admirers visiting the area and from my evidence all were behaving very well and giving the bird plenty of room.

The local birds certainly had a shock when the harrier has appeared above them, I witnessed Snipe, Meadow Pipit & a Stonechat all make hasty departures. Other birds observed include Raven, Buzzard, Redwing, Fieldfare & a male Peregrine whilst other birders have recorded Barn Owl, Redpoll, Kingfisher & Tree Sparrow. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

White-fronted Geese at pits aids recovery

On main spit
Chaffinch enjoying the seeds
Lovely viewing from the car
Meadow Pipit
                                                     Roe Deer 
Last week was an odd one which included a trip into the Alexandra Hospital, thankfully it was just a bad reaction to some new tablets. Birding had to take a back seat for a few days until I felt well enough and I started back with a couple of short walks. With Jon in lockdown I undertook the monthly count to maintain the WEBS records. 
The geese numbers were huge again, the Greylags were nudging each other off the island it was so cramped. Working my way through the geese I was looking for a Pink-foot the Squire had seen the day before. Whilst there was no Pink-foot there were 10 Russian White-fronted Geese (all juveniles) happily swimming on the edge of the flock. This was only the second record at the pits with the other being four in October 2016.
The full count was as follows:-

25 Little Grebe, 1 Cormorant, 6 Grey Heron, 10 White-fronted Geese, 2 Goosander ( 1 drake 1 female) 7 Mute Swan, 550 Greylags, 220 Canada Geese, 9 Gadwall, 2 Teal, 9 Pochard, 240 Mallard, 14 Shoveler, 35 Tufted Duck, 2 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 90 Coot,120 Lapwing, 4 LBB Gulls, 2 Herring Gull, 30 Skylark, 120 Meadow Pipit, 200 Fieldfare, 50 Redwing, 30 Linnet, mixed flock of 50-60 finches in sun flower field opposite church inc Goldfinch, Linnet, Chaffinch & several Siskin.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

140 up in year of virus & access trouble

  Fieldfare in full glory

                                            Greylag Flock on main pit

Very few visits in recent weeks with us being in another lockdown and continued access woes.

Jon added a late Ring Ouzel & Tree Sparrow on his October visit to take us to 140 for the year. The Squire and I had a decent visit last Saturday where sightings included 1 Wigeon, 13 Pochard, 4 Gadwall, 8 Shoveller, 375 Greylag, 40 Canada Gesse, Tawny Owl, Sparrowhawk, 30 Meadow Pipit, Green Sandpiper, 2 Grey Wagtail, 5 Pied Wagtail, 10 BHG, 9 LBBG, 4 Herring Gull and 5 Grey Heron. The highlight was the 450-500 Fieldfare on the top fields showing very well in some stunning light. 

Monday, 16 November 2020

Hawfinch & Brent Goose local highlights

Hawfinches are back
What a beak!
St Bartholomews Church
Autumnal colours
The Flashes, Upton Warren
Long-tailed Tit
Green Sandpiper
 Juvenile Brent Goose

With the second round of COVID restrictions in place and homeworking now on it's eighth month, I've been very grateful to see some nice birds very close to home. On the back of the Crossbills at the Lickeys, 3-4 Hawfinches have been visiting Tardebigge Church again where I pass on my bike. I've called in four times to date and seen them every time however a degree of patience is needed and the chances of a photo are very slim.

Just a couple of miles down the road a juvenile Brent Goose was found on the Flashes at Upton Warren. The bird has been there for over a week now and looks very settled. Viewing remains from the public footpaths. Also observed was a Stonechat, Dunlin & Green Sandpiper on the visit.

Crossbills up the Lickeys

Crossbill delight

Lunch up

Stunning light through the forest

Can you see both birds?

 Stunning autumnal colours

Being born & bred in Kings Norton, Birmingham I've aways loved the Lickey Hills. It does seem a lot more popular these days than when I used to go with my grandparents and parents throughout the 1970's & 80's.

I've been there twice in recent weeks, the first time was to do a circuit with Mrs D and I followed that up with a lunchtime visit with the camera. 

This Autumn there are a flock of around 12-15 Crossbills flying around. They are fairly easy to pick up in flight but a bit more difficult to photograph. Thankfully on my second visit I managed to find three feeding that I could watch closely on the ridge the other side of the car park.