Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A triple whammy!

Friday 21st January.
I decided that it was time for a bit of 'me time' at the end of a busy week so off I went for an afternoon walk along Brake Lane in Hagley to see if there was 'anything about'. Well there was...a flock of 46 Yellowhammers sunning themselves in and atop of a hedgerow. I counted 46 but there were probably a lot more than this number. They had the sunshine and I had the shade! The Lane has houses on one side and fields on the other and leads to a bridleway and paddocks. A large flock of Chaffinch were feeding in a stubble field, too many for me to count when they suddenly took flight. I heard and then saw my first Buzzard of the year, I would normally have seen a Buzzard before now so I am hoping they have survived well after the December freeze. I walked up part of the bridleway and had great views of Goldcrests feeding in the small pine plantation, delightful little birds. On the walk back to my car I saw my first Mistle Thrush of the year in fact 3 of them! Not a lot of bird species seen but still an enjoyable walk in, for the best part, sunshine!

Saturday 22nd January.
A cold and frosty morning didn't deter me from returning to Brake Lane to take a walk around the whole length of the bridleway, part of the area is Woodland and fields alongside. No Yellowhammers or Chaffinch this morning, they were probably keeping warm somewhere not like me out in the cold and I do mean cold!! A Raven was a delight to see, it's 'gronk, gronk' alerting me to it! As I placed some seed down for a Great Tit I had spotted in a tree a Wren suddenly appeared and then disappeared as they do! I also placed some seed where I had seen the Chaffinches yesterday, hopefully they found it before the Tits ate it all.lol!! Just a single Goldcrest seen in the pines as I made my way up the muddy bridleway. Once at the top of the hill it opens out to paddocks and the woodland. I had hoped for Treecreeper and Nuthatch but no luck until I reached the end of the first half of the bridleway..I heard a few calls from a Nuthatch so I stood still, looked, waited,looked and then bingo! A Nuthatch was inspecting a hole in a Silver Birch tree then it was off in search of food, a super little bird! There are a few rather nice houses in the area I was now in and a Lake that was partly iced over. The Lake held Mallards, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Mute Swans and several B H Gulls and a single L B B Gull. I walked on past the Lake to inspect the fields further along the short road. A Pony came over for a nuzzle as I stood by a gate scanning the first field which just held more ponies, now the field on the other side of the road was a different story! It held flocks of Crows, Woodpigeons, Starlings, Goldfinch, Fieldfares and Redwings. I inspected the Thrushes thoroughly and not one was a 'Dusky Thrush'...oh well one day maybe.lol!! I was quite content with the sightings even though they weren't rarities! On the way back to continue my walk along the second half of the Bridleway I saw a flock of Long-tailed Tits, a Jay and also a flock of Canada Geese on an embankment by the Lake. I returned to my car feeling cold but pleased with such a fruitful 'Local' walk.


Sunday 23rd January.
The afternoon walk today was at Dowles Brook in the Wyre Forest in the hope of seeing the Hawfinch and Brambling that had been reported there. Walking along the old railway track to Lodge hill Farm was to say the least quiet!! Not a bird was seen or heard until at the end of the track then a Nuthatch and Treecreeper were spotted, hooray! The feeders at the farm were buzzing with Blue, Great & Coal Tits, House Sparrows, Chaffinch and Long-tailed Tits that were feeding on the ground with their tails cocked up like a Wren. The first time I have ever seen them feeding on the ground. The Hawfinch did not disappoint, there were 3 of them perched at the top of a tall twiggy tree on the far side of the orchard! Good views were had of them but they were too far away for a decent photo and the cloudy day did not help matters, I managed a few record pics though so I was pleased. No Brambling today but at least 3 Great spotted Woodpeckers (hard to tell if there were 4 individuals as they were flighty) and 3 Yellowhammers were seen in the area. Walking back along the track Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and a Common Buzzard were seen with Siskin and Redpoll heard only.

All in all, 3 pleasing walks!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Two walks in a local park....18th & 19th January 2011

Two afternoon walks in Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge were a tonic in the sunshine, plenty of people thought the same judging by the amount that were in the park. After playing on the swings, slides and pink elephant, my toddler Grandson that is not me, we walked around the lake and fed the birds. Canada Geese, Mallards, Moorhens, Coots and B H Gulls were being well fed today also the Muscovy Ducks of which there are now several. On the walk Blackbird, Robin and Blue Tit were also seen and a small flock of Redwings!

Today was a return to colder weather with a sharp frost and a blanket of fog which took most of the day to clear! Woodpigeons, Magpies, Blackbirds and Dunnocks didn't take long to fly into my garden to feed once the ground food went down! A pair of Blue Tits fed on the suet pellets, I have seen two flying together for the last week, Spring isn't that far away.....love is in the air... well if the pair of Blue Tits are anything to go by.lol!!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Upton Warren....16/01/2011

On checking my records I was surprised to see that the last time I visited Upton Warren was September 2010! It doesn't seem that long ago but who am I to argue with my records.lol!! The reason for lack of visits is because of finding various local sites to explore during 2010, always good to find your own birds and see what is around locally.
A pleasant couple of hours was spent at the Flashes and Moors. Nothing really exciting seen apart from the lone Pink-footed Goose that was feeding with Greylags, Canada Geese and a couple of farmyard Geese. The Bullfinches and Reed Buntings were looking particularly striking at the Flashes feeding station!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Roaming down Roman Way. ...09/01/2011

A morning visit to Roman Way, Stourbridge, to see if any of the reported 125 Waxwings were still about..there was... just one! One is better than none so I was not disappointed..well not much.lol!! The path that runs between a housing estate and paddocks and fields is quite a productive area and one that will be worth keeping an eye on. There where several small flocks of House Sparrows, a treat to see and hear as I do not see them in my garden now. Good to see that they are still in numbers fairly locally to me. Collared Doves are another bird I do not see in my garden now and today 8 were perched in a tree, a visit here a couple of days later and there were 13 in a tree! As with the Sparrows it was pleasing to see the Collared Doves in good numbers. The air was filled with bird song along the path as it was such a sunny morning, it made one think of Spring but no doubt colder weather will return before too long! Mistle Thrush, Starling, Blackbird, Robin, Redwing, Blue & Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch and G S Woodpecker were other species seen in this relatively small area!

In the afternoon a new area was to be explored... 'The Million' sometimes referred to as the 'Kinver Million', near Enville in Staffordshire. A plantation of extremely tall Pine trees that seemed to stretch forever! The walk was easy underfoot owing to the pine needles and the sandy soil. I had wished I had put my walking boots on instead of wellies but once up the seemingly never ending hill the area opened out to deciduous trees and a muddy bridleway so I was glad of my wellies! Bird species today in 'The Million' consisted of Goldcrests, Marsh Tits and the odd Blue Tit! Quiet for wildlife but still a good walk and the sunset through the pines was a pleasant sight to see after a long day outdoors

Monday, 17 January 2011

A slow start.

My 2011 year list got off to a slow start! Drumming up enthusiasm to go birding in the cold UK weather was partly to blame after my holiday. However my garden birds boosted my list on the 4th January to an impressive count of 9! I decided on the 6th that it was time to get outdoors and find a few local birds. The Fisheries seemed a good place to boost my list up a tad! I added Fieldfare, GSW, Jay, Redwing, Jackdaw, Greenfinch and Chaffinch! So not a lot really but some nice birds to see nevertheless. It was another cold day so no doubt the birds were nestling somewhere keeping warm, which in hindsight I should have done myself.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


New Years Day 2011 and my first bird seen through sleepy eyes was a Collared Dove perched on a lamp post in the hotel grounds in the Algarve. Later in the day a Little Owl, Hoopoe, Corn Bunting, Black-winged Kite and Booted Eagle were the highlights of the first day of the year!
Other highlight bird species seen throughout the week were Spoonbill, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Kingfisher, Little and Cattle Egret, Shoveler, Gadwall, Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Snipe, Glossy Ibis, Purple Gallinule, Common Sandpiper, Sanderling, Turnstone, Teal, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Golden and Grey Plover, Ringed and Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Sandwich Tern, Dunlin, Crested Lark, Fan-tailed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Common Redstart, Meadow Pipit, Spotless Starlings, Grey and Pied Wagtail, Stonechat, Wheatear, Chiffchaff, Azure-winged and Eurasian Magpie, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Heron, Cormorant, White Stork, Red-legged Partridge, Swallow, House and Sand Martin, Linnet, Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow Legged Gull, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine and Kestrel. Robins and Blackbirds were in full song and flocks of House Sparrows were always a pleasure to see.
Painted Lady, Clouded Yellow and a beautiful Monarch butterfly were great to see, also Iberian Hares were seen on several occasions but very camera shy.
A pleasing species list as this holiday was as intended to be a mixed one of birding and making sandcastles on the beaches!
A week of mixed weather with 3 days overcast and heavy rain at times which fortunately was mainly through the night. It was good to feel the warm/hot sunshine though on most days after leaving the bitterly cold weather in the UK.

My first UK bird seen was on the 3rd January, a Starling, in fact a flock of them on the car park at Birmingham airport, they enjoyed the crumbled up biscuits I scattered for them.
I missed starting my year list on the first day of the year in the UK but the warm weather in Portugal more than made up for that.

All my own work!

White Stork...Silves.

Yellow-legged Gull...Carvoeiro beach.

Lesser Black-backed Gull... Albufeira beach. The jury is out on this one though I am sticking to my guns with LBBG.

Black-headed Gull. Albufeira beach.

Little Egret...Pera Marsh.

Dunlin...Quinta do Lago.

Whimbrel. Quinta do Lago.

Purple Gallinule, which seem to be more and more confiding. A delightful bird!

Corn Bunting...my first sighting of one in the Algarve.

Booted Eagle, one of several seen during the week.

A very distant Black-winged Kite! A wonderful bird to watch as it hovers but like the Hares camera shy!

Hoopoe that preened in the sunshine.

Little Owl...Lagoa dos Salgados (Pera Marsh)