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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Foggy Patch and a Fungi Safari

Saturday 20th... Patch
I set out optimistically on Saturday to walk the circuit of of my patch, only to rapidly realise that the fog was lot worse that had been apparent from the house. Unperturbed I pushed on, patch birders are hardcore like that ;@) used to trying to get blood out of a stone.Besides there has been little reason to stray further afield, with the birding scene fairly stale at the moment. The other thing is you have to gather the negatives, as it's all information. I've had no Yellowhammers the last few weeks, no Kestrel. Only by recording what is present, or not, on a  patch over time can you get a proper feel for what is happening, why and looking for trends.
Anyway, the common stuff was still calling, even if it wasn't always showing, and I noticed a slight increase in Chaffinch  numbers in an area I have seen decent finch flocks in recent years, some of which have held Brambling, so that was something to note.
I will cut to the chase, in a section where the fog was at it's thickest, 2 Swallows pushed across a field, low, close and south bound, a good late record.
I also stumbled across a Field Vole that had perished on the path. I took a record shot, it may be useful info for the Worcestershire Biological Records of their presence, after all I am unlikely to see one alive normally.
Finally, on the homeward stretch, 9 Meadow Pipits flew over. This was actually a patch tick for me. So, whilst the walk was damp and fog bound, I actually eeked out 3 interesting ( if unspectacular) observations for the patch.

Field Vole

Sunday 21st... Devils Spittleful
More fog. I had arranged with Jason K to do a walk around the Devil's Spittleful Nature Reserve. I had never actually ventured onto that side of the A456 so although the premise was a fungi forage, for me it was also about getting the lie of the land. I'm not hugely into fungi , I like them as much from a aesthetic point of view and the thrill of hunting out a good specimen. It fills a void with the birding being a bit stale and the inverts as good as over.
It was an enjoyable 3 hours. Bird wise, Redwing flock over, 4 Buzzards, a Kestrel, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, several Jays and Mipits stood out. On the invert front, a surprise in finding a Small Copper still knocking about. On the large feline mammal front, a Lion roared loudly, but thankfully it was the other side of the fence on the Safari Park site.
The fungi were decent if not spectacular. I have posted the pics of the pick of the bunch.
Rosey Bonnet ( cheers JK)

Small Copper, definitely

Yellow Brain Fungus, for sure

Lion !

Monday, 15 October 2012

A Weekend on the Doorstep

With it being quiet on the bird scene I couldn't be bothered venturing too far this weekend. Instead on both days I undertook an extensive walk of my patch, prefering to see what I could dig up.  .
Saturday 13th
At Ladies Pool Wood, the first delight of the day appeared in the form of a Treecreeper. I have only had a handful of Treecreeper sightings this year, and this was my first in this area since March.As a tit flock moved through I picked out a Coal Tit, then, in the same tree that the Treecreeper had been, a Siskin showed, again a species not seen here since March.
A Grey Heron then passed over quite low, possibly having come off Forge Pool
The First of 5 Red Admirals flew by, which together with a Single Comma and a single Small Tortoiseshell completed the butterfly sightings on the walk today.
Over in the Barnet Brook area, I caught up with a few more species that have eluded me for a little while locally. First a Splendid Song Thrush, then a Sparrowhawk, which was harassed for a few minutes by a Raven, providing good views against the clear blue sky.
A Collard Dove was seen, they seem to come and go on my patch. ...All these bird species were not seen last week
The 'twist' today was an excursion into the sandy heath area of my patch to see if any fungi were showing.  I don't profess any great knowledge, and like them as much for aesthetic reasons as anything. Consequently I give ID's to pics sometimes as a best guess.

Amethyst Deceiver

Purple Brittlegill

Penny Bun
The Penny Bun was huge ! There were also numerous Earthball's around. I headed home wards via the paddocks where I had 2 final good bird encounters. Firstly a Green Woodpecker dropped in close by while I was chasing a moth, and finally a Mistle Thrush showed well along the bridle path. I just avoided the rain.

Green Woodpecker
 Sunday 14th
With the weather being so nice again, I could not resist a bit more exercise and low carbon birding. I basically did it all over again ! Today I was joined by Jason K for the Fungi stretch ( that's not an unusual  position ! ), he loves a bit of Fungi and I had promised him a big Surprise in the woods ! )
Firstly though, to get to that point, there was walking to be done, and the the birding highlights came together in a matter of minutes. Firstly, just down from the Kennels, I pick up on my first Redwings of the Autumn, 2 perched high in a tree. If that was not good enough, I then secured a patch Lifer in the form of a Grey Wagtail ! The bird was on the roof of the Kennels where several Pied Wagtails were coming and going, and indeed chased it off.
At this point JK arrived and we undertook the Fungi trail I had walked the previous day. I will leave him to tell about that final part of a great weekend


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Patch Super Sunday

Yesterday I had an enjoyable trip 20 miles down the road to Titterstone Clee. I will leave the Shenstone Birder to write a summery of that little sojourn.
Sunday was another lovely Autumn morning so I set out to walk a circuit of my patch. Things started well with the apparent return of the House Sparrow population noted. On my first look at Ladies Pool there was a Lesser Black Backed Gull and more importantly a Cormorant ! This was my 1st non flyover Cormorant on the patch.
Walking away from the Pool I noticed a Red Admiral basking high up in a tree, I had seen Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell yesterday too in Shropshire.
I continued to pick off the expected bird species, A Raven kronked over,  then  4 Skylarks performed well and showed beautifully against the blue sky.A  Nuthatch, tapped loudly at the entrance to Barnet Brook Wood.
Emerging onto the Stubble field the south facing set aside area was chuffing with inverts, mainly hoverflies but a few butterflies began to show. 2 Chiffchaffs chased each other through the treeline. I then came to an area of Ivy berries that held 3 Red Admirals and 5 Comma's...a splendid sight in the Sunday morning sunshine, it was now pretty warm and they flitted around the adjacent vegetation.

Basking Red Admiral


I was both surprised and pleased to see a few remaining Swallows lingering prior to their winter vacation, around the Kennels. A good group of pied wagtails occupied the site near the paddocks , which were pretty quite. Things livened up again as I approached Wood Lane, with a couple of Mistle Thrushes making a welcome appearance, followed by a pair of Bullfinches.
I swung back around to Ladies Pool again, which was busier with wild fowl. Scanning around I picked up a female Goosander, my earliest autumn date by a good month !

Female Goosander ( v long range Digital shot)

At the far end of the pool was a group of ducks that I could not be definite about. They certainly were not Mallards, I decided to pop back later with my Scope. As I crossed the causeway some further invert activity caught my eye. Firstly a still pristine looking Migrant Hawker nosed around me before leading me to a Common Darter, basking on the edge of the pool. These were certainly late welcome sightings.

Common Darter

A little while later I returned with my scope. The Goosander took flight just as I arrived, but the mystery ducks at the far end proved to be 7 eclipse Wigeon (4 males) ..a patch lifer !... I had clocked up just short of 40  bird species ( without seeing Kestrel, Sprawk,Linnet,Song Thrush, Yammer or  Dunnock) .. add in a patch lifer and those inverts .. a super Sunday stroll.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Stonechats in Worcestershire

On Friday afternoon I received a call from local birder Terry H kindly informing me of a pair of Stonechats he had located. They were about 1/2 mile from my local patch, and potentially my first Worcestershire sighting of these charming birds this year.
So after work, stopping off home to get my gear, I swung by to see if I could locate them. Fortunately this was not too hard as there were a couple of familiar faces at the sight who were already there enjoying the birds. The light was not great for photograhy, so I thought a bit of video would convey the experience better. A good start to the weekend.
The Video looks better on my Flickr page in HD to be honest HERE