Thursday, 31 January 2013

Another Breeding Area Bites The Dust

31 january 2013            mid section          early morning

heavy over night rain, blustery shower 08:00 becoming sunny, strong SW 4/5

A quick scan of the canal from the old Tettenhall bridge produced nothing of note,so a walk through the Paddocks was the way to go.Plenty singing robins and 2 singing song thrush was all I had,but on entering the main Paddock I found that the council had beat me there for it had been scalped from fence to fence, no standing twig had been spared. Another meadow no doubt. (that's 3 we now have ) (wonder if Turners Field, Sandfields, Luppinfield and Canal Fields are next).I continued half expecting a manicured Shrike Bushes,but this area had been spared. As I walk though it started to rain so I sheltered under the very old and almost dead willow, which as I leaned against it began to sway alarmingly in the strong southerly wind,luckily the shower past and both it and I were still standing.Onto the Barleyfield and a buzzard flew lazily and low west over Shrike Bushes to Tettenhall Ridge.A tour around Barleyfield was uneventful, just 1 stock dove,4 greenfinch and a pair bullfinch. Lower Alders looked quiet from the outside but a few yards in and I flushed c10 goldfinch and chaffinch which were ground feeding and a goldcrest was searching a hawthorn tree. More goldfinch c6 were again ground feeding in Eddys Alders, 2 mistle thrush and 30 BHGull on Compton Field completed the Barleyfield tour,but I had to revisit Hanging Grds as I made my way to Compton Lock and there were 10 goldfinch,2 chaffinch and a pair bullfinch, the goldies may have relocated from LA. A song thrush was singing from trees on the railway walk as I moved through the now miss named Compton Rough. 2 little grebe below the lock and another 2 between here and Meccano Br, but none further north.A fruitless go for the kingfisher after a noisy dog walker emerged from the Prefab bridge and also no sign of the grey wagtail on the weir.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

North of the viaduct

Following Kevin's report of a Tawny gave me a reason to check the isolated plot of land between canal and Oxley golf club.  It was late tuesday afternoon and windy and dull and unsurprisingly no Tawny altho I suspect I was a bit early.  What did see were three lesser redpolls and male sparrowhawk.
This area and even more so on the other side of the railway holds a winter Magpie roost.  Today the wind was giving them a hard time but they were coming in singly from all directions.  by the time I left at 4.20 there were in excess of 35 birds present but with many more birds to come in I would expect the roost to exceed 100.  Magpies seem to roost later than other corvids and arrive in ones and twos.  Since I became aware of this roost 3 winters ago every time I have stayed until it becomes impossible to see properly their are often as many as 150 birds present but to count properly would need to co-ordinate both sides of railway.
Otherwise the walk back to Newbridge produced a coot and 3 little grebe on the canal none of which I had picked up on the way.  Just shows how easy it can be for birds to hide even in winter vegetation, still probably the council will come and clear it all away!

29 january 2013             early morning

Council Creating a New Meadow

Nothing unusual to report bird wise, but was surprised to find a large mowing tractor and another tractor removing all vegetation from the rough area between the canal north of compton lock and the old railway. When I asked the workers they explained that it was to be cut again in March then  left to until late summer in order to create a meadow. I pointed out that this area held breeding birds such as Whitethroat and others, I got the answer I should have expected " were are just doing our job". Pity the council can't spend there ever dwindling money on something more useful.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Foot It target reached!

With work from tomorrow till the end of the month, today was the last realistic chance to at least reach my target. Having covered the south of my area yesterday, today was focussed on the north, albeit after an hour of Garden Birdwatch.

The Chiffchaff, Teal and Black Swan seen earlier in the month along the Shropshire Union Canal through Pendeford were all still present. However, once again there was no sign of any Willow Tits at a feeding station where birds were seen as recently as last October. Further along the canal, around Upper Hattons, 20 Lapwings, two Ravens and a Hare were present in fields, whilst a Cormorant flew over.

Along Jubilee Walks between Pendeford Mill and the M54 motorway, some 1,550 corvids (mostly Jackdaws) were present in the stubble field, but there was no sign of the large passerine flock of a few days ago; no doubt they have dispersed with the snow melt. Although 21 Linnet and a single Yellowhammer were in fields at Coven Heath, I had again failed to find any partridges!

The walk back along the Staffs & Worcs Canal at dusk produced little apart from at least four Teal on an adjacent lake and it seemed that I would return home without adding the one species needed to reach my target. However, as I approached the Wolverhampton – Shrewsbury railway viaducts over the canal at Aldersley, a “hoot”split the ever darkening sky. I stopped still. There it was again! No, not a train, but a Tawny Owl. I approached the viaducts cautiously and the bird called a couple more times before drifting silently and slowly over the canal to land in full view in a tree on the opposite – species number 79. I had reached my target!

additions for the past week

Just a few extra records for the last week not already reported.
A female Grey Wagtail on the Smestow at Newbridge towards Hordern Rd on Sunday.
Walk to Pool Hall on Monday produced a female Kestrel (as well as nale seen by Angus) . I returned along the ridge partly to check if the regular wintering Siskin flock was in the copse between Yew Tree Lane and Perton (opp Bird in Hand).  They were, perhaps 30 plus a couple of Lesser Redpoll.
Wednesday started with a calling Raven from the old bridge at Newbridge, later followed by a pair from the Dowty bridge over the Shrops Union.  2 Teal (pair) were on the Smestow between Newbridge and Hordern Rd followed by another male beyond Autherley Junction on the Shrops.
The junction itself was the venue for a Black Swan with 2 kingfishers flashing by. A lonely Lapwing was in a heavily snowed field by the I54 park and the seed eater flock was by the M54. Probably totalling about 200 birds but seemed to be only 3 species; Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Chaffinch. (The Corvids from the sewage works were still in the cleared part of that field).  Finally 4 Coot on the Staffs canal either side of the Water Bridge.
Sunday 27/1/2013
Wightwick Mill Lock to Tettenhall and Barleyfield/Compton Park

Mild after overnight rain that cleared the snow in one go!! Mod SSW,overcast then clearing.
6 Little Grebe - Dell, Compton allotments, below Compton Lock, above the lock, Meccano Bridge and by Newbridge Tennis Club.
Coot - adult at Newbridge.
Kingfisher- on canal at the Dell.
Green Woodpecker - lifted off ground near Graisley Culvert.
2 Grey Wagtail - East over the Dell.
4 Redwing - feeding on barleyfield by crossings.
2 Goldcrest - Compton Allotments and the Dell.
2 Coal Tit - 1 singing by Newbridge old station and 1 feeding low at Meccano gardens.
22+ Long-tailed Tits -c5 at the Dell, c10 canalside at the academy and another group of 7 at Newbridge.
Nuthatch - 1 on the feeders at Newbridge Wharf.
Finches - the Compton Park flock at Eddies Alders had dispersed, apparantly to make use of feeding opportunities elsewhere, following the thaw and the Western Border was unusually busy with 10+ Chaffinches, 10+ Goldfinch and 6+ Bullfinches, moving up and down the field edge. 4 Siskin including a singing male were in the trees at the top of the barleyfield.
Total 34 species

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Smestow Valley and Beyond – almost there!

Today was the last chance before the end of the month to visit the southern part of my Foot It area. First stop, however, was West Park, where wildfowl numbers were slightly lower than recently, perhaps because of the thawing snow: 12 Shoveler, 360+ Canada and 11 Greylag Geese, two Pochard, ten Tufted Duck, 146 Mallard, 46 Coot and 15 Moorhen.

The walk along the Staffs & Worcs Canal produced little, though at Wightwick a flyover probable immature Peregrine was an overdue addition (species number 74). Angus appeared and we headed together towards Pool Hall, noting Lapwing, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer along the way. Probably the same Peregrine flew over again, flushing 24 Skylark, c400 Starling, c300 Wood Pigeon and several Fieldfare feeding in a sheep field. 

As we neared Pool Hall, Angus suggested that we head instead to the top of a rise along the track towards Trescott to scan for partridges. We found no partridges, but what an inspired decision it turned out to be! In fact, we didn’t stop at the rise, but continued to Trescott expanding our area of search.

Angus said, “Peregrines often perch on these pylons”. I replied, “There’s one up there!” Within minutes Angus spotted a second bird on another pylon. Both adults and three birds in total having gone the month without seeing any. Along the nearby stretch of the Smestow Brook we saw two Teal and 12 Wigeon (species no. 75).

Rather than return to Pool Hall, we continued our search beyond Trescott, when a Barn Owl (species no. 76) suddenly appeared ahead of us, hunting over ground alongside Black Brook. Angus explained that Stonechats have wintered previously in an area of rough grassland and scrub along The Ridge, a prominent escarpment towards Pattingham, so onwards we continued.

As we scanned the fields below the ridge, a shooting party entered Rushy Marsh plantation. Mallards, Pheasants, Stock Doves and Wood Pigeons flew in all directions and Angus wondered whether a Woodcock might also fly out. Almost immediately one did (species no. 77)! Seconds later what was probably a second bird came over our heads and another flew low along a hedgerow straight towards us! A Hare also ran across the fields to escape the commotion.

Still riding the crest of our wave of good fortune, we started to head back, with the Barn Owl still hunting along field edges. As we approached Trescott, a Barn Owl shot out of tree just ahead of us – a second bird? Yes! The first was still hunting behind us. A probable Golden Plover called briefly in flight, but we could not pick it out – frustrating, as it would have been another new species.
Back at Trescott, four Snipe flew from a flooded field. We finally reached Pool Hall, where only 26 Coot and a pair of Mallard were present, Along the Staffs and Worcs Canal we saw single Dabchick and Kingfisher.

The final highlight came as we headed back towards Castlecroft. A couple of Magpies were alarm calling in an Oak tree alongside the track, but we put that down to approaching walkers. However, as we walked along, a Little Owl (species no. 78) flew from the tree and landed on a nearby fencepost. Angus returned to his car, but I walked home, though the volume of traffic through Wightwick, Compton and Newbridge thwarted efforts to hear any calling Tawny Owls.

After 11 hours and 24km (14.5 miles) today, I had noted 58 species, five new for my Foot It list, bringing me one short of my total. How different it would have been had I not bumped into Angus and he not suggested that we walk to the top of that rise and beyond!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Wednesday 23rd January 2013

Walk from Newbridge to Aldersley along Staffs & Worcs canal, old railway and Smestow brook.
Cold, overnight snow, slight thaw, easterly wind, dull, clearing slightly, 11.30 to 13.00.

Still more snow, car covered again, so a somewhat extended walk to get the morning paper.  All quiet on the Old Bridge over the canal at Newbridge, a check of the brook produces nothing, and a walk along the newly surfaced towpath takes me past overhanging snow-laden bushes and trees which from time to time dump their loads, forcing frequent wiping of bins.  Newbridge wood is silent, but two immature Coot are still on the  canal, now further towards the Tettenhall Road.  There are a few Moorhen, but none of the harsh-weather water birds I'm hoping for.  A quick visual check as far as Oxley Moor Road produces a single Grey Heron on the towpath just beyond the railway viaducts.  So, it's back along the cut, to check the Smestow culvert exit by the racecourse, and then the brook itself.  Just below the Water Bridge on the canal a Little Grebe struggles to subdue and then consume what looks like a small Roach measuring at least a third of its own length (they shake their neck just after the fish slides out of sight, their whole body shaking and shuddering. No wonder).  There's nothing along the Aldersley stadium stretch of the brook, but peering over the low culvert wall as the brook bends sharp left I see a pair of Teal and a pair of Mallard, stiff and on full alert as they become aware of me.  I move forward for a better view, the ducks stay but a Snipe shoots up from just below the bridge and careers away between houses on Aldersley Road, banking back round to leave north eastwards.  It's all white and still along the old railway past the hawthorn wood, but just beyond Hordern Road a Nuthatch calls, and there's a sound I can't fix, a light chattering, twittering song, akin to but lower than the communal chunterings of Redwing and Starling, similar to but not tinkling enough for Goldfinch.  I search treetops near the Double Pennant offices, and the mystery is solved, a black-crowned and black-bibbed male Siskin producing a stream of notes, a song I've missed for the past couple of years as the birds start to come back through in late winter.  At least two females are feeding nearby in an alder.  It's lunchtime, so I cut short the walk, cross the canal over the old Courtaulds railway bridge by Hordern Road, and am soon back home, with paper, to catch the 12.58 weather forecast.  More snow on the way . . .                         

Tuesday 22nd January 2013

Walk from Dimmingsdale to Newbridge following Staffs & Worcs Canal and Smestow brook.

Cold, east wind, lying snow, high broken cloud clearing to watery sun, 10.30 to 13.10.

Thin ice on the canal at Dimmingsdale bridge, Sankeys pool and Pool Hall main lake are frozen over, towpath and bridleway slushy and treacherous, but, suddenly, through the clear air, it's spring     . . . .     the sound of a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in a waterside oak.  Pool Hall main lake is now mostly clear of ice, and birds have flown in, seven male and two female Shoveler doing their spin-feed routine, with 24 Coot, a male Gadwall, 62 Black-headed Gull and 43 Canada Goose, plus two Snow Goose hybrids.  Two Pied Wagtail and a couple of Meadow Pipit are foraging in vegetation by the dam when three Snipe suddenly fly up from the neighbouring field, two leaving low towards the canal, the other dropping to stand on the dam wall, its long bill angled downwards, the bird looking awkward and isolated.  As I close the bridleway gate a Robin flies to perch within a foor of my head, them dropping down to stand virtually touching my boot.  It's Polo mints or nothing, my friend, so I take my apologetic leave to walk between the barn conversions by Pool Hall house and look across root crop fields towards Perton Mill farm and the Bridgnorth Road.  The sheep grazing area has been extended, and winter thrushes and Starling feed near to and among the animals. Birds are flocking to these fields, and I have the sense that with the weather now lifting, something's going to happen.  Suddenly there's an explosion of Woodpigeon and Crows near the Smestow brook, the birds rocketing off in  all directions.  Through the mayhem I glimpse the shape I've been looking for, stiff-winged, compact, purposeful, already beyond them, a Peregrine slanting away towards Jenny Walkers Lane.  It must have come in low just south of Wightwick fields, but showed no interest in the foraging flocks, which after a few minutes settled back down to feed.  Later, a Little Grebe sits along on the canal just above Castlecroft bridge, and as I leave the towpath to walk down towards the Smestow, a Buzzard flaps heavily away to perch on a phone pole in the middle of Wightwick fields. All quiet along the brook, just a Grey Heron rising from the bank near Windmill Lane.  Eighteen Fieldfare fly south westwards over the fields, and later, as I reach the canalside fields just north of Wightwick Mill lock, a male Kestrel sits perched by the edge of the sand quarries.  Another Buzzard, an adult, goes low towards the pines hill, three Bullfinch fly towards the canal, and a few minutes later as I follow the towpath northwards from Compton bridge I find another two Little Grebe above the lock.  Two male Shoveler stay ahead of me on the water towards the Meccao Bridge, wary and unsure of this foreign location, but six Mallard and a couple of Moorhen show no such concern.  I make a ten- minutes detour down the middle of a frozen Compton barleyfield to view Tettenhall ridge, since if raptors and passage birds are to make an appearance, maybe now's the time.  Sure enough a male Sparrowhawk comes in low over the trees, rises, circles and is  immediately attacked by two Crows.  He doesn't leave, but leads the corvids through and round the trees, a territorial matter, important enough to be joined by (presumabley) his mate, a big female who turns the tables, chasing and stooping on the Crows up and down the side of the ridge.  I leave them to it and walk down to the exit of the Graiseley brook where a female Grey Wagtail feeds along some exposed mud.  Time's getting on, so it's back home along the old railway to find, unusually, a Mistle Thrush pair methodically and quietly preening in a tree at the bottom of the garden, with seven Long-tailed Tit clustered on a fatball feeder.  All in all, not a bad morning.                  

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Monday 21st January 2013

Monday saw me continue with my Foot It challenge to record as many species as possible during January without using any means of transport whatsoever.

Starting at West Park, 15 Tufted Duck constituted a new species for the month (number 71). Other counts included an impressive 16 Shoveler, 12 Greylag and 355 Canada Geese, 126 Mallard, 45 Coot, 16 Moorhen, 255 Moorhen and single Chinese Goose and Muscovy Duck.

Back in Smestow Valley, there were 37 Mallard, 13 Moorhen, two Coot and two Dabchick along the Staffs & Worcs Canal between Hordern Road and Autherley Junction.

A Black Swan at Autherley Lock was an unexpected addition to the exotica list for the day, whilst presumably the same Chiffchaff seen a few days ago fed along the edge of the Shropshire Union Canal through Pendeford. Also present were a drake Teal, 73 Mallard, four Moorhen and two Dabchick.

Fields north of Pendeford were unsurprisingly unproductive given the amount of snow, though a female Gadwall on the canal near Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve and an overflying adult Cormorant provided some interest.

A stubble field off Jubilee Walks between i54 and the M54 was relatively full of birds. Foraging by hundreds of corvids and Starlings had cleared much of the snow, enabling a flock of some 210 smaller passerines to feed: Chaffinch dominated, with 50-60 Yellowhammer, c20 Reed Bunting, half a dozen or so Tree Sparrow (species no.72) and one or two Skylark. Also present were three Lapwing, a Raven flew over and a Sparowhawk scattered everything!

The return walk yielded a female Yellowhammer and a flock of some 45 Greenfinch by Oxley Marine and a Skylark flying southwards over Aldersley Junction.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Appeal for sightings Information

Good snowy morning to you all!!!

An appeal for information!!!

My work-load is due to drop off shortly, which will allow me to, among other things (like finishing Angus's brilliant History of the bird Group and the Species Archives!!!), pursue some conservation issues in the valley.

In order to assist with this I would be grateful if anyone holding Smestow Valley birding records could email me at details of all sightings for the following species. I have all of the Annual Reports so I am just interested in sightings from 1st January 2011 to the present date:

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Meadow Pipit (ground records only)
Grasshopper Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Garden Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Wood Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Willow Tit
Tree Sparrow
Reed Bunting 
Yellowhammer (Excluding Pool Hall Lane and Castlecroft Bridge records)

Please supply this information by 28th February 2013, so that I can analyse and act on it. Thank you.

Whilst on the subject of records please, as a separate issue, could contributors send their 2012 records, again to the sightings email address so that they can be summarized into some form of report that will be available online.In order to try and get this available as soon as possible, could I please be a pain and respectfully request that all submissions be made by 31st March 2013.The "submit sightings" link on our blog home page provides further information.

Thank you so much your help regarding the above. Oh and to those casual and/or garden watchers, please do not be shy!!! This is a community web-site, so please everyone take part, because with the rich variety of life on this beautiful planet, we all remain amateur, as there is always something to learn, so get typing now!!!!!!

I also want to encourage records for flora, fungi, bats, other mammals, reptiles, amphibians, mini-beasts and Butterflies, so send any of these 2012 records by email as well.

Lastly (I promise!!), please send all your photos. They can be wildlife focused or simply portraying the beauty, or community spirit of the valley. Simply email them along with your name, details of the date taken and location and we will utilize them when and where we can.

Thank you.
Sunday 20th January 2013

Cold, lying snow, overcast then snow from 9am, Moderate NE.
Mid-section - Compton Bridge to Newbridge and Barleyfield/Compton Park

Very quiet overall with only 29 species noted - the lowest on any day since I started watching the patch in 2010!! The only indication of any cold-weather movements, were 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls heading SW over Henwood Ridge.

As usual though, the valley yielded some encounters that made braving the elements worthwhile:

Firstly, I had a mid-section PB for Little Grebe counts with a total of 7 present - 1 at Prefab Weir, 3 at Meccano Bridge, and 3 around the barges at Newbridge.

Whilst watching the Grebes at Meccano Bridge a drake Teal suddenly shot up from the Smestow Brook just South of the bridge. It circled then appeared to head South-West following the Western edge of the Barleyfield.

A Nuthatch called briefly from the Railway Walk near Compton Lock.

Common water-bird numbers had swelled slightly, with the 36 Mallard counted being understandable given the amount of frozen local water, but the count of 20 Moorhens may, simply have been a result of their being more visible against the snowy backdrop. Even so 20, including 8 at Newbridge and 5 around Prefab Weir, was close to a patch record for me.

A Green Woodpecker called from the Henwood Road area adjacent to Meccano Bridge and 3 Dunnock, including a singing bird were breaking the silence nearby.

a Grey Wagtail flew East over the old canal bridge at Newbridge and a Coal Tit was briefly calling from the tree tops there.

The Paddocks were unproductive and it was a little concerning that I had yet to encounter a feeding band anywhere!! (Though what appeared to be the tail end of one was represented by 5 Long-tailed Tits heading off into the Newbridge housing area).

Next up was the Barleyfield, where 5 Bullfinch were seen, lifting from the Railway Walk and heading up the Western edge and a 2nd Winter Herring Gull drifted low over the canal the other way. A second Grey Wagtail of the morning was feeding at Graisley Culvert.

A lone and very confiding Goldcrest was flitting through brambles at the top of the Barleyfield by Geoff's seat, which for me gave the highlight of the morning, as the views reminded just how beautiful these often overlooked little birds are.

The snow was now becoming more persistent and after standing for half hour in the vain hope of seeing some movement birds, I gave up and set off to find the finch flock. This didn't take long, as the party were feeding in the smaller Lower Alders. There were good numbers and 3 female Siskin were picked out as the birds fed. Eventually they lifted, revealing a good count (by today's standards) of 30+ Goldfinch. Redpoll still, surprisingly remained absent.

I had intended to stick around and persevere with the skywatch, but a text from my waking hungry son, and worsening conditions prompted me to abandon match!!

Hopes of catching my first Winter Thrushes of the day at Compton Park failed, but at last a feeding band of 9+ Long-tailed Tits and Blue/Greats rounded off the walk.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Saturday 19th January 2013

Walk along Staff & Worcs Canal from Newbridge to Aldersley.
Cold, calm, dull, overnight snow on ground, fine snow falling later in morning, 11.20 to 13.15.

Later than I'd intended, but at least some fresh air in the lungs.  All quiet initially on the canal, but Bullfinch, single males, perched at Newbridge wharf, the Wildside Activities Centre and the oak copse by the Water Bridge (calls heard, but no sign of any other birds. Females will have been nearby). A Nuthatch called from the oak copse, three Goldfinch fed in trees by Aldersley canal junction, but all was silent as I climbed the grass slopes up towards the railway carriageworks to look back over the frozen Birmingham Canal, across Dunstall Park (the lake totally ice-bound) and down a grey, cold Smestow Valley.  Normally there's some kind of action here as birds funnel in from the north and east to follow the green strip along the edge of the city, or go about their daily business across the racecourse to Newbridge, Stockwell End, Aldersley, Oxley and Pendeford, but not today. Twenty minutes of nothing, just getting colder, but then away to the west shapes begin to appear over Tettenhall ridge, Lesser Black-backed Gulls making their way steadily north eastwards, rising and falling against the weather, at least 35 birds, the largest group 18 in number, the vast majority adults, the contrast of the black angled edges of their white underwings unusually clear, illuminated by the snow's reflection as they pass and disappear behind the top of the hill towards Oxley golfcourse. Leading a group of three is perhaps the bird of the morning, an adult Great Black-backed Gull, heavy and powerful, the boss of the bunch and a species not now regularly seen either on or over the racecourse.  This harsh-weather movement is shortlived, so it's back down to the junction, out of the wind, and homewards along the towpath.  A few hundred yards down, and there's the sound I've been waiting for, Rooks in the racecourse nest trees, four of them, possibly two pairs, bowing and calling as the fine snow falls, one of them actually in one of the four nests that have survived from last summer.  After a few minutes they depart to perch in nearby beech trees, knowing that the rookery, although smaller than in recent years, is intact.  Two immature Coot, most likely refugees from the racecourse lake, edge out on to the canal, a Collared Dove flutters down into the oak copse, a Jay flies out of the trees and across to Aldersley stadium, and a Grey Heron stands hunched against the Smestow brook culvert by the Water Bridge.  Leaving the canal I pick my way along the frozen banks of the Smestow towards Tettenhall Road, but no bad-weather birds, just a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, seven or so Long-tailed Tit moving through the trees, and a Song Thrush grubbing among leaves and moss at the water's edge.  Then it's back up via the Old Bridge to swishing traffic and brown slush.            

(PS  Across the frozen playingfield at 22.30 the sound of a Tawny Owl, calling from the darkness beyond the canal towards the Double Pennant boatyard.  Magical . . .)


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Just a few pics from this morning

its not every day we get a good snowfall

 Prefab weir

Foot It 19th January 2012

After a week at work, the latest session of my Smestow Valley and Beyond Foot It challenge saw me heading out from home before 7.15am with everything still covered in yesterday's snow.

The Staffs & Worcs Canal was free of ice, with single Dabchick both above and below Compton. A male Kestrel was perched near to Wightwick Mill Lock, but a pattering of feet on the canal below the lock revealed a redhead Goosander heading towards the southwest - species number 66 for the month. A pair of adult Mute Swan and a total of 31 Mallard were on the canal at Wightwick, whilst a Sparrowhawk flew across Wightwick Fields.

At Pool Hall, probably the same redhead Goosander was sat with four male and a female Shoveler, 25 Coot and three immature Mute Swan on the only patch of open water. An immature Common Gull (species 67) briefly joined its Black-headed cousins, a Great Spotted Woodpecker called from neaby trees and a flock of nine Skylark flew over.

Further along the canal near Ebstree Lock, some 20 Goldfinch fed in an Alder tree and two GS Woodpecker chased each other through the trees.

Back at Wightwick Fields, at least 20 Fieldfare, nine Yellowhammer and a Kestrel were present and a flock of some 40 Lapwing flew distantly towards the southwest (species 68). A Green Woodpecker (species 69) spent several minutes in a tree by Pool Hall track before flying towards Lower Penn; shortly afterwards, presumably a second bird flew over the fields.

Whilst walking back home along the canal towpath, a flock of three adult and two immature Cormorant (species 70) came from the east before turning above Wightwick Mill Lock and departing northwards. Another pair of GS Woodpecker were in trees at the Dell. Finally, another Dabchick was on the canal by Newbridge Wood.

My original target was 70 species, which I have now reached, but I later revised it to 79 of which I have seen 89%.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Thur 17 January 2013                   mid morning

hard o/night frost  dull & bleak         Wightwick Fields & Pool Hall res

peace and quiet in the English countryside

On arrival at  Castlecroft Bridge and surveying Wightwick Fields all looked quiet apart from a single mistle thrush sat on a phone wire near the bridge over smestow brook,but on nearly reaching said bridge a noisy dog walker flushed a male kingfisher briefly onto an old fence near by,it then flew east to perch in a brook side bush at the eastern boundary of W/field where it showed really well for over 5 mins, it  then flew off east. Just minutes later and only 200m west I found probably the same male perched up again on the edge of the brook where it stayed for another 5 minutes before plunge diving then flew off west along the brook. I came across it again later even further west. I made my way off a v/quiet W/Field back to Pool Hall lane and west towards Pool Hall. I stopped briefly and listened,total silence, the peace and quiet of the English countryside at its very best (or worst). On arrival at Mopps Farm bridge I noticed a flock of sheep behind Pool Hall house had churned up their temporary field,although distant chaffinch were noted. On closer inspection from the top end of the public footpath to Perton Mill Farm (which the electric fence has blocked) I estimated 50 chaffinch also 6+ pied wagtail and at least 2 meadow pipit, 100+ starling were further away towards the smestow but no sign of Angus's redwing or fieldfare or skylark or yellowhammer.

 A frozen Pool Hall res

below the dam

A short walk took me to a frozen Pool Hall res with a small area of open water containing 22 coot, 2♂ teal 2♀ teal, 78 BHGull with a further 20 odd below the dam, a single grey heron stood on the ice, about 25 canada geece stood on the dam with 2 white hybrid geece,(maybe the snow goose type I had on 6th was one of these). The mute swan family was on the canal by Mopps Farm bridge,a short walk along the tow path was my first cold weather birds 3 cormorant flying towards me from the north east,as I watched they flew a complete circle and headed off back where they came from. A buzzard called as I approached Wightwick Fields and I found it sat on a phone wire post. A yellowhammer sat in the bushes near Castlecroft bridge and as I walked into the field 3 linnet flew south from a tree by the brook over my head calling and towards Pool Hall lane. Scanning the fields and finding nothing I headed back to Pool Hall lane where a green woodpecker was probing the truck of a large ash tree and a single goldfinch was searching it's canopy. As I continued I flushed 5 linnet from the hedge which flew back towards the canal.

Wednesday 16th January 2013.

Walk from Dimmingsdale bridge to Newbridge following the Staff & Worcs Canal and the Smestow brook.

Calm, very cold, hard overnight frost, misty, dull, clearing to high cloud, 10.30 to 13.15.

Frost covering everything, grass, hedges and trees, pictureque, a taste of winter proper.  Possibility of winter waders and visiting ducks, possibly a rail, along the brook, but perhaps more days of intense cold needed for these species to appear.  A Great Spotted Woodepecker flew over an ice-free canal just north of Dimmingsdale bridge, but Pool Hall lakes were frozen solid, with the exception of a small area near the dam, kept clear by the movements of 26 Coot, by now territorially aggressive and forced into close proximity on the only open section.  Swimming, bathing and preening were c.90 Black-headed Gull, with four male and two female Wigeon standing nearby on the ice asleep.  The chatter of c.30 passage Monarchs Way ramblers broke the silence and the ducks departed towards the north east.  The walkers continued towards Trescott, and I followed them for s short distance to the edge of frozen fields stretching towards the Bridgnorth Road.  Suddenly birds were everywhere, foraging on the stubble and on root-crop areas now grazed by sheep, a flock of 100-plus winter thrushes, mainly Redwing with Fieldfare, in addition to Starling (150-plus), Skylark (30-plus), Crow (20-plus) Jackdaw (30-plus), and small numbers of Pied Wagtail, Yellowhammer, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch and a single Lapwing.  From the canal towpath north of Mopps Farm bridge at least 300 Woodpigeon could be seen feeding near the brook south of Perton Mill farm, and as I approached Castlecroft bridge a Common Buzzard flew low from a tree towards the brook, flushing five Red-legged Partridge foraging among the crop.  A male Kingfisher twice plunged into the canal from the Pool Hall lane side (very probably the bird on winter station along the brook), and a lone Mistle Thrush perched on phone wires over Wightwick fields.  A trek through frozen grass alongside the Smestow provided only a Grey Heron flapping off towards Windmill Lane, with two Common Buzzard flying low, one to perch on a phone pole and the other landing close by in trees in a Sabrina Road garden.  As I left the grass fields to cross Windmill Lane, 18 Goldfinch fed at the top of a tree opposite Wightwick canal wharf, and walkers fed a family of Mute Swan (two adults and three immatures from Pool Hall) by the canal bridge.  Two Moorhen grazed on a bungalow lawn  just north of the bridge, and two adult Lesser Black-backed Gull stood with their black-headed relatives on Smestow School playingfields. Checks of the brook between Compton and Newbridge proved fruitless, but three Little Grebe were on the canal (one by Compton allotment, two above Compton lock) and at least 14 Mallard were in a noisy group on the Staffs & Worcs below Tettenhall Road.  Just time to check Newbridge wood, but very mid-dayish now, only a flock of 14-plus Long-tailed Tit, with Blue Tit, Great Tit and a calling Coal Tit.

Worse weather (better for birders?) is forecast.  We shall see . . .


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

wed 16 january 2013                  early morning

mid section             Hard frost slight fog

 Prefab Weir

The new wetlands

Hoping for some cold weather movement I first checked the canal from Tettenhall Rd to Compton Rd and only had 1 little grebe by the moored boats just north of Compton lock.Up to the Barleyfield where a bullfinch was calling from the scrub roses at the top,all was very quiet,nothing overhead and no movement in the bushes,the fog was almost hiding the Shrike Bushes. Lower Alders was empty but Eddys contained the small finch flock, 20+ goldfinch and at least 5 siskin. A grey wagtail was the only bird encountered in the Shrike Bushes area this was flushed from the Graisley Brook culvert. Back to Compton lock via Compton Rough,still no grebes below the lock. 2 little grebe by the weir and 1 fishing near Newbridge tennis courts. The kingfisher flew north along Smestow brook behind the prefabs. The only singing birds today 3 robin, 2  great tit and a dunnock. No song thrush.

tue 15 january 2013           late morning

northern sector

sunny periods after heavy o/night frost

Thought I would try a trip to the frozen north to find the birds that are missing from my usual haunts.Found 3 little grebe on the canal by Dunstall Park and Aldersley Junction,one of which was struggling with a huge fish nearly as big as itself.A look around the fields to the west of Aldersley Junction ( Aldersley Fields) was fruitless, but leaving near the railway viaduct and scanning the canal to the north I could see a grey heron fishing and a green woodpecker flew over my head from the fields and disappeared beyond the bushes the other side of the canal. I met Angus on the bridge at Aldersley Junction and after checking out the old orchard there, we made our way to the Luppin Fields to search for Ian's chiffchaff with no luck. In the small coppice below the railway sheds we had a treecreeper. A walk around the rough field below the coppice and back to the junction was unrewarding so we had another go for the chiffy in the shelter of the bushes and       trees on the rail track from the viaduct back towards Aldersley Stadium,again with no luck. On reaching the junction of the railway / Hugh Porter Way / Aldersley Rd we parted company but not before we had 2 buzzard soaring above Dunstall Hill and a Mistle Thrush flying SE over the car park and at least 1 in a nearby tree.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Sunday 13/1/2013
Overnight heavy frost calm, clear

Walk before dawn from Compton to Castlecroft Bridge, then return along canal to Newbridge and quick look at paddocks, barleyfield and Compton Park.

3 Little Grebe -Compton allotments, below Compton Lock and by the Wolves academy.
Grey Heron - 1 North over Wightwick road bridge
61 Mallard - 45 South of Compton bridge, 16 between Compton and Newbridge
4 Buzzard - 3 together in oak at South end of Wightwick Fields and 1 in tree by Meccano Bridge.
2 Sparrowhawk - 1 at Wightwick Fields and a female over S.Peter's playing fields
Pheasant - Male on Southern edge of Wightwick Fields
33 Moorhen - 17 between Compton Road and Newbridge. Only 16 recorded South of Compton Road
Herring Gull - Adult with 3 LBB Gull and 54 BH Gull at Compton Park
Tawny Owl - A pair calling from trees at Compton Hospice. A welcome encounter, after the Compton Park birds abandoned their Compton Park winter roost sight due to the housing development last year.
Kingfisher - male at Wightwick Fields
Green Woodpecker - Castlecroft Bridge area
G S Woodpecker - calling from oak by paddocks near Castlecroft Bridge
Pied Wagtail - 2 South over Castlecroft Bridge (N.B. A pair were at Compton Park wetland yesterday)
Grey Wagtail - 1 at Prefab Weir
4 Song Thrush - singing West of Wightwight road bridge, houses at Wightwight Fields, by Newbridge old station and in the middle paddock nearby.
2+ Redwing - Compton Park
Mistle Thrush - singing East of the canal at Newbridge
3 Fieldfare - 1 at Castlecroft Bridge, 2 on Compton Park
Coal Tit - 1 singing briefly at Compton Park, by Compton Road entrance
18+ Long-tailed Tits - 5+ at Turners Fields, 9 in the main Paddock and 4 at Compton Park
Nuthatch - 1 calling from Henwood Ridge near Prefab Weir
Peasley Wood Corvid Roost - arrived at 07:20 just in time to see 400+, mainly Jackdaw, with a few Rooks and Crows, lift over Smestow School and split into two similar groups, 1 heading NW, presumably to feed beyond Tettenhall and the other heading straight up the Valley. The fact that none headed South, seems to confirm the absence of flocks late last year heading over Wightwick Fields and numbers are now a fraction of the 10,000 that roosted in the area at this time of year in 2004.
151 Starling - South over Castlecroft bridge
10+ House Sparrows - in small colonies at Newbridge and Compton Park - The Compton Village colony were not in their usual canalside spot, maybe visiting local feeding stations in the cold weather.
Siskin - a single male ground-feeding at Eddy's Alders with c10 Chaffinch and c20 Goldfinch. This is highly unusual behaviour since the smaller finches are traditionally in the Alder tops at this site. The "Goldies" were mixing between ground-feeding and low-level tree feeding. This may indicate the wet Summer has produced some failure in the food source.
9 Bullfinch - 5 at Turners Fields, 2 at Compton Lock and 2+ at The Paddocks, with a soft singing male there.
3+ Yellowhammer - in canal side hawthorns by Castlecroft Bridge

44 Species.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Sunday 13th January 2013

Walk from Pool Hall to Newbridge following Smestow brook, Staffs & Worcs Canal and old railway, via Wightwick fields, Boots fields and Compton barleyfield.

Overnight frost, calm, cold, high broken cloud, 10.15 to 12.45am.

Few fishermen at Pool Hall, film of ice round lake margins.  Family of Mute Swan (two adults and three adult-sized youngsters, raised at the site last summer) feeding on a low bank by the main water, with 22 Coot active and aggressive towards each other on the dam lake.  Flooded fields below the dam and to the north west of Mopps Farm Bridge had attracted more than 200 Black-headed Gull, with up to ten Pied Wagtail foraging along the waters' edge, and large numbers of Starling and Woodpigeon feeding in stubble nearby.  Nine Lapwing in fields nearer the Bridgnorth Road were a welcome sight, a single Skylark flew to perch on phone wires, and foraging Fieldfare flew from near the Smestow below Perton Mill Farm.  Walking by the Smestow at the southern end of Wightwick fields I disturbed a male Kingfisher, which flew only a short distance before perching and plunging into the shallows (it flew in front of me as far as Windmill Lane, almost certainly the same bird seen in recent months on its winter territory).  A Mistle Thrush flew to perch just below Windmill Lane, and a Common Buzzard glided low along Wightwick ridge towards Tettenhall.  The hunched shape of a Grey Heron was glimpsed by the brook as I crossed Windmill Lane and onto the canal towpath, with the tinkling song of a Goldfinch lightened the the freezing conditions.  Leaving the canal at Wightwick Mill lock, I heard a Nuthatch calling from a copse by the pines hill, and was aware of a beautiful male Kestrel perched on the edge of the flat grass fields just to the north, grey-headed, warm brown plumage perfect in the clear light.  Two female Bullfinch called from a hedge by the Wolverhampton Environment Centre just below Boots fields. The mid-day "lull" was approaching in what was already a quiet day for birds, but three Stock Dove went low over the Compton barleyfield, a female Reed Bunting flew up from long grass to perch near the Graiseley brook culvert exit, and a eight-plus Long-tailed Tit flicked their way through trees by the old railway just south of the old Tettenhall station.  That was that.  Home for hot soup.         

Foot It

I have set myself a target of recording 79 species in Smestow Valley and beyond during January. Normally, this would be quite straightforward, but as its name suggests the Foot It challenge involves birding only on foot i.e. no means of transportation for any part of birding jouneys from and back to home

Yesterday, I set off from home at about 12.45 on the sixth session of my challenge. Walking along the canal towpaths - Wolverhampton Locks, Staffs & Worcs and Shropshire Union - I soon reached Pendeford with little more than four Siskins at Autherley Junction to show for my efforts. However, within a matter of metres along the Shropshire Union Cnal through Pendeford I saw pair of Ravens, a mixed flock of 70+ Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin, and a Chiffchaff in a Bramble clump.

A Kingfisher was perched along the River Penk by Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve, whilst a couple of Buzzards and a GS Woodpecker were in Pendeford Wood.

This morning, in Newbridge Wood there were two Nuthatch, single GS Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Coal Tit and Goldcrest, and three Siskin flew over.

So far I have seen 65 species i.e. 82% of my target.

wintering chiffchaff?

A mid morning walk in the northern part of valley alongside the canal link to wolverhampton and around Aldersley stadium.  More notable for what I didnt see with no winter thrushes and no sign of the usual wintering finch flock in the stadium.  This often includes good numbers of siskin and redpoll.  Presumably it reflects the lack of food items.  Red berries are very scarce whereas last years bumper crop attracted over 300 fieldfare/Redwing.  4 Bullfinchs at the water bridge and the usual Gulls on the racecourse but with one exeption little else.
Star bird was a Common Ciffchaff favouring the Broom bushes on the slope down from Oxley sidings and overlooking the racecourse.  This is the first time this year have been up to this underwatched part of the valley so who knows how long it has been there.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A review of the week 5 - 12 january 2013

mid section Tettenhall Rd - Compton Rd
and Compton Rd - Wightwick Mill Lock

A very cold east wind with occ snow flurries  and very little bird activity. Early before light start to catch more singing birds especially song thrush backfired, as I only had 2 one on Meadow View and another south of the station along the old railway. On thur 10th there were 8 singing in total with 6 last sat 5th. 11 song thrush were singing between Compton Rd & Wightwick Mill Lock on sun 6th. Robin are a similar story with just 3 singing today but 14 last sat 5th and 15 thur 10th. 5 little grebe today and 5 on thur 10th, just 3 on sat 5th and 2 on sun 6th just south of Compton Rd, No sign of the kingfisher today, not had it all week,last seen sat 5th. Also no sign of the finch flock on Barleyfield today. During the week 20 chaffinch, a few goldfinch were in Lower Alders and 4 siskin flew from firs by Meccano bridge towards alders on Barleyfield on sat 5th. 10+ siskin on 10th were new arrivals with a few chaffinch and c10 goldfinch in alders on Barleyfield.
                Other highlights from last week.
Green Woodpecker,Pied Wagtail, singing Coal Tit, on sat 5th.
Snow Goose( type) with 9 Canada flew SW over Turners Field on sun 6th.
Mistle Thrush, 10+ Long tail Tit, singing Coal Tit, on thur 10th.
                So ends a very quiet week.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Friday, January 11th,  2013.

Dunstall Park
Misty, clearing to high broken cloud, dull, calm, damp, cool. 10.40 to 11.50.

Few birds were visible initially on a misty, cold, quiet racecourse, just a handful of gulls on the central grass area and eight Canada Geese grazing near the lake perimeter fence.  On the lake, four male and three female Teal fed near the shoreline, while a pair of Mallard rested along the base of the island.  A pair of Gadwall, now present for over two weeks, moved away from a group of quarrelling Coot, at least 11 of which are now on the lake, some of the adults already contesting territory in what has so far been a comparitively warm winter.  The depth of water provides no margins at present for Snipe, but closer inspection of the island revealed 21 resting birds (doubtless more were present), beautifully camouflaged among dried and dead vegetation as they waited to feed elsewhere on the site.  Two Pied Wagtail foraged on the banked lake sides, as a group of Crow took off to pursue a dark-plumaged Common Buzzard low across the lake and into trees by the Staffs & Worcs Canal below Dunstall Water Bridge. As the mist began to lift, a Nuthatch was heard calling from towpath trees just north of Aldersley stadium, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker flew on to a canalside oak and two Robin sang near to each other in the racecourse's north western corner.  A brief glimpse of two Jay and a single Fieldfare in the same area, and it was back on to the open central grass to check the gulls.  Many had flown in as the weather brightened, and a count produced three adult Herring Gull, 14 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 200-plus Black-headed Gull.  Also foraging were more than 40 Woodpigeon, at least 12 Magpie and 12 Rook.  No sign yet of activity around the site's rookery, but in recent years birds have been seen "chase-flying" near the nest trees, sometimes as early as late December and early January.         

(NB    Dunstall Park is a closed commercial site.  Access is restricted).

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Sunday 6th January 2013

Wood next to Newbridge playingfield bordering Staffs & Worcs Canal.
Calm, dull, warm, 10.00 to 10.30.

Very quiet, and as usual this winter, few feeding flocks, the number of birds in general down on recent years, perhaps due to a poor breeding season for resident species.  Crow, Magpie and Woodpigeon were evident in and over the wood, with one or two Moorhen and a pair of Mallard on the canal.  Blackbird, Robin, Wren and Dunnock were heard, but it was only when I reached the northern end of the wood after a brief cross-canal conversation with Kevin Clements (he was on another Footit walk, cf. December 4th posting) that things began to liven up.  A Nuthatch called, and flew from the Double Pennant boatyard moorings to join a male Great Spotted Woodpecker in trees by the main path through the wood.  Long-tailed Tit calls marked the arrival of a small flock of feeding birds moving through the branches, made up of Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch and a single Treecreeper, seen briefly.  At least one Goldcrest flicked and hovered against the light at the very tops of the trees.
Mistle Thrush pair were already on their breeding station, and a Coal Tit gave territorial calls nearer to the canal as I walked back, probably responding to the warmer weather conditions.  The tips of daffodil shoots were pushing through the grass by an oak on the edge of the playingfield.  Spring's on its way.      

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Wightwick Mill lock, Staffs & Worcs Canal
Calm, high broken cloud, warm, 14.30 to 15.15.

A phone call from West Midland Bird Club recorder Kevin Clements interrupted a late lunch, but no matter!  He'd found a flock of 12 Waxwing fly-catching from a line of canalside poplar trees just  above Wightwick Mill lock.  So, a quarter of an hour later, bacon sarnis in hand, I was high-tailing it along the towpath from Compton to see if the birds were still there.  I saw Kevin in the distance going away towards Newbridge, and soon afterwards found local birder Jefney Ashcroft and her husband near to where the birds had been seen. They told me they had seen the flock eating rosehip berries by the canal, but the birds had flown off towards the Wolverhampton Environment  Centre at Castlecroft.  I continued along the towpath to the lock, but no joy, the birds had vanished.    Another birder from Castlecroft joined me, and as we discussed how best to look for the flock, a male Goosander flew past us, turned and came back over the Smestow School playingfields.  It then flew low back along the canal, disappearing round the bend above Wightwick lock.  We thought it may have landed on the canal, but with the lock cottage in sight, there was no sign of it. It was now late afternoon, and after another quarter of an hour scanning the area we had seen nothing of the Waxwings.  Best call it a day, I thought, but suddenly, the flock of 12 descended from nowhere to land in a canalside tree opposite us, on the edge of the school playingfields.  A brief sighting, for after a couple of minutes during which they were harrassed by a Magpie, the birds flew off towards the Bridgnorth Road  and were not seen again.
Kevin was on a "Footit" trip from his home, supporting a campaign to encourage birders to visit their own neighbourhoods.  Cars, buses and penny-farthings are banned, and already avian enthusiasts from Scunthorpe to Scandinavia are walking their local patches to see what they can find.  So, if you want to see why birders are losing weight, lean forward from your sofa and click on to the Footit websites.
The campaign  is already benefiting the Smestow Valley.  Kevin walked to Dunstall Park yesterday (December 3rd) where he found a Green Sandpiper by the lake, the site's first-ever winter record  for the species.  A pair of Gadwall were still present after a stay of at least 10 days.  
(NB.  Dunstall Park is a closed, commercial site.  Access is restricted).

birdwatchers from Scunthorpe to Scandinavia are checking out their local patches.  So, check the Footit website and see how birders are getting slimmer).     

Thursday, 3 January 2013

View from the south end

Lunchtime visit to the southern boundary at Castlecroft Bridge (accessed from the relatively new mini-roundabout where Castlecroft Lane becomes Radford Lane.  Noted the flood by the farm which even had its own moorhen.  Most of the birds were distant and aerial.  They comprised a flock of about 400 feeding on recently ploughed field and featuring 50+ redwing similar numbers of fieldfare and the rest being starlings. 4 greenfinches were also present.
The canal held 4 mute swan two adults and two juveniles.  No doubt these were refugees from Pool Hall where a few weeks ago a Great Northern Diver had spent a few days.  Pool hall does get very heavily fished but is worth a look being about half a mile further south along the canal.
Earlier in the day had calling/singing nuthatch(2), coal tit, great tit, robin, song thrush, and wren on the stretch between Aldersley and Newbridge.  The mild weather really seemed to have got birds into spring mode.
thurs  3 january  2013                early morning 

cloudy dull mild

mid section Newbridge to Compton inc Barleyfield

Quiet again but at least a few more birds singing. The usual route a walk through  the Paddocks then onto the canal at Meccano Bridge to Compton lock,up onto the old railway at Aspine Way then the Barleyfield,back to Compton lock and along the canal back to Meadow View.

Robin                          9 singing
Dunnock                     1 singing Meadow View,
Wren                           3 singing
Song Thrush               7 singing,
Kingfisher                   1 Dashing from Graisley Brook onto Smestow Brook,
Little Grebe                4 including 2 between Prefab weir & Compton lock and 2 below Compton lock,
Great Tit                     3 singing,
Green Woodpecker    1 on old oak in western border at top of Barleyfield, flew off south,
Buzzard                       1 flew west over Compton playing field to Tettenhall Ridge,
Chaffinch                     10+ in Eddys Alders,
Goldfinch                     10+ in Eddys Alders,
Siskin                            3+  in Eddys Alders,
Lesser Redpoll            5+   in Eddys Alders, the most we've had grounded this winter,

Highlights of recent visits

tue  1 january 2013      mid morning

Sparrowhawk               1 flew west low across Barleyfield to Tettenhall Ridge,
Coal Tit                        1 on feeder at Newbridge wharf,

sun  30 December 2012         early morning

Great Spotted Woodpecker        1 in the Paddock,
Kingfisher                                    1 perched on Smestow brook behind Prefabs,

sun 23 December 2012      early morning

Coot                            1 on canal north of Meccano Br, the last sighting of this bird,
Song Thrush               1 singing from rough area between railway and canal, 1st of season,
Grey Wagtail             1 at Prefab Weir,
Nuthatch                    1 calling in the Paddock,

fri 21 December  2012         early morning

Little Grebe               5 on canal between Tettenhall Rd  & Compton Rd,
Coot                           1 on canal north of Meccano Br,
Grey Wagtail            1 at Prefab Weir,
Coal Tit                     1 at Newbridge wharf feeder,
G S Woodpecker      1 at Newbridge wharf feeder

tue 18 December 2012             early morning

Coot                           1 on canal north of Meccano Br,
Kingfisher                  1 on Smestow behind Prefabs,
Dunnock                    1 singing near Meadow View, 1st of season,

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

"Quiet" start to new year

Two walks along the canal in the middle of the valley today and yesterday produced little in the way of unusual sightings but some refreshing song.  Singing robins, and song thrushes were evident, but the highlight was several rooks interacting around the rookery just north of the water bridge (also accessibhle off Aldersley Rd).
Just off the patch was a flock of waxwing on Pendeford avenue, 50 yards north of the shopping parade.  Hard to count although birdguides reported 50 but incredibly easy to see.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


This blog is now live!!! Thank you to Geoff Russon, Angus Dickie, Frank Dickson and Ian Phillips for helping to make this happen.

To new visitors, we hope our blog adds interest to your online Midlands birding experience, and that all local patch bloggers will add us to theirs, in order to strengthen our birding community.

With varied habitat and 178 species recorded, Smestow Valley holds it's own among patches located within a City's borders.Even on quite days the peace and beauty of the valley serve to cleanse the mind and soul!!

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All the best for 2013.