Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A good mix of species but not great numbers

29th July 15            early morning                mid section

mostly sunny,  8-15°c,  1008- 1011mb,  W 2- NW 8 mph

At 7 o'clock this morning I thought it were September, misted up car windows,heavy dew and pretty cold. Walking through the Paddocks I think someone had turned the sound off, but once on the Barleyfield things started to pick up, with 4 blackcap greeting me in the Shrike Bushes and as the sun performed its magic so I began to see some birds. Another immature willow warbler along with an adult was by the old oak tree at the top of the western border.

Sparrowhawk 1♀ circling to the south of the Barleyfield
Buzzard 1 over Barleyfield
Moorhen 1 brood 1+1 imm Meadow View,
Black Headed Gull 18 Compton Field
Stock Dove 1 over Top Roses
Swift odds over Tettenhall Ridge
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 >> E over Barleyfield
House Martin 20+ over Barleyfield
Wren 4 singing mid section
Song Thrush 1 singing Station Paddock
Whitethroat 1+ Hanging Grds
Blackcap 7 Barleyfield
Chiffchaff 3 Barleyfield
Willow Warbler 2( 1 imm ) 1 imm Hanging Grds, prob same imm + 1 ad  Annex oak,
Goldcrest 1 1 Station Paddock with tit flock,
Long Tailed Tit few small flock Station Paddock
Coal Tit 1 1 Station Paddock with tit flock,
Jay 1 Annex Barleyfield
Greenfinch calls Annex Barleyfield
Goldfinch calls mid section
Bullfinch 4+ ( 1 imm ) mid section
Small Tortoiseshell 2 Barleyfield
Small Skipper few Barleyfield
Essex Skipper 3+ Barleyfield
Comma 1 Barleyfield
Meadow Brown few Barleyfield
Gatekeeper 2+ Barleyfield
Ringlet few Barleyfield
Banded Demoiselle 1 Hanging Grds
Blue Tailed Damselfly 1 Wetlands

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Newbridge,   July 28th  2015

Chat show at lake

as city show exits

The tents are packed away, the fairground rides are gone, the giant screens have vanished, the music stage has been dismantled and there’s now no trace of what for two days turned Dunstall Park into a cross between Alton Towers and Brighton pier.  The annual City Show, moved this year  for the first time from West Park to the racecourse, was rightly a weekend fun time for many (not, as it transpired, for as many as the organisers had hoped for) but a worry for those who care about the wildlife living on and around one of Wolverhampton’s largest green spaces.  But, credit to Arena Leisure who run the site, within 24 hours the whole area was spick and span, cleared of clutter and litter and ready for a race meeting on the very next day.  So as we move into the second half of summer, for birds, animals, insects and plants it’s business as usual . . .

Mid-summer highlights at the racecourse have involved two birds not seen at the site for some years.  For looks alone it was no contest, a superb male Whinchat by the lake on July 15th.  Return passage has started for this migrant species leaving its scattered breeding sites in the West Midlands for wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa.  Regional nesting numbers dropped sharply in the 1980s, and nesting is now largely confined to northern moorlands.  Local records have been few in recent years, but an astonishing total of 17 were found along the Smestow Valley on May 14th 2007 after an overnight “fall” of migrant birds, including unprecedented numbers of Wheatears and Sedge Warblers (the number of Whinchat recorded for that year was 25).  Less striking but just as welcome at the racecourse this summer was a Reed Warbler, heard and seen intermittently in lakeside vegetation in dull and blustery conditions on June 28th.  Its visit constituted only the second record for the site, the first being a bird singing there, again in inclement weather, on June 10th 2010.  Breeding records for the lake have been boosted by the success of two pairs of Little Grebe, with at least two adult-sized youngsters seen in recent weeks.  At least two pairs of Coot have produced young, and two small Moorhen chicks seen with their parents at the lake on July 25th were proof of nesting.

It seems sadly that 2015 is turning out to be another year of failed Mute Swan breeding at the racecourse.  Of the five hatched cygnets only one was present at the end of last week, and the body of one its siblings in the lake and the disappearance of the adults and third surviving youngster suggested a sudden and calamitous intervention by a predator, possibly a fox.  Small numbers of adult and young Grey Heron, almost certainly from the Pendeford Mill nature reserve breeding colony, are visiting the lake, where up to 24 Mallard have been resting as adults go into moult.  Two Shoveler were on the lake on July 19th, a male Tufted Duck was present on July 7th, a single Teal was seen on July 27th, foraging Canada Geese totalled 38 on July 25th, the same day as a Greylag left the lake towards the north west, a Reed Bunting sang in lakeside bushes on July 3rd and House Sparrow and Starling have been using the lake island as a bathing/preening station.  Two juvenile Grey Wagtail fed along the shoreline on June 21st and 30th, and single Chiffchaff were singing in lakeside bushes on July 15th and 21st.
Wader passage is under way, with birds able to feed and preen along the lake shoreline.  Three Little Ringed Plover adults were present on June 21st and 28th, two Green Sandpiper were seen on July 15th and 19th, and the first Common Sandpiper seen at the lake since 2011 was noted on July 21st.  Lapwing are arriving to rest and feed on the central grass area, with 57 counted on July 25th, alongside an increasing number of gulls:  around 70 Black-headed Gull, including three juveniles, on July 19th and nine Lesser Black-backed Gull (including four juveniles) on July 27th. 
Elsewhere on the racecourse, four juvenile Linnet foraging with adults in a drainage ditch near the grandstand on June 10th were proof of successful nesting at the top of the sloped grass fields below the nearby railway carriageworks at Oxley.  A Pied Wagtail pair have again nested in the hotel precinct, and House Martin and Barn Swallow youngsters have fledged in the hotel/stables area.  Raptor presence has been intermittent, but Common Buzzard adults, some now increasingly ragged in appearance as the summer progresses, are starting to call up their young, a female Kestrel hovered over the bottom of the Birmingham Canal locks on July 19th before perching on a racecourse floodlight pylon, and a female Sparrowhawk tried for and missed a small bird low over the lake on July 15th.

Reports from elsewhere along the valley include four Raven circling together over Aldersley/Oxley on July 19th at the same time as a fifth flew low towards the north west.  Twelve Swift were screaming over their Newbridge nest site at dusk on June 26th, while 12 or more House Martin hawked over the same area late on July 25th.  At least one juvenile Coal Tit was with a group of ten-plus adult and juvenile Long-tailed Tits in a garden by Newbridge playingfield on July 17th.  At least one juvenile Robin has been a daily visitor to the same garden, where young Dunnock and House Sparrow have been fed by adults, and a Collared Dove was seen perched on July 19th and 21st.  A singing Goldcrest was heard in a playingfield conifer next to the same garden on July 1st and 2nd.

PS.  Worst fears over the racecourse swans have been realised.  A check yesterday found no trace of the third cygnet on or near the lake, so it seems the first breeding attempt at the site for five years has failed (a pair built a nest in 2010 but abandoned it before eggs were laid).  Successful nesting took place annually from 2001 to 2005 with a total of 16 cygnets fledged.  In 2006 a nest was abandoned after seven eggs were laid, and in 2007 three cygnets died after being abandoned by their parents.
(NB.   Dunstall Park is a closed commercial site.  Access is strictly controlled).

Monday, 27 July 2015

First immature willow warbler this year

27th July 15           morning               mid section

mostly cloudy,  14-16°c,  996mb,  WSW 8-15 mph

The only interest today was my first lovely lemon yellow immature willow warbler this year and I think the first for the valley. Otherwise very quiet, Ian visited earlier and it seems had more action but still struggled.
Two identical mallard broods with two juvs each and of similar age but at opposite ends of the patch.
A few nice fresh comma and gatekeeper butterfly, along with mostly worn and faded meadow brown and ringlets.

Mallard 2 broods 1♀+2 juv Meadow View,    1♀ + 2 juv  Prefabs ( brook)
Moorhen 2 broods 2 imm Wetlands,   4 imm Prefabs,
Black Headed Gull 54 Compton Field
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Swift odds over Tettenhall Ridge
Swallow 1 Compton Field
House Martin plenty Barleyfield
Wren 3 singing Paddocks
Blackcap 1♀ Meccano Br
Chiffchaff 1 calling Station Paddock
Willow Warbler 1 imm Hanging Grds X
Chaffinch 1♂ The Paddock
Goldfinch 8+ mid section
Bullfinch 4 Hanging Grds
Comma 3 Barleyfield
Meadow Brown plenty Barleyfield
Gatekeeper few Barleyfield
Ringlet plenty Barleyfield
Small White few Barleyfield

Sunday, 26 July 2015


and on a quick visit this morning before the rain set in a parakeet flew high from the direction of tettenhall ridge directly towards west park.
Only other bird of note was a seemingly moulting female grey wagtail by this years nest site.
Not surprisingly plenty of aerial feeders mainly house martin buy a few swift and two swallows.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

It felt like autumn stirring this morning

25th July 15           morning               mid section

mostly cloudy,  12-15°c,  1014mb,  NW 11 mph

Only one singing bird (song thrush ) today, but  more activity than the last few days with family parties of whitethroat,blackcap and chaffinch. Nothing unusual yet but it's early days for autumn passage.
The parakeet was heard calling from the fir trees near Meccano bridge and then it arched north over Compton field almost following the line of the canal. Our parakeets spent most of last winter in and around West Park defending a tree with a possible nest hole which was blown down in storms around January. They were not seen again until Ian had them flying over Crowther Rd on 22nd Jan, but for the last two weeks local birders have reported them back at the park again, I had one today and one last saturday so are they the same pair or have we got more??

Mallard 1♀ Wetlands
Moorhen 2 broods 1+1 imm  Wetlands,   1+1 imm  Meadow View,
Black Headed Gull 15 ( 1 juv ) Compton Field
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Ring Necked Parakeet 1 over 1 calling then flew  N across Compton playing field,
Swift 2 over Tettenhall Ridge
Green Woodpecker calls Tettenhall Ridge
Swallow 1 over Compton Field
House Martin 30+ over Barleyfield
Song Thrush 1 singing Hanging Grds 
Whitethroat 4 (family) Hanging Grds 
Blackcap 3+ ( family ) Hanging Grds 
Chiffchaff calls Station Paddock,   Graiseley Culvert,
Long Tailed Tit calls Hanging Grds
Jay 1 >> to Lower Alders
Chaffinch 3♂ 1♀ 2 juv 1♂ Meccano Grds,  2♂+1♀+2 juv ( family ) Hanging Grds
Greenfinch 4 Hanging Grds
Goldfinch calls Hanging Grds
Bullfinch calls Hanging Grds

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Another very quiet morning

23rd July 15          morning                mid section

cloudy,  12-14°c,   1017mb,   SW 4-7 mph

Roll on the autumn, next to nothing showing or singing today and definitely nothing unusual .
Good to see the moorhen brood near the Prefabs still intact.

Mallard few Staffs & Wocs
Moorhen 2 broods 1+2 full grown juv Wetlands,  1+4 well grown juv Perfabs,
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Stock Dove 1 Wetland Fields
House Martin 3 over Meadow View
Wren 1 singing Station Paddock
Dunnock 2 singing Station Paddock
Song Thrush 1 singing Station Paddock
Whitethroat calls Shrike Bushes
Blackcap 1 singing Compton Rough
Chiffchaff 3 ( 1 singing ) mid section
Chaffinch 2 Top Roses
Greenfinch 3 (2 singing) mid section
Goldfinch 5 ( 1 singing ) mid section

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Hardly any song today

18th July 15            early morning                mid section

sunny & warm,   9-16°c,  1015mb,  S 6-SW 13 mph,

Birding was hard work today with very little song to guide us and lots of foliage to disappear into. The ring-necked-parakeet was heard calling in the Paddocks and then flew across towards the gardens of Henwood Rd. A few blackcap and whitethroat were around the lower Barleyfield and a sparrowhawk flew over to the north east as did a great spotted woodpecker. An adult and juvenile goldcrest was in the hedgerow between the canal and the Paddocks.

Mallard few Staffs & Wocs
Sparrowhawk 1♂ >> NE over Barleyfield
Moorhen 2 broods 1 juv Meadow View,   1 + 3 juv Prefabs,
Black Headed Gull 11 Compton Field
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Ring Necked Parakeet 1 >> W over The Paddock
Swift odds over mid section
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 >> N over Hanging Grds 
House Martin odds over Barleyfield
Pied Wagtail 1 Compton Field
Wren 2 singing mid section
Whitethroat 3+ Barleyfield
Blackcap 2 singing Barleyfield
Chiffchaff 2 singing mid section
Goldcrest 2 ( 1 imm ) 2 ( 1 ad + 1 imm ) in trees btw canal /Paddock,
Chaffinch pair Hanging Grds
Goldfinch 7 4 Paddocks,   3  Wetlands,
Bullfinch pair Barleyfield

Friday, 17 July 2015

Kestrel returns (again) and grey wagtail a&s (at last)

17th July 15           morning                mid section

mostly cloudy,warm, 17-18°c, 1008mb,  SW 8-10 mph

The kestrel we had over most of last winter was a 1st winter male ( ie born last summer ) the bird I had today was a 1st summer male ( ie 1 year old, born last summer. get it )( I know it's confusing, wait till we get into the gull family, ie 1w, 1s, 1cy, 2w and on and on. the bigger gulls have 4 years as immatures ) anyway. Its likely that its the same individual that has paid us a visit two or three times over this spring/summer.
  The grey wagtail on the brook by the Prefabs looks like the male of the pair that nested near Meccano bridge earlier this year. At last i've had a front on view before it's flown off today.
   Apart from the above it's been a very quiet day, indeed week.
News from wed 15th.  a family of 8 mistle thrush were on the field east of the Wetlands before being flushed.

Mallard few Staffs & Wocs
Kestrel 1 1s ♂ 1  1s ♂  hunting over Barleyfield,
Moorhen 2 juv 1 juv Wetlands,   1 juv Prefabs,
Black Headed Gull 13 Compton Field
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Swift odds over mid section
Swallow 1 over The Paddock
House Martin 20+ mid section
Grey Wagtail 1♂ 1 washed out ♂ ( from Sb nest ? ) Smestow  Prefabs,
Wren 4 singing mid section
Dunnock 1 singing The Paddock
Blackbird 2 singing 1 Paddocks,  1 Barleyfield,
Song Thrush 2 singing The Paddock
Mistle Thrush 4 ( 2+ imm ) Wetland Fields
Whitethroat calls Hanging Grds,
Blackcap 1 singing Hanging Grds 
Chiffchaff 3 singing mid section
Long Tailed Tit c6 Station Paddock
Chaffinch 2 ( 1♂) Graiseley Culvert,
Goldfinch few mid section

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Our pool needs some fish

14th July 15           early morning               mid section

O/cast occ shower,  14°c,   1015mb,     N 2-NNW 3 mph

Ian had a kingfisher on the Wetland site on saturday and I had one seemingly fishing today ( don't think there's any fish though ) so it's found our pool. It would be good if we could stock it with some small fish.
    The weather played its part this morning, not the best, so I was not surprised that not much was going on with the locals but something a little more special may be forced to seek shelter from the rain of the last couple of days. Unfortunately it no such luck.

Mallard 1 brood ♀+ 3 small chicks on brook  Smestow Bridge,
Moorhen 1 brood 1+ 2 juv  Wetlands,
Black Headed Gull 4 over Wetlands
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Stock Dove 3 2 >> N over Shrike Bushes,   1 Wetlands,
Swift odds over Barleyfield
Kingfisher 1 1♂ Wetlands  fishing ? Off walkway 08:05, 
House Martin 1 Barleyfield
Wren 5 singing mid section
Dunnock 5 singing mid section
Blackbird 3 singing Barleyfield
Song Thrush 3 singing mid section
Mistle Thrush 1 imm Wetlands Field
Whitethroat 3 Shrike Bushes
Blackcap 8 (4 singing ) Barleyfield
Chiffchaff 5 singing mid section
Chaffinch 1♂ Shrike Bushes
Greenfinch 3 ( 1 singing ) Top Roses
Goldfinch 5 (2 singing ) Barleyfield
Bullfinch 5 mid section
Meadow Brown 2 Barleyfield
Ringlet few Barleyfield

Saturday, 11 July 2015

None stop birdin with butterflies 

11th July 15           early morning              mid section

mostly sunny & warm,  14-17°c,  1015mb,  SW 4-7 mph

A walk round with Ian, at times there were too many birds to get to grips with. Not sure how many whitethroats we had together in the Shrike Bushes, how many goldfinches at top of Barleyfield or goldcrests near the Paddocks.Not much going on at the pool, just 1 adult and two juvenile moorhens and a few small damselflies ( common blue and blue tailed ) but when we reached the top of the Barleyfield there was an explosion of small birds buzzing around, all common but all need going through just in case! Probably about 14 goldfinches scattered around the mid section and two different parties of goldcrest near the Paddocks, at least 3 including 2 juveniles in the firs near Smestow bridge and then 2 adults halfway along the Paddocks by the railway walk.

Grey Heron 1 >> W over Barleyfield
Mallard 1 brood ♀+ 2 chks  Meadow View,
Moorhen 1 brood 1 + 2 juv  Wetlands,
Black Headed Gull 21 ( 1 imm ) Compton Field
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Stock Dove 1 >> E to Wetlands
Swift 10+ over Barleyfield
House Martin 3+ over Barleyfield
Wren 8 singing mid section
Dunnock 6 singing mid section
Blackbird 1 singing The Paddock
Song Thrush 3 singing mid section
Whitethroat 2 singing Shrike Bushes
Blackcap 6 singing mid section
Chiffchaff 4 singing mid section
Goldcrest 5 mid section
Long Tailed Tit 1 Smestow Bridge
Greenfinch 3+ Top Roses
Goldfinch 3 singing mid section
Bullfinch 2 pair Barleyfield
Small Tortoiseshell few Barleyfield
Large skipper 1 Barleyfield
Comma 2 Barleyfield
Speckled Wood 1 Station Paddock
Meadow Brown 3+ Barleyfield
Ringlet plenty Barleyfield
Small White 1 Barleyfield

Friday, 10 July 2015

We seem to be in the mid summer mire

10 July 15           mid morning               mid section

cloudy start,sunny & warm later, 17-20°c, 1020mb,  SSW 8-S 11 mph

Very quiet again today. I've been on the school run most of this week so it's a later than usual start. It really does look like the early birder catches the birds.
      Good to see the two moorhen broods back to usual numbers and the mallard with 4 new chicks has traveled from Compton to Tettenhall.
    It's unusual to find so many swifts and house martins feeding over the Barleyfield in this fine settled weather, Don't see them until rain and overcast conditions occur.
   We may have some thundery rain tonight, lets see what that brings.

Mallard 1 brood ♀ + 4  v/small chks ( the PFw brood) Meadow View,
Moorhen 2 broods pr + 3 juv Wetlands,   pr + 4 juv Prefabs,
Black Headed Gull 2 1 ad Compton playing field,  1 ad  Wetlands field,
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Swift 10+ over Barleyfield
House Martin c20 over Barleyfield
Wren 4 singing mid section
Dunnock 2 singing mid section
Blackbird 4 singing mid section
Whitethroat 1♂ Shrike Bushes
Blackcap 8 singing mid section
Chiffchaff 3 singing mid section
Chaffinch 1 singing Meccano Br
Goldfinch calls Wetlands
Small Tortoiseshell few Barleyfield
Speckled Wood 1 Station Paddock
Meadow Brown 1 Barleyfield
Ringlet plenty Barleyfield
Small White 1 Barleyfield

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Well the birding didn't spoil the sunshine

9th July 15             mid morning                mid section

sunny & warm,   12-15°c,   1023mb,  NW 9-8 mph

I love this weather, sunny with a fresh NW breeze. No good for finding scares birds but a pleasure to watch the locals.
       The whitethroat family performed well in the Shrike Bushes but didn't sing ( it did for Ian earlier ).
Spent a pleasant half an hour watching dragonflies and damselflies on the Wetland pool but only had one juvenile moorhen. There was also only one juvenile with an adult on the canal just south of  Prefab weir? there should be four at both sites. A new mallard brood of 4 recently fledged chicks was a little further north at the weir. The elusive grey wagtail was again on the weir, but before I could get anywhere near it was off over the canal towards the Graiseley Brook, so no age or sex again. Interestingly Ian had two ( 1 ad ♀ + 1 fairly recently fledged juvenile ) at the Water Bridge yesterday, We're not sure whether this is a second pair.

Grey Heron 1 imm 1 imm flew N to Prefab weir,
Mallard 1 brood ♀ + 4   1 or 2 day old chks  PFw,
Buzzard 1 >> S along Valley
Moorhen 1 juv only ( spent 30mins here watching dragenflys) others could be in the vegetatian )  Wetlands,  1+ 1 imm  maybe the other 3 are hiding  Prefabs,  1+ 1 imm Prefab weir,
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Swift 15+ over Barleyfield
House Martin 10+ over Barleyfield
Grey Wagtail 1 Prefab Weir
Wren 5 singing mid section
Dunnock 7 singing mid section
Robin 2 singing mid section
Blackbird 4 singing mid section
Whitethroat pr + 2 juv Shrike Bushes
Blackcap 11 (8 singing) mid section
Chiffchaff 5 singing mid section
Jay 1 >> E to Central Scrub
Chaffinch 1 singing Meccano Br
Bullfinch pair Barleyfield
Small Tortoiseshell few Barleyfield
Comma 2 mid section
Speckled Wood few mid section
Ringlet plenty Barleyfield

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


Two grey wagtails this morning at the water bridge were a female and a juvenile.  although the latter was clearly capable of feeding itself it was receiving food from its parent.  were these our known breeders from by the meccano????
2 chiffchaff and a blackcap sang in the hawthorn wood but little else to report.
Back to sunday sitting on the bench at the top of the field gave me good views (and hearings) of the garden warbler as well as a female whitethroat and accompanying young.
family parties of 5 goldfinch and 5 greenfinch were actively feeding as well as a chiffy.
A walk back thru the school/training ground proved fruitless in terms of the black redstart but did elicit a distant calling raven.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Another cloudy and quiet morning

7 July 15           morning               mid section

cloudy,  16°c,    1007mb,    SW 8-13 mph

The whitethroat in the Shrike Bushes seem to be on a second brood, a pair were seen visiting an area constantly, though I didn't see any food or nest material being delivered. Also what appeared to be a immature was seen dumping a faecal sac ( poo ). The male or maybe another was singing near by.
            The moorhens at the Wetland site caused Ian and myself some head scratching a couple of weeks ago when we couldn't decide whether we had 1 or 2 broods, its been looking more like just a single brood since, but this morning the matter was solved when I ( and some of  their offspring ) witnessed the two adults copulating.
     Two grey wagtail at the Prefab spill weir briefly, were again unable to be aged or sexed.

Mallard 1 brood ♀+ 8 nr f/grown imm ( WL9 )  PF,
Moorhen pr copulating + 3 juv Wetlands,  pr + 4 imm Prefabs,
Black Headed Gull 2 ( 1 imm ) Compton Field
Lesser Black Backed Gull odds over mid section
Swift odds over Barleyfield
House Martin 6+ Barleyfield
Grey Wagtail 2 Prefab Weir
Wren 7 singing mid section
Dunnock 5 singing mid section
Robin present mid section
Blackbird 4 singing mid section
Song Thrush 2 singing mid section
Whitethroat pr + 1 imm c/f-sac + visiting nest site  Shrike Bushes,  another singing  SB east,
Blackcap 6 ( 4 singing ) mid section
Chiffchaff 5 singing mid section
Chaffinch 1 singing Meccano Br
Greenfinch 1 singing Compton Rough
Goldfinch 2 ( 1 ad ) Top Roses