Crakes, Rails & Waders (23 species)

Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
A Winter visitor to the valley with a few records received in most years, along the fringes of the brooks and canals, and also at Dunstall Park (Private land)

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
A healthy population of perhaps 75 birds live and breed in the valley. The species suffered a set-back in 1992, when Mink were known to be active, but multiple broods and an abundance of suitable nesting habitat meant that numbers had recovered from 32 in August 1992 to 80 by December 1997.

Moorhen sitting on nest platform at the
Wildside Activity Centre April 2013

Common Coot (Fulica atra)
Birds have attempted to breed at Dunstall Park (Private land), since the first valley breeding record was received  in 2000 and were last successful in 2007, when 4+ pairs produced 4 fledged young between them. Up to a dozen birds  are regular at this site though a record 34 were present in March 2001. Elsewhere birds are surprisingly scarce, being mainly seen on the canals as birds seek shelter during freezing weather.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
The first valley record was on 7/12/1989, when an immature bird was at Dunstall Park (Private land). It has been recorded almost annually since 2000. In 2003 there was a famous breeding attempt in the valley. On 5/4 one flew into Dunstall Park from the South to join the valley's only ever Brent Goose! After being chased by a Coot, it headed North. Then a pair appeared from 28/4 at the lake and were seen mating on 30/4 and 5/5. Unfortunately on 13/5, they abandoned the site, possibly due to disturbance by foxes. This pair appeared to be the birds that then went on to become the first to breed in the West Midlands County, at Clayhanger Marsh.
A second attempt to breed took place at the lake in 2009. After a single bird was seen on 12/2, a pair was present on 22/2 and 25/2The pair prepared a nest-scrape, mated on 13/4 and were sitting from 22/4. All lucked extremely promising, until on 3/5 a bird was seen trying to recover an egg that had ended up at the base of the island. There were no sign of any other eggs. After some sad displacement preening, the birds headed off low towards Valley Park School. Hopes were again raised in 2010, when a pair, first seen at the lake on 25/3, were seen mating on the island on 31/3. There were however, no further obvious signs of breeding intent, and the last sighting was of them both sleeping on the island on 30/4.

Little Ringed Plover
First recorded at the newly constructed Dunstall Park Lake (Private Land) on 15/5/1994 and immediately a pair produced 4 chicks, one of which survived. Predation frustrated birds and although birds attempted to nest until 2006, the last success was in 1997, when 2 young fledged. By 2009 only 2 passage records were received. However 2010 brought fresh hope with birds staying from 24th May until 3rd July, including 4 displaying birds.

Ringed Plover
First recorded on 15/5/1994 at the newly constructed Dunstall Park Lake (Private land), when 5 were present. Since then 9 records have been received between March and September, The last sighting was of an adult and a juvenile that landed on Dunstall Park Lake during heavy rain on 5/8/2006.

Eurasian Golden Plover
Until 1997, only occasional flocks were seen in and over the valley (500+ heading West over Compton, on 26/3/1995, being an exceptional record, probably involving birds from the Bilston Steelworks wintering site).  However from December 1997 record numbers sheltered from October to February each year, peaking at 2000 during January 2002. By 2006, the gatherings had all but vanished and sadly the bird has been absent from the valley since 2008.

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
One or two pairs attempt to breed annually at Dunstall Park (Private land) and were last successful in 2007.Birds are present at this site all year, only really ever leaving during hard freezes. In January 2004, 700 birds were present. However the species has been challenged and nowadays 175 would be an exceptional count. Elsewhere  birds are occasionally seen overhead during cold-weather movements and birds from the South Staffordshire population may be seen from Wightwick Fields.

The first valley record came on 13/2/1991, when one was observed feeding on the bed of the drained Birmingham Canal below lock 18. Since then, birds have been recorded almost annually. All records have been from Dunstall Park (Private land) and sightings have been had in every month except June. Since 1996 only singles pairs have been seen, but the record maxima stands at 6, in October 2002.

Little Stint
4 records have been received, all juveniles, in September at Dunstall Park (Private land):
20/9/1996 - one
24/9/1996 - 30/9/1996 - two
30/9/1998 - one
14/9/2001 - one

Wood Sandpiper
2 records from Dunstall Park Lake (Private land):
13&14/9/2002 - a juvenile, often feeding with a Common Sandpiper. It flew off SE with 2 Snipe, but had returned within half an hour.
1/7/2003 - A single adult.

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
First recorded over the canal between Newbridge and Aldersley on 15/10/1990, this annual visitor has been recorded in all months except January and May, although July to September is most reliable. At Dunstall Park, numbers of sightings are heavily dependent on water levels and in 2010, low levels produced an exceptional year. Birds were seen virtually daily there from 6th July until 9th September, peaking at 4 birds on 21st August.

Common Sandpiper (actitus hypoleucos)
A Summer migrant encountered from April to September at Dunstall Park (Private land) and occasionally at the edges of the valleys brooks and canals on passage. The earliest Spring record was on 2/4/2000 and the latest Autumn sighting by far was on 17/10/2001. 5 were present on the great "fall" day of 14/5/2007, which filled the valley with migrants, but the record number was 9 at Dunstall Park lake, feeding together on 5/9/2009.

Common Sandpiper between Locks 19 and 20
on Birmingham Canal 28/04/2013

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
A scarce visitor.First recorded on the Smestow brook just North of Tettenhall Road on 4/5/1989. Aside from bumper years in 1996 and 2005, only one or two are recorded in some years. Recent records were of singles at Dunstall Park (Private land), on 12/6/2006, 26/3/2008 and 9/4/2010.

Common Greenshank
A rare passage visitor from March-April and July-September. The first valley record was of one heard calling over the Meccano Bridge/College View  area on the afternoon of 28/8/1989. Since then a further 16 records have been received, the last being on 23/9/2006 at Dunstall Park (Private land) and calls from migrating birds over Lower Green, Tettenhall in the early hours of 31/8/2008. A record 6 including 3+ juveniles were at Dunstall Park on 14/8/2000.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
The first valley record was on 9/8/1992, when one headed low over the playing fields just North of Aldersley Stadium in poor weather. Since then 8 records have been received  all from Dunstall Park (private land) between mid June and late August. The last records were of single juveniles there on 22/8/2010 and again 2 days later , when one was feeding with 2 Common Snipe.

Eurasian Curlew
Recorded 11 times in the valley, the last being 2 birds heading West over Peasley Wood on 20/4/2007. (2 March records, 3 April records, 1 June record, 2 July records, 1 August record, 1 December record and one unknown record pre-1989)

One stayed briefly at Dunstall Park (Private land) on 25/4/2003 and one was heard over this site on 19/7/2007.

The first record in recent years was of one heading North over the Barleyfield  on 6/3/1993, before diving into woods on the Tettenhall College grounds. Recorded almost annually (between November and March), until 2007, when one headed high NE over the Barleyfield on 5/4/2007.

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Numbers at Dunstall Park (Private land) peaked at an astonishing 107 on 8/1/2006, and although numbers have fallen since then, the lake area still attracts good numbers for such a relatively small site.Numbers still regularly exceed 40 during late Winter. Small numbers can be seen along the canals and brooks during freezing conditions.

Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
First recorded in recent times, when 3+ stayed by the Smestow Brook behind houses at Aldersley Road during icy weather from 11/2 - 15/2/1991. Then a bird was flushed from the Smestow Brook North of Wightwick on 30/1/1996, and was seen again on 4/2/1996. All subsequent records from 2001 till 2007 came from Dunstall Park (Private land).The latest involved a bird which stayed there from 27/10 till at least 19/11/2010, providing the first valley record for 3 years. Then one was seen in freezing weather on 24/12/2000 in the Smestow Brook culvert exit by Dunstall Water Bridge, and was watched two days later foraging nearby with a Common Snipe along the Aldersley Stadium section of the brook.

Grey Phalarope
An amazing record for the valley, was of an individual that was seen at first light on the Staffs & Worcs canal at Hordern Road on 31/10/1990. The bird stayed all day feeding close to the towpath, and at one point flying over the waterbridge to feed on the canal bordering the NW edge of Dunstall Park. The bird later returned to the canal section by valley Park School. It;'s colouring suggested that it was an immature, moulting into adult plumage. It departed next day.

First recorded on 27/6/1995, when a non-breeding male stayed all day at Dunstall Park Lake (Private land). September 1996 brought a juvenile male to the site on the 4th, a juvenile female there on the 17th and another stayed from the 25th until 5/10, flying and feeding with the Lapwing flock. On 6/11/2000 one fed on puddles in the central grass area there and our last record was of 2 males at the lake on the evening of 10/9/2001.

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