Warblers (13 species)

Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)
In 2010, singing males were heard  at Dunstall Park (Private land), the Barleyfield (from 3/5 to 3/6), the oak copse near Dunstall Water Bridge, Aldersley Canal Junction, Aldersley Playing Fields, Turner's Field and at Aldersley/Oxley. However despite this activity, the last proof of successful breeding came  in late June 1997, when young were being fed just South of Meccano Bridge. Since then only passage juveniles have been seen in late July and August. The earliest arrival date was on 22/4/2006 and the latest Autumn bird was on 28/9/1989.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Subdued song can be heard from Wintering males, preparing to depart, along the valley from early February to mid-March, particularly from the sheltered sunlit side of ivy-covered trees. Since Summer visitors arrive in late March, it is virtually impossible to tell them apart. Up to 4 birds have Wintered in the valley, and it remains, pretty much an annual occurrence.We have a healthy and stable population. In 1989 it was suggested that there were 20+ pairs in the area and 22 singing males were recorded on 1/5/2004. 22 were in song on 29/4/2009. Most birds tend to have left by late September, but again it is difficult to distinguish between late departing birds and Continental birds arriving for Winter.

Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
Smestow Valley serves as a good stronghold for this species. Even prior to the National spread of the species during the 1990's, we had over 10 pairs nesting in the area. By 2003, this had risen to 20 pairs. The species can suffer crash years as a result of conditions in their Wintering quarters or perhaps due to disasters en-route on migration.. Even so the presence of 23 birds along the valley on 29/4/2009, shows that the population, certainly up till then remained stable. This species is successful as a result of the many scrub areas and wild banks that exist in the reserve, and these must continue to be managed and preserved. The earliest arrival was on 11/4/1997 and the latest sighting was on 28/9/1988.

Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)
Four pairs were suspected to have nested locally in 2003, but since then there has been no proof of successful breeding, despite a good run of singing males most years. 2010,was no exception with birds heard at their Dunstall Park (Private land), Barleyfield and Aldersley/Oxley traditional sites, but also near Lock 18 on the Birmingham canal and by the pine tree hill at Wightwick Mill Lock. The earliest arrival date was on 17/4/1996 and latest departure was on 22/9/2002.

Sedge Warbler (Acrpcephalus schoenobaenus)
Although birds were suspected to have bred South of Compton up until 1997, the last actual proof came  in 1992, when a pair raised 4 young near Wightwick. Hopes were raised in 2007, when a male sang just North of Windmill Lane from late April to mid-May, but the bird then disappeared. The species' decline is further evidenced by the fact that there have bean no Autumn sightings since 2004. The greatest number recorded was on the great "fall" day of 14/5/2007, when there were 5 at Aldersley/Oxley, one on Aldersley Playing Fields and one at Dunstall Park (Private land). The earliest Spring record of 19/4/1988 at Aldersley/Oxley, was matched when a male was singing at Dunstall Park Lake on the same date in 2010. The latest departure was on 15/9/1991.

Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia)
Records of this species have been sporadic over the years. After records in 1988 and 1993, a pair were thought to have possible bred in the Southern section near the Bridgnorth Road in 1996. In 1998 there were 3 April records and in 1999 the only sighting of the year broke the West Midlands Bird Club record  for the latest date of this species, when a probable immature preened and roosted at the edge of Dunstall Park (Private land) on 2/10/1999, busting the previous record of 26/9/1976. Spring records came from the Aldersley/Oxley and Birmingham canal areas in 2002, 2004 and 2009. In 2010 3 were present at a traditional passage site at the bottom of the Birmingham canal lock flight at Aldersley/Oxley on 16/4. Singles were present there on 17/4 and 19/4, with 2 "reeling" there on 24/4. Elsewhere, one was seen and heard singing from 3/7 to 7/7 on the rough grass slope between Compton Park Playing Fields and the old line of the Graisley Brook, next to the Barleyfield. The earliest arrival date was on 15/4/1993.

Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Small numbers of this species were recorded annually from 1988 until 1997. A single record came in 1999, 2 in 2001,and 1 in 2004. 2007 brought a bumper year with 4 Spring records from the North section and a single on 19/8/2007 at Dunstall Park (Private land). There was then an absence until a single record came in 2010, when a bird was singing in bushes by the Smestow Brook run-off weir at Dunstall Park in dull, blustery conditions on 10/6. the earliest Spring record was on 17/4/1996 and the latest return-passage record was on 25/9/1988, when a bird was caught and ringed at Newbridge Paddock.

Marsh Warbler

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilis)
As with most African migrants, numbers have fluctuated in the valley over the years. In 1988 it was recorded as most abundant breeding warbler on the reserve. 18 were recorded on the 26/4/1992 census day.. Numbers then started to decline and by 2000, numbers of singing birds were struggling to reach double-figures. In 2003, 7+ were in song during mid-April. However 2004 brought a return to the old days when 15 males were singing by the end of April. Since then numbers have remained modest and a further signal of decline has been the recent record of singing birds at the Barleyfield: 6 in 2007, 3 in 2009 and just 2 by 2012. The earliest Spring record was on 25/3/1990 and the latest Autumn bird was seen on 25/9/2000.

Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
The first valley record was of a bird singing near Meccano Bridge in April 1988. On 29/4/1989 one was heard and seen by Dunstall Water Bridge. 1992 brought two August records: one was with a feeding band just South of Meccano Bridge on 15th and another was with a feeding band in the NW corner of Dunstall Park (Private land) on 18th. A record came from Hawthorn Wood, near Hordern Road on 24/7/1993 and another was in a back garden of a Henwood Road House, just South of the old station at Newbridge. Another member of a feeding band was spotted  between the Barleyfield and Compton Park on 23/7/2002. The valley's only record of a singing bird came on 4/5/2007, when one was noted in Silver Birches at the Southern end of the Barleyfield, near Compton Hill Drive.
a bird seen from near Compton canal lock in railway cutting trees near Alpine Way on 7/4/2010 was observed for over 20 minutes, holding company with a female Brambling!!!

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
This species has had the opposite fortunes to those of the Willow Warbler. In 1988 a pair bred for the first time in years at Hordern Road Bridge. By the late 1990's, nesting was suspected at 5 sites and by 2002, up to 17 pairs were breeding in the valley. A record 31 males were singing in March 2004, after which time numbers stabilised, with 28 songsters present in April 2009. The number of birds Wintering has increased over the years and have been recorded almost annually since 2000. Arrival and departure dates are therefore hard to ascertain, though most birds are in by late March and are present well into October.

Yellow-browed Warbler
A bird seen and heard briefly in blustery conditions by the Smestow Brook in the Paddock South of the old station at Newbridge on the morning of 25/10/1998, was thought to have moved on. However it was found next day at the same site , offering tantalising brief glimpses, until around lunchtime. This visit was only the 5th ever record in the entire West Midlands Bird Club region, of this tiny Siberian bird, and the first to be recorded in the Wolverhampton-Birmingham conurbation.

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
The numbers of these birds are heavily dependent on the severity of our Winters. The harsh 1986/87 Winter all but eradicated the bird from the valley and after a steady recovery a freezing February of 1991 decimated numbers again with just 2 records had for the rest of the year. By 1995 birds had again recovered and were noted all year.Needless to say, therefore that the recent run of mild Winters has favored this species. A record 5 pairs were thought to have bred locally in 2004 and in January 2007 up to 17 birds were spread across the area. Luckily, despite two freezing Winters, birds continued to be seen in smaller numbers in 2010.

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