Wrens, Chats & Thrushes (14 species)

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
A common Resident across the Valley. A census in April 1993 recorded 88 birds in the area and in February 2000 82 were counted. 17 were singing in the mid-section alone on 26/5/2008, between Newbridge and Compton.

Wren near Compton Lock April 2013.

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
A census in March 1988 produced 59 birds. 48 were recorded in September 1993 and 41 were noted in March 2000, suggesting a declining species, reflecting the 30% national decline since 1970. 11 birds were singing between Newbridge and Compton/Compton Park in April 2009 and at least 10 were in voice on the same section of the reserve on 19/2/2010.

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
The valley has a good and apparently stable population. A census in March 1988 recorded 47 birds. 73 were present in September 1993 and a record 85 were had in February 2000. 15 sang in the mid-section alone, between Newbridge and Compton/Compton Park in February 2009 and at least 19 were heard in the same area on 16/3/2010.

Common Redstart
A passage migrant, recorded in April and from July to September. It was recorded annually between 1988 and 1994. There was then an absence until 1997, before being seen annually again from 2002 through to 2009. The last Spring record was on 18/4/2004. The earliest arrival date was on 17/4/2004 and latest Spring record was on 29/4/1989. The earliest Autumn bird was seen on 3/7/1990 and the latest departure was on 11/9/2006.

Black Redstart
There have been 3 valley records, all in April:
4/4/1992 - a female was seen on the line of Graisley Brook at the North end of the Barleyfield. It hawked from trees and shrubs in the caretaker's garden, but disappeared mid-afternoon.
12/4/1993 - a female hawked from the rungs of a platform on the Eastern edge of Dunstall Park (Private land). It moved to a pile of rubble and fed from the ground with 3 Wheatear, before disappearing into the grounds of a factory by the Farndale estate.
19/4/1997 - a 1st Winter male hawked from the track railings at the North end of the Dunstall Park. It showed faint white wing patches and a darkish head patch and was heard performing subdued song.

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
The valley has seen a massive decline in the number of passage birds recorded. In 2004, as many as 84 birds passed through and on 17/4 that year there were 31 birds present at Dunstall Park (Private land) and 4 at Wightwick Fields. On the great "fall" day of 14/5/2007 there were 21 at Dunstall Park and 3 at the Barleyfield. In 2008, for the first year there were no Autumn records and only around 17 birds passed through in the Spring. In 2009, there were only 2 Spring and 3 Autumn records. 2010 brought 4 records, 3 in April and one in September.The earliest Spring arrival was on 16/3/1989 and the latest on 11/6/1995. The earliest return passage record was a Juvenile on 16/7/2007 and the latest bird was on 26/10/1990. Males showing characteristics of the larger and brighter Greenland race were noted on 30/4/2005, 1/5/2005 and also on the great "fall" day of 14/5/2007, when 3 were noted at Dunstall Park.

Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
Passage birds are recorded annually during April and May and then again from July  to September. Unfortunately, this is yet another species that is showing signs of a significant decline. In 1989 there were 15 records and in 1991, 13. Sadly, since 1999, there have been fewer than 10 annual records and since 2008, 3 or less. The great "fall" day of 14/5/2007 saw a record number of grounded birds, with 10 on the Lupin Field, 2 at Dunstall Park (Private land) and 5 on the Barleyfield!! 2010 saw only one record of an immature bird at the Barleyfield on 21/8. The earliest Spring record was on 12/4/1993 and the latest Autumn record was an immature on 26/10/1999.

Despite an absence in 2010, records show that this is one of the few non-Raptors, that has been on the increase. After the first local record of a male feeding on the edge of the drained Birmingham canal on 8/3/1988, there were no further records until males were noted during October 1993 and 1994. There was a further absence until 19/2/1998, when a male was at Turner's Field by Smestow School. Single annual records were had until 2002, when a pair remained at Wightwick Fields from 13/1 till 8/3. They were briefly joined by an immature female on 11/2 and a male on 2/3. A pair then stayed again at Wightwick Fields from 12/12/2002 until 7/1/2003, with the male remaining until 21/2/2003. The Winter of 2005/06 saw two long-staying pairs in the valley, at Wightwick Fields and the Barleyfield. 2006/07 saw the last Wintering pair at Wightwick Fields, and since then there has only been one Spring record and two Autumn records. The latest Spring record was on 13/5/2000 and the earliest Autumn record was of an immature bird on the Lupin Field on 25/9/2006.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
This species continues to buck the National Trend, and the valley's population remains healthy. 37 were recorded during a census conducted in January 1988. 32 were recorded in November 1995. Spring counts suggest that there are at least 10 pairs nesting in the valley and on 4/2/2010 there were at least 7 singing birds between Newbridge and Compton/Compton Park, alone. Subdued song has been heard in September and full song has been heard in late October.Migrants can be seen overhead from September to November, with the largest flock of 11 seen heading over Aldersley in September 2006.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
Autumn migration can be spectacular over the valley and on 27/10/2006, the West Midlands record was smashed when 4,380 Redwing passed over Wightwick Fields, during the first few hours after dawn. Numbers since have been more modest with the highest count being 1,640 in October 2009. Late Winter counts on the ground and in bushes have also been impressive in the past. 600+ were recorded during a January census in 1988 and 1000+ were present in February 1996. Since then the highest count was 113 on Compton Park in February 2009. The latest departure date was on 23/4/2006 and the earliest Autumn record was on 26/9/1993.

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
Up to 6 pairs are thought to breed each year across the valley. Post-breeding gatherings have been impressive with the record standing at 51 birds at Dunstall Park (Private land) in June 1991 and 47 were there in August 2007. Mistle Thrushes start nesting as early as February and defend their territories from October and November.

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Numbers of this species are influenced by the stock of berries available and the severity of the weather, which may force more birds South. 300+ were recorded between Compton and Wightwick  in February 1996 and more than 300 Winter Thrushes, the majority Fieldfare, foraged on the Southern end of Wightwick Fields on 31/12/2010. Dawn sky watches from Castlecroft Canal Bridge have produced good numbers of passage birds in Autumn, with 663 on one morning in November 2006 and 577 in October 2009, being noteworthy.The latest departing bird was on 2/5/1991 and the earliest Autumn bird was on 11/10/1988.

Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Breeding season censuses have recorded up to 98 birds in the valley. However, numbers have been boosted by the arrival of continental birds in Winter, as demonstrated by counts of 314 in January 1988 and 200+ in November 1991. Although no censuses have been carried out , since 1995, it seems that the run of mild Winters have reduced the numbers of these annual invaders. These Autumn migrants can be seen overhead with flocks of between 20 and 40 recorded on 20/10/2008, passing South over the Barleyfield.

Ring Ouzel 
A passage migrant recorded mainly in April over the years, but also in May, September and October. The second valley record came on 11/4/1988 when a male was on the field by the Birmingham Canal alongside Dunstall Park. A male on Dunstall Park (Private land) on 16/4/1992, sparked a string of annual records until 1997, when there were no further sightings until 2004, when there was a bumper year with a record 3 birds in the vicinity of Wightwick Fields.Our last records came in 2006, with one at Dunstall Park on 9/4 and a male seen over the racecourse on 23/10, before landing on Aldersley Playing Fields. A male was also seen on 3 dates in late October of the same year.  The eariest Arrival date 6/4/1993 and the latest Spring record was on 7/5/1994, when a male was at The Dell. The earliest Autumn record was on 28/9/1995 at the Barleyfield and the latest was  on 30/10/2006 at Wightwick Fields.

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