Follow by Email

Monday, 15 January 2018

An occasional visitor drops in!

Ray Fellows was over the Marsh this afternoon and had views of one of the species that you can only connect with by chance, a male Peregrine Falcon. The bird was seen flying across towards the Railswood area from the Mere this afternoon.

Winter is the best time to connect in my opinion as the birds from Walsall Town Hall are noticeable by their absence as I suspect they get fed-up of a diet of non-stop Feral Pigeon and spend time hunting around us and in the Goscote Valley (I don't think its a coincidence that we get huge flocks of Woodpigon around at this time of year).

Well done Ray, a nice bird for the year list - Chaz

Sunday, 14 January 2018

All about eights today

I fancied a change this morning, a bit of an easier walk, so I decided to pay one of my occasional visits to Clayhanger Common and O'Grady's Pool to see if I could add one or two common species to the year list.

To be honest there is very little bird activity anywhere at the moment, the only exception being Blue and Great Tits which seem to already be investigating potential nest sites. As I came to the corner of High Street I heard some Bullfinch calls and expected to see a couple of birds but instead found eight, mostly males perched along with a couple of Chaffinch. That’s a pretty good count locally.

On Clayhanger Common the only birds of interest were a party of Eight Siskin which subsequently flew across to O'Grady's Pool.

Star Bird? well, if I kept a list for Clayhanger Common and O'Grady's I would have had  an O'Grady's tick today in the form of a Cormorant that came in from the North. As I don't keep such a list I'm afraid that it rates as - just a Cormorant.

Not sure if I will be going out again? I sort of want to but it is so grim and miserable that I can't get up the enthusiasm to go out again. Watch this space anyway. - Chaz

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Clayhanger/Ryders Mere List

As most of you know, a new taxonomic order for recording birds in Britain came into effect on January the first. It has not made a significant effect on the Clayhanger and Ryders Mere list apart from the actual order in which the species are listed. However this has given me the opportunity to review the site list and to present it to you should you be the kind of birder who enjoys having a target to achieve when they visit the site.

This list has no official status and is just the master list by which I judge events when they occur or are reported to me. I do not sit in judgement on other peoples observations and have long believed that accepting almost every submitted record would be at least as accurate as just accepting those records that are unequivocally proven as many legitimate records are disregarded by the process and this slants the occurrence and distribution of bird species just as much as the more tolerant method.

I take almost all records on trust and in assembling this list have only omitted a handful of records, not because I don't believe them but in every case because the observer themselves was not 100% sure (this includes records of Red-Crested Pochard, Nightingale and a Red Backed Shrike if you are interested). Details of any of the records can be accessed via the Pages for each group of species on the right-hand side of the blog.

Anyway, according to my calculation the list currently stands at 193 species and five distinct sub-species so there is a target for all of us! Seven new species in 2018 would be very nice so get over and find them if you can - Chaz

Clayhanger Bird Species List

Greater Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
Barnacle Goose - Branta leucopsis
Greylag Goose - Anser anser
Pink-Footed Goose - Anser brachyrhynchus
Greater White-Fronted Goose - Anser albifrons

Mute Swan - Cygnus olar
Bewick's (Tundra) Swan - Cygnus c. bewickii
Whooper Swan - Cygnus cygnus

Egyptian Goose - Alopochen aegyptiacus
Common Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna
Ruddy Shelduck - Tadorna ferugina
Mandarin - Aix gallericulata
Garganey - Anas querquedula
Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
Gadwall - Anas strepera
Eurasian Wigeon - Anas penelope
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Pintail - Anas acuta
Eurasian Teal - Anas crecca
Common Pochard - Aythya ferina
Tufted Duck - Aythya fuligula
Greater Scaup - Aythya marila
Common Scoter - Melanitta nigra
Bufflehead - Bucephala albeola
Common Goldeneye - Bucephala clangula
Smew - Mergus albellus
Goosander - Mergus merganser
Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis

Red-Legged Partridge - Alectoris rufa
Grey Partridge - Perdix perdix
Common Quail - Coturnix coturnix
Common Pheasant - Phasianus colchicus

Black Throated Diver - Gavia arctica
Great Northern Diver - Gavia immer
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus
Black Necked Grebe - Podiceps nigricollis

Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Great White Egret - Casmerodius albus
Little Egret - Egreta garzeta

Northern Gannet - Morus bassanus
Shag - Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Common Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo

Western Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
Honey Buzzard - Pernis apivorus
Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
Goshawk - Accipiter gentilis 
Western Marsh Harrier - Circus aeroginosus
Hen Harrier - Circus cyaneus
Red Kite - Milvus milvus
Rough Legged Buzzard - Buteo logopus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo

Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
Spotted Crake - Porzana porzana
Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Common Coot - Fulica atra

Eurasian Oystercatcher - Haematopus ostralegus
Black Winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Northern Lapwing - Vanellus vanellus
Golden Plover - Pluvialis apricaria
Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula
Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
Curlew - Numenius arquata
Bar Tailed Godwit - Limosa laponica
Black Tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
Turnstone - Arenaria interpres
Knot - Calidris canutus
Ruff - Philomachus pugnax
Sanderling - Calidris alba
Dunlin - Calidris alpina
Woodcock - Scolopax rusticola
Jacksnipe - Lymnocryptes minimus
Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos
Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
 Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus
Greenshank - Tringa nebularia

Kittewake - Risa tridactyla
Black Headed Gull - Larus ridibundus
Little Gull - Hydrocoloeus minutus
Mediterranean Gull - Larus melanocephalus
Common Gull - Larus canus
Great Black Backed Gull - Larus marinus
Glaucous Gull - Larus hyperboreus
Iceland Gull - Larus glaucoides
Herring Gull - Larus argentatus
Caspian Gull - Larus cachinans
Yellow Legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Lesser Black Backed Gull - Larus fuscus

Common Tern - Sterna hirundo
Arctic Tern - Sterna paradisaea
Black Tern - Childonias niger

Feral Pigeon - Columba livia 
Stock Dove - Columba oenas
Woodpigeon - Columba palumbus
Turtle Dove - Streptopelia turtur
Collared Dove - Streptapelia decaocto

Common Cuckoo - Cuckulus canorus

Barn Owl - Tyto alba
Tawny Owl - Strix aluco
Little Owl - Athene noctua
Long Eared Owl - Asio otus
Short Eared owl - Asio flammeus

Common Swift - Apus apus
Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
Hoopoe - Upupa epops
Wryneck - Jynx torquilla
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - Dendrocopos minor
Great Spotted Woodpecker - Dendrocopos major
Green Woodpecker - Picus viridis

Common Kestrel - Falco tinunculus
Merlin - Falco columbarius
Hobby - Falco subuteo
Peregrine - Falco peregrinus

Rose Ringed Parakeet - Psitacula kramerii
Great Grey Shrike - Lanius excubitor

Jay - Garulas glandarius
Magpie - Pica pica
Jackdaw - Corvus monedula
Rook - Corvus frugilegus
Carrion Crow - Corvus corone
Raven - Corvus corax

Waxwing - Bombacilla garrulus

Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Marsh Tit - Poecile palustris
Willow Tit - Poecile montanus
Blue Tit - Cyanistes caeruleus
Great Tit - Parus major
Bearded Tit - Panurus biarmicus

Woodlark - Lullula arborea
Skylark - Alauda arvensis

Sand Martin - Riparia riparia
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
House Martin - Delchion urbicum

Cetti’s Warbler - Cettia cetti
Long Tailed Tit - Aegithalos caudatus

Willow Warbler - Phylloscopus trochillus
Chiffchaff  - Phylloscopus collybita
Sedge Warbler - Acrocephalus schoenotaenus
Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Grasshopper Warbler - Locustella naevia
Savi’s Warbler - Locustella luscinioides
Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
Garden Warbler - Sylvia borin
Lesser Whitethroat - Sylvia curruca
Common Whitethroat - Sylvia communis
Firecrest - Regulus ignicapillus
Goldcrest - Regulus regulus

Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes
Nuthatch - Sitta europea
Treecreeper - Certhia familiaris
Starling - Sternus vulgaris

Ring Ouzel - Turdus torquatus
Blackbird - Turdus merula
Fieldfare - Turdus pilaris
Redwing - Turdus iliacus
Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos
Mistle Thrush - Turdus viscivorus

Spotted Flycatcher - Muscicapa striata
Robin - Erithacus rubecula
Pied Flycatcher - Ficedula hypoleuca
Redstart - Phoenicuros phoenicurus
Whinchat - Saxicola rubetra
Stonechat - Saxicola torquata
Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe

House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus
Dunnock - Prunella modularis

Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
Grey Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea
Pied Wagtail - Motacilla a. yarellii

Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
Tree Pipit - Anthus triviallis
Water Pipit - Anthus spinoletta
Rock Pipit - Anthus petrosus

Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
Brambling - Fringilla montifringilla
Hawfinch - Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Bullfinch - Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
Twite - Carduellis flavirostris
Linnet - Carduelis cannabina
Common Redpoll - Carduelis flammea
Lesser Redpoll - Carduelis cabberet
Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
Siskin - Carduelis spinus

Corn Bunting - Millaria calandra
Yellowhammer - Emberiza citrinella
Reed Bunting - Emberiza schoeniclus

Current Total: 193
Version: 01/18

Distinct Sub-Species

Continental Cormorant                                 Phalacrocorax c. sinensis
Azorean Gull                                                     Larus m. atlantis
Greenland Wheatear                                    Oenanthe o. leucorhoa
Channel Wagtail                                              Motacilla flava Sp.
White Wagtail                                                  Motacilla a. alba
Scandinavian Rock Pipit                                Anthus p. littoralis


Cackling Goose - Branta hutchinsii
Black Swan - Cygnus atratus
Bar Headed Goose - Anser indicus
Harris Hawk - Parabuteo unicinctus
Lanner Falcon - Falco biarmicus
Cockatiel - Nymphicus hollanicus
Budgerigar - Melopsitacus undulatus
African Grey Parrot - Psittacus erithacus
Canary - Serinus Canaria

Friday, 12 January 2018

Friday Update (Courtesy of Ray Fellows)

Someone looking remarkably similar to me was apparently seen sitting at the bar of the Black Country Arms this afternoon and there is a scurrilous roomer that it was me! (its defamation of character - probably started by that Brownhills Bob bloke who seems to believe that - as he would have it - I'm a Beer Arse).

Anyway, regardless of my character references and where I may (or may not?) have been, I certainly was not on the Marsh or Mere. Thankfully Ray Fellows was and he was courteous enough to share his adventure with me. Its not really up there with David Attenborough's adventures but if you don't do a site regularly, you will never be there when something good actually does turn up.

Today Ray had a very impressive count of no less than fifteen Shoveler, five Pochard and two Gadwall on the Mere and both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker (the later I still need for the year despite the fact that one was regularly in the garden before Christmas).

I will endeavour to do another visit at some point at the weekend, so thank you as always to Ray and have a good weekend you lot! - Chaz

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Wednesday Update and a scarcity report! (Updated)

Glen was over for a quick visit at lunchtime and recorded seventeen Goosander, twelve Shoveler on the Mere and two Raven overhead. He also had Grey Wagtail and Meadow Pipit by the concrete bridge.
Not a site first, but a big deal if it was one!
Of more interest was a second hand report that the guys working in the woods had a big site rarity a few days ago in the form of a Firecrest!

This afternoon I paid my own visit to do my annual wintering Snipe count which provided seventeen Common Snipe and three Jacksnipe. In addition I was able to confirm that our Willow Tit is still present, saw an overflying Cormorant and no less than 48 Teal lurking on the Marsh today.

The Mere provided Goosander (15) - Pochard (1) - Shoveler (4) and another four Common Teal.

I will see if I can find out more about the Firecrest. - Chaz

WARNING! - Slow news day

BBC Midlands News has apparently caught on to the fact that there are feral Ring-Necked Parakeets at large in their area, not sure what tone the report will take but it would be nice if it were positive but it will probably be scare mongering I expect? You can find out yourself either at 13.30 or 18.30 if you are so inclined?

It reminds me of when I worked on the Railways. Every night at about 21.00 a B500 series Radioactive Flask used to pass through Bescot from Cumbria containing about a tea-cup full of radioactive plutonium encased in a huge steel lined crab-shaped waggon that could withstand being dropped from a respectable height from an aeroplane.

Of course, every now and then a local politician would see an opportunity for campaigning and raising his own profile by making a fuss about it!

Forty years on and it is still happening and so far there have not been any reports of six-armed babies in the area (if you are on Walsall station mid afternoon and two DRS locomotives go through with a single carriage, its probably another load of plutonium on its way to be processed but don't be alarmed)!

In a similar fashion, don't forget that most of the parakeets are only favouring urban areas. There will always be a lot of rural and fringe rural areas where they wont have any impact at all.- Chaz

Nobody knows everything

In fact I am well aware that we are all on the same ladder with so-called 'experts' at the top and rank-beginners at the very bottom. Our job? Perhaps to climb that ladder as far as we can (or as far as we want to)?

See, I do know that I can't know everything and sometimes its subtle effects that causes changes that we don't understand. So can I ask you about Collared Doves?

I know all the background and textbook stuff about them, in fact, putting my sad hat on, I am probably one of the few birders you will know who while on holiday has actually bothered to track down the African and Asian races to see the difference (the main one being differences in call). What I don't know is, where the heck did the eleven birds come from that roosted in my neighbours garden overnight?

Eleven Collared Dove with roosting Woodpigeon today
You see, as far as I can remember there have always been one or two birds in the village, but come January first they were always in such small numbers that unless they decided to call, you couldn't guarantee finding them.

In the last twelve months there have even been two birds turning up more regularly in our garden, but eleven birds in the village is a record as far as I can tell? Does this indicate that they had a good breeding year last year? Does it indicate a decrease in predator activity? Or is it just that the village is a bit warmer than the surrounding area on a cold winters night? I DON'T KNOW!

Perhaps as a species they are just doing particularly well but it is something that has given me reason to pause and think at 08.30 on a Wednesday morning.

All opinions gratefully received - Chaz