Sunday, 22 May 2016

A glorious Sunday walk...

...but not much happening (well quite a lot really but nothing you wouldn't expect from the breeding season).

At least four different singing Reed Warbler including a first for me singing from cover in the Ford Brook. The Lesser Whitethroat is persistently singing, one Common Tern was active on the Mere and I actually saw one of the Oystercatchers today (they have been very secretive recently).

What would have been the most interesting record for the day (if I could have confirmed it) was a possible sighting of two Gadwall still on the Mere - very unseasonal!

We may still be a week away from official Summer but I am probably putting the blog on hiatus from the first of June. I would normally say that nothing is likely to be happening of any significance until the return migration commences in July but I seem to remember that the last time I shut down the blog for a few weeks something inevitably turned up that required me to reactivate it!

A certain law applies methinks? - Have a good week all - Chaz

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Bank Holiday Event

For several years the Railway in Pelsall has held an excellent Bank Holiday Beer Festival. Its a great friendly pub which serves excellent cask ales all year round but for the festival, a range of these will be available straight from the cask. Some of you may remember me raving about what an excellent event it was last year (and bemoaning the fact that I didn't find out about it until I had missed the previous three)!

This was already on my radar but I did receive an e-mail from David Marklew tonight to remind me;

Hi Chas it's Dave from the Railway in Pelsall just to let you and your fellow bloggers that the beer festival is on again at said venue from Friday next week until the bank holiday Monday with music on the Saturday and Monday - cheers.

Despite the fact that this posting contains input from Chaz and Dave I can guarantee that we wont be doing the entertaining (I can't speak for Dave but my singing voice has been compared to a bulldog gargling gravel)! However last year, one of the acts performing was a young lady called Ruby Saunders who has an extraordinary voice and really needs to be discovered in my opinion (not sure if she is on this year though).

I haven't eaten there myself but this pub also has a good reputation for food so if you are at a loss as to what to do with your weekend you could do worse than make a day of it at the Railway. (I'm afraid that I will be attending but don't let that put you off).

If I get any additional information (Beer List etc.) I will let you know closer to the event. Just remember - Pubs don't have to do this kind of thing, so why not support your local next week and show your appreciation for the effort that is put in by all involved? - Chaz

Azorian Gull News

The news has broken this week that the B.O.U. R.C. have accepted three records of Azorian Gull to the British List. Although this is still considered a sub-species of Yellow Legged Gull this does have some significance for our site if the well watched and photographed bird at Chasewater is accepted.

Why? Because that same bird did a fly-through of Ryders Mere during its winter in the midlands, First seen by Tony Stackhouse (12/12/11) and then myself on (17/12/11). Fortunately I had already seen the bird at Chasewater a couple of times when it flew through the Mere or I might not have realised its significance.

No further news for today, lets hope that Spring still has some stings in its tail for us to enjoy (its too early in the year for me to put my feet up) - Chaz

Not a lot happening

Still hoping for that end of season rarity but we almost seem to have moved into summer malaise today. Singing Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, a couple of Terns active and some second brooding from Willow Warblers are all there is to report I'm afraid - Chaz

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A REALLY big bird over the garden!

Boeing Dreamliner - VT-ANH
Chaz has finally lost it! He's given up birds to become a plane spotter!
NO He Hasn't! You cant live in Clayhanger without noticing the constant movement of Aircraft to and from Birmingham Airport, what has surprised me is where some of them come from. Once or twice a week we get one of those huge Emirates planes coming into land and occasionally Pakistan Airlines planes (P.I.A.) from Islamabad but at about six o'clock every weekday evening we get my favourite, an Air India plane coming in from Delhi.

So what has this got to do with wildlife?

Tonight the plane was not seen distantly, it actually flew so low over my garden that I could easily read its registration (VT-ANH) and that is actually the plane in the photo that I pinched off the internet (above). But not only was it exceptionally low tonight, it also had its undercarriage down and it was so close that you could even see the tread marks on the tyres.

Now the last time those wheels were on the ground, that plane was in India so surely as it approached Birmingham any soil or seeds or whatever must have been blown out into the air?

Dust from Delhi may have settled onto my garden this evening - isn't that a weird thing when you think about it?

Now I'm not having a moan - every time a plane comes into land anywhere this must happen but for some reason it never occurred to me until tonight. Which is actually quite daft as I am well aware that many of the interesting plants on the Marsh were introduced as seeds by passing railway trains. But it does underline how futile some of the steps taken to prevent the introduction of non-native species must be! Nature will always find a way.

That's it really, I just though I would share my 'Damascus Road revelation' with you (that's a good point actually, I will have to have a look and find out if we get any flights over from Damascus)! - Chaz

Sunday, 15 May 2016

A late spring Sunday walk

Photo: Garth Peacock
Sedge Warbler has finally forgiven me for whatever I had done to upset it as a species, a loud chattering from the reed beds next to the pit mound today eventually resolved into brief views of a Sedge apparently a bit annoyed by his close neighbours (he kept giving a locally nesting pair of Dunnock a really hard time)!

The Lesser Whitethroat was still singing from the area of low pit-mounds (the Black Hills if you are under ten) and I actually SAW four different Reed Warbler today. One on the main swag, one on the south side of the Pelsall Road pools and two on the North side including one bird carrying a fecal sack (imagine changing a baby's nappy and then running off with the full nappy clenched in your teeth and it should give you some idea of what is involved)!

I only saw two Common Tern on the Mere although a big surprise was the presence of a pair of Gadwall on the edge of the Mere - are they going to attempt breeding this year?

Anyway, no late spring mega-cosmic birds to shout about but a pleasant mornings walk for all that.

Have a good week all - Chaz

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Now thats what I call Breakfast!

Yep - and they tasted as good as they looked! One of those rare visits from my old mate Dave Glover today, and he arrived baring gifts courtesy of his good lady Lynn who had decorated these cup cakes for the occasion - and they were gorgeous. Dave had one himself but unfortunately because Mrs Chaz has a rare allergy to nice cakes I had to eat the other five (well I couldn't let them go to waste)!

Dave and I had a nice morning of local birding, a brief drop-in at Chasewater continued that trend of the last few days with both Common Tern (2) and an Arctic Tern present early on, at one point the latter giving really good flight comparisons quite close in.

Cannock Chase provided a good range of regular warblers including at least five encounters with Redstart, a species that I think has really increased in abundance over recent years. and an interesting Garden Warbler at Coppice Hill which showed really well

Tree Pipit was heard but surprisingly not seen (again) and the only let down of the day was the Pied Flycatchers which failed to show at all (although there were so many noisy sprogs hanging around their regular breeding site they would have probably found less disturbance on the car park)!

Big thanks to Dave for his excellent company as always but special thanks to Lynn who has apparently heard roomers that the way to my heart is most definitely through my digestive system! Thanks Lynn, they really were lovely (and Mrs Chaz thought so too. -  what? you didn't really think I had eaten them all - I WOULDN'T DARE)! - Chaz