Monday, 16 July 2012

A bit of Warwickshire & Staffs re-visited....

Since I last blogged I've only been off on two birding expeditions. Last Thursday I explored the Alvecote Pools Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which is on the Warwickshire/Staffordshire borders. It consists of about 129 hectares spread over several reserves & other areas. I found a useful map from a link on Archie's British Birding Blogz (Surfbirds Archive)'s the link.

We'd moored on the Coventry Canal beside Pooley Fields, a 26 hectare site managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (it's not labelled on the map, but it's the area that includes the Canal Pool). It has several pools, formed due to coal mining subsidence, along with some woodland (wet & dry), marsh, grassland & a huge spoil heap. The sun was actually out so I had a pleasant wander, even though I didn't find much, the best being a Garden Warbler alongside the canal. There was also a fairly happy Jay, feeding on a large pile of bread & posing for the camera.

A Jay ....
....not worried about his waist-line
The view from the top of the spoil heap, along with its rather odd monument.
Next I visited Alvecote Meadows, 11.5 hectares owned by the Warks. Wildlife Trust & consisting of more mining related pools, marsh, grassland & a bit of scrub. It was much more open than Pooley Fields, but I didn't get to see much of it as the recent heavy rains had made it impossible to cross without wellies, which I wasn't wearing! I'll try again next time we pass, if it's not monsoon season again.

Alvecote Meadows.....a bit too wet
Next stop was Shuttington Bridge, where there was plenty of evidence of the recent floods & Laundry Lane, which is apparently good for Willow Tits although I didn't manage to find any. Beside Laundry Lane is Knob Flashes (yes, apparently so!) which is often flooded & visited by waders. Amazingly enough, although everywhere else is sodden, this was actually pretty dry with no birds in sight!

Knob Flashes from Laundry Lane.....a bit too dry!
I'll explore some of the other bits that I missed next time.

My second outing was a re-visit to Whitemoor Haye in Staffs on Saturday. I ended up walking there from Fradley Junction again, so it was a 7 mile round trip. Last time I was chuffed at finding Tree Sparrows & a Little Owl, but dipped on Grey Partridge & Corn Bunting. I started off well, finding another colony of Tree Sparrows, including lots of juveniles. Then I inspected the Little Owl tree & was pleasantly surprised....

And then there were two! Play 'Spot the Little Owl'!
I kept my ears peeled for the distinctive song of the Corn Bunting & crept along the lanes and across the footpaths peering along the edges of fields in search of a Grey Partridge. I was having no luck so I walked up towards the lake at the adventure centre, which it turns out is the only water that you can see. Apparently the land owner of the new quarry pits is anti-birder so there's no access. As I walked up the road there was a very loud Skylark overhead & a couple of persistent Reed Buntings singing in the fields. Then I thought I heard it....that odd clicky-rattle of a Corn Bunting. For once I wished the Skylark would shut up! I waited for a while, then maybe heard it again.....& finally the Skylark disappeared & there was no doubt that I was listening to my first Corn Bunting of the year. Finding it was another matter.

The Corn Bunting was singing in the middle of the field ....somewhere!
I found a distant blob & took some photos, which when much cropped revealed that it was probably source of the singing.
A very enlarged Corn Bunting
Feeling happy, I continued up to the lake. I stood on the armco at the entrance to the quarry to look across the water & saw a Common Tern, a Shelduck & 2 very distant waders. They were across the other side of the pool nearer to the entrance to the adventure centre, so I decided to walk along the road & just pop my head inside the gates to see if I could get a better view.

The waders were on the far side by the entrance (near the buildings)

Just as I walked up to the gates I was startled by 2 birds that suddenly dashed out of the hedge and along the gravelly bank towards the vegetation. I was all of as fluster trying to  get to my bins & then trying to get a shot as they vanished. Phew! I not only managed to ID them, but even got a record shot of my first Grey Partridges of the year!

A Grey Partridge doing the 10 yard dash!
Two Year List birds certainly made it worth the long walk & the intermittent soakings!

Year List now on 196 + 2 sub-species

1 comment: