I love this time of year! There is the possibility of seeing something different everyday as birds move through on their autumn migration. Like on Thursday morning when 2 tree pipits flew low over my head! An unexpected and welcome sight and good to re familiarise with their hoarse fizzy call as they flew over.
The waders have been ace in recent weeks. The long staying wood sandpipers (up to 3) have mainly been on west scrape (also known as canal scrape) along with a spotted redshank which is so not bothered by people it has been coming ‘too close for photos!’
Wonderful spotted redshank and wood sandpiper photos by Steve Pick. Perhaps the yawing wood sandpiper is bored of all the attention!
2 weeks ago there was also a dapper turnstone on site. Hopefully we will see more of these coastal waders come through as the autumn progresses. Last week was a very good wader variety week with 4 greenshanks knocking about on Friday and a curlew sandpiper on Saturday.
Super smart turnstone by Jules Allen
Today has been a brilliant wetland bird day in general. Our monthly Webs survey picked up 10 species of wader including the popular wood sandpipers and spotted redshank. Also in the mix were 10 ringed plovers, LRP, 83 lapwing, 4 dunlin, 5 snipe, 6 redshank, 3 green sandpipers and a common sandpiper. Although not recorded on the survey there were 3 black-tailed godwits on the jubilee wetlands. In fact jubilee wetlands was brimming with birds, over a 1000 (a 1008 to be precise!) ducks, geese, waders, cormorants and herons were counted on there today. That didn’t include the wagtails (including 5 yellow wags), starlings and other passerines. Across the whole site the Webs counters recorded:- 18 great-crested grebes, 8 cormorants, 9 little egrets, 4 grey herons, 99 mute swans, 47 greylag geese, 351 canada geese, 76 gadwall, 76 teal, 259 mallard, 2 garganey, 94 shoveler, 144 tufted duck, 13 moorhen, 272 coot, 12 bhgulls and 2 lbbgulls.
Another popular bird has been the wandering marsh harrier. In the last week there have been a few in the West midlands, birds turning up at the west midlands bird club reserves at Ladywalk, Belvide and Blithfield. We have had 2 birds (both cream crowns) providing some excellent interaction behaviours when they meet. Watching the 2 harriers tumbling, grappling and chasing each other was a real highlight of last week. Today one was gliding over the wetlands which caused me to do a mad count of the ducks before it caused a frenzy and displaced them! Luckily the ducks were alert but not too alarmed as it flew over jubilee to the north.
One of our volunteer wardens, Adrian Norgrove, was lucky enough to watch the harriers having a tussle and rattled off a few photos too!
Searching the canal hedges and scrub along the river and Langley brook can turn up some avian goodies. Warbler, finches and tits are flocking, with the groups of birds today consisting of garden warblers, sedge warbler, whitethroats, reed buntings, linnet and the cherry on the cake, a willow tit! Last year a lesser spotted woodpecker was seen flocking, which is always a highlight! At the moment there has been one seen in the loan oak tree in the paddock next to the farm. It’s by no means regular but to give yourself the best chance, earlier in the morning (before 9am) seems the time it’s most often seen and heard.
Although the weather over the weekend has turned blustery and cooler, it had been rather hot and sunny which was perfect for the butterfly team doing the weekly transects. The surveyors go out every week from April 1st - September 30th and count all the butterflies they see along a pre determined transect. Common blues have been showing well on both transects and responding well to the birds foot trefoil (the caterpillars food plant) being spread around the reserve. This is the 2nd brood, which are the off spring of the common blues which flew earlier in the summer. They are a cracking little butterfly, and fascinating to watch, especially the females as they flutter over trefoil patches and then carefully walk over checking out the leaves for just the right one to lay their egg. Another brilliant butterfly seen this week is the painted lady. Several were spotted last week and I had one flying along the hide path today in the mizzley grey weather! As waders symbolize bird migration, this is one of the great insect migrants. Powerfully built (as butterflies go) they can cross great distances, over land, water and mountains in search of somewhere to breed. Truly epic creatures!
Common blue by Richard Clague
Copulating pair of common blues by Kate Thorpe
And finally a lovely painted lady by Marion Parnell on the Dosthill part of the reserve.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654