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West Midland Bird Club

Studying Birds in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands since 1929

Attend Local Branches and Field Trips  -  Visit our Reserves  -  Record your Bird Sightings

Supporting the West Midland Bird Club is a positive step in conserving important habitat for birds and other wildlife. You will also be contributing to the ornithological knowledge of the region. Get the most from your birding activities by becoming a member today. Using this website will provide you with all the information that is required in making you aware of how this Club functions, how to become involved in Club activities and to encourage you to further your birding interests by developing your knowledge of the birds of the region.

There is plenty of information at hand within these pages, however, please do not hesitate in using the contact us page via the menu or the info@westmidlandbirdclub link at the foot of all pages if you would like to take a personal approach to gathering information; the Club Secretary will be pleased to deal with any enquiry. There is great scope to become involved in a wide range of Club activities, likewise you can go about your birding activities on a personal level and simply enjoy what the West Midland Bird Club has to offer in assisting your interests.

Recent Sightings

Local Branch Indoor Meetings and Field Trips

Make the most of your membership by visiting your local branches and enjoy the excellent talks that are taking place throughout the WMBC branch network. Likewise, book a seat on one of the Clubs Field Trips, visiting some of the UKs top birding sites. Detailes for all Branch and Field Meetings can be found on this website by visiting the appropriate location via the menu. The WMBC Newsletter also carries the same information.

Not a member, not a problem! please go along and enjoy the evening or trip, you will be made most welcome.

West Midland Bird Club

2017 Cannock Chase Bird Survey

In memory of Frank Gribble MBE

 

Fieldwork for the Chase Survey is now complete and the analysis of this tremendous effort by all of those who have taken part in the gathering of this information is being compiled. Project Leader, Roger Broadbent, is currently in the process of putting this together and we eagarly await his findings.

The final report or any preliminary comment will be posted here.

 

An initial comment from Roger expresses that Stonechat seems to be making a slow recovery but how are they doing on Cannock Chase? The WMBC 2017 Cannock Chase Survey will answer that question when published on this website at the end of the year - watch this space.

 

Clive Davies, a member of the survey team, photographed this juvenile Stonechat during the 2017 fieldwork period on Cannock Chase. Let's hope that this is further evidence of the species recovery and that the Chase can continue to provide a  stronghold for their presence.

Potential disruption at our Ladywalk Reserve - 2nd CHANGE OF NOTICE ISSUED BY HS2

The West Midland Bird Club have received notification from HS2, the proposed London - West Midlands high speed rail link, that after receiving parliamentary approval, site survey work will commence in 2017. In order to carry out their survey work they have informed the Club that they need to gain access to our Ladywalk Reserve in order to carry out a variety of investigations. This will involve work over the period commencing October 1st to December 31st 2017. For further details use the link below that outlines the latest HS2 notification. This latest notice from HS2 was issued on September 12th 2017, received by WMBC September 19th - our apologies for any inconvenience that arises from this change.

HS2 Investigative work to be carried out at Ladywalk Reserve

The Annual Report - moving forward

For 80 years, the Annual Report has remained largely unchanged. The size has been A5 and the contents fairly constant. What has changed is the use of full colour and the amount of information available such that we are now close to 300 pages. Welcome though this is, it does present problems. The physical size of the Report has reached its limits without moving to a more expensive binding. Also, the dimensions are constraining the size of images that I can embed and the tables of data require quite a small font to get all the information in. Looking round at some of the leading bird reports one finds that many are moving to a larger format and I am doing the same.

"Hang on, what about my bookcase" I hear you cry and I have some sympathy with that reaction having said pretty much the same when British Birds changed. My misgivings with that soon evaporated and I hope yours will with regards to our Report. I am looking at moving to B5 which is almost the size of British Birds namely 16.5cm x 24.5cm. This will allow a slightly larger font size, larger images and better laid out tables for a start.

I want to introduce something new though. As Editor I probably read the Report more times than most; and all the way through. I am constantly aware that I know little if anything about many of the sites outside my own county (Staffs) and I assume the same is true for members living in the far south when it comes to sites "up north". So, what I intend is to sprinkle banner-type images of our birding sites through the Report. These will be approx. 17cm x 5cm and sit at the top of the page ie full page width. So I need your help. Send me good quality images of your favourite sites and I will do my best to include them. Maybe not all in one Report but, over a period, we will build up a portfolio of our best birding spots. I would prefer "out of the camera" images so that I get the largest pixel size and I can then crop to suit.

Over to you!

Dave Emley

report@westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk

Juvenile Stonechat - Cannock Chase 2017 - Clive Davies

Juvenile Stonechat - Cannock Chase - Clive Davies

British longevity record for Blithfield Goldcrest

A ringing recovery of a male Goldcrest made by Dave Clifton at the Duckley Plantation, Blithfield Reservoir, has now been confirmed by the BTO as being the oldest (longest living) bird of this species on record in the British Isles.

Details are as follows:

First year male Goldcrest caught by ringer Dave Clifton on 15/10/2011 at:

Duckley Plantation: 52°48'N - 1°54'W (Staffordshire)

Caught by ringer Dave Clifton on 27/11/2016 at:

Duckley Plantation: 52°48'N - 1°54'W (Staffordshire) movement 0 km - age at re-trap 5 years, 1 month, 12 days.

To arrive at an approximate true age we can add a further few months, possibly three and a half or five, to the above age, this is depending upon whether this bird was fledged from the first or second of two broods. This bird has had a very comfortable existance in a suitable environment and this fact adds supporting evidence to the above theories on global warming/climate change. This is a remarkable record and congratulations go to Dave for his expertise and dedication to British bird study carried out here in the West Midland Bird Club region.

Our Belvide Reserve - Accessibility for all! - Update 29th October 2017

We are pleased to announce that our contractor has now completed work extending the main reserve footpath to a superb standard giving full access to our Hawkeshutts Hide. The existing footpath, which runs from the Scott Hide along the reservoir as far as the West End Hide, has been cleaned off and where it was in the worst condition, around Gazebo bay, drainage has been installed and the path widened which should prevent it becoming muddy in future. The remainder of this existing footpath will now be left to settle over the winter and, should it prove necessary, a top dressing will be applied in Spring. The path that runs from the car park through the wood to the Scott Hide is equally accessible but currently getting its annual fall of leaves which will be dealt with as promptly as practicable by the volunteer team but ironically currently this is the worst part of the entire route.

 

Four hides at Belvide are fully accessible. These are the Woodland Hide, the Andrew Chappell Hide, downstairs of the West End Hide and the most recently added Hawkeshutts Hide. Together with the recently installed fully accessible toilets (one on the car park and a second situated by the Gazebo Hide) this now makes Belvide accessible for members with mobility restrictions.

 

The route was tested out by a member on his mobility scooter this week who reported that he was, for the first time, able to reach and access the Hawkeshutts Hide and enjoy the wonderful facility that hide provides. We are proud of what has been achieved but would welcome input from members to enable us to maximise these benefits. Feedback could include observations regarding remaining obstacles to access or suggestions for further improvements. Please contact reserve representative Sue at belvide@westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk including your phone number.

We look forward to hearing from you.       The Belvide Management Team    

Rock Pipit 2 - Earlswood Lakes - John Oates

Rock Pipit of probable north European origin on the move at Earlswood Lakes, Warwickshire - photograph John Oates

Autumn Update

With autumn now truly upon us and many of our summer residents, along with passage migrants, having departed our region, our focus centres on birds that are escaping the severe winter weather of Scandinavian countries, North Europe and Siberia for more favourable climes here in the British Isles. We can also factor in the possibility of North American birds adding to the diversity of species at this time of year. The severe storms that track across the North Atlantic Ocean and head in our direction seem an ever increasing threat and the intensity of these storms can easily pick up birds that would normally be moving along the eastern seaboard of North America or the Caribbean sea and deposit them on our shores.

The ferocity of these Atlantic storms create hazardous conditions for wintering seabirds that results in them being blown inland, finding themselves in some rather unlikely places. Dont rule out some of the regions larger water bodies playing temporary host to a displaced seabird as these storms pass through.

Redwing John Oates Earlswood

Winter visiting thrushes such as the Redwing above - photograph John Oates - gain annual attention from the phenology minded amongst us but as we welcome these birds to our patch, don't overlook the influx of winter visiting Song Thrushes from the continent that can swell the numbers of resident birds here in our region. As resident immature birds emerge from their moult from juvenile into 1st winter plumage they are joined at this time of year by their continental relatives.

Song Thrush - John Oates - Earlswood Lakes

As the seasons change so do the bird species that inhabit our region, all that we need to do is find them, watch them and enjoy them, whether they are local or National rarities or common birds. The Song Thrush above, photographed by John Oates, is a welcome addition to any day list, the prospect of this happening increasing with each new arrival.

Great White Egret - Ladywalk - Peter Lichfield

Great White Egret - Ladywalk Reserve - Photograph Peter Lichfield

The occurrence of Great White Egret in our region and the frequency with which they occur is something that not so long ago, not too many of us would have predicted happening on the scale that it has. With many heron and egret species undergoing  a general expansion to their European range it was little surprise that these birds would indeed begin to colonise the British Isles but the current outcome of this movement is nothing short of phenomenal. A mad dash to see this bird is no longer the case and there has now become little more than a general acceptance that one has turned up somewhere. They are however, a splendid bird to find and record by anyone's standards, long may their presence continue to grow here in our region.

Great White Egret was first recorded in our region when a single bird visited Brandon Marsh, Warwickshire in 1993. Initially described in our Annual Report as a Very Rare Vagrant, the species now demands a status of Rare to Scarce Visitor.

Birds may be found at any time of year throughout the region, the current (2017) population standing at certainly 6 individuals, probably 7 and quite possibly an 8th. The timing and whereabouts of each sighting is obviously critical in determining the true number of birds involved, hence the estimated value. Despite the birds obvious appearance, they are not necessarily easily found, clearly some individuals are happy in frequenting small watercourses that can be off the beaten track, River Sow Staffordshire, River Alne Warwickshire and River Salwarpe Worcestershire, being typical examples.

Please keep our County Recorders informed of your sightings by submitting your records. For further information on this please visit the Record Submission page on this website.