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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 - 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 July 1st to September 30th 2017. For further details use the link below that outlines the latest HS2 notification. This latest notice from HS2 was issued on June 20th, received by WMBC June 29th - 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

Black-tailed Godwit 2 - Belvide - Nigel Talbot

Black-tailed Godwit - Belvide Reserve - Nigel Talbot

Late summer - early autumn update

Return passage from breeding to wintering grounds and the general dispersal of this years juvenile birds has steadily  gathered momentum as summer moves into autumn. Juvenile birds will begin to replace their first set of feathers by moulting into plumage that will see them endure the coming winter or to take on long distance journeys. Transitional plumage can certainly present some identification problems that will, at some time, test our knowledge.

Black-tailed Godwits and Green Sandpipers have so far put in a good appearance at wetlands throughout our region while juvenile birds such as Common Starlings and Goldfinches can now be found in ever increasing flock sizes.

As autumn progresses look out for some of the less obvious winter visitors from the continent. Blackbirds may arrive in large numbers, swelling the resident population and many of these will be birds in their first year. Male birds are identifiable as being in 1st winter plumage by having a variable amount of brown tinge to their wing flight feathers and coverts, a black bill and, they will be lacking the adult yellow orbital eye ring. They can also present a rather scaly grey/black overall appearance (see Blackbird photograph and accompanying plumage notes in our gallery). Also listern out for the call of the Goldcrest, this is likely to be heard more often than usual as birds move into our region from their northern breeding grounds across the continental land mass that includes parts of the Scandinavian Peninsular.

Green Sandpiper 1 - Belvide - Nigel Talbot.eml

Green Sandpiper - Belvide Reserve - Photograph Nigel Talbot

Given the rate of notable and increasing changes in British wildlife that could be the result of the growing impact of climate change, do we need to take a closer look at our approach toward habitat conservation? While not dismissing other factors that may contribute to these changes, the answer to this question is quite probably yes.

A change in diversity of species, their whereabouts, the timing of their occurrence and their abundance here in the British Isles are all factors that need to be constantly monitored and considered when tackling habitat management in the face of a warming climate. Are we making provisions for species that are new to our region and have a growing resident population and can we influence the habitat that long distance, continent to continent migrants can expect to find on their arrival here in order to accommodate their needs.

Altitudinal migration will also need to be considered if our upland areas see a continued increase in temperatures, especially during the autumn and winter periods. At these times of year, changes in the weather that would normally prompt a departure from upland, higher altitude areas, may fail to occur, thus impacting a change in certain species seasonal behaviour when faced with a milder climate and possibly a changing environment. One of the most notable changes in our regional weather during the past century is that winters have warmed, being far less severe than once experienced. Long harsh winters that once produced prolonged spells of sub-zero temperatures that in turn brought about lengthy spells of frozen water bodies and ground that was hardened to a considerable depth by the recurring frosts, are becoming a feature of the past. In the first winter period of 1963, underground water supply pipes that were burried to a depth of 30 inches (76cm) became frozen due to the severity and extended duration of frost. These conditions made for a climate that deterred the occurrence of some species in the British Isles and decimated the populations of others that were forced to endure them. The winter survival rate of some species has increased dramatically with the warming of this period. Those species that once found the British winter to be too hostile to accommodate them are now choosing this more favourable climate to colonise certain areas and habitats here.

There is still much speculation with regard to global warming and the affect that this will have on the worlds climate. There will certainly be differing impacts in different parts of the world as changes become more evident and this could affect some organisms and habitats more than others. We can, however, take a very simplistic approach to our understanding of climate change by temporarily putting to one side scientific evidence and use our memories to look back upon winter weather conditions. Cast your mind back to the last time you recall our region suffering from a prolonged spell of sub-zero temperatures and then go back to the time that this happened previous to that. You will soon realise that this weather feature has become a very infrequent occurrence and that the gap between such events continues to widen.

As landowners and reserve managers, how we deal with these changes is open to much thought and discussion but one thing is certain in that we need to have a constant awareness that we too will need to adapt to this global phenomenon in our approach to wildlife conservation.

Little Egret Blithfield October STEVE EDWARDS

Little Egret at Blithfield Reserve - photograph Steve Edwards.

This bird has become symbolic of recent colonisation of the British Isles, including our region. In the latter part of the 20th century a westward movement across the continent saw birds arrive regularly in the British Isles. Since the 1990s the regional population of these birds has increased annually to the extent that they are now a breeding resident here. Much the same can be said about other herons that were recently considered only as being birds of the near continent, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbill are all birds that now frequent the British Isles while many of these breed here too.

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 0km - age at re-trap 5years, 1month, 12 days.

We can add around a further five or three and a half months to this age, depending upon whether this bird was from the first or second of two broods, to arrive at an approximate true age. 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.