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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 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    

Ladywalk Reserve - winter frost - Peter Lichfield

A frosty Ladywalk Reserve - Photograph Peter Lichfield

Winter Birding

The stunning photograph of a frosty Ladywalk Reserve by Peter Lichfield (heading image) is probably more evocative of distant past winter conditions than the reality of winter weather that we have experienced in recent times. This spectacular frost event is created during periods of complete calm and clear skies when air temperature drops below 0°C. Any moisture above ground level, particularly in the form of mist, then becomes frozen, the expanding tiny ice crystals forming white rime covered branches of trees and shrubs as well as ground cover. Obviously, frosty scenes such as this will continue to occur, these are not indicative of severe weather and can happen at any time when all the necessary elements combine. Such scenes as these will be accompanied by a variety of other conditions that are also characteristic of winter weather and these can be expected during the coming months. How such weather might affect our birdlife is governed by how severe and prolonged these sub-zero or harsh conditions last, if they happen at all. Nowadays, we are much more likely to encounter short impact conditions in an otherwise relatively mild climate. This being opposed to prolonged spells of harsh or severe weather that was once regarded as being the norm.    

Clearly our wildlife has become affected by the warming climate but in the main, not yet to the extent where we can expect British birds to totally change their wintering habits, albeit that certain changes in certain species are already evident. Even in our worst conditions, parts of the British Isles can provide a winter haven to birds from northern or colder climes. Over the past three decades at least, our winter weather has been lacking in prolonged severity and this has been conducive to a higher survival rate for those bird species who are resident or visit our region during this period. Higher winter survival equals potentially more breeding birds in the subsequent spring period, this then equates to a potentially higher annual productivity of young birds.  All of this may be dependant on other factors, such as spring and summer weather conditions together with earlier egg laying that may prompt a timescale for a third brood for those species so inclined. Clearly, winter survival is key to this accumulative process.

The Goldfinch is a classic example of a species that has benefited from less severe winter weather conditions over a lengthy period of time.  The  BTO  NEW  Atlas  of

Goldfinch - Nigel Talbot - Belvide

Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988/91 offered a cautionary breeding population estimate of 275,000 pairs, today this figure has quite probably quadrupled. The current BTO  British estimate standing at 1.2 million breeding pairs. While other factors that may contribute to this huge population increase cannot be overlooked, we must take into consideration that the 30 year period in which this event has taken place is concurrent with clear evidence of a warming climate, a feature of this being consecutive mild winters. Substantiation of this increase in Goldfinch numbers is clearly visible in that in many areas that comprise suitable habitat, this species is now regarded as being -

'the common finch'.  

Goldfinch - Photograph Nigel Talbot

Winter visitors can arrive in our region in varying numbers, these are probably influenced by happenings in their breeding regions. When they occur here in large numbers their sightings can be impressive and often result in memorable birding occasions.

Short-eared Owl Steve Seal

Short-eared Owl is one such species that can create a great impact when occurring in numbers. The bird in Steve's photo was one of at least five watched hunting over the same patch of land at Kempsey in Worcestershire.

Finch flocks that gather in their hundreds and sometimes thousands are equally very impressive to watch, particularly where Brambling are involved.

The Black Redstart can occur as a singleton anywhere in our region during this period. While these birds are often considered to be continental visitors, there is a distinct possibility that they could be birds that have bred here in the British Isles late in the season. Probably the result of a third brood and therefore involving British post breeding adults or immature birds that find

Short-eared Owl - Photograph Steve Seal

♂ Brambling - Hanchurch Woods - Steve Seal Black Redstart Intermediate plumage male Dave Hutton

                   Brambling - Photograph Steve Seal                                       Black Redstart - Photograph Dave Hutton

All of our resident buntings are showing severe declines in their populations. Searching for winter flocks and recording their presence in consecutive years will provide valuable information in assesing their populations. Please keep your County Recorder informed of your sightings. Visit the Record Submission page on this site for more information.

Counting numbers of Common Snipe is never easy but can certainly occupy your mind on a cold winter day, visiting our wetland reserves provides this opportunity. Visit the Join page on this site for all membership details.  

Common Snipe - Belvide - Steve Nuttall

Winter birding often involves watching them in large numbers, make the most of these spectacular events over the coming months. For all of the above species and many more, check the Recent Sightings page to see what's about.

                     Reed Bunting - Photograph John Oates                                  Common Snipe - Photograph Steve Nuttall

the climate favourable enough to remain here, a response to a changing environment.

Reed Bunting 2 John Oates

The Importance of garden feeding stations

Feeding birds in your garden with nourishing food that is readily available has become a staple source of their diet. We should however, make certain that in our attempt to help birds, we do not create a potential danger by threat of disease. We can help to avoid this by keeping our feeding stations clean and free from risk of contamination. One disease that has had a crippling effect upon the British Greenfinch population is trichomonosis. To learn more of this and bird feeding station cleanliness, use the link to find out what advice David Dodd the WMBC Stafford Branch Chairman has to offer.

Trichomonosis disease - and a clean bird feeding station Greenfinch - John Oates Greenfinch CBC BBS population chart

BTO chart showing the steep decline since 2005

The Greenfinch has fallen victim to the disease Trichomonosis

Photograph John Oates