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West Midland Bird Club

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

Blithfield Reservoir

Access to birdwatch at Blithfield Reservoir is by Inclusive Club membership only.

 

Blithfield Reservoir is a large expanse of water covering some 324 ha and owned by South Staffordshire Water plc who lease the right to birdwatch at the site to the West Midland Bird Club. A Bird Club Management Team act in an advisory capacity in connection to the birding and conservation administration of the site. Blithfield is regarded as one of the region's best bird-watching sites that provides interest year round. The reservoir and much of the surrounding woodland is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the stewardship of Natural England. This woodland and surrounding mixed farmland add a diverse mixture of habitat that, along with the reservoir, its exposed shoreline and reed-beds, plays host to an equally diverse mixture of bird species. The physical expanse of the water is an attraction to waterfowl and migrating wading birds while spring and autumn passage would not be complete without the appearance  of Osprey.

Reserve Management Team Contacts

John Holt - Email: blithfield@westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk

 

Reserve Details

Main Access - South Staffordshire Water plc Education Centre, accessed via Newton Hurst Lane - O/S Grid ref: SK053250

The most productive areas are Tad and Blithe bays that are situated at the north-west shallow end of the reservoir and these are accessed via the South Staffordshire Water Company Education centre where parking is available and footpaths from here lead to the reservoir shoreline and observation hides, Tad Bay is a designated reserve area. After proceeding along the main entrance road and parking near the education centre, Tad Bay is easily reached through a gate to the left of the drive and Blithe Bay via a locked gate to the right. It is possible, however, to drive around Beech Tree Point into Blithe Bay. Vehicular access to Blithe Bay is also possible from the western end of the causeway but the track is often unsuitable for cars or it may be closed altogether. Similarly it is possible to drive around the tracks of the reservoir to the south of the causeway, known as the Deep End where the tracks are better maintained. If you plan to visit the reservoir for the first time and feel that you require some assistance, please contact the management team through the e-mail address provided above. Several gates around the reservoir are locked and can be opened by a key which can be obtained from the Estate Office that is located on the approach road to the dam and on the production of your WMBC Inclusive Membership card, for a charge by the South Staffs Water Company of £5.00. If you have any difficulty with this, again please contact our management team through the e-mail address provided above. Access to other areas is via footpath from the causeway or the Sailing Club. A relevant car sticker that announces your presence is supplied annually to Inclusive members and these stickers must be displayed in your vehicle/vehicles at all time when visiting. Your inclusive membership card should also be carried with you at all times as the Water Company insists that regular permit checks are made by bailiffs and Club wardens. Additional car stickers may be obtained from the WMBC Membership Secretary or via the contact details above. Failure to comply with these requests may result in a request to leave the Blithfield Reserve.

Notice - Tad Bay access limit. In order to avoid disturbance to the birds in Tad Bay there is strictly no access to this area beyond the Forward Hide - Thank You.

Staffordshire Bird News Blithfield Monthly/Annual Bird Reports

Blithfield Reservoir Location Map

One of a great variety of wading birds that visit the site and in the case of this species, Little Ringed Plover, breed at Blithfield -  photo - Steve Edwards

Recent Sightings LRP Steve Edwards

Use the Staffordshire Bird News link to access all up-to-date bird sightings for the area. Blithfield Reservoir sightings will be posted when relevant

Blithfield Annual Ringing Reports

Blithfield Reservoir News

The management team feel that in view of the recent and continuing development of this reserve, it would seem highly appropriate to include a site map on this page. This map provides a full layout of the site, how to gain access to the site from a variety of routes and most importantly, the whereabouts of the bird observation hides. As stated elsewhere on this page, being familiar with your location at all times while visiting Blithfield is of prime importance to a good health and safety policy.

Originally designed and produced by Andy Lawrence as West Midland Bird Club publicity literature, this map has now been amended by the reserve management team to include all named bird hide locations, subsequently being reproduced by Andy to form this new version. Please use the link below to view the map.

Blithfield Owl Boxes

"Let's put up a couple of nest boxes"

easier said than done

Take a look at the accompanying photograph of Little Owl and Barn Owl nest boxes to appreciate the amount of work that goes into their construction and, it doesn't end there. These beautifully constructed boxes are of considerable size, transporting them to site and then erecting them is another major task for our reserve team at blithfield.

Little Owl - Steve Edwards - Blithfield

Little Owl - Blithfield - Steve Edwards

 

Attracting breeding owl species can be a hit and miss affair but these two well constructed boxes will certainly go a long way toward enticing the owl population at the reserve to take up residence.

 

 

photograph of boxes - Jerry Ray

Blithfield Access Keys

Any WMBC member wishing to apply for a key to gain access to certain parts of this reserve will benefit by reading the information provided in the link below

Blithfield Access Keys

Developing all of our reserves is of prime importance and an on going task in

making certain that we provide the best of facilities.

Spot Fly NB River Blithe Blithfield JR Spotted Flycatcher - Steve Edwards - Blithfield (2

Spotted Flycatcher - Blithfield Reserve - Steve Edwards

 

 

As part of the on-going Blithfield nest box scheme, boxes that will hopefully attract breeding Spotted Flycatcher have been placed appropriately. The adjacent photograph by Jerry Ray shows a box in a riverside Oak on the Blithe. This species has seen a massive decline in its breeding population and is RED listed here in the UK. The first birds will begin to arrive back here in our region from their African wintering grounds around the end of April with the main influx arriving in May, let's hope that our efforts here at Blithfield will contribute to a recovery in their numbers.

Spotted Flycatcher nest box sited in a riverside Oak on the Blithe - Photograph Jerry Ray

Beech Tree Point hide Blithfield

All of the bird observation hides at our Blithfield Reserve are in the process of having name plates placed on them. This project will be completed during the summer months. Other than providing a personal touch, this is an excellent way of providing whereabouts details, whether for birding or personal purpose. Naming the hide that you are in or closest to, provides perfect site location details.

Safety and the well being of all visitors is of paramount importance at all times. At every opportunity this will be acted upon and this project is in keeping with the overall improvements of this reserve for all facilities.  

 

 

 

The adjacent photograph by Jerry Ray gives an example of the new name plates.

Success with the Blithfield Tern Raft

The Blithfield management team are delighted to report that Common Tern have bred successfully on the Blithfield Tern raft. Currently, 27/06/2017, there are 6 chicks and as yet, 8 unhatched eggs.

We had become increasingly optimistic that something was happening. The Terns had become very aggressive to gulls and we noted that they appeared to be fishing and then dropping down onto the raft. Because of the perspex Mink guards it was difficult to see what was happening on the pebbles so Becky Owens and myself took a boat to see what was happening. The photographs tell the tale.        Jerry Ray

Common Tern chick Blithfield 1 Common Tern chicks Blithfield 2 Common Tern Chick Blithfield 3 Common Tern eggs Blithfield

           First sign through the perspex Mink guard                                       Trying to make themselves invisible

                Orange legs and feet are the give away                       Two of the unhatched eggs - all photographs by Jerry Ray 

Blithfield work party 1. June - Jerry Ray Blithfield work party 2 June - Jerry Ray Blithfield work party 3 June - Jerry Ray Blithfield work party 4. June - Jerry Ray Blithfield work party 5. June 2017 - Jerry Ray

A good day on hide renovation at the Blithfield reserve

With an excellent turn out we managed to complete work to three hides, which was beyond our expectation. Thanks to Judith Blair, Gill Mills, Phillipa Balfour, Derek Beardsmore, Darron Hayes, Dave Pantry, Philip Balfour, Jamie MacLauchlan, Trevor Hardiman, Graham Mant, and last but not least, John Holt. Rebecca Owens from South Staffs Water was also helping out.

These people are a delight to work with and really are beginning to make a difference here on the Blithfield Estate.

Jerry Ray

All photographs by Jerry Ray

 

It is frequently mentioned that the support and effort  that is provided by volunteers at our reserves is invaluable, the Club would not be able to operate in the way that it does without these people. However frequently this may be mentioned, It genuinely can't be stated often enough that this is the case. The West Midland Bird Club are extremely grateful to all those involved in volunteer work and wish to express their thanks.

 

WMBC Website

They will soon be on the move

Following on from the news that Common Terns have bred successfully for the first time at Blithfield and used the new tern raft to do so, Graham Mant has now provided photographic evidence of the youngsters progress. Now fully fledged and on the wing but still largely dependant upon their parents, these youngsters will have departed the entire region by mid October as they set out on their south bound migratory journey to their wintering grounds that are mainly located south of the Tropic of Cancer. We still have a couple of months to enjoy their presence at Blithfield and to continue to monitor their development.  

Young Terns 1 Blithfield Graham Mant Young Terns 2 Blithfield Graham Mant Young Terns 3 Blithfield Graham Mant

Receiving full attention from the parent birds these young Common Terns are being supplied with a plentiful supply of small fish from the reservoir and other local waters.

The bottom picture shows the adult and young tern in the company of a smartly plumaged Turnstone as it passes through our region on its return journey from northerly breeding grounds to its coastal winter residence that might well be here in the UK.

 

All photographs by Graham Mant  

Footnote

In two of the above photographs the parent bird is offering a small Perch P. fluviatilis (European Perch) to the young Tern. Obviously, prey availability dictates the diet of young birds but in this case the prey item could have grave consequences for the youngster. The Perch is a common freshwater predator with very rough, sandpaper like scales, spiny gill covers and a spiny leading dorsal fin. These features make the Perch very difficult to digest when caught by other larger predators. Equally, these spiny fish will prove very difficult for the young Terns to digest, easily becoming lodged in the birds digestive tract.

 

And yet more good and rather surprising Tern news at Blithfield

On visiting the Tern raft on 13/08/2017 to carry out some scheduled maintenance work now that this years young Terns have fledged, the work party was surprised to find another four young Terns in downy plumage. Common Terns are single brooded so this is the result of other pairs who have bred rather later than might normally be expected. There is however, plenty of time for these youngsters to gain full plumage and be on their way south in around two months time. The last average departure date for Common Tern from our region is October 12th but this may not relate to birds that have summered here and may be in connection to birds passing through the region. A good supply of food and favourable weather over the coming weeks should hopefully see these four youngsters develop their new plumage for a timely departure.

More young Terns Blithfield - Jerry Ray

The four young Common Terns discovered on the Tern raft 13/08/2017. Clearly still in downy plumage and awaiting a meal from their parents in the build up for departure to their southern wintering grounds.

 

Photo - Jerry Ray

Blithfield Reservoir Site Map