Saturday, 7 September 2013

Venus Pool - Big Day!!

Saturday September 7th dawned and a 'all day birdwatch' had been arranged by a few Midlands reserves with Belvide, Upton Warren, Middleton Lakes, Sandwell Valley and Venus Pool taking part.

Big day presumably meant that Heron were out to impress with something equally BIG - how about this mid morning Common Carp for starters?!!

 I'd agreed to meet Tom after the dawn 'rush' which included Tawny Owl and luckily arrived in time to witness a phenomenal 'fall' of warblers!! They were centred on the car park trees and adjoining top field hedge and conservative estimates were at least 50 Chiffchaff, 15 Blackcap....

plus several Willow Warbler plus a few Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat - all concentrated in this small area! It was good to see a Spotted Flycatcher in the hedgerow leading from the car park to the hide and several Bullfinch (adults and juvs) were seen too.

The pool itself turned up all of the regulars early on and some never to be guaranteed daylist birds like Little Egret, Greenshank.......

 Green Sandpiper and Kingfisher, which were also seen intermittently during the day.  Gadwall and Wigeon were amongst the expected wildfowl and Yellow Wagtail was another of those tricky birds in the bag. As with any bird race / big list, the rush of birds is in the early stages and luck was with us courtesy of a juv Peregrine (near to the hide) and Golden Plover over the top field where in excess of 100 Goldfinch were roaming

 plus a few Yellowhammer, Meadow PipitLinnet and Reed Bunting.  A real bonus bird here was Whinchat, which unlike the warblers, remained all day! Counting but not listing here the common species, we had achieved a creditable 65 species by 9am - a great start but the a real slog was now about to begin .......

A 30 min session in the north hide turned up that scourge of the bird race - a fly by Jay no less!

Little Grebe was hugging the far reed bed and a juv or eclipse male Pintail was stirring from one of the islands. A brief glimpse of possible Reed Warbler was not repeated to veruify - this and Sedge were to elude us all day!

Another walk around the top field provided three more birds with the Goldfinch flock attracting the attention of a female Sparrowhawk,  2 Grey Wagtail plus Lesser Black-backed Gull in flight over. It was now 11am and we were now on 71.

Common Snipe seen first thing were now showing amazingly well......

The next hour involved a slog around the far side of the pool, hopes of Treecreeper or Golodcrest were dashed but at least Coal Tit and Green Woodpecker (juv) were added here for 73.
We had lunch in the main hide, it was all pretty static until an influx of mixed gulls at 2pm (Tom was drooling in anticipation) included and 1w Common Gull (now that was unexpected!!)

 plus a couple of juv Herring Gulls to take the tally to 75.

A shower of rain just after 3pm did the business with a couple of Dunlin dropping onto the mud in front of the hide (76) but then a tough barren four hour period followed, when searches for our missing Song Thrush, Redstart or any possible flyovers all proved negative.

We had to wait until 7pm for the next bird, when a few extra eyes were on site. We had blanked both Partridge spp but a consolation  Pheasant (yay Martyn) in the top field came to the rescue, closely followed by a long awaited Redstart (nice one Mike S and seen by us all) (on the fence line just past the Oak tree :-)

Nothing dropped into the pool at dusk (where's a Curlew when you need one?) and no Barn Owl roaming so the final tally was 78 species for the day!

Oh and here's the 'medium' of the BIG day Carp bagged by the Heron

Here's the Venus Pool list in chronological order.

The chronological list:
1. Greylag Goose
2. Mallard
3. Wigeon
4. Canada Goose
5. Lapwing
6. Woodpigeon
7. Blackbird
8. Robin
9. Grey Heron
10. Carrion Crow
11. Moorhen
12. Mute Swan
13. Teal
14. Green Sand
15. Snipe
16. Shoveler
17. Great Crested Grebe
18. Coot
19. Black-headed Gull
20. Gadwall
21. Tawny Owl
22. Little Egret
23. Raven
24. Wren
25. Kingfisher
26. Chiffchaff
27. Tufted Duck
28. Pied Wagtail
29. Rook
30. Blackcap
31. Great Spotted Woodpecker
32. Jackdaw
33. Blue Tit
34. Bullfinch
35. Goldfinch
36. Starling
37. Lesser Whitethroat
38. Magpie
39. Willow Warbler
40. Peregrine
41. Cormorant
42. Yellow Wagtail
43. Spotted Flycatcher
44. Greenfinch
45. Great Tit
46. Long-tailed Tit
47. Dunnock
48. Meadow Pipit
49. Chaffinch
50. Whitethroat
51. Yellowhammer
52. Reed Bunting
53. Swallow
54. Hobby
55. Stock Dove
56. Collared Dove
57. House Sparrow
58. Golden Plover
59. Nuthatch
60. Whinchat
61. Linnet
62. House Martin
63. Sand Martin
64. Greenshank
65. Buzzard
66. Pintail
67. Jay
68. Little Grebe
69. Grey Wagtail
70. Lesser Black-backed Gull
71. Sparrowhawk
72. Green Woodpecker
73. Coal Tit
74. Common Gull
75. Herring Gull
76. Dunlin
77. Pheasant (phew!)
78. Redstart

So how did we fare? Belvide came out on top with 92, Upton warren with 84, Middleton Lakes on 82  Venus Pool  on 78 and Sandwell Valley on 63.  Not a bad result for us (the casual locals couldn't believe so many birds were possible!) Well done Steve and team at Belvide!!

Phil Andrews from Upton Warren kindly produced a spreadsheet (well done Phil!) of all five reserve lists - makes an interesting read - you can link to it on the bird forum site here (scroll down their page)!

Another similar day is planned for May 2014, when more eyes will be welcomed......