Author: @phill

Belvide Blast

Friday 24th May 2024 it’s 6.52 am and I’m at the West Midlands Bird Club Premier reserve of Belvide. Some seven hours and 12 mins later I would have a tally of 52 species.

Within a minute of arriving there is a lovely coal tit paying frequent visits to the feeders in the car park, a sure sign that today is going to be a good day on site.

Beyond the car park was the wood and a cacophony of sound being produced by blackcap to blackbirds with multiple finches, passerines and Warblers.

Juvenile Robin @ Belvide

On the shoreline just beyond the wood I bump into stalwart Birder Foz who has been on site for a good hour already. I ask if I could tag along with him. Due to my mental health issues it takes me a good while to open up and get to know people so this was a good opportunity to get to know the brilliant Foz a little better.

Within minutes I’ve already got a couple of Common Terns under my belt as well as loads of Swifts, House Martins and Swallow zooming in front of ius. It’s an incredible site to behold.

Distant Common Tern on the raft @ Belvide

Moving back through the wood Foz points out birdsong from treecreeper and goldcrest but unfortunately I don’t get to see any on this occasion. Like myself Foz likes to take his time scanning the trees and shrubs for signs of these birds.

Within minutes were greeted by a dirty looking nuthatch feeding on the path in front of us. Unfortunately it doesn’t stay for long for me to get a shot of it.

A few of the many thousands of Swifts above the bank @ Belvide

Moving on I’m found in the west end hide watching oystercatchers, Little Ring Plover that’s far to distant to get a decent shot of due to the small lens I have and a Hobby.

However on the journey there we were greeted with Great Crested Grebe, Pochard, multiple warblers like Sedge, Reed and Garden.

Drake and Female Pochard @ Belvide

We then move on towards the West end track and we get Linnet, Collard Dove, Greenfinch and a very smart looking Yellowhammer at the top of a distant oak.

There are also multiple Skylarks filling the sky with song. Onto the top hide of Hawkshutt where we’re greeted with a nesting Oystercatcher and a few pied Wagtail.

Oystercatcher @ Belvide.

I’ve been on site now a good few hours and decide to thank Foz four his company and boundless enthusiasm for this place and start heading back to the car.

On the way back though I pop into the feeder hides of gazebo and in the wood where I’m greeted with the usual feeders like Dunnock, Great and Blue Tits as well as a smart looking Greater Spotted Woodpecker.

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker @ Belvide feeder from Gazebo Hide.
Smart looking Dunnock from Gazebo Hide @ Belvide.

All in all an excellent few hours spent in good company with some brilliant birding although not as good as my previous visit when I got a common crane which you can read about in my previous post HERE.

Thank you Foz for a brilliant time yesterday and thank you reader for taking time out to read me ramble on about Belvide.

Happy Spotting people and please consider doing me a solid and share this post on your social media channels or even leave me a comment below.

Middleton, Ladywalk & Belvide

Last week has been my first foray into the world of Birding Photography with a DSLR. Phone scoping is all well and good but it takes a while to setup I’ve found, so I’ve gone and grabbed a cheap cannon EOS 1000d and a semi-decent 70-300mm zoom lens and went out.

I’m not a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination but talking this out learning along the way I don’t think I have done all too badly.

My first visit last week was to the West Midlands Bird Club Belvide Reserve as 6am and got my first ever Crane, apparently the first one to land and spend time after a number of years.

Crane @ Belvide.

At Belvide apart from my lifer in the form of a common crane I had a total of 54 species including Whimbrel, Yellow Wagtail, Hobby, Lesser Whitethroat & Common Tern. Here are a few more images from that day…

Goldfinch @ Belvide.
Gadwall with Mallards @ Belvide.
Whimbrel @ Belvide.

Next up it was the turn of the brilliant RSPB Middleton Lakes reserve. It was playing host to a Savi’s Warbler that week and even though I was there for it on this particular morning it never materialised for yours truly.

Never mind, I still had a total of 65 species I could count on including… Bittern, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Great White Egret, Greenshank, Lesser Whitethroat, Ring and Little Ring Plover, Redshank and the usual Red Breasted Goose.

Here are a few images took in my visit…

Red Breasted Goose takeoff.
Red Breasted Goose @ Middleton Lakes.
Red Breasted Goose @ Middleton Lakes.
Femail Tufted @ Middleton Lakes.
Male Tufted @ Middleton Lakes.
Greenshank @ Middleton Lakes.
Takeoff Red Breasted Goose again.

Finally I paid a visit on the late afternoon after my trip to Belvide to my local patch of Ladywalk where I recorded a total of 50 species including Redshank, Little Egret plenty of Warblers and a Barn Owl. Some images from that visit…

Blackbird @ Ladywalk

I had tried to get the yellow bill of this blackbird but unfortunately it moved its head just before taking off.

Little Egret @ Ladywalk.
We have plenty of these all over Ladywalk.

That’s about everything I have for you now. But I think my Bird and Nature photography is slightly Improving. I did find this Link to a few blog posts by Mike Atkinson about Bird Photography. So let’s see what this week brings.

Thank you for indulging me again.

Phillip

Brummy goes to the Wash

It’s 3.15 in the morning and having already stirred from my slumber I’m in the kitchen preparing my lunch ahead of the two hour journey to the Wash, much to my wife’s disgust.

By 4.15 I’m already on the road happy and full of anticipation about the day ahead. The journey is easy and event free as at that time there are hardly any cars and I don’t experience any tailbacks, it’s a lot quicker than I thought.

By 6.15 I’m on site at Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve and as I’m parking up there is already a fellow on site photographing a very tame lapwing. Within a few seconds I get my first (of many) lifers, a Black Tern is circling the Marsh Bed in front of me before heading off in the distance.

This Brummy Birder is very happy.

I knew at that moment that this is a very special place and the many birders I’ve talked too recently have said it’s a must-visit, I’m glad I took their advice. This place is incredible.

Within half an hour I’ve already clocked up many different special birds include a couple of lifers, Little Owl, Brent Goose (yes I know these are very common, but there still a lifer for me) as well as a spoonbill. I’m heading down the pathway that runs alongside the first marsh by the visitor centre and I’m clocking up flocks of Dunlin and Godwits as well as many Brent Goose & Avocets.

Spoonbill @ Frampton Marsh

Heading back towards the visitor centre I’ve clocked up at least thirty species including many Warblers and three Cuckoo. On the main road and just before the visitor centre is another lifer in the form of a Marsh Harrier.

After a quick chat with the workers and a sip of hot coffee I’m heading towards the sea bank that overlooks The Wash and I cannot believe the amount of birds that are on display. Another lifer in the form of a couple of Yellow Wags while yours truly is being buffeted by the sea wind.

The Sedge Warblers are really easy to see and capture along this pathway. Everyone here now is searching for the Red-Breasted Goose but I’m not that bothered having seen a few these past few weeks.

Sedge Warbler in full voice @ Frampton Marsh.

Along the sea bank I get an excellent view of entire reserve and it’s huge. I cannot help but think that there is no way I can do all of this in a day. Sill I carry one and greeted with not only many thousands of Gulls but a few LRPs running around the place.

There are huge amounts of Avocets on site and can be seen all over the place. They are a certainty along with the unmistakable Brent Geese.

Lone Brent Goose @ Frampton Marsh
Group of Avocets @ Frampton Marsh

Heading back towards the visitor centre as it opens at 10am I’ve already been on site a good three hours and I’m yet to pay a visit to a hide.

The first one I get too is a 360 ° one and I’m greeted with more Gulls, Godwits and some lovely Ring Plovers as well a more than a few Redshank that are numerous across the reserve. As I move back towards the Visitor centre I get to the reedbed hide and am greeted by Little Gull and a couple of Marsh Harrier.

A lovely Lifer again this time a Little Gull.

Moving on and opposite the reedbed hide is another path that leads towards another 360° hide and just before that I get a few more lifers, Ruff, Turnstone and a couple of Spotted Redshank.

Not the best quality but another lifer in this Ruff.
Redshank are all over the place here. Very hard not too spot.
Spotted Redshank in full summer plumage.
A second Spotted Redshank.

Moving back to the Visitor Centre I stop for more coffee and some lunch before carrying on back down the first pathway hoping to spot some turtle doves.

By this time I’ve been on site over six hours now and clocked up 80+ species of birds. Heading down the path I’m greeted with a Black Winged Stilt and Greenshank.

Greenshank @ Frampton Marsh

It’s now Nine hours since I arrived and I’ve decided to head home because it cannot get much better. After all my lifers for the day include Black Tern, Black Winged Stilt, Brent Goose, Cattle Egret, Knot, Little Gull, Little Owl, Marsh Harrier, Ruff, Spoonbill, Spotted Redshank, Turnstone, Woodsand and Yellow Wagtail.

I head back to the Visitor Centre to say my goodbyes and start to pack up the car when all of a sudden at the Marsh in front of the car park and I’m about to drive off home a Lesser Yellow Legs lands right in front of me. My final lifer of the day. Unfortunately everything is packed away and I’m unable to capture another blurry picture.

Out towards the sea from the sea bank.

That’s a total of 15 Lifers for the day. Thanks for indulging me and thanks to Frampton Marsh for being as spectacular as I had hoped. I will be back.

Phillip | Brummy Birder

Doorstep Birding

I have recently discovered a birding hotspot right on my doorstep which surprised me as I’ve lived here for 15 years now.

What surprised me was the potential lifers on site. The realisation came when I noticed a post by fellow WMBC member and Birder Chris on Bluesky.

Quite a few Gulls on site including Herring, Lesser Black Backed and of course Black Headed. I’m also sure there was a scarce Common Gull on site briefly.

Chris posted about the new controversial Industrial Estate Peddimore in my local village of Minworth and home to the new Amazon Fullfilment center which included the potential lifer Grey Partridge.

4.45am and I leave my front door to walk the 4 and a half mins to the yellow pathway at the start of the peddimore figure of eight Birding Session.

A few of my fellow Minworth Neighbours and Residents loath this place with a passion and I remember the fight we took a few years back to block this greenbelt land getting developed on.

That being said there is no denying it most definitely is still a hotspot for Birds.

Wheatear

After three and a half hours on site I had a total of 46 different bird species the highlights being Wheatear, Kingfisher and multiple Skylarks singing their amazing songs high up in the sky.

I was also able to mark off Whitethroat, Linnet, Willow Warbler and Yellowhammer. Sadly I was unable to get the Grey Partridge this time.

Amazon Fullfilment Center

Yes of course the Amazon Fullfilment Center on site is an ugly stain on this remarkable place but at the same time IM Properties have made the site a lot more accessible with the yellow paths.

It’s saddening to know that a lot more destruction and disruption will soon take place over the coming months and years as more units are constructed.

This is another case of Nature coming second to the world of commerce and profit. I hope the bosses of this development site get to read this and leave their thoughts.

Thanks for indulging me. Please share this far and wide.

Phillip | The Brummy Birder

Getting Serious

5.45am @ Belvide Reserve the start of a 14+ Hour birding session. Not my WMBC hoodie.

I must admit that I have seriously neglected this blog of mine for some time now and now that I have installed the jetpack app on my phone I now have no excuse to post regular on here.

I’ve come to realise that most people consume content and blog posts on mobile now so writing these posts on an app makes sense to me.

I cannot remember when exactly but I think I first started Birding aged 11 onwards way back in the 1980s and back then my local patch was Plants Brook Nature Reserve. Weirdly I now live less than a mile away from that place. For Christmas my parents got me this book…

As well as a pair of Bins to gain skills as a Birder.

Fast forward some thirty six years later to January 2023 and I pass my driving test. Yes it took me thirty years to pass but it had to be done as I’m also a full-time carer for my beautiful wife Louise.

One of the first things I did after passing was to join the West Midlands Bird Club. I then went to Amazon and spent less than a hundred quid on some bins, a cheap scope and a tripod.

As 2023 progressed I noticed that I was getting more and more obsessed with my new found hobby, any spare time I’d jump in the car and goto my local patch of Ladywalk NR. I also started using the BirdTrack app but not very seriously as shown in the below screenshot…

As the year progressed I became a regular at Ladywalk, Belvide and RSPBMiddleton Lakes. Things are getting serious for me now and I start using the BirdTrack app properly with complete lists.

A third of the way into 2024 and I consider myself a more than proficient and regular Birder. As you can see from  this screenshot I have already surpassed my 2023 figures…

My only real regret apart from not passing my driving test thirty years ago is that I no longer have my notebooks from when I was a young whippersnapper of a Birder in the 1980s as I could have added those historical lists, dates, places, times and of course species into BirdTrack.

Incidentally I remember the first time I ever went to Ladywalk on my BMX mountain bike aged 13 back in 1989 and seeing the huge hams hall power station. My overwhelming memory of that day was seeing all of the huge quantities of wading birds and my first ever Ruddy Duck. How times have changed.

Ladywalk back in the 1980s

Still at least I now have some time to continue my Birding passion when time dictates as my first priority is obviously my gorgeous wife Louise.

You can see from these screenshots below the difference between my Birding years of 2023 and this year…

2023 in blue, you will notice the small bars till July of that year and my current records so far this year in Orange.

I have a goal to hit 200 species this year and I think I’m well on my way. If this does not happen then so be it.

My life list so far.

Well that’s it people for now. What can you expect from my blog over time is hopefully some decent images and musings of my Birding adventures over the coming months and years.

Thank you for indulging me friends and feel free to share this across your social media channels. You can also find my on these channels by searching @BrummyBirder

Cheerio for now.

Phillip

Hello birding world!

Welcome to my new Blog on Birding. This is me and my wife Louise enjoying the sunshine at our local in Sutton Coldfield (notice the shirt I am wearing, its full of Linnets). 

I have been an on and off birder since the age of 13 (some thirty five years at the time of writing this) and having passed my driving test back in January of this year it opened up so many other reserves for me. Including my local patch of Ladywalk Nature Reserve

Which is a private nature reserve of the West Midlands Bird Club, A club that I highly recommend midlands based Birders and nature lovers join up too.

One Amazing Looking Oak Tree, this is at Ladywalk reserve

What can you expect from my blog then dear reader? Well for a start I will be including a few snaps that I take on my birding exploits both here at Ladywalk and further afield.

Redshank at Ladywalk

Redshank at Ladywalk, snapped on 19th July 2023

Like, Belvide, Blithfield, Upton Warren and Middleton Lakes RSPB Reserve.

Avocet at Upton Warren

Currently I am saving my pennies to purchase my first ever DSLR Camera and so the images will eventually improve on here once I have one. In the meantime I will just have to include birds I have snapped on my mobile.

This is obviously my very first post but it will give you a small flavour as to what to expect from yours truly.

thank you for taking the time out to read this and I would love for you too leave me a comment below.

Happy spotting Pilgrim.

Phillip