On the 8th of April I joined up with Adam Canning, a West Midlands Broadcaster & Naturalist for a days birding at Upton Warren, Worcestershire. I’d be spending the next few days with Adam catching up with old friends, Adam himself and exploring the local area.
Shortly after arrival on site news came in that pair of Black-legged Kittiwakes had been spotted on the flashes, so that’s where we first headed. We ended up dipping on the kits, but were provided with close views of Pied Avocet, Common Redshank in breeding plumage and two pairs of Little Ringed Plover; which enabled an opportunity to get a photographic comparison on separating the sex’s in the field. The male (R), unlike the female (L) has far more stronger facial markings, a wider and more intense eye-ring along with darker ear coverts.
Elsewhere on the reserve spring migrants included my first Sedge Warbler (2) of the year, along with Willow Warbler (3), Barn Swallow (12c), Common House Martin (15c), Common Chiffchaff (13c) and Blackcap (8c). The highlight of the trip was when Adam and I were in the cafe just off the reserve at the sailing lake, when without any optics I noticed an usual looking duck. Racing to get out and see what it was, the unidentified duck was flushed by a boat and took off, it’s solid black body and structure nailing it as a adult drake Common Scoter! Thanks to patcher Phil Andrews for confirming this as the 25th record for the site.
The following day was quiet at RSPB Sandhill Valley with highlights being a pair of Common Merganser, displaying Little Ringed Plover, European Green Woodpecker, several Willow Warbler and Rose-ringed Parakeet.
On the penultimate day I was given a tour of Licky Hills country park, Worcestershire. For those who are familiar with the work of J.R.R Tolkien then you’d hopefully recall the site as one of the places where he drew inspiration for ‘Lord Of The Rings’. The acres of mixed woodland habitat was just beautiful and it’s one of the most atmospheric destinations I’ve had the good fortunate of ever visiting.
The highlight here and by far and away highlight of the trip, was when we were sitting on a bench admiring the view, when I could hear the alarm/mobbing call of Lesser Black-backed Gull. Taking a stand to see what the reason for they’re alarm was, it turned out to be what was at the time a pretty distant Western Osprey! On first looks the bird was several hundred meters away, but sure enough it closed the gap and cam close enough to nail a few record shots, which showed it to be an adult female: clear breast band, dark carpel patch & white under-wing coverts. Afterwards we continued our walk round the walk before making the journey back to Birmingham for my departure. Many thanks to Adam for being my guide and if want to follow his journeys then take a look on the website on the following link: Canned Wildlife