It makes a pleasant change to be spoilt for choice with today's song title. In recent weeks it has taken as long to find a suitable title as it has to write the blog entries themselves! It's almost tempting to go looking for species whose names lend themselves to well known tunes, just to make my life easier. If there was ever a good example of the tail wagging the dog, then I suppose this would be it.
But away with such nonsensical talk. Yesterday morning I headed in the direction of Coleshill to see the black redstart, followed by Hams Hall for the firecrest, both of which had been hanging around for a few weeks. The birds were located without too much difficulty, providing solid year ticks. In addition, we had a common sandpiper and a green sandpiper on the river near Hams Hall. Other birds of note included bullfinch, grey wagtail and several goldcrest.
A few chiffchaffs were heard singing in the bushes and trees near Hams Hall, but I wasn't overly worried about seeing one. In fact, it would have felt a bit like cheating if I had. I'm hoping to see this bird on the patch this month and I'm more than happy to wait for my tick.
My final sighting of note was Mr Max Silverman, photographer extraordinaire. Max's blog and pictures can be viewed here and is well worth a visit. I had intended to attach a few record shots of the black redstart to this report, but having taken another look at Max's excellent snaps of this bird, as well as the firecrest, I think you are probably much better off just visiting his site instead! For more superb pictures of the firecrest and other birds, I can highly recommend Dave Hutton's site too. I was truly blown away by the detail in some of Dave's images.
My Dad and I also paid visits to Shustoke Reservoir and Marsh Lane, but there were no exceptional sightings at either location. I'd hoped for tree sparrows at Shustoke, but none were seen. A few red-legged partridges were spotted in the fields neighbouring the reservoir, plus a pied wagtail that looked to me to have good credentials for a white wagtail. I'm far from experienced with this subspecies, however, and it does seem a bit early in the year to be thinking about seeing them, so a question mark remains over its identity. I've since done some swotting up, so the next time I see one I'll be armed and ready.
At Marsh Lane, the best sight was seven or more common buzzards and a single raven circling high up in the sky. We thought we spotted a peregrine up there too, but we weren't absolutely sure. Otherwise, the lane bordering the reserve was very quiet, although I remain convinced I heard a yellowhammer call a couple of times as we headed back to the car.
On Sunday afternoon I had a pleasant, binocular-free walk around the lanes with Mrs Reg. Best of the birds were three ravens, seen in the fields near St Mary's Church, which nudged the patch count up by one. It's been a couple of weeks since I did any intensive patch birding, so I am looking forward to a wander through the lanes and fields of Wythall next weekend.
I've notched up a few species now and still hope to get the total up to 75 by the end of the year.
Birds Seen On Foot 2009: 57
Distance travelled: 38.9 miles
This week's quiz comes from the Sunday Times crossword again. At the time of writing, I haven't cracked this clue, so I think it merits an award of 20 Telescope Points for the first correct answer.
Vehicle goes over large bird – a crested grebe (8)
_ A _ G _ _ _ E
Get your thinking caps on, fellow birders!