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Local Weather

19th, 22nd & 24th February 2017

Sunday 19th February 2017:
It was yet another dull, dreary day and I decided to walk a circuit around the upper common from lower Poolands car park.  It was quite unproductive until I flushed 2 Meadow Pipits from amongst the vegetation in the clear felled area where the plantation used to be.  The birds flew up into a nearby tree and I managed to get a few record shots.  It was a pleasing year tick for the site.

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)

The only other birds of note during this visit were 2 Siskin that flew over calling heading East.

Wednesday 22nd February 2017:
Today's weather: Dull, overcast with light drizzle turning to heavy rain (how I long for Spring).  I undertook a walk around the lower common from the car park opposite Cook's and weather aside it was a fairly productive visit.  The undoubted highlight was seeing a Common Snipe flying across The Bog.   It  gave good binocular flight views showing prominent white trailing edges of wings as it flew low from the middle area to the rear of bog, making its flight call before dropping down between the tussocks and out of sight.  Another year tick for the site from a species I genuinely wasn't expecting to get there.

Also during the walk I came across some lovely patches of Snowdrop in bloom and recorded another fungi for the year list in the shape of Glistening Inkcap

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Glistening Inkcap (Coprinus micaceus)

Friday 24th February 2017:
I commenced today's visit to the common by walking the wooded western edge of The Bog.  My hope was that I could scan across and view some of the wet boggy areas at a better angle to try and perhaps pick up a Common Snipe or even a Jack Snipe (well you never know).  Of course Snipe being Snipe they picked up on me walking the fringe of The Bog and I actually flushed three of them. With loud alarm calls and zigzagging flight they were off (most likely to the nearby Wilden Marsh).  Still, 3 Common Snipe was much better than I had hoped for.  I will be keeping an eye on this area over the next few weeks.

Also of interest birdwise was a ♀ Great Spotted Woodpecker in the wooded area next to The Bog.  3 Common Buzzards and a ♂ Sparrowhawk were up soaring over the common.

I also added an invert to the year list in the form of a 7-spot Ladybird which I discovered on one of the Gorse bushes.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

7-Spot Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata)

7th, 12th & 13th February 2017

Tuesday 7th February 2017:
The dull, overcast weather continued and today I decided to start my visit by undertaking a walk on the Cook's Garden Centre side of the common.  It was reasonably unproductive but for the two more fungi that I added to the year list:  Birch Polypore and Exidia plana. 

Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus)

Exidia plana

From the Common I then decided to head over to Hillditch Coppice.  Again things were quiet although I did find an interestingly named plant called Hart's-tongue fern.  So called as it's leaves supposedly looks like a deer's tongue (A hart is an old fashioned name for a deer).

Hart's-tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium)

Sunday 12th February 2017:
Decided to undertake a walk around Hillditch this afternoon as the common just gets too busy on a weekend.  It was the right choice as it was lovely and quiet and during my walk around I heard my first drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker of the year.  A sound that always lifts the spirits.   On the way back I decided to sit on the bench next to the first section of pool and just chill out listening to bird song.  Fortune was obviously smiling on me as a Kingfisher flew in and perched in the trees opposite for a minute or so before flying off towards Titton brook.  Result another bird year tick for the list.

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) - distant record shots

Monday 13th February 2017:
Finally, after what seems like an eternity of dull, grey weather it was a day of blue skies and sunshine and what a difference it made.  For my visit I decided to walk a circuit from the lower terrace, up the terrace bank onto the upper terrace and back.  At the car park opposite Cook's I was greeted by 3 House Sparrows (1♂, 2♀) that were flitting about in the nearby bushes.

Something that struck me during the walk was the number of Honey Bees that were active busily feeding on the Gorse flowers.  There were 3 or 4 on near enough every flowering Gorse that was catching the sun.  Also noted visiting the Gorse flowers was a single Meliscaeva auricollis hoverfly.  Finally the inverts are starting to emerge, just need a few more days of sunshine now!

Meliscaeva auricollis

Thursday 2nd & Sunday 5th February 2017

Thursday 2nd February:
It was yet another dull, damp day on the and for today's visit I decided to undertake a walk around the upper section of the common starting and finishing at the main car park.  It was interesting to see the heather and gorse taking a foothold where the plantation woodland was but sadly the walk was devoid of birdlife.  That said things were slightly better on the fungi front especially along the wooded path that runs along the eastern edge of the site.  Here I recorded more Velvet Shank, Witches Butter and a new fungi for my year list called Tripe Fungus.

Tripe Fungus (Auricularia mesenterica)

Sunday 5th February:
The dull grey weather continues but at least it wasn't so damp today.  The first part of my visit was again spent on the upper section of the common.   It was nice to see that the Hazel tree near the main car park was now in bloom with a great show of the male catkins and the smaller red female flowers.  Birdwise there was more activity today although a highlight was hearing a Song Thrush that was in great voice (the first one I have heard singing this year).  Also of note was a Kestrel that was hovering over the common.

Hazel (Corylus avellana) in bloom

From the common I headed over to Hillditch pool where I undertook a short walk. During the walk a ♂ Sparrowhawk flew past and perched up briefly in one of the tall Oaks that line the footpath above the pond.  It was in stunning plumage and had it's full peachy/orange flush on it's chest.  Sadly though the beggar flew off before I managed any clear photos of him. 

The undoubted highlight of the day came when on returning to my car I heard a Willow Tit singing from the wooded area across the road from the pool.  It sang fairly regularly for 10 minutes or so and I decided to take a recording of it on my mobile phone as a record.  Willow Tit is a very scarce species in Worcestershire these days as it has seen a countywide collapse in numbers over the last 20 years.  As it is private land I was unable to get in to locate the bird but it certainly bodes well for future visits.

Willow Tit (Poecile montanus) - Worcestershire, 5th February 2017

Wednesday 25th & Friday 27th January 2017

Wednesday 25th January 2017:
The weather was surprisingly good for today's visit so I decided to walk a reasonable circuit around the lower sections of the common.  I started my walk on the section next to Cook's Garden Centre.  It wasn't the most productive area by any means but I did add House Sparrow to my site year list as there was a flock of at least 12 present.

I then crossed the Worcester Rd to check out the area near Rush Pool and The Bog.  This proved quite worthwhile as amongst one of the Gorse bushes I found some active tents of Gorse Spider Mites.  I also added another fungi to the year list with Wrinkled Crust.

Gorse Spider Mite (Tetranychus lintearius) Tent

Wrinkled Crust (Phlebia radiata)

I then decided to walk up onto the terrace bank between the upper and lower terraces of the common. This area is covered in gorse and scrubby bushes and parts of it are relatively undisturbed.  It looks ideal for a wintering Stonechat but for all my scanning it was not to be.  The only bird of note was a Green Woodpecker.

Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)

Friday 27th January 2017:
I used today's visit to undertake another walk in Hillditch Coppice along the bank above the wet woodland.  Almost immediately I picked up on a Lesser Celandine that was in flower.  These plants with their heart shaped leaves and yellow buttercup-like flowers are usually early flowering and a herald of spring, but they are not normally in bloom quite this early.  Perhaps it's indicative of the mild winter that we have been having.

Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)

On the bird front I again saw a Grey Wagtail on a damp fringe at the edge of the wet woodland.  I also had cracking views of a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest.   But the highlight was a Grey Heron that flew low over the wood towards Hillditch pool, a new addition to my year bird list for the site.

I also added three more species of fungi to the list with Beech Barkspot, Split Porecrust and Variable Oysterling.

Beech Barkspot (Diatrype disciformis)

Split Porecrust (Schizopora paradoxa)

Variable Oysterling (Crepidotus variabilis)