Thursday, 24 March 2016

Sandwell Valley March 2016

On Sunday I was back volunteering at RSPB Sandwell Valley, for the first time in a while due to being ill last month. It was nice to be back! In the morning Alf and I mooched in the visitor centre, chatting to visitors and regulars and enjoying the birds through the giant windows looking out onto the feeders, and the marsh and Forge Mill Lake beyond. Several Lesser Redpolls had been visiting the feeders lately and we enjoyed them particularly, as well as the usual suspects including a Willow Tit which put in a brief appearance, a Coal Tit, a few Long-tailed Tits, a Song Thrush down on the ground and a smart male Reed Bunting.

Mr Reed Bunting.

We also spotted a few Wigeon join a Shoveler down in the marsh, and a pair of Stock Doves flying around. At lunchtime Alf and I headed down to the hide, where we were joined a little later by Ian. After the previous very chilly day we hadn't exactly been relishing the prospect of sitting in the hide for several hours, but luckily the weather was considerably perkier than forecast and in fact we enjoyed a pleasantly cosy afternoon! Before we'd even reached the hide we startled a Snipe out from the edge of the marshy pool next to the path leading down to the hide; the first of a few we saw that afternoon, winter hasn't quite left us yet. In a similar vein there were still 17 Goosander on Forge Mill Lake and a scattering of Teal; and I STILL haven't found my first Chiffchaff of the year! Conversely, the Little Ringed Plover which has already been present on and off for around a month was bobbling around on the islands bringing cheer to us all, the Great Crested Grebes were busting some moves out on the water, and a pair of Coots were trying their hardest to build a nest in their usual spot in front of the hide. We also heard the noisy resident Rose-ringed Parakeets squawking away, saw several Buzzards hunting over the golf course, and enjoyed a Kingfisher whizzing past.

We were quite busy with visitors most of the afternoon, but I managed to grab a few minutes for some sketching too, as well as a bit of messing around with my zoom lens!

Great Crested Grebe dramatically silhouetted - that's my excuse for the terrible lighting anyway!

Sketches of Canada Geese.
Sketches of Canada Geese and Little Ringed Plover.

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