Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Kings Norton Nature Reserve 14/05/16

Another tardy blog post, due to another busy week. Unbelievably (to me at least, it having been my first job interview in nearly seven years), I got the job I was interviewed for a couple of weeks ago! I'd been jobhunting in the ecology/conservation sectors since finishing my Open University degree in Environmental Science last September, and had not had much luck - as is well-known, it's a difficult area to break into with lots of competition and at times I did feel somewhat disillusioned. So I am feeling super-excited to have been offered the post of Data Officer at Herefordshire Biological Records Centre! It's only a 12-month post but is a big step in the right direction. However the excitement is tinged with sadness, as it will mean leaving Birmingham, and one of the many things I will miss is of course Kings Norton Nature Reserve. I won't be able to visit regularly any more, but as the new job is only for 12 months, it's quite possible I will be back in Birmingham at some point - my partner very much enjoys his job at Birmingham University so we are happy to be tied to the West Midlands for the foreseeable future. In the meantime I plan to enjoy my last few visits to Kings Norton Nature Reserve!

Onto my visit to the reserve on the 14th of May! It was another lovely sunny day and I saw 40 species in all - no new ones but some great sightings, especially of juvenile birds. Here are the highlights:
  • I found a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest in one of the large willow trees growing in the open area next to Merecroft Pool. It was easy to track down because the chicks inside were making a right racket! Safely hidden within a hole in the tree trunk, the chicks weren't visible but I enjoyed watching the two parents making feeding trips back and forth to the nest.
  • At the bottom end of Merecroft Pool in a Hawthorn, a cute fluffy bundle of juvenile Long-tailed Tits was huddling! I counted six of them and I think there were at least four adults bringing them food. In Long-tailed Tits, birds that are closely related (e.g. offspring from a previous year) to the parents of a brood may help the parents raise the chicks if they themselves have not been successful in breeding.
  • The Grey Heron family is going strong and I think the youngsters are now capable of flight. There were three juveniles and one adult on Merecroft Pool, and one juvenile and an adult on Wychall Reservoir, so I'm assuming that juvenile was from the Merecroft Pool brood. 
  • There were two families of Coots on Merecroft Pool, one with two chicks and the other with three.
  • I had nice views of the Whitethroat along the Rea Valley path west of Wychall Reservoir, and heard the other one again in the Peafields/West Extension.
  • Once again, I heard but did not see Green Woodpecker.
  • Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were still plentiful, but I haven't heard or seen Willow Warbler for a couple of weeks now - wonder if they are still around?
  • More butterflies this week - Green-veined White are now on the wing, and there were still Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell about.
  • I was just finishing up my walk in the Peafields/West Extension when I realised that a Muntjac Deer was coming towards me seemingly without a care in the world! Unfortunately I didn't have the right lens on my camera for close-up photos and I didn't want to spook the deer by fumbling around with lenses, so I just kept still and took photos with what was already on my camera. The deer didn't seem to mind me watching it and in the end it came so close that even photos taken with the wrong lens were OK!
Everything is starting to look really lush now with the warmer temperatures getting everything growing fast - the trees were looking noticeably leafier than on my last visit, making it harder to see some of the birds!

Along the River Rea route.
Along the River Rea route (HDR).

The Paddocks (HDR).

Along the River Rea (HDR).

The River Rea (HDR).
My Speedwell obsession continues, there was quite a bit of Germander Speedwell growing near Merecroft Pool including this large patch right next to the path:

Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys).

Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys).

Here's a couple of shots of baby birds!

This came out better than I thought it would actually. Best viewed large, you should be able to see the young Long-tailed Tits in the centre.
One of the Coot families.
Here are the best shots I managed of the Muntjac - best viewed full size!

Muntjac deer.

Muntjac deer.


Blackbird Goldfinch Mallard
Blackcap Great Crested Grebe Moorhen
Blue Tit Great Spotted Woodpecker Mute Swan
Bullfinch Great Tit Nuthatch
Buzzard Green Woodpecker Robin
Canada Goose Greenfinch Song Thrush
Carrion Crow Grey Heron Starling
Chaffinch House Sparrow Stock Dove
Chiffchaff Jackdaw Swallow
Coal Tit Jay Treecreeper
Coot Lesser Black-backed Gull Whitethroat
Dunnock Long-tailed Tit Woodpigeon
Feral Pigeon Magpie Wren

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