Monday, 21 July 2014

Sandwell Valley - July 2014

Yesterday I was back volunteering at Sandwell Valley after a few months off due to Open University work taking over a bit (with the exception of a couple of early-morning visits for the breeding bird survey). It was great to be back for a full day!

As there were enough volunteers in the hide for the morning, Alf and I went on a wander around the reserve. Bird-wise it was quiet, and the weather was rather warm and muggy, although we didn't get any rain (unlike the previous day, during which Birmingham was battered by torrential rain and thunderstorms!). Alf was keen to look for new plants to try and ID - he said as his eyes weren't as good as they used to be, he was getting more interested in things that keep a bit more still than birds! So we spent a pleasant morning seeking out plants - here are a few that we spotted.

Cut-leaved Cranes-bill (Geranium dissectum).

Lots of this about, Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum).

This was growing in the damp boggy spot outside the hide, it looks like Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga).

This was also in the same spot as the Brooklime, I think it is Marsh-Bedstraw (Galium palustre).
We also saw a fair few butterflies, including loads of Gatekeepers, a Comma, Meadow Browns, Small Skippers, Large and Small Whites.

A shy and retiring Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina).

Gatekeeper enjoying the sun (Pyronia tithonus).
Stopping off quickly at the visitor centre before heading down to the hide for the afternoon, we heard the Rose-ringed Parakeets squawking away in the trees behind the centre. From the hide there was a bit more bird action, including 3 Oystercatchers (one of them being one of this year's juveniles), a Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk which each separately caused mayhem among the Black-headed Gulls and Lapwings when they flew over, Common Terns, a Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher and a few Pochards. We had a slow but steady stream of visitors all afternoon so I had a bit of time to continue practicing my digiscoping and sketching.

This Pochard was about the best I managed through my scope - a bit vignetted but I like it.
Very variable sketches of Black-headed Gulls!

Pochard sketches, was trying to get him preening on the left.

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