Trip reports

Field Trip - RSPB Sandwell Valley

Male blackcap in hawthorn bush

Sunday, 23 April 2017

It could be because this reserve is called a 'Country Park' that puts people off but we never seem to attract a full coach. However,once you get there, you really do feel as if you are away from it all in the middle of a great nature reserve. RSPB Sandwell Valley forms just part of the unique green space that is Sandwell Valley Country Park and is a good starting point for exploring this massive area. There are large areas of woodland, meadows, pools and streams and a network of trails to explore, meaning that there are plenty of options to choose from if you've got the time.

Starting off at the RSPB Visitor Centre which opened in 2015, the regular visitors to the bird feeders put on a good show as usual with Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, House and Tree Sparrows, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and some excellent views of four male Bullfinches. Also common around here were Ring-necked Parakeets, which were making quite a racket!

Heading away from the centre, the Circular Trail took us through a grassland /woodland area where spring migrants were starting to show up. Although a little difficult to see at times because of the greenery on the trees, with a little patience, views of Blackcap, Willow Warbler and an exceptional number of Chiffchaffs were achieved - all showing off and setting out their breeding territories. Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were also seen and the odd Goldcrest was seen flitting around in the conifers.

Opposite the Lakeside Hide, a small island which initially looked pretty empty soon revealed Little-ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Lapwing. Common Sandpiper and Redshank were also seen. Along the edges of Forge Mill Lake were Sedge and Reed warblers and Reed Buntings - mainly in the form of quick glimpses in the fringes of the reed beds. A Kingfisher was spotted flying along the edges of the lake before coming to rest in overhanging trees.

All along the River Tame, which almost surrounds the reserve, were good numbers of Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martin. The relatively few ducks on the lake included Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Pochard and Tufted Duck. A few Great-crested Grebes and Goosander as well as both Common and Arctic terns were also present.

Birds of prey seen during the day included Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel and a Short-eared Owl was also seen.

Foxes, including a stunning one in his russet coat. were amongst the other wildlife seen. Butterflies showing well were Comma, Speckled Wood, Orange-tip and Green-vein and quite a few bee species were also seen by some.

The place was really buzzing in readiness for the breeding season.

27 people attended
69 bird species seen