Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Birding the Beacon- Autumn 2014

As I'm sure many local birders would now be aware, I have attained somewhat of a bug for birding Sedgley Beacon.

There are many reasons for it, but the main one being that it has became clearly obvious that the Beacon is a regular stopover for migrating thrushes, and during the correct winds, can result in some rather spectacular vismig.

Perhaps the most significant 'discovery' has been the string of Ring Ouzels I managed to find. Through the autumn, I managed to connect with 4 of these scarce migrant Thrushes,  3 adults and a juvenile as they paused (however briefly) on the hill. The first day of October brought the first two, combined with a fair bit of vismig, as both a male and a female stopped briefly within the Hawthorn valley on the NW side of the hill. Both of the birds were picked up in flight as they dropped down calling, their harsh chacking call being very distinctive. It was by call that both the birds on the 15/10 were also picked out, but the SW winds on this day revealed a significant movement of Thrushes, with about 2500 (of various species) noted by me flying over in the morning. Further watching by another observer later in the day added another 1500 birds, so the passage was certainty sustained throughout the day (and the night by the sounds of hundreds of migrating Redwings flying over my house). The first bird dropped into the NW valley to feed, as did many of the Thrushes it was migrating with, but the juvenile flew very low along the entire length of the hill (just above head height!) before dropping into bushes below the masts.

I'm sure more regular watching over the coming years could lead to more records as I'm pretty sure it must be a regular stop over site for the species!

Female Ring Ouzel- Despite being a poor photo, note the very pale wings and if zoomed in, the pale edging to the belly feathers.

As already mentioned, I also logged all the regular thrush species, and often in good numbers, with the 15th proving to be by far the best day!

Vismig was regular, and included my first Golden Plover for the site (15/10) and regular movements of Meadow Pipit and Wagtails. This included 2 Tree Pipit (3/09),11 Grey Wagtail (1/10) and the first real 'finch push' of the year, with 70c Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 40 Linnet, 2 Redpoll sp and 5 Siskin going over on a 9 'finch species day' (15/10). A single Hobby gave stunning views on 1/10 as it migrated at eye height over the plateau of the hill at about 30ft range. As you can imagine, leading to some rather stunning views as it glanced at me as it barreled past.

Tree Pipit (Trust me!)

Away from vismig, there was also a good number of Passerines, with Redstarts present on 3/09 (x2) and 15/09 (1) with a Spotted Flycatcher also present on the latter date (And another nearby but off the Hill) 


A pair of Stonechat appeared on the 15/10, giving great views from my vismig point.

Male Stonechat

Combined with decent movements of regular species, it often led to some very enjoyable birding, so rest assured, I will continue birding the site!

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