This weekend marks the annual RSPB Feed the Birds Day and as usual, Sandwell Valley will be hosting their very own and unique - Fiendish Feeding Frenzy!
Come along to the RSPB nature reserve on Sunday between 11.30 and 3.30 and learn how to make edible seedcake, creepy plate faces and many other halloween themed bird food.
Every year we've held this event it's been a whole lot of fun (and messy) but don't worry, we'll have plenty of wet wipes for you.
Two goosander appeared (8th.) marking the return of this wintering species to the reserve, these should be followed by many more. Small numbers of snipe, wigeon and teal have also returned. Good numbers of lapwing have also been moving in with a count of 116 (4th.).
Remnants of the summer visitors could still be seen including several warblers, such as lesser whitethroat, chiffchaff, blackcap with young and willow warbler near the marsh screen. Also hobby, wheatear and mixed flocks of house and sand martin together with some swallows. The last swift was recorded on the 7th.
Other interesting sightings were black-tailed godwit, common sandpiper, willow tit, 4 grey wagtail, jay, green woodpecker, reed bunting, long-tailed tit and kingfisher. Finches were much in evidence with goldfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch and bullfinch
Among the large flock of black-headed gulls the more eagle-eyed bird watchers were able to pick out a winter plumaged Mediterranean gull. Other water birds around the lake included 12 gadwall, 8 pochard, 14 shoveler, numerous tufted, as well as several grey heron, great-crested and little grebe, both with juveniles, 7 cormorant, and a water rail.
Buzzard, kestrel and sparrowhawk were also daily sightings.
Thanks to Colin Sedgwick for compiling this report
A project soon to get underway at RSPB’s Sandwell Valley nature reserve, on the outskirts of Birmingham, aims to safeguard the future of one of the UK’s most threatened birds.Thanks to recent funding from The Veolia Environmental Trust (see note 2), made through the Landfill Communities Fund, the Lapwing Recovery Project will enhance the nature reserve's habitat for lapwing - giving them a fighting chance.
RSPB Sandwell Valley has experienced a dramatic decline in the number of breeding lapwings. In 2010, only 3 lapwing chicks fledged, compared with 23 in the previous year.
Lapwings are currently on the red list species of Birds of Conservation Concern and have recently been listed on the UK BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) Priority Species. They are a priority species for the RSPB due to long-term breeding declines.
Lapwings need very specific conditions for breeding, feeding and over wintering. Muddy edges, shallow water and the right length of ‘sward’ (expanse of short grass) are key ingredients. They prefer an open wetland with no "predator perches" so that they feel safe to rest, nest and feed.
The Lapwing Recovery Project aims to reverse the decline in breeding lapwings by cultivating a mosaic of habitats essential for successful chick rearing.
Management techniques such as cutting marsh and wet grassland will be introduced to Sandwell Valley to create an optimum feeding and breeding habitat.
Clearing the scrub and vegetation from around the marsh and island will enhance nesting opportunities and gentle re-profiling around the edges of the marsh will create additional wet features such as small pools and muddy edges.
The project will also give members of the local community the opportunity to learn new skills. Local organisations will assist in practical habitat management, from cutting vegetation to counting lapwing.
Lee Copplestone Site Manager said: “It's amazing to see lapwings breeding and over wintering here at RSPB Sandwell Valley so close to Birmingham city centre.
“It is clear that birds will seek out even the smallest patch of suitable habitat and use it for feeding or shelter, which is why it is vital that we provide the right habitat for our wildlife.”
The Executive Director of the Veolia Environmental Trust, Margaret Cobbold said: “It is great that we are able to support the RSPB with the Lapwing Recovery Project through the Landfill Communities Fund.
“I can’t wait to see the work get underway and I hope that the habitat improvements will make a positive step towards recovering the number of threatened UK birds such as the lapwing.”