Having finally more or less shaken off my cold, I decided on a short trip at lunchtime to the new RSPB Middleton Lakes Reserve in the Tame Valley.
The official RSPB access road to the Reserve goes past the Aston Villa Training Ground at Bodymoor Heath - not that you can see a lot as the whole place is surrounded by banks to deter prying eyes. Nice to see a full car park though - hopefully, the first team putting in a double training shift after Monday night's performance! Be warned though if you use this road to access the reserve as its full of potholes especially near the reserve end - more suited to a 4 x 4 than a Vauxhall Corsa!
The car park was fairly full and the reserve certainly looks as though its proving very popular.
I spent quite a while watching the feeders near the Heronry viewpoint which also overlooks a reedbed and there were lots of robins, blue great and coal tits and a great spotted woodpecker flew over.
Walking along the woodland trail there were plenty of blackbirds, magpies, wood pigeons, carrion crows and a flock of long-tailed tits. At the far end of the woodland, near Fisher's Mill Bridge which goes over the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, I watched a flock of goldfinches feeding on seedheads and saw a chiffchaff. A flock of fieldfare flew over - my first of the autumn apart from the odd sighting in Wales.
I didn't take the camera in the end mainly because there are no hides yet (just a couple of willow screens) and the birds are just far too far away to take photos. Here's a view though of one of the many pools visible from the viewing platform as you enter the wetland part of the reserve taken when we visited in May.
I only did part of the wetland trail but the pools were full of canada geese, tufted duck, coot, wigeon, moorhen, mute swan, mallard, lapwing and teal. I spent ages checking one of the bunds - which has been receiving regular visits from Short Eared Owls - but the only bird I saw there today was a hovering kestrel.
Retracing my steps I saw several pheasant in a field at the sign of the canal and a grey heron flew over as I approached the car park.
I didn't see anything unusual or exciting but it was a lovely walk and great to get out in the fresh air again and watch some birds. This Reserve is just going to get better and better over the next few years.
Dungeness mid-May birds
1 hour ago