Archived Guestbook entries for 2009

    At around 4 pm on the shortest day of the year I heard a woodpecker drumming on the Knapp & Papermill Reserve. Each "drum" consisted of 5 or 6 individual strikes on the tree. This seems very early. How can one distinguish which species of woodpecker is making the sound?  Derek Bradley


    The garden here in Upper Welland is alive with birds in this cold spell. Lots of blue and great tits, 1 willow or marsh tit, chaffinches, goldfinches, blackbirds, starlings, 2 blackcaps (male and female), 2 redpolls (both female), greater spotted woodpecker, pied wagtail, 2 robins as well as the magpies and jackdaws. I haven't seen the sparrowhawk today which is a surprise.
    Hope you all have a peaceful Christmas and that the New Year brings some excellent natural history sightings.  Margaret Vernon


    First redpoll of the season on the nyjer seed today here in Upper Welland. As with the siskin last week, I only saw it once - and incidentally, I haven't seen the siskin again. Perhaps the cold weather at the end of this coming week will bring in more.  Margaret Vernon


    I have to pass on the sad news of the death of Dr Ernest Putley of Malvern. Ernie and his late wife Cynthia were much involved during the early days of the WWT particularly in the setting up of the Brotheridge Green and Ailshurst Coppice reserves. Brian Iles


    I had the first siskin (male) of the winter on the nyjer seed in the garden today in Upper Welland. I only saw it the once and it didn't stay too long, seeming to be scared off by a greater spotted woodpecker that is feeding on the fat block.No sighting of redpolls yet - it is still early for me to see them here, and no regular sightings of blackcaps. Lots of blue and great tits and starlings though. Margaret Vernon


    Redwings have arrived! A very large flock passed over our garden at Alfrick Pound today and a small breakaway group (maybe 20 or 30) sampled the lovely red berries on our holly tree - not much chance of any berries remaining until Christmas! Carol Bradley


    I have been away for almost a week - spending a few days on Islay. Very nice it was too! The barnacle and whitefronted geese were sights to behold as expected. Also saw the cattle egret that was visiting.
    This my first morning back, I was visited by 4 blackcaps in the garden - 3 males and 1 female. The first winter sightings here for me. I don't like the dark nights, but the bonus of winter is the sightings of visitors! Margaret Vernon


    I continue to see painted lady butterflies (between 1 and 4) on my verbena bonarensis when the sun is shining. I had 2 earlier this afternoon.
    What an exciting view for Derek of an otter in his area! I am very envious!
    Margaret Vernon


    Yesterday afternoon there were 14 Goldfinches around our feeders ( mainly eating seed that had fallen to the ground) here at Alfrick Pound. See photo of a group of 10 under the photographs tab on the left. Derek Bradley


    I got a sighting of an otter at 0930 on 14 Oct 09 on Leigh Brook. I was looking upstream when I saw the otter swimming towards me in the middle of the stream about 20 m away. It moved to its left and settled near the steep bank, still in the water, for about 20 s (possibly watching me) before crossing to the opposite bank where it went out of sight because of trees in my foreground. I moved in order to try to view round the obstructing foliage but it had obviously retreated up stream. At all times it was swimming rather slowly and didn't appear to be showing signs of stress or panic because of my presence. I had my dog with me on a lead. I would say it was at least 4 feet long and all features that I saw fitted those of an otter. I was surprised at the amount of ripples it created; I had always though they were much more covert. Unfortunately I didn't have camera or binoculars with me but I think any additional movement in using them might have scared it off prematurely. Weather was bright and sunny. Derek Bradley


    Painted Lady butterflies still regularly visiting our garden in Leigh Sinton --a pair seen on14/10/09, one on 12/10/09 and at least three on 16/10/09. Even got some decent photos of them! The late autumn sunshine seems to bring out these butterflies which appear to be attracted to the Verbena bonariensis which is still blooming well. Roger Wicker


    Birds regularly seen on or below our feeders are Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, House Sparrows, Dunnocks, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Collared Doves. A Little Owl has been heard regularly in the early morning and a Kestrel often quarters the field opposite our house. A Blackbird is sometimes seen around the garden feeding on fallen apples and a Mistle Thrush has been feeding on mistletoe on an apple tree during the last few days. Brief visitors lately have been Magpies, two Starlings and a Jay. Regular overfliers are Buzzards (lately with a youngster perched nearby calling incessantly), two Ravens and flocks of Jackdaws, and a Sparrowhawk flew low over the garden briefly last weekend. A Painted Lady butterfly has been seen in the last few days warming up on paving slabs and visiting garden flowers during the sunny weather . Carol Bradley


    Woodpeckers on peanuts.
    I have had regular visits from Greater Spotted Woodpeckers on my peanut feeders for the last 3 years. There is one there now as I write. They would be from the wooded lower slopes of North Hill.
    Brian Iles


    Turtle Doves. I have heard a Turtle Dove by the Mill Pond on Castlemorton Common. There have been reports of sightings at Coombe Green and I assume that this is probably the same one. Brian Iles


    I had a report from a friend that last week he had seen a group of 5 kestrels flying together above the Rushy Valley on the Malvern Hills. I assume that this was a family group, apparently the younger birds were engaged in playful aerobatics.  Brian Iles


    House Martins gathering around the Worcestershire Beacon today. I guessed at 200. I could not see the east side, and there were more on adjoining hill, perhaps 50? Anyone able to count better than me? All House Martins, I saw no Swallows. Roger


    The rare bracket fungi Ganoderma resinaceum (Lacquered Bracket) are fruiting again this year on Oak trees in Malvern Wells area. Reported last year in the Malvern Gazette these often overlooked, inedible, fungi are around now and looking very bright and colourful. Sheila Spence


    Saw Muntjac Deer at edge of Castlemorton Common (Hollybush end) and Pine Marten in woods edge of Raggedstone Hill. Bill Cole

    Message from the website moderator: Bill, Johnny Birks, our local expert on Pine Martens would really like to contact you about this sighting. Could you please email me a contact (tele no or email address) at Thank you.


    Has anyone seen or heard any turtle doves? There have not been many records or sightings in Worcestershire and in our area to the west of the Malvern Hills lately and the birding community would really like to have more (if there are any more!) to enter in the BTO BIrd Atlas. So if you see or hear one please let us know via this website or by e-mail, with a grid reference or reasonably accurate location.  Carol Bradley


    Early this morning heard Munjac deer barking loudly, near Mathon.  Roger


    Two great spotted woodpeckers have spent a lot of time on our peanut bird feeder (once for a single session of about 8 minutes) - probably a parent and offspring. This is certainly something we have never seen before. They have in fact continued to come (mostly just one of them) for nearly six weeks up to the present. Edward Williams


    We have also been seeing more goldfinches this year - a couple of days ago at least six were flying around the trees in our garden. Admittedly this might be because a few months ago we put up a niger seed feeder and it didn't take long to have at least two goldfinches, often more, feeding from it daily. They do love these tiny seeds. We have also been leaving seedheads on plants after flowering, rather than deadheading or cutting them down. According to the RSPB, goldfinches have been increasing steadily in numbers for the last few years.  Carol Bradley


    Also saw a pair of cuckoos recently, flying and calling over Leigh Sinton. Has anyone else noticed an increase of goldfinches this year? A rare visitor previously, we have had three sharing our garden and two neighbouring ones this year and don't seem bothered by our presence. Simon Pugh


    One (or more?) of our local (Alfrick Pound) cuckoos is still calling incessantly - perhaps a male who can't find a mate? Carol Bradley


    Seen on east side of North hill, mother stoat and two young. Mother moving them up the hill. Thankfully on a rocky part, so dogs, and humans not likely to go there. On dog subject. I do not think people should let them run about into undergowth disturbing wildlife. Why can't they keep them on paths, and grassy areas? Roger


    May 29th. A lot of Painted Lady butterflies in Great Malvern cemetery. Brian Iles


    Whilst on a family visit to the Mill Pond on Castemorton Common, on Monday 25th May, saw three Cuckoos, heard a Turtle-Dove and my nephew, Nigel Jones, spotted a rare Red-Tailed Carder Bee. Brian Iles


    It looks as if the house martins are back in Worcestershire at last. Several were seen today flying round our house at Alfrick Pound. They were attempting to build a nest in the eaves but unfortunately since we had UPVC bargeboard and soffit fitted a few years ago nest-building has not been possible. Derek Bradley


    Painted Lady. Saw my first Painted Lady of the year this morning (27 May) in our garden near Coombe Green Common. Last year I saw none.
    This butterfly was sigificantly smaller than usual.
    Orange Tips still on the wing, so perhaps we will have a better year for butterflies.
    Rosemary Eustace


    Yesterday we saw two grey wagtails hopping around on exposed pebbles by the side of Leigh Brook in the Knapp & Papermill Reserve, Alfrick Pound. The two red-legged partridges are wandering around our garden again, together with a pheasant and a squirrel, eating the fallen seed and peanut husks under the bird feeders. Our vegetable patch doesn't stand a chance! See Photograph page. Carol Bradley


    We also saw some swifts on Friday at around 9-30 am over the entrance to the caravan site at Hanley Swan.  Has anyone seen cranes around Longdon Marsh or Castlemorton? Also - urgent! - has anyone seen house martins yet? There have been very few sightings around the Malvern area even though plenty of swallows and swifts are now being reported. Six speckled wood butterflies dancing together earlier today in a patch of sunlight in Torr Coppice at the Knapp and Papermill reserve - a wonderful sight! See photographs in photographs tab.  Carol Bradley


    Have just had my first sight and hearing of 3 screeching swifts here in Upper Welland - what a joy!
    Thurs 7 May 12 noon.
     Margaret Vernon


    I was gardening at home, near Castlemorton, this afternoon (Monday 4/5/9) and two cranes flew overhead (large heron like birds, flappy wings, trailing legs, outstretched neck and head, grey wings with black ends). They flew towards the north, circled east of malvern, and then carried on northwards. They were hardly inconspicuous! In view of their rarity in this area I'd be interested if anyone else saw them and any views on whether they would be escapees or truely wild? Don Lupton


    Turtle Dove - has returned! Always a relief, considering what a hazardous journey is undertaken. It has been purring for most of the day on the southern edge of Coombe Green common. Last year first heard on the 1st May, but in 2007 it was on the 22nd April. William Eustace


    Saw a solitary swallow on Easter Sunday at Workhouse Bank, Alfrick, the first I have seen this year, although I know they have previously been seen at Knapp and Papermill. Stephen Coulter


    Around British Camp earlier this morning: many Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers singing - an excellent view of the latter. Two Dunnocks were clearly alarmed by me when moving from the reservoir to higher ground - I guess they have nested in the bushes I was passing. Male Redstart feeding to right of main path above the reservoir - disturbed by a noisy dog & loud owner (I was not impressed!) and flew off. Seen later (presume same one, but possibly not) to west of Clutters Cave singing his heart out on top of ash tree. Lots of Meadow Pipits, Greater Spotted Woodpecker seen, one Green Woodpecker heard, two Swallows but no Wheatear or Ring Ouzel. A very pleasant hour spent.

    Margaret Vernon


    Male Redstart still in the Clutters Cave area at 10.45 today up on the Hills - 2 sightings on different trees (same bird I presume) to left of the cave, but a little north. Lots of Meadow Pipits and an apology for a Willow Warbler heard down near the reservoir, but I am not convinced. No Wheatears - and surprisingly no Woodpeckers seen or heard - very unusual. Little Grebe on the reservoir. Also saw a siskin which I don't think I have seen on the Hills before although they must be there. I still have several redpolls in the garden - 11 yesterday - and a few siskins. Margaret Vernon


    Ten buzzards flew low over my house in Barnards Green, heading towards the hills where they circled in thermals for several minutes before moving off.  Margaret Rodway


    Birds of note seen today (Sat). Ryall/Ripple gravel pits: lapwing, reed bunting, 4 little grebes in breeding plumage and calling, green woodpecker, lesser black-back gull, singing skylarks.
    Berrow Pools: 3 swallows, reed bunting, chiffchaff, several tufted ducks, pied wagtails perching on sticks and catching insects. New Pool (Poolbrook): 2 great crested grebes in breeding plumage, 1 sitting on nest and also displaying to each other, 4 teal, nuthatch heard. Glad I ignored the weather forecast as I only got a little wet at the end! Margaret Vernon


    We haven't seen our two blackcaps for a few weeks - we assume they were winter migrants. Four goldfinches have been feeding on our new thistle seed feeder, as well as on seedheads left on garden perennials from last year - I was about to cut them all down ready for new growth this spring so it's a good job I didn't. Two (male and female) greenfinches were feeding on the ground below the feeders - they have not been as numerous in our garden (Alfrick Pound) as in past years. Two pied wagtails were seen on the roof of our house - they are very infrequent visitors to our garden. Buzzards have been circling overhead, mobbed by rooks; three robins are often to be seen on the lawn or in the hedge (where is the fourth?). Bluetits are in and out of a nest box. Other birds around the garden are a pair of blackbirds, several house sparrows, a song thrush - the mistle thrush that visits in the winter has gone - two longtailed tits, a great tit (used to be much more numerous), raven and kestrel passing overhead, two resident collared doves and the ubiqitous magpies and wood pigeons. Carol Bradley


    Had a female brambling in the garden (Upper Welland) late this afternoon, feeding on the sunflower hearts. As far as I am aware this is a first for the garden - very nice too! Margaret Vernon


    2 chiffchaffs heard and seen at St Wulstan's Nature Reserve this morning - such an encouraging sound! They are my first summer migrants. Margaret Vernon


    Red Kite spotted over Brockamin Fishing Pools, near Leigh at 14.30hrs 19/2/09.  Nick Lobo


    Yesterday morning (Tues 17.2.09) I was drawn to get the bins to look at a small bird flitting about in the garden and was very surprised to see it was a goldcrest - I have never seen one here before, so a first for me. It only stayed for a short time and then flew off in the direction of St Wulstan's Nature Reserve. I still have a number of redpolls and siskins visiting requently.
    The 2 pied wagtails that came throughout the time of the snow have obviously returned to their 'normal' feeding sites. Lovely viewing! Margaret Vernon


    If the weather warms up as the forcast suggests next week,it will be worth looking out for migrating Toads at night. They look a little like leaves on the road, so try not to run them over. We have erected our 'Toad' fence again this year after the success last year. The idea is that the fence stops the Toads crossing the road by forming a barrier. The Toads try to get around the fence, and fall into buckets set in the ground. I can then collect them each morning and take them to the pond. This avoids the Toads getting run over. Last year I collected 600 Toads, three times the normal number. Trevor Smart


    We saw eight long-tailed tits feeding on our fat balls today, and a nuthatch hanging upside down on the peanut feeder. Carol Bradley


    Over the last few days our male blackcap at Alfrick Pound has been replaced by a female and today is the first time we have been lucky enough to see the two together. They flew off together; are they a breeding pair? They feed under the bird feeder which is about two metres from our kitchen window. There is a hawthorn hedge a metre beyond the feeder which all the birds, including the blackcaps, make full use of. The blackcaps feed mainly on the ground on apples and on seed and peanuts which drop down from the feeder when other birds feed. Derek Bradley


    Like many thousands (or even millions) of people we took part in the RSPB’s 30th Big Garden Birdwatch. We thought it would be interesting to share our results and hopefully hear what other people in the Malvern area were able to record. Over a one hour period on 25th January 2009 we observed the following in our garden at Alfrick Pound. The number indicated is the largest number of species seen at any one time. Derek Bradley

    Song thrush 1

    Great tit 3

    Blue tit 13

    Magpie 1

    Wood pigeon 1

    Dunnock 3

    Robin 3

    Coal tit 1

    House sparrow 2

    Chaffinch 2 (1m, 1f)

    Blackbird 4 (2m, 2f)

    Blackcap 1 m

    Marsh tit 1

    Mistle thrush 1

    Long tailed tits 4

    Greenfinch 2 (1m, 1f)

    P.S. The results of the BGBW can be found on