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Staffordshire

Nuthatch
Nuthatch Sitta europaea ©Martin Kessel Website

Birding Staffordshire

Staffordshire (abbreviated to Staffs) is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. It adjoins Cheshire to the north west, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire to the south east, West Midlands and Worcestershire to the south, and Shropshire to the west.

In the north and in the south, the county is hilly, with wild moorlands and uplands of the Peak District in the far north, and Cannock Chase an area of natural beauty in the south. In the middle regions, the landscape is low and undulating. Throughout the entire county there are vast and important coalfields. In the southern part, there are also rich iron ore deposits. The largest river is the Trent. Staffordshire has an extensive network of canals including the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, Caldon Canal, Coventry Canal, Shropshire Union Canal, Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and Trent and Mersey Canal. The soil is chiefly clay and agriculture was not highly developed until the mechanisation of farms.

Staffordshire is a beautiful rural county of scenic contrast, stretching from the Gritstone Hills on the edge of the Peak District National Park, to the flood plains of the river Trent, to the edge of the West Midlands conurbation. The area includes the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the National Forest, together with the Forest of Mercia, a community forest.

Prime sites for rarities are Blithfield and Belvide reservoirs in the centre of the county.

Top Sites

Aqualate Mere National Nature Reserve

Information

Satellite View

Aqualate Mere NNR is situated 3km to the east of Newport, at the heart of a private estate, centred on Aqualate Mere - the largest natural lake in the West Midlands. Extensive reed beds surround this NNR which supports wildfowl throughout the year. Marsh and Willows Tits can be found feeding new the hide on the east shore…

Belvide Reservoir

Satellite View

Situated near Gailey, 7 miles NW of Wolverhampton, the reservoir has 3 hides on the south bank. It is good all year round, but spring/autumn passage and winter usually throw up wader and waterfowl rarities. Access to the hides is by permit only, available from the West Midlands Bird Club.

Berry Hill

Satellite View

Situated on high ground in the middle of the Stoke-on-Trent conurbation, the horse paddocks and fields are particularly good for spring and autumn passage migrants such as ring-ouzel, redstart, whinchat, wheatear and black redstart…

Blithfield Reservoir

Satellite View

Situated just north of Rugeley, near Abbots Bromley. The largest reservoir in Staffordshire, this site regularly attracts passage waders and wintering duck, with some rarities each year. Best in autumn and winter. The road causeway over the reservoir is good for casual observations, but hides and muddy bays are situated at the NW end, furthest from the dam wall. Access to the latter is by permit only, available from the West Midlands Bird Club.

Cannock Chase

Satellite View

Situated in a large area north of Cannock. A large area of wood and heath-land, notable for nightjars in the summer, especially near the Katyn Memorial. Also holds a few woodlark, hobby in summer, great grey shrike in winter, goshawk, lesser-spotted woodpecker, and the usual woodland birds. Best in early morning or evening - avoid the large crowds during summer daytime.

Chasewater Reservoir

Satellite View

Situated near Brownhills, this is a prime spot for Iceland and Glaucous gulls in the large winter roost. Park at the car park at the southern end and scope the roost. Also interesting for passage migrants and wintering waterfowl, especially in the areas to the north which are cut off from the water sports taking place on the main reservoir.

Coombes Valley Nature Reserve

Satellite View

Owned by the RSPB, but accessible by anyone, this is a great site for the bird lover rather than twitcher. The best time to visit is late spring/early summer, when you are almost certain to see pied flycatcher, redstart and wood warbler. Also present are lesser spotted woodpeckers, dippers and kingfishers.

Middleton Lakes Nature Reserve

Information

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Opened in 2011, this reserve near Tamworth on the east of the county, borders Warwickshire and was previously a working quarry. New marshland habitat is being developed but the site is already attractive to waders, waterfowl and marshland dwellers. Recent rarities include Least Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper and Glossy Ibis…

North Staffordshire Moorlands

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As with most moor-land, it is difficult to predict where to find some birds, but a summer walk could reveal ring ousel, hen harrier and short-eared owl. The river Dane between Danebridge and Gradbach is good for dippers, Knotbury for twite in the summer, and red grouse can be found on most areas with heather (e.g. The Roaches and Lum Edge). Swallow Moss was the place to go for black grouse, with a specially built hide overlooking the lek, but virtually no birds were present in 1999, and it may become extinct in Staffordshire. Rudyard Lake and Tittesworth Reservoir are also worth investigating for water and waterside birds. The latter has a conservation area with hides.

Whitemore Haye

There are several gravel pits in this area, some still being worked, so this is an excellent area to look for passage waders. The first pit on the left as you come down the access road is particularly worth investigating. Look too for corn buntings and tree sparrows.

Contributor

County Recorder

Nick Pomiankowski

22 The Villas, West End, Stoke ST4 5AQ

01782 849682

staffs-recorder@westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 313

Useful Reading

A Checklist of the Birds of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands

(and Guide to Status and Record Submission) | West Midland Bird Club | 2011 | Paperback | 32 pages, b/w illustrations, tables |

ISBN: #194352

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The New Birds of the West Midlands

(covering Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and the former West Midlands County) | By Graham Harrison & Janet Harrison | West Midlands Bird Club | 2005 | 496 pages, colour photos, line drawings, maps |

ISBN: 0950788120

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in West Midlands

by F Gribble, G Harrison, H Griffiths, J Winsper & S Coney | Christopher Helm | 2007 | Paperback | 343 pages, 53 maps, 24 line drawings |

ISBN: 9780713664195

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Brewood Ringers

Website

Most of our ringing is done in the UK at regular sites including the Chillington Estate (all year), Belvide Reservoir (late summer), Wm Wheat & Son (All Year), Lower Drayton Farm (all year) and Marsh Lane Reserve (all year). We are also fortunate enough to be able to hold ringing sessions on Cannock Chase.

Chasewater Wildlife Group

Website

Chasewater Country Park is situated in the heart of the Forest of Mercia, on the southern edge of Staffordshire and immediately north of the West Midland conurbation. It lies on the 150 m contour 3 miles south of the Iron-Age hillfort of Castle Ring, which at 244m is the highest point on Cannock Chase. The Country Park covers 300 ha of which the lake and dam make up 93h and Jeffrey`s Swag 10ha. The Norton Bog restoration area, which includes the Slurry Pool (5ha), is additional to the Country Park…

RSPB Burton & South Derbyshire Local group

Website

Our aim is to support the RSPB in their conservation work. and to introduce members of the public to all aspects of Flora and Fauna. We are a friendly group and do not have any membership fees. Do feel free to join us on our field trips and indoor meetings.

RSPB Lichfield & District Local Group

Webpage

The group's aim is to support actively the work of the RSPB in the local community and to involve RSPB members and the wider public in the Society's conservation, public affairs, education, fundraising and other activities. We have regular monthly indoor meetings locally throughout the year and have occasional day-trips to local nature reserves.

RSPB North Staffs Local Group

Webpage

Local RSPB members group. Details of programme of events and places to birdwatch in North Staffordshire…

RSPB South West Staffordshire Local Group

Webpage

This is the website of the South West Staffordshire Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

Website

The Staffordshire Wildlife Trust was founded in 1969 to conserve wildlife, wildlife habitats and sites of geological importance in Staffordshire. It aims to promote the conservation of the natural environment for the public benefit and to provide opportunities for people to enjoy and to learn about it…

SWT Leek Group

Website

Nature Reserves in Staffordshire Moorlands - In late 1999 the Trust purchased 160 acres at Cotton Dell, near Oakamoor; further details in future leaflets and on this web-site. At Coombes Valley nature reserve near Leek the Trust has an agreement over 60 acres of the 260 acre total. The whole site is managed by the RSPB. The Trust also has an agreement over nature reserves at Longsdon Woods, Spring Cottage and Ward's Quarry. Access by permit only…

West Midland Bird Club

Website

The West Midland Bird Club offers the widest range of indoor and field meetings for its members. Probably more than any other provincial bird club in the whole of the UK.

WMBC Stafford Branch

Webpage

The Staffordshire research programme includes the important Staffordshire Ecological Records project. Integral to this project is the Online Bird Atlas.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)

LNR Berryhill Fields

Information

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Berryhill Fields is 68 hectares of grassland in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, between the housing estates of Bentilee & Berryhill and the town of Fenton, Staffordshire. It is a local nature reserve. The main beneficiaries of this diversity are the birds and mammals. Five species of warbler, including the uncommon grasshopper warbler, breed alongside nationally threatened farmland species such as grey partridge, snipe and skylark. Skylarks epitomise the Fields, delivering their songs even on cold, windy winter days with the freedom that the Fields offer.

National Forest: Branston Water Park

Information PDF

Satellite View

Branston Water Park is a premier wildlife site in East Staffordshire. Located just outside Burton off the A38 Branston Water Park was originally an open cast gravel pit and is now home to many species of plant and animal, both common and nationally rare…

NNR Aqualate Mere

Information

Satellite View

Aqualate Mere NNR, managed by Natural England, is situated 3km to the east of Newport, at the heart of a private estate, centred on Aqualate Mere - the largest natural lake in the West Midlands. Extensive reed beds surround this NNR which supports wildfowl throughout the year. Marsh and Willows Tits can be found feeding new the hide on the east shore…

RSPB Coombes Valley

Webpage

Satellite View

This is a delightful oak woodland to walk through – especially in spring and early summer when lots of migrating birds come to breed at the reserve. Birds you may see on the steep valley sides include flycatchers, redstarts and wood warblers. There are a wide variety of butterflies to spot too.

RSPB Middleton Lakes

Webpage

Satellite View

Since we acquired the site in 2007, we've worked hard to make sure the final restoration benefits birds, wildlife and visitors. The area is already regionally important for overwintering wildfowl such as pochard, tufted ducks and smew. Middleton Lakes will become the most important site for breeding waders in the Midlands. The lakes, reedbeds, meadows and woodlands make it one of the best birdwatching sites in the area.

SWT Croxall Lakes

Webpage

Satellite View

Previously quarried for sand and gravel, Croxall Lakes now provides a home for a wide range of wintering and breeding birds.

SWT Doxey Marshes

Webpage

Satellite View

A wetland oasis near the centre of Stafford and one of the country's best bird watching sites

SWT Highgate Common

Webpage

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An ancient lowland heath buzzing with rare wildlife

SWT Loynton Moss

Webpage

Satellite View

Discover a surprise around every corner in a unique landscape formed by retreating ice sheets at the end of the last age, 10,000 years ago. Great for wetland birds.

SWT The Roaches

Webpage

Satellite View

Breathtaking views, amazing wildlife - the gateway to Staffordshire’s Peak District good for Red Grouse, Curlew, Peregrine Falcon, Meadow Pipit and Green Hairstreak butterflies.

WMBC Blithfiled Reservoir

Webpage

Satellite View

Blithfield Reservoir is a large expanse of water covering some 324 ha and owned by South Staffordshire Water plc who lease the right to birdwatch at the site to the West Midland Bird Club. A Bird Club Management Team act in an advisory capacity in connection to the birding and conservation administration of the site. Blithfield is regarded as one of the region's best bird-watching sites that provides interest year round. The reservoir and much of the surrounding woodland is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the stewardship of Natural England.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Staffordshire Birding

Bird News & Sightings

Welcome to Staffordshire Birding. This blog will be updated with Staffordshire bird news on a daily basis

Staffs Bird News

@Staffsbirdnews

Run in conjunction with our Staffs Bird News Blog providing rare/scarce news as it happens from around Staffordshire.

Tame Valley Birding

Sightings

Sightings from in and around the Middle Tame Valley on the Warwickshire/Staffordshire Border.

WMBC-Staffs

Mailing Group

This mailing list is for discussion of birds and birding in the English county of Staffordshire, especially notable sightings and site reports, and the activities there, of the West Midland Bird Club (WMBC):

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Abbot's Haye

Accommodation

Abbot's Haye is a 7 bedroom country house with Tudor origins, standing in 6 acres of Staffordshire countryside, with 2 acres of mature gardens, where guests may relax or play. We are situated 4 miles from Alton Towers, 12 miles from the Potteries and the Peak District. Abbot's Haye has 4 en suite family rooms and 1 en suite double room available. Ample off-road parking is provided.

White Hart

Accommodation

A warm and welcoming traditional village pub, in the centre of the historic village of Alton, owned by the local community. You can stay here in our comfortable Bed and Breakfast accommodation only a mile away from Alton Towers.

Blogs

Nick Smith - Birding with the Clayheads

BLOG

A blog showing photos from my trips around Staffordhire and further a field…

Paul Shenton - Birding for Fun

BLOG

Last updated May 2016 - 40 year old birder who just loves birding.I have been at it since the age of 10 but with a few years break due to beer and then my own nippers I don't have my own patch as i like to go where ever my mood takes me. Tittersworth Rudyard & Norh Staffs Moors are my most regular Staffordshire spots.

Steve Nuttall - Belvide Birding

BLOG

Belvide Reservoir is a 180 acre canal feeder situated in south west Staffordshire. A total of 253 species have been recorded on the reserve. I've been birding Belvide since 1984 and have personally recorded 240 species with over 7600 visits made. Belvide is like a drug to me and I can honestly say I'm addicted.

Steve Seal - Notebook from Rudyard

BLOG

Rudyard Lake lies on the edge of the North Staffordshire moors and covers some 168 acres and is over 2 miles long. It is owned by the Canal & river Trust built in 1799 as a canal feeder. The area is abundant in wildlife and due to Rudyard still feeding the canal systems the water levels do vary , and many wading and migrating birds can be seen on the mud flats at the northern end. Rudyard holds a very impressive list of bird species with 166 recorded to date.

Tim Rowley - The Wandering Gronk

BLOG

I am just a simple novice birder based in Newcastle-U-Lyme in sunny Staffs, been birding seriously now since 2007 this blog just follows Lesley's and my wanderings around the country and what we see along the way…

Other Links

Birds of Keele University Arboretum

Webpage

The success of this page relies on feedback from you. Please pass on anything that you feel others might like to hear about by E-Mail or by post to Geography, Geology & the Environment, William Smith Building.

Enjoy Chasewater

Webpage

Chasewater was created in the late 18th century as a reservoir feed for the Wyrley and Essington Canal system. The remaining land was further molded through the years of coal mining that followed the construction of the reservoir. When coal mining ceased in the 1960's, the site became wasteland, with pitheads and workings from local coalmines.

Gulls in the West Midlands Region

Website

This is a personal website which presents data and images relating to gulls in the West Midlands Region (the counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the metropolitan county of the West Midlands).

Riverside Woodcraft Bird Tables

Website

Manufacturer of Bird Table Products and Wildlife supplies. Riverside Woodcraft is a family run Garden, Bird, and Wildlife company operating from our premises in Tamworth, Staffordshire. We manufacture quality wooden garden products from our own workshop and to our own designs. We distribute our exclusive range of Bird Tables, Nest Boxes, Hedgehog Houses and other similar items to trade and public.

Staffordshire Birding

Website

Welcome to Staffordshire Birding we hope to cover all news on a daily bases from Drayton Bassett in the south to the Moorlands in the north. This site will be for postings of bird news only with no gossip, questions or discussion threads…

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Martin Kessel

Gallery

Bird Photos from home and away….

Photographer - Steve Shaw

Gallery

I was very young, I have had an interest in wildlife and nature though I would never class myself as a bird watcher and would struggle to name any but the very obvious garden bird. Over the years I have reached a point where my hobby of photography and my long standing interest in wildlife have come together…