Sunday, 8 February 2009

8th February 2009

Went to Earlswood during the early morning and left during the early afternoon, and had one of my best birding trips to the lakes ever! My first decent sightings of the day were a Bullfinch at Little Dickens Wood and a Rook flying over a nearby field, though these birds were just outside the Earlswood area. Walking along Rumbush Lane from Cleobury Lane to Wood Lane, I saw a Goldcrest, a House Sparrow (I usually only hear this species!) and 2 Starlings (one of which took some nesting material under the roof of a building!?). I also saw 2 Treecreepers in trees near Earlswood Methodist Church. In New Fallings Coppice, 2 Nuthatches and 8+ Blue Tits were the most notable birds seen, whilst the drumming of a woodpecker could be heard.
Terry's Pool was almost entirely frozen over, with few waterbirds present. However, the pool's sides were alive with passerines, including another Treecreeper, another Nuthatch, 1 Coal Tit, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Chaffinches, 3+ Goldfinches, 3 Greenfinches, just 2 Siskins and 2 Bullfinches. I also heard a Green Woodpecker call from near the Mereside Fishing Pools.
I met a birder who I've met on previous occasions, and he told me that he'd seen a Common Gull at Engine Pool. Just to digress slightly, one of the other things he told me was that he hadn't seen any redpolls around the lakes this winter (me neither, but I believe one was seen late last year in the scrubland south of Windmill Pool) - anyone observed any recently? Anyway, at Engine Pool, sure enough there was an adult Common Gull there (lifer for me, believe it or not!), and a little later I saw 2 adults (possibly 3 in total) there. Although I don't always pay Earlswood's gull visitors as much attention as I probably should do, I'm pretty sure that I've never seen anything like a Common Gull at the lakes before since late 2007. This leads me to the conclusion that this species is a scarce visitor to Earlswood. Among the other birds seen at Engine Pool were 1 Shoveler, 16 Tufted Ducks, 2 Grey Herons and 1 Kingfisher; and I had a close encounter with a Kestrel along the pool's northwest side.
I moved on to Windmill Pool, still pleased with my first lifer at Earlswood in ages; little did I know things were gonna get even better! Windmill Pool seemed to be a little less frozen than the other two, perhaps because the sailing boats may have been out before I got there, which would also explain why almost all of the waterbirds were resting amongst the vegetation on the western side. With nothing noteworthy visible, I thought the Common Gulls would be my "sighting of the day". But as I was trying to count some Moorhens in a horse paddock, which was almost entirely covered with snow, there at the edge of the paddock on snowless ground next to the hedge was a Water Rail (lifer!). I couldn't believe it, even though I know this species has been seen at the lakes in the past, because I thought this species preferred reedbeds yet there it was on short grass, though it did keep close to the hedge. Then, having barely been able to see the rail through my bins and get over the shock, I heard a few slightly familiar calls and turned to see what I believe was a Raven flying over Windmill Pool, heading northeast. Though I've probably seen/heard Ravens before at Earlswood, this was the first time that I was reasonably sure I'd seen one. The Raven passed over quickly, but I was able to watch the Water Rail for about 20 minutes, sometimes without obstruction, before I had to head home.
Two lifers in a day - that hardly ever happens to me! If only all visits to Earlswood were like today's...
M.P. Griffiths

1 comment:

Reg The Birder said...

Wow! I've never observed common gulls at the lakes, and definitely no water rails. I'm tempted to get down there myself next weekend now. Excellent birding.