Thursday, 31 December 2009

26th-31st December 2009

Have recently been at Earlswood every day as I try to get as many good sightings before the period that the Bird Report will cover is over (2000-09), but unfortunately I've not had much time to venture away from the vicinity of the lakes to the more underwatched areas. So here's sightings from the last six days of 2009 at the lakes, unless noted otherwise:
  • 26th: 1 Common Gull, 7 Herring Gulls, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 6 Tufted Ducks, 1 Kingfisher and 1 Grey Wagtail all at Engine Pool. Dead Hedgehog along Norton Lane unusual given the time of year!
  • 27th: A Water Rail, 3 Pochards, 12 Tufted Ducks, 2 Mute Swans, 1 Kingfisher and 13 Long-tailed Tits at Engine Pool. Kevin Bates also saw a few Redwings and Goldfinches around the lakes.
  • 28th: 3 Shovelers and a Kingfisher at Engine Pool, plus 2 Mute Swans and 13 Tufted Ducks at Windmill Pool. Tony Philp also saw 2 Pochards. [I went with John Yardley to Holt Fleet in Worcestershire to see the Glossy Ibis - a brilliant bird that gave good views; we also saw a Green Sandpiper, a Water Rail and 2 Snipes there.]
  • 29th: 2 Mute Swans, 9 Tufted Ducks and 3 Pied Wagtails at Engine Pool. Tony Philp also saw a Grey Wagtail at Windmill Pool; whilst another regular told me he'd seen 2 Pochards and a male Wigeon at the lakes earlier during the morning.
  • 30th: After finishing my tetrad survey nearby for the bird atlas, heard a Raven over Fulford Heath, and saw a Goldcrest and a Coal Tit in New Fallings Coppice. There were 3 Mute Swans at Engine Pool, including a newly arrived first-winter. Totals of 9 Tufted Ducks, 2 Treecreepers (together) and 8 Redwings noted.
  • 31st: A Kestrel (over), 3 Mute Swans still, 9 Tufted Ducks and 3 Pied Wagtails at Engine Pool. Kevin Bates also saw a Bullfinch.

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone who's sent sightings to me since I set this blog up; you know who you are. Have a happy New Year, and good birding for 2010.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 25 December 2009

25th December 2009

Was able to visit the lakes during the afternoon, and upon arrival found a Coot struggling to move on ice right next to the path at Engine Pool. There was fishing line attached to the bank and down the bird's throat (those damn fishermen again!!!), and I was able to pick the bird off the ice and restrain it on the bank. I had nothing to cut the line with, but fortunately a kind passerby was able to cut the line and I freed the bird - in hindsight perhaps I should've phoned the RSPCA but the bird seemed tired like it had been stuck for some time and who knows how quickly someone would've come out, especially today. Notable birds were a first-winter Common Gull on ice at Engine Pool and later Windmill Pool, the 2 Shovelers at Windmill Pool, and a Kingfisher at Engine Pool. In New Fallings Coppice, I saw 2 Treecreepers together and heard a Goldcrest.
M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 24 December 2009

24th December 2009

Walked to the lakes during the afternoon. A Kingfisher at Terry's Pool, a Lesser Redpoll along the dam of Terry's Pool, a Raven (over) plus a Grey Wagtail at Engine Pool, and the 2 Shovelers at Windmill Pool were the most notable birds there. I then made the long trek to Earlswood STW, but there was less there than I'd expected given the cold weather, with a Grey Wagtail and 4 Pied Wagtails on the filter beds and 2 Redwings nearby, though it was quite late in the day.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Hope everyone has a merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

23rd December 2009

Again, I was dropped off at the lakes during the late afternoon. Saw 2 Shovelers and 14 Tufted Ducks at Windmill Pool, plus a female Teal at Engine Pool. Around 100 Jackdaws flew over.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 21 December 2009

21st December 2009

Was dropped off at the lakes during the late afternoon, but didn't stray from the causeway. Saw the 2 Shovelers and a Kestrel (showing well) at Windmill Pool, plus a total of 9+ Tufted Ducks.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 20 December 2009

20th December 2009

The lakes were very cold and covered in ice when I did my twelfth WeBS there this morning. Despite Terry's Pool still having almost 100% ice cover, a Kingfisher was hanging around a tiny unfrozen part, and a Treecreeper was seen elsewhere. Engine Pool had a large number of waterbirds present, but best of all were 3 Common Gulls amongst the other gulls (only the second occasion I've seen this species!). At Windmill Pool, saw the 2 Shovelers, 13 Tufted Ducks and a Grey Wagtail. 4+ Ravens, 2 Rooks and 17+ Lapwings flew over the lakes.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 19 December 2009

19th December 2009

Kevin Bates found the 2 Shovelers at Windmill Pool. No doubt this was due to Terry's Pool being nearly 100% covered with ice but he saw 3 Redwings there. He also noted 1 Kingfisher, 1 Jay and 1 Grey Heron.

David Scott, his wife, and Kay Donaghy also visited the lakes. They saw a Sparrowhawk in Cleobury Lane as well as flying over Windmill Pool at the Reservoir pub end. Also a Shoveler at Windmill Pool, about half a dozen Redwings in the horse field and a Bullfinch down in that corner too.

Craig Reed had a flock of 6 Bullfinches in a garden along Norton Lane.

Friday, 18 December 2009

18th December 2009

From early morning to late evening, I was out walking around Earlswood and surrounding areas in this cold weather we're having - yes, I must be mad! The lakes weren't too bad bird-wise, with a Teal, 2 Shovelers and 9 Tufted Ducks at Terry's Pool; and 2 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Siskins and 26 Goldfinches at Engine Pool. Returning to Terry's Pool later during the morning, 3 Goosanders had appeared, plus watched a Song Thrush walloping a snail's shell against stones then gobble it up, and after the bird flew off I inspected the "anvil" and saw there was a second snail shell there - someone was hungry! In New Fallings Coppice, saw 2 Marsh Tits and 3 (possibly 4) Treecreepers together. At Forshaw Heath, saw 3 Meadow Pipits, 2 Jays and a few Fieldfares and Redwings in a couple of horse pastures; and much later in the day saw 20 Golden Plovers fly over the arable field in-between Poolhead Lane and the M42 (my first confirmed sighting over Warwickshire soil). Finally, I returned to Terry's Pool for the third time today and, although it was rather dark by then, saw a swan which I'm pretty sure was a Mute Swan.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 14 December 2009

14th December 2009

Tim Jones visited the Hungry Horse field and surrounding fields briefly, and had a few Fieldfares and a Buzzard, but there was no sign of any Golden Plover or Lapwing. An account can be found on his new blog here.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

12th December 2009

As you can imagine, the possibility of the wild swan flock returning was very much on my mind and hence I cycled to the lakes early morning and made sure I checked all three pools before most other people arrived, but there was no sign of them. The 2 Shovelers were still at Terry's Pool, along with 2 Treecreepers and 10 Goldfinches, plus a Kingfisher was heard. Best bird was a somewhat confiding female Pochard at Windmill Pool, only my second at the lakes this half of the year, along with 6 Tufted Ducks. 4 Rooks flew over the lakes.

I then spent much of the rest of the day pedalling around the Earlswood area, and even ventured to Umberslade for the first time, but no swans were seen anywhere :-(
Highlights in Earlswood area:
  • Umberslade Road (Earlswood): 1 Goldcrest, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Nuthatch, 1 Jay.
  • Earlswood Common: 22 Redwings, 2 Fieldfares and a number of other birds in a horse pasture - good field.
  • Earlswood STW: 1 Grey Wagtail, 4th Treecreeper.
  • Terry's Green: a Buzzard on telegraph wire along Small Lane let me cycle within 10 metres passed it without taking off.
  • Forshaw Heath: 34 Fieldfares and a few Redwing moved through, plus 2 female Common Pheasants in a field.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 11 December 2009

11th December 2009

An excellent afternoon's birding was had. First were a Goldcrest, a Jay and 2 Nuthatches in New Fallings Coppice, though I was hoping to come across another Firecrest there - I'd recommend people take their wellies if you decide to go in though.

Reached the lakes, and Terry's Pool was rather good, with 3 Goosanders, 2 Shovelers, a Kingfisher, a Sparrowhawk, a Lesser Redpoll and another Jay seen. However I was totally unprepared for the next good birds seen!

At the causeway, there was nothing unusual around so I do what I sometimes do here and counted the gulls, which as usual were mostly Black-headed Gulls. I was in the middle of counting them on Windmill Pool, when I heard strange calls coming from Engine Pool. I'm afraid I didn't react quickly to them, and tried to finish my count - BIG, BIG MISTAKE!!! The calls got louder and so then I bloomin' well stopped my count and turned to look and there flying over Engine Pool were a small flock of large white birds! My first, split-second impression was geese, but as I put my bins on them I could see they were swans with yellow on their beaks - wild swans or perhaps those Whooper x Mute Swan hybrids that have caught many people out! I think I literally went into shock and my heart rate rocketed, but despite this and the slightly foggy conditions I managed a pretty good view of one of the bird's bills as they flew over the causeway, and saw the characteristic large yellow pointed wedge on otherwise black bill - a Whooper Swan!!! There were 6 swans in the flock, but I can not confirm that all were Whoopers, because as they flew over Windmill Pool, away from me, I panicked because I couldn't see them well with the mild fog around and stupidly got my scope out and tried looking at them through it, rather than persevere with the bins! I believe I've done this before with birds in flight, but do I learn?!!! I can't remember if I succeeded or came to my senses and got my bins out but I last saw the flock distantly flying low (in-between treetops) eastwards away from the pool. I stayed at the causeway for some time hoping they might return, as they had looked like they were contemplating landing on Windmill Pool. As I was in the middle of censusing a few bird species, I continued around Windmill Pool, and noted 2 Fieldfares and a few Redwings in a nearby horse pasture, but naturally my thoughts were on larger birds returning! My mom picked me up and, although it was rapidly getting dark, I got her to pass a field east of the lakes that I know floods near the road, plus was able to check all the pools at Blythe Valley CP, but sadly there was no sign.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Addenda for early December

2nd December 2009: a Common Gull was reported somewhere nearby, but I can not confirm that it was actually at the lakes or indeed somewhere in the Earlswood area, because the website I got this from is withholding the location!!! I am only aware of two occurrences of Common Gulls at the lakes in the last decade, so it's a shame this record will have to go down as unconfirmed unless the observer comes forward.

3rd December 2009: Tony and Barbara Philp saw a male Goldeneye at Windmill Pool during the afternoon. Perhaps this was the duck seen by another couple, which I mentioned in a previous post?

Goosanders, 01/12/2009 (© Tony Philp)

White-cheeked Pintail, 26/11/2009 (© Tony Philp)

Sunday, 6 December 2009

6th December 2009

Another brief early morning visit to the lakes was much quieter, with a Sparrowhawk near the Malthouse Lane car park, a Kingfisher at Engine Pool and 2 Tufted Ducks at Terry's Pool being the most notable birds seen.

John Yardley picked me up and we went to Morton Bagot, where we had a Green Sandpiper, 2+ Stonechats, 2+ Ravens, 34 Greylag Geese and 2 Teals. I also saw a few ducks fly over, which might've been Wigeons but I'm not certain.

Back at Earlswood, we passed the Hungry Horse field and saw lots of birds on the ground there, so we just had to go back! Mostly Golden Plovers they were, and John asked how many I reckoned were there. I estimated 200+ but, as I've found before, I have a tendency to underestimate flock sizes: John had to go, after which I eventually managed to count 312 Golden Plovers and 58 Lapwings, plus saw a Raven fly over.

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 5 December 2009

5th December 2009

Walked to Earlswood during the early morning. Counted 28 Lapwings in the Hungry Horse field. Didn't have much time to spare at the lakes, but still managed a staggering 14 Goosanders, a Raven (over), 2 Kingfishers and just 1 Tufted Duck at Terry's Pool; and 35+ Goldfinches and a Buzzard around Engine Pool.

Then my mom picked me up and dropped me off at Blythe Valley CP, where I helped with the nestbox project work and was rewarded with some good birds, including a Barn Owl (showed pretty well in flight), a Raven and a Marsh Tit (heard only).

Craig Reed visited the Hungry Horse field during the late afternoon and saw 7 Golden Plovers and 78 Lapwings there. His report is here.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 4 December 2009

4th December 2009

Cycled to Earlswood during the late afternoon. Saw an adult male Goosander at Windmill Pool, which was my first there, before a cyclist (not me!) scared it off and last saw it distantly flying over Wood Lane, apparently with a second Goosander, before a van at the causeway blocked my view and I lost it. I also saw 3 adult male Goosanders at Terry's Pool, along with a Kingfisher. Total of 11 Tufted Ducks counted at lakes. A couple told me they'd seen a duck at Windmill Pool yesterday whilst passing in their car which might've been a Mandarin.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

1st December 2009

It was a rather cold day with some ice in places, but I had another very productive visit. During the early morning, had c. 66 Golden Plovers, 67 Lapwings, a Skylark, a Kestrel and a Grey Wagtail (over) at the Hungry Horse. Reaching the lakes, saw 2 Mute Swans from the causeway. At Engine Pool, saw a Kingfisher and, best of all but only for a couple of seconds, a Water Rail fly from one of the reed islands to the other - my first at this particular pool. At Terry's Pool, counted an amazing 12 Goosanders, a Raven (over), 3 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Fieldfare (perched), a Treecreeper and a Grey Wagtail. Along the track from Malthouse Lane to Windmill Pool, saw 10 Greenfinches; as well as 4 Stock Doves, a Green Woodpecker and a few Redwings in one of the adjacent horse pastures. Saw 3 Shovelers whilst at Windmill Pool's south side. I was rather pleased with my counts of 10 Song Thrushes and 8+ Bullfinches in the vicinity of the lakes, the former of which is definitely my best count for that species. Whilst at the canal feeder channel (near engine house) early afternoon met Tony Philp who said he'd seen 2 Kestrels at the Hungry Horse field yesterday. During our conversation, I think I told him that I'd been hoping to see Brambling at the lakes, and he said that in the local area he'd only see the species in his garden. Unbelievably, straight after he left I walked along the channel to the gate and up flew a small bird into a tree - looking through my bins I realised it was a female Brambling!!! My wish had come true, and best of all I'd never seen a female before so it was good experience! After flying to a couple of other trees, she flew off west over the engine house. Heading home, briefly saw that Golden Plovers and Lapwings were still at the Hungry Horse field, though apparently in smallers numbers than earlier. Also saw 4 female Common Pheasants together in the field along Norton Lane opposite Ambleside Garden Centre.
M.P. Griffiths