Friday, 13 August 2010

Summer 2010: the long awaited post!

At long last, an update! Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few months, I've been busy with volunteering work, courses and coursework, lots of birding, and for over a month now a part-time gardening job. I have far too many notes to go through and pick out highlights for the last few months, so much of the following is from memory!

The Mute Swan pair at Terry's Pool hatched cygnets, of which two remain and are a good size now but sticking to Engine Pool. A male Mandarin Duck was seen again on several occasions, moulting into eclipse plumage, but was either very elusive or able to fly elsewhere as he pleased; last seen July 10th. A Shoveler put in an appearance at Terry's Pool. Tufted Ducks have been seen most visits, but no ducklings unfortunately. Great Crested Grebes have done well this breeding season, with six broods seen so far. I've seen single Hobbies a few times, including over the lakes twice, and Craig Reed had one over a Norton Lane garden. As usual, not many waders have been seen, apart from Common Sandpipers which I saw regularly during the Spring passage but very few so far during this return passage period. Had a probable Curlew/Whimbrel fly silently over the lakes distantly. Common Terns have been ever present in good numbers (reaching the 30s on one occasion), and it's been a good year for Arctic Terns, with birds seen on three more occasions since the previous posts (20 on May 6th was the most I saw - amazing!). 1 or 2 Cuckoos held territory in the area, and it seems very likely that a pair of Little Owls have bred.

Sky Larks were noted at Fulford Heath, and a Yellow Wagtail was seen around Windmill Pool one day. Following the Wheatear sightings along Springbrook Lane, I had 2 Whinchats along there on different occasions. The year has been really good for warblers, and I've now seen every species on the Earlswood list at Earlswood this year! Hot on the heels of the Grasshopper Warbler was a Wood Warbler I saw singing in Big Clowes Wood on May 4th, a county rarity and the first confirmed record for Earlswood since 2001 so a real highlight; only saw it because I tagged along with a birder doing a breeding bird survey in the woods on the other side of the railway! Earlier that same day I had a Sedge Warbler in scrubland near Earlswood Railway Station, which was a patch tick too! There was no sign of the Wood Warbler on subsequent visits. Thanks to recent habitat changes at the lakes, Reed Warblers have been present in record numbers but elusive; fortunately I managed to note 5 (4 singing) one day. Although really pleased with this year's warblers, I wouldn't mind seeing a Yellow-browed Warbler! Another highlight was finding a pair of Spotted Flycatchers breeding. I was quite concerned at the absence of Marsh Tit in the woods this summer, but am pleased to report that 2 were heard/seen in Big Clowes Wood on July 30th; if only Willow Tit would return. 2 Ravens were seen north of the lakes on July 15th, whilst a recently harvested field at Fulford Heath attracted 16+ Rooks (most I've seen in area, I think) on July 24th. I've been hearing a Yellowhammer singing at Fulford Heath on many occasions this summer.

Most recent highlight was an Oystercatcher flying over the lakes calling on July 26th, which is the 100th bird species I've seen at Earlswood this year, and puts me on 112 for the patch life list.

12/08/2010 = Noted 28+ Common Terns, 50+ Swallows, 18 House Martins, 2 Sand Martins, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Reed Bunting (feeding fledgling), 1 Reed Warbler (apparently feeding young in dense bushes) and 1 Common Whitethroat during two visits to the lakes.

Weather-wise, this weekend is looking good for birding...

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Thanks to those birders who've passed their sightings on to me in the last few months; as always these will be very useful for the Earlswood bird book I'm still planning to produce.

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