Friday, 31 December 2010

21st-31st December 2010

I've still been feeling a bit under the weather lately so have only made four visits to the lakes during the last eleven days of this year - tut, tut, I know. Highlights have been 3 Water Rails and an adult Common Gull on the 27th, with 2 of the Water Rails still showing on 28th. Kevin Bates reported a Water Rail at Terry's Pool on the 24th.

As today (31st) should be the last day that my book will cover, I thought I'd cram lots of Earlswood birding in, managing about 8.5 hours (all of the daylight)! After seeing 17 Bullfinches (Earlswood record?) near Earlswood Train Station, I spent much of the day in the Forshaw Heath area, where I did a Bird Atlas TTV survey at the same time, and among the birds seen were 2 Ravens, 4 Siskins, 37 Fieldfares, 2 Goldcrests and 3 Treecreepers. With little more than an hour's decent light left, I moved on to the lakes but the only bird of note there was a redhead Goosander amongst the Mallards at Engine Pool. By late evening I was at the Springbrook Scrubland and was going to wait to see if any owl visited the scrubland in the dim light but then a woman with her 3 dogs, noisy and off their leads, came along and proceeded to walk through the scrubland - I imagine many of the thrushes that I saw going to roost there were scared off, so no owl would appear there anytime soon so I scrapped that idea *sighs*. Mammals seen today included 3 Red Foxes at Forshaw Heath, and a Mink at Engine Pool.

So nothing particularly unusual noted this month, but there's been some really good numbers of common birds around. Some of my counts for certain species this month may turn out to be patch records, including those above for Water Rail and Bullfinch, as well as Mallard, Mute Swan and Blackbird, so I'm rather pleased. On the minus side not a single grebe seen, and I didn't manage to see a Woodcock or anything else new for my personal patch list.

I managed to observe 113 bird species at Earlswood this year, compared to 99 in 2009. Looking forward to what 2011 brings!

Wishing everyone a happy New Year!

M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

1st-20th December 2010

Currently have flu for the second time this month. The first only stopped me visiting Earlswood for a day, but this second lot has meant my regular visits have ceased since the 17th, although I forced myself to do the Wetland Bird Survey counts on 20th (not much fun, especially when snowflakes go in your eyes in the middle of counting!). Have been doing a little birdwatching from my living room and today had a Moorhen fly and perch in a hawthorn in my garden!

Earlswood Lakes highlights so far this month have been a fly-over Common Snipe (3rd), a female Pintail last seen on 6th, Greylag Goose last seen on 8th, 3 fly-over Gadwalls (12th), 2 male Pochards (13th), up to 2 Common Gulls (adult and first-winter), up to 2 Water Rails and up to 56+ Siskins. Most notable bird on 20th was a Water Rail, currently favouring the channel along the north side of Engine Pool and usually seen sneaking away into some fallen branches.

The other Water Rail is much more difficult to see, favouring the reedmace in the channel along the southeast side of Terry's Pool, where I last saw it on 16th. Richard Greer also saw it there on 6th as well as a Common Snipe nearby.

I'm a bit disappointed that I still haven't found a Woodcock at Earlswood yet, and with just over a week to go, time is rapidly running out to add it or something else to the patch year list...

M.P. Griffiths