Thursday, 13 January 2011

1st-13th January 2011

Seemed a good time to update the blog now that the "ice age" has passed, for the moment at least, with practically all of the ice at the lakes gone today. I've had interest expressed in a birdwatching walk around the lakes, so if anyone else is interested please send me an email.

I was gutted to learn that a Shelduck was seen on the ice at Engine Pool on New Year's Day by at least three people, one of whom has shown me a photo of it on his camera. I didn't think there'd be much at Earlswood that day because of all the people that tend to be there on bank holidays, plus I had a headache and the flu, so chickened out - best bird of the year so far and I missed it! As far as I'm aware, this is the 12th record for the lakes, the last in 2007.

As you can imagine, I was at the lakes early on the 2nd but the Shelduck had gone. Engine Pool was good though with 4 Teals, a male Shoveler and the Water Rail. 7 Siskins were seen at Windmill Pool. In the vicinity of the lakes, 2 Ravens (over), up to 3 Rooks (over) and 11 Greenfinches were notable, with a pair of Common Pheasants and 2 Stock Doves in a field along Gypsy Lane. Springbrook Scrubland was pretty good, with 118 Fieldfares (trees along Earlswood Common), 3 Bullfinches, 2 Reed Buntings, a Skylark (over) and a Lesser Redpoll (over) noted. I moved on to Earlswood Train Station, where the decent-sized Bullfinch flock was still present nearby, with 8+ counted, as well a Goldcrest and a Coal Tit. In Little Clowes Wood I saw another Goldcrest but the numerous dog-walkers in there put me off exploring the rest of the woodland. It was quite a good visit to Earlswood, and I managed 52 species for the year list - not a bad start.

A brief visit to the lakes on 3rd produced 25 Siskins and the Water Rail at Engine Pool; I was joined by the recently elusive Kevin Bates who got to see the latter bird.
I then moved on away from Earlswood to an area of farmland near Studley called Morton Bagot where I joined John Yardley and Chris Lane, and not long into the visit we found a Corn Bunting - a rarity in this part of Warwickshire and a lifer for me! Richard Harbird joined us near one of the pools there, and we subsequently saw 2 Mandarin Ducks, a Little Egret, 79 Wigeons, a Goosander (unusual there), 3 Great Black-backed Gulls (over), 6+ Bramblings and a Marsh Tit - another really good day, but a pity we don't have farmland or wetland habitat anything like that at Earlswood...

Subsequent visits to the lakes produced little, but notable birds (mainly additions to the patch year list) were:

04/01/2011: a male Kestrel over the Malthouse Lane causeway.

05/01/2011: a Green Woodpecker near Gypsy Lane, and a Tawny Owl (heard) near Reservoir pub.

06/01/2011: a Kingfisher (finally, but heard only) at Terry's Pool, and 2 Greylag Geese over Springbrook Scrubland. 135+ Fieldfares at fallen apples in an Earlswood Common garden viewable from Windmill Pool.

08/01/2011: 2 Mistle Thrushes low over Engine Pool, but highlight was the Water Rail taking Lynda's thrown bread!!!

10/01/2011: a Great Crested Grebe at Engine Pool was great to see at long last! Also 21 Lesser Redpolls at Springbrook Scrubland. Total of 16+ Bullfinches noted in Earlswood area (good winter for them it seems).

11/01/2011: A Sparrowhawk (over), the Great Crested Grebe and the Water Rail all seen at Engine Pool. A Kestrel distant over Malthouse Lane gardens (nice garden tick if anyone saw it!).

Other sightings included a Mink along the Spring Brook beside Windmill Pool on 9th. Rob Field saw a Kingfisher along the brook beside Clowes Wood on 9th - a good record for that area.

The Water Rail along the north side of Engine Pool has been seen a few times this month; today (13th) I saw it and also managed to see the second more-elusive bird at Terry's Pool for the first time this year. There was no sign of the grebe.

My 2011 Earlswood bird list now stands at a modest 60. I haven't seen anything particularly unusual yet, and there's still some common-ish species to be added before things kick off in the spring.

Addendum for 2010:
Tony Philp had 2 Shovelers at Engine Pool on December 31st.

M.P. Griffiths

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