Friday, 11 February 2011

14th January-11th February 2011

I hope this isn't too short notice but I have decided to do my birding walk of the lakes on Saturday 19th next week, probably around 8:00 am before the crowds arrive. Meeting place will be at one of the car parks, hopefully the one near the engine house if the Engine Pool Water Rail continues to show. Will confirm closer to the time. Thanks to Tracey, Kevin and Dave for expressing interest - others are welcome to tag along but as this will be the first time I've led a walk anything I'd like to keep numbers small. If it goes well, I may lead other, more official walks for the Earlswood Wildlife Partnership later on.

Other news: Mute Swan "V72" had fishing line and a hook for a while recently but was caught and the hook/line removed at the lakeside, so hopefully the pair will now be able breed again this year. Anyone who's visited Windmill Pool recently will have noticed that a number of trees along the east side have been cut down about a couple of months ago; I suspect this is for the benefit of fishermen, but it will be interesting to see how this area develops for wildlife now that more light can reach the ground there. The tern raft is going to happen, and construction is due to start tomorrow! Finally, the dark domestic duck that has been resident at Windmill Pool for several months now has recently been confirmed as a Muscovy Duck x domestic Mallard hybrid (see

Request: Could the person who reported the following on December 5th last year please contact me:
c25 Waxwings near Earlswood Lakes at Warings Green Wharf in oak tree briefly then flew off.
Waxwings are quite rare in the midlands most years, and I will need a description to accept this record, subject to acceptance by the county recorder.

Now for the sightings. It's been fairly quiet since my last post, except for some waterbird movement. Most notable was Tony Philp's Little Egret (now confirmed), with perhaps a second bird, seen with the naked eye flying along the canal feeder channel towards the lakes on Feb 6th - the second patch rarity of the year and I've missed them both!!! Sightings at the lakes during January included a female Pintail on 17th, 22nd-23rd and 28th-31st, with a flock of 4 briefly on 24th; peaks of 4+ Teals on 16th, 5 Shovelers on 24th-25th and 2 Wigeons on 28th-29th; a male Pochard on 19th-20th and a female on 31st; the Water Rail at Engine Pool on a number of occasions up to 31st; and a peak of 30+ Siskins on 25th.

February sightings so far include the female Pintail on 3rd and 8th-9th, 2 Wigeons today, 2 Shovelers on 8th-9th, a male Pochard on 10th (also seen by Tony Philp), a male Sparrowhawk on 1st, a group of 7 Jays on 3rd and 6+ Lesser Redpolls also on 3rd. After an absence the Water Rail reappeared in the channel along the north side of Engine Pool on 9th, and much to my astonishment saw it grab a Nuthatch from a nearby tree trunk and pin it down in the water before I intervened and the Nuthatch escaped; though I've read of Water Rails preying on smaller birds this is the first time I've witnessed it and thought it only happened during harsh winter weather (it was a mild day). In hindsight I have mixed feelings about whether I should've intervened (I did it without thinking), but I doubt the rail will starve as a result given the good weather at the moment, and it was still present today. Away from the lakes, the most notable birds I've seen were 4 Stock Doves at the Hungry Horse field on Feb 1st, and 2 Mistle Thrushes at Forshaw Heath on Feb 3rd. Personal patch year ticks besides the Pintails, Wigeons and Pochards were a first-winter Common Gull on Jan 16th and a Meadow Pipit roosting at a marsh next day - increasing my list by just five to 65 for 2011 :-(

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. an interesting Long-tailed Tit with a light head visited my garden on a number of occasions from Jan 18th-31st, and was also seen by my mom on 4th this month. Further details, pics and links to videos at

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