Moor Green Lakes Group

Bird Reports 2006

Bird report index Bird report 2007

September 2006

Two late families of Great Crested Grebes remain, one on each of the lakes, each with 2 young. Little Grebes have moved onto the reserve, one recently taken to feeding in the scrape in front of Colebrook Hide. Geese are returning in numbers: 44 Barnacle Geese seen on the 4th, 60 Egyptian Geese on the 23rd and up to 400 Canada Geese. An escaped Lesser White-fronted Goose spent the day in the area on 16th September.

Ducks that spend the winter here have started to arrive with the first Wigeon on the 11th, up to 65 by the end of the month. The first Pochard appeared on 3rd, up to 10 by month end, and up to about 30 Teal and 8 Shoveler. It will be another few weeks before Goldeneye and Goosander arrive. Mandarin Ducks seem to move to more sheltered lakes for the winter.

Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrels are resident with Hobby still around until the 28th at least.

A few waders passed through with Little Ringed Plovers on 2nd, 3rd and 7th and Common Sandpipers on 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Green Sandpipers spend the winter in the area, with up to 5 early in the month, but only one since the 19th. Up to 200 Lapwing have been present all month. Snipe are present by can be elusive, the most I have seem at any one time in September is 4.

Gulls have taken to gathering on the gravel areas of the new workings on fine afternoons, with up to 50 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 Herring Gulls, plus a Yellow-legged Gull on the 26th and the first Common Gull of the winter on the 28th. Black-headed Gulls are ever present.

Little Owl, Tawny Owl and Barn Owl have been seen this month.

The summer birds are almost all gone, but Chiffchaff remain and a few will spend the winter in the warmer spots along the river. A Whinchat was present on the 18th and 19th. The last Reed Warbler I saw was on the 17th, the last Willow Warbler on the 13th and the last Blackcap on the 4th. Two Spotted Flycatchers were around the horse paddock by the car park until the 4th September.

The ground feeder by the main path near Colebrook Hide was cleaned and feeding started on the 10th September. Birds seen there so far this autumn are Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, plus Crow, Magpie and Pheasants.

October 2006

October is an ambiguous month with wintering species arriving in numbers, but ducks beginning to show breeding plumage and courting behaviour. Two Great Crested Grebes were performing the “weed dance” on 5th and a brood of young Mallard were seen on Grove Lake on 21st. Up to 51 Barnacle Geese have been present, all that remains of the feral flock, along with 4 Snow Geese. There are a couple of odd geese; one appears to be a Barnacle x Snow, and the other a Barnacle x Ross’ Goose.

I only count the ducks if I am bored – the maximum counts I have are 173 Wigeon on the 25th, 38 Teal, 22 Shoveler and 18 Pochard. The mild weather seems to be delaying the arrival of Goldeneye and Goosander.

Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel are resident. On the 8th, I came across a Sparrowhawk with a struggling thrush on Lower Sandhurst Rd at 06:42 in the morning – it was still quite dark. Shows how early they can hunt if hungry. The local pair of Red-legged Partridges was seen on the 29th and Water Rails have been heard from Colebrook Hide.

The habitat of the open diggings is proving attractive to waders with this month’s highlight being 5 juvenile Little Stints that were found by Kevin Carter on the 1st. They were present for a couple of hours before flying off as a heavy shower arrived. A Common Sandpiper was present on 14th and 15th. Green Sandpipers were present all month with high counts of 8 on the 14th and 5 on the 29th. A Dunlin showed up on the 25th.

Sometime around the middle of the month the local Gull roost moved to Colebrook Lake North. More than 700 Gulls arrive a dusk and leave before dawn. These are nearly all adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but there are also Common Gulls and a few Yellow-legged Gulls with them. A smaller number of Gulls congregate on the open diggings in the afternoons. On the 14th there was a 1st winter Great Black-backed Gull and on the 16th a Yellow-legged Gull. Black-headed Gulls are ever present in variable numbers.

100 House Martins were reported on the 8th and I saw a Swallow on the 16th – the same day that I saw my first Redwings of the winter.

At least 4 Stonechats have arrived for the winter and Chiffchaffs are still present, sometimes singing, often moving with the flocks of Long-tailed Tits. Siskins have been seen from the middle of the month, and the Linnet flock on the new workings is up to 50+.

On the 31st I saw my first Mink in this area – not a good sign for breeding birds.

November 2006

November is when the winter season really starts and the remaining waterfowl arrive. The number of Great Crested Grebes increased to 13, Little Egrets appeared in the middle of the month and up to 2 were present by the end of the period. The first Goosanders I saw were on the 3rd with at least 6 by month end and a single male Goldeneye arrived on the 4th. The numbers of wintering ducks has increased and I noted 52 Pochard on the 23rd and an estimated 300 Wigeon by the month end.

The highlight of the month has to be the female Ring-necked Duck that showed up on Grove Lake for the afternoon of the 19th. It was first identified by John Clark on the Yateley pits the day before and was around there for at least a week. It is the American variety of our Tufted Duck and each year a few make it to Europe. This is the first record for Moor Green Lakes.

As well as the resident Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, a Red Kite drifted over as the work party slaved away on Long Island on the 21st; surely a good enough reason to join in? On the 25th I saw a juvenile Peregrine Falcon on the new workings – it managed to upset 400 Lapwings and 150 Gulls before coming to rest on one of the gravel banks. It was seen again on the 28th. Raptor of the month was a juvenile Osprey seen flying over the site on the 5th.

Up to 2 Green Sandpipers were present for the first part of the month, but recent flooding of the diggings has made it less favourable for them to feed there lately.

Gulls sleep at night on the water and gather together for safety, I assume. They seem to favour Grove Lake recently, but may also choose Horseshoe or Colebrook North. More than 600 Gulls arrive a dusk and leave before dawn. These are nearly all adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls with some Herring Gulls, but there are also Common Gulls and a few Yellow-legged Gulls with them. A smaller number of Gulls congregate on the open diggings in the afternoons. On the 14th I found 2 Lesser Black-backs wearing red leg rings that indicated they were hatched in Suffolk, one at Orfordness and the other on roof tops near Ipswich. An adult Great Black-backed Gull was present on 25th.

There are only a few Redwings and Fieldfares about. Siskins can usually be found feeding in Alders and a few Lesser Redpolls are with them.

A single Brambling was seen by Noel Silver on the ground feeder near the hide and a Reed Bunting has been present along with the ever present Chaffinches.

December 2006

As we slip toward winter, the wildfowl continue to arrive. Little Egrets reached 7 on the 30th – a new site record. A pair of Pintail put in a brief appearance on 6th, and a pair of Smew were seen coming to roost on Grove Lake on the 23rd, a species not recorded at Moor Green since 1999. Goosander numbers were up to 13 by the middle of the month. Goldeneye are about, but, like Goosander the higher numbers have not yet been reached, probably because of the mild weather.

Nine species of duck can be expected on a tour of the reserve in January: Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Goosander. There are also up to five species of geese – none of which are truly wild: Greylag, Canada, Egyptian, Barnacle, and if you are lucky – the 4 remaining Snow Geese.

Buzzard and Sparrowhawk were present in December, but I did not see a Kestrel. The Little Owls are calling regularly and you might, if you are lucky, seen one in the row of trees on the new workings.

Water Rails are present on the lake margins, but you have to be lucky to see them out in the open. I have had a couple of sightings recently in the NW corner of Colebrook North. Snipe are more likely to be seen, but there do not seem to be many about yet. A single Green Sandpiper has been around all month and is likely to be found at the hide end of Grove Lake.

The Gull roost has been mainly on Grove Lake, with day-time roosting on the gravel diggings to the west. Good numbers of Black-headed Gulls are present, with up to 200 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, some Common Gulls and a few Herring Gulls and Yellow-legged Gulls.

Redwing and Fieldfare numbers have increased through the month and Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush have been singing. A few Siskins and Lesser Redpoll can usually be found feeding in Alders, but numbers are low, with flocks of less than 20 birds.

I have recently installed two new peanut feeders on the trees near the car park. With some luck, the Lesser-spotted Woodpecker that was seen on the 16th will drop in.

Bruce Archer

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