Moor Green Lakes Group

Bird Reports 2007

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January 2007

The New Year started with 3 or 4 Great Crested Grebes in front of Colebrook Hide taking 4 reasonable sized fish in 15 minutes. Does the cold water slow down the fish and make them easer to catch I wonder? One or two Little Egrets on most days and up to 25 Cormorants about.

On 8th, I watched a family of 7 baby Egyptian Geese with their parents on Grove Lake; 8 young were reported a few days before. Within a couple of weeks they had disappeared; probably due to predation rather than the cold – daft birds.

A typical winter situation with around 400 Wigeon, 60 Teal, 80 Shoveler, 5 Goldeneye - why do we get more males than females on this site, whereas at other Berkshire sites Goldeneye females out number males? Up to 19 Goosander from mid month in the Grove roost; John Clark tells me that some are roosting at Bramshill now, with a combined total of 30+ in the area. A pair of Pintail took up residence on Grove Lake from 19th and were still there at the end of the month and pair of Ruddy Duck were present on Horseshoe Lake from the 17th for about a week, but sometimes difficult to locate.

The first bird I saw at Moor Green this year was a Buzzard flying over as I got out of the car before sunrise on the 1st. Kestrel were to be seen sometimes perched on the Owl boxes – unfortunately no reports of Barn Owls this winter. Little Owls were regularly seen in the trees on the new workings; favouring the ivy covered one in the row in the NE section.

Up to 550 Lapwing on site; a few Snipe around the lake margins, but only one report of a Green Sandpiper that I am aware of.

The Gull roost has been mainly on Horseshoe Lake, with day-time roosting on the gravel diggings to the west. Numbers down from last month, but 6 species present including Yellow-legged Gulls and an adult Great Black-backed Gull mid month. Black-headed Gulls have begun to hang out on Tern Island, perhaps staking a claim to a future nest site.

A pair of Stonechat have been resident just the other side of the conveyer on the new workings all month. There seemed to be plenty of Nuthatches, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and the odd Treecreeper around the area of the Peanut feeders. A few Bullfinches are often present in the trees by Colebrook Hide, but I have yet to see them on the feeding station.

Bunting numbers increased in the last week of the month with 5 Yellowhammer seen on the new workings and 6 Reed Bunting on the ground feeder on the 30th.

February 2007

Little Egret seem to be present most days, but not in such numbers as last month. I assume, like the local Grey Herons, they are thinking of nest building – perhaps in one of the south coast colonies. Following last month’s hatching of Egyptian Geese, Steve Farmer found a nest of six eggs on Grove Island during the work party on the 20th, no wonder there are so many about.

Apart from good numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Gadwall, Tufties and Mallard; up to 4 Goldeneye (sometimes on the Hampshire lakes) and up to 23 Goosander have been present. The pair of Pintail on Grove Lake has been joined by a second male mid month and the pair of Ruddy Duck on Horseshoe Lake has been joined by at least 2 more males. It is noticeable that toward the end of the month, the Ducks are moving about much more – possibly signalling a northward movement. I have not seen any Mandarin Ducks yet this year, but I hear that they are on the more sheltered lakes outside the Reserve.

A Peregrine Falcon has been reported sporadically through the month and entertained the work party on the 11th. The Little Owls have been more visible in the trees on the new workings and have been seen in the nest box over there.

Lapwing numbers reached 900+ on the 1st and I have seen Golden Plover with them on the 2nd (20) and on the 17th (8). Snipe became more visible during the frosty spell in the middle of the month and I heard of a report of 11 seen on Colebrook North. The Green Sandpiper has been elusive this winter; my only sighting of it was at Grove Lake on the 3rd. An Oystercatcher was reported on the 21st and Dunlin on 24th, so wader passage has begun. Water Rail have been seen from Grove hide.

The Gull numbers were falling off rapidly toward the month end – except for the 200+ Black-headed Gulls that are taking over Tern Island during the day with their courting behaviour even though it will be April before nest building starts.

The pair of Stonechat are still resident just the other side of the conveyer on the new workings. Mistle and Song Thrushes have been singing for most of the month and the numbers of Redwing and Fieldfares have increased on the local paddocks as berry supplies run out.

Skylarks have been singing since the beginning of the month on fine days. The number of finches is much less than most years, with hardly any Siskin, Redpolls and Brambling – even the local Linnet flock is no more than a few birds.

Up to 12 Reed Buntings on the feeding station is a record, and Yellowhammer numbers seem to be higher than last year.

March 2007

March began with a wet week, followed by a dry and sunny week, then followed by a cold wet week and finished with a bit of everything week. This seems to have delayed arriving and departing migrant birds.

The geese have paired up and dispersed, although they are still mobile – about 20 Egyptians roost on Tern Island along with some Canadas and a pair of Swans. There have been a couple of pairs of Greylags as well, but I didn’t see them in the last week so they may have settled somewhere else. The numbers of ducks has dropped, but a few of everything except Pintail are about. Mandarin Ducks have appeared, usually on Grove Lake; by the 27th there were Mandarin eggs in 4 on the nest boxes on the Reserve. A male Ruddy Duck is still hanging around on Horseshoe Lake. I expect the Goosander and Goldeneye will be off shortly.

I had not seen any Little Egrets for a few weeks and had assumed that they had moved back to the coast until a couple turned up on the 21st, and one was still around at the end of March.

The Peregrine Falcon that was around in February took up station on the pylon south of Horseshoe Lake and could be seen there daily until last week – sometimes eating some hapless prey item; both an adult male and a juvenile have been reported. The regular pair of Little Owls seems to have taken up residence in the old willow tree at the bottom of the paddock by the car park, and I have seen another pair in the old oaks by the pond on the north of the new workings. I was pleased to see the Barn Owls back in the boxes on the Reserve on the 16th. Let’s hope they can hold there own against the resident pair of Kestrels this year, who can manage with an old crows nest, or even the top section of the owl boxes.

Snipe are still around and I believe Ian Brown counted over 30 on a survey of the lake margins during the month. A Ringed Plover turned up on the 9th and Little Ringed Plover arrived on the 17th. The first of at least 4 Redshank arrived on the 12th. There has not been any passage waders reported, which is unusual.

Up to 200 Black-headed Gulls are still courting on Tern Island, but no sign of any Common Terns yet. Chiffchaff arrived mid month and the number of singing males must be more than 15 in the area. I have not heard any other warblers yet. Stock Doves were brooding eggs in one of the nest boxes by the 13th, but unfortunately they failed after hatching, probably due to the cold spell the following week. By the 27th there were three boxes with Stock Dove activity; and plenty of Blue Tit and Great Tit nest building activity, but no eggs.

April 2007

April is a month of transition with the wintering birds departing and the summer arrivals; plus some just passing through. Excessive north winds this month delayed the movement of birds. The last Goosander I saw was seen on 17th and the last Goldeneye on the 5th.

A pair of Shelduck has been seen on four occasions during the month, so it is possible they could be nesting somewhere nearby. The first young Mallard were seen on the 10th and the fist young Canada Geese on the 23rd with several broods of each by the end of the month. 3 female Mandarin Ducks are sitting on eggs in the nest boxes and the adults are seen regularly on the lakes. Mute Swans are nesting on Snipe Island as usual.

Buzzards seem to have gone quiet compared to the earlier part of the year. A couple of sightings of Red Kite over the reserve are an increasing trend. The Kestrels are nesting somewhere west of the Reserve. The first Hobby I saw was on the 24th. The regular pair of Little Owls continue to be seen frequently around the old willow tree at the bottom of the paddock by the car park. On the 3rd I confirmed that we have a pair of Barn Owls present, so they could have eggs by now.

Snipe still present on the 22nd. Green Sandpiper still present on the 23rd with 2 on the 16th. The Ringed Plover which arrived in March was last seen on the 12th. Several Little Ringed Plover are present with a regular pair on Colebrook Lake. Probably 4 or more pairs of Redshank settled for the summer.

Passage waders have been a bit sporadic with: Oystercatcher on the 9th, Common Sandpiper regularly from the 18th, Greenshank on 10th, 16th, 24th and 30th, Spotted Redshank on the 16th, 3 Dunlin on the 24th and an Avocet on the 20th, which is only the second record for the site, the previous being in 1992.

The Black-headed Gulls started to nest on the 17th with about 36 nests by the end of the month. The first Common Tern was seen on the 11th with at least 20 by the end of the month. There were sightings of Little Gulls: 1 on the 12th, 4 on the 13th, 3 on the 19th and 1 on the 24th.

Small numbers of Sand Martins, Swallows, House Martins and Swifts have arrived, but there must be more to come. Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear have been seen on passage. Warbler arrivals in April were: Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler and Reed Warbler in that order. Lesser Whitethroat was recorded on a couple of days, but probably passing through.

May 2007

May is the month for the residents to breed and the occasional stop-over by birds heading further north to breed. In contrast to April, May has been cold and wet this year.

Little Egret were present on 13th and 27th. Numerous families of Mallard and Canada Geese can be seen – also Moorhen, and 2 broods of Egyptian Geese on 27th. The 3 nests of Mandarin Ducks in the nest boxes hatched, but the young are rarely seen on the Reserve, preferring the more secluded lakes to the south and east. A male Ruddy Duck dropped by on the 24th.

Hobby has been regular but not numerous. Peregrine were seen on 2nd and two on the 4th. A pair of Kestrels are probably nesting in the top section of the Barn Owl box on the new workings and I believe the Barn Owls are feeding young in the main section of the box. After being evident last month, Little Owls seem to have disappeared from the willow tree near the notice board.

2 Red-legged Partridge were seen around the 16th.

The last departing Snipe was seen on the 7th and Green Sandpiper on the 4th. By the month end, young Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover and Redshank were present.

The passage of waders has continued with Ringed Plover (up to 8) between 13th and 29th, Greenshank on 1st and 28/29th, Oystercatcher around the 20th, Common Sandpiper until 12th and Dunlin (up to 11) between 10th and 27th. A Little Stint, 2 Wood Sandpipers and a Whimbrel on the on 1st. A flock of 7 Sanderling were present on the new workings on 27th with 4 remaining until 29th, an exceptional record. A Knot was also present on the 28th, which is only the second record for the site, the previous being in 1992.

The Black-headed Gull colony has an estimated 160 nests this year, and young were visible by the end of the month. While over 30 Common Terns were present at the beginning of the month, they do not appear to be nesting on the Reserve for the first time since 1991. The pressure from the Gulls and the predation by (probably) Mink last year must have deterred them. A passing Arctic Tern was present on the 4th.

The build up of Sand Martins, Swallows, House Martins and Swifts continued into the month. More Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear have been seen, including a Blue-headed Wagtail (a continental race of Yellow Wagtail) around the 24th. Good numbers of Warblers are breeding in the area, but poor weather may affect the outcome. Blue and Great Tits have done well in the nest boxes this year, including at least one nest containing young of both species.

June 2007

June is the month when the locally hatched young birds appear although the cold and wet whether has had an impact on the survival of many. Also, male ducks are beginning to lose there breeding plumage and put on camouflage for the autumn, which is termed eclipse plumage.

Little Egret was present on 28th. In excess of 100 Canada Geese and up to 30 Egyptian Geese are present for their moult period. One brood of Gadwall, 4 of Tufted Duck, 2 of Great Crested Grebe and a brood of Swans have appeared this month as well as some more Mallard broods. Single Wigeon and Pochard passed through.

Up to 3 Hobby, resident Kestrels and Sparrowhawk have been seen. The Barn Owls boxes were inspected on the 6th and they have 4 young. The parents have recently been seen hunting the new workings in the early mornings and late evenings. They have been finding sufficient food to survive the wet periods when unable to hunt, so the population of small mammals is high this year. There was evidence of young Pheasants being taken as well.

A few Lapwings have young, including one baby that has been raised on the scrap in front of Colebrook Hide. 4 or possibly 5 pairs of Little Ringed Plover have attempted to breed resulting in up to 7 young, but not all have survived the wet cold conditions. Also at least two pairs of Redshank have had young, with probably 2 young surviving. Returning Green Sandpipers arrived on 16th with 3 on 24th. A Ringed Plover was present on the 8th.

The young Black-headed Gulls were ringed by members of the Newbury Ringing Group this month. The very wet and cold conditions have resulted in very low productivity with only 79 young ringed from 124 nests. The first young were flying by the end of the month. Common Terns have failed to nest at all at Moor Green this year, but one or two pairs are regularly present and it is still not too late.

Swallows, House Martins and Swifts breed nearby and feed over the lakes, and a few Sand Martins are always about and probably breeding somewhere on the diggings.

There seem to be more Common Whitethroat than previous years and a good numbers of the other six species of Warblers. It may be that the ground nesting birds have suffered more from the wet conditions than those building nests in undergrowth and bushes. The report of Tree Pipits on the 28th is the first for 5 years.

July 2007

The main interest in July is the return of migrant birds, some for the winter and others passing through. Breeding is still evident, especially this year where the weather has had a big impact on success, and some birds are attempting late broods. The flooding on the 20th appears to have done little direct damage to birds, but the new workings will take some time be pumped out. Quite a lot of fish and other aquatic creatures will have been displaced where the river overflowed into the lakes.

Over 200 Canada Geese were recorded by month end. The brood of Gadwall still have 3 young, late broods of Tufted Duck and Mallard appeared. The Little Grebe nest on the pond to the north of the new workings got washed out by the floods, but they have started again. Pochard appeared at the beginning of the month and some have remained. Shoveler (8 on the 17th) and Teal have been seen. A very late brood of 7 baby Mandarin Ducks appeared on 28th.

Hobby, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk have been seen regularly. Little Owls have become more vocal and the Barn Owls have been seen hunting at dawn and dusk on the new workings, on the Reserve and also on the fields to the north by Dell Road.

Lapwing numbers increased to more 200 by the month end. Little Ringed Plover and Redshank seem to have moved on. Up to 6 Green Sandpipers were around and Common Sandpipers often present. A Curlew was present on 9th and 13th, the first sightings of 2007. 7 Black-tailed Godwit were seen on 10th, with single birds on the 9th, 27th and 30th. Greenshank on the 20th. 2 Turnstones were seen on 20th and 3 on 27th, with one remaining until the 29th; the first autumn record that I am aware of. An Oystercatcher was seen on 24th. 4 Whimbrel flew through on 27th. 3 Dunlin were seen on 17th/18th and 3 on 27th. This exceptional record of early wader sightings is probably the result of the bad weather, causing migrating birds to stop and rest.

The Black-headed Gulls have dispersed from their breeding site on Tern Island, although some are still in the area. Large Gulls have begun roosting on the bare gravel, and include Herring Gulls, Yellow-legged Gulls and recently a Common Gull, but mainly Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Despite the high water levels, some juvenile Kingfishers have been seen along the river recently.

There are signs that the warblers are leaving their breeding territories and gathering in local flocks, often with the young Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits. There are still very good numbers of Common Whitethroat to be seen.

August 2007

The arrival continues of birds that will spend the winter at Moor Green Lakes, mixed with the passage of birds making their way further south

The Little Grebes that got washed out by the floods last moth now have 2 young on the pond at the north of the new workings. By the end of the month, over 300 Canada Geese, 40 feral Barnacle Geese, 2 feral Snow Geese and up to 70 Egyptian Geese were roosting on site. A handful of Pochard and up to 20 Teal seemed settled, Several Shoveler passed through and a shy Garganey spent some time with us, but was very hard to locate. Late broods of young Mallard and Moorhen were seen. The late brood of July Mandarin Ducks now contains 4 well grown young. 3 juvenile Shelduck stopped over on the 25th.

Hobby (up to 3), Kestrel and Sparrowhawk have been seen regularly; the later seemed to be feeding young in a nest near the river until the last week of the month. Up to 6 Buzzards were to be seen in the area on the few fine August days. At least 2 pairs of Little Owls have been vocal and the Barn Owls left their box around the 5th when Stock Doves took it over. At least 2 Barn Owls remained in the area and were regularly seen hunting the north of the new workings at dawn and dusk.

The excellent wader passage has continued this month with Common Sandpipers (up to 5), Green Sandpipers (up to 8) and Lapwing (up to 325) all month. Three occurrences of Ringed Plover, a juvenile Little Stint from 11th to 16th, a Ruff made a 24 hour stop-over on 16th/17th, Dunlin (up to 3) from 25th, 8 Black-tailed Godwit stayed for a few hours on the 8th, a Redshank dropped in on 20th and Greenshank (up to 5) from the 10th onward. Snipe began to appear from the 7th, with at least 11 on the 29th. All of these birds were on the new workings, seen from the either the bridleway or riverside foot path.

The occurrence of Gulls has changed throughout the month with diminishing numbers of Black-headed Gulls and an increase in Lesser Black-backed Gulls (up to 125) that roost overnight.

Passage Wheatears and good numbers of Yellow Wagtails have been seen this month and the Stonechat of the autumn was seen on the 30th. Warblers are on the move with Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs in the tit flocks, and Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat also being recorded.

The finches are beginning to gather with flocks of up to 40 Goldfinches and 15 Linnets reported at the end of the month. It is noticeable that the Skylarks and Yellowhammers have stopped singing.

September 2007

The wintering birds continue to arrive and the exceptional wader passage continues this month with the more settled weather than in August.

Canada Geese numbers have continued to increase reaching 600+ roosting overnight, mainly on the new workings. Up to 38 feral Barnacle Geese, 2 feral Snow Geese and up to 75+ Egyptian Geese and 34 Greylags were also present. Up to 6 Pochard, 40 Teal and 22 Shoveler have been present. Wigeon arrived on 5th and reached 34 by the month end, and a very late brood of young Moorhen appeared.

Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk have been seen regularly. Hobby were still present during the last week of the month – on the 1st I saw 2 adults feeding a noisy young one perched on the fence on Tern Island. A Peregrine was seen on the 2nd. Little Owls and Tawny Owls have been vocal and the Barn Owls remain in the area.

Lapwing numbers up to 400. A fly over Golden Plover was recorded on 22nd. A Common Sandpiper was present until the 5th. Green Sandpipers were present all month with 8 on the 1st. The third Little Stint of the year was present on the 24th and a second juvenile Ruff, a female this time, was present from 10th until the 25th. Of the 4 Dunlin present at the beginning of the month, 1 remained until the 20th; another arrived on the 28th and was still present on the 30th. A juvenile Redshank was present on 23rd and a juvenile Greenshank was present from the 1st of the month until the 7th. Snipe were seen throughout the month, with a max count of 12 on 16th, 2 Curlew on 28th and one on 29th, 2 Ringed Plover on the 28th.

For the third month running a flock of Black-tailed Godwits made a short stop-over; on the 2nd 28 birds landed on the new workings – I believe this number is an all time record for Berkshire. A singleton was also seen on the 10th. On the morning of the 23rd 3 juvenile Curlew Sandpipers were present for a few hours. Most of the waders were on the new workings and seen from either the bridleway or riverside foot path.

The number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls roosting overnight seems to vary, but can exceed 200, with a few Herring Gulls and Yellow-legged Gulls. Up to 5 Common Gulls by the end of the month.

Large numbers of Swallows and House Martins were passing through at the end of the month – I saw several 100 on the afternoon of the 23rd. Passage Wheatears and good numbers of Yellow Wagtails continued to pass through. A Whinchat and a Rock Pipit were present on the 29th.

The ground feeder was re-commissioned on the 9th and I am working on squirrel-proofing the peanut feeders.

October 2007

A real change in conditions, and birds, this month as the summer like weather has given way to frosty and foggy mornings and autumn colours predominate.

Canada Geese numbers seem to have stabilised, but a new site record of 108 Egyptian Geese was set on 23rd. The remnant flock of Snow Geese is now up to 3.

Up to 161 Coot present, Teal numbers seem to be stable and Shoveler are down to less than 10; Wigeon were up to 201 by the end of the month and Pochard up to 44. On the 19th a Pochard wearing a numbered blue plastic clip on its bill was seen; this is a means of monitoring the movements of birds. This particular bird was tagged in France, at Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu on the 15 May 2007 where it was nesting. Strange that it has moved north for the winter. The earliest ever return date for Goosanders was achieved with 7 (6 females) on the 29th.

Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk have been seen regularly, but no Hobby that I am aware of. Little Owls are regularly seen, but I have not seen a Barn Owl since the 2nd. You are more likely to see a Buzzard perching on the top of the owl box on the workings.

A Water Rail was showing well in front of Colebrook Hide on the 26th. Lapwing numbers have been variable up to 400 and briefly accompanied by 2 Golden Plover on 25th and 15 on 27th. Up to 4 Green Sandpipers were present all month; a Redshank was present on 3rd. Snipe were seen throughout the month but seem to have moved into the lakeside vegetation lately. A Jack Snipe was seen on the new workings on the 27th, making it the 24th wader species this year.

The number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the roost reached 700, with 7 Yellow-legged Gulls. A Greater Black-backed Gull was present on 26th. A few Herring Gulls and Common Gulls are often around in the afternoon gatherings on the diggings.

Swallows and House Martins were still passing through in the first few days of the month. A couple of pairs of Stonechat have arrived for the winter. Meadow Pipits are present, modest numbers of Fieldfairs and Redwings are also present; 60 Siskins were seen on 27th. 2 Brambling were on ground feeder on the 20th. Goldcrests have moved from the local pine woods to the scrub around the Reserve. A Coal Tit was on the peanut feeder in the car park on the 28th.

Novemeber 2007

The scene of winter birds is well established now.

A Little Egret arrived around the 6th and has been seen most days from then on. Cormorant numbers have increased to 27 in the Grove Lake Island roost.

The usual Canada Geese flocks seem to include diminishing numbers of Barnacle Geese and sometimes the 3 Snow Geese. A maximum of 87 Egyptian Geese and 19 Graylags were seen this month.

Numbers of Teal and Shoveler has risen recently to 70 and 25 respectively. I don’t have accurate counts but estimate that there were 250+ Wigeon and up to 50 Gadwall by month end. Goosander numbers have risen in the last week with 15 gathering to roost on Grove Lake on the 29th. Two smart male Goldeneye were displaying to each other on Grove Lake on the 15th. I am expecting a few Pintail in December, so watch out for them as well on Grove Lake.

Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were seen regularly. A male Peregrine was present for a few days in the middle of the month spending much of its time on the electricity pylon south of Horseshoe Lake. It could be the same bird that spent much of its time on the same pylon in February and March this year. Little Owls are regular and I saw the Barn Owl in its box on the 11th.

The Water Rail has continued to be seen from Colebrook Hide. There are probably several around but are less likely to be spotted elsewhere.

Lapwing numbers continue to vary from day to day; my maximum count was 235 on the 23rd. A report of 70 Golden Plover on 30th is, I believe, a new site record for this species which seems to like the habitat of the new workings. Up to 4 Green Sandpipers at the beginning of the month, but I haven’t seen any since mid-month. Snipe present all month and a possible Curlew heard on 2nd.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls predominate in the overnight roost and afternoon gatherings on the new workings with a few Yellow-legged Gulls, Herring Gulls and Common Gulls. I have the impression that the Black-headed Gulls present during the day are roosting elsewhere.

There could be as many as four pairs of Stonechat wintering in the area. Finch and Thrush numbers don’t seemed to have increased since last month, but all the common winter finches are present. I came across a small Greenfinch roost of 24 birds by Horseshoe Lake on the 29th.

December 2007

It was proper December weather this year with the lakes frozen over for a period mid-month; although there was enough waterfowl to keep some areas ice free.

Little Egrets present on most days with 3 on the 1st and the usual gathering of 20+ Cormorants on Grove Island. The geese are more likely to be seen feeding on the nearby paddocks than on the lakes with the 30+ Barnacle Geese, 3 Snow Geese plus 2 Snow hybrids to watch out for. A Brent Goose was seen on Grove on the 15th.

The duck numbers vary as the move between sites, the freeze causing some to move to costal waters I expect. 300+ Wigeon present all month and an influx of 90 Pochard at the end of the December. Teal number reaching 50+, but they are difficult to count, hidden around the edges of the lakes. The 2 male Goldeneye were joined by a female from the middle of the month – which spent most of its time on the flooded diggings. Goosander numbers reached 43 in the Grove Lake roost on 21st, more than in the past few winters.

Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were seen regularly. Peregrine reported just once this month as far as I know. The Little Owls could often bee seen sunning themselves when conditions are right; the trees on the new workings (Manor Farm) are the best place to look for them. I am not aware of any sightings of the Barn Owls this month; they could have gone elsewhere to hunt.

The Water Rail has continued to be seen from Colebrook Hide, and others heard squealing elsewhere. The Lapwing flock exceeded 400 early in the month and were joined by at least 600 Golden Plovers; this is nearly ten times the previous site record! They all disappeared during the freeze up in the middle of the month, but were beginning to return by the end of the year.

A Green Sandpiper has been around all month, sometimes on Grove; two were present in the Christmas week. An unseasonable Dunlin was seen on the 11th.

Gulls, like Plovers, disappear when things freeze up. At the beginning of the month 125+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls were roosting on Horseshoe Lake with a few Yellow-legged Gulls, Herring Gulls and Common Gulls.

The Work Party on the 9th were treated to a Water / Rock Pipit flying over. A possible Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming mid month. Finch numbers are well below average this winter with small numbers of Siskin, Redpoll and Linnets. Reed Buntings and a Coal Tit have been seen on the feeders.

Bruce Archer

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