Moor Green Lakes Group

Bird Reports 2011

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January 2011

January had 4 spells of freezing weather interspersed by milder wetter conditions.

18+ Great Crested Grebes and just one Little Grebe. Up to 3 Little Egrets, Grey Herons back on last years nest (on the Hants side). 67 Cormorants on the 5th. Bittern seen on 5th, 23rd and 31st, probably the same bird - seems to like the north margin of Colebrook North.

Max counts of waterfowl: 18 Mute Swans, 178 Canada Geese, 47 Greylag Geese, 15 Barnacle Geese, 12 Egyptian Geese, 95 Goosander (at roost on 31st), female Smew on the 9th, 2 male Goldeneye all month, pair of Red-crested Pochard remained until 18th, 524 Wigeon, 227 Tufted Duck, 63 Pochard, 25 Teal, 52 Mallard, 86 Gadwall, 48 Shoveler, 6 Pintail were present on the 18th and a male was present from 24th to 27th, 328 Coot.

10+ Snipe present on site, Woodcock seen on 24th and 30th, 175 Lapwing on the 2nd. The ringed Green Sandpiper is still present and seen on Colebrook scrape when it is not frozen. 2 Curlew flew over on the 6th.

Often Gulls roost on the lakes, max counts were: 100+ Black-headed Gull, 125 Common Gull, 100+ Lesser Black-backed Gull, a few Herring Gulls, Yellow-legged Gulls and best of all an immature Iceland Gull on the 17th; which I believe is the first for the site.

The Barn Owl has been joined by a second by the end of the month, which is promising for breeding. The Tawny Owl seen in December is still occupying its hole in the dead tree. The usual Little Owls can be seen enjoying the winter sun. Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Peregrine seen during the month.

The pair of Stonechats have survived the cold weather, as have Linnets and Skylarks. Winter Thrushes present in small numbers and a flock of ~200 Redwings on the 24th. Two wintering Chiffchaffs present along the river.

Siskins and Redpolls always present somewhere in the Birch and Alders. A sighting of a Lesser (or Mealy) Redpoll on the 2nd.

Nuthatches often around the car park, and Treecreepers with the Long-Tailed Tit flocks. Bullfinches present in good numbers but shy. Tits and Finches on the feeders with Robins, Dunnocks and Reed Buntings under them.

February 2011

February started with a bright dry week and then settled into wet milder weather and with some early indications of birds paring and getting ready to breed.

Up to 22 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Little Grebe. One or more Little Egrets and Grey Herons present; a couple sightings of the Bittern. Cormorant numbers reduced through the month; one report of "CJX", the Essex colour ringed youngster which was present during the previous winter.

Counts of waterfowl, mostly on the 18th: 20 Mute Swans, 185 Canada Geese, 15 Greylag Geese, 16 Barnacle Geese, 12 Egyptian Geese, 28 Goosander, 1 male Goldeneye all month, diminishing numbers of Wigeon with less than 20 by the end of the month, 233 Tufted Duck, 37 Pochard, 21 Teal, 50 Mallard, 46 Gadwall, 23 Shoveler and 169 Coot. 5 Mandarin Ducks on the 12th.

Snipe present all month, Woodcock seen on 12th, up to 140 Lapwing, but numbers reducing. The continental ringed Green Sandpiper remained and a second bird was present on the 16th. 3 Curlew briefly present on the diggings on 22nd.

Black-headed Gulls starting to gather on Tern Island during the day. 92 Common Gulls on the 7th, reducing numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gull, a few Herring Gulls but no reports of Yellow-legged Gull this month?

A pair of Barn Owls and at lest 2 pairs of Little Owls in residence. The Tawny Owl present in January seemed to have moved on by the end of the month. Common Buzzards, but I don't know of any raptors reported - there must have been some during the month? Up to 2 Kingfishers on the river by the end of the month. A Lesser-spotted Woodpecker reported on 1st.

The pair Stonechats reported on 8th, 17th and 18th. Linnets and lately Skylarks present. Redwings still present at the end of the month. Chiffchaffs have been present along the river all month and starting to sing in the last week. A Blackcap was reported near the feeders around the 24th.

Flocks of Siskins and Redpolls still present with a Lesser (Mealy) Redpoll on the 12th. Nuthatches often around the car park, and Treecreepers with the Long-Tailed Tit flocks. Bullfinches present in good numbers but shy. Tits and Finches on the feeders with Robins, Dunnocks and Reed Buntings under them - no sightings of Bramblings?

March 2011

March was dryer than average with temperatures below freezing on 5 nights. Winter birds were starting to be replaced by early spring arrivals.

Numbers of Great Crested Grebes reduced through the month and a pair of Little Grebes have taken up residence on Manor Lake. Cormorant numbers peaked at 37 on the 9th; the colour-ringed Essex bird (CJX) was seen on the 2nd. A group of 5 Grey Herons on the 9th were notable. I don't have a Goose count for this month, but the big flocks have begun to disperse to breed. Egyptian goslings were seen on Horseshoe Lake at the end of the month.

The Mandarin Ducks have paired up and dispersed to breeding sites. The first eggs were seen in one of the nest boxes on the 25th. Goosander numbers were in excess of 50 at the beginning of the month, the last I saw were 6 on the 21st. Last Goldeneye on the 6th. Wigeon and Pochard have departed and a few Shoveler and Teal remain. The numbers of breeding species have reduced as they disperse to elsewhere.

Snipe present all month, fewer Lapwing with displaying birds indicating nesting is in progress. Two Green Sandpiper remain. First of 6 Redshank arrived on the 12th and up to 6 Little Ringed Plovers from the 19th. 2 Ringed Plovers on the 21st, Dunlin on the 22nd and 27th and an Oystercatcher on the 28th. Many of the Gulls have now moved off, the remaining Black-headed Gulls gather on Tern Island during the day. 16 Common Gulls on the 11th and a Lesser Black-backed Gull on the 4th that was colour ringed at Gloucestershire on 20/10/07 as a 3year old. Several sightings in Spain, one at Tice's Meadow and in France before arriving at MGL. Red-legged Partridge on the 25th.

A pair of Barn Owls and at lest 2 pairs of Little Owls in residence. Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawks, a pair of Kestrels regularly seen. A Peregrine on the 4th and Red Kites seem to be regular visitors. Osprey passing through on the 26th.

Sand Martins recorded from the 21st and Swallows from the 30th. Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers arrived in this order. A brief visit by a Cetti's Warbler on the 25th was the first for the site.

All five Thrush species seen during the month. Flocks of Siskins and Redpolls still present and Bramblings arrived in the last few days of the month.

April 2011

This April was mild and very dry, leading to plenty of insects.

Red Kite over on 26th and regular Kestrel. First Hobby of the year on 22nd. Red-legged Partridge seen on 16th and 19th, probably a pair present.

Avocet present the whole day on the 6th. Up to 8 Little Ringed Plovers present all month. Dunlin on 6th. 2 Whimbrel all day on 22nd. Up to 4 Snipe throughout the month and Common Sandpiper, on 6th and 3 on 14th. Up to 2 Green Sandpipers present until 25th.

Common Terns from 6th, max of 9 by the month end. Black-headed Gulls peaked at 34 on the 8th but potential breeders are beginning to stay over night on the Island.

Cuckoo Heard on the 10th, 13th and 14th. 2 Barn Owls and a pair of Little Owls present all month. Tawny Owl seen on 20th.

House Martin from the 12th, Sand Martins passing through and Swallows staying to breed in the numerous stables in the area and feed on the lakes all month. 2 White Wagtail on 12th and Yellow Wagtail on 9th and 14th. A good month for Wheatears with 11 bird-days reported.

Remaining Warblers arrived: Whitethroat on 6th, Sedge Warbler on 6th, Grasshopper Warbler and Wood Warbler passing through on 12th, Reed Warbler on 16th, Garden Warbler by the 18th.

Brambling passing through with at least 50 on 5th and some still on the 12th. Last Redpoll seen on the 17th. A pair of Yellowhammer throughout the month.

My unofficial count of species recorded for 2011 is 118, including the escaped Snow and Barnacle Geese.

Cormorants reduced through the month as breeding adults move off. 2 Little Egret on the 6th. Geese have been on eggs all month and the first Canada goslings appeared in the last week of the month and Greylags on 28th. The Egyptian goslings hatched last month are now half grown.

Most of the ducks move off to breed elsewhere but a few remain or pass through. 217 Tufted Ducks on the 6th are much reduced by month end. Several pairs of Gadwall remain, some may breed. Pair of Wigeon present at Grove Lake on 11th, 16th and 30th; Pochard on 27th and one long-staying Teal all month. Male Mandarins are loafing around as the females are collectively incubating 81 eggs in 5 nest boxes around the lakes. A pair Shelduck on 24th. Two families of Mallard ducklings by month end.

May 2011

May is a month of change as the remaining winter birds depart and summer birds arrive or pass through. All birds but a few ducks have started nesting.

3 pairs of Shelducks arrived on the 16th and remained, raising the hope that they may breed. Mandarin Ducks have had a typical season with 72 eggs in 6 boxes remaining while the Drakes loaf around. Canada, Egyptian and Greylag Geese continue to hatch young, as do Mallard. Wigeon, Teal and Pochard passed through.

Hobby arrived on the 5th to join the usual Buzzard, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk and Kestrels. Highlight was a 30 minute visit from an immature female Marsh Harrier on the 12th. A few sightings of the resident Red-legged Partridges this month.

Oystercatcher on the 26th. Ringed Plovers present at times with 9 on the 14th. Little-ringed Plovers all month and a clutch of 3 young seen from 19th. Several Lapwings on eggs, one young seen on the 29th. Dunlin on 15th, 28th, 30th, 31st. The last wintering Snipe was seen on the 4th. Whimbrel on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th. 6+ Redshank all month and 3 Greenshank on 1st and 1 on the 13th. The last Green Sandpiper was seen on the 2nd. Common Sandpiper all month, a passing Wood Sandpiper on the 18th (Hants) and Sanderling on the 30th. A few passing Lesser Black-backed Gulls recorded, and about 6 pairs of Black-headed Gulls nesting on Tern Island along with about 12 pairs of Common Terns. 2 migrating Black Terns lingered for a few hours on 3rd.

A male Cuckoo was very present from the 4th to the 18th. The resident Barn Owls could be seen hunting mornings and evenings, but Little Owls have been scarce. Swifts arrived on the 1st to join the established House Martins, Swallows and sporadic Sand Martins.

A Yellow Wagtail on the 3rd. Plenty of Pied Wagtails and the usual Grey Wagtail or two. Skylarks resident on the open grassland, Resident Kingfishers active along the river and sometimes on the lakes.

I think there are fewer Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs than usual, good numbers of Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers, Blackcaps and Garden Warblers, and more than ever of Whitethroats but no Lesser Whitethroat (usually at least one). A few Goldcrests about.

Two nest boxes used by Nuthatches this year, one more than last year. Jackdaws raised young in the Colebrook Barn Owl Box. Yellowhammer resident on the workings and seen at least 5 times this month.

June 2011

June is a month of continued breeding for most birds. Migrants are still moving through and even returning by the end of the month.

Up to 3 Little Egrets seen occasionally. A few Herons and Cormorants flying about. One of the pairs of Swans on Colebrook Lake had 3 cygnets from the 8th. 50+ Canada Geese have settled on Colebrook Lake during their moult. Up to 2 pairs Shelduck present until at least the 9th. Mandarin mum with one little one on 17th. Gadwall parents of 7 young on NW diggings. Tufted Duck with 3 buoyant young learning to dive on 17th.

Kestrels and Hobbys present occasionally, as were Red Kites and Buzzards. A pair of Red-legged Partridges have been seen at the west end of the diggings a few times. The numbers of Little Ringed Plovers dropped from 9 on the 2nd, to 2 at the end of the month; and last month's young don't seem to have survived. Lapwing numbers build up to 44 by the end of the month. A Dunlin on the 1st, 5 Redshank on the 1st reduced to none by the 10th, but one passage bird on the 23rd/24th. Greenshank on 6th/7th. Green Sandpiper returned on 27th - the average date. A Common Sandpiper on the 13th, and a Woodcock in daylight on 10th.

Up to 22 Common Terns and about 15 Black-headed Gulls were nesting on Tern Island until the 3rd when all disappeared; presumable the result of predation by feral American Mink. This is earlier than previous years and all the eggs and any young were destroyed. Tern Island became baron of birds.

A male Cuckoo was seen feeding on the ground north of CLN on 10th. Little Owls are breeding in at least one traditional site. Kingfishers are active on the river. Swifts are active along with House Martins, Sand Martins (50+ on the 25th) and Swallows.

Yellow Wagtail on 12th and Grey Wagtails seen feeding young at the Sewerage Treatment Works. A juvenile Stonechat on the 20th/21st, probably arrived from the heath land south of the site.

Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers, Blackcaps, Garden Warblers, and masses of Whitethroats present all month.

Nuthatches seem to be more numerous than ever. Plenty of Reed Buntings. The Yellowhammers have gone quiet, which I hope is a sign of breeding in process.

July 2011

In July birds move away from their breeding sites and passage migrants drop by.

Great-crested Grebe and Little Grebe have young. The Mute Swans on Colebrook Lake seem to have lost 2 of their 3 young, and hardly any of the 50+ Canada Geese produced young. The Tufted Ducks (max 87 on 14th) and Mallards seem to do better on the newer lakes to the west of the Reserve where the predatory fish are not established. Two Teal on 16th were the first sign of autumn movement.

Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, Buzzard and Hobby seen regularly.

Another hatching of 3 Little Ringed Plovers on the 10th seemed to disappear after a few days; but a fledged youngster from another nest remained to the end of the month. An adult on the 5th was probably passing through. A peak count of Lapwings was 111 on the 23rd.

3 Black-tailed Godwits passed through on the 9th and 2 Redshank on the 12th and 19th. 2 Dunlin present on 30th and 31st, with a Greenshank on 29th to 31st when it was joined by two more. Green Sandpipers present all month with a peak of 5 on the 29th. Common Sandpipers also present all month with 6 on 26th.

Maximum Gull counts recorded were: 41 Black-headed Gulls on 15th, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the 15th, 5 Herring Gulls on the 11th, a Common Gull on the 15th and a Yellow-legged Gull on the 24th.

Several records of 1 or 2 Common Terns passing through. Two Sandwich Terns passed through on the 10th, which is only the 4th record for the site.

Barn Owls active, and several sightings of Little Owls, including 2 juveniles from the 10th. Kingfishers active all month, but not aware of any records of juveniles. Swallows and House Martins are resident in the area. A gathering of 50+ Sand Martins on the 28th were probably migrating. I don't have any records of Swifts, but there must have been a few.

A few Grey Wagtails present and up to 50 Pied Wagtails.

All the usual Warblers were present, but not singing as much as earlier in the season. A Juvenile Garden Warbler ringed at Moor Green 26th June was caught at Lavell's Lake on 26th July indicating that dispersal has started.

Two adult and one juvenile Spotted Flycatchers from 25th to 30th. A family of Treecreepers on the 15th. Yellowhammer seen on 3rd and 23rd.

August 2011

Ten or more Great-crested Grebes all month and up to 6 Little Grebes. Up to 13 Swans during the month. Greylag Geese peaked at 138 in roost on 28th, with 41 Egyptian Geese, 536 Canada Geese, and one Snow Goose. 13 Barnacle geese on the 30th.

A peak of 9 Teal on the 18th and a Pochard on the 17th joining the resident Mallard, Gadwall and Tufted Ducks. A few Mandarin Duck present all month, with 6 on the 28th.

Local Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Red Kite, Kestrel and Hobby present regularly.

Peak Lapwing count was 120 on 13th. 2 Dunlin remained from last month until the 3rd. A Greenshank remained until the 10th. Snipe seen on 2nd, 15th, 21st, and 27th. Up to 4 Green Sandpipers all month and up to 3 Common Sandpipers present until 21st.

One Common Gull on 11th, 80 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Yellow-legged Gull on 28th, 10 Black Headed Gulls on 17th. Common Terns seen on 8th, 15th, 17th and 21st

The northern end of Dell Field was cut for hay on the 1st, which attracted 50+ Lapwing, 30+ Stock Doves, Starlings, and a Wheatear on the 7th.

The Barn Owls were reported occasionally, but probably more active at night. The young Little Owls seem to have dispersed, and were heard around the car park toward the end of the month.

Latest records: 5 Sand Martins on 7th, 25 Swallows on the 28th, 3 House Martins on the 28th and a Swift on the 12th. Regular records of Kingfishers along the River, and Green Woodpeckers feeding on the paddocks.

The first Whinchat of the year was seen on the 29th. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen on the 27th and 28th.

The usual Warblers were still present and a Lesser Whitethroat was caught and ringed on the 21st, the first record of the year.

Treecreepers and Nuthatches were seen in trees by the Sewerage Treatment Works as usual. 6 House Sparrows were recorded in the recording area on 14th, and a Collard Dove on 15th. Bullfinches returned to the site during the month.

Bruce Archer

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