NOVEMBER 2010 BIRD NOTES
November Highlights: Great Northern Diver, Whooper Swan, Kittiwake, Black Redstart, Bearded Tit and Snow Bunting.
An average November for species numbers at 96, but species quality was superb with Bearded Tit and Snow Bunting being new species for the site, taking our definitive list total to 223 in the 19 year life of Carsington. The male Bearded Tit was found on 1st in the small reedbed to the left of Sheepwash Hide. It was initially heard in disbelief, then a male was clearly seen and stayed long enough for several birders to see it before it flew high west. The Snow Bunting was found on Stones Island on 25th and proved elusive and mobile but at least three birders saw it.
A Great Northern Diver was seen on 7th, too distant to determine age. On 12th, a juvenile GND, which could have been the same bird, was near the dam wall and stayed for the rest of the month. Ten Whooper Swans, including 3 juveniles, flew into Sheepwash on 7th and were still present at dusk. On 25th 2 Whooper Swans were noted off Stones Island, recorded again on 26th and again briefly on 29th before flying off west at dusk. Pink-footed Geese movements were 200 E at 0835hrs on 10th, 55 E at 0900hrs on 10th and 130 NW at 0930hrs on 18th. Wildfowl maximum counts were from the WeBS count on 14th except where stated: 38 Little Grebe on 18th, 58 Great Crested Grebe, 33 Cormorant, 25 Mute Swans, 1 drake Mandarin on 1st, 277 Wigeon, 32 Gadwall, 209 Teal, 263 Mallard, 2 Pintail, 10 Shoveler on 8th, 3 Red-crested Pochard on 8th, 62 Pochard, 578 Tufted Duck, 15 Goldeneye on 10th, 8 Goosander on 15th, 15 Moorhen and 1330 Coot.
Waders included counts of 293 Lapwing on 14th and in flight flocks up to circa 400 on 23rd. Dunlin, Snipe and Redshank were around all month with maximums of 8 Dunlin on 12th, 8 Snipe on 24th, 5 Redshank on 24th and a late Common Sandpiper on 15th.
The wildfowl numbers are significantly down on recent years, which is probably due to the unusually low water levels, losing a massive surface area of water and connecting most of the islands to the shoreline, rendering them an unsafe roost. Another factor could be the winter resident Yellow-legged Gull, which has increased its diet from the Little Grebes last winter to include Tufted Duck this winter. The gull flies low terrorising most birds on the water, even Coot scuttle along the water surface in large numbers as it approaches. It operates by repeatedly landing on the selected bird, trying to drown it. On 20th it was seen to kill and eat a female tufted duck and the following day was seen feeding on a different tufted. An adult and a first winter Mediterranean Gull were in the roost on 2nd. The gull roost also held 4000 Black-headed Gull on 7th, 282 Common Gull on 22nd, 3500 Lesser Black-backed Gull on 7th, 30 Herring Gull on 21st, 6 Yellow-legged Gull on 14th, and a Kittiwake on 8th. The Kittiwake was an adult wearing colour rings, most probably being the French ringed bird seen recently around the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire areas.
A first winter male Black Redstart was found on 18th at Millfields end of the dam wall. It was last seen on 22nd and is the third record for this site, the previous one being in November last year. Other records included 200 Woodpigeon flying south on 6th, a Barn Owl on 13th and 20th, a Little Owl on 23rd, a Kingfisher on 1st and rest of the month, a Green Woodpecker landed on Sheepwash Hide window sill briefly on 9th, 10 Skylarks flew over 6th, 50 Meadow Pipits on 1st, 25 Blackbirds on 22nd, 75 Redwing on 29th, 200 Starling on 2nd, 18 Tree Sparrow on Sheepwash car park feeder on 28th, 2 Brambling on 6th, 40 Siskin on 1st, 14 Lesser Redpoll on 22nd, 15 Bullfinch on 29th and a Yellowhammer on 7th, 14th and 23rd.
96 species recorded compared with the best November ever of 104 in 2009, 94 in 2008, 98 in 2007, 97 in 2006, 97 in 2005, 95 in 2004 and 92 in 2003.