FEBRUARY 2011 BIRD NOTES
February Highlights: Great Northern Divers, Brent Goose, Egyptian Goose, Smew, Red Kite and Caspian Gull.
A month of mainly grey cloud and mist but it brought in a bit of interest with two geese species and achieved an overall species sum of 90. Some of the breeding waders returned and most of the wintering wildfowl had moved on by the end of the month, all of which is usual. Water levels went up significantly during the last week and all islands now have water around them.
Last month’s 3 juvenile Great Northern Divers were seen together up to 20th at least, 1 was seen flying off northwest on 26th and 2 were still present on 28th. Little Grebe numbers are at a serious low with a maximum of only 3 individuals found. The Yellow-legged Gull with an appetite for Little Grebe must be to blame, hopefully some birds have escaped to other waters. There were 4 Pink-footed Geese with the Canadas on 3rd, a dark bellied Brent Goose on 8th at Sheepwash, and 2 Egyptian Geese turned up at the Wildlife Centre on 10th. Egyptian Geese are now probably resident in the south of the county and have recently bred. Significant counts for February included 31 Great Crested Grebe on 10th, 33 Barnacle Geese on 13th, 3 Shelduck on 17th, 55 Wigeon on 13th, 102 Teal on 13th, 106 Mallard on 13th, 4 Pintail on 11th, 2 Shoveler on 24th, 285 Tufted Duck on 13th, 35 Goldeneye on 2nd, 1 female Smew from 1st to 10th, 2 Goosander on 1st and 171 Coot on 13th.
A Red Kite was seen heading north on 1st and 3 Common Buzzards were in the air on 14th and 24th.
Oystercatchers have been returning and claiming their breeding islands and totalled 7 by 17th and the Sheepwash area bird bearing a bar-code leg ring had returned by 20th. The early morning Lapwing roost in front of the Sailing Club held 308 birds on 20th and 1 Dunlin was seen occasionally from 8th and 2 on 28th. Curlew passage became busy towards the end of the month with 9 northeast on 23rd and 12 on 24th. There were 5 Redshank on site from 8th.
The gull roost has been difficult to count due to poor visibility and birds being widely spread but was estimated at 6000 birds on 16th, safely containing at least 4000 Black-headed Gulls. Other counts were 525 Common Gulls on 28th, 2 Herring Gulls on 16th, an adult Yellow-legged Gull all month, an adult Caspian Gull on 21st and 43 Great Black-backed Gulls at dawn on Sheepwash Spit on 17th.
A Stock Dove was noted on 4th and 14 Collared Dove were around the Ranger Base on 8th. Gull watchers from Sheepwash Hide were treated to a Barn Owl hunting on 11th, 14th and 16th. A Kingfisher was seen on 6th and on other dates at various locations including Millfields, Wildlife Centre and Sheepwash. Other sightings were; 2 Skylark over on 11th and 14th, 50 Redwing on 10th, 4 Mistle Thrush on 25th and 3 singing on 22nd, 4 Willow Tit on the Wildlife Centre feeder on 2nd, 180 Jackdaw on 8th, 40 Rook on the dam fields on 9th, 12 Tree Sparrow and 8 Brambling on the Wildlife Centre feeder on 4th, a Linnet flying over on 9th and 23rd and 5 Lesser Redpoll at Lane End on 3rd.
90 Species this month compared with 87 in Feb 2010, 86 in 2009, 86 in 2008, 88 in 2007, 89 in 2006 and 90 in 2005.