MARCH 2011 BIRD NOTES
March Highlights: Whooper Swan, ‘Wild’ Barnacle Goose, Rock Pipit, Black Redstart, Snow Bunting, and early summer migrants return.
Generally March has been a calm dry month with some good birds and good finds giving a monthly species count of 106, just below the best ever March of 107 species in 2005. The Great Northern Diver count was 2 juveniles at the start of the month, then 3 on 6th and 4 on 14th including 1 seen flying in at dusk on 14th. This number quickly reduced to 3, but included an adult bird not previously noted, and one was seen eating a crayfish on 28th. A national Whooper Swan movement northwards brought in flocks of 6 and 16 on 1st and 2 on 3rd. There was a Pink-footed Goose on Stones Island on 9th and 3 on 30-31st. A Barnacle Goose with an orange leg ring was found with the feral flock on 9th and stayed for the rest of the month. The leg ring letters ADZ were traced to it being ringed on 8/2/99 at Caerlaverock as a first year bird, so was hatched in 1998 and has been seen on the Solway most winters since. Maximum counts this month; 4 Little Grebe on 23rd, 38 Great Crested Grebe on 13th, 6 Greylag on 21st and 23rd, 36 Barnacle on 1st, 2 Shelduck on 20th, a pair of Mandarin on 21st, 24 Wigeon on 21st, 2 Gadwall on 3rd and 16th, 104 Teal on 7th, 81 Mallard on 13th, 2 Pintail on 1st-13th, 4 drake Shoveler on 13th, 12 Pochard on 1st, 270 Tufted Duck on 13th, 2 drake Common Scoter on 22nd, 15 Goldeneye on 7th, a drake Red-breasted Merganser on 27th, 3 Goosander on 28th, 8 Moorhen on 13th and 116 Coot on 13th.
A Red Kite was seen by several observers on 13th, 6 Common Buzzard were up over Carsington village on 11th and a pair of Peregrine were in flight together on 21st. At least 12 Oystercatchers were noted on 21st, many as pairs on their breeding islands. A Ringed Plover was around Stones Island on 25th and the first Little Ringed Plover of the year landed at Watersports on 26th. The remnants of the wintering Lapwing flock totalled 39 on 1st, 3 Dunlin were noted on 9th and there were 6 Snipe at the Wildlife Centre on 21st. Curlew were pouring through early in the month with flocks of 24 on 1st, 25 on 5th, 36 on 6th, 50 on 9th and 40 on 10th. At least 6 Redshank were present on 20th and probably all month, but spread around the site.
An adult Mediterranean Gull was in the roost on 7th. Counts of the gull roost proved difficult due to the spread of birds across the whole water, but include 900 Black-headed Gull on 28th, 200 Common Gull on 6th, 63 Lesser Black-backed Gull on 28th, 4 Herring Gull mid-morning on 27th and 11 Great Black-backed on 1st. There was an adult Yellow-legged Gull on 2nd and 9th, thankfully not the little grebe killer which has not been seen since the end of February.
The Barn Owl was hunting at Sheepwash again on 2nd and 14th. Good finds this month were a Rock Pipit on Sheepwash Spit on 7th, a female Black Redstart (fourth site record) in Wildlife Centre Creek on 29th and still there on 30th for several observers to catch up with this species, and a male Snow Bunting (second site record) on Sheepwash Spit early on 8th, staying only minutes but long enough for a record photograph. Spring migrant arrivals were; 6 Sand Martin on 26th and 25 on 30th, 2 Swallows on 29th, a male Common Redstart on 28th, a Blackcap on 30th, a Chiffchaff on 12th and 19 on 21st and a Willow Warbler on 30th. Other counts were; 24 Wood Pigeon on 3rd, 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker on 21st, 4 Skylark on 23rd, 23 Meadow Pipit on 28th, 23 Pied Wagtail on 11th, 100 Fieldfare on 28th, 61 Redwing on 10th, 160 Starling on 14th, 28 Tree Sparrow on 25th, 2 Brambling on 21st, 1 Linnet on 28th, 4 Lesser Redpoll on 16th, 6 Bullfinch on 7th, 1 Yellowhammer on 19th and 6 male Reed Bunting on 1st.
106 Species recorded this March compared with101 in March 2010, 102 in 2009, 104 in 2008, 95 in 2007, 100 in 2006, 107 in 2005 and 98 in 2004.