DECEMBER 2010 BIRD NOTES
December Highlights: Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Smew and Waxwing.
It is hardly surprising that the number of records and bird species recorded this month was relatively low. December started with 2 feet of snow, making virtually everywhere inaccessible, with a lot remaining until Christmas. Ice cover over the water increased relentlessly in constant sub zero temperatures, until there was 95% cover on 20th, following an overnight minimum of minus 17C, leaving four pockets of water for wildfowl. One small pocket off SailingClubIsland held 1000 birds and others were observed from a great distance to avoid any risk of disturbance in these difficult feeding times. To finish off the month, along came many days of fog, during which time ice only reduced to 70% cover.
The juvenile Great Northern Diver, which arrived in November, stayed all month and was joined by another juvenile from 11th. A Slavonian Grebe was found in Millfields Bay on 10th, the first Derbyshire record since 2006, and it kindly remained showy until 21st. Six adult Whooper Swans flew west at 1020hrs on 11th and Pink-footed Geese movement included 240 northeast at 1400hrs on 18th and 44 southwest at 1002hrs on 19th. Maximum counts were: 19 Little Grebe on 12th, a new site record of 95 Great Crested Grebe on the WeBS count on 19th, 1 Greylag Goose on 7th, 54 Canada Geese on 19th, 43 feral Barnacle Geese on 15th, a pair of Mandarin on 13th, 325 Wigeon on 19th, 70 Gadwall on 19th, 99 Teal on 27th, 204 Mallard on 19th, 3 Pintail on 13th, 5 drake Shoveler on 11th, 133 Pochard on 12th, 728 Tufted on 12th, 29 Goldeneye on 15th, 19 Goosander on 11th and 1783 Coot on 19th. A female Smew was found in Shiningford Creek early on 19th but could not be found later in the day. It was refound in the fog on 27th and stayed aroundFlatIsland andBigIsland into the New Year.
The only notable raptor records were of Peregrine and one was mobbed by the local Raven pair on 15th. Waders included a Knot on Stones Island on 15th and at Sheepwash on 18th, a Dunlin on 6th and other dates until 20th, 2 Snipe on 13th and 29th and 3 Redshank on 19th. Curlew records in December are unusual here, so fly-overs of 3 then 4, both west on 7th, 5 east on 11th and 1 south on 18th are probably significant and may reflect the current abnormal weather and the curlews’ search for food and safe roost.
Not surprisingly either the gull roost or the gull roost watchers gave up this month so there were no big counts of Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Common Gull totalled 150 and Herring Gull 23 on 13th and Great Black-backed Gull 12 on 14th. The winter resident adult Yellow-legged Gull was noted eating another Little Grebe on 23rd, further reducing our abnormally low number of wintering Little Grebe.
A little Owl and a Kingfisher were near the Wildlife Centre on 21st. Waxwings were around with fly-overs of 1 on 7th, 2 on 11th, 1 on 14th, 1on 19th and, finally, 5 feeding in a hedge on 21st. Species counts include; 9 Collared Dove on 17th, 16 Blackbird, 23 Fieldfare and 6 Song Thrush, all on 24th, 75 Redwing on 15th, 8 Willow Tit on 24th, 110 Jackdaw on 10th, 4 Raven on 19th, 1 Brambling on 5th and 6th, 50 Siskin on 13th and 8 Bullfinch on 24th.
88 species recorded compared with 93 in December 2009, 95 in 2008, 91 in 2007, 99 in 2006, 88 in 2005, 95 in 2004, 97 in 2003 and 89 in 2002.