In 2019 some of the regular Carsington birders had the idea of spending a whole day – well, dawn to dusk – at the site just to see what we might spot. On 21 May we recorded 81 species and the same number again on 10 September. For obvious reasons we were unable to repeat the spring ‘big sit’ this year but we have just repeated the exercise, with at least one observer present from 05:45 to 20:00, and with five observers for part of the day – for the record, they were Roger Carrington, Alan Stewardson, Neil Moulden, Andy Butler and myself.
The first areas that we covered were Hopton reedbed and Brown Ale Bay, which yielded Hobby, Reed Warbler and five Tawny Owls but disappointingly few wildfowl. At Millfields, three Yellow Wagtails were among the Pieds on the dam wall, a Kingfisher put in an appearance, while fly-over Crossbill and Siskins were useful additions.
With the total at 60, I joined Roger on Stones island, Neil arriving shortly afterwards and promptly finding a Common Scoter out on the water, while Andy had walked the dam wall and seen single Wheatear and Skylark. The weather went a little bit downhill at this point, with low cloud and heavy drizzle, but the total nonetheless soon rose to 73.
New birds kept appearing and a pair of Shelduck spotted by Neil took us to 76, while two Red Kites that appeared took us beyond last year’s total, still with much of the day remaining. Just after midday the probable highlight of the day, a juvenile Marsh Harrier, flew the length of the reservoir and took the growing tally to 85 species.
At least one of us remained on Stones island at all times while others checked other areas of the reservoir, and constant scanning and listening yielded Swift, a single flying Red-crested Pochard, a Willow Warbler, a surprise flock of four Lesser Redpoll that dropped into Wildlife Centre creek and then, to take us to the 90 mark, a distant Pheasant – something of an anticlimax to reach that milestone but hey, birders can’t be choosers!
It was inevitable that further additions would be slow to come, but a Common Gull appeared in the early evening, the only one of the day. Just two of us remained to watch dusk fall and count the incoming Lesser Black-backed Gulls (2,300 in total by the time we left).
But finally, just as we were about to finish for the day, a Great White Egret flew over Stones island and headed north-east across the reservoir.
This was certainly a quality end to a very enjoyable day – and hoisted our day’s total species list to 92.