Marsh Lane News - December 07
21st December to 3rd January 2008
The cold south-easterly that brought freezing conditions turned to the south-west on the 24th and brought milder weather until January 1st. The 2nd and 3rd felt especially cold in a strong easterly.
The bird of this period has been a beautiful Redpoll species, associating with up to three Lessers, and feeding very confidingly on willlow herb and mugwort seeds on the Old Road verges. First found on the 22nd it was still present on the 3rd, though can go missing for long periods during the day.
Its arrival coincided with a noticeable increase in Siskins (11 to 60-80) and Redpolls (up to 20).
The bird had been identified as a Mealy on structure, and the amount of flank rump and undertail covert streaking. Superb photos appeared on the web, sparking much debate and interest. Martin Games visited site on the 2nd and 3rd and felt, after discussion with Andy Stoddart, (the writer of i.d. papers on these difficult species), that there were no features that precluded its identity as a first-year Arctic and as its paleness - white rump and size probably precluded Mealy, put it out as such on the pager services. Discussion continues!
Whatever its identity, it is a beautiful bird and is well worth seeing.
Found by Paul Johnson and Graham Rowling, they also found a roosting Tawny Owl in an ivy-covered willow along the concrete road. It was first found on the 26th and was still present, although difficult to see, on the 3rd.
The finch and bunting flock remains substantial, though birds come and go quite widely (40-50 Yellowhammers in fields east of the farm, for example, on the 26th). Up to 11 Tree Sparrows and three Bramblings have been present, with at least one Brambling visiting the car park feeder regularly.
Other birds or counts of note included 70 Shoveler on the 28th, a male Goosander on the 2nd, two visits from a Peregrine (on one, taking a Lapwing), a Merlin on the 1st, up to six Golden Plovers on December 31st, 590 Lapwings on the 1st, and an arrival of nine Skylark on the 24th (a clear cold wether movement and probably the explanation for the rise in Lapwing numbers).
20th December 2007
Cold and foggy. The icing over is more extensive and bird life was much the same as the previous few days.
19th December 2007
Still and sunny after a cloudy start. The Finch flock seemed lower in numbers and there was no sign of the Bramblings this afternoon. Water Rails were heard both on the causeway and in front of Oak Hide and male and female Shelduck were present.
18th December 2007
Grey and overcast with a cold easterly. Little change, with the two female Bramblings still present in the Finch flock, being the only birds of note.
17th December 2007
Another hard frost, but early morning cloud cleared by mid day, with two to three hours of sunlight before the cloud reappeared. A cold easterly wind prevailed. With the icing over, the duck count included 44 Mallard, 59 Teal, 41 Shoveler and a male Shelduck. There were 56 Black-headed Gulls and a single Common Gull on the ice. Other birds of note included two Continental Song Thrushes in the crop field and the male and female Brambling were again present.
16th December 2007
Cold and grey with an increasing easterly wind, but no overnight frost. A Peregrine was seen in the morning and a Jack Snipe and Water Rail were seen in the marsh. At least one Brambling was present with the Finches and Buntings and at least 12 Tree Sparrows were with them.
15th December 2007
A better day, with the grey mist having lifted. Some discussion ensued between those watching the Finch and Bunting flock as to how many there actually were. 120 birds were counted together in the hedgerow flanking the field, with birds still in the crop, Oak trees and adjacent Reedbed. 170 to 200 was the best estimate. Proportionately, perhaps 50 plus Reed Buntings and 75 plus Yellowhammers, with the balance being Chaffinches, at least 12 Tree Sparrows and two Bramblings, the pale female of the last few days and a new pale male.
Thrush numbers have fallen as the Hawthorn berries have been consumed, leaving no more than 15 Fieldfares and 10 Redwings. Eight to ten Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes and three Mistle Thrushes were widely spaced along the Old Road. With the icing up, duck numbers were lower than last week, but still respectable - 240 Wigeon, 40 Shoveler, 74 Teal, 18 Mallard and a male Shelduck, but only five Tufted Ducks and no Pochard.
Other birds of note included Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail (under pass), 18 plus Goldfinches (spread along the Old Road) and 12 Siskins.
14th December 2007
Little of note on a cold grey and misty day. With the pools partly iced over, duck numbers were lower, although 38 Shoveler was still a good count. The Goldeneyes have, however, departed. One male Shelduck was present and a Green Woodpecker was finding plenty to its liking on the largest island on Car Park Pool.
10th to 13th December 2007
No records on either the 10th or 12th. The weather has been generally fine and dry with heavy overnight frosts and on the 13th there was much ice present. On the 11th, the only records of note were the presence of the two Goldeneyes, together with three Green Woodpeckers, and a Water Rail in front of the Oak Hide screen.
On the 13th, a sunny start gave way to clouding over. Birds of note included a male Shelduck, two Goldeneye, 60 plus Teal, 40 plus Pochard, 22 Stock Dove in the field together with over 100 finches and buntings. Within the latter, there was at least one female Brambling.
Sunday 9th December 2007
More rain for most of the day. To prove the point about the Bramblings, both females were together today, with at least 70 Yellowhammers, over 30 each of Reed Buntings and Chaffinches, and seven Tree Sparrows, either in the Old Road hedges or crop field.
A Raven was seen in the morning and two Shelducks were present in the afternoon. Thrush numbers have fallen since the beginning of the month. 10-15 each of Fieldfares, Redwings and Starlings fed in the fields north of Car Park Pool, along with two Song Thrushes. Nine Meadow Pipits were seen on the pool islands. Two Grey Wagtails chased each other around the straw bales near the Aeromodellers flying strip.
Saturday 8th December 2007
Heavy rain in the morning was driven in on a strong north-westerly wind. Fortunately it cleared sufficiently in the afternoon for a work party of four to erect 12 Tree Sparrow nest boxes on the Oaks in the crop field and on the Old Road. Hopefully, the birds now on site will decide to take up residence in the spring. Despite the weather, plenty of small insects were flying amongst the Oak trees.
Running repairs were carried out to a number of other boxes that had lost tops and clouts were hammered into the hole surroundings of others, to deter squirrles and Woodpeckers.
Lastly, the Oak Hide feeders were reinstated. Thanks to John Whitehurst and Paul and Lee Johnson for braving the elements, and Paul Brown for making the boxes.
Bird wise, the dull female Brambling was present again in the Old Road hedges and was clearly different from the bird seen in November. The juvenile male Goldeneye remained, but the female had departed. In the evening, 20 Pied Wagtails dropped onto the Railway Pool islands to feed, wash and preen before roosting. 30 Siskins fed in the Alders along the central stream line and 120 Golden Plovers flew around over the fields east of the A452.
Friday 7th December 2007
After a very windy and squally night, a clear start though colder.
The two Goldeneye and male Shelduck remain. Pochard numbers stood at 47. At least 50 Yellowhammers, 15-20 each of Chaffinches and Reed Buntings, and 5+Tree Sparrows fed in the crop field close to the car park feeders.
In the afternoon, a Jack Snipe showed well in the Marsh, in front of Oak Hide, the first sighting there since last winter.
Thursday 6th December 2007
Mostly overcast and increasingly windy, the wind turning to the north-west and bringing rain late in the day. Mild out of the wind.
Still two Goldeneye and one Shelduck. A female Brambling was in the hedge by the car park feeders and seven Snipe were recorded.
Wednesday 5th December 2007 - No records.
Tuesday 4th December 2007- Strong south-west wind. Generally dry.
Two of yesterday's three Goldeneye remained, a first-winter male and a female, likely to be the bird from the last few days. A Shelduck was also present, though finch and bunting numbers seemed lower with only 50 Chaffinches and 30 Yellowhammers. Six Snipe showed in the open on various islands.
Monday 3rd December 2007
A fine morning followed by cloud and showers in the afternoon, with a west / south-westerly wind.
A surprise was the arrival of three Goldeneye. A very irregular bird at the Reserve, three at the same time is most unusual. Two Water Rails were also heard calling.
Sunday 2nd December 2007 - Heavy overnight rain, slowly clearing mid morning but strong west / north-westerly wind.
Saturday 1st December 2007 - Sunny but increasingly blustery south-westerly wind.
No great change on the variety of species but a significant change in numbers. Wigeon numbers had slowly risen during the autumn to a maximum of 258 and seemed to have hovered at roughly that level during November. However, Graham Rowling's usual Saturday morning wildfowl count indicated a substantial increase to a new record of 332.
As a measure of the "comings and goings" of wildfowl, Wigeon had dropped to 268 by Saturday, yet Teal and Mallard had doubled to 128 and 115 respectively.
It was noticeable, too, that finches and bunting numbers "were on the up" on the 1st, as "clouds" flew out of the hedges in a walk along the Old Road. A count on the 1st showed Yellowhammers had risen from a conservative 20 to at least 50, with an estimated 100 on the 2nd. This is the best count since the winter of 2001/2002.
A small Chaffinch flock of up to 30 birds had also increased to 100 on the 2nd, and Reed Buntings totalled about 40.
Other birds or counts of note included the female Goldeneye, a Peregrine unsuccessfully chasing a Wood Pigeon into Siden Hill Wod, two Water Rails (including one on the Dragonfly Pond), six Herring Gulls, 15 Stock Doves, Grey Wagtail, about 100 mixed thrushes, 15 Stock Doves, 30 Siskins and 8 Bullfinches (including one group of five males and a female).