Marsh Lane News - February 09
28th February 2009 - Overcast and still.
A few more birds of note today, the best being a pair of Pintail which fed on Railway Pool for part of the afternoon. 11 Tree Sparrows was an excellent count, all but 10 at the Oak Hide feeder. A Willow Tit called behind Oak Hide, 80+ Golden Plovers flew over, Ringed Plovers were up to three and a Jack Snipe was seen in the marsh. Lastly, five Redpolls along the concrete road included a bright and pale male.
27th February 2009 - High cloud, occasional sunny intervals.
A walk along the Old Road this morning was relatively uneventful. A flock of 30 Siskins and six Goldfinches fed in the Alders on the junction of the concrete road, five Redwings appeared to have roosted in the small copse north of the entrance gates. A pair of Bullfinches fed towards the horse paddock and a Meadow Pipit flew over.
On Car Park Pool, 114 Wigeon and 21 Pochard were most noteworthy counts.
26th February 2009 - Remainging dry and overcast with a cool westerly breeze and sunny intevals.
Bird wise, it remains fairly static with little change. Displaying Lapwing pairs have increased to at least three on the Railway Pool islands and one Ringed Plover was also present this morning. Nine Meadow Pipits and two Pied Wagtails on the islands did not seem to indicate any turnover in the last few days.
A pair of Stock Doves flew from the pole box, suggesting a repeat nesting there and another pair joined them in feeding by Car Park Hide.
At least one Tree Sparrow was at the Oak Hide feeder with at least 15 Greenfinches. Seven Snipe included five in wet ground to the right of Car Park Hide.
Two aspects of management: the areas of grass (banks included) are being mown over the next few days. Also, in advance of re-seeding the crop field, rabbit ferreters will be on site.
From lunchtime onwards, five Tree Sparrows visited the Oak Hide feeder, an Oystercatcher appeared on Car Park Pool and a pair of Ravens flew over. There was a movement of Thrushes (no numbers, unfortunately), along the Old Road and the Little Owl was seen for the first time this month.
25th February 2009 - Continuing overcast.
Two pairs of Lapwings and a pair of Ringed Plover were on territory on Railway Pool early this morning. There was a steady turnover of gulls, at least 40 Black-headed, ten Lesser Blackbacks, one Herring and one Common Gull through. Approximately ten Goldfinches were present around the car park with three singing birds on territory, at the cottages, by the car park and on the causeway.
Later in the day, at least five Tree Sparrows were present at the Oak Hide feeder.
24th February 2009 - Overcast all day, occasional drizzle.
One Ringed Plover was present briefly on Railway Pool in the afternoon, together with eight Snipe and 70 Golden Plover flew over.
23rd February 2009 - Mostly grey, occasional sunny intervals, cold north-westerly wind.
The only record of note was five Tree Sparrows at the Oak Hide feeder.
22nd February 2009 - A blustery north-westerly wind, mostly cloudy but remaining dry.
21 Common Gulls was the best winter count so far this year and perhaps indicates the commencement of spring passage north. c.120 Fieldfares and a few Redwings fed on the flood plains west of the Reserve, whilst Pochard numbers had increased to 27, the best count of the month so far.
A pair of Kestrels displayed over Oak Hide and six Golden Plover lingered briefly with the Lapwing flock on Car Park Pool. A Willow Tit was heard calling at Packhorse Bridge and six Tree Sparrows visited the Oak Hide feeder.
21st February 2009 - Warm, mid, but a fresh north-westerly wind.
The only new bird of the year was a male Stonechat, which fed in the crop field near the Oaks. I cannot find any record of birds appearing on the south coast and this seems more likely to be a relocating wintering bird, slowly moving its way north. Graham Rowling’s weekend wildfowl count included:
134 Wigeon 22 Gadwall
22 Teal 26 Mallard
13 Shoveler 16 Pochard
and a noticeable increase in Tufteds to 44. 11 Grey Herons was the best count of the year so far.
20th February 2009 - Mild and sunny
In the afternoon, four Oystercatchers together was the best count so far this year. A Water Rail showed in the Marsh just below Oak Hide, briefly, and 34 Snipe remains a good count, birds spread across the Reserve. Two Tree Sparrows again visited the Oak Hide feeder.
19th February 2009 - Still, high cloud and occasional bright intervals, giving way to a sunny mid-day and afternoon.
631 Lapwing spread across the Reserve was a reasonable count for this time of year. Seven Golden Plover flew over, 12 Goldfinches were by the car park and on the Railway Pool islands there were 12 Meadow Pipits and two Pied Wagtails. The slight increase in Meadow Pipit numbers may indicate the commencement of spring passage as increased numbers have been noted passing through Portland Bill in the last few days.
Two Oystercatchers appeared on the islands later in the day.
18th February 2009 - Grey, still and mild.
Yesterday’s pair of Oystercatchers were present for part of the day, together with 42 Golden Plovers and eight Snipe. There were still four Tree Sparrows at the Oak Hide feeder.
17th February 2008 - Dry, relatively mild but with a cool north-westerly and occasional light rain.
No signs of yesterday’s Ringed Plovers, Oystercatcher or Green Sandpiper first thing, but 33 Golden Plovers were with at least 400 Lapwings. 190 Fieldfare and 20 Redwing flew north-east at about 8.20 a.m. A pair of Tree Sparrows were present at the Oak Hide feeder. Later in the morning two Oystercatchers appeared on Railway Pool, eight Tree Sparrows visited the Oak Hide feeder and two Coal Tits were present on Marsh Lane.
16 February 2009 - Mild, mostly sunny, high cloud.
Continued movement of birds today. The first Oystercatcher of the year arrived to join yesterday’s two Ringed Plovers and Green Sandpiper. There was a Jack Snipe on the Dragonfly pond and 15 Skylark were present across the Reserve or east of the A452.
14th and 15th February 2009 - Noticeably milder, particularly on Sunday when temperatures reached the dizzying heights of 11 degrees centigrade.
After some weeks of relative inactivity, the “status quo” changed with the weather this weekend.
On Saturday, the first Ringed Plover of the year fed on the Railway Pool islands all day, despite the initial frost and a second bird joined it on Sunday.
Fifty Fieldfares and five Redpolls fed in the tip fields and along the concrete road respectively, on Saturday, but Sunday was the better day. A female type Merlin succeeded in frightening everything on both pools, a Green Sandpiper was the first of the year, a third winter Yellow-legged Gull likewise and a female Goosander provided a good supporting cast.
Sadly, only two made the work party, but further useful Willow clearance on the river side of Railway Pool was undertaken - thanks to Paul Johnson and Graham Rowling.
13th February 2009 - Mostly sunny, cool northerly wind.
Much of the ice had melted today and a reasonable number of wildfowl were present (no counts). Seven Golden Plover and 60 Starlings were with the 400 strong Lapwing flock east of the A452.
12th February 2009 - Cold and mostly grey, with light snow flurries in the afternoon and a westerly wind.
The majority of the pools are now frozen over, and the 200 strong Wigeon flock were mostly roosting on the ice on Car Park Pool. A small area of open water opposite Oak Hide held 22 Gadwall, 15 Teal and a few Coots. A Willow or Marsh Tit (unidentified) appeared later at the Oak Hide feeder.
35 Snipe was an excellent count, with birds recorded by Car Park Hide, Oak Hide and in the Marsh, with the stream area there remaining unfrozen. Seven Meadow Pipits and three Pied Wagtails were of note.
Some disturbance at 11 a.m. was occasioned by a Police helicopter, the pilot of which was courteous enough to ring me in advance to warn me of the need to search for a body in the river!
11th February 2009 - Sharp overnight frost, sunny a.m., cold with rain in the afternoon, north-westerly wind.
The Wigeon flock is still over 300. A partial freezing up has reduced the number of wildfowl with, of note, just 36 Teal and 10 Gadwall. 27 Snipe remains a good count and, of the passerines, 12 Siskin and three Redpoll are reasonable counts for this year.
10th February 2009 - Snow soon clearing, fine, slightly milder day, north-westerly wind. Rain and snow melt causing flooding of the river valley.
9th February 2009 - Grey and overcast with light but persistent rain from 9.30 a.m onwards, turning to snow in the evening.
Despite the rain, the water was ponding on the ice and there was little open water with the exception of a patch in front of Oak Hide which contained 30 plus Teal and similar number of Coots.
Perhaps the best place at the moment is the Oak Hide, with the feeders being particularly active and at least 27 Snipe dropped into the field to the rear of the hide to feed at 2 pm. In addition to good numbers of Great and Blue Tits, Chaffinches and Green Finches, a single Tree Sparrow was recorded for the first time this month and at least two Nuthatches were regular visitors. It was a Willow Tit that today visited the feeder there, with a marked wing panel and a generally stocky build. Presumably, therefore, there are two birds visiting as the bird identified as a Marsh Tit between the 6th and the 8th was seen well by a number of different people.
The only other records of note were a first winter Herring Gull on the ice on Car Park Pool and 22 Rooks flying low over to the south-west.
7th to 8th January 2009 - Mostly sunny until heavy snow showers on Sunday afternoon. Heavy frosts causing much icing over.
Yesterday's Marsh Tit visited the Oak Hide feeder on both days and interesting, presumed cold weather movements, included seven Skylark north on the 7th, and another on the 8th, and a single flock of 250 Jackdaws south at 10.30 on the 7th.
46 Snipe on the 7th was an excellent count. The Peregrine returned to its usual larch perch in Siden Hill Wood on the 8th.
Some tree work on the northern section of the Old Road has disturbed the verges and most Thrush activity (25 plus Redwings, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds) was there.
The tiny pool of unfrozen water on Car Park Pool had the unfortunate effect of pushing a Little Grebe against the islands where it was in range of a Heron, which killed and ate it.
6th February 2009 - Snow showers in the morning clearing away by lunch.
Details from the log today included 60 Canadas, 50 Greylags, 24 Cormorants, seven Meadow Pipits and, best of all, a Marsh Tit which visited the Oak Hide feeder.
5 February 2009 - Overnight snow
The overnight snow had blanketed most of the Reserve but surprisingly much of the water remained ice free, particularly on Car Park Pool. The Reed bed was at least 3/4 frozen over and the Railway pool about half frozen.
Approximately 600 Lapwings roosted across the Reserve and of the 28 Snipe, 12 were feeding in the field to the right of Car Park Hide, 13 behind Oak Hide and the remainder in the Marsh. There were very few wildfowl with 4 Shoveler, 8 Gadwall and a handful of other species only.
13 Stock Doves and a similar number of Jackdaws were attracted to the wheat in the field and the feeding stations were quite busy but with nothing of particular note.
Some eight Fieldfares, two Redwings, two Rooks and a Linnet were the most interesting of the flyover birds and at least four Meadow Pipits were feeding along the causeway where the gorse bushes had impeded the snowfall. A Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed in the Car Park oaks.
4 February 2009 - sunny, light south easterly.
There were no records.
3rd February 2009 - Generally sunny, still after heavy frost.
Surprisingly, there was still quite a lot of open water, particularly on Car Park Pool. Duck numbers were nevertheless down on the weekend, with about 50 Teal, 15 Mallard, 13 each of Tufted and Pochard, five Gadwalls but no Wigeon or Shoveler. There was a single Dabchick and four Great-crested Grebes flew north from the Bradnocks Marsh direction, following the railway line.
670 Lapwing were roosting across the islands and hunkering down in the snow and grass to the left of Car Park Hide. At least 12 Snipe fed below Oak Hide with a further two below Car Park Hide.
A few Thrushes were moving about and of particular note was a flock of 20 Linnets which flew over to the north and were the first of the year.
2nd February 2009 - snow.
There were no records.
31st January 2009 - High cloud, some sun, cold south-easterly. 1st February 2009 - Cold easterly wind, sun intervals and snow showers.
Thrushes continue to move north on their progressive return to Scandinavia and beyond. Approximately 25 Redwings and 10 Fieldfares fed in the fields just north of the cottages before flying down the Old Road on Saturday, though only a handful lingered on Sunday.
45 Golden Plovers joined a 533 strong Lapwing flock, either in flight over the Reserve or feeding east of the A452 on the 31st.
Wildfowl numbers varied enormously over the weekend. Noticeably fewer geese frequented the immediate area, but Wigeon reached 301. There were only five Shovelers on Saturday, but 29 on Sunday was the best count of the year, so far;of 26 Gadwall, most were males.
32 Snipe on Sunday, mostly in the marsh, was an excellent count but no more than two showed on Saturday.
Long-tailed Tits have started to pair up and two pairs prospected the thicker bramble patches along the Old Road.
A Buzzard was feeding on a freshly dead Mallard on Railway Pool on Sunday, though whether it was the culprit was unclear. Sparrowhawks and two pairs of Kestrels are being seen sporadically.
Four Yellowhammers, three Tree Sparrows and five Lesser Redpolls were the best of the finches and buntings counted over the weekend.
There appeared to be a reappearance of Stock Doves at the weekend with 11 on Saturday and 13 on Sunday, after no records of note since 2008.