Marsh Lane News - January 09
31st January 2009 - High cloud, some sun, cold south-easterly. 1st February 2009 - Cold easterly wind, sun intervals and snowy 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.
30th January 2009 - Grey, slowly clearing.
29th January 2009 - Generally fine with a cold southerly wind.
The Tree Sparrow was again at the feeders, and 15 Golden Plover flew over in the afternoon. The Snipe count only staggered to 12 and in the generally quiet Old Road hedges, there were four Bullfinches, six Long-tailed Tits, a Treecreeper and a male Kestrel.
28th January 2009 - Very wet morning, clearing in the afternoon.
150 Fieldfares and 20 Redwings fed on the flood meadows, and a Tree Sparrow and a Nuthatch visited the Oak Hide feeders.
27th January 2009 - Foggy.
Four Shelduck was about the only count of note.
26th January 2009 - Sunny spells light south-easterly wind.
The wildfowl counts were similar to yesterday, but the Lapwing flock had reached a very commendable 703, which is the best count for the year so far. There were 27 Snipe in the Marsh, a Peregrine was perched in Siden Hill Wood and a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed from one of the Oaks in the crop field. A count of 10 Common Gulls was also the best of the year so far and, lastly, a Grey Wagtail flew over.
25th January 2009 - Overcast, becoming regularly sunnier later, light south-westerly wind.
Odd things out of the ordinary included, flying over, a first-winter Great Black-backed Gull (possibly the same bird as on the 17th), and a Raven (first of the year), and a pair of Goosanders roosting on Railway Pool.
Returning thrush passage now seems to be underway, and was well represented today by 150 Fieldfare and 100 Redwing.
Some interesting duck counts, courtesy of Dave Scanlon and Richard Harbird, produced the best Wigeon count of this winter, 319, a noticeable jump in Gadwall from no more than 10 to 24 (the highest count since November) and 80 Mallard (the best count for the month). Tufted Duck and Pochard, at 24 and 31, were similar to last week but Shovelers totalled only 10, a third of last week.
24th January 2009 - Hard overnight frost, sunny, light westerly wind.
30 Siskins, 20 Goldfinches, five Tree Sparrows, two Redpolls and 15 Snipe were good counts and the regular Water Rail lurked in the hedges behind Oak Hide but, otherwise, little new.
23rd January 2009 - Yet more heavy overnight rain, again clearing quickly to reveal a mostly sunny day, but with a cold blustery north-westerly wind.
Most of the wildfowl was sheltering on the west shore or in the grass of Car Park Pool. 36 Cormorants and 25 Canada Geese were amongst plenty of Wigeon and Teal (no counts), and three Shelducks were roosting across the pools.
Over 200 each of Black-headed Gulls and Lapwing, and there were also four Golden Plover present. New for the year was a Grey Wagtail which flew over, calling, and at least one Tree Sparrow was present by Oak Hide.
Later in the afternoon, a Dunlin appeared on the Car Park Pool islands, a somewhat unseasonal find.
22nd January 2009 - Heavy overnight rain but clearing quickly and mostly fine, with a light westerly wind.
Little of note.
21st January 2009 - Sharp overnight frost, mostly fine during the day, but with cloud building from the west in the evening. Cold southerly wind.
The only birds of note were a redhead Goosander on Railway Pool, a Water Rail calling from the hedgelines behind Oak Hide and three Snipe, also behind Oak Hide.
20th January 2009 - Mostly fine, but with a cold westerly wind.
Records in the book for the day were 271 Wigeon, two Shelduck, 30 Cormorants, 10 Snipe and 12 House Sparrows at Patrick Farm.
19th January 2008 - Rain overnight, but mild and mostly dull during the day.
News from today came in the shape of a Tree Sparrow at the Oak Hide feeder, eight Golden Plovers on Car Park pool and a Nordic Jackdaw with the main flock of 50 Jackdaws on the flood meadows.
In the early afternoon two Little Egrets were seen flying across the A452, just south of the Reserve, but they did not appear to reach it and presumably landed around Bradnocks Marsh or along the river. (Apparently there have been up to six of these roosting at Kingsbury).
18th January 2009 - After a stormy night, the day was clear and sunny but with a cold westerly wind. Some flooding had taken place on the river meadows, and some water from the Blythe was entering by the sluice into Railway Pool.
14 Golden Plovers flew over during the morning and the days Snipe count also totalled 14. The pair of Tree Sparrows returned to the Oak Hide feeder in the morning.
Seven, who attended the afternoon work party, were rewarded with a drake and two redhead Goosanders on Railway Pool. Further willow removal took place on the west shore of the same pool, and the next work party is at 2 pm on February the 15th, for those that can help.
17th January 2009 - Overnight rain had cleared by dawn to give mild sunny conditions for most of the day.
Despite the presence of the grain spinner, the crop field remain disappointingly quiet, with 20 Reed Buntings, three Yellowhammers, a handful of Chaffinches and at least two Song Thrushes, were all that could be mustered.
A small arrival of Thrushes on the Old Road included ten Redwings, two Fieldfares, five Blackbirds and a further Song Thrush, with a Mistle Thrush in song by the Aeromodellers Club.
Aside frm the Thrushes and plenty of vocal Great and Blue Tits, an obliging pair of Bullfinches, five Siskins and three Redpolls, were about the only birds of note on the Old Road.
In contrast, the pools were quite lively, and an impressive flock of 680 Lapwings included two Golden Plovers. 166 Wigeon fed on the floods by Patrick Farm, with a further 60 on the Reserve. A single Shelduck flew in from the east during the morning and other wildfowl included 112 Teal, 34 Shoveler and 27 each of Pochard and Tufted.
In the afternoon, a Greater Black-backed Gull flew over, south-west, and was the first for many months.
Lastly, of note, were nine Wood Pigeons which appeared high from the south at 9 a.m which continued high and out of site to the north. Four more did a similar thing on Wednesday and all were presumably migrants moving north in the milder conditions.
15th and 16th January 2009 - Mild, occasional light rain and sunny intervals, south to south-westerly wind.
Only three birds were noted in the log over these two days (reflecting the generally quiet birding), a Water Rail in front of Oak Hide on the 15th, and four Shelduck and 25 Golden Plover (on Railway Pool), on the 16th.
14th January 2009 - Hard overnight frost with fog slow to clear, but a sunny end to the day on a light, but cold south-westerly breeze.
Some icing over of the pools had occurred overnight, but there were reasonable numbers of duck and the Pochard flock had risen to 17. Little on the Old Road with the exception of an obliging male Bullfinch by the car park gates. The field remains quiet, despite the spinner, with just a scattering of Finches.
It was noticeable today that there was considerable Tit song from both Great and Blue Tits widely spaced across the Reserve.
13th January 2009 - Mild, occasional sunny periods, much less windy.
Two Tree Sparrows this morning were the first since the 5th, but generally the crop field was quite quiet despite the installation of the grain spinner. Most of the ice has now melted with the exception of the bay to the north of the causeway and, as a consequence, wildfowl numbers have improved with counts of 65 Teal, seven Gadwall, 10 Shoveler and 13 each of Pochard and Tufted Duck.
250 Lapwing were roosting on the islands in the morning, and other birds of note included 20 Siskins along the central streamline, two Water Rails, one of which flew from the central stream back to the reedbed, and a singing Skylark over the car park.
Late news to the extent of a Willow Tit which was present in the railway copse.
12th January 2009 - Generally wet, windy and mild all day.
The Goosander re-appeared and the only other counts of note were five Snipe, two Common Gulls and 18 Cormorants.
11th January 2009 - A south-westerly wind got up overnight and became very strong during the day, bringing much milder conditions.
A female Goosander was the only new bird of the day, although 11 Meadow Pipits and 30 Jackdaws in the tip field was of note.
8th to 10th January 2009 - Continuing cold and icy.
Birds of note throughout this period included, somewhat surprisingly, a Little Grebe from the 8th to the 10th lingering in the small patch of unfrozen water on Railway Pool. A count of 314 Wigeon was a record for this winter period, and with the appearance of a Tufted Duck on the 10th (the first of the year), there was clearly some movement of wildfowl.
The best bird, however, was a Woodcock which was flushed from alongside the concrete road, in the morning of the 10th. This was only the second record for the Reserve and was expected with the prolonged cold weather.
7 January 2009 - In continuing cold and mostly overcast conditions, most of yesterday's wildfowl had gone, with a compact flock of 14 Shoveler, a few Coot and Black-headed Gulls the only birds frequenting the small patch of open water on Railway Pool.
70-100 mixed Finches and Buntings were present in the crop field at 8.45am but quickly dispersed. Along the central streamline, a Water Rail fed in the stream itself and nine Siskins and a Bullfinch fed in the alders.
6th January 2009 - Cold and Sunny.
The only patch of unfrozen water is in the lee of the islands in front of Oak Hide, and even the patch of open water by the stream outlet in front of Oak Hide is now largely frozen over.
Birds roosting in the late afternoon or feeding in the open water included 90 Lapwings, 40 Teal, 22 Shoveler and five Mallard. Two Snipe flew in at dusk and a Water Rail showed particularly well in the Marsh before running over the bank to the Oak Hide feeders.
A Tree Creeper fed along the central streamline and two Mistle Thrushes were in the crop field.
5th January 2009 - Continuing extremely cold.
Two Common Snipe and one Jack Snipe showed in the Marsh, with a Nuthatch visiting the Oak Hide feeder and three Tree Sparrows at the car park feeder.
4th January 2009 - Mostly overcast and continuing cold in anticyclonic conditions.
The only news from today was of a single Jack Snipe, five Redpolls and 40 Siskins, all along the concrete road. Additionally, seven Meadow Pipits were feeding in the sheep field, seven Common Gulls were roosting on Car Park Pool, and 11 Yellowhammers and seven Reed Buntings were recorded from the crop field.
3rd January 2009 - Very cold with temperatures down to at least -5 degrees C., and -8 degrees C., recorded at Birmingham Airport. An overcast morning gave way to a sunny afternoon, though cloud started to build up towards the end of the day.
The best birds of today were a pair of Peregrines again, two Jack and 32 Snipes, 80 Siskins (concrete road), 269 Wigeon (despite the icing up of the pools), two Nuthatches (on the Oak Hide feeders), two Tree Sparrows with approximately 100 Buntings and Finches in the crop field.
2nd January 2009 - Mostly sunny but remaining cold.
51 birds were ringed in the afternoon. Netting was concentrated in the Reedbed and around the car park feeding station. 18 new Reed Buntings were caught and 11 were re-traps with an unquantified total uncaught. Of the other species caught there were eight Blue Tits, five Great Tits, four Robins, two Goldfinches, and singles of Song Thrush, Wren and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
1st January 2009 - Cold after a heavy frost. Temperatures dropped to at least -2 degrees C., and it remained overcast. Partly frozen.
The best bird of the day was a Willow Tit, on the railway embankment. A regular when the Reserve opened in 2001, it has become increasingly scarce. It is the first since August 30th, in the same location.
A Raven was heard calling out of the fog and was the first recorded since October 26th. Whilst now widespread, this species has become rarer at the Reserve in the last two years. Quite why, I am unsure, but it may be due to poor productivity and some fewer young exploring for new territories or greater saturation and therefore birds are more territorial.
The cold conditions have driven away the diving ducks, with no Pochard or Tufted Ducks at all.
Five calling or visible Water Rails was an excellent count. A Jack Snipe was flushed from the side of the concrete road whilst five Snipe fed in the small patch of open water in front of Oak Hide. 13 Meadow Pipits fed in the sheep fields, with another two on the causeway. Over 100 Finches and Buntings fed in the crop field and three Tree Sparrows was the maximum count.
Happy New Year.