Marsh Lane News - July 08
1st August 2008 - Sunny intervals. South easterly wind turning to the south-west
31 Swifts arrived at 7.15am, with at least another 14 close behind. Upto 10 Sand Martins and a single House Martin were with them. Some lingered but most moved on quickly.
The railway embankment was quite lively with at least three Whitethroats, two Blackcaps and singles of Reed Warbler and Goldcrest in amongst commoner species.
Passage waders included nothing more than a single Common Sandpiper though the Lapwing flock was at least 200 strong and two adult Ringed Plover were present. A single Tree Sparrow was present by the Oak Hide feeder.
31st July 2008 - showery, south-easterly
Still at least two adult Ringed Plover and the juvenile Redshank but the adult appears to have departed together with the Oystercatchers. All breeding wader species (Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and Redshank) save for Little Ringer Plover produced one fledged young each.
At least 12 fledged juvenile Common Terns are still being fed, on site, by adults.
Two Tree Sparrows, at least, were at the Oak Hide feeder in the morning and in the evening five Common Sandpipers and a Kingfisher were seen.
30th July - warm and sunny, south westerly
A male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was reported from the Oak Hide feeders and five Common Sandpipers was a noteworthy count but otherwise it was quiet.
29th July - after heavy overnight rain it quickly cleared this morning and was noticeably fresher with a south-westerly wind
13 Swifts moved south at 8.30am and about 30 Sand Martins were feeding up before a few departed south. Yesterday’s Pochard and Common Sandpiper remained.
In the afternoon, plenty of raptors included the ever present female and a second female Peregrine, eight Buzzards over and about, at lease three each of Hobby and Kestrel but no Sparrowhawks (only two records all month). With this pressure, it is not surprising that waders were limited to breeders and singles of Common and Green Sandpipers. Three Herring Gulls flew over and a few more Swifts (10) and Sand Martins (40) were on the move.
28th July - hot and still. Clouds building from 3.30pm
The bird of the day was a Red Kite seen distantly towards Hampton in Arden, mid-afternoon. It drifted off towards Stonebridge, with two Buzzards whilst two Hobbies fed over Siden Hill Wood. The Grasshopper Warbler reeled occasionally in the field between the river and the wood and 18 Swifts moved east ahead of the rain clouds about 3.15pm. A female Pochard was also a new arrival.
27th July - hot and still
A Snipe was a new arrival whilst two Common Sandpipers remained from yesterday. Both Hobby and Peregrine put in an appearance and bufferflies aplenty were limited to the commoner species, save for two Commas on the Old and concrete roads.
26th - Hot and Still
Eight Tufted broods were spread across the pools in the early morning but later on ten broods were found, totalling 88 ducklings - a record. A single Shoveler and a pair of Teal were on Car Park pool and the Peregrine in the usual tree eventually flew off after being hassled by three Common Terns for half an hour. A Hobby flew along the railway embankment and will probably be back for dragonflies later.
Plenty of Warbler activity with Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat on the railway embankment; Willow Warbler, Reed, Sedge and Whitethroat on the causeway; Reed, Sedge, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat by the top gate and Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Treecreepers and a family party of Nuthatch on the concrete road.
Other wildlife of note included Hobby, two Common and one Green Sandpiper, a male Southern Hawker (Old Road) and Ruddy Darter on Car Park pond.
25th July - warm and still
As expected at this time of year but no less enjoyable, the Reserve had its first Little Egret of the summer dispersal. It lingered for a couple of hours before flying off towards Cornets End. Hobby, Peregrine and Common Sandpiper were seen during the day and three Shoveler and a pair of Teal were found in the late morning. 23 Common Tern was as good late July count and 5-6 juveniles are still being fed regularly.
24th July 2008 - Increasing easterly wind but warm, sunny intervals
Little of note early this morning. 135 Greylags were on Car Park Pool and as one of the Tufted broods has increased to 14 but those with the Gadwalls have diminished to two, perhaps a swap has occurred.
Later, a Kingfisher was visible in the marsh before flying over towards the railway. The family party of Green Woodpeckers fed between Oak and Railway hides and a juvenile Water Rail showed occasionally from the causeway. A Green Sandpiper appeared in the evening and the Peregrine sat in her usual tree.
23rd July - weather similar to yesterday
The Tufted brood situation becomes more complicated by the minute. An apparently new brood of 12 yesterday seemed to have risen to 14 this morning whilst five on the Reedbed Pool were parentless - perhaps 6 or 7 broods so far.
Meanwhile, a pair of Tree Sparrows were feeding at least one recently fledged youngster behind Oak Hide with another bird calling by the sout-west pond. Although not recorded near Oak Hide since May, these breeding must be on or close to the Reserve and hopefully will lead to a colony becoming established on site.
No sign of Garden Warblers today but the same Tit flock on the central stream line held a subsonging juvenile Willow Warbler and a pair of Reed Warblers fed there before flying back towards the Reedbed to feed youngsters. At least two juvenile Whitethroats were in the scrub by the stream crossing whilst the pair on the railway embankment are feeding young on the opposite side.
A Common Sandpiper re-appeared in the afternoon and the Grasshopper Warbler reeled from opposite the car park for the first time since June and might indicate it is paired and onto a second brood.
A ringed Green Sandpiper was noted in the log but with no details - hopefully where these were taken could be conveyed to me please.
Lastly other wildlife of note included Hobby, Peregrine and 30 plus Small Red-Eyed Damselflies, split between the Dragonfly Pond and Reedbed.
22nd July 2008 - mild, overcast and still
Two apparently new Tufted broods of nine each were widely spaced on Railway Pool where a Common Sandpiper fed in amongst at least 20 Common Terns (five of which were partly grown or mobile youngsters). A juvenile Little Ringed Plover on Car Park Pool was, with the Common Sandpiper, a new arrival.
Warbler dispersal was evident this morning with calling Chiffchaffs on the Old Road (1) and Marsh Lane (2), whilst a Garden Warbler fed amongst a Tit flock on the Central streamline and both Reed Warbler and Whitethroat fed in close proximity.
Eight Swifts dropped in about 6.30am and were still feeding up, over the streamline, an hour later.
In the evening further Warbler activity included two Garden Warblers in the marsh (!) and an adult Blackcap feeding a juvenile on the railway embankment. An adult Little Ringed Plover had "replaced" the juvenile of earlier.
Four Tree Sparrows near the causeway in the afternoon were the first recorded for a month and one was present in the car park in the evening.
21st July 2008 - warm and sunny despite a cooling north westerly wind
A male Blackcap was feeding at least two newly fledged youngsters by the cottages mid-afternoon but there were no other records in the log. Ragwort control disturbed birds on Car Park Pool during the afternoon and may occur tomorrow on Railway Pool.
19th - 20th July 2008 - sunny spells, light showers, strong south westerly, turning north westerly on the 20th.
The only migrant waders were four Common Sandpipers on Saturday but none were present next day. Six out of seven Gadwall broods totalling 29 young were seen over the weekend and a new brood of nine Tufted took the duckling total for that species to 32.
Four Ringed Plovers remain on Railway Pool, though the fledged youngster has not been recorded since the 12th. The remaining Redshank chick must be close to fledging and is frequently left unattended by a lone parent. The Lapwing flock was up to c.160 yesterday and both Hobby and Peregrine were seen again. 20 Swifts in the later afternoon appeared to be on the move and a roving tit flock on the central stream line included a Chiffchaff, indicating that these are beginning to disperse.
18th July 2007 - Weather mostly overcast, still early on but an increasing westerly wind.
No migrant waders early on but by mid-morning both Common and Green Sandpipers had arrived, along with an adult and two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers. The Peregrine was back in its usual location again and a Raven and three Herring Gulls flew over. There was another dead Tern chick visible on Railway Pool.
The fledged Terns are leaving site quickly in search of food and birds likely to be from the Reserve have been seen at Packington and Earlswood.
In the crop field, a Roe deer was barely visible in the tall oats and it quickly disappeared from site, as did a single Red-Legged Partridge. A Reed Warbler sang from the middle of the oats and another was carrying food in the willows by the dry pond on the edge of the crop field, both relatively well away from water.
17th July 2008 - Overcast and cool with occasional light showers.
The only new bird in today was a Green Sandpiper, present on Railway Pool in the morning. A Hobby was also seen and the Peregrine reappeared after a few days absence. Presumably one of these two, or one of the Kestrels from the railway pair, is responsible for the loss of another of the Redshank chicks, and an adult Common Tern.
There is a new Tufted brood of at least seven ducklings on the reedbed, whilst most of the earlier Gadwall broods appear now to be capable of flight.
The reported breeding of Shoveler is now clouded in doubt, because there is a Mallard with a similar number of ducklings and an exaggerated spatulate shaped bill.
Contrary to my assertion that Sand Martin numbers had dropped, there were plenty of those today, though at the time of writing I have not been given an estimate. At least 50 to 60 Swifts were also present.
16th July 2008 - occasional sunny intervals, but brisk westerly.
Little of note first thing this morning. A pair of Ringed Plover were display flighting (with a second pair also present) and the new Gadwall and Tufted broods from the 14th were all still together. 15 - 20 Swifts fed over Railway Pool, but there seem to be noticeably fewer Sand Martins and with the south coast observatories recording some departing already, it is possible that some have already left the local colonies. A migrant Little Ringed Plover appeared later in the day.
Still Whitethroat, Blackcap, Sedge and Reed Warbler and Chiffchaff song in various places and other than a Willow Warbler on the Old Road on the 13th, no obvious warbler migration yet.
Late news from the 13th was a Kingfisher, which flew over the Dragonfly Pond and was the first for some weeks.
15th July 2008 - mostly warm and sunny
Pretty quiet on the bird front, but a male Roebuck in the crop field was some compensation.
14th July 2008 - Generally overcast, cool but light westerly.
A Kestrel was seen to predate a young Tern chick on Tern Island for the second time in three days. One of the Oystercatcher chicks was found dead in front of Railway Hide, and the Redshanks may be down to two.
On a happier note, another Tufted brood has hatched but the eight young (different from yesterday’s) are split between two Gadwall broods with no female in sight, and it is possible that the eggs were laid in the Gadwall nests.
Yesterday’s Cuckoo was seen again, feeding on caterpillars on the railway embankment before flying towards the lorry park. A female Teal was present and Black-headed Gulls were up to 20. Four Herring Gulls flew over amongst double figure counts of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
12th and 13th July 2008 - 12th : Showers with sunny intervals - cold night. Warmer on 13th - sunny and warm start, more cloud and cooler later.
Little migration in evidence, though a juvenile Cuckoo on the railway embankment on Sunday was a pleasant surprise, considering their local scarcity this spring.
Breeding successes amongst the wildfowl made up for the lack of “new” birds, however, and the star of this show was the first breeding success of Shoveler for the Reserve. A generally rare breeder across the country - 1,000 to 1,500 pairs according to the 1988 to 1991 Breeding Atlas - it is particularly scarce in the West Midlands with two to three pairs annually and none in many years. Seven ducklings were present on Saturday, but a more widely spaced five could only be found on Sunday.
Other good news came in the shape of the 5th and 6th broods of Gadwall this year - amazing to think this species only bred for the first time in 2006. So far, there are 38 ducklings.
The first Tufted Duck (8) and Little Grebes (2) broods were found on Sunday and all broods (bar the Gadwall brood of two) were on Railway Pool , a likely association with the presence and the alertness of breeding waders and Terns.
Warmer weather on Sunday brought out plenty of commoner butterflies, and a count along the Old Road between the cottages and the top gate produced 22 Ringlets, 18 Meadow Browns, 11 Gatekeepers and singles of Comma and Painted Lady (the latter the first of the year, I think).
11th July 2008 - Sunny intervals, light south-westerly.
This morning, the only “new” birds were two Teal, and a Grey Wagtail, which flew over low, going south. A male Ruddy Duck, which was also present yesterday, remained on Car Park Pool and the Peregrine was in the usual place.
Gadwall broods seen included the half grown nine and two and the new one of six. At least two half grown Redshank chicks remain from the first brood, but there has been no sign of the single one from a second brood since the 8th. A single small Lapwing chick was present in front of Railway Hide (probably the remaining one from Tern Island) whilst the only other one (regularly on the island in front of Railway Hid) seems now to have fledged.
Later in the day ten adult Oystercatchers were in the air together, and slightly warmer weather encouraged some butterfly activity with the first significant sightings of Gatekeepers (one was apparently recorded on Sunday), together with plenty of Meadow Browns and Ringlets, and the first Marbled White of the year, which was seen near the car park screen.
10th July 2008 - Occasional sunny intervals, showers and a blustery south-westerly wind.
Noticeable wader passage today included two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers in the early morning on Car Park Pool, followed by at least eight Black-tailed Godwits and a Dunlin at 1.40 p.m. The latter two species were flushed by a Buzzard at 2 p.m., and seemed to depart but by 2.45 p.m., there were at least two Godwits back on Railway Pool, and so these may have been additional birds.
Other birds of note included Peregrine, Hobby, Raven and two Herring Gulls.
The fledged juvenile Ringed Plover and at least three adults were present again.
9th July 2008 - Wet all day.
Although not present in the morning, the Peregrine reappeared in the afternoon on its usual perch in Siden Hill Wood. The persistent rain brought the hirundines lower and included one group of at least 25 House Martins in front of Oak Hide.
8th July 2008 - Mostly overcast
The Peregrine had returned to her usual perch in the wood, and a new (4th) brood of Gadwall (six ducklings) were on Railway Pool. In the evening, all four Redshank chicks were visible, with other birds of note including Little Ringed Plover, Hobby, at least one of the juvenile Water Rails and approximately 200 Swifts and hirundines. A rat was eying up one of the Water Rails in front of the north causeway screen.
7th July 2008 - Sunny and showers.
The only records come from the evening work party, and included a Curlew that flew over to the south-west, calling at 6.20, and a Yellow Wagtail, also flying over at 7.30pm. The Peregrine remained in the tree in Siden Hill Wood till about 8.45 when it flew off towards Bradnocks Marsh.
Seven turned up for the work party and work successfully completed included clearance of vegetation around Railway Hide, ragwort removal and spraying of emergent Willows and Alders around the Dragonfly Pond.
5th and 6th July 2008 - Periods of heavy rain interspersed with sunny intervals. South-westerly wind, sometimes blustery.
The female Peregrine was seen on both days, often perched in the dead top of a Larch in Siden Hill Wood. The browns in the plumage suggests it is not a full adult. Up to two Hobbies performed well on both days and despite their increased abundance, these raptors still provide a thrill.
A Wigeon was new in on Sunday, a remarkably early date, whilst the Pochard (actually an eclipse male) remained and there were up to five Teal and a Shoveler as well.
Green Woodpeckers have bred successfully nearby as an adult and two juveniles fed along the banks near the south-west pond on the 6th.
4th July 2008 - Mostly sunny, south-westerly
Two Common Sandpipers were new in and yesterday’s Pochard remains. Six Ravens flew over and two Hobbies were present mid-morning, whilst the usual toing and froing of Lesser Black-backed Gulls included three Herrings.
At least two Water Rail chicks showed from the north causeway screen. These are now feathered and whilst wary, can usually be seen, given patience. The new Lapwing chicks showed again and a Mallard brood of nine on Car Park Pool included two all black ducklings - either that or two young Tufted had joined the group!
Goldcrest song was noted from both the entrance gate cottages and the railway embankment.
3rd July 2008 - Sun and showers
A female Peregrine flushed most birds off Railway Pool at 7 a.m. this morning, including a flock of over 100 Lapwing. It was seen perched in Siden Hill Wood two hours later and again flushed the birds on Railway Pool in the evening.
Only birds new in were a female Pochard and Little Ringed Plover . A mixed flock, Tits, Nuthatch and Chiffchaff by the back gate included a vocal Coal Tit for the second time this week. A surprisingly scarce bird for Marsh Lane.
The various juveniles all seem to present and there were still four adult Ringed Plovers on Railway Pool. A late brood of Lapwings (3 chicks) showed in the evening on "Tern Island".
2nd July 2008 - Cooler, showers, mostly overcast.
The pair of Kestrels were displaying around the car park, but no new birds in.
1st July 2008 - Hot and sunny with heavy showers in the afternoon and evening.
A diligent count by Messrs Rowling and Johnson yielded 17 fledged and 13 unfledged Common Terns this evening, by far the best breeding success so far at the Reserve. It makes up for a somewhat disappointing wader breeding season. Shoveler and Teal were both present and there are in fact three Gadwall broods with nine, five and two chicks respectively.
A Peregrine over Siden Hill Wood this evening was thought to be a female and was the first since May 3.