Marsh Lane News - September 08
30th September 2008 - A blustery westerly wind bringing outbreaks of rain.
The weekend’s adult Mediterranean Gull reappeared this afternoon on Railway Pool, with a steady arrival and departure of Black-headed Gulls. Both pools were busy with large numbers of wildfowl, though nothing unusual was found amongst them.
No visible migration was taking place, presumably discouraged by the windy conditions. A flock of about 15 Siskins fed along the concrete road, and a solitary Chiffchaff in the Old Road hedges was all that could be found by way of migrants.
29th September 2008 - Sunny start becoming increasingly cloudy, on an increasing north-westerly wind.
The female Pintail reappeared after a few days absence and Water Rails were again in evidence with birds seen opposite Oak Hide and on the causeway. At least one Hobby was seen around the north end of the Reserve, and more Meadow Pipits than for a few days were seen either flying over or around the Reserve and west of the underpass.
Green and Common Sandpipers fed around the islands on the various pools.
27th and 28th September 2008 - Foggy start on Saturday gave rise to warm sunshine for most of the day. Sunday started fine, with some cloud in the afternoon as a weak front moved south-east and it became noticeably cooler.
The bird of the weekend was an adult Mediterranean Gull which lingered for much of the morning on Car Park Pool on the 27th and on Railway Pool on the afternoon of the 28th. This was a “hoped for” record taking into account the numbers of Black-headed Gulls that had been moving through over the last few days.
Probable migrant Water Rails put in an appearance with birds seen below Railway Hide and right in front of Oak Hide on the 27th. A flock of 54 Golden Plovers flew over twice, on the 28th, and Green and Common Sandpipers continued to be seen together with over 20 Snipe.
Hobbies continue to linger, with at least three seen on Saturday. The Old Road hedges were relatively quiet, with only three Chiffchaffs yesterday, and little by way of visible migration. On the Wildfowl front, over 400 Greylags were counted and Shoveler numbers have increased to just under 40.
26th September 2008 - Foggy start, slowly clearing.
An early morning visit was hampered by thick fog, which prevented a view of the islands on Car Park Pool from the hide. The Old Road was relatively quiet, with birds limited to four each of Linnet and Reed Bunting, a flock of 20 Long-tailed Tits, Bullfinch and a single singing Chiffchaff.
25th September 2008 - Occasional sunny intervals, light north-easterly.
Two Hobbies and a Common Sandpiper were the only birds of note in the log during the day, but Tom Beaty, at Patrick Farm, had a Barn Owl around the buildings in the late evening.
24th September 2008 - Occasional sunny intervals, light north-easterly.
Little new to report, numbers of Snipe seem to have dropped off with only 12 today, although both Green and Common Sandpipers remain. An impressive 400 Black-headed Gulls was the second similar count in the week but, unfortunately, they did not pull anything rarer in. Two Hobbies were also seen.
23rd September 2008 - Brisk north-easterly, occasional sunny periods, mostly dry.
A Dunlin was a new arrival, but otherwise birds were similar to the previous few days. Hobbies continued to be seen, with a fine adult showing well in front of Car Park Hide at about 3 p.m. A trickle of Swallows occasionally passed through.
An adult Fox provided some excellent entertainment, as it worked its way steadily along the far bank of Car Park Hide, regularly pausing before jumping on small mammals; at least two were caught, one of which was a Mole, and both were dispatched instantly. Wildfowl, Herons and other birds kept a watchful eye, but the Fox was otherwise obviously engrossed.
22nd September 2008 - A bright start but increasingly overcast with regular showers on a brisk north-easterly wind.
Relatively little of note. 16 Snipe, Common and Green Sandpipers, and a Water Rail were about the only records.
21st September 2008 - Sunny and still.
The Old Road was lively early on. At least two juvenile or female Blackcaps followed me down the road whilst the first Redpoll of the autumn "bombed” about before appearing to land in the crop field. Odd Siskins were also present, at least seven Reed Buntings fed in the Alders between the cottages and car park with a similar number of Blackbirds and a Song Thrush. By the horse paddock, at least three Chiffchaffs, a Whitethroat and a presumed Blackcap (calling only) fed in the ivy covered bushes and hedgerows. On the way back to the cottages, a flock of at least ten Long-tailed Tits had pulled in at least one further Chiffchaff.
In the afternoon, visible migration watchers had a single flock of 101 Swallows fly south together with a possible Honey Buzzard (too high to be sure), on a day of further passage of this species. At least four Hobbies were also seen.
20th September 2008 - Sunny and still.
Today’s quality came from Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit on Car Park and Railway Pools respectively in the early morning, but neither lingered. Other waders were represented by 32 Snipe, two Common and one Green Sandpipers and 465 Lapwings.
A showy Garden Warbler on the railway embankment was a late date for this species at the Reserve. Visible migrants on the move included 26 Siskins, 16 Meadow Pipits and a handful of Swallows.
19th September 2008 -Warm and sunny, very light westerly wind.
Bits and pieces of visible migration between 9 a.m. and 10.30 a.m., included 14 Siskins, seven Swallows and 20 Meadow Pipits. Wigeon numbers have risen to 81 and one group of 29 Snipe showed well on the front edge of the islands in front of Oak Hide. A single Green Sandpiper was also present.
An adult female Peregrine showed particularly well in the dead tree on the north-west corner of Car Park Pool, attended to by two Magpies and three Crows. A second bird showed later in the day, together with at least two Hobbies.
A Water Rail called from the south-west pond, and 13 Reed Buntings was a noteworthy count. Warblers were limited to two Chiffchaffs and a Reed, the latter in the ditch behind Oak Hide.
18th September 2008 - Mostly sunny, warm and still, although a period of overcast weather in the mid-afternoon.
Some visible migration took place today, although no great numbers. An afternoon watch from the tip field yielded 60 Swallows, eight or nine House Martins and a handful of Meadow Pipits, whilst 14 Siskins flew down to the Old Road hedge, and a Yellow Wagtail fed amongst the cattle. The best bird, however, was a female or juvenile Marsh Harrier, which undertook exactly the same pattern of migration as the Honey Buzzard three days ago. It was picked up to the north, circled upwards near to Patrick Farm, and then flew high to the south.
17th September 2008 - Overcast and still.
The only news that I have been made aware of concerns two Pintail, one on either pool, three Hobbies and 19 Snipe.
16th September 2008 - Still and overcast.
Visible migration this morning and over lunchtime included the first Siskins of the year (one flock of 24), Yellow Wagtail, a trickle of Swallows (about 20) and a single House Martin. Three Hobbies and three Sparrowhawks were seen with the former showing well around the Reserve catching Dragonflies.
On the pools, birds of note included Pintail, four Pochards, Green and Common Sandpiper and 16 Snipe. A large mixed flock of birds on the central streamline included 25 Long-tailed Tits, two Chiffchaffs, two further Siskins and a Goldcrest, whilst a Reed Warbler showed well by the causeway. Further Chiffchaffs were present by the top gate.
15th September 2008 - More intermittent sunny intervals, light south-easterly.
Today’s highlight was a rufous phase juvenile Honey Buzzard that flew south at about 3.10 p.m. It was in the sky with 15 to 20 Buzzards spread across the horizon, but was the only bird that appeared to carry on south. It coincided with a notable influx of this species on the east coast over the weekend and represented the second record for the Reserve.
Other birds of note included two Common Terns (adult and juvenile), Kingfisher, two Hobbies and small parties of Swallows moving south. Wigeon numbers increased again to 61.
13th and 14th September 2008 - The yellow thing in the sky proved to be the sun and there was no rain!
Records of note included a Little Egret, mostly on Car Park Pool for much of the day on the 14th, and eight large Terns, presumably Sandwich, flew through high to the south mid morning. Wigeon numbers increased significantly from nine on the morning of the 11th, to 15 to 20 on the 12th, 30 on the 13th and 51 on the 14th.
Other notable counts of wildfowl over the weekend were 328 Greylags, 127 Canadas, 89 Teal, 128 Mallard, but only three Shoveler. There were still plenty of Chiffchaffs along the Old Road, with eight or nine in close proximity by the top gate and a Willow Warbler with them on the 13th. The occasional Reed Warbler is still being seen on the causeway and there was a Blackcap on the Old Road on the 13th.
The first Meadow Pipit passage of the year was recorded over the weekend, although no significant numbers. There was also a trickle of Swallows.
Of note, a colour ringed Cormorant seen on the 6th September was ringed as a chick on June 2007 on Puffin Island, Anglesey.
12th September 2008 - A front moved back across the Midlands in the afternoon, bringing heavy rain and more flooding onto the Blythe flood plain.
The only records of note involved at least 28 and possibly as many as 42 Snipe split between the two pools, perhaps displaced by the wet weather. Wigeon also increased to be between 15 and 20.
11th September 2008 - Overnight rain,on yet another front, was slow to clear. The day staggered into occasional bouts of sunshine, the south-westerly wind remaining.
The best birds of the day were a flock of ten Pintail that arrived at 3.30 p.m., and departed to the south-west at about 6.30 p.m. They rested on the islands in front of Oak Hide and showed well. There were eight eclipse drakes and two females and it is the largest flock at the Reserve. Wigeon had risen to nine and there were still plenty of other wildfowl.
Both Peregrine and Hobby were seen and in the late afternoon, there was a substantial movement of House Martins. One flock of 105 birds moved through in five minutes at 5 p.m., a further 25 at 5.10 p.m., with 40 more over Car Park Pool at 5.15 p.m.
The juvenile Pintail, not recorded since the end of August, returned and was also seen over the following weekend. A Dunlin appeared in the evening.
10th September 2008 - Mostly sunny but blustery south-westerly, but warm.
Yesterday’s Dunlin remained and the Common Sandpiper was present for its tenth consecutive day. On the Old Road, passerines included a Reed Warbler opposite the car park gates and a male Blackcap and at least two Chiffchaffs with Goldcrest and three Long-tailed Tits just beyond the top gate.
9th September 2008
The female Red-crested Pochard returned since its last appearance in August. It has spent most of this time further up the Tame Valley. There are still large numbers of Duck on site. The Lapwing flock totalled at least 382 birds. The Hobby was seen on two occasions and Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and Snipe were also recorded.
8th September 2008 - Mostly dry, but cloudy.
The only news is in respect of significant increases in Teal and Mallard, with the former almost doubling to 60 and Mallard tripling to at least 150. The Common Sandpiper was still present.
A good turnout for the evening work party allowed for further Willow and Alder control around Railway Pool, and the clearance of the sluice on Car Park Pool. Further strimming of the island on Railway Pool and the clearance of the sluice there were prevented by continuing high water levels.
7th September 2008 - More rain overnight and this morning, with a let-up in the afternoon, but mostly cloudy. North-westerly.
Only the tops of the two largest islands were visible on Railway Pool and many birds had moved to the extensive floods north of the Reserve.
Some hirundine passage continued, though lower numbers than yesterday. 28 House Martins and three Swallows went south at 10 a.m., but the Swallows over the floods appeared to be birds from the farm.
Three Chiffchaffs and a Reed Warbler frequented the Old Road hedges and a Garden Warbler was in sub-song on the causeway.
30 Cormorants flew over in one flock, no doubt displaced by the floods.
6th September 2008 - Unrelentingly wet. South-easterly.
The persistent rain has meant the Blythe has flooded into Railway Pool and across most of the flood plain.
The bird of the weekend was an Osprey which flew south, low over the Reserve, at 7.40 a.m. The third or fourth of the year, according to your point of view. The Dunlin remained whilst 19 Snipe was a doubling of the best count this autumn and there were two Common Sandpipers.
House Martin passage was particularly marked with over 100 birds logged before 9.30 a.m. but, disappointingly, no further counts throughout the day.
A Tit flock by the top gate included at least nine Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, two Goldcrests and two loosely connected Bullfinches.
Teal reached an impressive 34, by far the highest count of the autumn, whilst seven Ruddies remained.
5th September 2008 - Persistent rain all day, mostly on a south-easterly wind.
Yesterday’s Dunlin and Common Sandpiper remained, but only two Ruddy Ducks and seven Wigeon could be found. At least 40 House Martins were lingering across the Reserve, accompanied by at least two Sand Martins and a Swallow.
4th September 2008 - Yet more showers, light south-westerly, improving marginally in the afternoon.
A bit more activity today, with three Greenshanks present in the morning, although they could not be relocated in the afternoon. However a Dunlin was found on Car Park Pool in the afternoon, in the company of the almost ever present Common Sandpiper, and there were seven Snipe on the surrounding islands.
Perhaps more surprising than any of this was the appearance of eight Ruddy Ducks (three males and five females), which were still on Car Park Pool in the afternoon. Wigeon and Teal were still at 10 and 25 respectively, although there may have been more of the former in the vegetation on the islands.
The inclement weather was hampering hirundine movement. In the morning there were 25 House Martins and two Sand Martins with minimum counts in the afternoon of at least 75 and 3 respectively.
Warblers included a calling Lesser Whitethroat by the south-west pond, Reed Warbler on the causeway and two to three Chiffchaffs across the site, (excluding the road which was not covered).
In the evening, a juvenile Whinchat was a good discovery in the marsh and plenty of House Martins continued to feed up over the central streamline.
3rd September 2008 - More showers, increasingly heavy and persistent as the day went on. South-westerly wind also increasing and becoming cold in the evening.
The best birds were three Hobbies, a pair of Ravens and a notable count of 15 Herons. Wigeon had risen to ten.
2 September 2008 - The front passed over at dawn, leaving clear skies and a light south-westerly, though increasing cloud on the day progressed.
103 Canada Geese roosted, with at least the same number of Greylags and most departed in small parties at dawn. This appears to be the largest count of Canadas since 2003. Other wildfowl counts included 16 Teal, 10 Shoveler, 8 Wigeon and a drake Ruddy Duck.
Two Sand Martins appeared around the central streamline at 7am but quickly departed and 100 Starlings flew west in a tight flock, at the same time.
Warblers included Whitethroat (car park gates), Sedge Warbler (marsh) and Lesser Whitethroat (railway). Chiffchaffs were limited to one calling by the south west pond and two on the Old Road.
Later on in the day, two Peregrines were perched in the usual Larch in Siden Hill Wood, and other birds of note were Hobby, two Green Sandpipers. The Teal flock had risen to 25.
1 September 2008 - Overcast but dry start; rain arrived at lunchtime and persisted for most of the afternoon, evening and overnight. Variably strong south-westerly.
A small movement of House Martins took place with at least 20 feeding up before flying south. Black-headed Gulls were also on the move : 120 in the morning increased to 300 later in the day and 17 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also counted.
Raptors included Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine and five Buzzards and Green and Common Sandpipers were seen during the day.