31st July 2012 - Mostly overcast following overnight rain. Occasional showers, increasing south- westerly
Two adult Dunlin were new arrivals, frequenting Railway Pool and a Hobby flew along the River and over the Railway later in the morning. There were still three Common Terns present and an adult Whitethroat was feeding up to four recently fledged juveniles by the south-west pond. Other counts today included 285 Greylags, 16 Farmyard Geese, a Canada / Greylag cross, the feral Pink-footed Goose, four Teal, a drake Pochard, four broods of Little Grebe, three broods of Mallard, seven broods of Gadwall and eight broods of Tufted.
30th July 2012 - Sunny intervals with very heavy showers, light south-westerly
29th July 2012 - Sunshine and occasional showers
The most unusual record today was of a feral Pink-footed Goose on the flood plain with the Greylags. Where this has come from is unclear. There was also a hybrid Canada / Greylag. A Kingfisher was a nice find on the Reedbed Pool and the Kestrel showed again over Car Park Pool. Oystercatchers were back up to three and other wildfowl included two Shoveler and a female Teal. In the back gate compounds, there were four Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler.
A single Hobby hunted the Car Park Pool at 1.30pm and then at 3.30pm three gave brief, but excellent, views in a hunting display over River Pool before moving on. The trees around the Pools and on the edge of Siden Hill Wood are always worth a scan for a perched Hobby or other raptors.
28th July 2012 -Sunny intervals and south westerly
A good start today saw some wader movement today with singles of Green Sandpiper and Snipe together with two Dunlin and a Redshank. A single Oystercatcher and 60 Lapwing completed the wader count. Other counts today were two Great Crested Grebes, 12 Dabchicks with two broods of four and three on Car Park, five Herons, five Cormorants, three Mute Swans and six cygnets, a Black Swan, 118 Greylags, five Farmyard Geese, 20 Canadas, 41 Mallard, 26 Gadwall and six broods, four Shoveler, a drake Pochard, ten Tufteds and five broods, 108 Coot, six Moorhens, 60 Black-headed Gulls, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, seven Common Terns and a Kestrel.
Last, but definitely not least, in the continuing warm weather, the Hobby was over Car Park Pool between 1.45pm and 2pm and again between 4.30pm and 6pm.
27th July 2012 - Continuing warm
26th July 2012 - Continuing hot
The only record of which I am aware, relates to the continuing passage of Swifts. Small numbers have been moving through over the last few days but 70 today fed over the fields just west of Siden Hill Wood before quickly moving on.
Both Sedge and Reed Warblers were feeding young in front of Oak Hide.
25th July 2012 - Remaining hot and sunny, light westerly
The Hobby again showed around the pools picking off dragonflies and eating them on the wing. An Essex Skipper was found in the grass by the bend in the Concrete Road and there were lots of Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Gatekeeprs in the grass areas which were disturbed during another ragwort pulling session. Singles of Comma, Common Blue and Green-veined White were also seen. There are still at least seven Common Terns on site, but Black-headed Gull numbers have dropped off. Three Teal were new in and the Greylag flock is rising with 79 in today.
Last but not least, a Peregrine was on its favoured perch in the dead top of the Larch tree in Siden Hill Wood.
24th July 2012 - Hot and sunny with temperatures up to at least 27
A Hobby showed well on and off throughout the day catching Dragonflies over the Reed Bed, Car Park Pool and over the Dragonfly Pond.
Mid afternoon, it interacted briefly with a male Kestrel that was trying to hunt over the Reedbed banks.
Other counts today included 11 adult Little Grebes, one immigrant juvenile and two broods on Car Park Pool, a single Shoveler, three Teal, a drake Pochard, one Oystercatcher, four broods of Gadwall, six broods of Tufted, six Swifts, three House Martins and two male and a female Muntjac in the field below Lower Siden.
Not such good news as well - a Mink has been seen a couple of times over the last two days.
23rd July 2012 - Hot and sunny, Brisk south westerly
“Warm weather often equals raptors” and so it proved with a fine Red Kite over at 11.40. The bird had previously been seen 40 minutes earlier over Meriden. Subsequently, it flew over the Reserve where it flushed 100 or so Wood Pigeons from Siden Hill Wood, ten of which mobbed it and it was then subsequently pursued by three Oystercatchers, two Redshanks and two Common Terns as it flew back to the north. Thanks to both Paul Ray, Chris Laight and Alan Dean for these combined records.
Other records during the day included a Hobby, two Pochards, a Dabchick with four young, and a variety of Dragonflies including at least three Emperors, a Brown Hawker and lots of Black-tailed Skimmers.
22nd July 2012 - Sunny and warm but a brisk south westerly wind
The brisk wind made passerine watching quite difficult with more visible birds limited to the shelter from the wind.
In the middle of the day a Hobby flew over low to the north of Siden Hill Wood as did a Yellow Wagtail and a Marsh Tit showed really well on Packhorse Bridge itself.
In the scrapes on the field just east of Siden Hill Wood, there were four adults and four broods of 16 well grown Mallard young. A Heron wandered between the scrapes, not catching much!
Whitethroats appear to have bred in and around the willow scrub just south of the ammunition dump and, as usual, there was plenty of activity there, with Linnets, Greenfinch, Blackcap and Chiffchaff all active there.
At Patrick Farm a Pied Wagtail was feeding young and just to the west of the farm over towards Hampton, at least 30 House Martins were in the air with single figure counts of Swallows and Sand Martins over the flood plain.
On Railway Pool in the early afternoon there were ten adult Common Terns and one fledged juvenile, eight juvenile Black-headed Gulls and at least six Oystercatchers.
Three Bullfinches (two adults and a fledged juvenile) were by the Railway Car Park on the north side and others were calling at the back gate copse.
A Brown Hawker showed well in front of the north causeway screen as did a relatively late Four Spotted Chaser. Plenty of Ringlets and Meadow Browns were on the wing and other butterflies included one Red Admiral, one Green Veined White and three Large Whites.
21st July 2012 - Mostly sunny, light south westerly 20°
The highlights were of a mixed variety today. Ten Crossbills flew south west over the Dragonfly Pond at 12.10pm and was only the fourth record of this species for the Reserve. At least one Purple Hairstreak showed in the top of the oaks in the Old Road just north of the Car Park and the Marbled White was visible again by Railway Hide. Some of the later large dragonflies were out in the hot weather and these included Southern Hawker by the back gate enclosures, the first Brown Hawker of the year by the Car Park pond and at least eight Emperors spread across the Reserve. A single Gatekeeper and two Red Admirals added to plentiful numbers of Ringlets and Meadow Browns.
At least 70 Swifts and 150 mixed hirundines were feeding high up north of Siden Hill Wood. Other counts during the day were as follows: Eight adult and one immigrant juvenile Little Grebe plus two new chicks on the south west corner of Car Park Pool, two adult Great Crested Grebes, three Herons, one Cormorant, six Mute Swans and six cygnets (but there is no sign of the two younger cygnets), Black Swan, 55 Mallard and one new brood of seven Mallard and three Tufted (on Car Park Pool), 20 adult Gadwall and six broods (two plus two on Car Park and on Railway a ten, seven, four and a five), three Pochard, 21 adult Tufted and two broods of only two each (one brood started as three but a Lesser Black-backed Gull took one of these), 73 Coots, seven Moorhen, two Greylags, 21 Canadas, 67 Black-headed Gulls, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 13 Common Terns (12 adults, one juvenile), six Oystercatchers and 59 Lapwings.
20th July 2012 - Occasional sunny intervals and showers, mostly overcast, cool north-westerly wind.
Yesterday’s Little Ringed Plovers have moved on, but the Oystercatchers were still present with four adults in display flight and loudly calling all morning. A single male and two female Shovelers were on Railway Pool and a female Pochard on Car Park Pool. There seemed to be three pairs of Dabchicks on Railway Pool with at least five adults this morning and probably two pairs on Car Park Pool, but none on the Reedbed as in previous years. The pair of Great Crested Grebes also remain on Car Park Pool.
A few Swifts and Martins were flying around but no great counts. A single adult and juvenile Green Woodpecker were feeding on the track between Oak and Railway Hides. Sedge Warblers were food carrying in the Marsh and by River Hide.
19th July 2012 - Sunny start, quickly clouding over, north-westerly wind.
A migrant adult and juvenile Little Ringed Plovers were on Railway Pool on one of the strimmed areas this morning. There were at least seven Oystercatchers still spread across the Reserve with a pair feeding one fledged juvenile on Railway Pool and four in flight calling loudly. Hirundines and Swifts were again feeding over the Reserve with at least 40 mixed Sand Martins and House Martins over the lower Siden field (the one with the scrapes), and ones and twos over the main Reserve. Ten to 15 Swifts were countable at any one time, but there were probably more than this.
On Railway Pool, there were three broods of Gadwall - six and a ten with the young nearly fledged and a younger brood of four. One female from the brood of six was intent on trying to drown one of the smaller ones from the brood of four, which managed to get away by diving. The water weed was a handicap but it still survived!
18th July 2012 - Shower, north-westerly wind.
It was a relatively quiet day with just hirundines and Swifts of note. They seem to be either on the move or preparing to leave. There were 20 House Martins, five Sand Martins and six Swifts in the log, but in the case of Swifts, numbers are difficult to estimate with birds in and out all the time.
17th July 2012 - Sunny intervals, south-westerly wind, warmer and almost humid.
Surprisingly, there were no significant flood waters at Patrick Bridge this morning and birds there were limited to six and possibly eight Oystercatchers whilst, by the cattle feeder, there are now four adult and seven juvenile Pied Wagtails. A Willow Warbler was singing in the trees just south of the bale store on the Old Road, and four Common Terns and a Herring Gull went over. Three Swifts and 20 to 30 mixed hirundines were feeding over the fields.
In the warmer conditions a Hobby was seen on at least two occasions during the day, and a female Shoveler was recorded as well.
An excellent attendance of 10 at the evening Work Party achieved a lot. The high water level in the main pools and the luxuriant vegetation had meant that the margins of the islands were so overgrown that they were a discouragement to birds and any that were there were nigh on invisible.
Thus, the edges of all the islands on all the pools, have been strimmed and growth around the hides has also been cut back together with the reeds in front of the causeway screen. Lots of Ragwort was pulled and bagged and some potholes were filled on the entrance to the car park.
Thanks to all those who attended.
16th July 2012 - Wet and cool.
The cool conditions meant that over 200 mixed hirundines were feeding over the pools and a furtehr 40 Swallows over the flood plain to the north. There were also four Swifts over. Four Shoveler and three Pochard were on the pools and a juvenile Whitethroat was on the bank behind Railway Hide, and a Toad in the hide! A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker visited the Oak Hide feeder.
15th July 2012 - Sunny morning, overcast afternoon, cool westerly wind.
The river floods had largely subsided by this morning and yesterday’s waders had departed. Five Herons, four Oystercatchers and the to-ings and fro-ings of the Black-headed Gulls from the Reserve were the main things on view. A family party of two adult and four juvenile Pied Wagtails were by the cattle feeder on the flood plain, probably came from Patrick Farm. The Whitethroat pair, just north of the top gate, appeared to have fledged young, but although vocal they were elusive and it was difficult to check numbers.
In the afternoon there were three Ravens and a female Kestrel over Siden Hill Wood and on the pools, a Tufted brood had one Tufted and one Gadwall duckling each. The four Mistle Thrushes were again around Patrick Farm.
14th July 2012 - Sunny intervals, occasional heavy showers, light north-westerly wind.
After the heavy rain overnight between the 12th and 13th, and more heavy rain last night, it was no surprise that the river had burst its banks onto the flood plain, and this was the area for the pick of the birds.
Three full summer islandica Black-tailed Godwits spent much of the day roosting and occasionally feeding on the edge of the flood waters. In the morning, a juvenile Redshank joined them and this was replaced by a summer plumaged Dunlin in the afternoon. A Yellow Wagtail also went over.
On the main Reserve itself, seven Redshanks flew over going to the north and the Oystercatchers went backwards and forwards from the flood plain all day. A male Peregrine spent part of the morning perched in the dead larch top in Siden Hill Wood.
The rest of the counts during the morning were as follows: nine Dabchicks (eight adults and an immigrant juvenile), two adult Great Crested Grebes, one Cormorant, five Herons, five adult Mute Swans and eight cygnets - these were all on Car Park Pool and agro ensued! - a Black Swan, 74 Greylags, one Farmyard Goose, 16 Canadas, 27 Mallard, a drake Shoveler, 13 Gadwall and four broods, (Car Park Pool: five well grown, two new; Railway Pool: ten half grown, five relatively new), a pair of Pochard, 18 Tufteds and two young on Railway Pool, nine Lapwings, 70 Coot, five Moorhen, 120 Black-headed Gulls, one Lesser Black-backed Gull, 13 adult and two juvenile Terns, and a female Kestrel.
Three juvenile Sedge Warblers showed well, with an adult on the causeway and there remained plenty of song still from warblers in particular, but Song Thrushes as well, in Siden Hill Wood.
13th July 2012 - Initially wet remaining overcast and cool
Yesterday's rain which started at 5 p.m., almost on the dot, was still going strong this morning and there was not a great deal of note. A fresh looking young Sedge Warbler and an adult showed well on the causeway and yesterday’s four Common Terns were again in display flight. Two broods of Gadwall were feeding in the weed under Railway Hide, one brood of six, half grown, and another brood of five were relatively recently hatched. A male Pochard was on Car Park Pool and a female on Railway Pool.
12th July 2012 - Sunny - but do not get too excited it is apparently going to rain tonight.
After a cool but clear night, there was no sign of the three Black-necked Grebes this morning and it would appear they have now departed after an 11 day stay.
21 Swifts and two House Martins were feeding low over the Old Road by the top gate at 7.30 a.m., and at one stage the Swifts flocked and appeared to depart to the south but quickly returned and continued to feed in the same area. It is possible that they were spooked by a male Peregrine which appeared high from the south a little later on, and stooped in over the Aeromodellers before carrying on north.
There were six singing Blackcaps between the cottages and the Old Road game crop, of which three were on the road itself and a further three along the concrete road and horse paddock hedges. The pair by the cottages appear to have at least one fledged young and Whitethroats were food carrying between the cottages and the car park and a separate pair had at least two fledged young, just north of the car park.
Common Darters, Meadow Browns and Ringlets were already out in the sun along the concrete road and the first Gatekeepers were on the wing there.
Four Common Terns were in display flight over the Reserve, so I suppose it is possible that they may re-lay after a disastrous breeding season.
11th July 2012 - sunshine and showers, cool north-westerly wind.
The three Black-necked Grebes were still present and there was a single drake Pochard with them. 40 Sand Martins were feeding over the water and at least 40 Lapwings were feeding on the far shore of Car Park Pool, in the area recently disturbed by the cattle.
10th July 2012 - Sun and showers, north-westerly wind.
The Grebes are obviously pretty content as they remained for their 10th day but unfortunately the pair of Great Crested Grebes appeared to have lost their juvenile, but Dabchicks have started a nest by River Hide and there was a fully fledged juvenile from elsewhere this evening. There was a pair of Pochard on Car Park Pool and a few Swifts and Sandmartins were feeding over the pools.
There are now five Gadwall broods totalling 18 ducklings, but only a single Tufted brood was visible tonight. The two juvenile Oystercatchers from Railway Pool were feeding on the islands there, with the other two from Car Park Pool long since having fledged. A single juvenile Tern was present with two adults, but whether as a result of the floods or predation, they have had a poor breeding season.
Other wildfowl included 19 Canadas, nine Greylags, four Pochard and a pair of Shoveler. One of the Black-headed Gull pairs on car park pool have a well grown chick.
9th July 2012 - Overcast, rain in the evening.
The cows managed to break through the fencing that had been damaged on the west side of the river by the floods but thanks to a phone call from Paul Reay, and help from Chris Laight, they were persuaded to return.
Fortunately the three Black-necked Grebes seem to have taken the disturbance “in their stride” and remained after all the disturbance had died down.
We will, however, be fencing the grassed area around Car Park Hide as an additional barrier in case it happens again.
8th July 2012 - Sunshine and showers, light north-westerly wind.
Black-necked Grebes were present for their eighth day and in the warmer periods before the heavy showers of the afternoon, a Hobby showed well both over the Dragonfly Pond and subsequently over Car Park Pool, where it was praying on the larger Dragonflies, probably Black-tailed Skimmers.
Two Ravens also flew over and of yesterday’s ducks, only a pair of Shoveler and the four Pochard remained.
The Railway Pool islands were significantly submerged today, but despite this a number of Black-headed Gulls have maintained their nests above the floods.
A Field Scabious is in flower below Railway Hide.
7th July 2012 - Drizzly start, followed by sunny periods and showers, south-easterly wind.
The Blythe had flooded its banks with extensive water around Patrick Bridge and across the flood plain as a result of yesterday’s rain. Railway Pool was also well up.
The up-side of this is that there is plenty of interest in the flood plain, the highlight of which was two Greenshanks which spent most of the day feeding in the shallower water and best viewed from the gate opposite the horse paddock. At least 450 Black-headed Gulls were also on the floods and the first sizeable Starling flock of the “autumn” were up and down along the margins. Of a sample count of 100, only four were adults, suggesting a good breeding season, perhaps the result of the soft ground making food “in particular leather jackets” readily available.
Three Shoveler also fed on the margins and together with six birds on the Reserve, together with four Teal, there was a small arrival of ducks overnight. Four Pochard remained on the Reserve along with the three Black-necked Grebes and contrary to my previous assertion, the pair of Mute Swans that bred on the causeway have retained their two cygnets. I can only presume that the birds were on the back of one of the adults. A generally unusual behaviour, but one which does seem to occur. One of these youngsters has pink feet like the adults and thus is a “Polish” variant.
The other counts during the day were: two adult and one juvenile Great Crested Grebe, four Dabchicks, five Herons, two Cormorants, six adult and eight Mute Swan cygnets, the Black Swan, 29 Greylags, 16 Canadas, 27 Mallard, 23 Gadwall and at least eight ducklings, 31 Tufted Ducks and probably three broods totalling 23 ducklings, 64 Coots, two Moorhens, ten Oystercatchers, two Redshanks, 33 Lapwings, nine Shoveler, six Teal, 600 Black-headed Gulls (150 on Railway and 450 on the floods), eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 12 Common Terns, nine adults and three nearly fledged juveniles and 12 Common Terns.
On the insect front the first Marbled White Butterfly of the year showed well around Railway Hide in the sunny weather at around mid-morning, and there were at least 30 Ringlets in the enclosures by the back gate, with others along the Old Road.
A number of broods of Swallows were perching up on the trees and bushes along the Old Road and being fed by the adults. On a quick assessment of the eaves of the farm buildings, I could find six nests there and I understand from the Beatys that there are at least two, possibly three more in the out-buildings. The House Sparrows there also appear to have had a good year with plenty of youngsters about, and a pair of Pied Wagtails were also feeding young there.
Broods of Greenfinch and Goldfinch were perched up in the dead tree by the entrance to the horse paddock where a singing male Linnet showed well. In the drizzly conditions in the morning, small parties of Swifts were on the move with one group totalling 12 and ones and twos thereafter. Both Nuthatch and Treecreeper showed or were audible on the Old Road.
6th July 2012 - Very wet!
The three Black-necked Grebes remain on Car Park Pool with four Pochard, but the pair of Swans that had two cygnets yesterday, appear to have lost them overnight.
5th July 2012 - Drizzly start, followed by sunny periods.
The three Black-necked Grebes remain on Car Park Pool, although they have “splintered” into three singles and were harder to see in the early morning. Pochard were up to four.
As the sun came out the Old Road became lively, particularly by the horse paddock with the highlight being a juvenile Lesser-spotted Woodpecker which showed well, if briefly, in the dead tree just to the south of the gates. Also there were Willow Warbler, three juvenile Chiffchaffs, family parties of Goldfinches and Whitethroats, two male Bullfinches and two juvenile Robins. By the car park to the Aeromodellers, two adult and two juvenile Mistle Thrushes were feeding on the Old Road. Between the car park and the top gate, Sedge, Reed and Willow Warblers were all in song, and there were seven Goldfinches together in what was probably a family party.
In the afternoon two Black-tailed Godwits dropped in and were best viewed from Railway Hide. Later, the numer of Godwits increased to four, but they had gone by the early evening.
4th July 2012 - More rain, light southerly wind.
The three summer plumaged Black-necked Grebes continue to frequent Car Park Pool, along with a pair of Pochard.
A pair of Reed Warblers were feeding at least two recently fledged young in the hedgerows along the Old Road adjacent to Car Park Pond.
In the car park the Sedge Warbler that performed well yesterday was at it again this morning, indulging in song flight. In the damp conditions, approximately 20 Sand Martins and ten Swifts were feeding over the water.
Yesterday’s Little Egret reappeared at 1.30 on Car Park Pool. A Teal and a drake Shoveler were also new in.
3rd July 2012 - Wet again !
The three summer plumaged Black-necked Grebes were still showing in their now usual place on Car Park Pool, just north of the islands. The drake Pochard remains. I could only find two young Oystercatchers on the bank in front of Railway Hide but the Mute Swans in front of the causeway screen had at least one youngster.
Sedge Warblers have become vocal again and are presumably on second broods. One was showing particularly well by the car park this morning. There was at least one young Whitethroat with two adults between the cottages and the car park.
In the evening, a Common Sandpiper showed intermittently on the islands on Railway Pool in amongst the thick vegetation and, at 8 p.m., a Little Egret flew in to roost.
2nd July 2012 - Generally wet with a blustery south-westerly wind.
The three summer plumaged Black-necked Grebes remained and continued to show from Car Park Hide, on Car Park Pool.
1st July 2012 - Sunny intervals, with a strong cool westerly wind.
It 11 years today since the Nature Reserve opened and an excellent birthday present in the shape of three summer plumaged Black-necked Grebes which were found by Stuart Hares on Car Park Pool at about 10.30. Whether the birds had been hiding before this, or whether they were new in is not clear, but extensive viewing of the pool prior to this had not revealed them so I suspect they appeared just before Stuart found them.
It is 12 years since the last three Black-necked Grebes were here in May 2000 when there were a pair and also subsequently a single individual. In the blustery cool conditions, at least 30 Sand Martins and 20 Swifts hunted over the pools and despite the conditions, there was a singing Garden Warbler behind Railway Hide and also an adult Willow Warbler. There was some indication that post-breeding flocking was also taking place with Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits present in the bushes.
Reed Buntings are very much back in song after first broods and probably losses associated with the rain. Two were singing either side of the causeway and another two at least between River Hide and Oak Hide.
Some returning passages are obviously evident, aside from the Grebes, as there was a male Pochard in today, replacing yesterday’s female.