March is, as always, the start of an exciting few months, the first migrants of the summer are arriving whilst the winter visitors start to leave, the weather as usual can be and was very mixed, the first few weeks were relatively dry and although cool it was certainly a lot warmer than the previous month, however as the first migrants started to arrive the weather seemed to change for the worse, it got wetter and colder and as the month came to a close it was almost back to winter with sleet, hailstone and a cold wind with heavy rain.
Great Crested Grebe started to display with at least 2/3 breeding pairs building nests with the model boating pair sitting for the last week or so, maximum count came on 14th and 29th with 10 seen, a single Little Grebe was seen on 19th, 22nd and 29th whether it was the same bird or different I’m not sure. The solitary Grey Heron was seen on most days especially in the morning moving around the main lake and the model boating lake, I also saw it in the pools area on one occasion. One pair of Gadwall where seen on the 14th and a male Shoveler was present for the whole month, it was joined by two other males on the 1st and another male on the 14th. On the 11th, Nick Smith had a female Mandarin at the top corner of the main lake. Teal numbers where up to 4 on the 15th and 2 male and 1 female on the 29th, the rest of the month consisted of a pair mainly seen on the pools area. A pair of Wigeon where on the main lake on the 14th, Tufted Duck numbers fluctuated between a minimum of 14 on the 28th to a maximum of 33 on the 21st and 22nd, Pochard reached a maximum of 17 on the 11th with the last one seen on the 27th and no records after this for the month. Goldeneye remained steady with a pair seen on and off for most of the month, a female Goosander made it’s home on the model boating lake for the month being joined by another on the 14th and on the 22nd another 9 where on the main lake all females.
Mute Swan numbers peaked at 12 on the 21st, one pair are nesting on the top pool.
A Buzzard was a fly over on the 10th and 28th, and a single Sparrowhawk flew through on the 22nd.
A male Pheasant was by the first gate on the 11th one of only a handful of records for Westport. On the 15th and 18th Water Rail was seen by the first gate by Nick Smith, still a bird I need for my Westport list. On the wader front and I suppose you could say the first migrants of the year were two Little Ringed Plover which where on the grass verge of the main lake on the 22nd, these where followed by another two on the 28th and one on the 29th, also on the 28th two Oystercatcher spent the morning flying around the lake landing at various places until flushed by the many walkers, Oystercatcher is another Westport tick for me.
On the Gull front Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull and Common Gull where all regular visitors during the month with a lone adult Kittiwake staying for the morning of the 13th.
Four Stock Dove were recorded on the 28th and a single on the 31st all where on the old gas works site at the back of the lake.
Up to two Kingfisher where seen on the 14th and 15th flying around the edge of the main lake, and one was in the pools area on the 18th.
Green Woodpecker was recorded on the 21st, and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers on the 12th and 26th with singles seen or heard drumming and calling on most other days of the month.
Whenever I see my first Swallow I always feel like summer is here (despite the snow at the end of the month), the first record was of one Swallow flying through on the 25th, but it was the 27th before I had two flying through at midday, followed by 4 flying through on the 31st, the first Sand Martin was recorded on the 20th, followed by ten on the 25th (with the Swallow of the same date), and two flying through on the 28th, only one House Martin has been recorded so far, this past through on the 25th, the same day as the previous ten Sand Martins with the single Swallow.
Most of the following records come from the wood/pools area starting with Jay with singles seen on most dates from the 22nd onwards and two seen on the 26th and 28th.
As well as the usual Tits (Blue, Great, Long-tailed) also recorded was a single Coal Tit seen at least once every week of the month and Willow Tit seen regularly during the month with a max count of three on the 31st.
One Treecreeper was seen on the 13th, 18th and 26th.
Maximum count of Redwings was twenty plus on the 12th, and with one flying over on the 31st maybe we will be seeing some more as we go into April.
The first Warblers of Spring where of course Chiffchaffs (possibly an over wintering bird) with a single bird singing on the 18th, the highest count came on the 31st with seven present, the first Willow Warbler arrived on the 24th with two present followed by several over the following days again the max count came on the 31st with three singing, Goldcrest where seen on just a few days with just one present on each occasion dates involved are the 11th and 15th.
Single Meadow Pipits flew over on the 24th and 27th.
A White Wagtail was reported with Pied Wagtails on the 27th and a lone Grey Wagtail was singing away on the canal from the second half of the month onwards.
Three Siskin where by the top pool on the 24th feeding on the Alders and another three flew over the main lake on the 28th, a single Redpoll sp was seen on the 26th, Bullfinches where seen most days with a max count of five on the 18th and finally a single male Reed Bunting was seen on the 20th, 21st and 22nd although it was heard singing by the top pool on several other dates.
Total number of species seen for the month was 70.
Thanks to Nick Smith, Phil Jones, Richard and Paul (May Bank) for there help and records.