April turned out to be a pretty good month despite the weather trying it’s best to make thing’s a bit more ordinary, in total 78 species were seen including 15 year ticks of which I managed to see 13 and I had 8 new Westport ticks as well, so a pretty good month all in all.
The weather did try too spoil things by remaining dry for long periods of the month with a northerly wind, not good for passage migration, the first half of the month tended to start with a slight ground frost, sunny clear skies with the northerly wind already mentioned, the rain didn’t really come till the last day of the month after a few days of southerlies the rain came down with heavy downpours at times but it was all a bit to late with most migrants all ready here.
Great Crested Grebes peaked on the 9th with 12 seen, towards the end of the month the pair nesting on the model boating lake managed to hatch a single bird, sadly that was the last time it was seen and a few days later they abandoned the nest, also a pair nesting on the main lake only got as far as building it’s nest before it too failed. One Cormorant was recorded on the 8th, 11th and 18th the one on the 18th was on the lake with the previous dates being flyovers, on the 24th a Little Egret flew across the main lake on straight on northwards, this is the 2nd record of the year, Grey Heron was seen most day’s with a max count of two on several dates. A male Gadwall was seen on the 25th spending the day on the main lake, however it had moved on by the next morning, the male Shoveler ‘Sammy’, continued his long stay at one point he seemed to pair up with a female Mallard but spends most of his time on the right hand bank sleeping, he was joined by two others on the 19th but when they moved on he decided to stay behind, we are now taking bets on how long he will stay, a pair of Teal remained in the Nature Reserve until the 23rd, Tufted Duck numbers peaked at 39 on the 1st and tailed off slowly during the month, the lowest count was on the 29th with 13 male & females, the pair of Goldeneye where last seen on the 4th, on the 24th two Shelduck landed briefly on the main lake before heading off north, unfortunately I missed these and they would have been a Westport year tick for me, Greylag Geese peaked at four on the ‘Webs’ duck count day 18th and also the 20th, the Domestic Geese managed to hatch 6 young but are currently down to three Goslings, the Canada Geese Goslings have started to appear during the last week of the month with 14 Goslings currently about, Mute Swan numbers peaked at 20 on the 17th and 18th with two pair attempting to breed. Buzzards, Sparrowhawk & Kestrel where seen on several dates during the month mainly passing over or seen over Bradwell wood area, Peregrine was also seen on two dates the 1st and 13th, however the best bird of prey came on the 28th when a photographer showed Phil Jones a photo of a bird hovering over the main lake, Phil immediately identified it as a Osprey, this would have been a Westport tick for me. On the 29th a pair of Coots produced 6 young, the first of many we will see over the coming month. On the 5th a single Oystercatcher landed on the grass verge, it spent about a hour here before flying off, on the 17th a single Lapwing was found on the grass verge, not many actually land here they normally just fly over and this was the case on the 18th with two and the 29th with three, Little Ringed Plover have continued to be seen on a almost daily basis with a max count of 5 on the 16th, 18th and 22nd, on the 3rd a single Curlew spent nearly an hour flying around looking for a place to land, in the end it gave up an carried on it journey, four day’s later another four flew over this time heading straight south, the star wader of the month came on the evening of the 23rd when a summer plumaged Dunlin was found on the grass verge, it disappeared for about an hour and was eventually re found on the old beach area where it allowed excellent views within 6ft, another Westport tick for me, lastly on the wader front, Common Sandpiper returned on the 18th with a single bird, highest count came on the 27th with 4 birds.
On the Gull front, mainly Lesser Black-backed Gulls have been passing through on a daily basis, Herring Gull were all fly over birds with 2 on the 8th, 1-15th, 1-25th, and 2-26th, Black-headed Gulls were few and far between but 11 adults flying over north on the 28th was of note, single Kittiwakes were seen on the 4th and 6th.
Stock Doves continued to be seen on the railway pylons with a max count of five on several dates throughout the month. The first Swift was recorded on the 21st with a single bird followed by another single on the 23rd by the end of the month there was over a 100+ after the heavy rain of the last day of the month. Green Woodpecker continued to be heard on the 5th and 11th but as yet remains a heard only record! Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen on several dates with a least one bird present but seeing two together was a bit more difficult, Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin continued to increase in numbers as the month progressed.
Carrion Crows and Magpies continue to be one of the commonest species in the park, Jackdaws are very few and far between with all records being flyovers these were x3 on the 3rd and x2 on the 18th, Jay’s although not seen daily are seen weekly but six on the 22nd was very unusual and the highest count at Westport.
Great Tit, Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit remain a daily record with all nesting around the park in good numbers, Coal Tit was recorded on the 1st, 5th and 7th but only a single bird in each case, since which there have been no further records, Willow Tit’s however are breeding, at least 2 pairs are around, with the possibility of more. Treecreeper is also another one that is seen on a weekly basis with one or two birds seen almost anywhere around the park but mainly down the canal side of the main lake. A single Fieldfare was seen by the model boating lake on the 4th, and a single Redwing on the 1st where the last of the Winter Thrushes.
On the Warbler front this was the month when they all started to arrive with the last week of the month producing the biggest numbers and the most arrivals, the first Reed Warbler arrived on the 26th with two or three birds turning up over the following few days, the first Sedge Warbler arrived on the 19th and stayed in the Dogwood at the top of the main lake for a few day’s, after that there where single birds recorded on the 25th, 28th and 29th, Blackcap first arrived on the 4th a single male as the weeks progressed so did the numbers, the second week had a max count of six and the third week reached nine and in the last week we were up to twelve, the first Garden Warbler was on the 24th and a couple of birds have been seen daily since this date, the first Whitethroat was on the 20th a single bird in the small wood at the back of the model boating lake, it was a couple of days before the next record of three on the old sewage works area, since then they have increased in numbers daily with a max count of four on the 26th, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs continued to build in numbers with at least two of each species nest building, max counts for Willow Warbler was five on the 7th, 8th and 20th, Chiffchaff max counts were ten plus on the 3rd, star Warbler came on the 29th in the form of a singing Wood Warbler at the back of Price’s Field, another Westport tick for me, sadly it didn’t hang around and although was heard by a couple of others was not relocated after that.
Another star bird came on the 18th in a female Pied Flycatcher, seen for about 15 minutes by the boardwalk bridge in the Nature Reserve, sadly it didn’t hang around for anyone else to see it, but another Westport tick and only about the 3rd or 4th Westport record. A single Meadow Pipit was recorded flying over on the 4th, Pied Wagtail numbers where very few and far between with no real sign of any passage, just local birds, however one passage bird was a White Wagtail which was found on the grass verge on the 21st and stayed for a couple of day’s before moving on, Grey Wagtails numbered up to four birds all resident birds for the summer at least, on pair is nesting on the old buildings by the canal. Bullfinches seem to number at least three pairs around various parts of the park, and Reed Bunting number at least two males and one female.
Thanks to, Nick Smith, Phil Jones, Richard Sutton, Dave Kelsall, Steve Seal & Tony Brewster for there records and photo's.