Thursday, 4 October 2012

4th October 2012

2x Pochard on the main lake, 42x Tufted Duck, Buzzard and a Chiffchaff

Sunday, 30 September 2012

30th September 2012

Some big news for Westport Birders today as only the third ever Barn Owl was recorded, being picked up at around 10:45 am. This being the 3rd record, one in October 1979 and in 2005.

Also Grey Wagtail over, 6x Meadow Pipit, 2x Cormorant, a Rather low count of 25x Tufted Duck, 4x Chiffchaff, 2x House Martin, Blackcap and 3x Shovelor. Also 2x Buzzard.

Monday, 24 September 2012

24th September 2012

Ok guys, i apologise that it was longer than 9 days, computer died and only just got it back, hope i didn't disappoint you.

So as for today 3x Common Scoter (This includes one Drake and two Females) a Marsh Harrier makes a healthy addition to the year list and 41x Tufted Duck. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Back later!

Just wanted to let the people who view this blog know that it won't be updated for about 9 days now, as I'm going on a birdwatching trip to East yorkshire (Filey and Whitby). For Westport News please refer to the Twitter site @westportlake1.

Cheers guys.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

2nd September 2012

A quick round up for the day, seemed like a good morning down at Westport:

Kingfisher on the boating lake, 8x Mute Swan, 40x Tufted Duck, 6x Great Crested Grebe this including the 2 immature birds, for the time of year a good count of 9x Swift,  15x Chiffchaff, 3x Treecreeper, 3x Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, Sparrowhawk, Coal Tit, 2x Willow Tit, c20x House Martin , 3x Jay, Blackcap, 2x Bullfinch, Grey Wagtail and Collard Dove.

August 2012 Review

August has been a fairly quiet month at Westport which is to expected given that it is still technically summer, 64 Species recorded in total for August (4 more than July) including one Westport year tick in the form of a Tawny Owl bringing the year list total to 111 Species. 

6 Species were recorded in August that were not recorded in July these being:

Little Egret
Peregrine Falcon
Common Tern
Tawny Owl

2 Species were NOT recorded in August but were in July these being:

Little Ringed Plover

Hopefully September will see the year list added to as Autumn Migration gets into full swing. The Blast from the past section will update you with what you can hope to see in September (I will update this on Sunday 2nd September when i have time to go through the records). 

Finally a thankyou to CW for providing me the relevant information and to @westportlake1 on Twitter which has also proved a valuable service this month.

Thanks for reading guys, happy birding! 

1st September

No visit from me just a relay from twitter being:

11x Wigeon 4x Mute Swan flying in 43x Tufted Duck and 2x Swift

Friday, 31 August 2012

30th August 2012

This news is late in coming mainly because I was visiting family and went to bed not feeling very well, but i have been down to Westport today but we'll start with the mornings news, thats no longer news for how late I'm posting this but still it is as follows: 

2x Shovelors one eclipse male and one female-type, 50+ House Martin and 47x Tufted Duck

Now then, onto my visit, which was a noisy one as i'll explain in this post. So as soon as i got onto the lake there was a Buzzard calling overhead, walking around the boating lake there were 12x Canada Geese and 2x Greylag Geese all being very noisy and squabbling over bread! Over to the main lake and no change in the Tufted Duck count still standing at 47, there were 6x Great Crested Grebe who were also giving a few calls, this including the two juveniles, haven't seen the other 2 juveniles for a while now so it's looking like that brood may have failed. 

Just 3x House Martin over the lake and 2x Swallow both species calling very frequently, and the Mute Swan family who didn't live up to their name as the two adults were calling to each other as they had been separated. I counted at least 250 Black Headed Gulls, 2 Lesser Black Backed gulls and a Juvenile Herring Gull turned up.

Into the reserve and straight away near the top pool there 7x Chiffchaff calling (that was just around the top pool) a group of tits which included 3x Long Tailed Tit, 2x Blue Tit and 4 x Great Tit, all of which calling, and a rare treat to hear a Willow Tit calling on the other side of the pool, first time i've heard it call for a few months, and i later caught up with it near the feeding tray by the top pool. Going down to the middle pool and i heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a further 5x Chiffchaff and a single Willow Warbler calling. A Bullfinch made a brief appearance before disappearing and down on the bottom pool there was 2x Moorehen. Back round on the railway side up towards the gasworks 2 Blackbirds alarmed and a red fox showing explained why. On the old gasworks there 2x Stock Dove both calling a Kestrel flew overhead towards the Main Road.

Finally, up onto the Sewage Works and this was the most fulfilling part of my trip with 2 sightings of Whitethroat ( A bird i never usually get to see) and 2 of the Blackcaps (one male, one female), Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch could all be heard calling as well.  

No sign of the Shovelors when I got down, don't know where they disappeared to. 

But all in all a fantastic trip although no rarities an amazing 35 different species could be heard calling/singing around Westport today, (All of the above listed as calling + Magpie, Carrion Crow, Coot and Mallard, Robin and Wren)don't know where that ranks for other people for the time of year but I don't remember hearing that many species in one 2 hour trip outside of the singing season.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

29th August 2012

I couldn't get down today due to work commitments so the news comes from other people 

Peregrine Falcon first thing over top of main lake, Black-headed Gull c200 on the playing field, Tufted Duck x45, Great Crested Grebe x5 (Inc 2 juvs), Swift x23 over top of main lake, Willow Warbler one in small wood at back of the boating lake, House Martin c30 flying south, TreecreeperGreat Spotted Woodpecker,the Immature/Eclipse Male or Female-type Shoveler moving from the main lake to the bottom pool in reserve, Willow TitCommon Sandpiper on the boating lake. (CW) 

I'll be down tomorrow probably after about 1-ish so anybody who is curious as to who I am drop me an e-mail and we may just bump into each other.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

28th August 2012

News today comes in 2 parts, first part is not my sightings, second part is mine.

So Fem-Type or possibly immature/eclipse Male Shoveler on the Main Lake, 10+ Swift, 50+ House Martin, Kingfisher, on the Sewage Works 2x Jay, 2x Whitethroat, 5x Blackcap, and a few Chiffchaff's.

Here is a blown up picture of the Shoveler from Chris Waring 

Right then, onto my visit which took place between 14:30 and 16:30. I started on the main lake and there was c32x Tufted Duck.
I counted 79x Black Headed Gulls 2x Herring Gull and 2x Lesser Black Backed Gull. Further round on the canal side of the lake, the Great Crested Grebe family (2x Adults and 2x Juveniles) were Disturbed by another Great Crested Grebe, who got a little too close for the parents liking, and quickly gotten rid of. 

Into the reserve and to start off all seemed rather quite, but there were at least 7x Long Tailed Tits 3x Blue Tit and 3x Great tit, continuing in and onto the Top Pool just a single BlackBird and a single Chiffchaff with a few Robins singing and a single Moorhen on the pool. From there i went straight over to the Gas Works, passing a juvenile Moorhen on the Brook. On the Gas works was 1x  Stock Dove and although not rare at Westport a Kestrel flying round and perching on the power line provided a much needed year tick for me! 

So down towards the middle pool and a Willow Tit was on the lower branches of a tree, an elderly Gentleman stopped me in the reserve telling me there was a lesser spotted woodpecker on the dead trees, however i think he was mistaken because when i got there and looked a single Great Spotted Woodpecker was there, but maybe worth keeping an eye out for the lesser just in case he was right!

Back out onto the main lake and there was no sign of any House Martins, Sand Martins or Swifts, and only 2 Swallows.

Also i received this Photo forwarded to me from Pete Lunt of 3 Peacock Butterflies.

Cheers for reading guys.

Monday, 27 August 2012

27th August 2012

I haven't been today I have plans for an early visit tomorrow.

News from Westport so far today includes:

Kingfisher, 48x Tufted Duck 12x Swift early morning rising to 30-40 by afternoon, House Martins and 8x Sand Martins.

Below is a picture of a Peregrine Falcon with a Feral Pigeon taken by Pete Lunt on Wednesday 22nd August 2012

Peregrine Falcon With Feral Pigeon By Pete Lunt

Sunday, 26 August 2012

26th August 2012

Hello there, i have been able to get to Westport today HURRAY, it was quite a nice evening bit breezy but sunny all the same, most of the paths were rather muddy so if you haven't already found out for yourselves,  wear walking boots or wellies! Visit from 5pm - 7:30 pm.

So i started off walking up along the canal, needless to say not much happening on there, i carried on towards the sewage works and other than a few Long Tailed Tits with a few Blue/Great Tits mixed in, rather dull. So around into the reserve and again it was rather quiet, although there must've been 1000 Robins singing to my thoughts, although its much more likely there were only around 20 that were moving about. Sitting by the top pool there was a Moorhen and a family of Mallards with Ducklings around 2 - 3 weeks old. To my disappointment no sign what so ever of the Reed Warblers, so there's a good chance they have left now. Continuing round there wasn't much to report, 20+ Chiffchaff and around 12 Willow Warblers were about as good as it got, other than when i bumped into Phil Jones who pointed out a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the bottom pool, not a Westport rarity but always nice to see.

So out on to the main lake, and the there were 4 Great Crested Grebes, with 2 Juveniles which are growing and doing very well, hopefully I'm not gonna put the kiss of death on them but its looking good for them at the moment. I also counted 32 Tufted Duck which is down on the mornings count of 46 and the female Pochard was still in with them.

Now I did see the Mute Swan pair however only 1 Cygnet with them, apparently one Cygnet is now in the RSPCA's care.

And thats about it to be honest, Cheers for reading

Also this morning there was a Common Sandpiper and a Kingfisher

Friday, 24 August 2012

Fundraising idea

As many of you know, the staffordshire wildlife trust have a conservation group at Westport lake, in which they practically help conservation by litter picking and Reed bed plantations. This blog gets an average of nearly 1000 page views per month and i thought that if i added the google affiliate links and adsense to the blog we may be able to help them and the RSPB, Who, by going about their cause not only help our wildlife but also help us get some good ticks against many rarer birds on our year and site lists, obviously all of what they do costs money. They rely on us to supply that to them, so i thought, if i could provide a service whereby relevant products were displayed, that anyone who visits this site could buy things they need such as books, reports, scopes and binoculars knowing that a healthy slice of what they pay for these items is headed straight back into the sites we all love to visit so much, so please do the poll on the right hand side, as this idea will take time on my part and i'd like to know if it's worth it before I invest in it.

Thanks guys.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

23rd August 2012

Looking forward to tomorrow when I can finally get down to Westport but luckily the news keeps flowing thanks to the twitter site:

20+ Swift, 30+ Swallow another increase to 51 Tufted Duck and for anyone who hasn't got a tick next to the Little Grebe on their Westport year list a juvenile was on the main lake this morning.

Also i'd like to thank everyone who has been viewing this blog daily, since i took it over the site has climbed over 100 places on the fatbirders top 1000 list, as you can see on the right.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

22nd August 2012

Friday will be my visit, need wait til payday to get some new bins because mine are broken, but westport news is as follows:

Female Pochard, another increase to 45x Tufted Duck 17x Swift 13+ Chiffchaff, 2x Willow Tit in the reserve, 3x Greenfinch with 2x Goldfinch

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

21st August 2012

Today's news for Westport Lake:

Female Pochard with 34x Tufted Duck 18x Swift and the Barnacle Goose Remains.

p.s. please comment any thoughts you have as this will improve the blogs search engine ranks and allow more people to view the birds and news from westport, as well as increasing traffic and ranks for the links listed on this site. I am happy for comments containing links to other birding websites to be left too, but they will be checked for relevance. Thankyou.

Monday, 20 August 2012

20th August 2012

No visit from me but the news is here again.

Female Pochard, 10x Swift, 41x Tufted Duck, 10x Chiffchaff 8x Great Crested Grebe inc 4x juveniles,,c20 Swallow,2x Coal Tit by boardwalk path, 2x Blackcap by boardwalk path, 3x Willow Tit by boardwalk path, 2x Stock Dove on old gas works, 2 Reed Warblers(one juvenile), and finally a count of 66 Black Headed Gulls

Thanks for reading guys.

19th August 2012

Another day in which I have been unable to visit but the news keeps coming, so here is a quick round up of the days "action".

This morning appeared to be quite slow with 2x Swift, Whitethroat and 15x Chiffchaff heard

However the afternoon perked up a bit by the looks of things with 4x ChiffchaffFamily of 6x Bullfinch - back of boating lake Buzzard - overhead, Barnacle Goose4x Mute Swan inc 2 cygnets33x Tufted Duck, 6x Great Crested Grebe inc 2 juvenilesWillow Warbler - middle of reserve, Willow Tit2x Red-eared Terrapin - bottom pool, Kingfisher - bottom pool, 4x Stock Dove - old gas works, 14x Swallow 

Thanks for the news guys.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

18th August 2012

I'd like to start this post by asking anyone who follows this blog to be patient with me, i'm still learning as far as bird watching goes, I'm only 20 and only started really doing it about a year ago, even though I've had a huge interest in it from when i was 12. So I will wrongly identify birds from time to time, but i took over this blog because I really enjoy it and Westport Lake is my favourite place to go. If anybody has any tips for me please share them, as with most people the last thing i want is to be wrong! 

So News for the day is:

Barnacle goose, 20x Swift 15x House Martin 35x Tufted Duck 2x Willow Warbler 15+ Chiffchaff, Also a friend of mine said he went and sat beside the top pool for 15 - 20 minutes mid afternoon and there was no sign of the Reed Warblers, whether they have now left or if they were just hiding away I don't know, so if someone could let me know that would be great.

I've also updated my with a piece on mammals focusing mainly on how to help Hedgehogs if anybody is interested.


Friday, 17 August 2012

17th August 2012

Due to work being kind enough to give me an 8 day stretch its gonna be a view days before i can get down to the lake, so again just a relay of Nick's sightings as listed on Twitter


A rainy morning for Nick but slightly better than yesterday birds wise with 1x Common Sandpiper 15+ House Martin, 20x Swift, The Tufted Duck steadily increasing with a count of 38, and the Barnacle Goose remains.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

16th August 2012

I haven't been able to get to the lake today so just a quick relay of Nick's sightings as listed on Twitter which most of you will have already seen.


Nick described his visit as disappointing and quiet with 18 Swift 39 Tufted Duck and the Barnacle Goose.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

14th August

My visit today was a rather late one from 6:30pm - 9:00pm, and this made any rarities rather unlikely, especially given the high visitor numbers. However it was a beautiful evening and i thought why not have a look. 

So I started by walking in along the canal, where there was very little happening except for a Blackbird feeding a single juvenile. On the main lake there was 6 Great Crested Grebes including 2 juveniles, 17 Black Headed Gulls including 4 juveniles, 29+ Lesser Black Backed Gulls, including 3 juveniles. Also a good count of 21 Tufted Duck were sat in the middle if the main lake. Just 2 Mute Swans and 2 Cygnets around the reserve side of the lake.

So into the reserve and on the top pool 2 Reed Warblers were singing, as well as there being at least 2 others around. A juvenile Moorhen was using the Lilly Pads as stepping stones across the pool and a family of Mallards swam across with young that were 2 days old at the most. Continuing around the reserve 2 Nuthatch were in the trees near the Sewage Works, as well as a Willow Warbler and a Willow Tit. There was also a Treecreeper calling in the reserve but I couldn't locate it.

That pretty much sums it up, Thanks for reading guys. 

Just as an unrelated side note, i also run a blog called giving back to nature, . At the moment it only has 3, quickly cut and pasted articles on there from the RSPB just to give it some content but that will also get updated with original stuff when I can.

Monday, 13 August 2012


Hello there guys, my name is Dominic and I will be taking over this blog from Chris who has kindly given me his permission to do so. I do hope that I can keep the same quality of posts up as him.

So a little bit about me and why I want to do this blog.

I've lived just up the road from Westport lake most of my life and it holds quite a special place to me, it's where i first really got into birds and nature, courtesy of my dad who took me up there when I was just 12 to show me the nests of birds, and i was hooked. Since then I have visited the lake relatively frequently and seen what a haven it is for wildlife, even if it is surrounded by factory's, shops and roads. Given it's large visitor numbers you wouldn't expect such a diverse range of birds, insects, wild flowers, trees and mammals.

Anyway this post holds no sightings like Chris' were it was just me introducing myself, but in future they will be full of news from the lake so long as i continue to have the times to visit it.

Thankyou guys, hope i don't disappoint


Friday, 3 August 2012

A Massive Thank You

I have decided to retire the Westport blog after nearly three years of blogs, it's really to concentrate on the Staffs Bird News blog which as you know I run with Russell Toon and Nick Smith.

The blog has really taken off recently and even more so now that we have the Twitter site up and running, and with more stuff happening on the blog over the coming months plus extra work commitments I've decided I really cannot do this blog justice anymore.

So a massive thank you for all your support, for your sightings and your photo's, I know you all follow the Staffs Bird News blog so it's not goodbye just "see you on the other channel".

And please remember to follow Westport on Twitter at @WestportLake1 (apart from this week as Nick's on holiday) but any biggies will be on the Staffs blog anyway.

Bye & Thanks


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

18 July 2012

For the first time in as long as I can remember it remained dry for the whole of my visit, not a drop of rain!
It was much warmer today at 18c, plenty of sunshine and a WSW breeze, visit from 06.15 til 09.00.

The Barnacle Goose was with the 282 Canada Geese and 14 Greylag Geese, 20 Black-headed Gulls were on the main lake or going over it and included two juveniles, just five Tufted Duck remain and the usual four Great Crested Grebe and seven Mute Swans which include the three cygnets, 18 Swift were over the main lake, a single Mistle Thrush was heard going over.

Near the top pool in the Dogwood a family of at least five Reed Warbler and another two were on the top pool, also on the top pool two Jay and four Great Spotted Woodpecker were together in a tall tree along the reserve side of the main lake, five Chiffchaff were around the park, a family group of Blackcap were in the reserve and a Coal Tit could be heard calling across from the old gas works, which also had two Stock Doves and a single Swallow on here, two Whitethroat were on the old sewage works, along the front of the main lake two Pied Wagtail again one was a juvenile and a new group of four Mallard ducklings which were a few days old.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

17 July 2012

Slightly better weather conditions this morning, but only in the fact that the rain was more of a light too occasional heavy drizzle compared to yesterdays deluge, at one point I even saw blue sky through a gap in the clouds (honest), temp was stable throughout at 16c and a slightly stronger W breeze, visit from 06.50 til 09.00.

I was slightly late this morning and it cost me a Westport year tick when Nick had a Kingfisher in the back moving from the middle pool up to the top pool but disappearing after that.

I managed a count of 13 Greylag Geese among the Canada Geese this morning, the Barnacle Goose was also present although it doesn't mingle within the flock and tends to stick to the outer edges, all these were on the boating lake, on the main lake the Tufted Duck went up with 13 present, again just four Great Crested Grebe, the usual seven Mute Swan (three are cygnets) and eight Black-headed Gulls included two juveniles, 13 Swift were flying mainly along the canal side of the main lake and included seven House Martins, along the front of the main lake were two Pied Wagtail one of which was a juvenile, the first one to be seen around the park this year, as I was making my way into the reserve area three small ducks flew in over the main lake, they were Teal, the first at Westport since the beginning of April, they flew around and seemed to land in the reserve but despite searching for them I couldn't relocate them.

At the bottom corner of the reserve after the first gate I came across a family party of Willow Tit, it was near impossible to count them as they were quite high in the tree tops and seemed to be all around me, so I estimated that at least eight were present, this has to be a 2nd brood and therefore the 3rd successful brood at Westport this year, at the top pool two Reed Warblers were present and I watched as one regularly dropped into the reeds at the same point and you could hear the youngsters calling for food, so hopefully we will have at least two successful broods of these as well, not as many Chiffchaff around today with just five around the park, and two Bullfinch flew low over the top pool, just a single Swallow was seen today on the old gas works with two Stock Doves, on the old sewage works two Whitethroat and lastly a Grey Wagtail was along the canal side of the main lake as I made my way home.

The photo below was taken this morning by Pete Lunt, showing a juvenile Reed Warbler, I think we have had success with two broods this year.

Juvenile Reed Warbler by Pete Lunt

Monday, 16 July 2012

16 July 2012

Since my last visit on the 12th July there have only been a few highlights, on the 13th the first young Reed Warblers of the year were seen, a unusual report came on the 14th when one of the local dog walkers reported seeing a Little Owl by the bridge at the top right entrance to the park, unfortunately despite extensive searching it wasn't relocated, on the 15th the first Pochard to visit Westport for over a month was in a group of Tufted Duck and then later on in the day three hybrid possibly CapexRuddy Shelduck appeared on the boating lake, although unringed they were rather tame and would come for bread, see the photo below.

Hybrid Shelduck but which type?? Photo by Phil Jones

And so onto today, it was a very wet visit, but I've kind of got use to it over this lovely summer of ours, it was almost perfect conditions for a wader to pass though, my visit lasted for three hours from 05.50 til 08.50, there was just one spell of around 30minutes in the middle when it didn't rain, the temp remained pretty constant during the visit at 14c up to 15c at the end, wind was light and direct S.

There was no sign of yesterdays hybrid Shelducks, the Barnacle Goose remains among the Canada Geese flock as does at least twelve Greylag Geese, a good count of c55 Swift went through heading straight south, Black-headed Gulls continue to build up again and a juvenile was among the group of seven today my first of the year at Westport, on the main lake just seven Tufted Duck remain from yesterdays twelve, the usual seven Mute Swans which include the three cygnets and four Great Crested Grebe, a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls passed through, a bit later I picked up a juvenile Little Grebe on the main lake, possibly the same one from the other week.

Around the park five Chiffchaff were heard/seen, four Blackcap and just a single Reed Warbler singing on the top pool, on the old gas works two Stock Doves, two Swallows and a Grey Heron on the small pool, a single Whitethroat was on the old sewage works and another in the reserve along with a Garden Warbler and a single Bullfinch was heard, a Jay was heard near the top of the main lake and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker here as well.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

12 July 2012

It felt a bit like autumn this morning, it was a lovely bright sunny morning with a cool edge probably caused by the WNW breeze which made the 11c start feel a bit cooler than that, by the end of my three hour visit the temperature had risen to a nice 19c, visit from 06.10 til 09.10.

There was a good number of juvenile species around this morning, probably more than I've seen all year which after all the rain was a nice sight, showing that things haven't maybe been as bad as first thought, Mute Swan, Coot and Mallard young have been around for a good while now and are seen everyday, but I also saw today juvenile Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blackcap and Dunnock.

Other species seen included a good count of nine Chiffchaff around the park, 25 Swift were over the visitor centre, on the main lake and boating lake 221 Canada Geese was a slightly low count but didn't include the Canada creche which normally accounts for around another 30, I managed 12 Greylag Geese and the Barnacle Goose among the flock, five Black-headed Gulls went through, on the main lake, just three Great Crested Grebe and just four Tufted Duck, along with the seven Mute Swans which included three cygnets, two Garden Warblers were seen today one on each side of the main lake, just two Swallows were around and a single House Martin, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls went through all adults and a Grey Wagtail flew over the main lake calling.

In the reserve a Greenfinch was calling, two Reed Warblers on the top pool and a Jay nearby, the pool just below the top one had a female Mallard with two ducklings which looked no more than a day or two old, a single Willow Tit was among a flock of c30 Long-tailed Tits, a single Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over the old sewage works, also on here two Whitethroat and a Willow Warbler which had a bit of a unusual song, it started pure Willow until a Chiffchaff started up nearby and then the call became almost a mix of the two.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

11 July 2012

It's been pretty quiet down Westport since my last visit on the 7th July, the big thing this year is the mud and soggy ground, for summer I can't believe just how bad the reserve area is, it's impossible to walk around without wellies as is most parts of the old sewage works, at least in winter with the cold ground it is'nt so bad, this has to have been one of the worse summers for a long long time and has without doubt affected the breeding birds, it's probably one of the reasons our own Canada Geese have only had half the numbers of goslings compared to last year.

To catch up since my last visit the only birds of note were three Common Sandpipers present on the 9th along with a juvenile Little Grebe, the first juvenile of the year and only the second Little Grebe of the year, and this morning Nick had a Kingfisher on the top pool, I had a look along with Phil Jones this afternoon but without joy, I still need it for my Westport year list.

Also present on this very quiet afternoon, I managed to count 12 Greylag Geese but there were probably a few more as they were rather spread out around the park this afternoon, on the main lake, five Great Crested Grebe, 4 adult and three cygnet Mute Swans and eight Tufted Duck and three Black-headed Gulls were flying around the lake.

The reserve area was very very quiet with hardly a single bird heard let alone seen, the only area were this didn't apply was the top pool with at least two singing Reed Warblers making plenty of noise to make up for everywhere else, a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also flying around the main lake and a adult Herring Gull flew over quite high up, a single Blackcap was singing near the old gas works were just a single Swallow was around the derelict buildings, on the old sewage works a single Whitethroat and Chiffchaff, back on the grass bank near the visitor centre I picked out the Barnacle Goose among the Canada Geese and lastly a couple of House Martins were flying around the boating lake.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

07 July 2012

A decent morning weather wise after all the rain, it was nice to see the sun shining and although everywhere was very wet, the Fowlea brook wasn't anywhere near as high as it was last month when we had over two days of heavy rain. That said we also visited Branston Gravel Pits and Uttoxeter Quarry were flash floods were very evident.

 Branston Gravel Pits

Uttoxeter Quarry was even worse

So back to Westport as we were on a tour of South Staffs it was a shorter than usual visit from 06.10 til 07.50.

A small group of just three Mallard Ducklings which were less than a week old made there way across the car park to the boating lake, three groups of Black-headed Gulls flew over involving seven birds in total, all were adults but I'm sure it won't be long before we have the first juvenile of the year, a single Pied Wagtail was along the front of the main lake, sadly they don't seem to have had a successful breeding season as no youngsters have been seen so far this year, another species missing young birds is Mistle Thrush with three also along the front edge, a couple of waders were seen today firstly a single Common Sandpiper, the first one for over a week and two Little Ringed Plover were flying around the front of the main lake.

On the main lake Tufted Duck have dropped off slightly from the previous day with seven present, six Great Crested Grebe were also on the main lake with two still sitting, the four Mute Swan remain with the three cygnets doing well, 13 Greylag Geese were on the boating lake mixed in with the Canada Geese flock, over the main lake just five Swift were present, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over towards the nature reserve, just a single Blackcap was heard today and three Chiffchaff, some of the Coot are on there second brood and two pairs both have four chicks each which are less than a week old, two Reed Warbler were singing on the top pool, but no sign of the Sedge Warbler that was seen here yesterday or the Hobby which has been coming and going all summer, two Whitethroat were on the old sewage works and a Treecreeper was calling along the canal side of the main lake and lastly as we were leaving we picked up the Barnacle Goose which returned yet again yesterday.

Below a couple of photo's received from Dominic Salisbury, sadly my camera is rather poorly and I've missed being able to take some photo's around Westport and adding them to my blog.

Photo of Barnacle Goose & Great Crested Grebe by Dominic Salisbury

Sunday, 1 July 2012

01 July 2012

A quiet morning as expected, it was a bright sunny morning although a bit cooler than of late with a temp of just 11c, breeze was stronger than of late with a W breeze, visit from 06.00 til 07.50.

A single Grey Heron flew over a few times and we later flushed it from the small pool on the old gas works, good numbers of Chiffchaff seen and heard today with at least nine around the park, a single Pied Wagtail was along the front, surprisingly I haven't seen and young yet this year, Greylag Geese are remaining steady at 14 but Canada Geese have dropped by around 50 to 256, five Tufted Duck were on the main lake briefly and then dropped to just three and eight Great Crested Grebe were also on the main lake with two still sitting, like last year it looks like we are going to a a couple of late broods, Mute Swans remain at the two pairs and three cygnets, around c40 Swift were over the top of the main lake, three Blackcap were around the park, a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were flying around and a probable distant Herring Gull went over, on the top pool two Reed Warbler are still singing away, a possible family party of at least four Jay were on the old sewage works, two Black-headed Gulls flew over as did a single Starling and lastly a couple of Whitethroat were also on the old sewage works.

At the side of the blog I've added the sightings for July in the 'Blast from the Past' and also the highlights for July in 2011.

June Review

As you would expect it's been a pretty quiet month, although not the quietest of the year so far, that honor goes to January with just 60 species recorded, June was slightly better with 63, although three of those were new for the year and frustratingly I only saw one of them.

The three newbie's were Gadwall, Green Sandpiper and the Barnacle Goose which came and went a few times throughout the month.

Other highlights of a otherwise quiet month were, Hobby, which have been seen for the last three months in a row now, with a single bird perched in the trees near the top pool for a day, Peregrine has also been a regular visitor over the last four months and I watched a male take a Feral Pigeon a few weeks ago over the main lake, Little Ringed Plover continue to visit on a regular basis which suggests that they have bred close by, a single Curlew flew over last week, only the second record this year, a possible return passage Common Sandpiper also went through last week, as did a Common Tern, and lastly a Kingfisher on the top pool was only the second record of the year.

A couple of species were also missing that have so far been recorded on every month of the year to date, these are Pochard which is the first time in over three years that this species hasn't been seen in every month of a year, also missing was Cormorant and Jackdaw.

So the Westport year list now stands on 110.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

27 June 2012

Although I haven't written anything on the blog for a while I have been going down Westport, but only around once a week as I'm currently trying to get some overtime in at work, also at this time of year it's usually rather quiet and you just end up repeating yourself day in and day out, I've also made a few trips at dusk, usually around 10pm in the hope of picking up the odd Tawny Owl but so far no joy there either.

Today was a pleasant day weather wise, temp of 18c, high cloud with sunny spells, short visit from 06.00 til 07.30.

Greylag Geese are coming and going at the moment, the highest was around 20 and today there were 14 present but no sign of the Barnacle Goose that has also been wandering around since the beginning of the month, four Mute Swans remain plus the three cygnets, a Sparrowhawk flew through briefly, Tufted Duck numbers remain low with just six present, five Great Crested Grebe included two sitting, just six Swift were flying over the lake this morning and a few Swallows around the canal and old gas works, a female Mallard was on the mainlake with a single newly hatched duckling and a Grey Heron flew over which we later flushed from the small pool on the old gas works, at least five Chiffchaff were singing around the park and two Reed Warbler on the top pool, a single Stock Dove was on the old gas works and a Treecreeper and Willow Tit were calling nearby, on the old sewage works a single Whitethroat and Blackcap were heard.

Monday, 4 June 2012

May Highlights

After a exceptional April it was always going to be difficult for May to follow on with something as good, and while it was as expected much quieter, it was still rather good with a couple of good birds and one that will be up their at the end of the year fighting with a few others for 'Bird of the Year'.

In total 69 species were recorded, making it the second best month of the year, so far, eight species were added to the Westport year list putting it on 107 species for the year, their were a few summer migrants still to arrive that we would normally see in April but like several species already this year they were late arriving, these were Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and Sedge Warbler.

The other additions to the year list was Kittiwake, one was seen on the 2nd and another flew around the lake on the 30th, this is, looking back over the records the latest date a Kittiwake has been seen at Westport during spring passage, on the 4th Nick had a Cuckoo calling in the reserve, a couple of Linnet were also new for the year, and on the 15th Dave Kelsall had a Spotted Flycatcher on the top pool, the 15th also produced the bird of the month in a Turtle Dove, the weather was appalling with very heavy rain and I guess it was brought down by the poor weather, sadly it didn't hang around and wasn't seen again, it is the seventh record for Westport and the first since Richard Sutton had one in 1999.

Other species seen this month of interest were, two Shelduck which landed briefly on the main lake on the 14th, Hobby have had a good month with at least 3 separate records, Peregrine was also seen this month for the third month in a row, the second Dunlin record of the year was a single on the boating lake on the same day as the first Kittiwake, the 2nd, another Wheatear went through for the second month on the trot, this one was found by Phil Jones on the 2nd, again the same day as the Kittiwake and the Dunlin. Lastly a Yellow Wagtail was found by Nick on the front of the main lake on the 7th.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

30 May 2012

A very very quiet morning around the park, on the weather front it was a bit cooler than of late at 15c and a bit of cloud in the sky although I'm not sure we will get the thunderstorms that were promised earlier in the week, mind you looking at two websites they yet again can't decide which way the wind is blowing, one said WSW another said NW and I felt it was more like NNE, all rather confusing, only 34 species were seen this morning which just shows how quiet a visit it was, which was rather short from 06.00 til 07.30, I was hoping to be shooting off for the Orphean Warbler that had been found yesterday at Hartlepool Headland, sadly it seems to have done a overnight bunk.

Three Tufted Duck where on the boating lake first thing and just a single on the main lake, we've lost a few Mute Swans with just one on the boating lake and the usual four holding there territories, it should be fun when the cygnets hatch! Four Great Crested Grebe were on the main lake so we have lost a pair of these as well, a single Mistle Thrush was on the front of the main lake and at least c50 Swift were over the visitor centre, the Reed Warbler is still singing it's heart out by Ted Heath rock but no sign of yesterday's Sedge Warbler that Jeff Jones had seen, another two Reed Warbler were on the top pool, a couple of Black-headed Gulls went through separately, just four Chiffchaff were singing around the park with one Blackcap and still the three Garden Warbler, a Willow Tit was just after the first gate along the lake edge and Nick spotted the bird of the day a adult Kittiwake, it circled the main lake several times looking to land but gave up in the end, looking back over the Birdguides records this is the latest spring record at Westport since 2001 at least, although records before that can only be checked via the old paper way, I was rather happy with the find as it was a Westport year tick for me, putting me on 90 for the year, only other birds of interest was two Stock Doves on the old gas works.

Last day of the month tomorrow, I wonder what it will bring, if anything at all, mind you I will have to be either early or late tomorrow as the Olympic Torch is going past my house at the end of it's visit to Stoke on Trent, it passes at around 07.30 so rather early!

Monday, 28 May 2012

28 May 2012

A proper summers morning and a proper summer morning birding, at 06.00 the temp was already at 17c, the sky was cloudless and pretty much windless as well, although I have to confess I forgot to check the wind direction, visit was just a few hours til 08.00.

Five Mute Swans were on the boating lake with the other two pairs in there usual places making nine in total, so no change their then, Tufted Duck have been a bit erratic recently and today was no exception, when I arrived there was six but when I left just one , a male, remained, Great Crested Grebe remain steady at six, although it's getting late for breeding, fingers crossed we'll get a late pair breed this year, the Reed Warbler at Ted Heath Rock could be heard singing away from the grass bank and at least another two singing birds were on the top pool, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over the main lake and was seen several times during the day, I didn't make it down the Avenue to see how the breeding pair were getting along with there hungry youngsters, two Mistle Thrush were on the front edge of the main lake and around c35 Swift were quite high over the lake.

Just four Chiffchaff were heard calling and three Willow Tit around the park, a Jay was in the reserve and two Grey Heron flew over the top pool, I didn't get much of a look of them but they looked like juvenile birds, on the pools in the reserve two broods of newly hatched duckings totalled twenty, the three Garden Warbler were again singing in there usual places, also on the top pool a single newly hatched Coot chick, from the old gas works a Buzzard was soaring over Bradwell Wood, just two Blackcap were heard/seen today at opposite ends of the park, two Whitethroat were on the old sewage works  and a Reed Bunting briefly sang on here, back on the grass bank two Pied Wagtail were present, three Lapwing flew over and a single Black-headed Gull flew in.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

23 May 2012

A strange weather day to start off with, although the temp was 13c it felt cooler with a N breeze, their was slight foggy conditions at first which got so bad at one stage you could hardly see the other side of the main lake, once the sun got up however it was a different story with clear blue sky and by the end of my visit the temp has soared to 24c, visit from 05.45 til 09.15.

On the Warbler front, eight Blackcap included two females, five Chiffchaff, two Reed Warbler, three Garden Warbler, one Whitethroat and one Willow Warbler, the lake's held, ten Mute Swan, ten Tufted Duck, eight Great Crested Grebe, at least eight Mallard ducklings were at the top end and around 50c Swift over the lake, Canada Geese goslings numbered 20 today with no sign of the two new groups from the other day, one group of six and another for three, along the front of the main lake a group of five Starling included two youngsters.

In the nature reserve the family party of Willow Tit still number seven, also had two Willow Tit around the boating lake, two Mistle Thrush were also on the playing field and a single Pied Wagtail on the front edge of the main lake, two pairs of Great Spotted Woodpecker were around the park today with one pair feeding young, lastly a Reed Bunting was singing on the sewage works and a small group of five House Martin over the main lake.

21 May 2012

Well so far it's been a pretty good week to book off work and I'm only a few days into my holidays, It's my birthday on the 23rd and I always try and book the week off, two reasons really, firstly I don't like working my birthday and it's normally a week when a few decent migrants can turn up around the country.

Sadly it hasn't really been happening at Westport and I've had to travel a bit further a field to see the birding gems of the last few days, it started on Sunday when after a normal visit around the lake I was lounging about the house when I received a text from Nick, Bluethroat at Doxey Marsh, further information came through, it was a male of the Red-spotted Bluethroat variety, being a British tick I was rather keen to see this bird, Nick was at Branston with his dad making there way to Stafford, I put a request out of Birdforum for a lift without success, then I thought about the train, it runs from the bottom of my road via Stoke station into Stafford within 30mins, sorted, just needed to work out how far from station to said bird, but their was no need as a guardian angel in George Smith who had already seen the bird was on his way up to pick me up!! This really is above and beyond the call of duty and I really just cannot thank him enough for this.

So arrived on site and within 15mins or so I was watching a stunning male Red-spotted Bluethroat sat on the fence no more than 50ft away.

Red-spotted Bluethroat by Steve Gibson

Rather late that night news broke of a Cream-coloured Courser at Herefordshire, in the morning I met up with Nick at Westport, it was a rather pleasant morning with a temp of 9c, I completely forgot to make a note of the wind but their wasn't much to talk of as the lake was totally flat, visit from 05.50 til around 07.30.

It was all feeling very much like summer, as though migration was finished with at Westport and breeding is in full swing, Warbler numbers have dropped off now, probably because territories are established and breeding is now the priority, around the park, five Blackcaps, four Chiffchaff, two Whitethroat and single Garden Warbler and Reed Warbler.

On the lakes Mute Swan had increased by an extra one too  nine, Tufted Duck had increased slightly as well too six, that said they couldn't get much lower, Great Crested Grebe remained at two and Canada Geese goslings are up to 26, a Grey Heron was on the boating lake for a short time until it was chased off by a Carrion Crow, and a single Jackdaw flew over, just a couple of Starling were collecting food for there young along the front of the main lake and 3 Pied Wagtail were along here as well, Swift numbers were much much lower over the main  lake with no more than 20c present.

The only other bird of note in the reserve, as well as Warblers, was a male Reed Bunting on the top pool, lastly along the canal side a couple of Treecreeper and a family of seven Willow Tit to go with the single we had seen earlier in the reserve.

So before we left the park news broke that the Cream-coloured Courser was still present, a quick check of the sat nav suggested it was around 2hrs 15mins away, Nick couldn't go due to work, but if his Dad was interested would I go?? Err yes!

At 09.00, George picked me up and after a near 3hr drive we arrived at a golf course that really was the back of beyond, it was on a hill that was 1,243ft above sea level, the views as well as the weather was stunning, we made our way up the hill and arrived at the crowd of people out of breath, we couldn't believe our luck as the bird was showing right in front of us, although slightly hidden by the rough on the edge of the fairway, I know I use this word a lot but it really was a stunning bird and one the bird books just don't do justice, the pattern on the head is incredible, we stayed for over an hour or so, watching it run around and at one point chasing a Skylark, I really wanted to see it's legs and eventually we managed to see it's white legs, bit like mine when I'm in my shorts for the first time after winter!

I really can't say thank you enough to George Smith, despite the fact he had already seen the Bluethroat, he still came to Stoke to pick me up, take me down to see it and then bring me back, and then to top that he takes me to see the Cream-coloured Courser, a bird he doesn't even need having seen the one on Scillies, George you are a true legend, gent and friend and I thank you very much for your kind generosity.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

20 May 2012

Well a nice pleasant morning weather wise didn't quite work the same when it came down to the birds seen today, yes it wasn't terrible but there just wasn't anything special to get the pulse racing, especially after the heart pumping Turtle Dove of just five days ago.

The weather was really strange today taking into account the MSN weather said it would be 2c with a ESE breeze and then on checking the BBC weather it said it would be 5c with a N breeze, normally with a north breeze it would be cooler than a ESE I would of thought, in the end the BBC was nearest to the facts, it was indeed a N breeze, although the temp was slightly up at 7c, cloud coverage has high up with a few blue patches showing, it was a epic visit from 06.00 til 09.50!!

I guess the biggest thing today was seeing quite a few more young birds about, last week Nick saw young Willow Tit and Long-tailed Tit, we have already seen young Mallard (10 today), Coot and Canada Geese, which are now up to 27 goslings, this includes a hybrid Canada x Domestic Greylag, other youngsters seen today included the first young Robins of the year and a party of young Great Tit.

Swift numbers were high today, it really was impossible to count them but we estimated a count of 250c, it really could of been much higher than that, with them around 30c House Martin, about the same number of Swallow and just three Sand Martin, last week Nick had a good count of 25. Warblers numbers were pretty much the same, six Blackcap, six Chiffchaff, two Reed Warbler, two possibly three Garden Warbler, just a single Whitethroat, were have all the Whitethroat gone from last year? lastly a single Willow Warbler which has been singing all week along the 'Avenue'.

On the lakes, Mute Swan are down to eight, four on the boating lake and the other two pairs in there usual breeding areas, just two Great Crested Grebe are present, this is another species that is having a bad year down here, from two breeding pairs last year, this year is looking like a big fat none! Although there are just eight Tufted Duck this is a huge improvement on a couple of days last week when Nick had a zero, this has happened before but it not very often and it's been several years since it last happened.

Elsewhere around the park, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over the visitor centre as did a single Starling, yet again another species which is well down on last year, it's not exactly a common species at Westport anyway but at this time of year you normally get flocks on the playing field collecting insects for their young, so far this year I don't think I've managed double figures for them. Three Pied Wagtails were around the park, three Willow Tit, a Grey Heron flew over the top pool and a couple of adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls were flying over heading NNW, along the canal side of the main lake a couple of Treecreeper and a male Reed Bunting was calling near Ted Heath Rocks, a Kestrel was hovering over the old sewage works and a Collared Dove was on here.

Earlier in the week Nick had a pair of Linnet by the visitor centre, these were Westport year ticks and took the year total to 107.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

15 May 2012

Well despite the awful weather the last few days around Westport have been rather good, yesterday started off with two Shelduck briefly on the main lake, which were year ticks here for me, a couple of Pochard were flying around with some Tufted Duck, on the Hirundine front around 100c Swift were joined by 50c House Martins and just five Sand Martins, by the top pool a Sedge Warbler and two Reed Warblers were singing away plus a male Reed Bunting on here. Later I had another Sedge Warbler singing and showing rather well on the old sewage works, the other highlight was the 4th Hobby of the year over the old gas works which was another Westport year tick for me.

Today the weather was quite frankly 'fowl', at one point I wasn't even going to leave the house as it was snowing!! It did ease off and I decided to risk it, which was a good decision in one way but in terms of the weather not so as it threw it down for large parts of the visit, the temp was 5c but felt more like freezing with a cutting NNW breeze, visit from 06.20 til 09.25.

Warblers were in short supply today due to the weather, just five Blackcap, three Chiffchaff, two Reed Warbler, three Whitethroat and a single Garden Warbler were seen/heard. Two Collared Dove were in the reserve and another on the old sewage works, over the main lake yesterdays Swift had been replaced by c100 House Martins, just c30 Swift today and no Sand Martin, on the main lake five Great Crested Grebe and just two male Tufted Duck, the usual four Mute Swan and another six flew over the old gas works, a Grey Heron also flew over, on the grass bank four Pied Wagtail and two Little Ringed Plover, just three Canada Geese gosling have been around now for the last few days with no sign of were the others have gone.

Back in the reserve and at last a dry spell of weather, a Jay flew over the railway line, up by the top pool, two Willow Tit were joined by a single Coal Tit on the green feeding trays, it was just by here that I noticed a Dove in the tree by the gate to the old gas works, I thought it was another Collared Dove and when I put my bins on it I had a shock when I noticed a mottled back and on it's neck black and white stripes, it was a TURTLE DOVE, I was shaking as I tried to sent a text to Nick and the others I have numbers for, it then flew out the tree and headed towards the old sewage works, at this point the heaven's opened and it rained heavy and I mean heavy for at least an hour, I was soaked, I looked up and down the sewage works but no joy, I headed back to the top pool, no joy, I was then joined by GAS and we again searched the old gas works and old sewage works but no joy. I was gutted that no one else had been able to see it but so happy to find such a rare Staffs bird never mind a Westport rarity, I believe and I'm just awaiting confirmation that it's only the second Westport record.

Thanks to Nick Pomiankowski the county recorder for providing the following records of Turtle Dove at Westport, only two previous records, the first was the 14th April 1997 followed by a second record on the 28th May 1999.

Later in the day Dave Kelsall had a look around, no joy on the Turtle Dove but did manage another Westport year tick in a Spotted Flycatcher around the top pool area.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

09 May 2012

Last few visits have been a bit of the quiet side after all the excitement from the end of April and early May, but so far we have managed too add Kittiwake, Cuckoo, Reed, Sedge & Garden Warbler to the Westport year list, leaving us a a not to bad 104 for the year to date.

After a Sunday visit to Flamborough Head and surrounding areas (see Nick's blog) and a rest to recover followed by a late shift at work, it was back to a later than usual visit to Westport, it was probably the warmest day of the year with the temperature reaching 17c, helped by a light SSE breeze, this showed with the large number of people already down and around the lake including a group of pensioners with about 15 small yachts on the model boating lake, I'd have some pictures to show but sadly while in Yorkshire my camera died.

On the Warbler front I heard/saw five Blackcap, four Chiffchaff, just two Whitethroat, two Reed Warbler on the top pool and a Garden Warbler around there as well, the main reason for my visit was Jeff Jones thought he'd heard a Sedge Warbler calling in the thicket on the top right of the main lake, but while looking for it a Reed Warbler had popped out so casting doubt as to what he'd heard, he needn't of worried as I approached the area I could hear the Sedge Warbler singing, another Westport year tick and probably the last of the Warblers til autumn migration.

On the main lake Tufted Duck have plummeted to just five!! Also on here three Great Crested Grebe, four Mute Swan with the other two in the reserve, seven Canada Geese goslings and a Common Sandpiper was flying around, going back to the Mute Swan in the reserve a strange sight was a Canada Goose gosling running around the Mute Swan nest and then getting under her wing as she continues to sit her eggs, no idea were the Canada gosling has come from but the mute Swan seemed happy to let it be. Other news on the chick front is at last the first Mallard chicks of the year with a family of eight on the top pool, these are very late compared to usual years when Mallard chicks are normally one of the first too hatch.

Other sighting of interest included two Treecreeper along the canal side of the main lake, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over the old sewage works as did a Grey Heron, a single Willow Tit was on the top pool and another around the model boating lake, very few Hirundines were about this morning with just four Swallows on the old gas works, a single Swift was over the main lake as was a Buzzard being mobbed by a Carrion Crow.

Friday, 4 May 2012

April overview, a record month?

April turned out to be a rather special month after a very poor last few months, it especially picked up over the last five days of the month, as you would expect a lot of new year ticks are added this month with all the spring arrivals and with so few added in March due to late arrivals it further boosted the month, in total a incredible 21 species were added to the year list and the month saw a total of 82 species recorded, I'm sure a few other Westport regulars will know better but certainly in the three years I've been back around Westport this is the highest monthly total for any month period, and it wouldn't surprise me if there hasn't been a higher total in any previous years.

The usual additions that we would normally expect in March came in early April with Little Ringed Plover, Swallow, Willow Warbler and to a lesser degree House Martin, then there were the obvious species that always arrive in April, these included, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Swift & Whitethroat.

There then follows the species which although not always guaranteed in this month or even in spring they are becoming more regular on passage, these included, Osprey, Hobby, Oystercatcher, Arctic Tern, Lesser Whitethroat, Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail and White Wagtail, other species that have been seen in other months previously and were new for the year included, Pheasant and Raven.

So this brings me down to the special birds found this month, and I'm not really sure which I would class as 'bird of the month', sadly none of them were photographed, the first was found by Bill Low on the 25th with not just one but four adult *Little Gulls*, I think there are two other previous records but all involved single birds, this was followed by a *Yellowhammer* found by Colin, I've looked through what records I have and I've looked at the 'Westport bird report for 2002' which includes a section at the back for rare/scarce birds at Westport and there is no mention of any Yellowhammer records, although I'm sure this species has been recorded here previously. Finally on the 28th Jeff Jones found a superb male Pied Flycatcher in the trees around Ted Heath Rock, it stayed for the whole day allowing all the regulars to catch up on this much needed tick, so bird of the month, Little Gull, Yellowhammer or Pied Flycatcher, I'll let you make your own mind up.

* Thanks to Nick who has updated me with the following records, to my surprise Little Gull records are way out, just between 1983 & 1991 alone their have been a total of 11 records, also regarding Yellowhammer Nick has two previous records one in 88/89 and the other in 2008.*

04 May 2012

A nice addition to the Westport year list was a Cuckoo found by Nick this morning singing in the reserve, this takes the year list too 103, also present, a single Reed Warbler on the top pool, Jeff Jones had the first one to return the previous day, two Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper also the Whitethroat population is building rather slowly with three on the old sewage works this morning.

Below are a couple of photo's from Phil Jones of the Kittiwake and a nice summer plumage Dunlin which were present on the previous day.

I made a visit this afternoon from 15.15 til 17.30, it was quite cool, and felt much cooler than the 15c on the Steelite clock, probably due to the NE breeze, cloud coverage was total with the odd light shower.

The first thing I noticed was the huge number of Hirundines and Swifts, by far the most numerous were House Martins which outnumbered Swallows by at least 70%, Swift were also in good numbers esp hawking insects over the grass bank, it was great as they whizzed past your head within inches and you could hear the rush of wind as they shot past, even funnier was watching my dog Misty as she tried to jump up and catch one!

On the boating lake there were two groups of Canada Geese goslings, the first had eight goslings and the second just two which were notably older than the first group, there was also ten Mute Swans on here plus four on the main lake and two in the reserve, the breeding pair on the main lake has had the nest fenced off by the council but I fear it's too late as when I walked past the parents were sat on the water at the side of the nest while a Carrion Crow pecked (unsuccessfully) at the eggs.

On the Warbler front six Chiffchaff were heard, four Blackcap and four Whitethroat one of which was along the reserve side of the main lake, I didn't hear any Willow Warblers though which has been the case for three straight visits now, Pied Wagtail numbers have dropped off with just two seen on the front of the main lake, on the main lake, just 16 Tufted Duck, five Great Crested Grebe and two groups of Coot with young, one of which had a healthy count of nine chicks, the other group only consisted of two but again like the Canada Geese were much older.

In the reserve a single Coal Tit and Willow Tit were on the top pool but no sign of the Reed Warbler from the last few days, a Buzzard was being mobbed by Carrion Crows over the old gas works, two Mistle Thrush were on the old sewage works along with two Collared Dove and lastly two Starling were on the playing field as I left.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

02 May 2012

After a fantastic April were 82 species were recorded, May has a lot to live up to, but things have started brightly.

This morning Nick found a adult Kittiwake on the main lake and a Dunlin on the boating lake, the Kittiwake is a first for the year and took the Westport year list too 100 species for the year.

At around 18.45 Phil Jones rang me to say he'd found a Wheatear on the old gas works, I was half way through my tea, but I put it away and made my way over too Westport, after all it was a year tick and I need as many as I can get at the moment as I'm so far behind the Westport total this year.

I reached the old gas works, having noticed at least 40+ Swift over the main lake on my way in, I could see Phil near the old buildings and made my way towards him, I eventually picked the Wheatear up and we both thought it looked quite large and with the buffing underneath wondered if it could actually be a 'Greenland' race of Wheatear.

I managed to get a few half decent shots off and have a look below and see what you think, the one of it's back is sadly blurred but gives an idea of the colouration.

As I was leaving I noticed a large raptor flying over the main lake, it was a male Peregrine and another Westport year tick for me, so not a bad late evening visit at all.

I will get the overview of April done in the next day or two, and a update of the 'blast from the past' and highlights from May 2011.

Monday, 30 April 2012

30 April 2012

I don't normally go down to Westport when I'm on a early shift at work, nine hours on my feet at work and I'm dead on my feet when I get home, but when I'd finished and saw the text saying Dave Kelsall had seen a Lesser Whitethroat at lunchtime, I had to give it ago, esp as I haven't seen a Lessser Whitethroat at Westport for nearly two years and it would be a good one to add too the year list.

The weather was ideal, with sunny skies and the warmth on your back was lovely, there was a pleasant SE breeze but in the distant the cloud looked rather darker, it was a slightly longer visit than I'd planned from 16.30 til 18.00.

I made my way straight up along the canal to the overflow by the old sewage works, which is were Dave had seen the Lesser Whitethroat, with the sun shining brightly on the area, there were plenty of Warblers singing in the area, two Whitethroat, four Chiffchaff and three Blackcap, but no sign of the Lesser Whitethroat, I spent a good 40 minutes in the area and had a good look around the old sewage works but sadly there was no sign, there was a good number of Butterflies out and about in the sunshine and these included my first ever Brimstone at Westport, there was also a few Comma's, Speckled Wood and Tortoiseshells.

I made may way back to the main lake to have a look what was on here, at this point the weather did a complete 'u' turn and the wind was whipped up as a heavy rain storm went through, it only lasted for five or ten minutes but it was like a tornado going through, the wind was so strong.

Sadly it didn't bring anything onto the main lake, on here I had two Great Crested Grebe, six Mute Swan (two were on the boating lake)  and 18 Tufted Duck, just nine House Martins and same number of Swallows went through with a single Swift, along the top of the main lake a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch and two Mistle Thrush and as I made my way home a pair of Canada Geese were on the canal with two very young Goslings.

Below are a couple of photo's from Phil Jones from Saturday with one of the last views of the Common Tern and a family of Coot.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

29 April 2012

A horrid morning to walk around the park, it was heavy rain for the entire visit and with a moderate NE wind the temp was only 5c with a wind chill of -1!!! visit from 05.45 til 07.45.

Two Little Ringed Plover were on the grass bank but no sign of the third from yesterday, just four Mute Swan now remain with a pair in the reserve and a pair at the top of the main lake, this pair have left the previous nest and made a new one a bit further along, 15 Starling were feeding on the playing field, at least they were enjoying this weather as it helped them get the grubs as they are brought to the surface with the heavy rain, on the main lake, 21 Tufted Duck and just three Great Crested Grebe, not surprisingly Warblers were thin on the ground this morning with just four Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, two Willow Warbler and still the single Whitethroat on the old sewage works.

A Common Sandpiper was along the edge of the boating lake, probably the same one I had seen yesterday afternoon, the only bird of note in the reserve was a single Jay that had us guessing for a few minutes with a unusual call, lastly back over the main lake and a group of 32 Swallow went through.