Thursday, 26 January 2012

26 January 2012

Strange morning weather wise, during the night I'd heard the rain falling quite heavy and the stream was certainly higher than usual, but walking around especially in the nature reserve there was also a slight ground frost, it was a bright sunny day with a slight SSE breeze, temp 4c but felt a bit cooler, visit from 08.00 til 09.45.

2 Mistle Thrushes were by the bottom entrance and later I had another 2 by the top entrance, 3 male Goosanders were on the boating lake and were soon joined by 2 females, also on here 4 Mute Swans plus the usual 4 on the main lake and a summer plumage Great Crested Grebe plus 1 on the main lake, a couple of Willow Tits were along the sidings plus 1 in the nature reserve and 18 Siskins were feeding around the sidings with a Greenfinch and a couple of Chaffinches, on the main lake, 16 Pochard, 31 Tufted Duck, 3 Goldeneye and a Herring Gull.
Poss one of last years returning Grebe to the boating lake
In the nature reserve another couple of Chaffinches and a Jay by the top pool, on the gas works 2 Stock Doves and 2 Redwings and finally as I walked back along the canal side of the main lake a single Jackdaw flew over which is another Westport year tick out of the way.

Early afternoon and I received a call from Nick asking if I fancied a trip down too Sandbach Flashes where the Glossy Ibis was showing again earlier in the morning, having been for this bird once and been given the run around (literally) I decided to give it another go, and I'm glad I did, on first arrival at Elton Hall Flash there was no sign, good numbers of Lapwing, Wigeon and Teal but no Ibis, we headed up to the Pumphouse Flash when a lady informed George that the Ibis was on the opposite side of the road in a flooded field, we headed straight off and couldn't believe our luck as we picked the Ibis up straight away walking along the edge of the flooded field right by the fence about 20 yards away from us.
Happy with our fill we went up to Pumphouse Flash were there were good numbers of Gulls, including a Iceland Gull and several Great Black-backed Gulls, in the field opposite were 25 Curlews.
The Glossy Ibis was a British tick for myself putting me on 355, and already my 3rd tick of the year, hopefully the year will carry on like this and I'll get closer to the magic 400 mark, how different things could of been if I hadn't of had a 15 year break from birding!!

Also this afternoon at Westport, Jeff & Nick met a couple of other birders who had just seen a Warbler Sp along the sidings (model boating lake side), nick had a good luck but sadly no sign, so keep your eyes peeled you never know what's down there.

Monday, 23 January 2012

23 January 2012

Not too bad a morning, although the winds have eased off it still felt cool but with the sun shining it was almost spring like, temp was 6c with a light W breeze, visit from 07.45 til 09.45.

2 Mute Swans were on the boating lake, this time it was CL45 plus a unringed bird CL98 flew off yesterday, around the boating lake a single Willow Tit with another in the nature reserve, a single Bullfinch plus 2 pair by the top pool and a Greenfinch by the sidings, my first at Westport this year, on the main lake, 45 Tufted Duck, 1 Goosander, just 9 Pochard, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Mute Swans and 4 Goldeneye (1 male & 3 female). A couple of Pied Wagtails were feeding along the grass verge of the main lake.

Good numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were going over this morning most were adults and all were heading in a N/NW direction, a conservative estimate would be around 100+, a few stopped off on the main lake and included a single Herring Gull.
In the nature reserve, a Jay was by the top pool and a nice flock of 8 Lesser Repolls were a nice surprise and another Westport year tick, 2 Chaffinches were also around here. 2 Stock Doves were again on the old gas works and a Mistle Thrush had me going at first when I thought I'd found Jeff's Green Woodpecker from yesterday, alas it wasn't to be.
On the old sewage works 2 Siskin flew over as did a single Starling and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling from the treeline, as I made my way home I came across a unusual Goose in the Canada Geese flock in front of the visitor centre, I'm really not sure what it is but would hazard a guess at some sort of hybrid, possibly a Bar-headed x Emperor or a Bar-headed x Barnacle, any ideas, let me know please.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

22 January 2012

Another very windy morning, although not quite as bad as yesterday, it was altogether brighter and drier.

There were 3 Pied Wagtails on the playing field but not much else, on the boating lake a female Goosander, 4 Tufted Duck and 2 Mute Swans with another 4 on the main lake, also on the main lake 3 Great Crested Grebes, 15 Pochard, Goldeneye have increased too 4 (3 females and a male) and 44 Tufted Duck.
Siskins have been thin on the ground so far this year so a count of 20 in the nature reserve was an improvement, one of the regulars also had a good number of Lesser Redpolls a few weeks ago with around 10 by the top pool, a single male Bullfinch was also in the reserve but not much else.
2 Stock Doves were on the old gas works and at least 3 Herring Gulls flew over, but sadly we didn't fluke the Iceland Gull again, on the old sewage works a Cormorant flew over (my first of the year at Westport) as did a Jay.
Later in the morning Jeff Jones had a Green Woodpecker fly over the sewage works, another year tick for here.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

21 January 2012

When I arrived it was blowing a gale, with 'white horses' on the lake and waves crashing over the grass verge at the front, but at least it wasn't raining, well at first, when the rain arrived it was heavy and horizontal, I took shelter by the visitors centre and waited for it to calm down, I was joined by Nick and George and eventually we were able to head out around Westport.

As I arrived I could hear Redwings in the top wood by the boating lake, on the lake just 2 adult Mute Swans with the usual 4 on the main lake being joined by another adult making 7 in total, a couple of Mistle Thrushes and Pied Wagtails were along the grass edge, on the main lake, 35 Tufted Duck, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Great Crested Grebes and 8 Pochard, 2 male Goosanders also flew over.

Around the nature reserve area, a Siskin flew over, a single Coal Tit, 2 Willow Tit, Treecreeper and a Jay, we made our way onto the old gas works were I picked up a Gull flying over Bradwell Wood area, I got Nick onto it straight away, we noticed it was a white winged gull and size and jizz could only mean one thing a ICELAND GULL, the first at Westport since 2009 and my first ever at Westport, we followed it as it headed N/NW until out of view, possibly heading towards the Void and probably the same bird that has been there since before Christmas.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

2011 In Brief

2011 at Westport saw a total of 120 species recorded over the year, this is 6 species down on 2010 and no new birds were added to the Westport list, this total does not include the two escapes which were seen at Westport, the 1st was the Snow Goose seen by myself in April and the 2nd was the Cape Shelduck found by Jeff Jones in August.

Despite it being a rather disappointing year most of the regulars saw around a 100 species or more, Nick Smith topped the list with 111, just 1 shy of his record, I managed 104 which was down on last year but with work commitments I wasn't able to spend as much time down there as the previous year. Most of the other regulars were just under or over the 100 mark, top marks must go to Jeff Jones who found most of the 'big' Westport birds this year, these included Little Egret (November), Common Scoter (March), Little Owl (January), Arctic Tern (May), Cuckoo (April) and what was probably bird of the year the Red-breasted Merganser (November), all single record birds for this year.
                                           Red-breasted Merganser Photo by Steve Seal
Other highlights for the year starting off in January included a flock of Pink-footed Geese seen by myself which were followed by another 3 in May, these stayed for the day allowing everyone to add them to there Westport year lists, also in January I had the only Water Rail of the year, Nick had a Yellow-legged Gull which was followed by another 1 seen by Jeff in March.
February saw the 1st Dunlin of the year go through seen by Nick, this was followed by 2 August records, the first of a single bird again seen by Nick and then followed by 2 going through a week later seen by Nick and myself.
In March the only Peregrine recorded at Westport this year was seen by Dave Kelsall, Nick had the only Woodcock of the year and the only Curlews of the year were seen in this month by several observers, 2 Redshanks were recorded at Westport this year, the first was found by Phil Jones in March followed by 1 seen by Nick in April. March also saw a couple of Kittiwakes found by Pete Lunt, these are the only records for the year that I'm aware of, which is rather unusual, after a huge Waxwing winter around the country it was only a matter of time before they appeared at Westport with the 1st of several records coming in March and going through to April, a Nuthatch was also seen on a couple of separate dates in this month firstly by myself and then by John Sutton.
In April I found an Egyptian Goose on the main lake, only the 2nd ever Westport record, this was followed by another 2 seen by the warden in November, also in April Nick found an Osprey the only record for the year at Westport. The warden found another of Westport's highlight birds in April when he found a Wheatear which most of the regulars were able to get down an see.
                                                          Wheatear by Pete Lunt

May highlights included Nick's find of 2 excellent summer plumage Black-necked Grebes which were one of the highlights of the year, also in May Nick had a fly through Barnacle Goose and Jeff the first Hobby of the year, in total 4 Hobbies were recorded this year and I missed them all, other May highlights included 4 Whimbrel flying through seen by Nick, Jeff and Alan Hancock had 4 Arctic Terns fly through and Nick had the only Black Tern of the year, after being absent last year a few Yellow Wagtails were recorded this year with the first being found by Nick and myself in May. Richard Sutton found the 1st of probably 2 Grasshopper Warblers in this month, these are the 1st records at Westport for several years, Spotted Flycatchers were thin on the ground this autumn but at least 3 were seen in one day in May by several observers, at least one was also seen in September by Pete.
                                                           Black Tern by Nick Smith

                                                 Black-necked Grebe by Dave Kelsall

In July Nick had a fly through Black-tailed Godwit but it was the one I found in August that made a lot of the regulars rather happy as it was the first to stay long enough too allow everyone to get down and see it, giving most of the regulars a much needed Westport tick, another of my highlight birds of the year were 4 Sandwich Terns which I had fly through, all other Westport records are of individual birds.
                                                     Black-tailed Godwit by Nick Smith

18 January 2012

It was a rather misty and gloomy morning around Westport.
The good news was it was rather warm, from below freezing over the last few days up to 7c this morning, counting the ducks was proving rather difficult with me only being happy about my count by the end of the visit when a rain shower came through and cleared the mist for a short while.

In total 13 Mute Swans were present this morning with the resident family of 4 on the main lake and the rest on the boating lake, I tried to tempt them over with bread but the only ring I could read was CL87 which has been on for a while now with its unrung partner. I managed a count of 44 Tufted Duck on the main lake along with 16 Pochard, 3 Goldeneye and a single Great Crested Grebe.

As usual there were large numbers of Black-headed Gulls around 300+ among them there were 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a single Common Gull and Herring Gull which was my first of the year for Westport, hopefully with large numbers of white winged gulls moving through from the north at the moment we will manage to get one at Westport.

The other areas were pretty quiet really, 3 Mistle Thrushes were around, 2 Chaffinches a single male Bullfinch and a Siskin flew over, in the nature reserve a Treeceeper was in the Tit flock, again another Westport year tick out of the way.