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

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