Sunday, 5 February 2012

05 February 2012

Despite the 4" of snow and heavy fog it didn't turn out to be to bad a morning around Westport for myself with three Westport year ticks added, it was hard going at times in the snow but at least there weren't too many people about, the fog was very heavy which made counting the ducks rather difficult.

Temp was 1c with a pretty much non existent NW wind, visit from 07.30 til 09.30.

As you can see from the above photo's the conditions weren't very good for birding, but I met up with Nick and we soldiered on, we had a good count of Bullfinches today with 5 seen around various parts of the park, 6 Mute Swans were on the boating lake and just the 2 adult birds on the main lake, this is the first time I've seen the young separated from there parents, a single Pied Wagtail was along the canal side of the main lake, as were 2 Mistle Thrushes at opposite ends, a Sparrowhawk flew across near the visitor centre and at least 40 Goldfinches were in the tree tops near here, on the main lake there were 54 Tufted Duck which includes 2 seen on the boating lake, a Willow Tit was calling near the bottom entrance and later I saw what was probably the same bird along the canal side, we decided to walk the brook by the bottom entrance to see if we could flush a Snipe or Water Rail, no luck with either of these but we did flush a single Teal which Nick managed to pick up on.
By the nature reserve a couple of Siskin were with a single Goldfinch, 3 Chaffinch were in the nature reserve and we flushed 1 possibly 2 Grey Herons from Fowlea Brook, incredibly this is a Westport year tick for me, we also had a Buzzard, Jay and Coal Tit, back at the main lake and through the fog we managed to add a single Pochard, 2 Goldeneye and a great record of 25 Lapwing sat on the ice, this is by far my largest count of Lapwing at Westport (not including flyovers).

Excuse the poor photo of the Lapwing on the ice but it was rather difficult through the fog to get a decent photo, these were my second year ticks of the day, my last came as I was heading for home with a Goldcrest in the Long-tailed Tit flock between the canal and the playing field.

Later in the morning Phil Jones had a  male Reed Bunting by the top pool, another Westport year tick taking this years total to 61 for the year, also three Fieldfare flew over briefly.

And then things get really bizarre, Nick Smith happened to be on Birdforum this afternoon when he notices a message from 'matt4scfc' saying that a Knot was at Westport along with two Pintail, the message appeared at 16.31 and the sighting was at 15.00, Nick rushed down to Westport to find the Knot roosting on the ice on the main lake but no sign of the Pintail, following on from last months Iceland Gull this is a Westport MEGA in every sense of the word, according to the Westport Lake Bird Report 2002 by Dave Kelsall & Jeff Jones there is just one previous record from 20th November 2002, I do recall seeing one briefly with Bill Low in the early 90's that flew North over the main lake but I never ticked it as I just didn't get any decent views of it.
So were was I while all this was going on, well I was outside making the lovely 'snow castles' below with my girlfriends kids.

I'd forgotten my phone was on silent and when I went to take the lovely shot above I noticed five missed calls from Nick, panic set in as I then found a text just saying 'possible Knot', I rung him straight away, to find he was still at Westport looking at the Knot on the ice, the problem was it was now rather dark (17.52), I don't think I've run so fast for a bird since my 'Scillies' days and boy did it show, when I reached them I was so out of breath I just couldn't even look through the scope, it was now very dark and all I could make out was a small wader type bird on the ice, after not being able to tick the one back in the 90's too then not be able to realistically tick this one was a huge blow, but my fault for having my phone on silent and forgetting about it, the Knot takes the Westport year list to 62, congratulations to 'matt4scfc' for a superb find.
Just on a side note, I was talking to Nick around Westport this morning about Knot, he had seen one yesterday on one of the gravel pits in South Staffs and had commented on how it was his first winter record in Staffs, not bad to pick up your second one a day later on your local patch!
Below is Phil Jones's picture of the Knot this evening in the fading light, fingers crossed he's hoping it hangs around in the roost tonight for some photo's of it tomorrow, sadly I'm at work at 05.30.

I've just received some additional information from Nick regarding Knot records at Westport, this is actually the 7th record for Westport, with singles in 90, two records in 92 (one of which is the one I saw briefly with Bill Low),  and singles in 2000, 2001 and 2005, I can understand the 2002 report missing 2005 but bit surprised the others weren't in the records as well as 2002 the report covered all rare and scarce birds at Westport for all years.

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