Saturday, 24 March 2012

24 March 2012

A dry morning with a heavy mist over the water, over head it was clear blue skies and not a sign of the SE wind, the lake was totally still, temp was slightly down on yesterday at 9c, visit from 06.10 til 08.20.

Yet again a expectant morning at Westport produced nothing at all, Westport always seems to produce the goods when you least expect it, by this time last year we had seen Little Ringed Plover and quite a few Sand Martins, but as yet just Nick's three Sand Martins on the early date of the 16th remain the only record to date.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming as I entered the park and a further two were in the same place as yesterday near the second gate to the reserve, just a single Chaffinch was singing as well this morning by the park entrance, Mute Swans have increased again with 22 on the boating lake and the resident pair on the top pool, the Mute Swans looked quite nice against the sunrise through the mist.
On the main lake Tufted Duck were up slightly to 24 and Great Crested Grebe were up to 8, but their was no sign of yesterday's Shoveler and only two Goldeneye now remain, two Greylag Geese were with the Canada Geese as well as the Domestic Greylags, Chiffchaff remain at five dotted around the park in pretty much the same places as yesterday, a single Lesser Redpoll flew over the boating lake and a single Willow Tit was in the bushes around here, two Greenfinch were again displaying around the sidings area and a single Bullfinch was by the first gate to the reserve.
On the old gas works just two Stock Doves and lastly a Sparrowhawk flew over the main lake as did a single Meadow Pipit.

One thing I have just realised from today while I was filling out my Birdtrack report is that I didn't see a single Black-headed Gull at Westport this morning, I honestly can't rememebr when the last time that happened was!

I called back down Westport late afternoon hoping to find a Sand Martin or Swallow over the main lake, with the warm sunny weather the park was packed with people and very little was added to the birds I'd seen this morning, three Black-headed Gulls were on the main lake which was nice to see after missing them this morning, a single Treecreeper was along the canal side of the main lake and a Grey Heron flew over the lake high up, lastly two Collared Doves were along the canal.

Friday, 23 March 2012

23 March 2012

A cool, dry and misty morning, temp was 10c but with a SE breeze I was hopeful of a few migrants this morning, visit from 06.00 til 08.30.

After a week of early starts at work and managing to get away with missing very little at Westport over the week, I was hopeful of a good mornings visit, sadly is was much the same as Nick had been seeing all week except for the odd additions.
Mute Swans continue to increase slowly with 23 now on site, all are crammed onto the boating lake except for the resident pair on the main lake, any Swans that attempt to land on here are quickly driven off by the aggressive male, also on the main lake, 21 Tufted Duck, 4 Goldeneye, 6 Great Crested Grebe and new in were a pair of Shoveler, by the sidings a couple of Greenfinches and the first of 5 Chiffchaffs was singing, these have also seen a increase from the 3 that have been around for a week or so now, a female Goosander quickly flew around the main lake before heading off.
In the reserve a couple of Jays were new for the month, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were by the second gate and another on the old sewage works, on the old gas works a single Mistle Thrush and a further 2 by the visitor centre, a single Meadow Pipit flew over the gas works calling, my first of the year and 2 Stock Doves were on here, on the old sewage works, 3 Bullfinch and a single Collared Dove and lastly a pair of Chaffinch by the visitor centre.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

18 March 2012

Got totally drenched walking around Westport this morning, I hardly lifted my bins up til the end, it rained from when I left the house til I got home and it was none stop heavy rain, it felt rather cold as well although I didn't check the temp, but the wind was a NNW breeze.

Thanks to Nick for the counts as I just couldn't lift the bins in the rain as the water soaked through my coat and into my jumper!

A single Pochard was present with 35 Tufted Duck, 20 Mute Swans, four Goldeneye and two Chiffchaffs.

As I left Nick and made my way home along the canal side of the main lake I noticed a Cormorant flying in low, it seemed to land on the boating lake and I thought I'd check it out in case it was a Shag, to my surprise it was sat on one of the post at the end of the jetty and had quite a white head and wondered if it was possibly a 'Continental', I hadn't brought my camera with me due to the heavy rain and had too settle with this poor shot taken with my mobile phone and then blown up, sadly you can't make out the white head, only the shape of the bird.

And thanks to Phil Jones for his photoshop mockup of our Woodcock on the old sewage works yesterday morning.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

17 March 2012

It had rained overnight and the ground was rather damp, a light breeze from the W, temp of 7c, visit from 06.15 til 08.30.

A couple of Mistle Thrushes were by the playing field and two Pied Wagtails along the boating lake edge plus a further two on the old gas works later, again 17 Mute Swans were on the boating lake with the resident pair on the main lake, also on the main lake, 29 Tufted Duck, four Goldeneye and four Great Crested Grebe, Greylag Geese were all over the place today, two flew over high south early on followed by another two in the same direction later and then another two came in from the east with a small flock of Canada Geese, so possibly six Greylag Geese at Westport this morning, the highest count of the year, a single Greenfinch flew over the bank and a single Starling, also 22 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew over heading south, a male Reed Bunting was singing by the visitor centre and possibly another was singing by the top pool, the first of three Chiffchaff was along the small wood at the back of the playing field with the other two in the reserve and on the old sewage works, four Cormorants flew over, three together and a single later all heading south, a Treecreeper was heard calling by the playing field, in an around the reserve a single Willow Tit was calling, a single Chaffinch, a pair of Bullfinches with another four together on the old sewage works, two Stock Doves were on the old gas works and bird of the day was a Woodcock flying low over the old sewage works and then over the old gas works, only my second record at Westport and another year tick in the bag, lastly two Grey Wagtails were by Ted Heath Rocks and a Sparrowhawk flew over.

Friday, 16 March 2012

16 March 2012

I can never work out my place of work, I'm suppose to be on the late shift (3pm til midnight) but today they said "we haven't got enough trailers coming in today, so if your interested in having a day off then enjoy", no problem an hopefully I don't have to come in and do the overtime on Saturday then?, "Oh yes your still needed for that", right!! So out the door I go and by 16.00 I'm having a pleasant stroll around Westport with the dog Misty, for those that haven't come across Misty yet, she's very friendly except too other dogs! and loves to cut down trees so she can chew the trunk up.

And so on to Westport, it was a pleasant 10c although it felt a bit warmer with the sun shining through the thin wispy cloud cover, the breeze was quite strong SSW, visit from 16.00 til 18.00, it was perfect conditions for picking up a migrant or two and as Nick had seen three Sand Martins and a Chiffchaff early morning, I was hopeful of something similar, or even better a nice early Swallow as one had been seen on the Void, Silverdale yesterday.
The first thing I noticed was a lack of Mute Swans on the boating lake and thought the 19/20 that had been around for the last week had moved on, too my surprise they were nearly all on the main lake with just a few on the boating lake, one had a blue ring (7FTE) which was last seen at Westport in early January, also on the end of the boating ramp of the main lake a Black-headed Gull with a darvic ring, I couldn't quite make out all the numbers/letters except the 1st was a J and the last a 7, after consulting Nick he thought it could be JNJ7 which has been seen at Westport before, I'll send the details in and see what comes back. A Buzzard circled high over and a Grey Heron flew low over the main lake, on the main lake, 25 Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebes have increased to six all paired up in different parts of the main lake.
Goldeneye remain at two pairs and surely will be departing soon, the males are still displaying to the females and chasing each other off when they get too close to one another, as promised Mr Pete Lunt I have added your photo's of the Goldeneye below, apologies for the delay in adding them.

In the reserve a single Siskin flew over calling, near the top pool a single Coal Tit on the new green box feeders made by the Westport Volunteers Group (I think that's what their called), anyway great feeders, but not so sure about the locations, if your reading this then a good idea would be to have a feeding station near the visitors centre for next winter, anyway coming back to the birds, a pair of Bullfinches were nearby and a pair of Long-tailed Tits were nest building, by the bridge at the top pool a single female Chaffinch and my first male Reed Bunting of the year was shortly followed by my second Westport year tick in a singing Chiffchaff along the Hawthorn at the back of the top pool, the old gas works were very quiet and the only birds of note on the old sewage works were two Collared Doves, lastly four Mistle Thrushes were along the canal side of the main lake.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

14 March 2012

A rather nice morning with a temp of 9c and a light S breeze, a bit murky with the cloud coverage, visit from 06.50 til 08.35.

Rather embarrassingly, this is only my second proper visit of the month, although I've nipped down a couple of times, firstly to try an see the first Chiffchaff of the year on the 5th March but I failed and my second brief visit was on the 12th when a Little Egret and a Curlew flew over, again as expected I didn't see these but there were signs of migration with a flock of around 50 Siskins flying over heading north.

It's amazing how quickly you can fall behind with your Westport year list when you miss a week or two of full visits, as well as the above mentioned birds, other species seen over the last week or two have included Little Grebe, two Rook and a Meadow Pipit flying over, all firsts for the year.

And so back to today's visit and it was nice to get a couple of year ticks back, along the canal I heard my first Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming and 3 Collared Doves were flying around, there was a good count of 15 Mute Swans on the boating lake plus the resident two on the main lake and another two flew in from high north making 19 in total which equals last weeks high count, this is the highest count at Westport since autumn 2010! A single male Chaffinch was around the boating lake, but not much else, on the main lake, two Greylag Geese remain, I managed a count of 23 Tufted Duck but Nick who had been around a bit earlier than me had managed 30+, the two pair of Goldeneye remain, in the top right corner of the main lake my first year tick of the day was a Little Grebe which has been seen on an off during the last week, later in the morning it had made it's way down to the bottom right corner and was showing much better, just 3 Great Crested Grebes were present, but there was no sign of yesterdays single Pochard.
The nature reserve was rather quiet with just a single of Willow Tit and Greenfinch of note, I made may way out of the reserve by the second gate and was counting the Tufted Duck again on the main lake when a Redshank flew across my view, I watched it for a few minutes and quickly rang Nick to pass on the news to Richard Sutton who was at the top of the main lake, luckily he'd also managed to see it, another Westport year tick in the bag and a good one to get, although last year was a good Redshank year the previous one had seen none so you never know it could possibly be the only record of the year. On the old gas works three Stock Doves were present but little else, the old sewage works were equally quiet with just two Bullfinches of note and finally back by the main lake a single 1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gull flew through and a couple of Mistle Thrushes were by the visitor centre.

A quick look back at February gives me a good excuse to show my photo again of the star bird of the month and possibly of the year, although the Knot might argue with that, the Glaucous Gull which was seen by around 20 birders before it departed really was a monster of a Gull.
Other highlights included 11 Whopper Swans which appeared late afternoon on the same day as the Glaucous Gull sadly it was very foggy, but they remained over night and were seen to depart early the next morning.

Exactly a week earlier the Knot had been found in similar conditions by Matt Brayford, below is a line drawing by Phil Jones, giving an idea of the conditions at the time.

In total 65 species were seen in February with 8 being added to the Westport year list, as well as those mentioned above the other additions were, Shoveler, Shelduck, Greylag Goose, Dunlin and Reed Bunting.