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.

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