Monday, 30 April 2012

30 April 2012

I don't normally go down to Westport when I'm on a early shift at work, nine hours on my feet at work and I'm dead on my feet when I get home, but when I'd finished and saw the text saying Dave Kelsall had seen a Lesser Whitethroat at lunchtime, I had to give it ago, esp as I haven't seen a Lessser Whitethroat at Westport for nearly two years and it would be a good one to add too the year list.

The weather was ideal, with sunny skies and the warmth on your back was lovely, there was a pleasant SE breeze but in the distant the cloud looked rather darker, it was a slightly longer visit than I'd planned from 16.30 til 18.00.

I made my way straight up along the canal to the overflow by the old sewage works, which is were Dave had seen the Lesser Whitethroat, with the sun shining brightly on the area, there were plenty of Warblers singing in the area, two Whitethroat, four Chiffchaff and three Blackcap, but no sign of the Lesser Whitethroat, I spent a good 40 minutes in the area and had a good look around the old sewage works but sadly there was no sign, there was a good number of Butterflies out and about in the sunshine and these included my first ever Brimstone at Westport, there was also a few Comma's, Speckled Wood and Tortoiseshells.

I made may way back to the main lake to have a look what was on here, at this point the weather did a complete 'u' turn and the wind was whipped up as a heavy rain storm went through, it only lasted for five or ten minutes but it was like a tornado going through, the wind was so strong.

Sadly it didn't bring anything onto the main lake, on here I had two Great Crested Grebe, six Mute Swan (two were on the boating lake)  and 18 Tufted Duck, just nine House Martins and same number of Swallows went through with a single Swift, along the top of the main lake a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch and two Mistle Thrush and as I made my way home a pair of Canada Geese were on the canal with two very young Goslings.

Below are a couple of photo's from Phil Jones from Saturday with one of the last views of the Common Tern and a family of Coot.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

29 April 2012

A horrid morning to walk around the park, it was heavy rain for the entire visit and with a moderate NE wind the temp was only 5c with a wind chill of -1!!! visit from 05.45 til 07.45.

Two Little Ringed Plover were on the grass bank but no sign of the third from yesterday, just four Mute Swan now remain with a pair in the reserve and a pair at the top of the main lake, this pair have left the previous nest and made a new one a bit further along, 15 Starling were feeding on the playing field, at least they were enjoying this weather as it helped them get the grubs as they are brought to the surface with the heavy rain, on the main lake, 21 Tufted Duck and just three Great Crested Grebe, not surprisingly Warblers were thin on the ground this morning with just four Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, two Willow Warbler and still the single Whitethroat on the old sewage works.

A Common Sandpiper was along the edge of the boating lake, probably the same one I had seen yesterday afternoon, the only bird of note in the reserve was a single Jay that had us guessing for a few minutes with a unusual call, lastly back over the main lake and a group of 32 Swallow went through.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

28 April 2012 (Part 2)

After Nick had missed the Pied Flycatcher early this afternoon, I was sure it was still present, as it had been found at around 6am and was still present just before lunch' I just felt that it would stick for the day, when something is passing through it normally hangs around for no more than an hour or two, but this had been around for nearly six hours and I just thought it would stick until at least tonight.

So with this in mind I decided too head on down at around 17.30, I spent around an hour just walking up and down the canal side of the main lake, from the visitor centre to the top of the old sewage works and back, sadly their was no sign of the Pied Flycatcher and I sent Nick a text with the disappointing news, other species around the park included a male Sparrowhawk that shot over the main lake a couple of times possibly after one of the 280+ Swallows with the odd few House Martins, a couple of Willow Warblers were on the canal side along with a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff.

There was a single Mistle Thrush by the visitor centre and one on the old gas works, I flushed a single Common Sandpiper from the edge of the main lake and later it was on the jetty along with three Little Ringed Plover, the highest count so far this year, there was also at least ten Pied Wagtails along the front of the main lake but sadly no White Wagtail.

I had a look for the Common Tern which was in bad shape this morning but their was no sign, either it had moved on (doubtful), died (very possible) or picked up by the RSPCA (???), before heading home I decided to have one last look at the Ted Heath Rock area for the Pied Flycatcher, the large Sycamore was full of small birds and unbelievably the very first bird I put my bins on was the Pied Flycatcher, where had it been all afternoon??

I immediately rang Nick but he cut me off on both occasions, so I guessed he was driving and sent him a text, I text George who said he was on his way, and I said I'd wait for him too help him locate it, it was a tense ten or so minutes, and felt a lot longer, to my surprise Nick arrived and after a few frantic minutes he managed to get onto it (I think a long awaited Westport tick for him), he had to shot off though as he'd left the family shopping in Tesco (free advent), next to arrive was a huffing and puffing Phil Locker followed by the Cathy's, again after a few frantic minutes they managed to see it just as George arrived, eventually the Pied Flycatcher came down low and gave excellent views from no more that 20/30 feet away, with everyone happy with there views it was time for home and my takeaway tea, roll on tomorrow (if I can get up that is!!).

28 April 2012

Well the last few days have just carried on as those previous 24 hours I mentioned in the previous post, back to the 26th and late afternoon an extremely tired Common Tern (Phil Jones) was found on the post off the jetty on the main lake.

The Common Tern was still present this morning although it is barely clinging to life, it was just sat on the edge of the boating lake among the Ducks and Geese as a family chucked bread at it, you could hear them saying how poorly it looked and I really can't see it getting through the night, the photo below by Pete Lunt shows it still in half good condition on the 27th, while I was down Westport I saw Jeff Jones who said it had just been flying around feeding so you never know!

Also around on the late afternoon of the 26th were 10+ Swift and the White Wagtail was still around.

The 27th added a Little Egret and two Ravens heading south, both were seen by Jeff Jones and Pete Lunts with Pete managing to get a photo of the Little Egret as it flew over.

Highlight of the 27th had to be the male Yellowhammer found by Colin on the old sewage works, I haven't got a clue how many records their are of Yellowhammer at Westport (help please Nick) but they are very rare here with nothing listed in the 'Birds of Westport 2002' which has a section in the back listing all the rare/scarce birds from previous years. Early afternoon and Dave Kelsall had a female Peregrine go through south, this is the second record of the year, and the White Wagtail was still present, photo below is by Pete Lunt.

On to today and another rather good day around the park, first thing Phil Jones had, Common Sandpiper, Cormorant, Whitethroat and the now rather morbid looking Common Tern, this was followed by a Wheatear (Jeff Jones) on the old gas works which then flew out of sight over the railway line, he then topped this with a superb male Pied Flycatcher, along the canal side of the main lake, mainly sticking to a tall Sycamore tree opposite Ted Heath Rocks, this again is a very rare record for Westport with it being a Westport tick for most of the regulars, most of those that had seen Pied Flycatcher here before reckoned it was nearly 20 years ago since they saw there last down here!!

It looks like Alan Hancock and myself just got down in time as when Nick & George managed to get down there was no sign despite an extensive search all along the canal side of the main lake and up to the top of the old sewage works. While I was down there briefly I also managed to add two other year ticks to my Westport list with the rather poorly Common Tern, which I'd mentioned earlier and their was also a couple of Swift among the good numbers of Swallow and House Martin, I also noticed a small family of newly hatched Canada Geese Goslings along the edge of the boating lake.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

26 April 2012

What a quite incredible 24+ hours at Westport from yesterday morning into early this morning, sadly as per usual I missed it all and as per usual all my own doing, although having to go into work at 3pm for a nine hour shift didn't help, what help even less was forgetting to take my phone off silent and missing all the text messages until it was all too late for me, what made it worse for me was missing out on a Westport tick as well!

So it all started rather quiet and normal, since my find of the Glaucous Gull back in February it's been a very quiet period for Westport, something Nick and myself had been talking about the day previously as we walked around the lake. Nick had seen two Little Ringed Plovers plus the singing Whitethroat and seven Swallows went through, all early doors before he left for work, the weather was wet and windy which was something that just didn't let up for the whole day until late afternoon.
At 09.45 Jeff Jones had a White Wagtail in heavy rain, this was the third too go through in the last week with Nick and myself having one earlier in the week, 15 minutes later and Jeff had added a Arctic Tern to the list which was a first for the year and not to be unexpected really as they had been going through the country in the 100's the previous day.

At 12.30 the legend that is Bill Low made a rather rare visit too Westport (let's see you back on a regular basis mate), he struck gold with four adult Little Gulls, a Westport tick for me, I may be wrong on this but I think it's the first at Westport since one on 2 October 2006, and although again there have been good numbers moving through the country these were far from being expected, the Arctic Tern was also still present, by 15.25 Arctic Tern numbers had increased to twelve but sadly the Little Gulls had departed, it was just before this that I happened to check my phone before leaving it in the locker at work, cry, close, I was very very close, if I'd not left my phone on silent I would of made the Little Gulls and Arctic Terns before getting into work.

But Westport wasn't finished with yet 15.20 saw the first Swift of the year along with the two Little Ringed Plover again and at 15.45  the Arctic Terns numbers were up to 21 as seen by Dave Kelsall, another Westport regular who hasn't been around as much recently, so come on Dave let's have you back among the fold mate, at 16.50 Dave also had two Yellow Wagtails on the grass bank, another Westport year tick and also with them was a White Wagtail, same as earlier in the morning or another one, with the way the day was going I wouldn't be surprised if it was a new one, all in all it really was a cracking day at Westport, probably one of the best days their has ever been down there and I was stuck at work, although I would of made the Little Gulls that I'm sure of, lesson learnt, probably not knowing me!!

This morning Nick kept the good news going with a Osprey flying low over nearby Bradwell Wood, although not at Westport it's very close and who knows what this afternoon down there will bring, were will I be at work!!

If anyone has any photo's from yesterday I would be very grateful if I can have a copy or two for the blog, thanks in advance.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

24 April 2012

Last couple of days have been fairly quiet around the park as we await the arrival of the last of the migrants, over the next week we should see the arrival of Swift, Sedge Warbler & Reed Warbler which will complete the migrant list for the year, hopefully a couple of extras will make an appearance like last years Wheatear and Yellow Wagtails.

This morning Nick added Pochard and Jackdaw to the April list so I made a afternoon visit to see if the Pochard was still present and hoping for the first Swift of the year, it was a lovely afternoon with a temp of 15c, it felt much warmer with the sun on your back, a light SW breeze, visit from 16.15 til 18.30.

Five Chiffchaff were singing from various parts of the park along with five Blackcap and just two Willow Warbler were singing, a couple of Mistle Thrush were on the playing field, most of the Mute Swans were on the boating lake with a total of 13 on both lakes, well down on the last few weeks. also on the main lake, 26 Tufted Duck, two of the three Pochard from this morning and an impressive count of nine Great Crested Grebe, eight Swallow were over the main lake with 20+ House Martin but sadly no Swift, surely over a matter of a day or two before the first one arrives.

Along the canal side of the main lake a male Reed Bunting but no sign of the female I had with it the previous day and as I was leaving 13 Lesser Black-backed Gulls landed on the main lake along with three Black-headed Gulls.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

22 April 2012

A late evening visit around the park, after all the cold and rainy weather of the last week it was a lovely evening, the temp was a pleasant 13c with a light WNW breeze, visit from 18.30 til 19.55.

Although you don't normally hear as many Warblers in the evening as the morning, it wasn't too bad this evening, apart from just two Willow Warblers around the park, their was a decent count of Blackcap (seven) and Chiffchaff (eight). Mute Swans have dropped off with just ten, as well as the pair in the reserve another pair have built a huge nest at the top of the main lake, this pair normally breed on the nearby Festival Park marina so it will be interesting too see how they get along. A couple of Black-headed Gulls were on the main lake with six adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, also on and around the main lake, 29 Tufted Duck, six Great Crested Grebe, twelve Swallow. two House Martin and the two Common Sandpiper that Nick had seen earlier in the day were still around.
Good news was the first young Coots of the year had hatched with two on the first nest and one already out on the second as the parent helped the other eggs out as they hatched.

A couple of Willow Tit were along the sidings and a Treecreeper by the second gate of the nature reserve, a bit further along and the recent bad weather had brought one of the trees down across the path.

On the old sewage works a single Great Spotted Woodpecker and two Mistle Thrush, lastly as I was leaving four Pied Wagtail were on the playing field.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

18 April 2012

I've been a bit under the weather with a viral infection for the last few days but as I felt a bit better this afternoon I decided I'd have a little walk around the lake, it actually felt much warmer than earlier in the day with a temperature of 10c, there was a N breeze but it was very light, it pretty much rained for the entire visit, quite heavy at times, visit from 16.25 til 18.15.

As I entered the park I scanned the playing field looking for a Yellow Wagtail, no sign but there were four Pied Wagtails, with at least ten seen around the park, and among them a Wagtail that I was sure was a White Wagtail, Nick had seen one the other day, I managed to get a photo or two but when I got home it just didn't look right, it was possibly the photo it's self which was taken in poor light, but have a look below and make up your own mind.

You never hear as many Warblers singing in the afternoon than you do early morning but around the park I managed seven Chiffchaff, four Willow Warbler and seven Blackcap, there was no sign of the Whitethroat Nick had seen early morning, which was the first of the year. Most of the Mute Swans were on the boating lake and as well as the pair in the reserve another pair have been trying nest building along the top of the main lake, in total twenty were on site, also on the main lake, 25 Tufted Duck and just a single Great Crested Grebe, with the constant rain it brought a good number of 130+ Swallows over the lake with a couple of House Martins, but no sigh of the Swift I was hoping for, from the grass bank a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush and Grey Wagtail flew over.
In the reserve a single Coal Tit was near the top pool, as was a Willow Tit, Chaffinch and Jay, the old gas works had two Stock Dove and a Collared Dove with another along the canal by the old sewage works, along the top of the main lake a male Reed Bunting and lastly around Ted Heath Rock three House Sparrow.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

15 April 2012

A rather cold morning with quite a heavy ground frost, clear blue sunny skies, temp 3c, wind was a very light N, visit from 06.10 - 09.10.

Not a bad morning visit today with three species added to my Westport year list, again good numbers of Warblers were present with ten Chiffchaff, a big increase in Willow Warblers with eight present and also eight Blackcaps, a nice surprise was a Raven flying over the housing estate towards Goldenhill area which was my first year tick of the day, most of the Mute Swans were on the main lake with 21 present in total, also on here two Great Crested Grebe and 34 Tufted Duck, on the grass bank my second year tick was the very late arriving Little Ringed Plover, two together, these normally arrive in March and are very late this year, the photo below is the best from a bad lot as it was still a bit to dull for a decent photo.
A couple of Pied Wagtails were also on here, a couple of Collared Dove flew across the main lake as did the first of seven Swallows, all were seen over the main lake except for one on the old gas works, the reserve was rather quiet with just Willow Tit of note, on the old gas works two Stock Dove and a Lesser Redpoll flew over as well as at least three Greenfinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker could be heard close by, on the old sewage works a single Starling flew over as did a couple of Meadow Pipits, down by the visitor centre a couple of Mistle Thrushes, a Kestrel could be seen over the top of the main lake and a Jay flew over, lastly and my final year tick of the day was a House Martin over the main lake with the small group of Swallows I mentioned earlier.

Friday, 13 April 2012

13 April 2012

After a long Easter weekend away visiting family and then straight into the early shift at work this was my first visit to Westport in a week, being spring migration it's not a good time to go missing, luckily I didn't miss to much although a Shelduck a few days ago is still a year tick I need at Westport.

It was a very misty start to the morning but with clear skies about and a drop in temp overnight their was a light frost on the ground, their was a very light E wind, visit from 06.16 til 08.55.

As I entered the park the first of ten Chiffchaffs could be heard singing and the first of six Blackcaps, a single Mistle Thrush was on the playing field and a couple of Pied Wagtails flew over the boating lake, on the main lake, 20 Mute Swans plus another two in the reserve and 27 Tufted Duck, but no Great Crested Grebes and it looks like the pair of Goldeneye have now departed, near the sidings the first of three Willow Warblers was singing, a Greenfinch and two Chaffinch were also around here, in the reserve three Willow Tit were together along the railway path.
Back along the main lake and a group of three Moorhens were having a right scrap over territory.
Three adult Black-headed Gulls were on the main lake with a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls of which small numbers were going through heading NW, all of which were adults.
It was really quiet around Westport with very little of the commoner species around, as I made my way back along the canal side of the main lake I could hear a Reed Bunting calling from further along but never saw it, I went back to the grass bank and immediately picked up my bird of the day a Common Sandpiper on the boating lake, Richard Sutton had seen one the previous day but it was my first of the year and also had me wondering were are the Little Ringed Plover this year?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Look Back At March

March was a strange month, although 68 species were seen which is the highest monthly count of the year to date, there was nothing really outstanding in the additions to the Westport year list and yet twelve species were added to the list, leaving the total for the year so far at 80, which is eight down on this time last year.

Highlight species had to be the wader group with, Redshank, Woodcock and Curlew all added, Woodcock use to be a real mega at Westport but this is the fourth consecutive year it has now been recorded and the second year in succession that it's appeared in March, other highlights included a fly over Little Egret and Peregrine.

Other species added but more expected were Little Grebe, Kingfisher, Rook and Meadow Pipit, on the migrant front things were a real mixed bag, although a couple of species were missing that are normally seen in March ie Little Ringed Plover, Swallow and Willow Warbler, those that were seen were, Sand Martin which arrived on the 16 March which equalled the earliest ever date from 2008 and Chiffchaff which arrived on the 17 March.

Lets hope April can produce something a bit special.

03 April 2012

Quite a cool start to the morning although the BBC weather temp of 5c was slightly out as it was actually a bit warmer at 7c, with a light SWW breeze and showers from time to time it was ideal conditions for a migrant or two, visit from 06.30 til 09.20.

The first bird I heard as I entered the park was a Chiffchaff, in total 8 were heard and seen around the park with the highest number being as usual on the old sewage works, were three were seen together, a Collared Dove flew across the playing field and another was seen later on the old sewage works, a Mistle Thrush was collecting nest material from around the boating lake and the first of two Blackcaps was singing from the small wood here with the other being on the back railway path in the reserve, on the main lake 28 Tufted Duck, two Goldeneye (pair), two Great Crested Grebe and 21 Mute Swans with another in the reserve area, a single Great Spotted Woodpecker was by the second gate.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls were flying over in small numbers all morning with nearly all heading in a NW direction and most were adults, also flying over a single Redwing with two late Fieldfare and a couple of Meadow Pipits, a Reed Bunting was calling on the old sewage works but nothing else on here or the old gas works, along the canal side of the main lake a Treecreeper was calling with a further two in the reserve with two Willow Tits, a Jay and two Bullfinch.

I'd pretty much given up for the day, there had been several showers and it had gone rather dark when I noticed a single Sand Martin flying around the main lake, this was soon joined by another two and then a Swallow arrived the first of the year for Westport followed by another, I was hoping to add House Martin as well with Nick Smith having one yesterday afternoon but alas that one eluded me, but another Sand Martin came in making four in total, all in all not a bad morning, I'm away at the weekend so hopefully a few more migrants will arrive in the next two days before I go.