Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thrush Invasion

Arrived just after 7 this morning and started counting GC Grebes on the main lake when a rush of wings made me look up to a sky full of Redwings. I estimate between 3 and 4 hundred mostly Redwings but there may have been a few Fieldfare mixed in, no calls though and all fairly low heading south. After that is was a Thrushy morning with more parties of Redwings and Fieldfare passing over south throughout, plus one party of Redwings that dropped into the Rough while we watched. In the park we probably reached 550+ during the morning with another 100-150 over towards Willington. There also seemed to be a large number of Blackbirds especially over by the Navigation Channel.

Back on the Main Lake there were 47 Cormorant fishing, the earlier GC Grebe count returned 17. The Rough was very busy with finches, Tits and several Dunnock calling before the Redwing turned up.

On West Fingers there were 4 Shoveller and 3 Gadwall and around the back by the Sedgewick Seat we flushed a Teal, with another 3 tucked away around the corner. A Sparrowhawk put in an appearance over the Long Hedge, surveying the influx of breakfast!

Heading out towards Willington it was quiet, excepting the passage Thrushes. The water level has risen further in both the 100 Acre workings and Meadow Lane GP so just Gulls there today. The Tern Pool was devoid of life excepting the resident Mute Swan. A Kestrel was sat on a fence post by the bypass and a flock of 50+ Linnets moved across the ploughed field. Plenty of Geese moving throughout the Morning at Willington, mostly Greylags. The Bar-Headed Goose was with 50+ Greylags on the lake by the road into the gravel works and yet more Redwing and Fieldfare in the scrub nearby.

100+ Barnacle Geese in the field by Dovecote Lake and a good mix of Wigeon, Tufted and Teal on the main lake at Willington GP.

Quieting down on the way back to the park with intermittent Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. Also another large flock of LBJ's seen at distance from the bypass looking across the fields towards the river, possibly Linnets or Goldfinch but just guessing.

A great morning with the highlight being that sky full of Redwing!

Ringing - 16th Oct

A mammoth (all day) ringing session produced 76 birds plus another 14 the following morning (while the nets dried out). Not many thrushes about yet but still quite a few finches except Chaffinch. Four Siskin inspected the nets - but that's as far as they went!

Here's a list of the 17 species what we caught (new, retraps):-
Wren 1/3, Dunnock 2/6, Robin 1/4, Blackbird 3/2, Song Thrush 0/1, Redwing 1/0 (an adult, the majority that we catch are immatures), Blackcap 3/0 (all heavy and ready for "the off"; one remained next day), Chiffchaff 3/0, Goldcrest 3/1, LT Tit 0/2, Blue Tit 8/11, Great Tit 2/6, House Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Greenfinch 11/2, Goldfinch 7/0, Bullfinch 3/1.

A notable passage of Wood Pigeons south on the 17th, with flocks over 100. DK also had a long line of Starlings that numbered 1500. Some Sky Lark movement, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A rough haircut

BTCV have been in 'the park' of late. In the last few weeks, Princes Trust volunteers helped create & enhance glades along the woodland walk. Weekday Conservation Team volunteers constructed some willow spiling along the far side of the main lake (in the wintering wildfowl section) and the 'rough' has had a hair cut.

Above: Coppicing in the rough.

Above: John working hard (as usual).

Above: A bit of a pollard - well, we wouldn't want to get rid of all the scrub all at once would we?

Above: Jill tends the bonfire.

Bits & pieces

This week's obs made mainly around Fingers.
2-3 Siskins daily blogging round the site. An increase in Chaffinch and Greenfinch with small flocks of 5-6 present. Goldfinch numbers over 20 daily. Male Blackcap singing by the 'dead seat' on Monday and in the 'rough' on Tues. No hirundines seen. At least 3 Goldcrests. Green & Gt.Spots actively calling. Also Water Rail squealing on 'lilypads'. Female Kestrel over uncut parts of 'new meadow'.
Parts of the 'rough' and the 'crescent' have recently had a "haircut" [coppicing]; the 'spits' are ongoing as JB says they intend to do six, time permitting.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This weekend at the park

On Saturday I spent the first part of the morning chasing around the main lake, trying to identify an interesting small grebe. I first saw it as it headed across from the west end of the island to the south west corner of the lake. It looked like a mini Great Crested Grebe from that distance which got my interest as I thought it might be a Slav. I hurried around to the fishing swim on the west side, in time to see the grebe take flight to the reed bed by the hide. I walked around to the first fishing swim beyond the hide but could not get a view of the reed bed so i went back to the hide and waited. Eventually there was some movement in the reeds and some tantalising glimpses but I still wasn't certain of the id before it disappeared again. I continued around the lake, meeting up with John on the way, but from one of the east side fishing swims we could see the grebe out in front of the hide so it was a hurried walk back to hide only to find it was a Little Grebe after all, confirmed by the whinnying call. Male Tufted duck also present.

On the way back around the south east corner of the lake a Migrant Hawker dragonfly posed on a branch and a Jay flew low over the trees at the back of the Leat. There seemed to be more GC Grebe this week but we could only count 10 although they were actively fishing so difficult to tell how many were underwater. Cormorant numbers grew through the morning to 32+, all actively fishing again for most of the morning.

At the Spit the highlight was a Water Rail at the north end, had heard another earlier in the south west corner of the main lake. There were 3 Gadwall on West Fingers. 28 Redwing over.

Errol and Ed were ringing in the Rough, see Errol's earlier blog. After a chat we headed to the Woodland Walk, a Common Darter dragonfly sat for his picture on the way. More 'peckered nest boxes were found along to the Woodland Walk (12 & 14) but little else. Back at Kramer hide we brief views of a Kingfisher but again little else.

On Sunday highlights were:

2 male Wigeon on West Fingers which departed when they saw me. 3 Gadwall again.

1 Goldcrest, with ring, by the Dead Seat.

EN was ringing, solo, in the Rough and reported a singing Blackcap. As we chatted a Chiffchaff burst into song.

At Meadow Lane GP there were 3 Teal and a couple of Common Sandpipers. 2 Kingfishers also put in an appearance.

Meadow Pipits and Sky Larks were common down towards the bypass.

Just a solitary Mute Swan on the Tern Pool. On the fields opposite 85 Greylag, 63 Canada and 32 Barnacle Geese.

Back in the park found nestbox 6, in the Sheep Pen, 'peckered. On my way back to the car park EN called to report a Water Rail on the main path.

Not much Redwing movement today.