Tuesday, April 19, 2016

16th April 2016

Plenty of migrants around the park over the last week or so. Weather has been variable with plenty of rain and some sun. Saturday it was the turn of the rain and although miserable for us humans it seemed to bring in the birds.

There were a lot of hirundines over the main lake when I arrived, mainly Sand Martins but a few Swallows mixed in. Swallows seemed to increase as I watched the flock skimming low over the water, many perched up on the buoys for a rest. Many of the Swallows were looking a bit worse for wear, hopefully there will be enough insects about so they can feed up and return to A1 condition for the breeding season.

Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps are now in, in good numbers. I heard a single Lesser Whitethroat singing by the Labyrinth on Saturday morning. No Common Whitethroats in the park yet although DK had one on 100 Acre in the week.

The Finger Lakes Great Crested Grebes seem to have worked out what they are doing, nest building has kicked into high gear with occasional pauses for mating.

Mating Grebes
The neighbouring Coots already have 4 chicks but border wars continue with the Coots one door down!
Coot making a splash on the edge of his territory
Other species also have young by the looks of this Woodpigeon egg that I noticed floating on the Finger Lakes on Sunday morning. The neat edge indicates a successful hatching rather than a predation. The adult bird would then have carried the shell away from the nest to avoid attracting predators to the area. 
Wood Pigeon egg.
I was hoping to photograph the Grebes on Sunday morning as we had a lovely clear start to the day but they were much too busy with the nest building and mating to bother coming in front of the camera. The Coots were a little less shy and the male Mute Swan (Orange 180) did a quick check of his territory.


Mute Swan
As usual 100 Acre is the star location at the moment with a good variety of wildfowl and waders. Wigeon numbers are way down and I expect the last few to depart anytime. A pair of Red-crested Pochards have been around for the couple of weeks at least so wondering if they may nest if they haven't already. With all of the flood water waders have been stopping off as they pass by on their journeys north. On Saturday morning there were 14 Dunlins along with a couple of Little Ringed Plovers, a couple of Greenshanks, a Redshank and the usual Oystercatchers.

It's always worth looking through the Wagtail flocks at this time of year and on Saturday, with the Pied Wagtails there were a couple of Yellow Wagtails and a couple of White Wagtails.

White Wagtail
A couple of Wheatears were my first of the year and on Castle Mill there was a single Shelduck which I always like to see.

Back to the park and it's that time of year again so the rangers have started the egg oiling to control the Canada Goose numbers. The main lake island was the first port of call and the numbers show that we really need to keep doing this work to keep the numbers down.

Canada 40 nests – 234 eggs treated.

The following nests were noted but left alone.

One Greylag nest – didn’t count the eggs.

One Egyptian Goose nest with 6 eggs.

One Swan nest.

At least 6 mallard nests.

The Canada Goose eggs are oiled and left in the nest so the adults keep sitting but the eggs won't hatch. If the eggs were just taken away the Geese would likely lay again so the rangers would have to keep visiting each nest to remove eggs throughout the season. There will be plenty more to do, all along the river as far up stream as Queens Park. There will be some that don't get found but at least we won't have hundreds of extra geese this year.

Canada Goose