|Eakring Birds 2001|
|A monthly review|
|January was varied and interesting for the most
part. The cold weather ceased on the 1st and a thaw set
in, but species probably attributable to the cold
conditions from the end of 2000 remained in the area
ensuring that the first days of the month produced some
much sought-after species for the year list. With Eakring
Flash frozen for the first few days, resident wintering
wildfowl like Teal, moved to the few areas of ice-free
water that remained. Favoured sites were The Beck near
Eakring Flash and the small pool on Penny Pasture Common.
Teal counts culminated at 46 on the 3rd and 41 (12th) The
same areas also saw good site counts of Gadwall, with 14
at Penny Pasture Common (1st) Three dates produced Goosander,
with five on the 1st, a female on 2nd and a pair on 31st.
The wintering Water Rail relocated back to Eakring Flash from 10-12th, after moving to the Sewage works during the cold spell at the end of last year.
A female Merlin at Eakring Meadows on 3rd, was a typically brief, but welcome record, as Merlin still remains rare here. Maybe 2001 will see a change in status. Single Common Buzzards were at Lound Wood on the 6th and Eakring Meadows on the 17th. A female Peregrine remained in the area, being seen on both 17th and 20th. Panicking Wood Pigeon flocks indicated that it may have been present before and after these dates.
With some notable Lapwing passage at the end of December 2000, some small return movements from 1-3rd were noted. By the end of the month, 172 were in fields north of Red Hill on 31st. Highest Snipe count was 14 at Penny Pasture Common on 3rd. Golden Plover produced a count of 99 in fields around Leyfields on 16th (such numbers usually occur later in the Spring) and a Woodcock flushed from Oil Bore Holes on 20th, was another area rarity and may have been the bird remaining from the previous December. The adult Iceland Gull seen previously on New Year's Eve, again flew south-west on 1st, providing the first big rarity of 2001. The same morning also saw 136 Herring Gull move through in the same direction. An uncommon sight mid-month, was the 500 Black-headed Gull following the plough near Red Hill on 12th. A 1st Winter Yellow-legged Gull was in the Eakring Flash area on January 20th.
Green Woodpeckers were not seen during last year, so singles at Kersall on the 16th and near Park Farm and Lound Wood on the 24th, were well appreciated on a year list basis. Southerly Thrush movements on the 1st, produced 107 Redwing and 151 Fieldfare, but late January saw a typical 246 Fieldfare in the area on the 26th. A return to colder/snowy conditions beginning around the 20th, saw 44 Skylark on Red Hill (21st) Associating with these were large flocks of both Chaffinch and Yellowhammers. Up to 110 Chaffinch and 60 Yellowhammer were present from 20-21st, both record Winter counts. A return to more milder weather saw a quick dispersal of these flocks. 32 Linnets were at the same site on 31st.
|February saw the occurrences of several
scarce species, ensuring that regular coverage was
maintained throughout. This in turn produced the best
February since 1998. Skeins of Pink-footed Goose
went over the area on the 24th when 34 flew west, with 32
of presumably the same skein returning east 30 minutes
later as 100 then in turn went west. Shelduck returned to
the area. At Eakring Flash, three were present on 17th
and a pair on both the 18th and 27th. Goosander
peaked at four on the 27th, but 1/3 birds were also
present on a further seven dates, especially during
colder weather during the last week of the month. After
the first returning breeding birds arrived mid month,
Coot, numbers increased to a record 14 at Eakring
Flash/Eakring Pond on the 18th. By the end of February,
regular breeding pairs were all back in territories.
Common Buzzards were in the area on several dates. Two were over Red Hill on 7th with singles there on 25th and 28th. One was at Hare Hill Wood on 13th.The best raptor of the month was an adult male Peregrine on the 16th.
Lapwing were erratic in appearance throughout. 450 in fields north of Red Hill on 9th was exceptional, but more expected were the 13 Snipe at Penny Pasture Common on the 13th. The same site also saw a record eight Jack Snipe present from 13-17th at least. Gull counts were low for all species throughout February. Another 1st Winter Yellow-legged Gull visited Eakring Flash briefly on the 9th.
Wintering thrushes saw peak counts of 75 Redwing at Eakring Meadows on the 18th and 283 Fieldfare (11th) Redwing counts were exceptionally high for this time of year and Eakring Meadows held 50+ on several dates. Although becoming a more regular February/March visitor, Stonechat still retains rarity status here and a male found the rough vegetation at the southern end of Eakring Flash, very much to it's liking, staying from the 21-27th.
March saw foot and mouths restrictions enforced over the whole of the area. All footpaths were closed in order to control the spread of the disease. As a consequence, bird watching activities remained confined to various roadside vantage points, especially those overlooking Eakring Flash, Penny Pasture Common, Red Hill and Church Hill. This meant that probably very little was actually missed, but March seemed generally quiet on the whole anyway.
30 Whooper Swan moving north-west on 18th, maintained an annual series of records. Other wildfowl included the returned Shelduck pair seen on numerous dates and a male Goosander on 10th, which was the last of the Winter/Spring period.
A female Peregrine was in the area on the 1st, but the real highlight came when a female Goshawk hunted around Lound Wood on 24th. This was the second record of Goshawk here, following the bird at the end of 1998. Common Buzzards included one at Red Hill on 1st and two there on the 9th. Wader sightings saw a Curlew north on the 24th and a Green Sandpiper north-east on 25th. Golden Plover moved into the area, with a total of 490 at Leyfields 17-18th and then 400 there on the 24th, were the highest March totals.
The middle of March, marks the start of the migration season. A Meadow Pipit trickle soon gathered momentum and the latter part of the month provided a sustained period of high counts. From a personal viewpoint, this was exceptional and my previous observations of Spring Meadow Pipit passage have never revealed such a profile of migration as that attained this year. Record three figure counts occurred with 267 north-west March 15th and 239 north-west March 24th. Counts of over 70 were also recorded on a further three dates. Fieldfare numbers began to build as the month progressed, reaching over 800 birds by the end of March. Even higher counts were to be attained during April. A second Stonechat (another male) arrived at Eakring Flash for one day on the 5th, with a male Wheatear near Church Hill on 27th. There were two males at the same site near the end of March on the 28th. The first Warblers arrived with Chiffchaff (29th) and Blackcap (31st)
|April remained rather quiet, foot and mouth
restrictions remained in place until the end of the month
when at least some footpaths were reopened.
An interesting record was the pair of Mandarin in the area from 12th. During a very wet spell of weather, they were often found on floodwater at Penny Pasture Common and the rest of the Eakring Meadows reserve. The possibility that breeding was attempted remained high throughout the month, when on many occasions, it was just the male that was seen. Wader records were rather scant. A Snipe remained at Eakring Meadows until 13th, Curlews flew north-east, 5th and north-west on 15th and the Golden Plover flock saw a highest count of 300 reached on 20th. There was to be no repeat of last year's exceptional wader passage as April drew to a close, with only single Whimbrel north-west on 26th and two on 28th.
An adult male Peregrine went north-east on 12th and an immature male flew north on 26th. The first Hobby was noted on the 29th.
Hirundine first dates included Sand Martin 1st, Swallow 8th and House Martin 26th. Cuckoo arrival occurred on the typical date of the 24th, but Swifts were a noteworthy five days early on 25th. A single White Wagtail was at Kersall Pond on 9th, then two were in fields near Church Hill on 10th, Yellow Wagtails being noted from 13th. High numbers of Fieldfare saw 868 in area on 1st rising to 1 200 on April 2-3rd. 284 were still in the area on 15th. Most Warblers arrived on fairly typical dates, with only Lesser Whitethroat being very late. First Willow Warblers were three in the area on the 8th, Whitethroats arrived on 24th (the third year out of four this has happened) Sedge Warbler on 26th, Lesser Whitethroat on 29th and a male Grasshopper Warbler sang from Oil- Seed Rape at Eakring Field Farm on 30th. Wheatears passed through, with singles on 16th and 25th, before an arrival of five on 29th. This same day also produced the first ever Spring record of Redstart, with a female on Red Hill (29th) and then surprisingly a male was found next day, in the hedge around Kersall Pond. A Corn Bunting, flew south-west on 29th, still an incredibly rare bird here.
|May not only saw the welcome opening of the
remaining footpaths, but also a county rarity and new
species for the area, when a singing male Firecrest
was found at Eakring Flash. Initially detected by it's
song, the bird showed well down to a few metres before
disappearing from view, not to be seen again. This was a
just reward for the many hours spent searching for
Firecrests during successive Autumns/Winters, all of
which proved fruitless. Who would have thought of a May
The Mandarin pair remained in the area during the first few days, still raising hopes of a breeding attempt. Lingering Teal included a male at Eakring Flash on 6-7th. There were several sightings of Hobby, including two north on the 10th. Not since 1998 have Quail appeared in the area, so a calling male found during an evening moth-trapping at Eakring Field Farm on the 26-28th and then two from 29th onwards were most welcome finds. Remarkable, was the fact that they occupied the exact same sites and also appeared within days of the 1998 arrival date.
The longed for overcast and gloomy conditions, failed to appear until mid-month. The only waders seen during May were a Little Ringed Plover moving north-east over Leyfields (9th) a very large flock of 28 Whimbrel north-east on 10th and a Curlew moving north-west on the 15th. There was a decent tern passage across the Midlands during May. The 15th was overcast and gloomy with north-easterly winds. Two Common Tern flew north early am, followed later by a group of seven Arctic Terns, which paused briefly, before continuing on north-east.
Passerines included a White Wagtail, on 12th, a Tree Pipit, at Penny Pasture Common (16th) and a late male Wheatear at Tug Bridge Farm on 11th. Proving to be an increasingly scarce Spring migrant, Whinchat sightings were restricted to just a male at Penny Pasture Common on 11th and a female at Eakring Flash on the 15th. A Fieldfare remained at Eakring village until the 8th.
|June was totally dominated by the influx into the
area of even more Quail, bringing the
total to 17 males by the end of the month and much of the
bird watching during June was thus geared towards
listening for these on the numerous fine evenings
mid-Summer offered. At the start of the month, birds were
still calling from Eakring Field Farm and Parkhill
Plantation until the 7th. Another was discovered opposite
Eakring Meadows on 8th before an influx of seven birds
occurred on the 10th. This meant that birds were all
found in an area that stretched from Eakring Meadows, Tug
Bridge Farm and the Kneesall road. Birds remained in
their territories and the most reliable callers, were
males at Eakring Field Farm, Parkhill Plantation and
Penny Pasture Common, all continuing to call until the
25th, when the area held 14 males. This total now
included up to seven around Eakring Field Farm and four
at Tug Bridge Farm, with most of these being audible from
the roadside. On occasions many males frequently failed
to call for several days at a time and could have been
presumed to have left the area. Continued monitoring of
these birds however, revealed that all were still in the
same areas that they had taken up on arrival and with the
Tug Bridge Farm group calling actively again on the 25th,
the full total of males reached 17 individuals.
Shelduck produced a new record count when 11 were at Eakring Flash (2nd) This total included the resident pair which remained on and off throughout the first half of the month. Ever-present Gadwall bred for the second time in three years, with a female producing 12 young mid-month. Aside from these, there was little wildfowl of note.
A Hobby was at Eakring Field Farm on 27th and wader records included an exceptionally late Whimbrel, which flew over Red Hill at 11:50pm on 7th representing one of the month's two wader records, the other being of two early returning Little Ringed Plovers on the 30th. Two Common Tern went north late evening on the 17th.
A male Grasshopper Warbler which had been present since May, remained at Penny Pasture Common all month, being joined by another singing male from 19-24th. An adult Nuthatch in the Pastures area (22nd) was a surprise find, providing the area with what's believed to be it's first ever documented record.
|July was relatively quiet. This was largely due
to coverage possible only during the first half of the
month, before other commitments led to a break in
coverage. Monitoring of the Quail
population continued. Seven males were calling by the
roadside at Eakring Field Farm on the 1st, with one new
arrival here, bringing the area count to 18 males. High
pressure over the the UK created similar conditions to
those of mid-June and an arrival of a further nine males
on 4th meant that at least 27 males were in territories.
At the same time similar numbers of Quail were in the
north of the county, around the Idle Valley and more
birds were beginning to be found elsewhere in the
Midlands. Several males continued to call till the 9th at
Autumn wader passage began with a Green Sandpiper at Eakring Flash on the 9th, the earliest Autumn record of Greenshank on the 15th and a flock of 11 Whimbrel west over there, on a very wet 18th. This latter record meant that to date (since 1998) a rather astonishing 110 Whimbrel have now been recorded here.
The only Common Buzzard record concerned one on the 1st, whilst a Hobby remained in the Eakring Field Farm/Eakring Meadows area from 1-5th. Personally, the most pleasing records concerned two longed for patch ticks, both were Owls. A Barn Owl was hunting the roadside verges between Eakring and Wellow on 1st and was just on the limits of the study area. This was the same bird that had been reported earlier in the Spring on two occasions, but was my first sighting despite many hours searching. An unexpected record was the Long-eared Owl, which spent three days around the Pastures and Eakring Flash area from July 12-14th, often sitting on roadside telegraph poles and wires. This was a species more expected and searched for during the Winter months.
Following a blank year for the species last year, a surprisingly early migrant Redstart (and the third of the year) went to roost at Penny Pasture Common on the evening of 9th-10th. The long-staying male Grasshopper Warbler remained at Penny Pasture Common until 4th at least.
|August maintained the high standards set by
corresponding months from previous years, providing the
area with it's first ever twitch, when an adult female Spotted
Crake took up a lengthy residence at Eakring
Flash from the 16-31st, then going on to produce two new
waders for the area on the final day.
Found just after first light, my initial sighting was a brief view of a Crake-like bird diving into thick vegetation. Immediate thoughts were of a Spotted Crake and a short-while later, identification was confirmed when the bird came back into sight, giving excellent views to a distance of 50 metres. Moving to a view point nearer the southern end of Eakring Flash, enabled much better views down to around 20 metres. Here, plumage details allowed the bird to be aged as an adult and very probably a female, with the grey around the head being paler than that expected on a male. During it's stay, the Spotted Crake delighted many by showing extremely well in it's favoured area at the southern end of the Flash, to the rear of the dead Willow tree. Occasional feeding excursions along the eastern side, enabled even closer views at times. Despite being a very rare county bird (this was the first Nottinghamshire record since 1995 and the longest staying) a Spotted Crake was not an entirely inconceivable occurrence. Habitat requirements for the species are met with here, with copious amounts of vegetation and a shallow waters edge. Perhaps what may have surprised many people who visited the site, was the fact that such a small area of water could have attracted a Spotted Crake in the first place and several birders, incorrectly deemed it as "being a one day bird".
The only scarce duck of the month, was the year's first Wigeon (31st)
Two Hobby sightings concerned one over Eakring Flash on 18th. and another around Church Hill (1st) A juvenile Common Buzzard gave excellent views near Lound Wood the same day, being joined by another on the 31st. An adult male Peregrine was in the area, being seen on 23rd and a week later on the 30th when it flew low over Eakring Flash. Peregrine sightings have continued to increase annually since 1998.
As harvesting got continued, remaining Quail dispersed, but continued to remain in the area. Evidence of this was the two males heard calling at Eakring Flash on the 18th. Presumably, these were two of the birds which had relocated from the Eakring Field Farm area, after harvesting had taken place at the end of July.
August was nearly a very poor month for waders, redeeming itself at the last minute, by producing two list additions when four Ruff moved north and a Wood Sandpiper paid a very brief visit to Eakring Flash on the 31st. Returning Snipe included two birds at Eakring Meadows on 11th. By the month's end, three were showing well in the shallower parts of Eakring Flash. Spotted Crake watchers reported a Greenshank on the 17th and a Green Sandpiper flew in from the north early morning of the 30th and remaining all the next day.
It's certainly been a good year for Redstart. August produced a further four birds, following on from two Spring records and the early returning migrant of last month. Again it was Penny Pasture Common which proved attractive, with an immature male there on the 11th, a 1st Winter and an adult male (23rd) before another single along the new hedge at Eakring Flash (30th) and finally, a female at Penny Pasture Common on the 31st. Warbler highlight went to the juvenile Reed Warbler in Elders along the old hedge at Eakring Flash on 23rd. Occurring as a non-breeding migrant only, the discovery of any individuals here, still rates very highly. A small passage of Chiffchaffs occurred at the end of the month, with birds present at most localities along with numbers of late Willow Warblers. Four migrant Spotted Flycatchers were briefly in trees at Eakring Flash on the 30th.
September saw the long-staying female Spotted Crake remain at Eakring Flash till 15th, eventually leaving after a lengthy 31 day stay. Interestingly, a bird was in Leicestershire on the 16th. With few Spotted Crakes reported this year (just two others in Midland counties) it is not inconceivable that the Eakring and Leicestershire birds, were perhaps one and the same.
The Autumn's first Pink-footed Geese were surprisingly early, when a skein of 32 flew east in very windy conditions on the 18th. This represented the area's first September record. Eakring Flash continued to attract small numbers of Wigeon. Seven there on the 18th, was never bettered and on the whole, September offered little wildfowl apart from the (only just) annual Shoveler, when an eclipse drake was at Eakring Flash on both 25th and 29th.
It was though, much more forthcoming in raptor records. Obvious highlight and still a much prized record was the juvenile Marsh Harrier which quartered fields around Penny Pasture Common on 4th. A similar series of Hobby sightings, mirroring those of last year, again saw two in the Eakring Field Farm/Eakring Meadows area, last being seen on the 10th. The only other Hobby record, concerned an adult moving south-west on the 19th. Common Buzzards frequented the area, with a record five at two sites on 4th. This included four together at Parkhill Plantation, present again there on 20th. Another bird remained in the Lound Wood/Red Hill areas for much of the month.
As usual, waders were scarce, but records were perhaps slightly up on previous years. A Green Sandpiper (10th) and a male Ruff south-west (19th) both typically brief. Two Dunlin and six Curlew went north-west on the 24th, with another of the former noted at Eakring Flash briefly the next day. Sightings of Golden Plover peaked at 30 west on 12th, 57 south-west (28th) and 72 south-east and south-west, 30th. A very mobile Lapwing flock peaked at 350+ mid-month.
There were two Yellow-legged Gulls found during September. An adult and a 4th winter were present in fields at Parkhill Plantation and Church Hill from 8-12th. The first Great Black-backed Gull of the Autumn was noted on the 24th.
Late Turtle Dove records, included two at Kersall (1st) one feeding with Wood Pigeons near the Pastures/Eakring Flash (12th) and finally two flying south-west on the 21st, which were the latest ever here. Visible migration was generally uninspiring until the 30th. Low counts at one of the most productive times of the year, were a result of the generally poor weather conditions, when the eastern side of the UK, became locked in a period of strong northerlies, then often very gloomy and misty conditions. A northerly Siskin passage developed from the 18th, but daily counts failed even to reach double figures. September's final day however, produced the first real taste of what Autumn is capable of. A good morning of southerly and south-easterly passage involved many species. Totals included 162 Linnet, 155 Meadow Pipit, 59 Greenfinch, 36 Siskin, 37 Chaffinch, 49 Skylark, 41 Pied Wagtail and six Grey Wagtail, nine Yellowhammer, 88 House Martin and 40 Swallow, 22 Goldfinch, two Redpoll and the latest ever Yellow Wagtail. The traditional September Meadow Pipit passage, saw few high counts. 60 moving south-east (20th) 64 on the 25th, 213 south-east on the 28th and the 155 (30th) were nothing out of the ordinary. Numbers of migrant Grey Wagtails seemed up on previous years. Four moved high south on the 20th in addition to the six on the 30th. It may be possible that these birds were part of a southerly exodus from colder, northern areas, with east coast sites recording northern races of Great-spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, plus odd Mealy Redpolls.
Even Hirundines failed to make any impact on the proceedings. 665 House Martin moving south-east on 21st, being the only big movement noted and it seems likely that most movements, may have taken place in the afternoon periods around the 23-25th, when weather conditions frequently improved after a poor start.
August's female Redstart, remained at Eakring Meadows till 8th, staying faithful to the Hawthorns on Penny Pasture Common. Whinchat produced singles at Eakring Meadows on 1st and 11th, at Eakring Field Farm on 4th and Eakring Flash on 20th, a decidedly poor showing. Eakring Field Farm attracted Wheatears during the opening week. Following a single along the driveway hedge on the 2nd, the same site held four together on the 4th, then three on 6th. A confiding 1st Winter female Greenland Wheatear, was at Red Hill from 21-22nd.
A ridge of high pressure over Scandinavia, saw a very early Redwing arrival from 23rd, when six were in Eakring village. This was closely followed by 42 moving north and west the next day, then 126 moved through on the 25th. September's opening day, saw good numbers of warblers at all the regular sites, including a very interesting and strikingly brown and white Chiffchaff variant at Eakring Meadows. Counts gradually dwindled to leave few around by the middle of the month. Two very late records, were a Reed Warbler in the Willow scrub at Eakring Flash on the 20th and the latest ever Willow Warbler in Hawthorns at the top of Red Hill, the next day. The previous latest Willow Warbler record, was on September 12th 1999, so this individual was very late. Interestingly, both these warblers occurred following east-coast falls the day before. Possibly associated, may have been simultaneous records of both Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, both scarce here after mid-September. A Spotted Flycatcher, briefly at Red Hill on 4th, was the only September record of a disappointing Autumn for the species. Better news however, concerned a build-up of Tree Sparrows when 21 were around Tug Bridge Farm on the 21st, a record which bettered all those before it.
|October began with several deep Atlantic lows,
conducing to produce a period of occasionally very windy
weather, which lasted into the second week, when more
settled conditions moved in. The month on the whole was
tantalisingly close to being an exceptional one, but just
seemed to lack the continued excitement that October can
produce. Nevertheless, there were two new species for the
area, and some record migratory counts from some of the
more common migrants.
It's always welcome to add a new species to the area list, so the two Pintail which dropped into Eakring Flash from the east on the 7th, fitted the bill exactly. A pair of Shoveler there on 10th, then two eclipse drakes on 13th, were records of a surprisingly scarce species. The only Wigeon seen, were seven on 19th. Teal numbers increased from 22nd for a few days, until a period of very wet weather saw a rise in the muddy water levels and forced most wildfowl to depart, including all but one of the year's Coots.
Common Buzzard sightings continued to involve one regular individual, which covered a wide area around Lound Wood and Red Hill. This bird was also included in an area total of five on the 8th and then two on 9th. Rarest raptor was the female Merlin moving south-east on 9th.
A Water Rail was briefly noted at Eakring Flash (5th) before disappearing into cover in typical style, never to be seen again, but providing a similar arrival date to the bird of October 3rd 1999.
Penny Pasture Common continues to provide the largest numbers of Snipe in the area. Up to 18 were present (26th) but floodwater attracted greater numbers at the end of the month. A count of 30 at the site on the 29th, represented a new record (not including fly-over flocks) The first Jack Snipe of the Winter was present the same day. Numbers of both Black-headed and Common Gull were increased by a fairly typical influx of both species on 19th. Common Gulls had remained unusually scarce prior to this date. Yellow-legged Gulls included adults moving south-west on 7th and in fields near Red Hill/Eakring Flash on the 19th.
Bird watching the area during October is primarily oriented towards visible migration, undoubtably producing one of the best months of the year. It is though, still a disappointingly uncommon activity amongst the county's bird watchers, but plays an integral and vital part of many patch watchers daily/monthly routine. Many will agree that regular and systematic recording of migrants, certainly adds many species to their year list. Included in this, will be several rarities, gone unnoticed but for an "eye on the sky".
At the start of the month, one species still remained on the area's wanted list, despite a relatively close breeding proximity. By the second week of the month, two migrant Wood Lark had been noted during visible migration watches and at last saw it's removal from the list, when singles flew south-east on the 7th, remarkably followed by another bird moving south-west over Tug Bridge Farm on the 11th. Another rarity was the Twite which flew south-east on the 15th. This continued a remarkable occurrence pattern, dating back to the area's first in 1998 when two flew in from the north on the 14th. Last year saw three recorded moving high south on October 13th. Both of these species were recorded amongst good numbers of common migrants from 3-15th, despite quite windy conditions until 12th.
Meadow Pipit passage saw several three-figure counts of 585 south and south-east on 3rd, 450 on 4th, 481 on 6th, 194 on 7th, 201 on 10th and 109 on 11th. A record 1 045 south and south-east on the 9th and 92 birds on the 12th, helped take the Autumn's Meadow Pipit total to 4 200 by the end of October. This was 1 300 more than the record Autumn of last year. Many other species also broke their previous seasonal counts. These included most of the finches, Pied and Grey Wagtails, Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer. Fly-over Brambling produced sightings on nine dates, most being singles. Exceptions to this being three south-west on 6th and 11 south-west (23rd) Late Wheatears included two birds which were identified as being of the Greenland race, found in the middle of a young corn field on Church Hill (8th) and one of the nominate race in stubble at Eakring Flash on 9th. An influx of Stonechats (noted in the Yorkshire/Lincolnshire region, then the Midlands) was reflected in a series of records here, especially from 10-12th. A male was along roadside hedges at Red Hill on 10-12th, included in a total of four in the area on 11th (with 1st Winter male and female birds at Eakring Meadows and one near Eakring Flash on 11th-12th) Another male was at Tug Bridge Farm a week later (19-20th) and like all the others occurring this Autumn, showed a distinct preference for perching on top of hedgerows, a factor which raises the question as to how many have been missed during previous years?
Last dates for Summer migrants were Blackcap 10th, House Martin 12th, Chiffchaff (a new latest date on 13th) and Swallow 23rd. Completing what was on the whole, a quite memorable month for migrant Passerines, was the Common Crossbill which flew south-west on 24th. This was the first record since the two singles in 1999 and saw the year list equal last year's final total of 133 by the end of the month.
|November continued to help maintain the high
standards raised since the start of the year. It also
added a further two new species to both area and personal
patch list, with welcome occurrences of White-fronted
Goose and Bewick's Swan. By the end of November, the
Eakring list had swelled to nearly 170 species and the
(much-prized) patch list to 160.
Long expected (but not in the circumstances) a family party of four Bewick's Swan were present on Eakring Flash on November 30th and remained into December. Despite it's small size, Eakring Flash is probably quite representative of the water that this pair raised it's young on, but to see Bewick's Swans here, like this, was a quite remarkable record and certainly one of the year's highlights. In what could be best described as a poor November showing, Pink-footed Goose were noted with 87 east on 3rd and 22 south-east on 8th. A much better record, was the skein of 11 White-fronted Geese which flew south-west on a gloomy 17th, representing another first for the area and the year. As so often occurs, first site records are soon followed up by a second. The drake Pintail on Eakring Flash (17th) fitted in with this pattern, eventually flying off west. It was also a good month for Teal, whose highest counts are increasing annually. 70 were in the area for most of the month, this rising to a new record of 76 on the 17th. Preferred sites were Eakring Flash and Penny Pasture Common. Most of these, are possibly coming from another water near Wellow.
A short, cold-snap at the start of November, saw Eakring Flash record it's earliest ever Goosander on 5th, when a male was present during the early morning. First appearances of Goosander here, have usually occurred during cold weather, between the Christmas and New Year periods.
At least one Common Buzzard was present for much of the month, favouring the Lound Wood and Red Hill area, noted from 2nd-11th. Good numbers of Snipe remained at Eakring Meadows, with 25 there on 5th. Among these, October's Jack Snipe remained till 5th at least. The only other waders noted throughout the period were Golden Plover, with an irregular flock, reaching a total 197 at Church Hill on 9th.
Migration continued during the first part of the month. Cold and frosty conditions are conducive to large Wood Pigeon movements and 2 297 went south on the 5th. A monthly total of just over 5 000 Wood Pigeon, was the second highest Autumn total and among these were small numbers of Stock Doves. 18 moving south-west on the 3rd, was part of a total of 33 during November. This total (although very small) remains the only significant Stock Dove migration since 1998. Over 8 300 migrant Starlings were recorded this Autumn, with best totals being 1 901 west on 10th. 1 013 west on 11th, but Fieldfare and Redwing counts were the poorest to date. It seems that thrushes arrived in the northern half of the country, and then gradually filtered south in small numbers. Brambling produced more daily records than other years, but most featured single migrants, apart from three on 2nd and 3rd. One was in Eakring village (4th) and six went west on 10th. A stubble field adjacent to Eakring Flash, saw Linnet numbers build, producing 132 from 17th onwards. Goldcrests continued moving through during early November, with 1-3 birds at several locations, especially in Eakring village on 3rd-4th. This latter date also produced a very elusive, late Chiffchaff in Eakring village. Unfortunately though, the only sighting was just a very brief flight view. This bird did however, pose the question of whether or not it is deemed to be either a late returning migrant, or an over-wintering bird? This is probably down to observer choice. It was not something that I had given a great deal of thought to previously until this occurrence. When comparing the latest Chiffchaff dates from 1998-2001, it was clear that this bird, was indeed most likely to be a potential Wintering individual, rather than a late migrant. Previous latest dates (including this year) were all limited to a six day period, ranging from October 8th-13th.
|December opened with November's four,
occasionally very mobile Bewick's Swans
remaining on Eakring Flash till 6th. These also probably
accounted for the four at Hoveringham on the 9th. During
their stay, the birds were well watched by visiting bird
watchers, who (no doubt) enjoyed the very close views
allowed by such a small area of water as this. The fact
that a site of Eakring Flash's proportions can even
attract scarce species, is testament to the great value
of small waters which remain in the countryside.
Despite the promising start to the month, the remainder of December was relatively very quiet. Three skeins of Pink-footed Geese totalling 224 birds, heading west on 2nd, a male Goosander on the 1st, followed by a pair on the 15th, were all standard December records. What wasn't however, was the gradual increase in Teal numbers during the early part of the month, eventually produced a record total of 90 on 6th. This count being made up of 50 at Eakring Meadows and being joined by another 40 in from north.
A gull flock in the Leyfields area (6th) contained a noteworthy 80 Herring Gull.
Ten Siskin moving South the same morning, proved that small amounts of birds were still occasionally on the move, whilst a former Kale crop (now set-aside) attracted the largest wintering flock of Linnets in the area, producing 150 on 1st and rising to 230 by New Year's Eve. A great surprise however, was the single Common Crossbill (second of the year) which flew west over Eakring Meadows on 2nd.