Eakring Birds 2003
A monthly review
 
January
The clear conditions at the start of the year allowed cross-country movements of several skiens of Pink-footed Geese on five dates, all adding to a January total of 758 birds. Though counts here were a record for January, much larger numbers passed over other parts of Nottinghamshire. A Greylag Goose in fields near Eakring Flash mid-month was an unusual date for a species more typically encountered during the Spring. Even with a high of 56 birds on 31st, Teal numbers were well down on last year, possibly as a result of shooting at Eakring Flash driving birds away from the area. It is possible that last year's very high counts will now remain the area's highest for many years to come.  
Pink-footed Geese movements Jan 2003
   
January 6th 128 W
January 7th 105 W
January 9th 112 NW
January 23rd 291 NE
January 27th 122 W
...
Shelduck became virtually daily from 19th, producing excellent site counts of seven birds on 23rd, six on 28th, before a high of eight on 30th. Most other counts referred to four birds, with occasional singles on odd dates. Opposingly, counts of other wildfowl were low. Mallard barely reached double figures throughout, but seven Gadwall early in the month did represent a good January count for that species. Typical Goosander records involved three at Eakring Flash (19th) a pair next day on 20th and a male on 27th.

Raptors were represented by at least two regular Common Buzzards, with birds at Lound Wood and in the Eakring Meadows/Hare Hill Wood thoughout. This latter bird proving the most reliable, often spending much time hunting worms around Penny Pasture Common. Peregrines were in the area during January. An immature female, was identified (through some feather-loss in one wing) as the same bird seen several times in the latter stages of 2002. An immature male was present briefly on 16th, hunting Wood Pigeons before heading off north-west.

January produced two very unusual Dunlin records. One was at Penny Pasture Common on 5th, initially associating with the Snipe present there, before it eventually headed off high north-east. The second record was of a bird in flooded fields at Eakring Flash on 21st. Dunlin are unheard of here away from the traditional Spring and Autumn migration periods. More expected wader records were those of Jack Snipe and Snipe. Two Jack Snipe were present at Eakring Meadows on 1st, then a single there on 22nd. It is likely that Eakring Meadows held at least one bird throughout the whole of January. Minimum counts of Snipe at the same site included 23 (5th) and a notable 37 on 22nd. Golden Plover and Lapwing were generally scarce during January, but 208 of the latter flew west on 6th and represented one of only two cold-weather movements in the month. The second (and much smaller) movement came on the 31st, when 67 Lapwing went south-west and 75 Golden Plover went west and south-west in two groups.

The 6th also saw an influx of Herring Gull with 68 moving high west, but otherwise, all counts of the larger gulls were small. However, January did produce some record-breaking Common Gull counts during the latter weeks of the month, attracted by the flooded fields at Eakring Flash and Tug Bridge Farm. 50+ were in the area (21st and 23rd) then 83 (22nd) before yet another good count of 74 on 28th.

Water Rail became largely frozen out at Eakring Flash, with one/two birds reappearing from 4-21st, with another at the flooded Eakring Meadows on 22nd. The freezing weather meant birds had to resort to smaller ditches which remained unfrozen due to heavy vegetation. One such bird was found in a ditch in the Pastures area on 11th. As January progressed, sightings became far less regular and birds called far less frequently.

January's highlight was the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which was in roadside trees at Tug Bridge Farm briefly on 5th, before moving off. This was the first to be recorded here since two birds at Lound Wood in late 1997. A Green Woodpecker roamed a large area around Eakring village for much of the month and at least one of last Autumn's two Nuthatches remained in Lound Wood with the small tit and Goldcrest flock.

High numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing remained at many sites, with counts of nearly 1 000 of the former present on some days. Wintering Meadow Pipit numbers were also much higher than usual, with two flocks found generally at two sites. The largest of these reached 50 at Eakring Flash mid-month. Around 5 000 Wood Pigeon were counted from three sites in the area. Finch numbers remained high from December, but decreased significantly mid-month as milder conditions ensued. One mixed finch/bunting flock in set-aside along the Kneesall Road, also held at least 30 Tree Sparrow on occasions. Small numbers of Siskin were noted (often moving south) with Lesser Redpoll much scarcer. 19 Linnet flew south-east on 6th. Small numbers of Yellowhammer were noted moving north on some dates, as flocks began to disperse. At the same time, Reed Buntings began to frequent the Eakring Flash area more regularly and with Corn Bunting becoming extremely rare here since relatively good years in 1999 and 2000, a record of nine moving west over Eakring Flash on 27th was an extremely welcome one, especially after both 2001 and 2002 produced only single records.

     
February
Much of February was quiet, but daily coverage maintained interest by producing a fairly typical set of records involving most of the expected species. Among these were Pink-footed Geese, skeins of which flew north-west on two days mid-month. 300 went north-west on 13th, but a much larger passage occurred the following day when 624 went through in five skeins. Interesting was the fact that, apart from the usual morning Pink-footed Geese passage, a return visit to the area during the late evening, produced more passing through. Such late movements are unusual. Most wildfowl counts were average. Gadwall returned to Eakring Flash when two arrived on 14th, a figure that would eventually rise to six (three pairs) by the end of the month. 56 Teal on 2nd was by far the best count produced and low numbers from mid-month onwards, was obviously as a direct result of shooting at Eakring Flash. Most birds preferred the relative safety of smaller waters at Eakring Meadows, especially where water remained ice-free during the cold-spell. Shelduck records produced counts of four on 4th, six on 8th and five on 11th, though the majority of sightings involved a single male.
     
One species which did produce a new highest count was Pochard, when a group of 19 arrived on the 11th. February has never been the best month for either Pochard or Tufted Duck counts, but up to seven of the former were present throughout most of the last week whilst seven Tufted Duck also appeared briefly. It's also the best month for Goosander here, with a male north-west on 13th and further records from Eakring Flash of four (14th) three on both 16th and 23rd, with two remaining till 24th. A single female was present on 27th. Three Mandarin were on The Beck at Kersall on 19th only, but the rarest wildfowl of the month was the female Wigeon at Penny Pasture Common on 22nd.  
     
Single Common Buzzards remained from January, with Eakring Meadows being most reliable for sightings during the early mornings. Multiple sightings included counts of three over Lound Wood on 6th and Hare Hill Wood on 10th. An adult female Peregrine flew west on 1st, but all other sightings were down to the long-staying immature female, which remained throughout. Much rarer was a female Merlin at Eakring Flash (7th) the area's seventh record and the third in February.

Eakring Flash continued to hold one/two Water Rail for much of the month despite being frozen for some of the time.

Lapwing peaked at 190 on 22nd, whilst the best Golden Plover count was 54 at Red Hill on 5th. Other waders included good numbers of Snipe, most counts of which were made up of small groups at numerous sites where water remained free of ice. A count of 33 was unusually high for the southern-end of Eakring Flash (5th). Penny Pasture Common held three Jack Snipe on 9th and 27th, but only one bird seemed guaranteed. Best wader was the Woodcock at Eakring sewage works on 16th.

Common Gull counts reached an excellent 76 birds on 11th, but all other gull counts were insignificant.

Fieldfare were found throughout February, especially during the early part of the month when counts from several sites in the area reached a high of 1 100 on 10th. This remained the peak monthly count as much smaller numbers were noted during the rest of the month. Redwing numbers dropped and sightings became far fewer than previously this Winter. The only flock of note was of 70-80 around High Trees/Church Hill area on 12-13th. Finch/bunting flocks built up once again at the onset of colder weather and the flock present for much of the Winter at Kersall included over 300 Chaffinch, with smaller numbers of Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. A Corn Bunting flying west over Penny Pasture Common on 9th was the second record of the year so far.

     
March
What started as probably the quietest March recorded here, finally ended by producing some extremely notable occurrences, such as a long-staying Red Kite in the Red Hill area from 25-27th, but the usual background visible migration activity remained frustratingly small and discontinuous. The Red Kite was elusive and was reliably and independantly reported by several people, even being seen at close range sat on straw bales on more than one occasion. The limiting dates are the most accurate given, but the bird's period of stay was probably from an even earlier date. Regular sightings of Common Buzzards mostly involved the remaining Hare Hill Wood bird from the Winter months.

Wildfowl built up as March progressed, producing an unusually high Spring count of 21 Gadwall on 24th. Though this was the peak count, some nine pairs remained in the area by 31st. Pochard and Tufted Duck were present all month, though 15 of the former (1st) was never bettered but was still a good site count. Rarest wildfowl was Mandarin, with the now resident (and secretive) pair found near Kersall on 21st.

Waders seen included three Jack Snipe to 15th, a Curlew north-east over Tug Bridge Farm on 30th, with a Green Sandpiper north-west over Eakring Flash (31st) A Redshank north-east on 15th was a tricky species added to the year-list. The Water Rail remained at Eakring Flash throughout, providing a new latest date for the species as the presumed male attained full breeding plumage. The discovery of a Barn Owl at an undisclosed locality in the area, represented only my second ever here and the first truly well within the recording boundaries. Surprisingly another was seen the same night (23rd) in the north of the recording area and is the same bird as that recorded a couple of years ago.

But it was another individual record, that of the single Common Tern which went north-west on March 24th (Nottinghamshire's earliest-ever date by a week) which prompted the biggest surprise of all. Many of the expected species turned up on time however.

Despite the extremely favourable weather conditions, it was perhaps surprising that migrants failed to beat their earliest arrival dates. A Chiffchaff on 12th equalled the previous record and good numbers quickly followed, with birds arriving on most days. By the end of the month, some 24 Chiffchaffs had arrived in territories or moved quickly through.

Expected early migrants such as Sand Martin and Blackcap failed to appear, as did the traditional March Meadow Pipit count, normally the highlight of the Spring visible migration calendar. Counts from sites in Lancashire and elsewhere also failed miserably in their totals. White Wagtails were at Eakring Flash (15th) and Eakring Field Farm (23rd). Even Fieldfare, normally reliable in producing several days of migration failed and flocks were generally thin on the ground even at traditional sites like Tug Bridge Farm until the end of the month, when 400 were present there on 31st. A female Stonechat at Eakring Meadows on the 11th showed just how some species can be expected to turn up within very small date-ranges. Wheatears are another, with males arriving at Eakring Flash on 24th and 30th.

Not seen in the area since the 1950's, Waxwing made an appearence (albeit briefly) when a group of 11 flew east over Eakring Meadows on 29th, the same morning on which a Corn Bunting flew north-west over Red Hill on 29th.

     
April
Wildfowl counts were generally low as birds dispersed to breed. The pair of Mandarin were seen inspecting nest sites within the area and look set for second successful breeding season. A drake Ruddy Duck appeared at Eakring Flash on 25th.

One of the month's highlights regarded the reappearence of the Red Kite in the Red Hill area. Seen on another couple of dates during the late afternoon period, the bird tended to favour a small area, but was not seen again after 15th. 2/3 Common Buzzards frequented the area throughout, though five were present on one date in the Tug Bridge Farm area.

This was one of the best Aprils for wader records with a single Redshank on 9th, then two north-west on 10th. The earliest ever Greenshank (17th) was at Eakring Flash during the early morning, until flying off north-west. Another early wader record was the Whimbrel south-east over Eakring Flash on 17th. Another later went high north-west on 26th with three Curlew. Nocturnal passage involved an Oystercatcher moving through on April 14th. Certainly one of the most pleasing records involved a Woodcock which roded over Lound Wood from 23rd until the end of the month. Completing a good month were several Green Sandpiper records, with singles present on 4th and moving north (19th), with three together on 18th, the same day as a Little Ringed Plover went north-west.

Any new species here represents an obvious highlight and easterly winds produced a group of nine Little Gulls moving low north-east on 20th. The group consisted of eight adults and one immature bird and coincided with similar numbers appearing at other sites within Nottinghamshire and the Midlands.

Tug Bridge Farm also hosted another of April's highlights and an April speciality here, in the form of a male Ring Ouzel (the area's sixth record) on 1st. This was later to be followed by yet another male moving north over Eakring Flash (14th) being the first to be recorded here during a visible migration watch. Tug Bridge Farm also hosted fluctuating numbers of Fieldfare, with over 100 present on several dates. Highest count during April was of 410 on 8th present at both Tug Bridge Farm (80) and Kersall (330) Last Redwing of the Winter flew over Lound Wood on 22nd, representing a new latest record.

Wheatears during the month included singles at Eakring Flash on 3rd and Tug Bridge Farm (23rd) with peak numbers unusually coming during mid-month. This involved two males (13th) two females (14th) then another two males on 15th. Two were in the area on April 26th.

Despite fine weather during March and the first half of April, Meadow Pipit migration peaked later than normal on 4-6th, whilst rarer Spring migrant Tree Pipit (a much rarer Spring migrant) produced welcome singles north-west over Eakring Flash on 18th and 26th. Other migrants and arrival dates were a White Wagtail on 5th at Tug Bridge Farm, Cuckoo (22nd) and Turtle Dove (26th) The whole Spring arrival by many species produced a mixed bag of arrval dates. New early arrival dates were produced by Whitethroat on 15th and a week early, Sedge Warbler (19th) 3 days early, whilst the first Sand Martins did'nt appear until 11th when six flew north-west over Eakring village. Swallows arrived on 4th, Willow Warbler the same day, but Blackcaps were also late (including first birds in territory and their main arrival. The period April 15th-18th saw many warblers arrive into the area, many only brief one-day birds.

     
May
The area was visited very little during the month.

Warblers continued to arrive, but numbers of breeding Sedge Warbler dropped on counts from previous years. No birds continued to hold territory at Penny Pasture Common, for the first time here, as suitable habitat was further diminished by cattle. Birds continued to occupy areas around Eakring Flash, but even here, numbers were significantly lower by the end of May. These were joined by first successfully breeding Willow Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler. Significant Sallow scrub-growth, meant that for the first time, habitat was suitable for Willow Warbler. However, the first breeding by Grasshopper Warbler was a surprise that it had taken so long. This came after the long-staying male of 2002.

A Curlew flew west during the evening of 24th.

     
June
A quiet month once again, though there was a slight increase in coverage. Most came during the late afternoon/evening period, but did provide a few interesting records.

The Grasshopper Warblers remained throughout, with the male starting to reel occasionally near dusk, but only for brief periods at a time. Breeding warbler numbers indicated an average year, but four (possibly five) pairs of Lesser Whitethroats was a good area count. Most were found favouring roadside habitats, a characteristic trait of it's cousin the Whitethroat. A maximum of just two pairs of Garden Warbler was normal for the area. Other news from the breeding birds survey was the continued poor numbers of Turtle Dove. Again just three pairs were found at usual sites, but Grey Partridges had a much better year, with some five pairs representing a significant rise in fortune for the species. Lapwing fared similarly, but Tree Sparrows were again only present in low numbers at favoured localities.

Some signs of return migration were the 23 Sand Martin which flew west over Lound Wood at dusk on 17th. This was the only movement noted and the only wader record was the Little Ringed Plover flew south-east over Lound Wood during the late evening of June 2nd. Earlier the same day, two migrant Spotted Flycatchers were catching insects at Eakring Flash.

On 6th, a Common Buzzard was observed taking a near full-grown Lapwing at Penny Pasture Common. Luckily the Buzzard was harrassed by both parents and forced to let go, leaving the chick slightly injured but in one piece.

     
July
A generally quiet month, despite much increased coverage of the area. It was a very poor month for wader records, with a Green Sandpiper at Eakring Flash from 16-17th the only representative. Green Sandpipers are usually a regular feature within any July - as are Common Terns, with one moving south-east through Eakring Flash on a typically gloomy 17th.

Common Buzzards were in the area on both 20th and 26th, but highlight of the month was the Marsh Harrier noted circling high over Eakring village at 9:00am (27th) before gaining height and drifting off south-west towards Bilsthorpe. A Hobby was over Eakring Flash late morning on both 12th and 14th.

Some small Swift movement occurred, with 95 birds heading north-east ahead of the rain on 17th. This was followed by 318 south early afternoon of the 21st. Other July passage migrants through, included small numbers of Turtle Dove. A pair of Spotted Flycatchers were feeding young along the old hedge at Eakring Flash from 8-11th, with another there on 17th briefly, before flying off north. Some decent numbers of warblers arrived (especially on the 12th) but a smaller arrival contained a Garden Warbler at Eakring Flash (16th) Garden Warblers still continue to be rare here on return passage, but there is a growing trend for them to appear in July.

     
August
This was probably the best August of any here. It was a month when waders dominated, largely due to the lowest water-levels at Eakring Flash since 1998. But August also produced several excellent raptor sightings and a good Tree Pipit and Whinchat passage. For wildfowl it was extremely quiet and there was nothing of note.

Marsh Harriers are always welcome sightings here, so a juvenile moving south-east over Eakring Flash (12th) and then a female in the Eakring Field Farm/Eakring Meadows area, before drifting off high north on 18th, both continued the regular pattern of records for this time of year. Common Buzzards were also regularly noted, but seven together over Hare Hill Wood on 16th was almost a record. However, one/two juveniles remained in the area throughout. A similar situation existed with Hobby. During August, there were again, sightings of one and occasionally two together on numerous dates. An adult male Peregrine was in the Eakring village/Eakring Flash area from 3-4th, but the personal highlight was the Osprey which went south over the latter site on 24th and represented the first Osprey here since 2000.

Low water-levels at Eakring Flash provided the chance for waders to stay and feed, rather than the typical fly-over records of recent years. Three Common Sandpiper on the 18th, were the first since 1999, but Green Sandpipers were present on 12 dates. Among these were five at Eakring Flash on the 6th. It was noticable that there were two periods of passage. The first coming between August 3-11th and thena smaller passage from 25-30th. A full total of 16 birds moved through the area during the month, a total nearly matched by Greenshank. August produced no less than 15 Greenshank - birds occurring on ten dates. In comparison with the Green Sandpiper, conditions over the UK for wader passage were ideal, as Greenshank turned up here, between August 10-17th and then again from 22-29th. A Curlew moving south-east on 26th, was surprisingly the only record of that species, but wader of the month was undoubtedly the long-staying juvenile Wood Sandpiper (6-11th).

Any seabird in Notts is exciting, but one here was personally even more so. The dark-phase juvenile Arctic Skua which went north-east over Eakring Flash on 18th, represented one of two new species for the area in August and a belated county tick personally. An adult Caspian Gull near Red Hill on 20th, found in fields with c300-400 Lesser Black-backed Gull, was another Eakring list addition.

Passerine migration was quite slow throughout, but saw an excellent series of Tree Pipit records occur. Birds were noted on six dates in total and included - two moving south-west (7th) one moving south (12th) two (singles) moving south and north-west (13th) three in the area (16th) and singles south-west on 21st and 31st. It was a similar situation with Whinchat. Eight birds representing a record August total and interestingly, consisted mostly of adults until the latter days of the month. One in the Red Hill area on 7th was early, but more usual dates were singles at Eakring Flash on 22nd, 25th, 27th, 29th and 30th. The only bird at Eakring Meadows was one on 30th, with another two at Eakring Flash on 31st. The area's earliest returning Wheatear, arrived at Eakring Flash (18th) with two north over the same site on 31st. Always nice to find and continuing to endorse Penny Pasture Common as one of the county's most regular sites for migrant Redstarts, three arrived there on 20th. By the next day, just two remained - a male and immature female which both stayed until 24th, leaving just the male until the end of the month.

Warbler numbers were largely unimpressive and the rarest was again Reed Warbler. Singles were recorded along the old hedge at Eakring Flash on three dates (7th, 10th and 30th)

A juvenile Cuckoo at Eakring Flash briefly on 16th, was the area's latest.

     
September
September lived up to expectations, despite quietening down during the last couple of days of the month. On the whole, visible migration was rather disappointing and the peak Meadow Pipit count of 523 (21st) though respectable, was quite low in comparison to sites futher north. A Tree Pipit flew south-west on 7th and a late Sand Martin produced a new record date when at Eakring Flash on 29th. The first of the Winter migrants to appear, were two Redwing south-west on 29th.

Remaining on the migration front; Jays started to move through the area from 20th and in better numbers than normal. Birds were also noted at many Yorkshire and Lancashire migration vantage points. Migrant Jays are commonly recorded in September and October, but rather than actual long-distance migration, this annual feature is better described as dispersal. The large increase in Robins throughout the area at the same time (was probably however) attributable to genuine migrants from northern areas of the UK.

September typically sees an increase in wildfowl numbers. The Autumn's first Pink-footed Geese (36) went west in two small skiens on 21st, but certainly the 22nd saw an influx and produced counts of 28 Teal and 22 Gadwall, most of which seemed to arrive overnight. Shoveler still retain rarity status here and two were present at Eakring Flash (9-12th) then joined by another briefly on 13th before all departed. Rarest species was the Pintail, which was present for about five minutes on 22nd and a Mandarin (1st) A drake Wigeon made a prolonged stay from 13th and the only others recorded during the month were four west the same day.

September's real highlights were a Honey Buzzard south over Red Hill (7th) and a Short-eared Owl at Eakring Meadows (18th) and only the area's fourth-ever record. This was also a relatively early bird for Nottinghamshire, but decidedly early for Eakring. Other raptor records included Common Buzzard (counts of five birds on 2nd, 7th and 13th) most of which were occasionally noted throughout the month and three different Peregrines. One moving south over Red Hill on 7th, was followed by an adult male (14th) and an immature male on 20th. Records of Hobby saw sightings of birds on six dates, with two together on 4th.

Although rather quiet for waders, there were still records of Green Sandpiper, Dunlin and Greenshank. The only decent Snipe count was of 12 moving west (14th) otherwise 1-4 birds remained throughout. Golden Plover numbers increased dramatically throughout the month. 27 on 3rd, was the first notable count, but by 18th, some 190 birds were present. Daily totals continued to rise - reaching 275 on 21st before over 400 were present by the end of September. Green Sandpipers were at Eakring Flash on 3-5th and 9-15th, a Dunlin was in fields with the Golden Plover flock at Church Hill and then east of Eakring Flash (21st) and single Greenshanks were present on 2nd and 17-30th.

A new record count of 22 Turtle Doves was reached at Eakring Field Farm on 2nd, before counts dwindled to 11 (5th) and a single on 18th.

Warbler numbers remained low and a Reed Warbler at Eakring Flash on 15th was the rarest of those recorded. The old hedge also produced a Spotted Flycatcher (11th) Whinchats were present on 11 dates and Redstarts included a male at Eakring Meadows (4th) before being joined by a second the next day. Five Wheatears were at Eakring Flash and Church Hill on 21st, with one remaining till 22nd, whilst a Greenland Wheatear was found at Eakring Field Farm on 29th.

     
October
With early October producing a period of strong westerly-biased winds, the highlight of the month was a Leach's Petrel on the 5th, observed initally over Eakring Flash and heading south-west over the pastures area. A true oceanic species such as this was a totally unexpected addition to the area list and represents a most remarkable record. More remarkable in the fact that (although a rare species in Nottinghamshire) the record is even more unusual due to this bird's location. It's occurrence also provided just reward for many hours spent visiting the area by bird's finders - Tony Wardell and Robin Brace.

With such a good start to what is often the most productive month of the calendar, it came as a surprise that for much of October the birding scene remained extremely quiet. Even the normally reliable spectacle of visible migration, proved distinctly quiet. Despite the fact that both Redwing and Fieldfare arrived in numbers around mid-month, easterly winds and largely clear skies over the North Sea, helped ensure that most migrating flocks attained such high altitude, as to render them largely undetectable to the unaided eye. October thus produced only meagre totals for most species and the whole scene was more reminiscent of Spring migration rather than Autumn.

Much more reliable were the usual series of Pink-footed Geese records, beginning with 128 south-east (4th) 48 north-east (5th) 401 east (9th) 80 south-east (11th) 80 north-west (12th) and 298 north-west (27th)

Continuing low water-levels at Eakring Flash, coupled with regular evening wildfowl shoots ensured that wildfowl counts were the lowest ever for any October here. Noteworthy however were nine Wigeon briefly on 19th, a male Goosander north-west (28th) and a Shoveler earlier in the month on the 10th. Even Teal numbers remained low and birds were sporadically present on just a few dates. The highest count was 35 mid-month and in most instances, birds were present only briefly.

Common Buzzards were noted regularly, but the good area counts produced in September were not surprisingly absent. Rarer records came with Peregrines in the area on both 4th and 19th and even rarer, was the Merlin flying west through Eakring Flash on 28th.

A Jack Snipe was present at Eakring Flash on 28th and the long-staying Greenshank remained from the previous month, being last seen on the 2nd. The Church Hill area produced record counts of Golden Plover. 400 on 1st rose to 918 there on 9th, before numbers dropped to more normal levels of 100-200 birds late in the month. Yellow-legged Gulls were in fields with Lesser Black-backed Gulls on 11th (2) then again from 13-16th.

Another real highlight of October was the area's fourth record of Wood Lark, present in fields at Eakring Flash from (26-27th) being heard to call once on the latter date. This bird was elusive and difficult to find at times, so it's stay could potentially have been longer than that actually recorded. Despite there being good numbers of Sky Lark in an adjacent field, this bird never associated with them at all. Sky Lark numbers in the area, did continue to rise throughout October and Eakring Flash also held surprisingly large numbers of Meadow Pipits. A minimum count of 80 was reached at the end of the month.

The only warblers recorded during the month were Chiffchaffs and the last bird was noted along the old hedge at Eakring Flash on 20th.

The best-ever influx of Jay into and through the area, continued from the last week of September until early October, when birds were often noted moving south-west. This feature was also (and unusually) noted from moorland visible migration sites in the Pennines, but there was little evidence to suggest that this was nothing more than the annual dispersal that Jays undergo most years. The Nuthatch flying south-west over Eakring Flash on 16th was however unusual whether it was a dispersing individual or not. Nuthatches still remain uncommon here. Likewise was the female Common Crossbill (26th) which flew in from the north-west to drink at Eakring Flash, before quickly moving off north again. This was the first record since one on the similar date of October 24th, 2001 and was surprising because (to date) there has been no invasion nationally by this species. A Corn Bunting was another good site record, moving low north-west on 16th.

     
November
The real highlight for November was the area's first-ever record of Lapland Bunting, when two flew south over Eakring Flash on 13th. This record alone, also marked the highlight of what was a disappointing visible migration season on the whole. No large counts were recorded and most species moved through the area in unobtrusively small numbers.

Likely conditions for Pink-footed Geese on 16th, enabled 11 skiens of 713 birds to move east and south-east during the morning and early afternoon. Earlier in the month, 293 crossed over the area on 1st. There was generally a continued absence of wildfowl at Eakring Flash. Teal counts did reach 44 (11th) and then 42 on 27th, but these counts were exceptions to the usual dozen or so which began to frequent the site during November's latter days. A Wigeon over south-east (11th) was the only record of note until Goosander appeared with a male south on 13th and then six at Eakring Flash briefly on the 30th.

Adding a touch of the exotic to the often dull November afternoons, was the White Stork present in the west of the area from 25-30th and possibly in the area a couple of days prior to these dates. This was the same bird that was reported flying over Clumber Park on November 17th, then rumoured to be in the Ranskill/Lound area a few days later. The bird was ringed with the letters "A J" and was certainly of captive origin. At least two Water Rail were present throughout the month.

Common Buzzard sightings were irregular, but at least two were present at favoured locations on several dates and a Peregrine (16th) caused havoc with the unusually large number of gulls in the area before moving off south early morning.

Golden Plovers characteristically vacated the area during November. This is quite traditional, with Golden Plover numbers building up in the early Autumn, then Wintering in other parts of the county till smaller numbers reappear during March. However, a count of 120 birds in the area on 30th, was unusual. A Jack Snipe at Eakring Flash on 9th, was the only sighting of the month.

The large numbers of gulls consisted of mostly Black-headed Gulls, but increasingly more Common Gulls appeared from mid-month onwards. An arrival of Herring Gulls on 21st, saw 95 birds in fields east of Eakring Flash. A similar Herring Gull total on 30th, was largely made up of southerly moving birds.

One of the most interesting sightings of the month concerned a late Chiffchaff at Eakring Flash on 16th. This is only the second November record for Chiffchaff here and although sightings of the bird were relatively brief as it fed in Sallows at the southern end of Eakring Flash, there was enough evidence to suggest that this individual was of the N Fenno-Scandia race "P.c. abietinus" and the first such occurrence in the area. Other Scandinavian visitors included Brambling. Following the first arrivals/migrants in October, more followed mid-month and included 15 birds on the 13th. As usual, most records were fly-overs, but odd birds were found along the Kneesall road, Eakring Meadows and at Eakring Flash.

     
December
Generally a quiet month to end 2003, but there were still several highlights despite a lack of coverage. This was thus, a normal December containing no surprises. Bird of the month was the Lesser-spotted Woodpecker which was at Eakring Flash briefly on 11th, being seen to fly off north-east towards Lound Wood. This was only the third record for the area and followed a single at Tug Bridge Farm at the start of the year. The only other record concerned two in Lound Wood during late 1997.

On the whole, wildfowl counts remained low, Teal were again the commonest species, but now are no longer present at Eakring Flash on a daily basis due to shooting. Numbers also fluctuated throughout the month, with a high of 30 on 3rd. Gadwall peaked at nine (28th) Rarer wildfowl were Goosander, with sightings of six on 13th and singles on two other dates. The only skien of Pink-footed Geese, was of 159 flying west on the 3rd.

Golden Pover are unusual in the area during December, so the flock which frequented the Church Hill area was notable. Counts reached a peak 183 on 18th, but other counts included 37 (3rd) 111 (22nd) and 30 (28th) A now rare Winter record of Green Sandpiper came on the 18th, with a single west over Eakring Flash. The only Snipe found, were five at Eakring Meadows mid-month, as water levels continued to rise and provide suitable feeding areas. Water Rail remained along the edges of Eakring Flash throughout December, and there were three birds noted on 11th.

The popular White Stork was last noted on 13th, but could have remained in it's favoured area for several days after this date.

As the month continued, numbers of finches mixed with both Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers, to form some decent-sized flocks. Unfortunately the good influx of Brambling into the UK was not mirrored here, but one was noted in the pastures area on 26th.

 
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