Eakring Birds 1998
A monthly review
January continued the uneventful Winter on both a national and county scale and consequently, reflected in the records for this month. With the weather generally very mild, there was little activity on the migration front and no cold weather movements occurred as birds remained stationary.

The resident wintering Green Sandpiper was seen throughout, being joined by a second bird on several dates. Presumably this bird was disturbed from it’s normal residence elsewhere. Three Common Buzzards seen over Hare Hill Wood on the 10th, seemed to be local birds rather than wandering individuals.

Late in the month, more typical winter fare occurred in the form of 75 Pink-Footed Geese moving west and two Wigeon on the 25th. This was the only record of Wigeon for the entire Winter/Spring period.

February saw the mild winter continuing, there were some unusually warm days during February. Slightly more coverage resulted in some good site records. A single Goosander spent twenty minutes on Eakring Flash before heading off north-west, 14th and was the fore-runner to an excellent series of appearances during March. The same date also produced a Peregrine, causing considerable panic amongst a Wood Pigeon flock, which now totalled over a thousand birds. After hunting for 15 minutes, the bird drifted off south-east.

Waders were represented by the continuing presence of the regular Green Sandpiper, with the second individual being last noted on the 1st of the month. A Woodcock was flushed from Eakring Meadows on two dates and the first Curlew of the year moved through on the 23rd.

March is probably the most eagerly awaited month and produced some excellent birds, particularly as it progressed. What winter there had been, turned into spring as the weather became warmer. Notable wildfowl records involved Goosander, (21 birds on six dates) , a count of 16 Teal on the 7th and 15 Whooper Swans flying low west on the 22nd. A drake Mandarin around The Beck at Kersall, was deemed to be of rather suspect origin, though the Bean Goose flying high west on the 27th might possibly have had better credentials. Whatever it’s origin, it remains an excellent and first record. 34 Pink-Footed Geese moving south on a murky 23rd represented the last record of the winter.

The second Peregrine of the year again hunted Wood Pigeon over Leyfields Farm on the 13th, pausing briefly on it’s way north-east to do so and appeared to be a different individual to the bird of February.

Wader records increased with Curlew on four dates, single Redshanks over Kersall and at Eakring Flash, Little Ringed Plover on the 29th and the Green Sandpiper all month.

Good numbers of Fieldfare moved through the area, with a peak of 783 north-east on the 16th. Redwing remained very scarce till mid-month and then only present in small numbers. Visible migration continued throughout March and some good spring counts were made, although 101 Meadow Pipits flying north and north-west on the 23rd was a fairly typical Notts total. 115 Yellowhammer on the 13th at Eakring Flash showed that this was another species on the move, but with the site being set amongst farmland and it’s own small resident population, migratory birds were very hard to detect.

Three further summer migrants arrived during March, with Chiffchaff (14th) , Swallow (28th) and White Wagtail (31st) all appearing.

April began rather quiet, with cold northerly winds holding up migrants until mid-month when things began to liven up with a purple patch providing some good site records. With the almost continual passing of frontal systems, returning migrants often used the calm windows in between to move through. Fieldfare were noted regularly up to the 26th, with 213 recorded on the 2nd alone. Meadow Pipits continued to pass through during April and showed a second peak on the 20th of the month. A male Ring Ouzel was particularly noteworthy at Eakring Flash on the 22nd, part of a general arrival of summer migrants around the same date.

Both Wheatear and Cuckoo arrived at the same time and were followed later in the month by Grasshopper Warbler, Whitethroat, Whinchat and Turtle Dove. Further records of Wheatear and Whinchat occurred later during the month and Hobby were noted on two dates.

Raptors were welcome records in the form of a Marsh Harrier quartering the fields adjacent to Lound Wood and Eakring Flash, 27th, with an Osprey high over Eakring village the next day. Following on from the series of records during March, Goosander were again seen on three dates and a pair of Shelduck took up almost daily residence from the 3rd, often commuting between Eakring Flash and Bilsthorpe pit top. Waders were represented by a Curlew on the 19th, Little Ringed Plovers (three dates) and two Green Sandpipers, the wintering individual staying until the 13th, with a second present from 21-22nd.

The month was dominated for most by high pressure weather systems, giving many fine warm days. Though very nice to be out in, this weather inevitably produces very little visible migration and overall this was very disappointing, resulting in low counts of most species. However, the month did begin with the classic conditions, with north-easterly winds, rain and overcast skies on the 1st. A group of 16 Arctic Tern moved through , along with a single Common Tern, which formed part of the very large passage of Arctic Terns throughout the Midlands on 1-2nd. Common Terns were also noted on a further five dates whenever similar conditions prevailed.

The poorest spring in Nottinghamshire for many years regarding waders, resulted in few wader records here, with several expected species not putting in appearances. Two Ringed Plover on the 21st, were the most noteworthy.

With most species settling down to breed quickly, the breeding bird survey resulted in various degrees of success. Low counts of Hirundines and Swift, but pleasing numbers of both the Whitethroat and Blackcap. Turtle Dove pairs were low and restricted to only one area within the recording boundaries, though some 15 were noted on migration. A single male Woodcock roding on the 9th, gave hope of perhaps a surprise breeding attempt during the summer, whilst the discovery of a male Quail on the 24th, rising to a count of three by the 26th gave similar expectations.

June was typically very quiet and consequently there were very few records of note, although a pair of Teal at Eakring Flash were very unusual for the time of year and Quail were still calling until the 2nd. Five very brief Dunlin on the 3rd represented a good site count. All breeding birds of the area were closely monitored and counted during the survey and results continued to give cause for concern for some species, notably both Lesser Whitethroat and as expected, Turtle Dove.
July was best remembered for it’s wader records throughout the month and represented a best ever month on a personal patch level. Green Sandpipers were present on several dates with three on the 28th being the best count. Curlew moved through the area, with 12 birds on three dates, likewise Whimbrel, (eight birds), two Bar-Tailed Godwits, (12th) and a Greenshank on the 23rd. Autumn wader passage had begun in good style.

A Peregrine flying low over Eakring Flash on the 12th and a Common Buzzard moving into the area from the 18th onwards, provided the Raptor highlights.

Other interesting sightings were, a male Redstart on Red Hill, (27th) and a Common Tern moving south on the 12th.

August saw wader records dominate, with both Green Sandpiper and Greenshank having the monopoly of records. Three Greenshank arrived from the south-west on the 9th, with five present the next day and a daily presence until the end of August. In all, a total of ten birds were involved and included a long stayer from the 15th onwards. A similar series of records was mirrored by the Green Sandpiper, though there was a slightly higher turn-over of birds. Some 13 were noted and five were present mid-month. Other species were also represented, Whimbrel occurring on two dates, Ringed Plover on the 22nd, Dunlin, both 17th and 29th and a site record count of 34 Snipe heading west in two flocks on the 19th.

A Shoveler briefly on the 26th was the only record of the year, representing the only duck highlight for August. Six Hobby moved quickly through on five dates, one of which took a late Swift. A further Peregrine on the 21st, soared high over Lound Wood , whilst the ever present Common Buzzard remained from July. Seven Tree Pipits on Red Hill, (10th), provided the passerine highlight of another excellent month.

September houses the start Autumn and this was reflected by both the return migration of summer visitors and several influxes of typical autumn/winter migrants. Both Meadow Pipit and House Martin movements peaked slightly earlier than usual , though Swallows were pretty much in line with previous years. All three species moved through the area throughout September and into October. Influxes occurred of Goldcrest, Jay and Coal Tit, with increased numbers of both Whinchat and Redstart. Both species found Penny Pasture Common at Eakring Meadows much to their liking and an ideal stopping off point.

Throughout the month, Linnet occurred in good numbers, both locally and on passage. A flock of 50, Red Hill September 15th, had grown to 450 by the 19th. By September 26th, the flock now totalled 800 and had moved to Church Hill, from where counts dropped to 111 by the end of the month.

Wader records unusually dropped off, with August’s long staying Greenshank just making it into September and a Ringed Plover appearing on the 5th. Green Sandpipers remained on and off all month.

After the excitement of the year’s previous Peregrines, another on the 6th was greeted by a slightly less excited observer. Hobby were seen on three dates and Common Buzzards on two. Highlight of the month and year however, goes to the Richards Pipit seen at Kersall on the 20th.

October was quite varied with several summer migrants putting in their final appearances of the year, including Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Swallow and Redstart. The latter species providing an interesting series of late records involving five birds up till the 7th.

Passage was evident during the first half of October until wet and windy weather began to dominate for most of the latter stages. Merlin and Kittiwake both flew over Red Hill on the 3rd.

There was steady Meadow Pipit passage throughout, with good numbers of both Linnet and Chaffinch, along with smaller numbers of Thrushes. Associated with these were a Rock Pipit over Red Hill on the 4th and two Twite briefly on the 14th. Despite alighting in a stubble field, a later search proved fruitless. Small numbers of Brambling were seen between the 7-10th, usually involving singles, though five moved west on the 9th.

The first Geese of the winter arrived in the form of 61 Pink-Footed Geese and the only noteworthy duck record concerned a Shelduck on the 3rd.

Peregrines were seen on both the 4th and 9th, with a Jack Snipe present at Eakring Flash from 16-25th.

A return to much calmer and clearer conditions on the 30th, finally ended the miserable spell for visible migration when a total of 4,120 Wood Pigeon moved south in just three hours.

November's first days, saw passage continue as the clear weather hung on. Wood Pigeon again moved south in large numbers when 5.618 flew through on the 1st. Within a four day period a total of over 10 000 had been counted during what was probably an unprecedented period of migration and probably a county record. Starling also moved through in good numbers. Had it not been for work commitments, the daily counts would probably been much higher. Four figure counts were reached on three days early in the month.

Wildfowl were well represented, not surprisingly. Pink Footed Geese passed over the area on four dates, with three skeins on the 14th totalling 332 birds. A single Whooper Swan flew north-east (11th) and the 3rd saw an influx of duck into the area, with four Shelduck and a year high count of 136 Mallard. A drake Mandarin was at Eakring Flash on November 25th.

A good east coast arrival of Woodcock resulted in several records during the month from both Eakring village and Eakring Meadows, with a noticeable Blackbird influx around the same time.

December was a fairly quiet month to end the year, with most highlights coming during the last week. A Jack Snipe was present at Eakring Flash on the 29th, along with eight Goosander. The real highlight of the month however, was the male Goshawk, present around Lound Wood all morning on the 26th, eventually drifting east towards Kersall.
Monthly reviews