Eakring Birds 2006
A monthly review
With fewer wildfowl at Eakring Flash over recent years, it was the pool on Penny Pasture Common at Eakring Meadows which provided any decent Teal counts. 40 there on the opening day of the year, was the best January could muster as mid-month saw only 25 birds present. Counts continued to dwindle as January progressed and for the remainder, only a handful of birds were ever present. 11 Gadwall were at Eakring Flash on the 5th. Goosander were frequent visitors to Eakring Flash with a series of records featuring numerous individual birds, judging by the changing male/female ratios. A female was the first of the year present on 5th, with three birds on both 12th and 15th and groups of four on 28th and 29th.

At least one regular Common Buzzard was present around Lound Wood on and off throughout the month, but there were no other raptors of note.

An area speciality is Jack Snipe and there were two birds at Penny Pasture Common on 15th. Eight Common Snipe on the same day elsewhere on the Eakring Meadows reserve, was poor in comparison to recent Winters.

Other sightings during January included an excellent 86 Herring Gull on 29th, Fieldfare peaked at 186 on 1st and a small group of five Lesser Redpoll remained at Eakring Flash all month after six there (1st) Single Tree Sparrows were in the area on several dates and a group of 11 Greenfinch (unusually for January) flew north-west on 29th.

Slightly more variety at Eakring Flash with the semi-resident pair of Shelduck returning on 2nd and 26th. The 11 Gadwall remained from January, but numbers dropped suring the rest of February. A maximum of nine Teal (5th) was poor in relation to corresponding months. A female Pochard appeared for a couple of days towards the end of the month and once again, it was regular sightings of Goosander which provided the scarcest wildfowl with four at Eakring Flash (23rd) three on 2nd and 9th, a pair on 6th and a brief fly-over male on the 5th.

Common Buzzards included one around Eakring Flash on 18th and two at Hare Hill Wood and again in the Eakring Flash/Lound Wood area on February 5th, 6th and 9th.

February saw an increase in Common Snipe numbers at Eakring Meadows. Only seven were present on the 5th, but then further counts occurred of 24 (18th) 25 on 25th, before 28 were present on the last day of the month. Jack Snipe numbers similarly increased, and after a single bird was flushed from their favoured area at Penny Pasture Common on 18th, three were present from 25-28th at least.

A Water Rail was heard calling briefly along the western-edge of Eakring Flash (25th) and excellent area gull counts included 43 Common Gull on 26th and a record 200 Herring Gull on 5th.

Interesting (though not unusual) pre-migration passerine records included 24 Meadow Pipits in fields around Eakring Flash on 26th, rising to 48 on 25th; around 300 Starling were in fields at Leyfields during the last week of February, with these birds later providing spectacular roost flights in Eakring village. A Coal Tit moved quickly north through Eakring Flash (25th) whilst at least one Marsh Tit (difficult to find here, but a resident breeder) was with a Tit flock in Hare Hill Wood on the 9th. 400 Fieldfare were in fileds south of Kersall on 9th and the five Lesser Redpoll remained around Eakring Flash till 5th, where a Kingfisher was seen on odd dates.

A fairly varied month and the first March that failed to produce any returning Summer migrants, as birds were held up on the continent.

Perhaps the best record March 2006 had to offer was the flock of 31 Whooper Swans flying west over Eakring village at 07:30am (21st) and representing only the fifth record for the area. Aside from a single Autumn record in 1998, all other records have come around mid-March. Goosander were present on several dates, with a pair at Eakring Flash on 7-11th, 18th, 21st and 26th. There were four there on 16th and then five again at Eakring Flash on 19th. The Shelduck pair were noted on both 12th and 22nd and Teal peaked at just five (16th) Two Pochard (19th) were first of the year.

Regular Common Buzzard sightings throughout the month, mostly involved singles, but three were in the area on the 22nd. Rarest raptor was the Merlin seen flying east through the pastures area on 18th. Common Snipe numbers remained quite respectable, with still around 20 birds for much of the month as cold weather continued. Two Jack Snipe were at Penny Pasture Common on 11th. A Curlew flew north-east over Eakring Flash (12th) where the Water Rail was seen intermittently from 12-23rd. A new record count of 97 Common Gulls in fields at Leyfields (21st) was much higher than any previous counts, but otherwise there were few gulls seen.

Visible migration picked up with 70 Meadow Pipit north-west, Fieldfare produced a typical Spring peak of 689, with 350 Starling at Tug Bridge Farm Starling (all 16th) A male Common Crossbill flying east over Eakring Flash on the 19th, was only the area's seventh record and an obvious monthly highlight.

A month most notable for the passage of Wheatears through the area, making it the most significant in nine years here. Included within the final April total of 30 indivduals, were at least three Greenland Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe leuchorhoa) which were photographically identified by checking primary projection (Greenlands have six visible primaries) but there were probably more within the month's total. Records of Greenland birds were a pair at Eakring Meadows 17-19th, with the male male remaining till April 20th. Another male was present at Tug Bridge Farm for two days on 26th and 27th, in company with birds of the nominate race. The majority of records came from bare fields at Tug Brdge Farm and Church Hill, with few sightings coming away from these sites.

The first to appear was a female near Eakring village on 9th, followed by a male at Tug Bridge Farm and a female at Church Hill (15th) the day that marked the start of daily passage until April 27th. Between April 16th and 23rd, the total number of birds in the area never fell lower than four. Highest count of eight was on both 22nd and 23rd.

Date Count Sites Sexes
April 9th 1 Eakring 1f
April 15th 2 Tug Bridge Farm and Church Hill 1m and 1f
April 16th 6 Tug Bridge Farm and Church Hill 4m and 2f
April 17th 5 Church Hill and Eakring Meadows NR 4m and 1f
April 18th 5 Tug Bridge Farm and Eakring Meadows NR 3m and 2f
April 19th 4 Tug Bridge Farm and Eakring Meadows NR 3m and 1f
April 20th 7 Tug Bridge Farm and Church Hill 5m and 2f
April 21st 6 Tug Bridge Farm 4m and 2f
April 22nd 8 Tug Bridge Farm and Eakring Flash 5m and 3f
April 23rd 8 Tug Bridge Farm and Church Hill 5m and 3f
April 24th 4 Tug Bridge Farm 4m
April 25th 2 Tug Bridge Farm 2m
April 26th 2 Tug Bridge Farm 2m
April 27th 5 Tug Bridge Farm 4m and 1f
April 28th 0 . .
April 29th 2 Church Hill 2f
April 30th 0 . .
April was quiet for wildfowl, rarest record being of a male Goosander west over Eakring Flash (26th) which represented quite a late date. One/two Teal were at Eakring Flash on a couple of dates and there was just one sighting of the local Shelduck pair flying towards Tug Bridge Farm.

There continued to be regular Common Buzzards in the area, with birds being around Hare Hill Wood and Eakring Meadows on numerous dates. An adult Peregrine drifted north over Red Hill early morning of the 8th and the year's second Merlin flew over the road at Eakring Meadows and headed in the direction of Eakring Field Farm (6th) The first Hobby were two moving east over Church Hill on 29th.

Little Ringed Plovers flew over Eakring Flash (6th) south-west over Penny Pasture Common (22nd) and then high north over Eakring Flash on 28th. Three birds in a month being the first such number for many years here. Small numbers of Golden Plover flew over Eakring Flash on a couple of dates, but 66 flew high west on 22nd. Rarer waders seen included a brief Redshank at Penny Pasture Common, Eakring Meadows on 18th, two Curlew low south-west over Eakring Flash 22nd and a Common Sandpiper at Eakring Flash on the 17th. Previous Common Sandpiper records have included singles at Eakring Flash on July 28-August 2nd, August 5-6th and August 12th 1998; Two at Eakring Flash August 5th 1999; Three at Eakring Flash August 18th 2003 and one at Eakring Flash April 26th 2005 and the species is still a real rarity here. A Jack Snipe was still at Eakring Meadows (2nd) and was the latest-ever Spring record, whilst up to 20 Common Snipe remained at Eakring Meadows until the 3rd at least.

Five Arctic Terns flew north over Eakring Flash at 06:55h on 28th

Of the few Summer migrants to produce earliest ever arrival dates, an unprecedented arrival of three Grasshopper Warblers at Eakring Flash on 16th, were then followed by other (mostly brief) males at Eakring Flash 17-27th, 19th, near Eakring Flash April 22-30th (seen paired with a female on 26th) and another male in the pastures area on April 24th. A full list of migrant arrival includes Chiffchaff 5th, Blackcap and Swallow 8th, House Martin 13th, Yellow Wagtail and Willow Warbler 15th, White Wagtail at Tug Bridge Farm 16th, Sedge Warbler 17th (earliest ever date) Whitethroat 20th, Lesser Whitethroat 24th, Swift 26th and finally Garden Warbler 30th.

Visible migration was relatively uneventful and the only notable counts were 104 Meadow Pipits north-west 16th, 96 Meadow Pipit and 78 Swallow mostly north-east on 22nd, with smaller numbers of both Goldfinch and Linnet also going through. Three Fieldfare north over Eakring Flash on 26th were probably the last of the Winter migrants till later in the year.

Overall May proved to be a quite disappointing month, providing a mixture of Summer migrants and late records of species more usually associated with Winter. However the real highlight personally, came in the form of a common Nottinghamshire bird, which had not occurred at Eakring before. The male Great Crested Grebe which was at Eakring Flash from 20-31st was always the next most likely species addition to the area's list, but the near nine years it took for one to turn up, was'nt quite so expected.

A male Ruddy Duck at Eakring Flash from 21-27th, may be one of the last records here if attempts to eradicate them continues across the UK. A very late female Goosander flew north-west over Eakring Flash on the evening of the 20th.

Single Common Buzzards were noted on several May dates, but there were two Hobby at one site in the area till 11th at least and probably one of the same pair at Lound Wood on 25th. A Short-eared Owl was at Eakring Flash during the afternoon on 7th, seen quartering the set-aside strips before taking cover in one of the willows between 14:45 and 15:00h.

A welcome and tricky year list addition was the Common Tern that flew south-east over Eakring Flash on 4th

Summer migrants which failed to arrive in April and then produced latest-ever arrival dates, included a Turtle Dove at Oil Bore Holes (11th) with three late movers north at two sites (25th) and Cuckoo at Eakring Meadows (4th) yet the Spotted Flycatcher at Eakring Flash on the 8th, was the earliest ever here by two days. A male Whinchat was at Penny Pasture Common (12th) with a female there next day. Whinchat is a very difficult Spring species here now, as they have become increasingly scarce over the past few years and the date of these two birds, fits in well with previous records which show two distinct (short) arrival periods from April 22-27th and May 11-14th. Reed Warblers returned to Eakring Flash, with the first male singing occasionally between 6-22nd, then two males from 23rd. Grasshopper Warblers remained at Eakring Flash, with a male singing in the hedgerow north of there till 6th, before and another started singing again from 21-27th.

A very quiet June, but there were a couple of highlights, including last month's Great Crested Grebe which remained at Eakring Flash till 2nd. A single Little Grebe (unusually scarce here this year) was there on the 17th. Wildfowl included a single Shelduck north over Red Hill also on the 17th and following a single male Ruddy Duck at Eakring Flash on the 16th, two males took up residence the next day and remained till the end of July. These were then joined by another on 30th.

Raptor records saw single Common Buzzards in the area on 8th, 17th, and 30th, with two in the Red Hill area on 18th. The month's real highlight came on June 10th, when the area's 8th Red Kite was seen heading west over the Eakring-Wellow minor road.

A Cuckoo flew north over Eakring Flash 17th, a day which also saw a singing male Grasshopper Warbler at Eakring Flash on 17-18th. Although at least one pair of Grasshopper Warblers were known to be breeding in the area, that paired male had remained silent for a couple of weeks. This fact, coupled with the nature of this bird's constant singing and it covering a large area of Eakring Flash, leant towards the theory of it being a late migrant. Some late migrants certainly did pass through as there were new male Sedge Warbler and Willow Warblers at Eakring Flash and a Swallow north on 10th. Two pairs of Reed Warbler were at Eakring Flash all month.

The early part of July remained fairly quiet and often site visits produced nothing of note at all. Yet July can often see the unusual and this year was no exception when six Goldeneye were present early morning on Eakring Flash till they flew off high north at 06:35h. This was only the second site record, following the two birds of October 27th 2000 and extremely unexpected. The first Teal of the Autumn were six present at Eakring Flash on 3rd and other wildfowl included two Pochard (16th) and the two male Ruddy Duck which remained on site till 16th.

Common Buzzards remained in the area and were seen on several dates, whilst a juvenile male Peregrine was in the area briefly, before flying off east on 30th. Barn Owls once again bred at one site in the area.

The number of sightings involving waders typically improved during July and there were records of a Whimbrel south-west and three Curlew west on 20th, with a Green Sandpiper at Eakring Meadows on 28th.

A 3rd Summer Yellow-legged Gull was in fields near Eakring Flash on 29th, whilst Common Terns flew south-west over Eakring Flash (3rd) and one was unusually present all day on 22nd and provided the first photographic opportunity in nine years.

Signs of return migration included small numbers of hirundines and Yellow Wagtails and a total of 12 Turtle Dove on 26th, included 11 south-west and a single north-west. Two also flew west on 30th. Successfully breeding Reed Warblers were at Eakring Flash all month, with fledged young being noted. Yet another male Grasshopper Warbler turned up at the southern-end of Eakring Flash (30th)

A very quiet month for wildfowl and apart from the small numbers of Mallard, occasional Gadwall and three young Tufted Duck, the only sighting of note was the six Teal south-east over Eakring Meadows on 31st.

Raptor sightings fared much better and August produced two records of Peregrine. The first probably related to the same juvenile male seen in July, when it flew north flew north over Tug Bridge Farm early in the month (5th) An adult bird flew low south-west over Eakring Flash on 31st. The only Hobby record was one through Eakring Meadows on 24th. Single Common Buzzards were often in the Lound Wood and Penny Pasture Common/Eakring Meadows area throughout, but four were over Hare Hill Wood on the 10th.

Two Green Sandpipers were on the small pool at Penny Pasture Common (3rd) with one south-west over Eakring Flash on 16th. A Whimbrel flew high south-west over the same site (12th) whilst an unusual record was the juvenile Curlew in stubble fields at Eakring Field Farm on the 19th. Snipe appeared at Penny Pasture Common, with two there on the 19th, a single on the 24th and three on 26th.

A Barn Owl was at Penny Pasture Common during the day on 18th and 22nd, Yellow-legged Gulls included an adult and a 3rd Summer in fields with at least 250+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls on August 12th, with another or the same adult at Eakring Field Farm on 19th. Single Swifts were noted on two dates with the latest date being the 26th.

Visible migration gained momentum during the month, with House Martin peaking at 249 south-west and Swallow (66) south and south-west on the 24th. 143 House Martin also went south-west on the 31st. Although there were no Meadow Pipits noted at all, two rare Tree Pipit records were the single which flew south-west over Penny Pasture Common on 16th and two at Eakring Flash for ten minutes, before they flew off north-east on 27th. Two other scarce migrants arrived with a fine male Redstart at Penny Pasture Common and a Whinchat at Eakring Flash (both 24th) Willow Warblers and Whitethroats moved through, peaking around mid-month and as numbers of Willow Warbler declined, numbers of Chiffchaff increased. The seven at Eakring Flash (31st) representing a distinct fall/arrival. Reed Warbler remained at Eakring Flash and fledged young were still being fed mid-month. Four parents and young were present till 17th, with definite migrants noted on both 16th and 27th.

67 Linnets were in stubble fields at Red Hill on 3rd and the flock of 75 Goldfinch at Penny Pasture Common (10th) declined to 21 by the end of the month.

A lack of coverage resulted in a relatively poor month, which could also be used to describe the lack of wildfowl again attracted to the area. The only notebook records I could find for the month were six Teal at Eakring Flash (7th) with three there (21-24th) A single Pochard was present from 21-24th and even Mallard failed to reach double-figures on the dates visited. 70 Pink-footed Geese flying high south-east over Eakring Flash on 26th was a typical first Autumn date.

Common Buzzards seen included four (7th) two on 10th, four were high over Red Hill early afternoon of 23rd, with three continuing south. Five were also distant over Wellow and it is likely that most of these birds were migrants. A Peregrine flew south-east over Eakring Flash late evening of the 9th.

A foggy 10th saw the first Golden Plover of the Autumn and a Greenshank briefly at Eakring Flash before heading off headed off east, was the first record of Greenshank here since Spring 2004. Four Snipe flew south-east 25th

A Yellow-legged Gull was with Lesser Black-backed Gulls in fields around Park Farm/Eakring Field Farm 5th and over 300 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were counted in the area on the 9th. Sightings continue to increase involving Barn Owl and a single bird was present in the Eakring village and Red Hill areas after dusk 25th, but had been seen on a couple of dates prior to this.

Among steady passerine passage over Red Hill on 26th was a single Wood Lark (5th record) heading north-west. The only Spotted Flycatcher of the month was at Penny Pasture Common (9th) and some last dates for Summer migrants were two Yellow Wagtail at Eakring Field Farm 24th; single Lesser Whitethroat at Eakring Flash 10th; two Whitethroat at Eakring Flash 10th and a Blackcap at Eakring Flash 28th. The area's largest-ever Tree Sparrow flock since recording here began in 1997, totalled approximately 40 birds in the Eakring Field Farm/Penny Pasture Common area on 9th.

Virtually no ducks noted again throughout the month, but the only geese did include 73 Pink-footed Geese east over Eakring Flash on 22nd and a record area count of 52 Greylag Geese on the 7th, consisting of birds from nearby Rufford CP commuting to Bilsthorpe Pit Top.

The regular Common Buzzard remained in the Eakring Flash/Lound Wood area from 3-26th and was seen on numerous dates during that period.

An unusual passage of Lapwing occurred between 5th and 8th, which involved 147 birds going west on three dates. Lapwing are rarely recorded moving purposefully here unless there is snow on the ground. 19 Golden Plover flew west on 5th and 11 Snipe flew over Eakring Flash on 11th, with 13 at Penny Pasture Common on 26th. Two Water Rail were at Eakring Flash from 11-14th

Late Swallows included four south (8th) and a single on 11th. The same date also saw the last House Martin of 2006, when three went south over Eakring Flash. Migration was noticably higher than it had been for several years. Even with rather inconsistant coverage, some good counts were reached. A record Redwing passage took place at the end of the month. After 218 had gone west on the 11th, a huge movement took place on the 26th with a record total of 4 540 moving mostly low south-west, but with some flocks also heading south in what were (for most of the time) extremely windy conditions. They were conditions which do not usually provide such numbers, but Redwings and a few Fieldfares poured through. After only half an hour's observations, the total had reached over 1 500 Redwing and with most flocks containing over 100+ birds, the count rose. The few Fieldfare going through, eventually led to a final count of 83 south-west and single Brambling went both south-west and east over Eakring Flash. A Brambling had been new for the year on the 14th, frequenting the old hedge and set-aside fields west of the flash and despite remaining all month, remained impossible to see. Other migrant counts included 514 Starling west and 102 Meadow Pipit south (both 11th) 33 Yellowhammer south-west (a total that beats all other single day counts) 130 Linnet 40 Greenfinch and Chaffinch 44, all on the 8th. A Chiffchaff was at Eakring Meadows (3rd)

Visible migration provided the months real highlight, with an exceptional Fieldfare count early in November, this coming so soon after last month's record Redwing movement. 5 275 Fieldfare flew west and south-west on 2nd, with two clear waves of birds that appeared to be moving on a broad front. After just over an hour, the count had reached 1 000, but a massive increase in birds between 08:25h and 08:35h produced a count of just over 1 300. Fieldfare were still going through during the following hour, but the numbers dropped over that time, before another wave of birds began pouring through low. 09:45h-10:30h produced another 1 747 Fieldfare, with the final total being 5 275 for the morning. Migration counts also produced some fair Starling movements. Although 1 201 went west (2nd) followed by 1 340 west 4th, movements were not as spectacular as in past years. 13 Brambling went west (again on the 2nd) and an elusive single was in the Eakring Flash area on the 4th.

Another month when wildfowl numbers were again very poor. Although 27 Teal were at Eakring Meadows (2nd) this was still a low count on previous years. The only other duck seen was the occasional Mallard at Eakring Flash on a couple of dates.

Waders included 103 Lapwing with 15 Golden Plover in the ploughed field in the Red Hill area on the 8th. Snipe reached a maximum of 15 at Eakring Meadows on 30th. An unexpected wader highlight came in the form of the Dunlin that was heard going high north-east over Penny Pasture Common on the 2nd. This was the first record of Dunlin for several years.

Common Buzzards were present in the area for much of the month and a single was at Lound Wood (4th) with two there on 18th.

42 Yellowhammer were in the set-aside at Eakring Flash on 18th.

Through increased work commitments, coupled with a lack of observer coverage, this eventually turned out to be another fairly quiet December.

Among a few highlights was a fine drake Goosander that was at Eakring Flash on 17th. The same day also saw a male Merlin unsuccessfully hunting a Sky Lark for five minutes, before flying of north towards Lound Wood and was the area's 14th record. The only Common Buzzard sighting was one in the Eakring Flash/Lound Wood area on 14th.

A Water Rail was noted at Eakring Flash on two dates (2nd and 17th) but never really showed on either occasion and was presumably one of the two birds present in October.

Other sightings during December included 11 Common Snipe around Eakring Meadows, 180 Fieldfare were at Penny Pasture Common and 50+ Meadow Pipits were in nearby fields south of the minor road there. Two Brambling flew east over Eakring Flash and among small numbers of passage finches were seven Lesser Redpoll at Eakring Flash, all these records comming on the 16th.

Information and sightings supplied by R Brace, D Burrows, R Haynes, T Pendleton, D Smith, G Telford and T Wardell.
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