Eakring Birds 2007
A monthly review
January was generally very mild, but frequently very windy. The 19th saw the strongest storm since October 1987, which tore down several trees across the area and finally brought down one section of the dead Willow in the middle of Eakring Flash. Much calmer conditions saw westerly and north-westerly movements of Pink-footed Geese across the county. At Eakring, skiens of 173 went west on 13th and 272 west on 25th. Shelduck were at Eakring Flash on several dates, with maximum of three on the 4th. Gadwall peaked at eight late in the month, whilst a good site count of 35 Teal (13th) included a flock of 32 which dropped in from the north-west. There were also records of Tufted Duck and Pochard during the month.

A single Coot arrived back at Eakring Flash early (1st) and was quickly followed by others over the next couple of weeks, so that by the 25th, there were 11 on site. Raptors included three Common Buzzards on both 1st and 11th, with a single noted on the 4th and two on the 14th. Rarest bird was the Peregrine, seen in the Leyfields and Lound Wood areas on 11th and 14th, but remained in the area and was probably the same bird to eventually be seen again in early February.

Only one Jack Snipe was present at Eakring Meadows (to the 13th at least) with a relatively low maximum of 11 Common Snipe throughout.

Fieldfare included 200 in fields at Church Hill and 215 west on the 1st, a total of 433 in the area (13th) and an unusual January movement of 217 north-west on the 14th.

An excellent month and probably one of the best February's here ever. Rare and scarce species were seen and (in some instances) even present in the area throughout the month. 49 Pink-footed Geese moving west on 1st, was a nice opening record and there were further skiens noted with ten moving west over Hare Hill Wood on 4th and then 98 west on 6th. Follwing a surprising blank January, Goosander finally arrived at Eakring Flash with six on 19th and then five the next day. At least six different birds were involved in these two records. Teal peaked at 21 at Penny Pasture Common (3rd) with smaller counts being noted sporadically thereafter.

There was an increase in Common Buzzard numbers. Three were at Hare Hill Wood (3rd) with a high area count of seven at both Hare Hill Wood and Parkhill Plantation two days later on the 5th. Birds were seen on virtually every visit to the area and sightings usually involved birds in the Lound Wood/ Red Hill and Hare Hill Wood/Eakring Meadows areas. A major highlight was the ringtail Hen Harrier, first seen hunting fields at Eakring Flash, before driven off north by corvids on 5th and then seen again a week later at Eakring Meadows on 12th. Hen Harrier remains a real major rarity here and this was only the fourth area record. All have occurred in either February or March.

Other raptors seen included an adult Peregrine in the Park Farm and Eakring Field Farm area. This bird was only seen in the area on three occasions early in the month (2-4th) and although not seen during the rest of February, was almost certainly still in the area at times, as it was to be seen again during early March. It's also likely that this is the same female bird which first appeared as an immature at the end of 2002. Another welcome falcon were two Merlin. An adult female flew north-west near Eakring Field Farm (3rd) and then an immature female was photographed distantly in trees along the Kneesall Road (24th)

February was a poor month for gulls, but a noticable Black-headed Gull passage through Eakring Flash occurred on the 19th, with groups of 21, 22, 20 and 27 going west at slightly higher an altitude and just under the cloud-base than the 29 that moved south in four smaller groups. The combined total of 119 birds, was the highest since the Autumn. As if to emphasize that this was indeed actual passage, just a single bird was seen the next day and further daily counts throughout the rest of the month never got any higher than three.

Jack Snipe remained at their traditional localities, with a single at Eakring Meadows on the 3rd and two there from 5-10th. A poor Winter for numbers of Common Snipe, saw a maximum of just four at Eakring Meadows on 12th. Golden Plover have also been scarce this Winter, so 22 at Eakring Flash on 8th were welcome and there were signs of a build-up of numbers when 120 were distant over Red Hill on 24th. A Woodcock at Kersall (5th) was another very welcome record.

A Water Rail at Eakring Flash from 1-10th had most certainly been present during January, but had not been seen or heard at all. After it's last sighting, it but may have been forced into the large Bulrush beds at the southern-end of Eakring Flash for the remainder of the month, after the area was flooded on several occasions.

February usually produces very quiet birdwatching here and the month is more often endured than enjoyed in the run up to the Spring migration of March. However, the first week this year was surprising for it's succession of area rarities and other sought-after year ticks. A search for hibernating Ladybirds produced a major surprise when two Long-eared Owl were found using a daytime roost at an undisclosed location near Kersall on 3rd. Occasional checks over the following weeks saw both birds remain, although sometimes only one bird was present. It is thought likely that these birds are a breeding pair rather than continental migrants.

Hints of return migration by some of the area's regular wintering passerines included some excellent totals. 800 Starling were in fields near Parkhill Plantation/Eakring Field Farm on 17th, with 350 there again on the 24th. Some East coast sites also reported Starlings moving or building-up around this time and it seems that the mild weather induced an earlier than normal North Sea crossing. The same area also produced some staggering Fieldfare counts. 150 were present on 12th, rising to 650 on 17th. Near the end of the month, an estimated 1500 Fieldfare were present on 24th, but counts gradually dwindled after this date. Redwing was another species which was present in high numbers, with a maximum of 250 in with the Starling and Fieldfare flocks on 24th.

Other interesting sightings were an unusual gathering of 52 Sky Lark at Eakring Flash on 10th, whilst Marsh Tits included pairs at High Trees, Eakring village and Hare Hill Wood on 3rd.

On reflection, March 2007 was and exciting month, producing a succession of rare and scarce birds. One of the highlights were the 23 Whooper Swan that flew west over Eakring Flash on 4th and there were expectations that the peak Whooper Swan movement over much of the Midlands area later in the month, would produce more flocks. However, this did'nt turn out to be the case, but this was still a welcome record. Wildfowl numbers were low during March, although there were still ten Teal at Eakring Flash on the 26th. Goosander records included five (four males and a female) at Eakring Flash (3rd) and a pair present on 20th.

Once again there were numerous sightings of Common Buzzards throughout much of the month. Five were over both Kersall village and Hare Hill Wood 25th and this represented March's highest count. Further records of Merlin included an adult female in the Lound Wood and Eakring Flash area before heading low west over Red Hill (1st), a female again at Eakring Flash (20th) and a male hunting the small Linnet flock at Eakring Flash on 22nd. The over-wintering adult Peregrine caused havoc amongst the large Wood Pigeon flock (around a 1000 birds) in the Eakring Field Farm and Parkhill Plantation area on several dates including both 4th and 6th. A male Peregrine flew north over Lound Wood on 11th, whilst another male over Kersall (25th) eventually flew off south-east.

Single Jack Snipe were in their favoured haunts at Eakring Meadows on 3rd, 10th and 22nd, with two birds seen on 4th. A much more uncommon bird here is the Woodcock. Singles were flushed from along the edge of Hare Hill Wood on the 10th and from the old hedge at the southern-end of Eakring Flash on 26th.

In what has been an exceptionally poor Winter period for Golden Plover here, it was surprising to find 102 Golden Plover present in fields at Eakring Field Farm on 24th. A further count of 132 followed at the same site on the 26th, with this flock accounting for part of the 177 that flew east and north-east over the area on the 25th. Single Redshank flew north-east over Eakring Flash on 20th and 25th.

Summer migrants included a Sand Martin south-west over Eakring Flash on 18th, whilst the first Chiffchaffs arrived slightly late on 25th. A White Wagtail flew low north-west over Eakring Flash on 31st.

Two more rarities seen during March were one Long-eared Owl which was still using the roost near Kersall from 4-10th, a single Waxwing flew low north over Eakring Flash on 25th and could possibly have been in Eakring village the day before, when I thought I heard one call, but could'nt locate it.

250 Fieldfare were at Red Hill and around Tug Bridge Farm on 15th.

Despite providing some excellent birds, a prolonged period of fine anti-cyclonic weather meant that much of April's traditional second-half peak was rather a disappointing affair overall. Visible migration counts were low and the poorest for many years, with the skies virtually birdless for days at a time. The fine weather meant ideal conditions for flight and no birds were really forced down by the hoped for inclement weather. Although there were some north-easterly winds, no rain accompanied them. This meant no terns and very few waders being seen. Wildfowl records were probably the worst ever and there was absolutely nothing of note throughout the whole of the month.

Such is the expectation for the latter half of April, that even the area's ninth Red Kite over Tug Bridge Farm and Park Farm on the 21st, seemed slightly disappointing, yet was an obvious April highlight. The bird eventually drifted off north, gaining height as it went and showed extremely well. Common Buzzard numbers peaked at four (12th) at least six (14th) with plumage differences and odd feather loss indicating that some birds seen, were wanders or migrants. A very early Hobby was over Kersall village on 16th and there were one/two in the Red Hill/Lound Wood area on 23rd.

With the weather being particularly fine, the only waders noted were two Ringed Plover north over Red Hill (1st) a Little Ringed Plover high north over Kersall (14th) a Whimbrel briefly at Eakring Flash on 22nd and an Oystercatcher there on 27th. 68 Golden Plover flew high north-west over Red Hill at dusk on 24th

Migration counts achieved during April were some of the poorest known here, but it was a similar situation across many of the traditional Pennine watch points this Spring. One of the features of this Spring was the late evening/dusk movements noted by Fieldfare and Redwing, which was noted on several occasions early in the month. At Red Hill, 183 Fieldfare climbed high into the darkening sky heading north-east on 5th, followed by 26 again north-east at dusk (6th) 84 Fieldfare were at Tug Bridge Farm on 7th, with only a small wandering group noted at several sites during much of what remained of April. A single in sheep fields at Kersall on 30th, was the last Spring record. There were much smaller numbers of Redwing seen early in the month, with four at Oil Bore Holes in Eakring village and then 23 Redwing south-east over Eakring Flash late evening on the 5th.

A White Wagtail flew north-west from Eakring Flash on 18th, following on from the bird at the end of March. There were two Tree Pipits seen, with singles north over Kersall on 19th and then north-west over Eakring Flash on 26th - both welcome Spring records.

For the first time ever here, Redstart and Whinchat records out-numbered the two Wheatear seen all Spring. Two male Redstarts were found at the eastern end of Eakring Meadows on 19th (and remaining till 22nd) with another male frequenting a hedgerow at Kersall. On 21st, there was another male in the Hawthorns at Penny Pasture Common, Eakring Meadows on 21st. Two extremely confiding male Whinchats were at Penny Pasture Common 22nd and then a female was present there from 26-27th. April produced just two Wheatear, with a male moving north over Eakring Flash on 1st, with a 1st Summer male Wheatear at Tug Bridge Farm from 24-28th, eventually confirmed through photographs as being of the Greenland race.

Summer migrant arrival dates included Swallow 11th, Willow Warbler and Blackcap 12th, Yellow Wagtail 15th, Sedge Warbler 22nd and Garden Warbler 23rd. The recent increase in the numbers of Grasshopper Warbler males at Eakring Flash continued, with different males noted on April 16-18th; April 17th; April 20-27th and April 22-24th. A male was also at Eakring Meadows on 22nd.

Barn Owl remain in the area, with a daytime sighting on 5th.

A very quiet month despite a good amount of coverage.

Summer migrants continued to arrive and some species such as Sedge Warbler, Swift and Cuckoo were extremely late. Although there was a single bird briefly at Eakring Flash in April, breeding male Sedge Warblers did'nt begin to arrive back in territory until May 3rd. Over the next few weeks, more filtered back and by the end of the month, there were a total of five males around Eakring Flash.

The silence of the Eakring and Kersall area, yet again failed to be broken by the most traditional sound of Spring, when Cuckoos failed to hold any ground at all. This started several years ago now and a similar situation still seems to exist over much of north Nottinghamshire. The only record at Eakring this year was of a single moving north over Eakring Flash on 3rd. Turtle Doves arrived slightly late at their regular site in Eakring village (5th) with brief migrants including one north (12th) and two south-west (17th) Swifts finally appeared over Eakring on 12th and two male Reed Warblers were back at Eakring Flash from 20th onwards. New Grasshopper Warblers included birds at Eakring Flash on 3rd and Red Hill on 8th.

A Hobby was seen over Eakring village and at Eakring Flash on two dates during May and there were regular sightings of resident Common Buzzards (up to three birds) Barn Owls were noted occasionally at one regular site in the area, but a big surprise came on the last day of May, when a Long-eared Owl was seen carrying food back to the nest site during the early evening of 31st.

The only wader record concerned a Whimbrel flying north-east over the Red Hill area during the early hours (01:40h) of the 24th, the bird being heard to call several times during a moth-trapping session there.

Not surprisingly, June was quieter than May and there was little of note. Common Buzzards remained in the area all month, with one showing particularly well near Eakring Flash on several occasions all month, often seen perched on top of roadside telegraph poles. The Hobby seen on the 14th, was probably the same bird noted in May. Barn Owls were seen on both 1st and 8th.

An Oystercatcher was heard twice flying over the area during a moth trapping session at Lound Wood on 7th and most likely one of a pair breeding at a location outside the recording area.

Reed Warblers remained all month and two Grasshopper Warblers reeled very briefly at Eakring Flash on 9th, with song also heard on 14th, 18th and 28th.

The month's highlight was the successful rearing of at least three young Barn Owls. On several occasions, the birds (including the adult male) showed extremely well and patience saw views of both perched and hunting birds down to 12 feet. Long-eared Owls saw a single fly past the moth trap being operated at Red Hill 18th and then two were seen together hunting meadowland there on 20th, but the birds had obviously been present all month, although breeding here could not be confirmed. At least two Common Buzzards remained in opposing ends of the recording area throughout.

Welcome and much needed year ticks came when six Curlew flew west over Eakring Flash on 7th and both Kingfisher and Little Grebe appeared at Eakring Flash. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling well at the southern-end of Eakring Flash on the 13th, but Reed Warbler failed to show after one there on the 1st.

Return migration consisted of little and the highest count of Swift was just 61 mostly south on 13th. Small numbers of Sand Martins were noted on a couple of dates odd Turtle Doves began to pass through late in the month.

A poor month for wildfowl, with even very few Gadwall and Mallard about. The first Teal arrived at Penny Pasture Common and was present from 16-18th.

There were much better numbers of raptors though, with Common Buzzard producing good site counts of eight on 9th, an area record of 14 (including 11 together at Red Hill) on 23rd, six on 26th and finally nine on 30th. Most of the birds were juveniles. Sightings of Hobby included four together over Eakring Flash (18th) and single birds moving south-west over Red Hill on 23rd and at Penny Pasture Common on the 27th. A Peregrine was near Eakring Flash, then moved off east during the early morning of the 23rd.

Lapwing peaked at 113 in fields at Eakring Field Farm, whilst the Autumn's first Golden Plover flew over Eakring Flash on 30th. Rarest wader was the Common Sandpiper which flew over Lound Wood during at moth-trapping session at 21:30h on 15th.

August was a good month for Yellow-legged Gulls. Adults were noted on both 4th and 9th, followed by a 2cy (2nd calendar year) near Eakring Flash on the 18th. Three adults were in fields at Church Hill again (23rd) with a 1cy bird seen on 25th. Most of the month produced varying counts of Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the area. A minimum count of 564 Lesser Black-backed Gulls came on the 5th.

With visible migration watches producing small counts throughout most of the month, it was difficult to assess whether much was going over at all. It was in fact, the varying numbers of Yellow Wagtails on the flooded pasture at Tug Bridge Farm which showed that many species were passing through. An extremely good area count of 18 were present there on 27th, but most days produced double figure counts. A juvenile fitted with a metal BTO ring was present on 26th.

Of the other sightings during August, a Barn Owl took up residence around Lound Wood from 9-15th

Notable migrant records included five Turtle Doves at Tug Bridge Farm (4th) with one moving north-east over Eakring Flash on 26th. A Tree Pipit flew south-east over Eakring Flash 25th and the only Sedge Warbler of the month, was at Eakring Flash on 18th, with a Grasshopper Warbler near Eakring Flash on 3rd.

One of the best records of the month was the six Common Crossbill that flew high north (despite the strong wind) over Eakring Flash, before appearing to come down in Lound Wood 23rd.

Without doubt, September is the best birding month of the year and an increase in coverage here, meant that this month did'nt prove otherwise.

The first Pink-footed Geese of the Autumn were noted on 18th, when 67 flew high east. Five Teal were at Eakring Meadows on the 1st, whilst Eakring Flash produced the first Pintail here since 2004, when six (including two drakes) were present on the 27th, till they flew off west at 07:10h. Two days later, a male Wigeon was also at Eakring Flash on 29th, a formerly regular duck here, but this was the first since 2005.

Common Buzzard peaked at another healthy count of nine on 4th, with five a few days later on the 9th. There were regular sightings of Hobby throughout the month, with an adult and juvenile high south-west (1st) an adult over Eakring village (4th) one-two birds were in the Park Farm area from 5-26th at least, whilst odd birds were recorded over Eakring Flash 13th, 21st and 30th. An immature Peregrine frequented the area from 21st till the end of the month, being seen again on both 29th and 30th.

Golden Plover only reached a high of 13 at Eakring Field Farm on 4th, the first returning Snipe involved one at Tug Bridge Farm on 3rd, two at Penny Pasture Common on 15th and then 25 moving west on 30th.

Two 1st Winter Kittiwakes flying west over Lound Wood on 27th, represented one of the month's real highlights, picked up whilst counting a flock of Redwing passing over Lound Wood at 08:10h.This was only the second area record, with the previous being on October 3rd 1998. There were numerous records of Yellow-legged Gull during September. Five were in fields at Church Hill and near Eakring Field Farm on 3rd, a total which included three adults, a 3cy and a 1cy bird. Further records were of three (two adults and a 3cy) at Church Hill on 5th and six (two adult females, two adult males, a 2cy male and a 1cy male) at Eakring Field Farm on 8th. Five (two adult females, one adult male, a 1cy female and a 1cy male) were again present in fields at Eakring Field Farm on 9th, whilst single adults were present on 17th and 26th. An early Great Black-backed Gull was the 1cy bird at Eakring Field Farm on 8th and two adult Herring Gulls were noted later in the month on the 26th. A huge 828 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were at Eakring Field Farm on 8th.

North-easterly winds brought three Common Tern heading west through Eakring Flash at 14:50h on 27th, resulting in the area's first-ever tern record for September

On the whole, passerine migration counts were small, but there was some evidence. Single Turtle Dove moved through Eakring Flash west (6th) north-west (8th) and south over Penny Pasture Common on 15th. An early Redwing arrival included 1 815 west on 27th, with smaller numbers after this date and the first Fieldfare arrived the same day, being located moving west within one of the Redwing flocks. The Redwing count aside, fine weather meant that little was recorded passing over.

45 Yellow Wagtail went through during September, with Tug Bridge Farm again attracting a peak count of 17 on 3rd.

It was quite a good month for warblers. Some late dates included the area's latest-ever Lesser Whitethroat, at Penny Pasture Common from 29-30th. Similarly, a Sedge Warbler at Eakring Flash on 15th was also a new latest-ever record. Good numbers of Chiffchaff were seen, with 92 birds recorded during the month (105 in 2002) Other totals were 22 Whitethroat, nine Blackcap, six Lesser Whitethroat and six Willow Warbler. Spotted Flycatcher included two at Red Hill on 9th, followed by a single at Penny Pasture Common on 17th.

Penny Pasture Common produced even better birds during the second-half of the month, with four Wood Lark north-east on 16th, two Tree Pipit briefly in trees along The Beck (13th) and then welcome records of Redstart, Whinchat and Stonechat. The first Redstart remained unseen in the large hedgerow near Parkhill Plantation on 1st. An adult male was then in the Hawthorns on Penny Pasture Common on 6th, being followed by a 1st Winter male ( 7-9th) with another 1st Winter male present from 16 -30th at least. A Whinchat was at Penny Pasture Common on 17th, with another found earlier in the month along a hedgerow in the Leyfields area on 5th. A Stonechat proved brief at Penny Pasture Common 30th.

An extremely pleasing find was the 1st Winter female Ring Ouzel (18-23rd) which frequented the Elders along a hedge, immediately east of Eakring Flash. The bird was located by call as I walked along the hedge and remained frustratingly elusive, being seen very briefly on several occasions and only once reasonably well through binoculars. For most of the time the bird was deep in cover, but when flushed, would fly over to Eakring Flash, always to return to it's favourite spot.

Some notable finch counts included 77 Goldfinch at Eakring Flash and Penny Pasture Common (4th) numbers of Linnet rose from 50 in fields at Eakring Flash (4th) to over 200 by the end of the month. Single Brambling flew south-east over Penny Pasture Common on 27th and over Eakring Flash on 30th. The first Lesser Redpoll were noted from 17th, with Siskin being regularly recorded from 15th.

Some other records included a Nuthatch which flew into Hare Hill Wood from the Eakring Meadows direction (1st) with another at Lound Wood (30th) being the first records of this surprisingly scarce bird here for several years. There were good numbers of Jay around, with at least 15 moving through during the month. A Barn Owl was disturbed from it's roost close to Eakring Flash (15th)

October was a varied month which surprisingly only producing a single Pink-footed Geese record of 75 moving east on 4th. Following last month's good selection of wildfowl, another surprise was the lack of anything more interesting other than occasional small numbers of Mallards and Teal. It now seems increasingly likely that wildfowl have largely deserted Eakring Flash in favour of other nearby waters.

A plausible reason for this might be the increasing Sallow growth around much of the water's edge, making any wildfowl that do turn up, feeling less secure with such a restricted view of approaching predators etc. Eakring Flash does still have potential to eventually turn up something rare.

With the vegetation around Eakring Flash increasing, it was no surprise that Water Rail returned to over-winter, with at least one present there from 27th (with at least three in early November)

The immature Peregrine was again noted on 3rd, 4th, 14th and 28th, usually around the Leyfields and Lound Wood areas, but occasionally covering a much wider area.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued to be found in good numbers, although flocks usually moved off early morning. Highest counts were of 350 on both 4th and 27th. Checking the Lesser Black-backed Gulls produced several records of Yellow-legged Gulls, with a 3cy bird present in the Leyfields area (4th) an adult in fields at Park Farm (6th) two adults at Church Hill (13th) and an adult and a 1cy at Tug Bridge Farm (14th) Herring Gulls and the occasional Great Black-backed Gull started to be seen more regularly during October.

October proved to be a good month for chats, with a male and female Stonechat along the entrance track to at Eakring Field Farm on 6th, with the male remaining the next day. Another male turned up at Penny Pasture Common on 18th. The two 1st Winter male Redstarts present at Penny Pasture Common since September, remained until the second week of October, creating a new latest-ever date for Redstart here. The longest-staying of the two (eventually present for a total of 25 days) finally left a day before the injured male on the 10th. The injured bird's leg seemed to gradually improve throughout it's stay and it was last seen on the 11th. Two Greenland Wheatear were found in fields at the northern end of the recording area near Wellow on 17th (new latest ever date)

Late Chiffchaffs were at Eakring Meadows (13th) and Penny Pasture Common 18th, with birds earlier in the month noted on both 3rd, 4th and 7th. The only other warbler recorded was a Blackcap near Eakring Flash on 6th.

There were no big visible migration mornings during the month. Starlings and thrushes moved through regularly, plus there were numerous roaming flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing at several sites across the area. Definite influxes/arrivals of Blackbird were noticed on 11th and 21st. Chaffinches were the most prolific of the finches - moving most of month with high counts of 118 on 11th and 103 on 14th. Although a monthly total of 448 was not the highest ever, the current two/three day a week coverage, means that this would be the largest monthly movement of Chaffinches over the area. I cannot remember a single morning count reaching three figures here before, and there has never been such a pronounced westerly directional movement with birds moving very high. Groups of Chaffinches sometimes numbered well over ten, with two flocks of 19 being the largest. These groups presumably contained better numbers of Brambling than were actually recorded via flight call. Confirmed sightings of Brambling included singles moving west on 14th, west on 20th and west and south-east on 21st. Small numbers of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin were noted throughout the month.

Of the other records; the first Rock Pipit since 2000 flew west over Eakring Flash on 21st, there were 62 Pied Wagtail in a roost at Eakring Flash on the evening of the 16th. Two Coal Tit were briefly at Eakring Flash 11th and Jays continued to be a common sight. Various counts of Golden Plover included a maximum of 65, but the flock was rarely down in the area and 151 Lapwing were obvious migrants, moving through on 14th.

Another relatively quiet month for wildfowl produced Pink-footed Geese on just three dates, with skiens totalling 355 east on the November's opening day and 16 west on the 15th. An unusual record referred to a single bird at Leyfields on a windy 11th, coming in from the west and dropping into fields with gulls. It stayed for nearly an hour, before it and the gulls were flushed by a Common Buzzard. There were small numbers of Mallard in the area and even fewer Teal, with four and occasionally five at Eakring Flash for much of the month. Ten at Penny Pasture Common on 24th represented something of an arrival, but a poor count for early Winter. The first Goosander of the Winter was a female south-west over Eakring Flash (22nd)

Common Buzzard sightings remained fairly regular, usually involving one-two birds on several dates. Rarest of the two raptor species recorded was the immature Peregrine, noted on 10th, 21st and 27th. Showing well at Eakring Flash on the latter date, even distant photographs showed that it was rung on it's right leg.

Water Rail included three calling at Eakring Flash during the evening of the 2nd and further sightings included one along The Beck at the southern end of Eakring Flash (16th) and two at Eakring Flash (22nd) A Woodcock was flushed near the old hedge at Eakring Flash (10th) whilst two Jack Snipe were at Penny Pasture Common from the 15th. A very poor month for Common Snipe, with counts at the same site rising from three on 15th to a maximum of just nine on 29th. Autumn Golden Plover numbers have probably been the lowest here for many years. Although 62 were seen on the 15th, the record involved flyovers only.

It was however, a good month for gull numbers. There was an influx of 31 Herring Gull on the 11th, followed by a much larger movement of 166 south-west on 25th. This coincided with the arrival of colder weather from the north and also provided an area record count of 50 Great Black-backed Gull the same day. 13 Great Black-backed Gull also moved through on 21st. Another record gull count was the 75 Common Gull at Eakring Flash and Church Hill, also on the 25th, but higher than normal numbers included 49 at Leyfields/Eakring Flash on 16th and 62 on 17th. Although there was a gradual decrease as the month continued, numbers were still very respectable. November's higlight though, was the adult Kittiwake north-east over Eakring Flash on the 10th. This was the area's third-ever record and followed on quickly from the the area's second in September.

Visible migration was quiet. Starlings moved through on most days, peaking at 543 west on 15th. Chaffinches moved through in much smaller numbers than were recorded last month and included a single Brambling south-west over Eakring Flash on 15th. There were 17 Linnet at Eakring Flash briefly (21st) and 11 Lesser Redpoll there (22nd)

A fairly quiet month to end the year, but most of the expected Winter species occurred. Pink-footed Geese were one such species, but the only skien was 96 moving west over Eakring village on the 13th. A few Mallard turned up during the early part of the last week of December and these may have been genuinely wild birds, as some other Midland sites also noticed an influx of wildfowl during this time. Several flocks of Teal on the 26th appeared to come in high from the north-west. Around 30 birds landed on Eakring Flash, but the other 78 continued off high south-east. These birds were probably disturbed from another local water near Wellow, but 108 Teal still represents the highest count here for many years. Prior to the 26th, the only Teal noted throughout the month were between four and five birds in the Eakring Flash area on several dates, and the only other notable count was of 14 on Penny Pasture Common (27th) The few Goosander records all concerned drakes, with two at Eakring Flash during the late afternoon of December 11th, one moving south-west over the now frozen Eakring Flash (13th) with another present there from 26-27th.

Common Buzzard sightings were scarce and two over Lound Wood and Hare Hill Wood on 27th, was the best count noted. The immature Peregrine entertained on 13th, 16th and 25th, but was obviously again probably present throughout the whole of the month. It was seen to attack a Teal on one occasion, causing it to hit the ice and bounce into thick cover in it's escape.

A mid-month cold spell resulted in some slight Lapwing movement, with counts of 76 west (13th) 44 west (15th) and 92 west (16th) The only Jack Snipe were singles flushed from around the bridge at the northern end of Eakring Flash on 21st, before flying off strongly to the north-west and one was at Penny Pasture Common the next day. Common Snipe reached a maximum of just 11 at Eakring Meadows on the 21st. Few Golden Plover were seen.

Common Gull continued to be present daily, but numbers fluctuated considerably. At one end of the scale was the 122 birds present at two sites on the 8th. This was a new site record and included one flock of 67 birds at Eakring Flash. Other counts of note were 18 on December 1st and 37 on 6th. Herring Gull produced a maximum of 55 on 26th, whilst 39 was the best Great Black-backed Gull count on 30th.

Other sightings during the month were 332 Fieldfare at Tug Bridge Farm (1st) then 386 in two flocks (6th) A Water Rail remained faithful to one stretch of The Beck at Eakring Flash and was seen several times between 8-26th. A flock of 33 Sky Lark were at Eakring Flash on 13th, but there were staggering numbers of Wood Pigeon around the area on the 8th, when a minimum of 7.000 were seen leaving several roost sites. The largest of these was at Hare Hill Wood, which held a conservatively estimated 5 000 Wood Pigeon. At least 1 000 Wood Pigeon at Eakring Flash on 15th, included a completely white bird.

Information and sightings supplied by Robin Brace, Neville Davey, Trevor and Dilys Pendleton, Tony Wardell and David Yates.
Monthly reviews