Eakring Birds 2009
A monthly review
2009 seemed to open on a rather quiet note, but eventually turned up a few scarce species at the end of the month.

A good cross country movement of Pink-footed Geese occurred over South Yorkshire and Derbyshire mid-month, but movements were missed over Eakring through work commitments. However, two skiens of 61 and 20 flew west over Eakring Flash at 08:15h and 08:25h on the 31st. The same morning also saw two adult Whooper Swan low west over Eakring Flash at 08:45h and was a welcome year tick and possibly not the only record to come this year, as six out of Eakring's nine Whooper Swan records have come during March.

There was a slight increase in the number of wildfowl at Eakring Flash. Although it seems increasingly unlikely that numbers of former common wintering duck such as Teal, will ever reach those of the early 2000's, a monthly maximum of 17 in the area was quite a good count. Numerous records of Goosander for most of the month, included a male east over Eakring Flash (4th) a male and two females (22nd) two females (23rd) a male and female (24th) a male and two females (29th) and a male and three females on 30th and 31st. Shelduck arrived back on time, although they were only present on the 10th

Other regular wintering birds included three Water Rail at Eakring Flash on 3rd, but the only other sighting was of one on 8th. Jack Snipe peaked at four on 18th at Penny Pasture Common, with singles (probably just one bird) on 2nd, 29th and 30th. Low numbers of Common Snipe this Winter, with 11 Eakring Meadows on 2nd, 16 on 18th and just three on 29th. Lapwing and Golden Plover reached maximum counts of 227 and 128 respectively on 10th in fields around the Red Hill area.

Other sightings included an unusual count of 165 Herring Gull and 75 Great Black-backed Gull were moving south and south-west on January 10th, whist 279 Fieldfare were at Leyfields and Eakring Field Farm on 18th. Three Lesser Redpoll were at Eakring Meadows on 4th, but odd single birds flew over on several dates.

February seemed rather quiet even by February standards, but by the end of the month, there had been the usual selection of expected species. 168 Pink-footed Goose flew west on 1st and an unusual gathering of Mute Swan at Eakring Flash peaked at 21 on 26th. The maximum count of Teal was a rather poor 11 at Penny Pasture Common, but rarer wildfowl included a single female Goosander on 1st.

At least two Common Buzzards were in the area throughout February, with the Eakring Field Farm regular, always showing best. A male Peregrine caught a Wood Pigeon near Eakring Flash (8th) and remained in the area for over an hour.

Cold weather meant that Common Snipe counts were low, with a peak of just five at Penny Pasture Common (26th) with the month's only Jack Snipe present the same day. A very notable 300 Lapwing were in fields adjacent to Penny Pasture Common on 21st. Two Water Rail were at Eakring Flash 15th, with no further sign for the rest of the month, whilst the first Coot of year did'nt arrive until 21st, with three on 26th. This is actually one of the latest return dates for Coot and was undoubtedly due to the colder weather.

Black-headed Gulls continued to frequent Eakring Flash, with 130 present on 15th, which is surprising when no gulls have ever lingered at Eakring Flash in over ten years until very recently recently.

A Long-eared Owl was present in the usual roost site near Kersall 21st, which was the first time this year, after having been looked for several times since January.

The cold weather produced the Eakring area's largest ever flock of Sky Lark, with at least 250 birds in fields around Church Hill on 8th. There were still around 125 present in the Leyfields area on 12th, but birds soon dispersed at the onset of milder weather and by the end of the month, many males were in territory. 21 Brambling flew high north over Hare Hill Wood 15th.

Although much of March seemed to continue in a rather quiet fashion, it eventually provided some interesting records, including one particularly sought after raptor.

Throughout the course of the Winter, a large group of Mute Swan had been present in fields near Wellow, but early in the month, moved to Oil-seed Rape fields between Eakring Flash and Leyfields farm. A peak of 29 birds was reached on 5th, with over 20 birds present daily till the end of March. This count also included the now resident pair from Eakring Flash. Other wildfowl included four Shelduck on most days, either at Eakring Flash or getting infields around Tug Bridge Farm. Gadwall reached a very high count of 21 (by recent standards) at Eakring Flash on 5th and two Pochard were present there on 21st. A pair of Goosander were at Eakring Flash on both 26th and 28th.

At least two Common Buzzards remained in the area continuously during the course of the month, with a maximum count of 13 seen on the 15th. However, it was the ringtail Hen Harrier at Eakring Flash from 28-29th that took prize of bird of the month. Arriving low from the west, it quartered Eakring Flash and field ditches south of Lound Wood from 07:00 - 07:10h, before being lost from view behind Lound Wood and appearing to continue low north. It then reappeared at Eakring Flash from 07:40 - 08:00h and again hunted the same area/route, but also around the pastures area, before going east and out of view. The following day, it again came into Eakring Flash from the Red Hill area, where it had presumably roosted somehwere overnight. It was low and being mobbed by a Carrion Crow and was lost from view and not seen again. Surprisingly, although Hen Harrier remains extremely rare here, it has been recorded annually since 2007.

The only waders noted included a monthly peak of 102 Lapwing at Eakring Field Farm (1st) 158 Golden Plover going high west (11th) were definitely returning migrants, whilst a single Jack Snipe was at Penny Pasture Common on 5th, with two present on 10th. Common Snipe numbers remained low all Winter, but there were still 19 found around the whole of the Eakring Meadows NR (5th)

A female Stonechat was in rough vegetation along a ditch at Church Hill from 5-6th, it's arrival here, seemingly coinciding with a small arrival of Stonechats along parts of the UK's south coast a few days previously. The first Wheatear of the Spring, were a pair at Eakring Flash on 29th, but the first Summer migrants seen during the month were two Chiffchaff at two sites in the area on 21st. Fieldfare migration peaked at 190 north-west (15th) and there were single Brambling at Penny Pasture Common (3rd) and Eaking Flash (5th) A Grey Wagtail flew west on the 10th. Meadow Pipit migration was poor on the days the area was visited, with counts of 37 north-west (14th) 55 north-west (15th) and 102 north-west (29th) being the best.

Other birds seen during March included a Water Rail at Eakring Flash till the 6th at least, two Long-eared Owl remained in the usual roost near Kersall on the 5th. A count of 42 Great Black-backed Gull north on March 15th, was a clear record, consisting mostly of immature birds, but perhaps the month's best bird was the adult Kittiwake flying low north over fields at 15:15h on 28th. It was followed as it then flew north-west just over the rooftops in Wellow village, before we refound it again heading north over the traffic island on the A614 at Ollerton.

April proved to be an excellent month for raptors, but poor for most waders and terns. There was a good arrival of Wheatears and the usual mix of scarce species.

Little Grebe has become extremely difficult to add to the annual year list, so it was nice when a pair took up residence at Eakring Flash from 23rd, but their breeding attempt failed. Unusual wildfowl came in the form of a drake Goosander on 2nd and two brief Pochard drakes dropped into Eakring Flash during the afternoon of the 16th. Between two and four Shelduck were in fields at Church Hill or on Eakring Flash throughout.

Common Buzzard peaked at a minimum of ten in the area on the 5th, a count which possibly included several migrants. Three migrant Sparrowhawk were also recorded during April. A Red Kite which eventually drifted off north-east over Red Hill and Lound Wood (21st) was amazingly followed the next morning by another bird (22nd) seen leaving it's overnight roost in Lound Wood early morning, before moving off north (12th and 13th Eakring records) This latter bird seemed as though it would be the morning's obvious highlight, until a raptor picked up low over Eakring village at 10:15h, turned out to be a female Hen Harrier, the second within a few weeks. It was mobbed by corvids and was gaining height when lost from view, but turned up again at Eakring Flash early next morning briefly, followed a short while later by a female Marsh Harrier low west over Eakring Flash, then seen later over Penny Pasture Common, before drifting off low south over Eakring Field Farm.

Heavily overcast and misty conditions with a north-easterly breeze on the 16th, saw a Common Tern at Eakring Flash from at least 06:30h and remaining until it was joined by another at 08:40h, when both flew off high to the north. Six Whimbrel flew north over Red Hill later the same day and another group of six flew north-east on 18th. Two Oystercatcher flew south-east over Eakring Flash on the 21st.

There was a varied selection of Summer migrant arrivals during April. A pair of Swallow were back on territory and a Yellow Wagtail (earliest ever) was at Penny Pasture Common on 1st, Willow Warbler and Blackcap both arrived on 5th, with Sedge Warbler at Eakring Flash and a male Grasshopper Warbler at Penny Pasture Common from 18th onwards. A second male Grasshopper Warbler was found in an old area of set-aside near Hare Hill Wood on 30th. A single Tree Pipit flew north on 23rd.

The month's first Wheatear was a female at Tug Bridge Farm (5th) followed by males at Penny Pasture Common (9th) Eakring Flash (12th) and Tug Bridge Farm (25th) A good arrival of eight birds occurred on 26th, with five (three females and two males) in fields at Park Farm and three (two males and a female) turned up in the large pasture at Tug Bridge Farm. Interestingly, the Tug Bridge Farm birds had arrived after previously checking the pasture an hour before at 09:00h. Two new birds included a female at Park Farm and a male at Tug Bridge Farm (till end of month) the next day. A male Redstart was in the Hawthorns at Penny Pasture Common on 11th and was the 50th Redstart to be recorded at Eakring since 1998.

A few Winter migrants remained, with 58 Fieldfare north (2nd) and 172 at Penny Pasture Common on 4th. Three Brambling were noted moving high north on 11th, two days after a Corn Bunting went north over Eakring Flash on 9th.

Barn Owls were again at one regular site in the area.

There was little coverage during the second half of May, but it always seemed as though most of this year's Spring passage, had ended well before then, but May did produce a few nice highlights.

Two Hobby flew north, hunting a Swift through the area on the 9th, whilst two unusual Peregrine sightings included one flying south-east on the 10th and an adult male Peregrine east over Eakring Flash 14th. It was not possible to say whether both Peregrines were actually the same bird.

Gloomy and overcast conditions, coupled with a light north-easterly breeze arrived on 14th, producing two Whimbrel north over Eakring Flash and a Common Tern north a short while later.

The long staying male Wheatear continued to remain at Tug Bridge Farm till the 7th, eventually staying for a total of 11days, which is a very long time for any Spring migrant. The male Grasshopper Warbler was also at Penny Pasture Common throughout May and a female bird was seen several times. The first Reed Warbler returned to Eakring Flash on the 22nd, but remained unseen for much of the time. A Cuckoo at Eakring Flash on the 9th, was the first here since 2007 and probably represented the month's real highlight.

There was little coverage during June and no sightings of any note.
An increase in coverage meant an increase in the number of species found during the month.

The only wader during the month, was a welcome Redshank briefly at Eakring Flash, before heading west on 26th. A Common Tern flew overhead in a clear blue sky and only heard calling several times as it flew west (30th) and there was an increase in the numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls as July progressed. A Black-headed Gull influx occurred around mid-month, when groups of adults moved south-west almost daily.

Other migrants recorded included a Turtle Dove north-east (11th) and three Jay north on 30th. Best of the migrants was the Common Crossbill north-west over Eakring Flash on the early morning of the 25th, part of a national influx of this species and the highest Swift count was 82 south on 28th. Small numbers of Swallows were moving south daily from early July onwards.

July marks the start of return migration for many species and there were good numbers of warblers noted at Eakring Flash during the last week of July. A good indicator of warbler movement was the juvenile Grasshopper Warbler, which was associating with numbers of Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler in the scrub at the northern-end of Eakring Flash on July 30th. Grasshopper Warbler only bred at Penny Pasture Common this year, and the male was again singing there between 11th and 25th, but not noted after that date. Reed Warblers remained virtually unseen, since the arrival of the first male at Eakring Flash back on May 22nd, but there were two males singing from 18-25th, with young being fed in the nest from 26th onwards.

Finally, a Nuthatch was present in Lound Wood on 30th. This still remains a difficult species to add to the year list here.

The first Teal arrived back at Eakring Flash on 29th, remaining the only species of wildfowl, different to the small numbers of Mallard, which were on site daily throughout August.

August proved once again, to be an excellent month and different Red Kites were low over Eakring Flash, before drifting off south-west at early morning (1st) with another five days later over Tug Bridge Farm for 15 minutes on the 6th. There were several sightings of single Hobby in the area on 10th, 13th and 27th, with two over Leyfields (23rd) and then three in (or through) the area on 29th.

Welcome wader records included a Green Sandpiper south-west (8th) and the first Greenshank at Eakring since 2006, with three on the same morning (13th). One was heard moving high west over Lound Wood just after first light, but then two other birds flew into the small pool at Penny Pasture Common, before they circled over Eakring Field Farm, before moving off east. A Yellow-legged Gull was in fields near Tug Bridge Farm, with around 250 Lesser Black-backed Gulls on 9th, but this count was dwarfed by a huge 1 200 Lesser Black-backed Gulls in fields around Eakring Flash on 13th.

The number of migrants gradually increased throughout August, with a juvenile Whinchat at Penny Pasture Common (8th) a female Redstart at the same site (27th) and Wheatears at Eakring Flash (13th) and Penny Pasture Common (30th) Two 1st Winter Ring Ouzels briefly fed on berries in a Mountain Ash near Kneesall, but soon flew into dense cover and were lost from view (27th)

Three Tree Pipits represented a decent month's total, with singles at Eakring Flash (8th) Penny Pasture Common (19th) and one moving south over Eakring Flash on the 23rd, whilst on the downside, there seem to be much fewer Yellow Wagtail going through this year, with only a handful this August.

The only Swifts seen during the month were 120 going south on the 1st. Not a single Swift was seen subsequently.

Still at least two Reed Warbler remained at Eakring Flash all month, along with good numbers of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, with few Whitethroats and even fewer Lesser Whitethroats.

53 Pink-footed Geese west over Lound Wood 12th were the area's earliest in Autumn by five days and followed an early arrival into the UK this year. It also represented the only wildfowl sighting of any value as Eakring Flash was mostly devoid of any duck throughout the month.

Three Green Sandpiper were on the small pool at Penny Pasture Common, Eakring Meadows on 19th, the month's only wader record. Although not a wader, an early returning Water Rail was at Eakring Flash from 20th and into early October. Up to four Common Buzzards were in the area throughout and Hobby included one on the 12th, then three in the Lound Wood, Eakring Flash and Leyfields area from 12-20th, with at least one of these birds being a juvenile.

Throughout September, the numbers of warblers at the area's usually favoured locations, decreased as it drew nearer to October. A late Lesser Whitethroat and a Reed Warbler were found along hedges near Eakring Flash on 20th, but there was little else of note.

Visible migration highlights included a Wood Lark, which flew south-east over Lound Wood (27th) and the Autumn's first two Redwing moving west over Lound Wood (26th), but in general, it was another very poor month for visible migration. 224 Meadow Pipit through on 26th was the highest single count of any species during September's visible migration watches. Most species produced relatively poor monthly totals for September, but two birds which produced exceptionally low monthly totals included Yellow Wagtail (with two through, out of a total of ten birds all Autumn) whilst there was just one Turtle Dove through (just three all Autumn). Both species have shown some decline over the 12 years of recording visible migration at Eakring, and although Yellow Wagtail produced good numbers in September 2007, this year represents a general continuation of the downward turn in numbers and followed poor numbers in Spring.

A 1st Winter male Wheatear was found in a field between Eakring Flash and Lound Wood on 5th, but there was to be no Whinchat all month and only one all year.

Finally, an unconfirmed report of a female Pied Flycatcher at Penny Pasture Common (25th) was from an unknown and anonymous observer (despite appeals for further information) and may just have been "the one that got away" this month.

Overall, October was an excellent month, with the start of what was to be the best number and species' range of wildfowl at Eakring Flash for many years, some decent Starling and Chaffinch migration and the odd rarity or two.

A female Shoveler at Eakring Flash on the 2nd was the first to be recorded here since back in 2005 and was followed by two Wigeon at Eakring Flash before flying off south on the 10th. In terms of wildfowl numbers at Eakring Flash, seven Teal (24th) ten on 29th, 20 Mallard on 24th, rising to 32 on the 29th, represented relatively large counts by recent October standards, when it was something to see just one Mallard. This increase in numbers coincided with some clearance of Sallow from the northern-end of the flash.

Raptor sightings included the usual Common Buzzards, with three present on 11th and seven in the Lound Wood and Eakring Flash area on 22nd. Peregrines included a female over Hare Hill Wood (11th) and a male over Lound Wood (31st) Bird of the month was a ringtail Hen Harrier that flew south-west over Lound Wood on 29th and was the third record this year.

There were poor numbers of the commoner waders, with Lapwing eventually peaked at 31 moving south-west, with 120 around Eakring Field Farm and Eakring Meadows on October 31st. The only Golden Plover count of any note were the 11 moving east and 65 flying over the Red Hill area on the 18th. There were no records of Jack Snipe (despite good numbers at many sites around at the time) and even Common Snipe were only present in small numbers, with five and six birds at Penny Pasture Common on and off from the 10th. The Green Sandpiper remained from September, being at Penny Pasture Common on 8th, 15th and 24th. One to two Water Rail were at Eakring Flash from 18th onwards and a covey of 16 Grey Partridge were at Eakring Flash on 18th only.

The 11th saw the first influx of the large gulls, with 32 Herring Gull south-west on the 11th, followed by 44 south and south-west on the 18th. The corresponding dates also saw ten Great Black-backed Gulls south-west and 13 south and south-west.

Visible migration picked up as October progressed, with nearly 6 000 Starling recorded on most dates. Best Starling counts were 205 west (10th) 937 west (17th) a peak of 2 032 west (18th) 515 west (22nd) 1 011 west (29th) and 544 west (31st) The first Wood Pigeon movement of the Autumn was 837 moving south-west on 29th, but the peak arrival dates for Winter Thrushes were missed through work commitments. 809 Fieldfare flew west on 17th, whilst Redwing counts included 112 west on 10th, 276 south-west on 11th and 198 west on 17th. An influx of Blackbirds at most sites across the area, was evident from 22nd. October also saw another good period of Chaffinch movement, although not really competing with that of last year. Movement consisted of both southerly and westerly directions, with the emphasis on the latter. Best of the daily counts were 70 west and south on 15th, 93 west on 18th and 63 west on 29th. Brambling included four through (all singles) on 11th, followed by another through on the 18th, then one at Penny Pasture Common on 22nd. October was also notable for the most obvious movement of Bullfinches through the area, with a monthly total of 20, being partly made up of nine through on the 29th.

Siskin peaked low, with a maximum count of 22 through south-east (29th) with Linnet producing a poor 48 south on 11th. Rarities came in the form of a Rock Pipit west over Eakring Flash on the 18th and two Common Crossbill north-west on the 31st. Four late Swallow were over Eakring Flash on 10th, with one south over there the next day. A male White Wagtail was in fields briefly opposite Eakring Field Farm (11th) and a Stonechat was at Eakring Flash on the afternoon of the 29th.

21 Long-tailed Tit at Eakring Flash on the 31st, was the largest flock for many years and one/two Nuthatch remained at Lound Wood all month.

A fairly decent month, with wildfowl well represented once again. A skien of approximately 214 Pink-footed Geese flew north-west over Eakring village on the 8th, proving to be November's only such record. After increased counts of commoner duck in late October, Mallard counts rose from 78 on 15th, to 103 on 21st, with 62 Teal present on 15th and still 41 there on the 26th. A female Shoveler was there from 21-28th at least, with an unusual record of a single female Pochard on the latter date.

There were almost daily sightings of Common Buzzards, but a year tick came when a female Merlin flew east over Lound Wood (21st)

The Green Sandpiper was last seen at Penny Pasture Common (5th) and Common Snipe continued to be found in very small numbers. Larger gulls again provided influxes with 46 Herring Gull south on 5th and 53 high south on the 8th. 95 Lesser Black-backed Gull going south-west on 5th and 71 south-west on 28th, seemed to be definite migrants, with 16 Common Gull through also on the 28th. At least one Water Rail remained at Eakring Flash throughout, with two noted on both 12th and 28th.

Slightly colder weather induced 5 439 Wood Pigeon south (5th) 411 south-west (7th) 833 south (8th) then 1 078 going back north on the 15th, mirrored a similar movement noted last year. Wood Pigeon also moved back north at several other visible migration watchpoints elsewhere in the UK around this date. There was to be no large Fieldfare movement, with 65 south and 180 at Penny Pasture Common on the 5th, being the best, but some continued Starling movement saw 170 west on 5th and 438 west on 7th. Greenfinch peaked at 25 moving south-east on the 8th.

A good December to end the year, most notably because of some cold weather movements from the 19th onwards and some more welcome variety in the wildfowl at Eakring Flash.

After peaking during November, Mallard and Teal counts at Eakring Flash dropped, especially after becoming virtually totally frozen from around the 19th until the end of the year. Mallard peaked at 54 on the 2nd, with Teal eventually reaching a count of 32 on 26th. Scarcer duck included a female Shoveler (2nd) and then two more females on the 12th. Three Wigeon were at Eakring Flash early morning of the 13th, before flying off south-west and two Tufted Duck (12-13th) were very unusual given the date.

There was a new record count of four Water Rail at various points around Eakring Flash on the 2nd, with three still present on 5th. None were seen after the really cold weather hit. Wader records were probably all influenced by the icy weather, with definite cold weather movement of 269 Golden Plover south-west and 656 Lapwing west on 20th. The day before had seen the start of some movement with 37 Lapwing west on 19th. Common Snipe were also moving with seven west (19th) and then 17 west (20th) the same day as a Green Sandpiper was at Eakring Flash, providing a rare Winter record.

The cold conditions to the east of the UK accounted for 298 Black-headed Gull and 29 Common Gull west on 19th, then 80 Black-headed Gull south-west on 20th. Good site counts of Herring Gull, came with 67 high south-west (13th) and 80 south and south-west 26th. A count of 30 Great Black-backed Gull high south-west 13th was decent enough, until a record movement of 105 Great Black-backed Gull south and south-west on 26th.

More cold weather movements came in the form of 68 Sky Lark south-west and south on 20th, followed by 27 more south-west (26th) and small numbers of Meadow Pipit were also recorded moving west. 41 Redwing went south and west on 26th.

Of the few other notable records during December, a Pied Wagtail roost at Eakring Flash held at least 40 birds on the 2nd, a Marsh Tit was at Eakring Meadows on 5th and 12 Siskin flew south-east on the 5th.

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