Eakring Birds
Breeding bird survey 1999
Three species were lost from the breeding list in 1998. These were, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Yellow Wagtail. For the first time Gadwall was added to the list when one pair bred at Eakring Flash. Despite the losses, an accumulative total of 845 pairs of birds bred in the recording area. This seems an extraordinary figure but one must remember that the recording area does constitute some eight square kilometres in total.

The most dramatic successes found during the survey, came from five of the commonest species within the area. Blackbird topped the list with a twenty pair increase and during the summer months reached a total of 89 pairs. With an excellent breeding season (some pairs were still feeding young in early August, indicating possible second and third broods), it seems inevitable that the Blackbird will top the 100 pair mark by 2001.Starling and Chaffinch both showed an 18 pair rise, this doubling the 1998 Starling total to some 36 pairs, whilst Chaffinch pairs now number 70. Further increases occurred with Wren (18 more pairs) and Robin (15 pairs).

Some 26 species showed small-scale increases.

Especially so, were threatened farmland birds like Skylark, which showed a five pair increase and during 1999 some 15 pairs were found breeding in territories similar in situation to those of last year. Song Thrush totals rose by two and though this is only a very small rise, it is still considered excellent news from a species that receives so much depressing literature. Pairs were found in previously unoccupied areas, all contained within rather dense, scrubby areas and the two woodlands, though the population stronghold, still remains in Eakring village. On a similar note, the Sedge Warbler continued it’s more versatile territorial habits and for the first time bred at Eakring Flash, amongst the maturing waterside vegetation. Lesser Whitethroats bred at two sites at Eakring Meadows, as did Garden Warbler, with unpaired males of both species, also holding territory for a short time in early spring at other sites.

After an initial first breeding record in 1998, Tufted Duck pairs numbered three, with successful pairs at both Eakring Flash and Kersall Pond. Hopefully, Gadwall may repeat the same feat in coming years and a possible future breeder could be both Pochard or Shelduck. Records of long staying pairs and single birds of both species during early May and June are on the increase and any breeding attempt would indeed provide a most welcome addition to the list. Shelduck were noted prospecting nesting sites in the area during the Spring.

Species showing considerable losses were fortunately quite few and it is too early to say at this stage what the cause of these reductions was. It is likely that for the species concerned, Linnet, Chiffchaff, Yellowhammer and Whitethroat, that males held territory elsewhere outside the recording area in more favourable habitat. Habitat factor isn’t a problem here though for the Chiffchaff, which showed the biggest and most alarming slump from 14 pairs in 1998, to just 4 in 1999. Low numbers of migrants were recorded throughout the spring and most males that held territory for any time, soon moved on. With very low migratory numbers noted from other sites this year, it seems that the Chiffchaff may have potentially suffered from some population slump. No doubt time will tell and hopefully numbers next year will match those of 1998. Only one pair bred this year in Hare Hill Wood, with the remaining three pairs all found in Eakring village. With Whitethroat pairs totalling 34, compared to 43 in 1998, the species still retains a healthy population and isn’t deemed threatened at this stage. Good numbers of males (19), returned to the same territories again this year, and this is shown on the species maps.

Several species with a fragile breeding population suffered more losses this year. Only one pair of Tree Sparrows bred although the attempt seemed to fail and no young were seen. Both Marsh and Willow Tits were reduced to single pairs, as was Grey Partridge, whilst Turtle Dove dropped to three pairs. All Turtle Doves found breeding, again came from the edge of Eakring village. On the plus side here though, it is worth remembering that migratory numbers were up on 1998 totals.

House Martin dropped by five pairs and both Magpie and Jackdaw also showed small losses.