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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2013 - Summary of the year

There are a lot better photos of the Glossy Ibis, but this record
captures the bird where it matters, over Clayhanger Marsh!
Photo: Kev Clements
January: After weeks of driving rain the first of January dawned bright and very sunny although the ground was sponge like and saturated from the aftermath of the wettest year in Britain on record! A three hour circuit of the marsh, mere, farmland and woods produced no less than fifty-five species (three of which were only heard) and a number of common species were not noted so potentially the active species as the year began probably numbered in excess of sixty:

Species List for January

Mute Swan - Whooper Swan (6 - G.C.) - Canada Goose - Greylag Goose - Wigeon - Mallard - Gadwall - Teal - Shoveler - Goosander - Goldeneye (1F - G.C.) - Tufted Duck - Coot - Moorhen - Grey Heron - Cormorant - Great Crested Grebe - Little Grebe - Black Headed Gull - Herring Gull - Lesser Black-Backed Gull - Greater Black-Backed Gull - Common Gull - Kingfisher - Sparrowhawk - Pheasant - Kestrel - Peregrine - Buzzard - Snipe - Jack Snipe - Feral Pigeon - Wood Pigeon - Stock Dove - Green Woodpecker - Starling - Blackbird - Mistle Thrush - Redwing - Fieldfare - Greater Spotted Woodpecker - Nuthatch - Treecreeper - Carrion Crow - Jackdaw - Magpie - Jay - Pied Wagtail - Grey Wagtail - Meadow Pipit - Skylark - Chiffchaff (G.C.) - Great Tit - Blue Tit - Long-Tailed Tit - Wren - Robin - House Sparrow - Chaffinch - Greenfinch - Siskin - Bullfinch - Goldfinch - Greenfinch - Yellowhammer - Reed Bunting.

February: The month began cold and unsettled with little movement to speak of. Pochard numbers remained surprisingly constant with up to twelve birds present on some days. Mallard seemed to make an early exodus and winter thrushes were few and far between. Snow at the first weekend made things difficult both for birds and visitors but one birder persevered and was rewarded with a site first in the form of an adult Kittewake flying through the Mere on 12/02 at 07.13 having presumably roosted at Chasewater and the same observer had Water Rail, three Mealy Redpoll and an Owl that he believed was most probably a Long Eared (G.C.)? Toward the end of the month (and the official end of the winter period) things seemed to slow as is traditional with only fluctuating duck numbers to report and nothing of any significance encountered by the regular users.

March: The coldest March since 1962 began quite mild. The first few days of March actually took on a spring-like feel with temperatures touching double figures during the day and a good balance of brightness and cloud cover with which to enjoy the site and the hoped for onset of visible migration. March the third was a mega-day for the site with corroborated records of both a first winter Glaucous Gull (C.M. - J,.A.S.) and a second winter Iceland Gull (C.M. - J.A.S. - P.J. - J.K.G.A.). The afternoon produced even more excitement with a reported Goshawk (G.C.) and Raven, Yellow Legged Gull and an increase in Oystercatchers to Three birds. A Peregrine was over the village on 14/03 and both juvenile Iceland and a Glaucous Gull were on the mere on the same day (G.C.). Exceptionally heavy snow resulted in a dearth of interesting activity through the latter part of the month until Good Friday (29/03) when a Red Kite was seen overflying the Finger Post at Pelsall before disappearing toward the Mere (K McC).

April: The month continued the recent trend and began exceptionally cold resulting in many anticipated migrants holding back on the European mainland.The weather improved by the end of the first week and the first singing Chiffchaff was heard on 06/04 (although several wintering birds had been reported from the area of the sewage works). Three Chiffchaff were present on the 7th heralding an overdue influx of migrants held back by the weather. The same day saw an over flying Raven, a Green Sandpiper and a Woodcock flushed from Grange Farm. A Short Eared Owl was reported in the first week on an unspecified date (Per. A.S.) and the first Little Ringed Plover was found on 09/04 (G.C.). The Water Rail was flushed from the edge of the main swag on 10/04 and the same day saw three singing Chiffchaff and the first Swallow and House Martins (two of each) for the year. All three hirundine, Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin were present on the 13th as well as the first really decent record for the spring, a Little Egret (K McC - CM - GC). Kevin also had an over-flying Redshank. A Greylag Goose was present on the 14/04, probably the bird from last winter which has been reported occasionally from the Pelsall area in the intervening period. The 15th provided some excitement with a fall of Willow Warbler and Blackcap, male and female Wheatear and a site scarcity in the form of two adult Shelduck and late in the day the Greylag returned. The 16th saw a significant increase in Warblers with three male Blackcap and also an influx of Wheater (6) including a party of five at the pit mound, the first Common Sandpiper was also seen. The first Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Redstarts (two Male) were found on 17/04 and the same day confirmed the presence of a Long Eared Owl. A Curlew was also heard over flying (G.C.). At least one of the Redstarts showed well on 18/04 but the influx of Warblers had apparently dissipated, three Wheatear were also present the same day. The busy period continued on the 19/04 with Wheatear, Little Egret, three Yellow Wagtails, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and a male Ring Ouzel (GC - RF - CM - SH - AS). Three Common Sandpiper and two Redshank were also recorded.. The 20th saw another two Common Tern, three Shelduck (only present until 06.00) and the Ring Ouzel still present. A Yellow Wagtail was present later in the day (G.W.) The Ring Ouzel was still present and remained in the same area. It was showing again on 21st and sharing its field with both White Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail. The first Swift also went through on 21/04 and there were an interesting group of three Shelduck and a Greylag on Ryders Mere. Two Greylag were present on 25/04 and the same day produced two Yellow Wagtail, a singing Reed Warbler, three Sedge Warbler and a Whinchat. Eight Greylags were seen over the Mere on 28/04 which is a site record and a probable Hobby was also seen (Y.M.)

May: The Month began fine and this allowed some movement by overdue migrants. Reed Warblers returned on 02/05 and a Garden Warbler was heard singing on the same day. Sedge Warbler numbers increased early in the month and Common Tern appeared to be regrouping for a breeding attempt. Two Dunlin of the race Alpina were present on 05/05 and a Cuckoo was calling several times on 06/05 and remained for several days (being joined by a second on 08/05). The first rarity of the year occurred on the 09/05 when a Spotted Crake was discovered on the pools at Pelsall Road being pursued by a Water Rail. the 12/05 saw Canada Geese with chicks both on the Marsh and Mere and the Oystercatchers were out and about suggesting possibly successful breeding? 13/05 was busy with two Little Ringed Plover, 22 Common Tern, 4 Oystercatcher and two possible Arctic Tern.
The 14th provided a good range of birds including Whimbrel, Green Sandpiper, Dunlin, Hobby and a couple of unseasonal Goosander (G.C. - K.C.). A major movement of migrants on 15/05 provided two firsts for the site, a Sanderling and a Turnstone also a record number of Dunlin and two Arctic Tern. The following day there were two Little Ringed Plover and the second (different) Turnstone for the site (K.C.). Three Cuckoo were on the set aside on 17/05 and a Black Tailed Godwit was on the Marsh on the same day (P.J.W.). The one that got away occurred the following day with two observers having brief views of a probable female Woodchat Shrike which defied all subsequent attempts to relocate it. The only other bird of note that day being a Yellow Wagtail. Sunday the 19th saw four Cuckoo still present and a resurgence of song from warblers including at least two Lesser Whitethroat and four Reed Warbler. Star bird though was a Rook which overflew the Mere being mobbed. A Peregrine on 22/05 was unseasonal. As the month came to an end, the best birds of the Spring arrived in the form of three Black Necked Grebe on the 28/05, a Mediterranean Gull and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on the 29th were a fitting record on which to end the spring.

June: The first produced little of note although it was possible to confirm successful breeding by Canada Goose, Coot, Mallard and Black Headed Gull. Things were pretty quiet throughout the first two weeks of the period however a Mediterranean Gull on 10/06 was noteworthy (G.C.) and a ringed Black Headed Gull was identified as having originated in Cheshire. Two good raptors on 1/06 were a female Honey Buzzard (G.C.) and a Red Kite (A.S.) which hung over my house before gliding north across the marsh. A Dunlin was present on the 14th and a Little Egret on the 16th. That day also saw confirmed breeding on site by Water Rail with an adult bird seen accompanied by chicks near Pelsall Road. The rest of the month was very quiet with little of note until a Kingfisher put in an appearance on 29th.

July: A Yellow Wagtail flew over on Independence Day and also a Raven. A Garden Warbler put in a brief appearance early in the month along with more appearances by the local Hobby.The 20th saw the two Oystercatcher still present and there were at least two recently fledged Common Tern active with six adults on the same day. A juvenile Little Grebe on the Marsh also evidenced successful breeding by that species. there were occasional records of Green Sandpiper throughout the month with two present on 27th along with a Kingfisher on the set aside and four Common Tern still present on the Mere. Insects at the months end included Roesell's Bush Crickets and several Essex Skipper amongst the Small Skippers present.

August: Still Swift, Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martin and at least six Common Tern present on 04/08 and the same day produced Raven, Green Sandpiper and an unsubstantiated report of several Spotted Crake on farmland off Green Lane (Per-G.C.). While looking for these a Hobby was seen harassing the hirundine and a family party of Partridge were seen (S.H.). A Grasshopper Warbler was found on 05/08 and the unseasonal Teal was again on the swag. A cormorant also flew over on the 5th. The fifteenth found at least two Common Tern still present and two late Swift were also seen. The same day produced a male Redstart in bushes at the base of the pit mound that was starting to lose the shine on its breeding plumage. th 23rd produced some early winter wildfowl with two Teal, two Gadwall, a female Shoveler and the Greylag Goose back with the Canada Geese. Of more interest were the two Common Sandpiper keeping company with two Snipe on the edge of the Mere. A Common Sandpiper was heard on the 25th flying over the village toward the Marsh and the following day produced three Cormorant a young Buzzard with presumably its two parents, a Greylag with the 250+ Canada Goose flock and a surprising Late Swift (26th).with the Swallows and House Martins. A Barn Owl was reported at Ryders Hayes on the 29th. A female Wheatear and a juvenile Whitethroat were noteworthy on the 31st.

September: A visitor on 02/09 discovered the first Wigeon for the winter and it was noticeable that the local House Martins have apparently moved out in the last twenty four hours. Three Kingfisher, five Buzzard, three Grey Wagtail (1 Juvenile) and a Black Tailed Godwit on the Marsh on 03/09 made for a good day and was followed on 04/09 by a Ringed Plover (P.N.). The 8th provided a good summer/winter contrast with at least two Sand Martin present, a minimum of seven Chiffchaff and an obliging Sedge Warbler contrasting with a Wigeon, three Shoveler and four Teal. a Hobby was still present on the 12th. and another Black Tailed Godwit was present on the 22nd (J.A.S.) with possibly the same bird seen again on 26/09. The first wintering Pochard appeared on 27th and the same day saw at least two Chiffchaff showing characteristics of the race Abietinus. There was also a passage movement of Skylark and Meadow Pipit continuously and views of possibly an unseasonably late juvenile Honey Buzzard.

October: The first Redwing went over Clayhanger on the morning of the 11th with another 35 and a Fieldfare on the Marsh. Two Redpoll flying around the Mineral line were probably Lesser. A female Pintail on 19th was unusual and the same day also provided views of a late Chiffchaff on the mineral line and another calling bird at the edge of the mere. Waterfowl numbers were low but there was a influx of Gadwall and a smaller number of Shoveler towards the months end. Water Rail were occasionally hard during this period.

November: Strong winds an rain at the beginning of the month did not support much migration and the annual Bonfire Celebration's reduced the numbers of wildfowl on both Marsh an Mere. The influx of Gadwall continued but Mallard numbers reduced and on 03/11 only two Teal could be found. An interesting Chaffinch on the same day may have belonged to one of the European races? A mixed finch flock was around for much of the early part of the month and contained at least half a dozen Lesser Redpoll and a possible Common Redpoll seen on 10/11 (J.A.S.). Tony also had the first Goosander record of the winter on the same day with five females and one male present. Wigeon numbers were slow to recover from the traditional bonfire celebrations and duck species and numbers were fluctuating throughout the month. The 23rd produced a rare species this year in the form of a Cormorant and a surprise in the form of a wintering/late migrant Chiffchaff which was seen and heard at Ryders Mere. The Chasewater Canada Goose flock was grazing on the farmland throughout the month and by 23rd had reached a total of 318 plus two hybrids and two Greylag Geese.

December: A quiet start to the month with better than average temperatures. fluctuating duck numbers early in the month included varying numbers of Goosander and Pochard although a female Goldeneye was an unexpected bonus for one visitor (I.P.) who also had a possible but unconfirmed record of adult Caspian Gull on the same visit. The Goldeneye was still present 0n 14/12 and possible views of a Ruddy Duck on Clayhanger Marsh the same day could not be confirmed. A new species for the Marsh Glossy Ibis was going through the site from at least17th - 20th December (K.C. - G.C. - C.M. et-al) and spent the remainder of the day in the Goscote Valley. Residents at Goscote suggested that the bird may actually have been around for several days before this though