|Egyptian Geese February 2nd. - Derek Lees|
February: The month began with a persistent spell of cold weather that seemed to be keeping things where they were, the first though was milder. The Great Northern Diver was still present on the first and on the same day a Peregrine Falcon flew over the village and the set-aside. A flock of fourteen Egyptian Geese on the 2nd was an unexpected surprise, compensating a little for the apparent absence of the diver. The following day failed to produce the hoped for Egyptian Geese but a small compensation was the return of one of our wintering Greylags. Four female-type Pintail were discovered on 04/02 along with the Stonechat (K.C.), two Yellow Legged Gull and two Raven were also seen on the same day. The first Oystercatcher returned on 05/02 and on the same day three Raven and a Cormorant were seen (K.C.). The Great Northern Diver returned again on 06/02 after a few days away and was present until 08/02. the second Oystercatcher arrived to join its mate on 10/02. A difficult to count flock of Lapwing on 12/02 contained a minimum of 120 birds. After several days absence the Diver returned from Chasewater on the 14th but was back at Chasewater the following morning until flushed by water skiers. The fifteenth provided the first Goldeneye record for the mere this year with a male and two females present. A Barn Owl and probable Woodcock were seen on 17th (K.C.). The end of the month saw a gradual build up of Goosander and Teal and a decline in Wigeon. The Diver showed a preference for Chasewater but occasionally dropped into the Mere when disturbed from Norton pool by boats. The 27th saw frustrating views of a possible juvenile Merlin (C.M. - R.F.) but the views were too fleeting for this to be confirmed. The Diver was again seen on the Mere on the 28th having been disturbed from Chasewater.
March: St David's Day was overcast and blustery with the usual wintering ducks and a handful of Fieldfare and Redwing to represent the winter. The first evidence of spring migration was on 03/03 when a Curlew was seen and photographed over the Mere (P.J.W.) and the local Red Kite put in one of its occasional visits (traditional at this time of the year) on the 6th (N.T.). A pair of Stonechat were present on the 8th collecting nest materials from the typha heads along with a male Reed Bunting which was doing the same.A Dunlin was an unexpected visitor on the 13th (R.F.). The first Sand Martin were seen on the 21st and the same day also provided a couple of scarcities in the form of Curlew and Little Egret (K.C.). On the 24th there was a female Garganey on the Marsh early evening.which was still present the following day when a passage male Wheatear had also dropped in and a female Marsh Harrier was seen high over the site (C.M. - C.C.M. - M.P.). A male Mandarin was on the marsh on 26/03 and for a while shared the pool with the still present Garganey (C.R. - A.H.). This pairing was then repeated on 28/03/15 with the Garganey still being present on 30/03..
April: The month began well with a good news that at least three Grey Partridge were still on site and there was a good range of duck still present including; Teal, Wigeon, Goosander, Shoveler and the female Garganey that had arrived a week earlier and was still present on 17/04. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was reported on 02/04 (N.T.). Two Greylag were seen on 03/04 (K.C.) and there were still a few Fieldfare around on 4th and 5th. The 5th also saw a strong movement of Meadow Pipit with one flock of 35 birds feeding on the set-aside field. A Redshank and two Swallows were recorded on 06/04 and a female Wheatear occurred on the 7th along with the Garganey, swallows and Sand Martin. The first Willow Warbler was singing on10/04 and the first Blackcaps were showing and singing on 12/04. Swift, Common Sandpiper all three hirundine and Redstart on 15th, two Tree Pipit on 16th. The 18th saw a pair of Little Egret, three Wheatear, several Common Tern and the first Whitethroat of the year. Sedge Warbler, reed Warbler and Garden warbler were all present on 19/04 along with Raven displaying, and a stunning male Redstart on the set-aside.
Two Arctic Tern arrived on 20/04 (C.M. - C.C.M. - S.L.). The first Lesser Whitethroat was on the usual territory on 23/04 (C.M.). The male Peregrine showed well on the 24th which coincidentally also provided the first report of a Hobby for the year (R.F.).A drake Garganey was discovered on 27/04 (J.A.S. - C.M.). A Little Ringed Plover flew over on 28/04 and the same day saw six Wheatear on site, one of which was still present the following day when a Yellow Wagtail was also seen briefly. On the 30th a White Wagtail was on site and the Garganey still present (J.A.S.)
May: A Whinchat and four Wheatear were found on the 4th and a party of six Common Sandpiper were on the Mere on the 5th. Male and female Cuckoo were seen on 9th and a singing Garden Warbler was found which was still present on 11/05.Two Pochard on the 14th were unseasonal (G.C.). The Oystercatcher hatched two young during the month and a pair of Gadwall on the marsh on 19th of May were unseasonal.
June: A cool start to the month with an influx of migrant waders into the Midlands. three Dunlin and a Little Ringed Plover were present on 01/06, The plover and one Dunlin being present the following day. Two Cormorant were also present on the 2nd. and three Oystercatcher were seen.A Curlew on 08/06 was unseasonal and a Black Necked Grebe on 09/06 and 10/06 was unexpected but fitted in with a notable influx of this species during the period. What was probably the same bird did a surprise return on 15/06 (R.F. - K.C.). Breeding by Bullfinch and Tufted Duck was confirmed on 22/06 and a big surprise on the same date was a report of Red Legged partridge on the farmland (G.C.). Three hundred young Black Headed Gull were a sit record and Common Tern also manage to raise at least two young. A juvenile Yellow Wagtail on 30/06 (R.F.) had to make you wonder where this breeding had taken place. But that was about it for June, the first half of the year finished on a heatwave and more awful hot weather in the pipeline.
July: The 15th was the first day of note with Redshank, Peregrine several Common Tern an a site first in the form of four Common Scoter (G.C. - K.C. - R.F. - C.M. - J.A.S.). A Dunlin 0n the 19th was noteworthy and a Cormorant flew over the same day. A Teal on the 24th was noteworthy and Hobby showed again on the same day. There was a significant influx of Great Crested and Little Grebes mid month and the first returning Herring Gulls began to appear. By the last week of the Month the Mere had become remarkably quiet with the vast majority of the young Black Headed Gulls having cleared out. Not much else occurring although a Yellow Wagtail was on the farmland on the 30th
August: Still the occasional Swift going through at the beginning of the month and the 2nd provided three Shoveler, the early returned Teal on the Mere, three Sand Martin, and two Common Tern still present. The Oystercatcher appear to have departed in the last few days. Still five Common Tern on the 7th and an unexpected Kingfisher there the same day. A Common Sandpiper was discovered on the 9th and an unseasonal party of Siskin were seen on the same day. Water Rail was also heard and a creche of Lapwing had returned on the tenth. The twelfth saw a good range of birds including Peregrine, Hobby, Kingfisher, Redstart and a frustratingly brief glimpse of a probable male Pied Flycatcher as well as a returning Grey Wagtail and several Swift. On the 16th there were three calling Water Rail, three Swift, three Reed warbler amongst a good passage of warblers which included Whitethroat and Blackcap. A Kingfisher was seen with at least three active in the area and the family party of Willow Tit continued to be active. A Tree Pipit and another Redstart were seen on the 17th (G.C.) and another Green Sandpiper was seen on the 18th. Kingfisher continued to put in regular appearances as the month progressed and a moulting Teal and a Greylag were recorded on the 20th.
A late Swift was seen on the 23rd and a female Teal was on the Marsh that date as well.The 24th saw a good range of birds including Garden Warbler, Redstart, three Yellow Wagtail and a very early Pochard. Male and female Tawny Owl were calling from the recreation ground on 25/08 and on the same day a pair of Shoveler and an early returning female Wigeon were seen. The 26th saw a Redstart and a continuing presence by Siskin and the 27th found a newly moulted Gadwall, Willow Tit, still three Reed Warbler and there was a Common Sandpiper and Cormorant on Ryders Mere. A very strong fall of migrants occurred on the 30th, with dozens of Phyloscopus Warblers, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and Redstart amongst the movement. Two Hobby were seen and a Curlew flew through northwards calling at about 13.15. There was also a male Wigeon and a Common Sandpiper on the Mere.
September: After a washed-out end to August, September began with a good range of birds including two Wheatear, male Redstart, Whinchat, Yellow Wagtail, Willow Tit, a passage movement of Siskin, Common Sandpiper and a juvenile Black Tailed Godwit. A Reed Warbler was still present and there was a fall of Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. as well as all three hirundine. the fifth saw a huge range of birds found by K.C. and G.C. including a continuing influx of Siskin, Kingfisher, Little and Tawny Owls, Hobby, three Redstarts, Whinchat, Tree Pipit, all three Hirundine, Common and Green Sandpiper and Snipe. The Whinchat was still present on the 6th and a Sand Martin was amongst the hirundine over the Mere mid-morning. All three hirundine were still present on 13/09 along with Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. A flock of 35 magpie on the pit mound was noteworthy. Another Whinchat was found on the 17th and was still present on the 18th along with another and two Stonechat. A female Wheatear was present on the pit mound and the Whinchat remained until the 20thwhen it was still keeping company with a male Stonechat. The 20th also provided a juvenile Hobby, and a good selection of warblers including Whitethroat, Blackcap and Reed Warbler. The first substantial influx of wintering Wigeon were present on the twentieth with twelve birds present on the Mere.A first winter yellow-Legged Gull was present on the 24th.
October: Two Swallow were seen on the 2nd and the same day saw the first Redwing of the season passing through.A Kingfisher was on the Marsh on the 8th and a probable Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was heard at Ryders Hayes on the same day. A pale morph juvenile Rough Legged Buzzard seen on 12/10 (G.C. - K.C.) was a first site record. Two Swallow and an unidentified acrocephalus Warbler were present on the 14th and Chiffchaff and Blackcap were still present on 16/10. The sixteenth also saw the first Fieldfare of the winter (3) along with 144 Redwing and good numbers of Siskin. A Goldeneye was found on the 17th. Things went quiet as the month progressed although Siskin, Skylark and Redwing numbers continued to be high. The first Goosander were discovered on the 28th and the same day saw an astonishing fall of Goldcrest on the set-aside and surrounding area.
November: A quiet start to the month with a slight increase in Wigeon numbers but overall very low numbers of wildfowl compared to numbers in previous years. A Woodcock was unexpectedly flushed from the set-aside on 03/11 (C.M.) and the same day saw a single Golden Plover over. A juvenile Shag was at Chasewater mid-month and was seen to fly around the Mere on the afternoon of the 18th (J.A.S.), on the 20th a Great Grey Shrike was located on the Farmland (Glen - C.M.). On the 24th the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was seen and on the following day a Barnacle Goose was on the Mere along with a male Goldeneye and (for a while) six females. On the same day a Little Egret also flew into the Marsh (C.M. - R.F.). On the 29th an exceptional four Jacksnipe were found amongst the locally wintering Snipe.
December: After several days of wind and rain, December began quietly with above average temperatures. The first saw the drake Goldeneye favouring the Mere but nothing else of note. A Chiffchaff was calling from the fringes of the Mere on the 6th and on the same day a Jacksnipe was flushed from around the main swag. An adult winter Med Gull was a surprise on 20/12 and 14 Pochard on the same date was a good count. A female Goldeneye was on the Mere on Boxing Day and over the Marsh on the same day were two pairs of displaying Buzzard. Unseasonally mild weather may have been responsible for the arrival of seven Common Shelduck on the mere on the 29th? (J.A.S.)