|Jacksnipe - January 2016 photo: Kev Clements|
Feb: The month began quietly with low duck numbers generally. On the 2nd a Short Eared Owl was reported and the first record of Oystercatchers occurred. The Stonechat was still present on the 5th. and a Peregrine Falcon paid a brief visit on the 7th. Also on the 7th there were a record count of 34 Common Pochard on the Mere and nine Snipe on the Marsh. The semi-regular Greylag was present on the 13th along with five Jack Snipe. Cold weather mid-month caused an increase in wildfowl numbers and four Oystercatcher were present on the 16/02 as well as the wintering female Goldeneye. Six Raven over on the morning of the 22nd seemed noteworthy and at least one wintering Chiffchaff (possibly 2-3) was present. On the same date nesting activity appeared to have commenced on the island and wildfowl numbers had decreased significantly. Pochard numbers remained high throughout with 27 birds still being present on the 28th, the same day seeing a noticeable increase in Shoveler, contrasting with the general trend of reducing wildfowl numbers.
March: The month began with waves of alternating high and low pressure and significant numbers of nesting Black Headed Gull. Twelve of the wintering Pochard flock were still present on the first along with a small influx of Gadwall. three Stonechat (2M 1F) were seen on 03/03 (Glen) - at least one being a different bird to last week’s threesome. A Little Egret was present on 11/03 (R.F.) and an impressive 22 Goosander were seen on the same day. The female Goldeneye put in a return appearance on the 13th and the 15th produced a Greylag Goose and a big surprise in the form of a male Merlin. Three Curlew on the 19th were exceptional. sharing plaudits with an obliging Little Egret (which was still present on the 21st) and at least four Jacksnipe. The 20th saw a Shelduck on the Mere and the 21st had another singing Chiffchaff. On the 22nd a Little Ringed Plover was briefly seen on the Marsh and the following day a first-winter Mediterranean Gull was on the mere along with three Greylag Geese. The first Swallow appeared on the 26th and on the last day of the month the first fall of Chiffchaff occurred with at least six singing birds being present.
April: April started with a record of two Swallow seen flying across the main road towards the Marsh. at least four Chiffchaff and three singing Willow Warbler on the 2nd were joined by at least eight Sand Martin. Also present still was the male Gadwall and at least nine Teal. Two Siskin were also still active in the area. Probably a different Willow warbler was present on the 3rd along with ten to fifteen unseasonal Fieldfare, Kingfisher seven Goosander and a pair of Shoveler on the Mere. The 5th saw the first Blackcap of the year (a male) and a beautiful site first in the form of a second calendar year Little Gull (R.F. et-al). Unbelievably the second new species for the site list occurred just three days later when an Osprey was watched for about two minutes apparently following the line of the Ford Brook (C.M.). A male Redstart was on the mineral line on the morning of the 10th and there were still two female Goosander present on that date. A national influx of Little Gull resulted on no less than thirteen birds being on the Mere mid-afternoon (twelve adult type and one 2CY bird). Overnight the Little Gull moved on but there was an impressive fall of Willow Warbler and the morning of the 12th found a nicely marked male Wheatear on the paddocks and another three on the farmland. The 17th saw the arrival of the first Common Whitethroat of the year and two Common Sandpiper late afternoon. All three hirundine were present together for the first time on the 18th and on the 19th the first Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and two Common Tern were present.
Wheatear and Lesser Whitethroat were present on the20th and a Whinchat appeared on the farmland on the 22nd and the second Redstart of the season (a female) was seen and photographed on the 23rd.
A Reed Warbler was singing from various areas of Typha on the 24th as well as at least three singing Lesser Whitethroat and a surprising flock of 33 Common Teal which were flying around the same day. The 24th also saw the first site record of Swift (2) for the year (B.S.). A probable Arctic Tern was seen on the 25th (J.A.S.) but could not be confirmed. the first Cuckoo appeared on the 27th (R.F.). The 30th saw the first Grasshopper Warbler of the year, Yellow wagtail, Common sandpiper and an unusually unseasonal Lesser Redpoll.
May: Two Shelduck, five Whimbrel and some Swifts provided an early start to May, being present on the 2nd. At least two Grasshopper warbler were active through the week and a Garden Warbler was present on the 6th. The 7th saw a passage of waders with two Dunlin and a Little Ringed Plover reported flying through early. An adult Black Tern was present on 09/05 and there were at least four singing Reed Warbler and five Greylags the same day. A Sedge Warbler was present on the 15th and the same day provided views of at least four Reed warbler including a bird carrying a fecal sack. Things went quiet mid-month but a Hobby was seen by multiple observers on 26/05. on the 27th successful breeding by the regular pair of Oystercatcher was confirmed with at least two chicks being seen. As the month came to an end there were at least three (possibly four) pairs of Reed Warbler breeding, lots of Gull chicks and at least three Common tern active but otherwise it was really quiet.
June: A quiet and overcast start to the month with the only reported bird of note being a Yellow Wagtail (R.F.) on 06/06/16. On the 6th there were 70+ young Bh Gull, 36 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Tern and 2 Great Crested Grebe on Mere, plus Water Rail calling (K.C.). The month remained slow with the 20th providing 230+ Bh Gull juvs, 2 female Gadwall on Marsh, 2 Common Tern, 13 Tufted Duck, 3 GC Grebe, 39 Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swan and 22 Coot (K.C.). Almost on our patch, a Ring Necked Parakeet was heard and seen on the Maybrook Estate on 24/06/2016 (C.M.) flying across toward O'Gradys Pool and Clayhanger.
July: A Hobby was active early in the month and the Common Tern appeared to raise at least one young one successfully. Green Woodpecker also appear to have bred successfully on site. Three Ring Necked Parakeet were present in the gardens adjacent to the recreation ground on the evening of 11/07/2016, constituting a second site record (C.M. - L.R.M.). There was an anecdotal report of the Parakeets in the same tree briefly on the 12th and that evening saw the Hobby hunting over the village. The Hobby was again over the village on the following evening and the 17th saw a Cormorant, a Sand Martin, two Reed Warbler and several Oystercatcher still present. The 18th saw an increase in activity from the local Little Owls and the Oystercatchers were still noisily announcing their continued presence. A Cormorant flew over on the 22nd and another on the 24th. The Oystercatchers were still present on the 23rd and a Swallow was present on the 24th (although no Swift that morning). There were at least three calling/singing Reed warbler active that day. The month ended on a quiet note with evidence of successful breeding by Linnet, Goldfinch, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe. A Little Grebe was seen on the 31st.
August: A Juvenile Cormorant on the 4th was the first note-worthy bird for August. An Oystercatcher flew across the village toward the Mere where it was apparently joined by another on the 5th with one bird still being present the following day. A juvenile Cormorant was present on the 8th and two Raven were over the site on the 10th. The thirteenth provided a small passage movement of Chiffchaff, Willow warbler and Whitethroat and there was also a recently moulted and very glossy Willow Tit to be seen. A Hobby was again active on the 15th. The 21st saw the firstlate summer wildfowl arriving with a female Shoveler and two Gadwall on the Marsh. The same day saw a small movement of Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaffs around the pit mound area. The end of the month saw activity by the Barn Owl on the 29th and the return of two Greylag Geese amongst the Canada geese on the Mere on the 31st.
September: A very poor migration seems to be the state of things with only a few Chiffchaff, Blackcap and House Martin present at the beginning of the month. Wintering duck continue to appear with several Gadwall and Shoveler present on the 4th. By the 16th a couple of Pochard had returned as well as a single Snipe, Little Grebe, six Great Crested Grebe and a very grey-toned juvenile Cormorant. From around the 20th of September, an increase in Tawny Owl activity was noticable most days with males calling from various points around the village. The first Wigeon was on the island on the 24th and the same day saw at least one Chiffchaff and seven House Martin present. Gadwall numbers had increased and there were at least two Shoveler present.
October: The 2nd saw a significant increase in the number of Meadow Pipit and Skylark in the area, a female Stonechat near the Pit Mound and a Water rail calling on the Marsh. One Chiffchaff was still present and a flock of 39 lapwing were active. Redwing were flying over the site on the evening of 06/10 and by the 12th there were at least thirty active on site. The 12th also saw nine Wigeon, a female Shoveler and at least three Snipe on the Mere, twenty Teal, two Gadwall, two Siskin and a Water Rail on the Marsh. At least five Fieldfare were with the Redwings on the 16th and the same day saw an increas in duck numbers, particularly Gadwall (14) and Pochard (3) as well as at least three Goldcrest and some late hirundine (1 Swallow - 2 House Martin). Three female Goosander were present on 17th (R.F.). On the 19th a thirty year prediction was finally put to rest when a Cetti's Warbler commenced singing (and showing briefly) along the mineral line. The Cetti'swas still present until at least the 30th. Also on the 19th there were still at least three singing Water Rail, Willow Tit and a good number of Redwing and Fieldfare. By the afternoon a record sixteen Whooper Swan had dropped in. On the 21st the Cetti's was still present and the Kingfisher had returned to the Mere. The Willow Tit was vocal and there was a definite influx of Goldcrests.
At the end of the month Fieldfare Numbers had increased and there had been several falls of Goldcrest across the site. On the 30th the Cetti's was calling regularly, there was an influx of Shoveler (9) and a female Pintail was on the Mere and on the last day of the month a Little Egret was found (R.F.).
November: As usual Bonfire night seemed to clear out many of the wildfowl although there were still sixteen gadwall and four Shoveler amongst the mallard and teal on the 6th. An influx of Snipe was also evident around the site and there was a good initial showing by winter Thrushes. The traditional bonfire night celebrations caused the usuall decline in duck numbers but they quickly started to recover with the arrival of Goosander for the winter (8 on 11th). The same day also provided brief views of an Aythya duck which showed significant white around the lores before taking flight, subsequently confirmed as an unusual Tufted Duck. By mid month duck numbers were increasing with at least thirteen Pochard present on tne 23rd and a similar increase in passerin activity, particularly wintering thrushes. A possible Marsh Tit was heard calling twice from the Ford Brook on the 23rd. The female Pintail was again seen on 26th and the same day saw a fly-over by a Great White Egret, presumably the bird reported over Walsall the previous day? The month ended on a quiet note following several days of hard frost.
December:Calm weather and high pressure dominated the beginning of the month but that did not stop the surprise appearance of a Little Egret on 04/12 (A.S. - C.M. - J.A.S.) as well as confirmation that the Cetti's Warbler was still present (along with a wintering Chiffchaff). Four Jacksnipe accompanied a flock of fifteen Common Snipe on the 12th (G.C.).