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Sunday, 4 September 2016

2017 - Summary of the year

January: A visit on the seventh started the year list with a number of birds including; Greylag Goose (1) - Canada Goose - Wigeon (77) - Teal (6) - Mallard - Shoveler (3M) - Pochard (12) - Tufted Duck - Goosander (2M 1F) - Grey Heron - Moorhen - Water Rail - Coot - Jacksnipe (1) - Snipe (2) - Lesser Black Backed Gull - Herring Gull - Great Black-Backed Gull - Wood Pigeon - Great Spotted Woodpecker - Magpie - Jay - Jackdaw - Carrion Crow - Goldcrest - Blue Tit - Great Tit - Long Tailed Tit - Wren - Starling - Blackbird - Mistle Thrush - Robin - Grey Wagtail - Pied Wagtail - Chaffinch - Goldfinch - Bullfinch - Yellowhammer - Reed Bunting.

Off the site eleven Waxwing were at Silvercourt Brownhills on the 11th with some of the birds having apparently been there for four days. At least five birds were still present on 13/01/2017but by the following day numbers had increased to around sixty. Also on the 13th, a Little Egret on the eastern island of Ryders Mere was an unexpected surprise and the first significant species for the site this year.On the 24th a Chiffchaff was seen on the Mineral Line (R.F.). A period of alternating wet and frosty weather ended the month with very little activity and comparatively low duck numbers.

February: On the third a brief  burst of Chiffchaff song was heard and duck numbers had started to rise. There was also a resurgence of Redwing with a flock of over sixty birds seen. the Oystercatchers were back on the afternoon of the 5th (R.F.). A calling Nuthatch and Treecreeper were in Grange Farm Woods on 07/02 and the same day saw a Little Egret and the two Oystercatcher on Ryders Mere (K.C.). Two Linnet were confirmed amongst the Goldfinch flock on 13/02 and a single Redwing remained on the same day. The Barn Owl was heard on the night of the 17th and several Redpoll were seen on Ryders Mere the following day. On the 19th a Raven was seen on the set-aside before flying off north west. A Chiffchaff was calling regularly on the Mineral Line on the 20th. Several Redwing were still present on the 26th and Gadwall and Shoveler numbers also increased toward the months end. A Little Egret and two Grey Wagtails were present on the 28th.

March: Three Oystercatcher were present on the 7th and the same day saw the Cetti's Warbler relocated (K.C.). The first spring migrants arrived on the 12th with four singing Chiffchaff along the main railway line. The same day also saw  a good show of 23 Goosander although the Pochard and Wigeon had apparently departed. A Little Egret flew into the Marsh and both Treecreeper and Nuthatch were active in the Woods. The Little Egret was again present on the 16th and there were four singing Chiffchaff that day. The first Blackcap arrived on the 25th and the same day saw five Greylag Geese on Ryders Mere and two Little Egret on the Ford Brook (J.A.S.) with one still being present the following day. Fog on the 28th forced down at least seventeen Sand Martin and there was also still a Goosander and three Shoveler on the Mere. On the 29th a Red Kite flew across Clayhanger Common and high over the village before heading toward Walsall Wood.

April: A Little Egret was present on the 2nd and there were two active Snipe present the same day. the only significant migrants being Chiffchaff and a couple of Sand Martin. The fifth saw the first Swallow, a singing Blackcap and by contrast, two Goosander and a male Wigeon on Ryders Mere. The Little Egret was also still present with possibly two birds seen on the 6th. Two Shelduck also flew over on the 6th. The first fall of Willow Warblers was on the 08/04 with at least four singing Blackcap the same day. The 10th produced the first House Martins of the year and also a singing male Redstart. A Juvenile  Peregrine was also seen flying through (K.C.). The 15th produced a count of c900 Black headed Gull (K.C.) and the following day there were two swallow around the Mere along with a couple of Greylag Geese. On the 21st there was a fall of at least four Common Whitethroat and a singing Grasshopper Warbler. The Grasshopper Warbler was still present on the 22nd and the first Lesser Whitethroat arrived the same day. On the evening of the 22nd the Grasshopper Warbler showed well and it became apparent that there were two singing males on site.
The following morning (23rd) a male Wheatear was present on the paddocks and a fall of Acrocephalus Warblers included a minimum of Three Reed Warbler and one Sedge Warbler on the main swag pool (C.M.) and a Common Sandpiper was on the Mere during the afternoon (R.F.). On the 24th the run of migrants continued with a very flighty drake Garganey that was keeping company with two lingering Common Teal and at least one of the Grasshopper Warblers was briefly heard (R.F.). Five Snipe, a Jacksnipe and all three hirundine were present on 25/04 (K.C.). the first Common Tern and another Common Sandpiper were present on the 28th and Grasshopper Warbler were still present. A Common Sandpiper was present on the 29th and 30th and a Black Tern was showing well on the afternoon of the 30th.

May: Two male Gadwall on the 2nd were unusual for the time of year. A passage Whimbrel was heard on the 6th (K.C.) and a Hobby was found on the 10th (K.C.). The first week of may also saw several interesting ducks including two lingering Teal and up to three Gadwall present on the Marsh. Two Black Tern were present on the 12th (R.F.) along with a movement of Common Ten culminating with seven birds by the evening (R.F. - K.C.). The 13th featured a fly-through by a Common Redshank (C.M.) and the two Greylag were once again on the Mere. The first confirmed breeding by Greylag Geese was confirmed on the 22nd with the pair  and six chicks being seen. Two pair of Common Tern were also at the nest but successful breeding could not be confirmed. Two male Gadwall were still present on the 24th and a Reed warbler was still singing.

June: The month started quietly but by the 11/06 three recently fledged Reed Warbler were on show and the same day produced an unseasonal male Pochard on the Mere where two Common Tern were apparently carrying food to the island. By the 19th of June there were over 150 Juvenile Black Headed Gulls, two Common Tern,Great Crested and Little Grebe and the unseasonal drake Pochard was still present (K.C.). An unusual report at the end of the month was a sighting of a putative Marbled White Butterfly at the edge of the Mere (A.S.), unfortunately there were no other records to substantiate this and make it an acceptable site record.

July: Confirmation of successful breeding by Common Tern with at least one chick seen on the 2nd (R.F.) although all birds had reportedly left by the 18th. In the same week it was noted that one of the six Greylag chicks had disappeared, presumably having been predated? Breeding by Whitethroat was confirmed on the 28th and the same day produced a surprise in the form of a reeling Grasshopper Warbler from vegetation near the sewage farm.

August: A movement of Swallows and House Martins on the 4th included a single Swift and the same day produced several juvenile Common Whitethroat, a Reed Warbler and a Common Sandpiper still present. A calling Water Rail in the channel to the Ford Brook was elusive but called continuously, suggesting a possible juvenile?A good showing of Common Whitethroat with many juveniles present throughout the early part of the month and a juvenile Lesser Whitethroat was present on the 13th. A Raven and a Hobby were reported on the 16th (I.P.) and a late Swift was over the Mere on the 20th (C.M. - D.P.). The same day saw an overnight fall of Phylloscopus warblers and Goldcrests, most of which had moved through by 09.20. There was a significant fall of Willow Warbler on the 22nd and a calling Water Rail the same day. On the 23rd a Common Swift passed over the village and Marsh, heading south west and there were good numbers of House Martin active. Two Teal had returned to the Marsh on the 29th and a Grey Wagtail was present on the Mere that day. The 30th found four Snipe on the Marsh (R.F.).

September:The first news received for the month was on the 13th when a Juvenile Arctic Tern was reported on the Mere (J.A.S.) and was still present on the 15th (C.M. - R.F.). The 14th was a noisy start with female Tawny Owl calling through the early hours and the 15th saw a Teal, a male Gadwall, two Shoveler and a Little Egret on the Marsh. Also still present that day was at least one Willow Warbler and a good number of House Martin and Swallow. On the 263rd day of the year (20/09) a Willow Tit was heard and seen along the mineral line, giving hope that the species is not yet ready to be locally extinct. The same day also saw the arrival of the first Wigeon of the winter. The 24th saw a surprise record in the form of three Fieldfare found by R.F. and the 26th was a very active day with lots of incoming Skylark and Meadow Pipits, several Chiffchaff and at least three Willow Warbler and an autumn plumage male Northern Wheatear. Five Cormorant on the Mere were also noteworthy. On the last day of the month there were still two Chiffchaff on site and a surprise in the form of a juvenile Common Sandpiper on Ryders Mere.

October: The first day of the month saw the tail end of a hurricane hitting Britain and the first few days of the month were mild with some lingering summer visitors and a few returning winter species. Two Chiffchaff were amongst the Long-Tailed Tit flock on the 06/10 and the same day saw a lingering Common Sandpiper, and the first Stonechat (A first winter male) and the first incoming Siskin. Two Common Sandpiper were present on the 10th and the 12th (R.F.) and the Stonechat was again seen on the 13th. The middle of the month was very quiet with surprisingly few water fowl. A Rock Pipit was heard calling and observed flying-in from the north on 20/10 (C.M.). Waterfowl numbers were very low at the months end although a couple of Water Rail were calling from the Marsh. The 29th saw the arrival of the first Goosander of the winter and a significant influx of Fieldfare which seem to have followed a cold front from the north.

November: Increasing numbers of Fieldfare during the first week of the month and at least ten Shoveler present on the 03/11. The Willow Tit was also still active, usually along the Ford Brook and a possible Whooper Swan was heard on the third but could not be visually confirmed.The eighth saw the first Pochard of the year present and an increase in Teal numbers (26 noted). The 13/11 saw a small party of five Hawfinch over the Marsh and Mere, three showing very well directly overhead. An impressive seven Cormorant were present on the 16/11 (R.F.) and 17/11 (C.M.) and the 17th also saw the first Goldeneye of the winter, a female, sharing the Mere with  several Goosander, a Pochard and a single Snipe. Throughout the month Cormorant numbers began to climb, perhaps responding to an illegal stocking of fish in the Mere. By the 24th numbers had risen to a minimum of 27 birds. The same day also saw a pair of Common (Mealy) Redpoll present and a flyover by A Bewicks Swan near the Maybrook estate. Cormorant numbers continued to increase and the monthly peak was on the 28th with no less than 35 birds present, a definite site record.

December: After a quiet start to the month, mid month saw heavy snow and one of the coldest periods of weather for many years. The first news of note came on the 12th when Ray Fellows relocated one of the Mealy Redpoll keeping company with the Goldfinch flock, this bird was possibly the same one seen on 19/12 although on that date there were at least for Redpoll in the finch flock includin at least one Lesser bird. The cold snap increased the numbers of some species with thirty-one Teal and sixteen Wigeon on the Mere on the 19th as well as two Pochard.