April - saw the main arrival of Trans-Saharan migrants on the patch. Not a bad year for these at all really...
2nd - First Blackcap of the year singing at Bob's Bridge this morning and there are still Iceland and Glaucous Gulls being reported from Richmond Bank.
3rd – Passage or overwintering Green Sandpiper on the Jack Snipe pool early morning and put up c50 Linnet from one of the Phragmites patches on UMS. Decided to go owling in the evening and set up with a coffee at the picnic tables on UMS about 9.00pm. Could hear very distant voices from the pub over the river. Not long before I got Barn Owl screeching from the direction of UMS Farm. Lone Whooper Swan over SE calling forlornly was a total surprise (!) and the Long-eared Owl that flew low over me and began hunting the field nearby was a real bonus. 2 Tawny Owl calling at opposite ends of Lapwing Lane completed a good few hours - not bad that, three owl species in one night.
5th – First Willow Warbler of the year.
8th - A Ringed Plover on PHP was unsual as this is usually the haunt of Little Ringed Plover. It didn't stay long...
9th – Passage Green Sandpiper today and watched a cracking male Kingfisher on MBP catch a small fish, bash it on a branch to kill it and then fly off with it. Courtship feeding a female I wonder?
10th – 2 Green Sandpiper at the east end of the reserve today and 9 Curlew, 10 Lapwing at HWH. Today saw the first of the years Northern Wheatear moving through and more Great Crested Grebe weed ceremony.
12th – There were 6 Willow Warblers singing on the BB-HWH stretch along the MSC and had my first Common Whitethroat of the year. At the opposite end of the reserve, the first Sedge Warbler was singing on the Black Fields.
13th – First Grasshopper Warbler Reeling on the Capped Tip and first Reed Warbler at ERB.
15th - Arctic and Sandwich Terns at nearby Woolston Eyes. Must have passed over Moore unseen by anybody. Bet they move through every year. My money is on them following the ship canal when I'm watching the river and the river when I'm watching the ship canal :-)
16th – 12 Sand Martins over MQ amid April showers are the highest count so far this year. Came across a male 'colchicus' Pheasant on the east end of UMS. First time I've noticed this unringed sub-species on the patch. MUCH nicer than 'torquatus'!!!
17th – 10 Curlew at HWH were the last seen there until the second winter period.
20th – Good tally of warblers across the patch today: 16 Chiffchaff, 16 Willow Warbler, 9 Gropper, 6 Whitethroat, 5 Sedge Warbler, 4 Reed Warbler singing. Another Wheatear dropped in and a male Peregrine was perched on the railway bridge.
21st - 1st Mallard brood (7 ducklings), although I can't say I've been exactly systematic in searching for broods of anything tbh.
22nd – Saw my first House Martin over BWP, another Wheatear (3rd of the year) and the first Garden Warbler working its way east along the hedgerow on the north end of Lapwing Lane - singing as it went.
23rd - First Cuckoo (also on 25th and 27th). Over the same time (24th-26th) Common Tern at Woolston Eyes, but alas, none on the river here. HOWEVER, the first of several Black-necked Grebes arrived today on BWP.
27th - First Lesser Whitethroat, same date and place as last year. First Moorhen brood (4 young) near the feeding station and there is still a pair of Shoveler on Norton Marsh.
28th - Lesser Whitethroat still about and there were 2 Cuckoos today on UMS. Kingfisher on PHP.
29th – Common Sandpiper on MSC was a nice sign of spring passage. 2 Cuckoos again on UMS (good that they're staying around) and the years first Whinchat (a male) on Norton Marsh was a cracking bird!
30th - 3 Cuckoos calling today on UMS, Garden Warbler between BB-HWH and Raven west over the Black Fields. I saw my first Canada brood of the year (6 young) and there was a Tawny Owl calling from Lapwing Wood during the middle of the day whilst I was searching Rigby’s Wood for Pied Flycatcher and Redstart (no luck, but unsurprising as they're very scarce indeed on passage here). Missed the Hobby that hunted UMS for the day and which everybody else seemed to get - meh!
May - saw an unexpected influx of Black-necked Grebes. Numbers steadily built as birds that had been displaced by vandals from the Wigan Flashes, took up residence on Birchwood Pool. Hopes were high that they'd stay to breed...
3rd – Little Ringed Plover at PHP. Surprisingly cryptic on the stoney ground in front of the east hide. There are now TWO Black-necked Grebes on BWP!
5th - 4 L.Redpolls still knocking about. 20 Sand Martins, 1 House Martin and the first Common Swifts of the year dropped in over BWP. Elsewhere, there were hides being used - for nesting! There was a Blackbird nest with 4 eggs in the NM hide - just on the shelf inside the door! I thought somebody had found it and put it there as there were no eggs in it a couple of days before. Needless to say, it didn't last long! Neither, unfortunately did the Wren’s nest with 3 eggs in at PHP(W) hide.
6th - Glaucous and Iceland Gull STILL being reported from the Capped Tip area.
7th - Another Northern Wheatear stopped off at BHR today and 2 gorgeous female Greenland Wheatear passed through HWH first thing, where I also picked up Whimbrel, Wood Sandpiper and 18 Dunlin (see Waders: a bit of an obsession BLOG). Between BB-HWH there were 10 Whitethroat, 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 3 Reed Warbler, 4 Sedge Warbler and 2 Willow Warbler singing, but no Gropper reeling today. On Norton Marsh a male Shoveler was standing guard over one of the small pools.
8th - Greenland Wheatear and Cuckoo reported in my absence today...
9th - There was a Black Tern at Woolston Eyes (why do THEY get so many good birds???), a Ringed Plover at HWH and FIVE Black-necked Grebes on BWP.
10th - 7 Wheatear reported from the Capped Tip today.
11th – Just 2 Wheatear on the Capped Tip during this morning's survey, but it did yield: 19 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 18 Reed Bunting, 9 Reed Warbler, 26 Sedge Warbler, 3 Willow Warbler but no Chiffchaff or Gropper. The male Peregrine was agin back on the viaduct and things were hotting up on Birchwood Pool - the Black-necked Grebes were displaying!
12th - One of the pairs of Black-necked Grebes attempted mating twice today (unsuccessfully) on BWP and did some Platform Courtship. They seemed to be interested in nest material too - promising! The othe pair, however, seem 'less together, but lots of calling from the male, 'puu-ii (chk)'. Watched the female catching cased caddis in the shallows in front of the new east hide where she mkept getting repeatedly torpedoed by a male Little Grebe. He even appeared to pull at her feet from under water at one point!!! Thought she's been got by a pike or something lol.
13th – 2 Avocet at HWH! Think that could be a patch first - shame it wasn't me that found them first - doh!and even more of a shame that I missed the 2 partial summer Knot that dropped in later that day. I'd opted instead for BWP and the Black-necks. More attempted copulations / invites from PLATFORM COURTSHIP pair on the Big Island and calling from the other pair at the E end again. The nest below the willow seems to have been taken over by Coots… meh.
15th - More goodies missed today as female Whinchat, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Whimbrel all reported!
16th - Barn Owl feeding young in Tree Sparrow Field nest box!
19th – Pair of LRP and a female Wheatear with a gammy leg dropped in together on Pumphouse for about 5 minutes. It was like they'd been travelling together... aaaw, bless. Wonder if that ever happens - birds of different species tagging along together on passage? 1st Coot brood (4 young) on MQ (Angler's Pool opposite BHR).
22nd – 2 Garden Warbler singing between BB-HWH this morning. BNG catching caddis below E hide again on BWP and again being chased off by Little Grebes. Despite several scoped scans, could locate no more than 3 birds today although it's possible 1 called from cover in the NE corner…
23rd – Barn Owl AND Long-eared Owl hunting UMS tonight.
29th - Cuckoo, Barn Owl and LEO hunting early evening.
June - was mostly about owls, grebes and the ocassional raptor and Stonechat...
2nd - First Great Crested Grebe of the year today on LLP. Seemed like they were never going to hatch! Two stripey young being carried by female.
3rd - Long-eared Owl seen flying low on strip side of TN at about 10pm. Relocated in scrub minutes later. Seen again flying from trees at strip end of TN. Later single young repeatedly calling from inside TN as adult flew in. Calls increased in frequency until adult flew out again (food drop?). Young bird continued to call and adult responded 2-3 times behind us with a 'wer-ek, wer-ek, wer-ek' warning call (see Roche). 2 Barn Owl chicks sticking their heads out of their nest box this evening too. One came out from time to time before being disturbed by 20+ RSPB types chattering and laughing loudly and wearing bright 'standy-out' clothes (blue and orange cagouls seemed especially popular. Thankfully the chick came back out once they'd gone! Why bring people down to see the owls if they don't even have the most basic of field craft i.e.being quiet!!!
8th - 2 Carrion Crows mobbing a Fox at MBP! One even walked right up to it before latter trotted off with 'black bird' in mouth. Had been crunching on summit for a while, so presume carrion, certainly didn't catch owt. Too small for whole young crow, could have been a bit of one I suppose, or a coot? SIX Black-necked Grebes on BWP today - 3 pairs. A bit of calling and 1 bird catching caddis again below E hide. Also BNG chased off L.Grebe for a change!
10th - SEVEN(!) Black-necked Grebes!!! Did 50 consquetive scans, just to check. Frequencies follow: 1 bird (4), 2 birds (5), 3 birds (3), 4 birds (11), 5 birds (13), 6 birds (4), 7 birds (10). - just goes to show how tricky it can be to get a good count when they spend so much time diving!
18th - 2 Barn Owl chicks found dead below nest box, but thankfully 3 are still OK. Feelings are that there's just not enough food about or that one of the parents has got killed. Male Stonechat in Phrag field. Female Yellow Wagtail over road from stubble field opposite BHR - only one of the year I think...
23rd - The 3 Barn Owl chicks were ringed today and there are reports of adults using the triangle box to roost.
24th - 2 Kestrel chicks looking out of BHR nest box this morning and there were fledged broods of Carrion Crows and Magpies about today.
26th - Pair of Stonechat in the Phrag field and word that they have bred...
28th - Hen Harrier (ring-tail) reported N over MSC