Wednesday, 31 March 2010

25th-31st March 2010

As I'm really behind with this blog, here's a summary of my sightings, with a few from Bob Roberts and Steve Lloyd, for late March:

25/03/2010 = 2 Pochards, 1 Kingfisher and 1 Goldcrest at Terry's Pool, with 26+ Redwings in trees to the north. 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool. 2 Swallows and 7+ Chiffchaffs (most silent but seemed to be this species) at Windmill Pool.

26/03/2010 = Bob Roberts had just 1 male Pochard at Terry's Pool, plus 2 Mute Swans apparently nest-building again, 4 Tufted Ducks, 1 Goldcrest and 1 Nuthatch.

27/03/2010 = After helping with the nestbox project at Blythe Valley, Humphrey Miller kindly dropped me off at the lakes. There was no sign of any Pochard, but Terry's Pool held a male Gadwall (only my second sighting of this species at the lakes!) and 12 Tufted Ducks. 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool and 2+ Chiffchaffs at Windmill Pool also noted.

28/03/2010 = Presumably the same male Gadwall was still present, at Windmill Pool. Also 26+ Golden Plovers flew over the lakes (my first this year), heading towards the Hungry Horse but no sign of them by the time I got there. Otherwise, 3 Greylag Geese landed on Engine Pool, and a Chiffchaff was near the causeway. I wasn't able to check Terry's Pool.
Bob Roberts did check Terry's Pool and had 5 Greylag Geese and 9 Tufted Ducks there, plus a female Common Pheasant and 2+ Chiffchaffs along Gypsy Lane (track from Malthouse Lane to Windmill Pool).

Greylag Goose, 28/03/2010 (© Bob Roberts)

Song Thrush, 28/03/2010 (© Bob Roberts)

29/03/2010 = 3 small horses grazing on the lawn in my front garden were a big surprise this morning!!! Hightlight at the lakes was a male Blackcap singing from south side of Engine Pool. Also noted were 4 Swallows (flying through), 1 Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher at Windmill Pool; and 2 Mute Swans at Terry's Pool. 2 Chiffchaffs heard around lakes.
Steve Lloyd had a Swallow over Engine Pool as he drove past at 6:15 pm.

30/03/2010 = Someone reported 10 Swallows and 2 Sand Martins at the lakes on BirdGuides, which I only found out about later through Warwickshire Birding.
At Windmill Pool I too managed to see up to 10 Swallows, but up to 7 Sand Martins, plus a Sparrowhawk appeared to have a go at them. 1 Kingfisher and 2 Bullfinches noted at Terry's Pool, as well as 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool. 3+ Meadow Pipits flew over lakes. A notable increase in Tufted Duck numbers was apparent with 21 counted, and after an absence the "three musketeers" (small domestic ducks) had returned.

31/03/2010 = Highlight was a very early Common Tern showing well from the causeway. Also noted were 6+ Swallows and 4 Sand Martins at Windmill Pool, with a Chiffchaff near the causeway. 2 Mute Swans were back at Terry's Pool - this pair look set to breed this year so seems little point in keep mentioning them here.

Earlswood Lakes have been pretty good for migrant birds this month, with perhaps Warwickshire's first Common Tern this year, and Sand Martin and Swallow sightings possibly only preceded by sightings at Draycote as far as Warwickshire is concerned. Not a single House Martin though, unlike last year.

M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

23rd-24th March 2010

I was unable to visit the lakes during these two days, but following the request I put on here Tony Philp had a look around on both days:

23/03/2010 = 2 adult Herring Gulls, 7 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Tufted Ducks, 1 Muscovy Duck, 2 Long-tailed Tits and 1 Nuthatch at Windmill Pool. 2 male Pochards, 2 Mute Swans (nest-building on bank of western shallows), 6 Tufted Ducks, 10 Great Crested Grebes, 2 immature Herring Gulls, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Nuthatches and 2 Long-tailed Tits at Terry's Pool. 2 adult Herring Gulls and 14 Great Crested Grebes at Engine Pool. 1 Grey Heron and 1 Buzzard (over) along canal feeder channel. 20+ Common Frogs spawning in shallows at Terry's Pool.

Common Frogs, 23/03/2010 (© Tony Philp)

24/03/2010 = 2 Mute Swans (appeared to have abandoned building nest on Terry's), 16 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Grey Heron and 1 Black-headed Gull at Engine Pool. 2 male Pochards, 7 Tufted Ducks, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 1 juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Treecreepers, 1 Jay, 1 Long-tailed Tit and 3 Nuthatches at Terry's Pool. 1 Chiffchaff (heard), 5 Tufted Ducks, 7 Great Crested Grebe, 1 adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and 1 Buzzard (over) at Windmill Pool. Apart from the multitude of Common Frogs spawning everywhere you look, today's find was a pair of jack Pike spawning in the shallows of the canal feeder at the northern end of Terry's Pool.

Pikes, 24/03/2010 (© Tony Philp)

Monday, 22 March 2010

17th-22nd March 2010

As I'm so far behind with keeping this blog up-to-date, here's the highlights for mid-March:

17/03/2010 = 4 Pochards at Windmill Pool. A Rook and up to 3 Lapwings over lakes.

18/03/2010 = 2 Sand Martins over Engine Pool were my first summer migrants this year. 4 or 5 Goldcrests around lakes.

19/03/2010 = 1 Pochard visible at Windmill Pool amongst vegetation.

20/03/2010 = 2 Greylag Geese over Engine Pool. 2 Kingfishers at Terry's Pool. 3 Pochards and my first migrant Chiffchaff at Windmill Pool. Total of c. 170 Common Frogs counted at lakes.

21/03/2010 = 2 Sand Martins flew over Engine Pool, also seen by Kevin Bates who was with me. I also saw a Rook and a Meadow Pipit (others heard) fly over the lakes. Although almost certainly yet another escapee, I was very pleased to see a male Wood Duck at Windmill Pool. A Goosander and 2 Pochards were at Terry's Pool, with a 3rd Pochard and a Chiffchaff at Windmill. Missed the volunteer work party in the woods again unfortunately, but did hear a Marsh Tit in New Fallings Coppice.

22/03/2010 = 2 Meadow Pipits (others heard) seen over Rumbush Farm. 5 Greylag Geese, 2 Pochards and a Chiffchaff at Terry's Pool. 2 Swallows (my first this year) and 2 Sand Martins over Windmill Pool, also seen by Tony Philp, but no sign of Wood Duck.

The Muscovy Duck was seen on every visit, always at Windmill Pool, and looks set to stay so doesn't seem much point in continuing reporting it, but I am interested to see how long it stays.

M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

16th March 2010

Saw my first bumblebee of the year yesterday in my garden, and for the first time attempted identification - seems to have been a Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

Got up early, and after giving my bicycle's chain a good oiling (it had gone a bit rusty!) went out on it for the first time in a couple of weeks. Hightlight at the lakes was seeing 7 Mute Swans at Engine and Windmill, including 3 first-winters. Apart from 2 Goldcrests singing around Terry's Pool, all the other notable birds were at Windmill Pool, where 4 Pochards, a Kingfisher and the Muscovy Duck were seen, plus 2 presumed Lesser Redpolls flew over. As I was on my bike, decided to check out the eastern parts of Earlswood, managing 7 Lapwings and a Green Woodpecker (on telegraph pole), after which I very briefly checked the lakes again from the causeway and continued on to Terry's Green, where I'd hoped to check the STW but a recently cut hawthorn hedge scuppered that so had to make do with just a Buzzard overhead. Forshaw Heath was very quiet.

With the winds now blowing from the south or thereabouts since this afternoon and forecast to continue doing so for the rest of the week, I'm hoping Earlswood's first migrants will be seen very soon - tomorrow maybe??? Seems Warwickshire's first Sand Martin of the year was seen at Draycote Water today.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 14 March 2010

14th March 2010

I had good views of a Bullfinch, saw 3 Pochards, 3 Herring Gulls and the Muscovy Duck on Windmill Pool and another Pochard on Engine Pool.
Bob Roberts


Overslept a little this morning for the WeBS survey, hence I didn't get to the lakes til 8:40 am by which time other people were walking around, plus the boats were out at Windmill Pool by the time I got there, so the counts were no doubt affected. Just 1 Goosander was at Terry's Pool; 2 Mute Swans and a Pochard at Engine Pool; and 4 more Pochards and the Muscovy Duck at Windmill Pool, plus a Sparrowhawk (soaring over) and a Grey Wagtail. With the survey finished, I went back to Terry's, finding 2 Shovelers there as well as the lone Pochard that had relocated from Engine.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 13 March 2010

13th March 2010

Carrion Crow calls coming from near my bedroom helped to wake me up early this morning, and I was surprised to see a group of 30 Carrion Crows in trees nearby. I'd never seen so many in my village before but have seen even larger gatherings at Earlswood, and it just goes to show that groups of large crows should never be presumed to be Rooks.

Walking to Earlswood, presumably the same male Yellowhammer was still singing at Fulford Heath, and I also heard a male Common Pheasant there - my first at Earlswood this year at long last, though Bob Roberts has already had up to two in the area this year. Reaching New Fallings Coppice, 2 Goldcrests there caused me to change my plan and I decided to have a good search of the wood and Clowes Wood. I only managed to locate 1 more Goldcrest, but also 8+ Treecreepers, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 32 Redwings, a Buzzard and 3 Mallards (along brook - unusual). Also, after about 90 minutes of searching, I found a Marsh Tit in Little Clowes Wood, along the railway on the northern side - I've seen no more than one this year, whereas two were resident last year, so hopefully this species isn't going to disappear from the area.

On to the lakes, where a 4th Goldcrest was seen at Mereside Pools, plus a 9th Treecreeper around Terry's Pool. There were 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool, and 3 Pochards circled over before flying down to Windmill Pool; but with the boats out they were nowhere to be seen by the time I got there, though a Kingfisher and the Muscovy Duck were there.

I continued to Earlswood Moathouse NR, but a Buzzard overhead was the most notable bird seen, although a 5th Goldcrest was heard in a nearby Earlswood Common garden. Going home, noted a Kestrel along Springbrook Lane.

M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

10th March 2010

Walked to the lakes early morning, and counted 42 Fieldfares and 10 Redwings in a field along Norton Lane on my way there. Saw 2 Shovelers, 3 Pochards, 4 Mute Swans (until the one pair noticed the other!) and the Muscovy Duck at Windmill Pool; whilst 3 more Pochards, 2 Greylag Geese (over), a Goosander and a Kingfisher were seen at Terry's Pool. From the causeway, 3+4 Goosanders were seen flying over but I can only be sure that 4+ were at the lakes today; as well as a wader flying over from south of Windmill and quickly gaining height which sadly I was unable to ID - whatever it was it would've been very notable. It seemed rather dark overall with no noticeable wing-bars or white rump/tail (although viewing conditions were dull), and had quite a long bill that seemed too short for Common Snipe or Woodcock - was it a Jack Snipe??? I don't have much luck with waders in flight! :-(
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. In case anyone's been wondering what the Muscovy Duck looks like, here it is:

Muscovy Duck (right!), 07/03/2010 (© Bob Roberts)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

7th March 2010

Bob Roberts visited the lakes today and noted 2 Pochards, 5 Tufted Ducks and 2 Song Thrushes at Terry's Pool, plus 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool. Also 2 Nuthatches around the lakes, one of which he had a really close view of.


I went to help Ron Hill and the other volunteers in Clowes Wood today, and whilst on my way there along Fulford Hall Road it gave me great pleasure to see a male Yellowhammer singing again in the same area as last time - presumably this is the same male on territory. I had a good time helping the guys in the SSSI with work on the paths, after which I spent just over an hour at the lakes, but to Bob's sightings I can only add that the Muscovy Duck was still at Windmill Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 6 March 2010

6th March 2010

Spent much of the morning at the lakes. Engine Pool held 2 Mute Swans and a Reed Bunting singing from one of the reed islands. Terry's Pool held up to 13 Goosanders, 1 Kingfisher (heard only), the Muscovy Duck, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Bullfinches and 3 Treecreepers, with a Goldcrest heard at Mereside Pools. Windmill Pool held 3 Shovelers, 4 Pochards and 9 Tufted Ducks, plus the Muscovy Duck moved to there as the morning progressed. From the causeway, a Skylark was heard passing over. At the "Springbrook Scrubland", south of Windmill Pool, saw more Lesser Redpolls (I reckon there were 8+ in the vicinity of the lakes today) and heard 2 more Bullfinches.
M.P. Griffiths

P.S. I've made what I hope are improvements to the Earlswood bird list, putting it in tables. I hope people find the column with the last year each species was recorded useful.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

2nd March 2010

A first for some years - a day spent at Earlswood without any form of optical aid!!! Yep, I left my bins and scope at home as I went to help some Nature Force volunteers with improving a section of path in Little Clowes Wood, having been invited there by Izumi Segawa (Warwickshire Wildlife Trust). I find it satisfying knowing I've made a small contribution to improving the woods, plus now there should be one less "muddy bit" in there. I plan to start helping the volunteers who go there on Sundays, when I can. Birds noted were a Buzzard along Fulford Hall Road, and a Goldcrest heard in Little Clowes Wood.

Humphrey Miller visited Earlswood, and noted 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming in the woods and 3 Goosanders at Terry's Pool.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Izumi (contact details) is leading a National Grid corporate team to carry on the path work in Clowes Wood on Tuesday 9th March, which I think other people are welcome to come along to.

Monday, 1 March 2010

1st March 2010

Cycled to the lakes early morning, enjoying the pleasant weather and it became clear there'd been more waterbird movement since yesterday. Great Crested Grebe numbers had increased some more to 20, and whilst most of yesterday's less-common duck species had left the lakes (including the Mandarin Ducks, sadly), there was a female Pochard at Windmill Pool. Terry's Pool held 5 Goosanders and 2 Kingfishers, with up to 6 (!) noisy Jays plus 2 Treecreepers and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers around the sides; 2 Mute Swans at Mereside Pools were unusual. Also unusual was a redhead Goosander I saw at Engine Pool (possibly one of the birds seen at Terry's), as well as a Grey Wagtail, and heard a Green Woodpecker nearby. As well as the Pochard, the Muscovy Duck was still at Windmill Pool, whilst 25 Lapwings (first flock I've seen at Earlswood this year) and 3 Buzzards passed over. Whilst talking to a lady (who reads this blog) along the track from Windmill Pool to Malthouse Lane, 3 Siskins were noted. Then along Malthouse Lane as I was leaving, met local birder Bob Roberts, who I've met before, and he too said he reads this blog - it's good to know some people are enjoying it and it encourages me to continue.

Bob hadn't seen the Mandarin Ducks today either, but did note the 2 Mute Swans at Mereside Pools, as well as 5 Goosanders, 5 Tufted Ducks, a Kingfisher and c. 40 Black-headed Gulls, amongst other birds, at Terry's Pool. He also kindly sent me details of a male Mandarin Duck he saw at Terry's Pool last year, together with this pic:
Mandarin Duck, 09/09/2009 (© Bob Roberts)

This is the third confirmed record of this species at the lakes in 2009 that I'm aware of. It's interesting to note that this species has been reported at the lakes every year now since 2007, so I'm confident others will be found, although most seem to only stay a day and could easily be missed.

M.P. Griffiths