Saturday, 31 December 2011

Linacre Reservoirs - End of the year review.

Over the last 12 months I've visited Linacre on 42 occassions and, together with members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group and Sheffield Bird Study Group, recorded a total of 74 species of birds.

As regular readers of the blog will know, this year has seen quite a few changes around Linacre, as essential engineering works have meant that all three reservoirs have been partially drained since April. I've been very interested to monitor the effects of this on the bird life and, as far as I can see, the effects have been minimal for the vast majority of species and have even lead to a few new records, most notably Little Ringed Plover (see here) and Linnet (see here).

Little Ringed Plover

As far as breeding is concerned the birds to have lost out this year appear to be Coot (no evidence of any young), Moorhen (just 3 juveniles seen ), Great-crested Grebe ( 1 juvenile seen, but no evidence of breeding on site) and Grey Heron (no sign of nesting on the regular nest and no young seen). The first three most likely as a result of the low water levels and the last species most likely because of the very cold weather at the end of last year and the start of this year. In addition, the Pied Flycatchers arrived early this year and laid three eggs in one of the group's nest boxes, but unfortunately the female bird disappeared (presumed dead) and the eggs never developed.

The winners on the other hand included these species that were recorded breeding for the first time this year; Chaffinch (young seen), Jackdaw (in the chimney of the house), Coal and Willow Tit (both seen feeding young), Song Thrush and Blackbird (both seen collecting food) and Pied Wagtail (young seen). Mandarin Duck have been proven to breed every year since our recording began, but this year we actually found a nest with 9 eggs in one of the group's "owl boxes". The eggs hatched and all young fledged successfully.

Mandarin eggs

So, what does 2012 hold for Linacre and our group's recording? As you know, I've recently started bird ringing and obviously this will be taking up most of my free time next year. Hopefully, however I will still be able to get down to Linacre as often as possible in order to keep everyone informed about next year's breeding season. I'm particulary interested in following the progress of the two new owl boxes and, if my ringing trainer is in agreement, ring the juvenile Blue and Great Tits, as well as any other birds we can find. The monthly WeBS walks will also continue, so keep logging on and reading.

Thanks alot for you interest this year, have a wonderful New Year everyone and here's to a prosperous and happy 2012.

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