Sunday, 16 September 2012

Linacre WeBS Walk - 15th and 16th September 2012

As in previous months I couldn't get to Linacre on the Saturday for the monthly WeBS walk because of ringing activities. Therefore many thanks again to the members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group who turned up to carry out the walk. I did manage to get down today though, and the following details are a combination of both visits.

First up were the Mandarin Ducks of which 30 were seen. This month and October are the best time to catch up with the Mandarins at Linacre because all the young birds and adult males have moulted into their new feathers and therefore look really good. As well as this, these months see the highest counts of Mandarins and they are therefore easier to see. Where they go afterwards is not yet known, but numbers fall throughout the winter, until only a few breeding pairs remain in the spring and summer. They are present on all three reservoirs, but can most easily be seen on the bottom reservoir perched on the branches of the over-hanging trees.
Male Mandarin
Mallard numbers this month were average for the time of year at 43. Most juveniles are now more or less fully grown and difficult to tell from the moulting adults. It doesn't seem to have been a particularly good year for this species at Linacre with only a handful of broods seen.

Tufted Duck were also present today with a  count of 21. No young were counted and, as far as I am aware, they have only ever bred once at Linacre in 2010.

Tufted Duck

Both Little and Great-crested Grebes have bred this year. Today there were 2 Little Grebes (1 adult and 1 juvenile) and 3 Great-crested Grebes (1 adult and 2 juveniles). Both these species are year-round residents and breed in most years. Little Grebes tend to be seen on the bottom reservoir, whereas the Great-crested Grebes seem to prefer the middle reservoir.

Little Grebe

Great-crested Grebe

Moorhen and Coot are another two of Linacre's resident water bird. Both species were recorded this month; Moorhen 4 (3 juveniles and 1 adult) and Coot (9, all adults). Both species seem to have suffered a poor breeding season this year and were present in smaller numbers than normal. Both these species can be seen on all three reservoirs.

Gulls were represented by 12 over-flying Lesser Black-backed Gulls. This was the first record of the year and represents a very good record. The only over gulls normally recorded at Linacre are Black-headed Gulls which are winter visitors and normally return in October or November. They are then recorded on every visit until the end of March. I'd love to see a colour ringed bird, so that I could find out where they come from!

Adult Black-headed Gull in winter plumage

Other water birds recorded this month were Grey Heron (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Cormorant (2; 1 adult and 1 juvenile) and Kingfisher (1). Grey Herons have become less frequent in the last few years and haven't bred since 2010. They are now recorded sporatically throughout the year. Grey Wagtails are present throughout the year and breed every year. Cormorant records have increased in the last few years. They are still primarily a winter visitor, but they appear to be returning ealier every summer with records in July this year. Kingfisher is usually recorded in the summer months and may breed on the river below the reservoirs, but this has not yet been proven. Next year perhaps?

Away from the water a single Chiffchaff was recorded on Saturday and both Swallows (10) and House Martins (c.30) were also seen. The woodlands contained all the usual tit species, Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks, Woodpigeon, Crows and Wrens, but no winter visitors were seen.

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