Sunday, 20 April 2014

"Commic" Terns at Linacre

Since I started recording the birdlife at Linacre Reservoirs began back in 2006 I have only ever had 1 sighting of any tern species, a single Common Tern. This morning's WeBS walk started well, with the first waterbirds seen being a couple of "commic" terns flying over the bottom reservoir. Commic Terns aren't a new species, but the name given by birders, to birds that can't be positively identified as either Common or Arctic Terns. Unfortunately I only saw them for about 30 seconds, before they flew off east down the valley, so today's birds fell into that category. Looking on Birdguides later, I noticed that there had been a big influx of Arctic Terns into the country, so its quite possible that these birds were Arctics, but as I didn't identify them as such at the time they'll have to stay as "commics".

After the excitement of the "commics" I carried on and walked around the site to carry out the rest of this month's WeBS count. Usually, at this time of the year, water bird numbers  drop off, as birds disperse to breed. This was the case today, but there were a few surprises in store as well.

First the expected birds: Mallard (43; including 2 broods of ducklings, two groups of 7), Tufted Duck (22), Canada Goose (1, the hybrid bird), Coot (10, including the incubating adult on the top reservoir), Moorhen (7, including the incubating bird ,also on the top reservoir), Great-crested Grebe (4, 2 pairs, both incubating eggs), Mandarin (2 males) and Grey Wagtail (1 heard only).

A little more unexpected were the "redhead" Goosander that was on the top reservoir, and a summer plumaged Black-headed Gull. Both species are regular winter visitors, but have normally left by now, so both sightings were noteworthy. Another species, Oystercatcher, was reported yesterday (thanks Jim), and was the first sighting of 2014. Again, this is a very uncommon species at Linacre, usually only recorded as flying through in the spring time, presumably "on passage", so all records are interesting.

As well as the water birds, the noteworthy birds today included the first 2014 report of Swallow (2 over the middle reservoir, about a week later than last year), a Little Owl, a calling Tawny Owl and singing Blackcaps (6), Chiffchaffs(8) and Willow Warblers (3).

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