Sunday, 9 May 2021

Linacre Nestboxes - An Update

 A lot can happen in a week, when it comes to the nestboxes at Linacre. This morning's check, showed that 3 had been predated - adult feathers and broken eggs (most likely some kind of rodent or mustelid), the chicks in one box were, thankfully, still going strong, and the pair of Pied Flycatchers had built a nest. Hopefully, they'll lay some eggs this week. The Mallard nest found last week was empty but undisturbed, so hopefully they've hatched.

Out on the water there were 80 Mallards (52 adults and 4 broods of 9, 6, 6 and 7), 5 Great-crested Grebes, 2 Grey Wagtails, 13 Moorhens (8 adults and 1 brood of 5), 29 Coots (12 adults and 3 broods of 7, 5 and 5), 9 male Mandarins and 25 adult Tufted Ducks.

Other birds seen were: 2 Swallows, 2 Yellowhammers (1 male and 1 female by the main entrance), 1 Skylark, singing by the top reservoir, 1 singing Mistle Thrush, 4 Chiffchaffs and 3 Blackcaps.

One species of insect was also seen, which I think is a Stonefly.

Stonefly sp

Monday, 3 May 2021

Linacre Nestboxes - 3rd May 2021

 It's been a couple of weeks since I last checked the nestboxes at Linacre, so I popped down for a couple of hours this morning, before the rain and wind started!!

It was a mixture of good news and bad news (as is always the case with every nestbox season). The bad news was that all three owl boxes, that had been used by Mandarins this year, appear to have failed. A quick check yesterday afternoon, revealed cold, uncovered eggs and no females. The better news, however, is that this morning's tit box check revealed a total of 32 active nests, the first chicks of the year (7 Great Tits, still naked and blind, so most likely very recently hatched),  my first ever record of a Coal Tit using a nestbox, and a pair of Pied Flycatchers entering a nestbox!! In addition, the Mallard's nest with 8 eggs was empty this morning (hopefully fledged successfully), and another nest, with 6 eggs this time, was found on the floor in the woods.

Pied Flycatcher

After checking the boxes, I walked around all three reservoirs, and spotted the following waterbirds: Mallard (72; 51 adults and 21 ducklings from 4 broods of 8, 1, 5 and 7), Coot (12; 7 adults and 1 brood of 5 - first of the year), Moorhen 14; 9 adults and 1 brood of 5 - first of the year), Mandarin (7 males), Tufted Duck (30),  Canada Goose (5; 3 flew over and 2 on the top reservoir), Greylag Goose (2 on the top reservoir -  second record of the year), Great-crested Grebe (4 adults), Grey Wagtail (1), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1 adult) and  a 1st summer/2nd calendar year (born 2020) Black-headed Gull - only my second May record of this species. 2 Swallows were also seen over the top reservoir.

Black-headed Gull

Whilst on site, I also had a short time on the ringing site, where I saw a pair of Bullfinch (first Linacre record of the year!), a singing Song Thrush, 1 singing Willow Warbler, and, best of all, my first Whitethroat of the year. 

Year List update:
139 - Whitethroat

Saturday, 1 May 2021

RSPB Frampton Marsh - 1st May 2021

 Jayne and I had our near annual trip to RSPB Frampton Marsh today. Because of lockdown, there are quite a few common species missing from my "year list", so today's trip added a whopping 24 species!!

The day started well, with our first Swift of the year, followed closely by Reed, Sedge and Garden Warbler. As always, this site held lots of waders, the best of which was a male Dotterel. Unfortunately, it was slightly too distant for a photo, unlikely a very "showy" Jack Snipe and Wood Sandpiper.

Jack Snipe

Wood Sandpiper

The total number of "new" species seen were:
114 - Reed Warbler
115 - Sedge Warbler
116 - Garden Warbler
117 - Greenshank
118 - Yellow Wagtail
119 - Shelduck
120 - Shoveler
121 - Swift
122 - Wigeon
123 - Teal
124 - Brent Goose (Dark-bellied)
125 - Wood Sandpiper
126 - Dunlin
127 - Ringed Plover
128 - Dotterel
129 - Black-tailed Godwit
130 - Bar-tailed Godwit
131 - Whimbrel
132 - Goldeneye
133 - Common Tern (4)
134 - Little Egret
135 - Avocet
136 - Golden Plover
137 - Jack Snipe
138 - Ruff

In addition, there was a male Ring-necked Duck on the reserve. We managed to see it, asleep(!), but later reports suggested that it was a Tufted x Ring-necked Duck hybrid, so it won't go down on the list. 

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Linacre Ringing and Nest Recording

 This weekend I've had two visits to Linacre, once for the first ringing session there since September 2020, and once for the first nest box check of the year (not including the owl boxes - see here).

The ringing session, with 4 members of Sorby Breck Ringing Group, and one of the Linacre volunteer rangers, took place yesterday, from 06.15 - 09.30. In total we ringed 21 birds of 9 species. Totals were (new/retrap): Blue Tit 3/2, Great Tit 4/1, Coal Tit 2/0, Robin 3/0, Chiffchaff 1/0, Blackcap 0/1, Dunnock 1/1, Chaffinch 1/0 and Goldcrest 1/0. All the retraps were Linacre-ringed birds. The 2 Blue Tits had been ringed in June 2019 and March 2020 (just before lockdown). The Great Tit was ringed in July 2018, the Dunnock in December 2018, but, best of all, was the male Blackcap, originally ringed as an adult, in July 2016! I also found out yesterday, that a Blue Tit we originally ringed at Linacre on 16th July 2016 had been found dead (killed by a cat), 7km away, on 28th April 2020. This is the longest recovery (distance) we've had, so far.

This morning's visit was to check the nest boxes. In total there were 30 boxes in use, ranging from N1 (a nest just being started) through to sitting birds. All the boxes appeared to be tit nests, except for one Wren nest. The highlight, however, of the morning was the discovery of the year's first singing Pied Flycatcher. It was in the vicinity of a nest box, so I'm keeping everything crossed for another successful breeding season (1 successful box last year, fledged 7 young). It's still quite early in the season too, so hopefully, there could be some more birds to arrive. A female Mallard was also disturbed from a nest, 1m away from a nest box, revealing a nest with 6 eggs. As always, the results of the nests will be recorded for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme

Mallard nest

Whilst on site this morning, I also recorded Green Woodpecker (heard), a Mallard with 13 ducklings (the first 2021 record), Willow Warbler (1 heard by the top reservoir), Reed Bunting (one male heard singing in willows by the boardwalk), Skylark (1 singing over fields by the top reservoir), Curlew (1 heard, but not seen, from the top reservoir - my first record here since 2018) and Canada Goose (6 - my highest count of the year). The Moorhen nest on the top reservoir was empty, but no young were seen.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Bempton and Scarborough - 13th April 2021

 With a relaxation of lockdown rules allowing travel further afield, Jayne and I decided to have a day trip to the coast, visiting RSPB Bempton Cliffs and Scarborough. The weather was great, with bright sunshine, no wind and 12 degrees.

First stop was Bempton Cliffs, where we spent a couple of hours walking along the cliffs, recording the following species: Gannet, Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Herring Gull, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Linnet, Pied Wagtail and Tree Sparrow.


After Bempton, we drove up to Scarborough where we had a walk along the South Beach up to the harbour area. Herring Gulls were everywhere, and the first new species was an adult Great Black-backed Gull. Other species seen here were: Redshank, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper (one on the breakwaters), Rock Pipit and, best of all, a Great Northern Diver

Great Northern Diver

Year List update:
93 - Tree Sparrow
94 - Gannet
95 - Kittiwake
96 - Fulmar
97 - Puffin
98 - Razorbill
99 - Guillemot
100 - Great Black-backed Gull
101 - Turnstone
102 - Great Northern Diver
103 - Rock Pipit
104 - Purple Sandpiper
105 - Red Kite (seen on the way home, near Leeds)

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Sunshine and (Snow) Showers

Today was this month's WeBS walk at Linacre. I had a wander round and recorded the following birds: Mallard (45), Mandarin (24), Coot (5), Moorhen (8), Great-crested Grebe (2), Tufted Duck (69),  Canada Goose (1), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2 adults), Goosander (1 female), Pied Wagtail (1) and Grey Wagtail (5). The Grey Wagtails were singing and displaying, and I managed to get this interesting photo.

Grey Wagtails

In addition to these species there were also c.30 Swallows, 2 House Martins and 1 Sand Martin (feeding together over the top reservoir in a snow/hail shower!!) and 4 Buzzards. The best birds, however, were 3 Reed Buntings (2 males and 1 female) that I found feeding in and around the willows by the boardwalk on the top reservoir. This is only my third record of this species at Linacre (1 male ringed in 2013 and 1 male singing in the ringing site in 2019), so you can imagine how pleased I was to see them! Unfortunately, they didn't want their photos taking, and this awful picture, is the best I got!!

Reed Bunting (male)

The last bird of note was seen on Friday 9th, and was the first Common Sandpiper of the year. I usually only get 1 sighting of this species each year, as they pass through to their breeding grounds, so I was very pleased to catch up with this bird. It fed on the wall of the middle dam, and again, this is my best photo.

Common Sandpiper

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Linacre Nestboxes - 7th April 2021

 Yesterday I went down to Linacre to meet up with some of the regular Severn Trent volunteers (thanks everyone, it was great to meet you all). One of the volunteers shared photos of  2 caterpillars that had been found on site. One was a Pale Tussock and the other was an Elephant Hawk-moth. Both species were new records for the site.

Pale Tussock

Elephant Hawkmoth

Whilst there, we had a first check in the "owl boxes", and found that 3 of the 5 were in use, albeit not by owls!! As usual, the 3 boxes all contained Mandarin Duck eggs, including 1 with at least 38(!) eggs in it - a classic example of "egg dumping" by several different females. The other 2 contained just 3 and 4 eggs. None of the broods were being incubated yet. Several pairs of Blue Tits were seen entering nestboxes, so it seems that the the breeding season is beginning in earnest. 

Mandarin nest with 38 eggs

After the nestboxes, I had a quick walk around the middle and top reservoirs, and spotted my first Swallows (6), House Martins (2) and Sand Martins (2) of 2021.

Other species seen were: Kestrel (1 male hunting below the top reservoir - my first Linacre record of 2021), Raven (2 over the bottom reservoir), Grey Heron (1, my first Linacre record of 2021) and Sparrowhawk (1 female).