Thursday, May 18, 2006

March 2006 - summary


Yellow-legged Gull - adult on several dates
summer visitors inc. Sand Martin, Wheatear & Willow Warbler
passage finches inc. Lesser Redpoll, Bullfinch & Siskin

records refer to Stoke Newington reservoirs unless otherwise stated

Wintering species dominated sightings during the first half of the month at the reservoirs, with good numbers of wildfowl and gulls present. Up ten Mute Swans and up to four Canada Geese were recorded on all visits, and (presumably the same) pair of Greylags were seen on several dates. Duck numbers fluctuated as wintering birds either began to move on or were temporarily augmented by new arrivals:

(the frozen New River, 4th March 2006)

Shovelers peaked at 23 on the 4th, but dropped to eight by the 30th; Pochards peaked at 53 on the 4th, steadily reducing to 20 by the end of the month; Gadwalls showed a similar pattern, with 35 on the 4th dropping to 20 by the 30th. Tufted Ducks, after remaining at a fairly constant 35 throughout Jan and Feb, swelled to 95 on the 4th and 70 on the 9th, before numbers steadily dropped to 30 by the month's end; Ruddy Ducks, however, bucked the trend by increasing as the month progressed, numbers reaching 34 by the 27th.

(Great Cormorant, March 2006)

Gulls continued to provide interest, with sightings of (perhaps the same) adult Yellow-legged Gull on the East reservoir on two or three occasions, with a nominate (L.a.argentatus) adult Herring Gull on the 13th; a more troublesome adult Gull sp., present on most dates throughout the month (and currently awaiting definitive identification) was present from the 4th and beyond the month's end (- see seperate posting and photos to follow).

(Green Sandpiper, March 2006)

Counts of Black-headed Gulls rose sharply at the beginning of the month as birds flocked before heading to breeding sites, with peaks of 200 on the 9th and 250 on the 13th; thereafter, numbers dropped equally sharply, with 40 on the 25th and just seven remaining on the 30th. Common Gulls were last seen on the 13th, when eight were recorded. Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull numbers both peaked on the 9th, with 24 and 12 respectively.

(Black-headed Gulls inc. one ringed, March 2006)

Raptor sightings were confined to local breeders, with one or two Sparrowhawks on most visits, but Kestrels were less predictable. Great Crested Grebes were omnipresent, with a second pair arriving on the 25th (both pairs then remaining to breed), and single Little Grebes were occasional. Two wintering Kingfishers continued to frequent their favoured sites along the New River and East Reservoir, up to three Grey and five Pied Wagtails were usually present, and at least one wintering Chiffchaff remained in the willows along the New River East.

The last of a healthy presence of wintering Snipe was recorded on the 13th, and two Green Sandpipers remained (usually on the West Reservoir) throughout the month. Water Rails continued to make their presence felt until the 25th, occasionally showing very well on the the fringes of the East Reservoir.

(Reed Warbler nest from last year, March 2006)

Return migration of passerines began around the middle of the month, initially dominated by thrushes. Good numbers of Redwings were heard calling throughout the small hours from the 23rd to the month's end, and daytime records peaked in Clissold Park with 45 on the 27th; several birds sang from the 27th to 30th. The 27th also saw peak counts of Song Thrush (25) and Mistle Thrush (seven) while Blackbirds peaked on the 28th (33).

Clissold Park also shared in the few notable records of passage finch species this spring, with single Lesser Redpoll and female Bullfinch on the morning of the 27th (with spring peaks of 22 Goldfinches and eight Goldcrests on the same day); the only other such record came from the reservoirs, where two Siskins were present along the New River West on the 30th. Reed Buntings returned to the East Reservoir after a couple of months absence on the 9th, and were a welcome constant thereafter.

(Green Sandpiper, March 2006)

The first true spring migrants occurred in the final week of the month. Three Sand Martins at the reservoirs on the morning of the 27th were joined by 27 more by dusk, and were recorded daily from thereon; a male Northern Wheatear in Clissold Park on the 28th was another first of the year, and the year's first singing Willow Warbler at the East Reservoir on the 30th complimented a steady build up of Chiffchaffs from the 25th onwards (with a peak of 6 on the 30th).

Other notable migrants included a single Meadow Pipit on the 27th and Jackdaws on the 25th and 27th (two on both occasions).