This article, by a then-prominent member of the Club, first appeared in ‘British Birds’ issue 28:11 (pages 345–346), in April 1935.
Bird and place names were spelt as shown. For their current status, please see our county lists.
Notes from Reservoirs and Sewage Farms.
The drought had considerable influence on the numbers of birds breeding on and visiting the large S. Staffs. Reservoirs in 1934.
The following notes refer to Bellfields , the most westerly of these reservoirs, and to Gailey Pool, as in previous years (British Birds, XXVII., pp. 296–8 and antea), and refer to the former except when Gailey Pool is actually mentioned.
They cover a period of 13 months from December, 1933, to the end of 1934, so that the year is quoted for the month of December only. Bellfields has been very low throughout the period, but the water at Gailey has been kept much at its usual level.
Mr. H. G. Alexander (A.) has very kindly supplied notes made on four visits, and Miss C. K. James (J.) notes made on three visits, which I have incorporated with my own.
Shell-Duck (Tadorna tadorna). — Single birds only on January 7th (A.), October 1st and 11th (J.), and December 27th.
Garganey (Anas querquedula). — On May 18th a drake (A.); two on July 23rd (A.).
Wigeon (Anas penelope). — In greatly reduced numbers: 150 or more on February 11th, whereas in normal winters there have been 500 up to 1,000; 23 on March 31st, and eight at Gailey; a drake in full plumage on July 7th (B.), and 23rd (A.) — possibly a pricked bird fairly plentiful at the end of the year.
Shoveler (Spatula clypeata). — On December 10th, 1933, between 45 and 50 in a close flock in an open pool in the ice at Gailey; at Bellfields comparatively few all the year through — 20 on February 11th, ten on March 10th, twelve on September 10th and three or four pairs on December 27th were the largest numbers seen.
Pochard (Nyroca f. ferina). — As usual Gailey Pool was the more favoured reservoir of the two. From over 180 in December, 1933, and 150 on January 7th (A.) they fell off greatly; there were 24 on February 11th and none on March 31st or on May 18th (A.); on July 7th there were 12 and numbers increased by September 16th to 80 or 90 and on December 27th to about 350.
Tufted Duck (Nyroca fuligula). — Not quite so numerous as usual; only two broods (six and two) to be seen on July 7th, when about 100 birds were counted; numbers in November and December, perhaps, more up to normal — November 18th about 100 (A.).
Goldeneye (Bucephala c. clangula). — Never up to usual numbers on either reservoir; twelve or more on February 11th was the largest number seen. One ( or juv.) as late as May 18th (A.).
Velvet-Scoter (Oidemia f. fusca). — I saw one at Gailey on November 25th and noticed that the duration of its dives was far longer than that of other diving duck on the pool; this bird had been seen a week earlier (November 18th) by Messrs. H. G. Alexander and F. R. Barlow — an immature bird. The Velvet-Scoter had never been recorded in Staffordshire before.
Goosander (Mergus m. merganser). — On December 27th, 1933, 25 or 26 brown-headed birds were swimming together in a pool in the ice at Gailey; on January 7th there were 40 there (A.); in February they were at Bellfields : 37 or 38 on the 11th (only four old drakes), and on the 19th Mr. T. Baddeley counted 41 (eight old drakes); there were still 39 there on March 9th (J.), but none on the 31st when four were at Gailey. On December 18th, 1934, there were three. The proportion of brown-headed birds is unusual.
Smew (Mergus albellus). — A duck on March 9th (J.).
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax c. carbo). — A few seen in six different months one on March 31st; one on May 18th; three at Gailey on September 16th (A.); five on October 1st and two on October 11th (J.); at Gailey two on November 18th (A.), and on November 25th; two at Bellfields on December 27th.
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps c. cristatus). — Bellfields, where six pairs nested in 1931, was so low that there was no possible nesting-site; on July 7th there was none on the pool at all; on July 23rd two (A.), which had probably come from Gailey where numbers were normal. On November 18th three, and at Gailey eighteen (A.).
Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps n. nigricollis). — One on August 13th — white faced and with very little duskiness on the neck.
Ringed Plover (Charadrius h. hiaticula). — Four on May 18th (A.); one on September 16th.
Golden Plover (Charadrius apricarius). — Two on November 18th (A.), and seven on November 25th.
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus). — In November in remarkable numbers on the muddy bed of the reservoir; on November 18th computed at 1,000 or more (A.), and on November 25th there were probably several thousand in all.
Turnstone (Arenaria i. interpres). — Three on July 23rd flew from N.E. to W. or SW. and did not settle (A.).
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax). — One on July 23rd (A.). It was reported in The Field that a Ruff and two Reeves were shot at Tamworth, Staffs., on August 28th.
Sanderling (Crocethia alba). — On May 18th, five which flew off to the N.W. (A.); five on October 1st (J.).
Little Stint (Calidris minuta). — One on October 1st and two on October 11th (J.).
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia). — Two on September 16th.
Coot (Fulica a. atra). — Numbers fluctuate greatly. On December 10th, 1933, about 400 on Gailey Pool, but only three on Bellfields; many in January, but never in such large numbers later in the year; comparatively few in December, 1934.
A. W. Boyd
[1^] Bellfields is now known as Belvide Reservoir.
Reproduced by kind permission of British Birds .
Thanks to Dr. Malcolm Ogilvie for scanning the original, from his collection.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
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