Yet another month of unsettled weather with heavy showers, longer periods of rain and at times gusty southerly or westerly winds as a procession of depressions arrived off the Atlantic. There were however some warm and even hot days in mid month but these were all too brief. Temperatures were back to normal by the end Nevertheless Blithfield provided a commendable diversity of birding opportunities for the faithful and there were a few surprises! Birding highlights included a surprising run of Common Crossbill records, a return of breeding Spotted Flycatchers, a lingering Osprey, a female Common Scoter and 2 Black-necked Grebes. Great Crested Grebes continued to produce youngsters as did Mallards and Coot. Towards the end of the month the first Tufted Duck broods appeared and Moorhens benefited from the high water levels too. Sadly the Shelduck families were presumed to have succumbed as none could be found.
On the 1st 3 Common Sandpipers were on the causeway and 8 Common Terns were present. At 15-20hrs. an Osprey appeared. In the evening 2 Redshank were along Admaston Reach. 22 adult Common Terns were reported on the 2nd. A Siskin calling above the Education Centre feeders was an unseasonal sound but this coincided with several reports on feeders elsewhere. The Blithfield feeders were also busy with many Great Tit families dispelling the concerns that they may have had a poor breeding season. Also present at this time were Nuthatches and a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker. A family of recently fledged Long Tailed Tits was at the top of Blithe Bay where 2 Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Reed Buntings continued to sing. The Reed Warbler was also present still in the phragmites bed. A Chaffinch with a BTO ring was at the Dell Hide. 3 Little Ringed Plovers were seen on the 3rd when 19 Common Sandpipers were counted on the causeway and 15 Common Terns were just off Beech Tree Point. A pair of Great Crested Grebes showed off a newly hatched chick. Common Sandpipers quickly reduced to 12 on the 4th but there were now 5 non-breeding Little Ringed Plovers 2 Oystercatchers seemed equally to be unsuccessful in their attempts to rear a family this year. . 17 Common Terns were present 3 Lapwings were reported with what was reported as a young bird. On a rare hot day the 5th produced a Peregrine, a Buzzard, 2 Shelduck(but no youngsters), 4 Oystercatchers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Redshank again and 17 Common Terns. Little changed until the 7th when a redhead Goosander flew north over the causeway pondering the question as to whether it had been pushed off a prospective breeding site by rising floods. A juvenile Little Ringed Plover was on the causeway and Common Terns were assessed at 27. A juvenile Black Headed Gull was the first of many more to be seen later in the month. A Yellow-legged Gull sat on a buoy at the Deep End as did a Great Black-backed Gull. Meanwhile Common Sandpiper passage clearly continued but no count was made.
An Osprey appeared again after a few days' absence on the 8th. 40 Common Crossbills gave an unexpected opportunity at the larch plantation at the edge of Stansley Wood on the 9th. A Spotted Flycatcher there also raised a few eyebrows. The Osprey appeared at 12-30 hrs. 2 Bullfinches were reported and Garden Warbler continued to sing. The 2 Shelduck remained as did 2 Redshank and an Oystercatcher and 8 Common Sandpipers. 7 Common Terns were reported but there were probably many more. Juvenile Pied Wagtails were noted at Ten Acre Bay on the 10th Tree Sparrows were prominent at several locations around the Deep End and below the dam where 24 Grey Herons were counted. 2 Oystercatchers were also below the dam with a third in Tad Bay A Kestrel and a Buzzard were also seen. A Yellow-legged Gull was again present. 13 Lapwings were found and 141 Canada Geese. A male, female and juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker were on the Education Feeders with 2 Nuthatches. 2 Teal were new arrivals in Tad Bay where there were also 5 Gadwall. A pair of Bullfinches behaved as a breeding pair in front of the Stansley Wood Hide. A Mistle Thrush was on the grass at the top of Tad Bay. 47 Common Terns were now present and just 7 Common Sandpipers.
There were still at least 15 Common Crossbills in the larches on the 11 th. Another very young Great Crested Grebe chick rode on its parent's back. A Buzzard was also reported which was not unexpected as they were nesting within the Reserve. A Kingfisher in Tad Bay was a welcome record on the 12 th when a Spotted Flycatcher was again recorded. The Osprey was over Blithe Bay. On 15th there was apparently a female Red Crested Pochard in Blithe Bay but there was no entry in the log book or elsewhere. A Curlew flew through and once more the Osprey spent much of the day at Blithfield. There was now a family of Spotted Flycatchers around Barn Farm Bay and a nest was found with well developed chicks in the larches. A Green Woodpecker was again around the dam. 33 Common Terns were seen and 8 Common Sandpipers again. 2 Oystercatchers continued to hang around. The Osprey lingered on the 16th and again on the 17th. The Spotted Flycatchers continued to do well as 4 Spotted Flycatchers were seen at the larches including 3 very large chicks in a nest that looked too small for purpose. By just turning 180 degrees observers could admire the roosting Osprey at its favourite spot. The second Spotted Flycatcher family were at Barn Farm Bay on the 19th 2 Treecreepers were also seen. At least 36 Common Terns continued to feature. The Bullfinches showed again in Stansley Wood Osprey and Buzzard were reported plus a Hobby which this year has been scarce at Blithfield. Several of the 150 Black-headed Gulls on the dam were juveniles. A Turnstone on the dam was a nice surprise on the 20th whilst an unseasonal Pochard was in Tad Bay. Spotted Flycatchers delighted visitors too. 2 adult Little Gulls flew through Blithe Bay also. 2 recently fledged but self sufficient Redstarts were observed at Admaston Reach on the 21st suggesting that they may have bred locally. No adults were seen.
The WeBS was conducted on the 22nd by Messrs Holt, Powell, Mant, Betts and Broadbent. The 2 long staying Black Swans continued to enjoy the Blithfield water. The non breeding Mute Swan flock was counted at 120. 127 Greylags were present but they did not seem to have many young birds amongst them. There were 267 Canada Geese. The dabblers were represented by 7 Gadwall, 2 Teal, and a surprisingly low 130 Mallards. There were also 5 hybrid ducks including 4 ducklings of mixed parentage. 232 Tufted Duck were the only diving ducks present. 51 Great Crested Grebes were located and 29 Cormorants maintained their recent low totals. A creditable 37 Grey Herons were found mostly below the dam. 170 Coot were at various locations with several young chicks. 4 Oystercatchers emained but there was still no sign of further breeding activity. A single Little Ringed Plover was around the causeway still and the post breeding Lapwing flock totalled 113 mostly along Admaston Reach and in Tad Bay. 9 Common Sandpipers were seen and the Turnstone continued its presence on the dam. A Kingfisher was seen in Blithe Bay. At least 181 Black-headed Gulls were present during the morning and 2 Herring Gulls were identified and outnumbered by 24 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A grand total of 64 Common Terns were present but there were only 2 juveniles amongst them. 2 Buzzards were noted and Kestrel was recorded as present as were Skylark, Reed Bunting, Linnet and Yellow Wagtail. 22 Pied Wagtails were counted though and these included several locally bred juveniles. A Dunlin and a 3 cy Yellow-legged Gull were reported later. In addition at least one juvenile Redstart was lingering along Admaston Reach with a family of Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff. A Dunnock was seen taking food to a family in a nest in Stansley Wood. 2 Lesser Whitethroats were also logged but their location was not revealed.
On 24th 2 Green Woodpeckers were seen again around the dam. They may have bred nearby as 3 Green Woodpeckers were seen there on an unspecified date. 12 Common Sandpipers were found and the Dunlin remained. 2 juvenile Black-necked Grebes were found in Tad Bay on the 25 th when 4 Arctic Terns including a juvenile were off Beech Tree Point with c 30 Common Terns. A moulting Sanderling was on the causeway. A Jay was in Stansley Wood still. An uncounted flock of Black-tailed Godwits added to the month's wader list on the 26th as they flew over the causeway. 2 Green Sandpipers were also noted On the 27th. c12 Common Crossbills were seen again in the Stansley Wood larches prompting a rethink as to the future of this area of Stansley Wood. 5 Common Crossbills at least were still there on the 28th when an Osprey reappeared. 2 recently fledged Spotted Flycatchers were also close by. At the other end of the Reservoir an early returning Whinchat was found. The Osprey continued on the 29th and again 20 Common Crossbills were present. A Turnstone was found in Ten Acre Bay but was elusive. Common Sandpipers were certainly present but only 2 were recorded An Oystercatcher was also reported. The evening Black-headed Gull roost began to attract attention as it tends to do in late July/August. Observers were promptly rewarded when a fine adult Mediterranean Gull was found.
On the 30th a male, female and juvenile Common Crossbill were located after a heavy rain storm in the larch plantation. The recently fledged Spotted Flycatchers were present there and at Barn Farm Bay. Willow Warblers, Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits and Goldcrests were also in the plantation. A female Common Scoter avoided positive identification in Tad Bay for awhile until it reared its head amongst the Tufted Duck flock. Meanwhile the Osprey looked down from its perch. A Reed Bunting continued to sing also. The 2 Teal remained but 4 drake and a duck Pochard were new arrivals. There was also a female Shoveler. Gadwall totalled eleven. Broods of 2(x2) (x2), 2, and 3 Great Created Grebes were noted and there was a new brood of Coot too. A Little Grebe was in Ten Acre Bay. On the dam there was a juvenile Little Egret which apparently had been seen a few days earlier. At least 70 Swifts were seen apparently moving south. 2 juvenile Ringed Plovers were on the causeway with 2 adult Dunlin. A Green Sandpiper was below the dam where an Oystercatcher was also found. 51 Common Terns were counted. These included 27 that chose to roost in a field off Admaston Reach with a Black-headed Gull flock. A single Arctic Tern was also identified. 6 Common Sandpipers were present and 82 Greylag Geese were at the Deep End.
On the 31st a Hobby flew south west across the Deep End and on to Colton and beyond. A juvenile Shelduck was in Tad Bay where 8 Gadwall flew around Common Terns were assessed at a new maximum of 67. A Raven flew low over Barn Farm Bay grunting loudly Broods of 4, and 6 Tufted Duck were noted and 10 Moorhens that gave an indication that they too like high water levels!