West Midland Bird Club

Blithfield Reservoir Latest News

Unless otherwise stated, reports on this page are anecdotal, and have not been verified by the relevant country recorder or rarities committee.

Please . Thanks to those who put their observations in the Stansley Wood and Blithe Bay Hide log-books.

For the scientfic names of these birds, and their local status, see our county lists.

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  • October 2012

    Congratulations to Messrs. Allen and Yapp and Kay (who has produced a good account on her entertaining and informative blog)for finding the 256th species for Blithfield on 29 October in the form of a pair of Velvet Scoters. Incredibly there were two scoter species that day plus another rarity in the form of 3 Greater Scaup. Much to the frustration of even those that were on site these birds only made a brief visit allowing flight photographs only. The Greater Scaup were on offer in varying numbers for much of the month as were a Little Gull which stayed for eighteen days and a late Black Tern. 7 Black Terns appeared one day Rock Pipits too were a feature. Those summer migrants that remained had largely departed by the end of the first week although there was a late Swallow Small numbers of Redwings were seen from mid month but the arrival of Fieldfares was delayed until the last few days. This was a drier month than those that preceded it and most rain fell in the hours of darkness. Nevertheless the Blithe continued to spill over frequently even after moderate rain. Once again the Reservoir was full to overflowing. There were a few days when the wind was in the east and there were some foggy mornings. Westerly winds however usually prevailed. Temperatures were once again mainly below normal with some overnight frosts.

    September 2012

    No notes received.

    August 2012

    Summer 2012 concluded with the fifth consecutive wetter than average month making the summer the wettest in living memory. There were some mini warm spells however but a feature was some very heavy showers accompanied on occasion by thunder and lightning. Nevertheless water levels began to subside for awhile leaving a margin of rotting vegetation rather than mud. The rains returned in the final week and by the end levels were almost back to square one with the Blithe bursting its banks again. Birding highlights included 2 Sandwich Terns, good numbers of Common Terns and probably as many Black Terns as any site in the country. Wader passage was extremely light with a Sanderling probably the best bird. 2 Common Scoters appeared but it was raptors that finally stole the show with at least 2 Ospreys, 3-4 Marsh Harriers, a Merlin and at last a few sightings of Hobbies that were attracted by Swift and hirundine passage. Moorhens usually get scant mention in these reports as they are so elusive normally at Blithfield. They at least enjoyed the high water levels for their offspring appeared at many locations around the edges of the Reservoir after a very successful breeding season. Passerine passage gathered momentum towards the end.

    In fact the month kicked off with confirmation of a good breeding record when a family party of 3 Green Woodpeckers was on the grassy slope of the dam. A recently fledged Shelduck was in Blithe Bay and a Little Egret emerged in Blithe Bay also 4 Common Sandpipers maintained that species' migration period. An Osprey was present for at least fifty minutes in the early afternoon. There were up to 40 Common Terns still present. In Barn Farm Bay a Redshank was flushed whilst 2 Spotted Flycatchers were around Beech Tree Point. The Little Egret was in Blithe Bay again on the 3rd and the female Ruddy Shelduck was in Tad Bay where the 2 Black Swans remained. A Little Ringed Plover was new. The Osprey continued to show. The Common Terns were again assessed at 40. A heavy thunderstorm lasted for two hours on the afternoon of the 4th. 18 Moorhens along the fringes of Tad Bay were an indication of their successful breeding season. 8 Gadwall flew around and 5 Teal, 2 Shovelers, 2 Shelduck and 4 Pochard were also found. The Lapwing flock in Tad Bay exceeded 100. The Little Ringed Plover and 3 Common Sandpipers were also recorded. Common Terns reduced to 25. An adult Little Gull was a good find on the 5th, when there was as yet an unsubstantiated report of a Whimbrel. A Redshank was reported again. There was a further report of an Osprey in Tad Bay in mid afternoon where the Ruddy Shelduck remained. The Osprey had a huge fish on the 6th and 2 Oystercatchers were in Tad Bay. What was presumed to be the Little Ringed Plover recorded earlier in the week was present again as 3 Common Sandpipers remained too. 7 Swifts were over the causeway from where 25 Common Terns could be seen north of the causeway. In Tad Bay there were 4 Teal and 6 Pochard. Also reported were a Redstart and a Wheatear on the dam. Probably best of all though was the report of 2 Ospreys mid afternoon. An Arctic Tern was identified off Beech Tree Point on the 7th. A Little Grebe was in Tad Bay where once again an Osprey thrilled those that made a specific trip to enjoy this exciting raptor. 6 Shovelers were amongst the moulting wildfowl. The Little Egret was found again. Other observers enjoyed 8 Common Terns and 2 Common Sandpipers.

    Unexpectedly water levels stated to drop from the 8th. This coincided with the arrival of an adult Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover and 3 Common Sandpipers whilst 2 Redshank were once again present. The Ruddy Shelduck and 2 Black Swans of dubious origins remained. A count of 355 Mallard was made as well as 59 Tufted Ducks and 2 each for Teal and Gadwall. 2 Yellow Wagtails were the only passerines of note. There was a report of 2 Black-tailed Godwits on the 9th amongst the Lapwing flock but they could not be relocated in the evening. Compensation then came in the form of a female Common Scoter as it cruised off Watery lane towards the causeway. 4 Yellow-legged Gulls perched on the buoys in the evening at the Deep End. 18 Common Terns were counted and 6 Common Sandpipers patrolled the causeway in the evening. The Ruddy Shelduck continued its stay. The Admaston Reach Lapwing flock totalled 154 on the morning of the 10th. The Common Scoter was relocated off Mickledale Bay. 2 Ospreys circled over Stansley Wood. Waders were represented by 4 Common Sandpipers and a single Oystercatcher, Redshank and a Little Ringed Plover. 2 Little Grebes were in Tad Bay again whilst another pair of Great Crested Grebes introduced two chicks to the world as they rode on a parent's back. A sub adult Yellow-legged Gull, Herring Gull and a Great Black-backed Gull sat on the Deep End buoys. A Little Egret was in Blithe Bay again and 2 Spotted Flycatchers were again in the Barn Farm Bay area. 2 Ravens flew overhead also. The Common Tern flock remained at about 20. 2 Wigeon were found in Tad Bay. A Hobby was seen over the Duckley Plantation and a female Sparrowhawk too. Even better was an immature Marsh Harrier over the same locality. 3 Yellow-legged gulls were roosting at the Deep End. A successful evening was concluded by a juvenile Mediterranean Gull located just north of the causeway amongst the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls. The 12th started promisingly with the discovery of 2 Sandwich Terns at the Deep End. Also 3 loafing Yellow-legged Gulls and 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were found with a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull nearby. 38 Common Terns indicated that there was an ongoing tern passage. 6 Common Sandpipers were reported at various locations. The gorse bushes at Admaston Reach held 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaff and a juvenile Spotted Flycatcher whilst 2 Yellow Wagtails were on the dam. At 11. 20 a Marsh Harrier flew east. A Hobby added to a good day's birding for an Arctic Tern was also found. The 12th was the last day of the Ruddy Shelduck's stay. 12 Back Terns were new arrivals on the13th. Typically they were accompanied by a juvenile Little Gull and 2 juvenile Arctic Terns whilst 5 Swifts lingered overhead. A Stock Dove sang in Stansley Wood perhaps indicating breeding activity. 24 Gadwalls were in Tad Bay with 19 Shoveler and 59 Teal. A Dunlin was a good find. A Hobby was seen again and the evening gull roost once again produced a juvenile Mediterranean Gull and a single Yellow-legged Gull. The Black Tern flock increased to 17 on the 14th. They enjoyed perching on the floats between Beech Tree Point and the causeway. Unlike the 25 Common Terns that could only show two juveniles the Black Tern flock consisted of mostly juveniles. The attractive juvenile Little Gull remained amongst the terns that also included a single Arctic Tern. There was also a substantial count of 39 Grey Herons based mostly below the dam. A family of Great Crested Grebes emerged in Ten Acre Bay included two chicks that had clearly hatched recently. An immature Peregrine was reported and an Osprey too. A Little Egret was present again but probably spent more time hiding in the Blithe Bay Sallows. A male Redstart was below the dam. Perhaps more interestingly was the report of a White Wagtail but no further details are available. Another Common Crossbill was also reported.

    9 Barnacle Geese arrived more or less in time on the 15th. A juvenile Marsh Harrier set the pulses racing again. It was good to have 3 Snipe flushed from around Blithe Bay. There were reports of 2 Black-tailed Godwits amongst the Lapwing flock and 2 Whimbrel went through. 10 Common Sandpipers were at various locations. At least 20 Shoveler were in Tad Bay and 50 Teal also. The Little Egret emerged once more and 4 Swifts were over the causeway. There was a good count of 20 Common Terns and there were now 21 Black Terns and 2 Arctic Terns. The White Wagtail was again reported. On the 16th 20 Swifts were high up over the Reservoir. Just 4 Common Sandpipers were found whilst 23 Black Terns and 22 Common Terns were observed. Meanwhile 2 Oystercatchers were mobile. 2 Yellow-legged Gulls remained at the Deep End giving observers a good chance to familiarise themselves with this species when out of the water as they perched on two buoys. Almost unnoticed by many, the 2 Black Swans were thought to be worthy of a mention. In the context of 2012 2 Greenshanks were considered to be a very good addition to the month's list. 4 Spotted Flycatchers were certainly welcomed too. A singing Stock Dove was in the Admaston Reach area. A Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler offered good comparisons in a hedgerow. The Lapwing flock there was down to 95 as the rest tended to disperse around the Reservoir. 30 Swifts on the 17th was a good August count as 3 Shelduck flew around Tad Bay. A Goosander reappeared too. A Turnstone appeared south of the Causeway and a Redshank was found too. 3 Snipe were once again around Blithe Bay. 6 Common Sandpipers were located. 20 Common Terns were outnumbered by 23 Black Terns as they continued to attract a growing list of admirers. A Hobby was seen. 6 Wigeon were in Tad Bay. A careful count of Black Terns revealed that there were in fact a maximum 24 present on the 18th when there were 30 Common Terns. 2 Black-tailed Godwits were in Tad Bay amongst the Lapwings there. 15 Common Sandpipers were present. Another juvenile Mediterranean Gull came to roost in the evening. 6 Yellow Wagtails were on the dam and a female Redstart was just below with a Wheatear close by. 2 Lesser Whitethroats were in the bushes beyond the fish farm.

    John Holt, Graham Mant, Max Radford and Roger Broadbent were a vailable for the WeBS on 19th. Mute Swans had increased to 157 and the 2 Black Swans remained. Will they ever leave? Greylag Geese also increased to 298 whilst the more mobile Canada Geese decreased to 168 from the July 2012 count. 7 Wigeon were an early cohort for what will undoubtedly follow. 20 Gadwall was a good number particularly as only seven were reported in the corresponding month last year. 49 Teal were a substantial increase as well. 675 Mallard was also compared favourably to 130 in August 2011. Tufted Duck numbered 290 and this was fifty eight more than a year ago. These numbers are almost certainly as a result of wildfowl benefiting from the higher water levels in 2012. Additionally 3 Pochard were present too. Little Grebes included 2 juveniles and the 133 Great Crested Grebes included at least 17 Blithfield reared chicks. Only. 35 Cormorants were present and 34 Grey Herons were found including many young birds. 145 Coot also included many young birds whilst several nests were still occupied. Waders were represented by a single Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, a Snipe and 319 Lapwing. 2 Kingfishers were a pleasant surprise. 1463 Black-headed Gulls continued to loaf around various locations. Many of the BHGs had arrived in recent days and outnumbered significantly the 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Just one Great Black-backed Gull was found at the Deep End perching on a buoy adjacent to 2 Yellow-legged Gulls. Tern numbers were again excellent with 21 Common Terns continuing their stay but with only two recently fledged juveniles and an amazing maximum of 24 Black Terns. The 2 Black Swans continued to make the list as did the stable population of 9 Domestic Geese. A domestic duck also was included as well as a Mallard hybrid. A lone Buzzard took to the sky as did a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. 2 Hobbies were seen over the Duckley Plantation. A disappointing 2 Yellow Wagtails were present but 44 Pied Wagtails clearly showed that they at least continue to do well. Species not included in the WeBS but also present on 19th August were a Green Woodpecker, a female Redstart, Wheatear and 3 Spotted Flycatchers. A Mediterranean Gull was found in the evening.

    2 Little Egrets were seen on the 20th when just 8 Black Terns remained. A Whinchat was found by the Sailing Club and 2 Wheatears were around the dam with 3 Yellow Wagtails. Best bird of the day was undoubtedly a drake Common Scoter amongst the Tad Bay Tufted Duck flock. Black Terns were down to 2 on the 21st and only 6 Common Terns hung on. 2 Common Sandpipers and a Little Ringed Plover were also located. 6 juvenile Wrens were worth a mention in Stansley Wood. Common Terns were back up to 10 on the 22nd and the 23rd. when 2 Snipe were flushed. A fortunate few managed to see 2 Whimbrel strangely fly north up to Blithe Bay and a Turnstone was reported briefly near St. Stephen's Bay. Also recorded on the 23rd were 3 Common Sandpipers a Little Egret and a single juvenile Black Tern off Beech tree Point. A Lesser Whitethroat and a single Whitethroat were also logged. A total of 224 Lapwings were found around the Reservoir on the 25th whilst 7 Swifts were overhead. Common Terns increased to 16. A Black-tailed Godwit was also reported and 3 Shelduck too. 23 Wigeon were worthy of a mention. A Little Owl maintained a presence below the dam where there was also a male Redstart and a single Wheatear. An immature female Marsh Harrier was an interesting individual seen in Blithe Bay. A Hobby continued this month's better showing. A Ringed Plover was found and 2 Snipe were seen whilst 3 Common Sandpipers were found again. 3 Whitethroats were reported and a Lesser Whitethroat too.

    Marsh Harriers are always good birds to see at Blithfield so the sight of 2 lingering Marsh Harriers over the Duckley Plantation on the 26th must have been special. A Hobby and a Peregrine were also reported. A Kestrel and a Buzzard completed the raptor list. 3 Ringed Plovers were able to enjoy an emerging muddy shore. A lone Green Sandpiper below the dam and 2 Common Sandpipers were seen. The Little Owl showed again. A male Redstart nearby was a good find. There was another glimpse of a Kingfisher. An Arctic Tern was off Beech Tree Point. 7 Swifts were over Concrete Bay. 2 Curlew and 2 Little Egrets were seen during the evening in Blithe Bay. 2 Ravens were reported during the day. The Marsh Harriers continued to show amazingly well when a juvenile and an immature female perched in a willow in Tad Bay. An Osprey added to the excitement. A juvenile Little Gull was also enjoyed and was typically accompanied by a juvenile Black Tern. 16 Common Terns completed the Tern list. 2 Ringed Plovers remained with a Dunlin and 5 Snipe also present. Only one Common Sandpiper was found for their migration was now clearly petering out. 10 Swifts were seen. A Wheatear showed well around the dam.

    An immature/female Marsh Harrier and a juvenile were reported in the willow in Tad Bay again on the 27th. An Osprey was also reported. Other "star'' birds were the juvenile Little Gull and Black Tern and 2 Little Egret. Evidence of some wader passage was revealed by 2 Ringed Plovers, 5 Snipe, a Common Sandpiper, Dunlin and possibly 8 Knot. 10 Swifts maintained continuing Swift passage. A Wheatear was also claimed. A Pintail in Blithe Bay was reported on 28th but it was not seen again. The Osprey perched in the dead tree in the Duckley Plantation and a juvenile Marsh Harrier travelled north before returning to perch again in Tad Bay. Hobby and Peregrine completed the raptor list. The single juvenile Black Tern remained as did 2 Common Sandpipers, Little Egret, 3 Ringed Plovers again and 2 Snipe. Other passage birds were 6 Swift and 2 Wheatears. 3 Raven were also seen. A female Merlin was added to the "raptor fest'' when it was said to be perched on a post near the Angling Club on the 29th by a Blithfield veteran. 2 Ospreys were seen perched in the dead tree during the late afternoon. 6 Black Terns were off Beech Tree Point all day. They were accompanied by at least 12 Common Terns and the juvenile Little Gull. 2 Common Sandpipers and a Little Ringed Plover were the only waders reported. A Little Egret was also still present. Hundreds of hirundines were present. Over 20 Swifts were seen. 2 Marsh Harriers seemed to be chasing each other around at the Broompits on the afternoon of the 30th as they managed to upstage a perched Osprey. A Hobby was over the Duckley Plantation too. 6 juvenile Black Terns and a Little Gull lingered. Common Terns were down to 10. A Little Egret was revealed again. A Sanderling was a surprise in the context of this autumn and a Black-tailed Godwit too was seen although not by all. Meanwhile the feeders seemed particularly busy with Chaffinches, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits especially. A Goldcrest was also seen. There was an immature Peregrine on the 31st as 2 Marsh Harriers were continued to entertain. 7 Buzzards were counted in the skies above the Reservoir. The Osprey also was present. A Hobby was over the Duckley Plantation where a perching male Common Crossbill was located. There was a Dunlin in Tad Bay. 4 Snipe and a Little Ringed Plover were the only waders reported. The 6 Black Terns maintained their presence whilst 4 Wheatear were around the dam. A new bird was a Whinchat along Admaston Reach on its way to West Africa whilst 2 Raven seemed to be quite happy to stay.

    July 2012

    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!

    June 2012

    The second wettest June on record and surely one of the coldest did not make June 2012 one of the best ever. The trickle of migrants soon came to a halt. The causeway was the only suitable available spot for waders. Few members included Blithfield in their birding plans but one who did was justly rewarded whilst others were left to monitor breeding birds.

    A drake Pochard was found in Tad Bay on the 1st.Encouragingly a Great Crested Grebe was parent to a chick. A pair of Shelducks had 5 ducklings too. A brood of 7 Mallard ducklings emerged. Other ducks noted included a drake Shoveler and 9 Gadwall. At least 4 Coot remained on well built nests. A Jay revealed its presence. A Sedge Warbler was at a favoured location whilst 2 Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler and Common Whitethroats were all singing. A family of Long-tailed Tits were almost certainly locally bred. A pair of Lapwings behaved suspiciously as if they had at least one hidden offspring. Another 6 Lapwings were at the water's edge. A pair of Yellow Wagtails also resented any human presence. On the dam 2 Linnets remained. A female Kestrel was seen near Ten Acre Bay and may have been near a nest. A pair of Pied Wagtails had a family of three at the same location.2 Buzzards soared over the Reservoir whilst 3 Common Terns were over the water. On the 4th the 2 Black Swans were again in Tad Bay and at last the pen seemed to be preparing to leave the nest without positive result. The Mute Swan flock increased to 59 birds. Just 4 Grey Herons were located. A second pair of Shelducks had 10 ducklings along Admaston Reach. An Osprey flew over the Education Centre during the morning of the 5th. An hour later it was relocated in a tree at the water's edge in Tad Bay.

    A Treecreeper was located along Newton Hurst Lane on the 6th. Two broods of Mallards of 8 and 5 were in Blithe Bay. The parent Great Crested Grebe still had the single and vociferous chick. The pair of Shelducks with 5 ducklings were seen. The drake Pochard and Shoveler were found again. At least 5 Common Terns were present. A Skylark was flushed from the top of Blithe Bay where a Kestrel was also hunting. A Goldcrest sang almost continuously opposite the Education Centre. The discovery of 2 Greenshanks in Tad Bay on the 8th coincided with a slight drop in water levels but these were strangely the only birds recorded by the observer. Perhaps this reflects the main interest of those who come to search for specific kinds of birds at Blithfield rather than the lack of birds. In fact there was a Little Ringed Plover on the causeway and at least 30 Swallows, an influx of 80 House Martins and an estimated 600 Swifts skimming over the road on a stormy day. Weather conditions relented slightly on the 9th when Swifts reduced to no more than 250.Just 2 Common Terns were recorded but daily totals are prone to vary by the hour. The 12th undoubtedly produced the highlight of the month but was only enjoyed by one occasional visitor. He was in the right place at the right time to witness two Common Cranes fly from the west and continue in an easterly direction much to the disappointment of two regulars! For them a Little Ringed Plover on the causeway and 8 adult Shelduck flying by offered little compensation. Neither did 5 Common Terns. A Skylark sang south of the causeway. Interestingly a pair of Gadwall continued to paddle around St. Stephen's Bay which possibly offered the prospect of nesting habitat for them. A near adult Yellow-legged Gull was on a buoy at the Deep End. Meanwhile 2 Kestrel chicks could be seen at a nest site near Ten Acre Bay. Lapwings seemed to be still holding territories to the east of Blithfield. Yellow Wagtails too were present nearby. Inspection of nearby fields can reveal interesting birding and if birders have time to spend these forays into the wider area they can produce some rewards for those that enjoy self finding. It was good therefore to find a singing Yellowhammer.

    The mid—summer blues continued and there was little change until 20th. The 2 Kestrel chicks continued to grow. The male and female Gadwall were in St. Stephen's Bay. Both Black Swans were at last swimming around Tad Bay. The Mute Swan flock was estimated at 100 with 86 in Tad Bay alone. 21 Grey Herons were also a seasonal increase. There were now 2 parent Great Crested Grebes with a single chick each. Mallard broods of 2 ,4, 5, 8 (x2), and 9 were seen. A flock of Greylags contained just 6 goslings which was well down on last year's total. 4 Teal reported earlier were confirmed. 2 Oystercatchers seemed to be trying to establish themselves once more. 10 Common Terns were seen. A Jay called again from Stansley Wood and the Goldcrest continued to sing near the Education Centre. The WeBS was conducted by Messrs. Broadbent, Betts, Powell and Smith. Special mention and thanks to Nick Smith who came back from an early morning trip to New Brighton to cover the Deep End and then to do further survey other locations within Staffordshire. The Blithfield counts were however unspectacular. The totals included 98 Mute Swans, 2 Black Swans, 202 Canada Geese and 58 Greylag Geese. Just a seasonally low total of 19 Cormorants was interesting. The 76 Great Crested Grebes included 2 chicks. Surprisingly only 4 Grey Herons were found given the recent influx. 5 hybrid ducks included the white mother and 3 similar ducklings but the forth offspring was dark brown. 9 Gadwall were found as well as the drake Shoveler. The single drake Pochard was also in Tad Bay. 16 Shelduck included 10 ducklings in broods of 8 and 4 in Blithe Bay. 72 Tufted Ducks were present but there was no indication of successful breeding yet. The total of 219 Coot contained several families including those on Barn Farm Pool and the 2 prehistoric "pond". 21 Common Terns was a good total with 17 in Tad Bay. All were adults. There must be some concern on their breeding successes away from Blithfield. An adult Common Gull loitering on the northern side of the causeway was a surprise. A 2cy Great Black-backed Gull was at the Deep End and 19 summering Lesser Black-backed Gulls remained. The 7 Black-headed Gulls were mainly around the fish farm. The near adult Yellow-legged Gull was seen again. Waders were represented by just a single Redshank over the dam, an Oystercatcher, and 12 Lapwings. Interesting passerines were 2 Skylarks, 7 Reed Buntings, 2 Yellow Wagtails and 18 Pied Wagtails. Tree Sparrows were listed as present but they were scattered around various locations around the Deep End especially. The Kestrel family remained in good health. Finally a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was at the Education Centre feeders and 2 Ravens were seen.

    On 26th a Great Crested Grebe had a recently hatched chick on her back making this the third instance of a successful breeding attempt. The Grey Heron flock was back up to 24. 3 Little Ringed Plovers reappeared at last on the causeway where 2 Oystercatchers were once again present. 6 Common Terns were seen in the afternoon. The Kestrel chicks were by now appearing very prominently in their nest hole. 2 Reed Warblers were found at last in their favoured and usual location on the 27th. This minor success was supported by 2 singing Reed Buntings, a Blackcap, Chiffchaff 2 Garden Warblers and 3 Whitethroats. 2 Grey Herons found the top of Tad Bay to their liking. In Blithe Bay were 6 Black-headed Gulls and 6 Common Terns. 3 Teal were flushed but earlier 5 Teal had been in Tad Bay. It was able to confirm that a pair of Shelduck in a corner of Blithe Bay had 8 ducklings. 3 drake Pochards were now present. On the causeway the first returning Common Sandpiper was located with the 3 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Oystercatchers. The day was enhanced by several Beautiful Demoiselles dancing over the Blithe with their more common Banded Demoiselle relatives.

    On the 30th the Common Sandpiper remained on the causeway and a single Little Ringed Plover, 9 Common Terns were fishing again in Tad Bay. 53 Greylags swam in front of Beech Tree Point and 2 Mistle Thrushes were at a favourite location at the top of Tad Bay. One of the Kestrel chicks was perched in a nearby tree whilst the second bird was still at the nest entrance. 2 recently fledged Jays flew across the drive of Newton Hurst Lane to join a parent.

    May 2012

    May continued as April ended with cold, wet conditions. The wind was often in the north as depression after depression swept across the U. K. Finally from around the 18th high pressure began to build and light winds from the east predominated. There was a trickle of migrants but high water levels meant that any shorebirds were limited to the causeway. The reservoir was full to over capacity. The drought was well and truly over. Highlights were few and far between. Some Arctic and Black Tern passage continued and Common Scoters lingered too. Last month's Green-winged Teal also continued to attract admirers for a few days. Inclement weather usually can be expected to provide spectacular gatherings of hirundines and May 2012 was no exception. Big numbers of Swifts reminded us that it was indeed May. The best two waders were a pair of Whimbrel on some floating vegetation and a Knot which stayed around for three days. Just a single Sanderling , albeit in fine breeding plumage, was seen.

    An Osprey delighted the observers on the 1st. There was a Goldeneye in Blithe Bay. The Green-winged Teal remained. 4Shelduck ,2 Oystercatchers, and a Common Sandpiper were pretty standard fare for early May. 4 Arctic Terns and 3 Black Terns off Beech Tree Point indicated some passage. A White Wagtail was a product of south easterlies. Several Blackcaps were reported as singing. A Raven flew over. 2 Common Terns joined the lingering Black and Arctic Terns on the 2nd. A Curlew flew over the causeway where there were 2 Dunlin and 2 Oystercatchers. Also there were 2 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Common Sandpipers. The White Wagtail remained and the long staying Black Swans continued with the pen still on the Tad Bay nest as it would throughout the month. 2 Wheatears were on the dam. Around the fringes of the Reservoir the songs of, 4 Common Whitethroats and 2 Lesser Whitethroats could be enjoyed whilst a Sedge Warbler was a new arrival. Just a single Swift was seen. 5 Common Terns were identified on the 3rd and a Black Tern. 500 hirundines were estimated as the weather remained unfavourable for their dispersal. They were joined by 50 Swifts. An Little Ringed Plover was recorded as well as a single Yellow Wagtail. A Goldeneye was still present. 3 Common Scoters including 3 drakes were at the Deep End off St. Stephen's Bay on the 4th. . There was a resurgence of Arctic Tern passage with 25 birds present. Careful examination of the Tern flock indicated just one Common Tern The latter were very much in the minority. There was also a lingering Black Tern. An estimate of 1200 Swallows indicated a major hirundines event. 400 Swifts supplemented the spectacle. Unsurprisingly perhaps therefore a Hobby put in an appearance. 4 Common Sandpipers were either on the dam or causeway. 5 Wheatears were around the dam. The Green-winged Teal was apparently still present. There were still 5 Goldeneye in Tad Bay on the 5th. The 3 Common Scoters were still present off St. Stephen's Bay. 3 Shelduck were said to be present. and of course 2 Black Swans. 2 Eurasian Teal were amongst the willows but there was no sign of their American cousin ! Several Coots were sitting in nests at various locations and encouragingly Great crested Grebes were also on nests in the two northern bays. The Tern count was 3 Common, 3 Arctic and a single Black Tern. 2 Common Sandpipers were on the causeway where 2 Oystercatchers continued to show interest. A Kestrel patrolled the St. Stephen's Farm area where a Whinchat was on fence wires. 4 pairs of Lapwings were holding territories in an adjacent bare field to the east of the Reservoir. Other birds recorded were a Garden Warbler in the Duckley Plantation, a White Wagtail still, a Yellow Wagtail near a favourable habitat, a Treecreeper, Skylark and a Nuthatch in Stansley Wood where Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs continued to sing. A Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were singing below the dam where Tree Sparrows were a feature. 2 Arctic Terns, a Common Tern and a Black Tern were still on offer on the 6th. 5 Yellow Wagtails were seen. 4 Common Sandpipers and 3 Oystercatchers were reported.

    A drake and duck Pintail were a surprise in Blithe Bay on the 7th. 5 Little Ringed Plovers and a single Common Sandpiper were the only other birds of note that were recorded. Things remained quiet on the 9th when 2 Shelduck were seen and a male Reed Bunting was seen as it sang in front of the Stansley Wood Hide. A Nuthatch was on the feeders and a Sparrowhawk was also seen. A Wigeon appeared on the 10th. 2 Wheatears continued the prolonged passage of that species but the real star bird was another Whinchat. 5 Dunlin were new on the 11th but the Arctic Tern and a Common Tern were probably lingering birds as was a Little Ringed Plover. 5 Wheatears were counted and a Hobby was seen again. The Hobby was above St. Stephen's Farm before drifting south on the 12th. On the whole reports of this species were fewer than in previous years. The 5 Wheatear were still around the dam. 12 Lapwings were holding territories to the immediate east of the Reservoir but tilling and planting may have disturbed their attempts to breed successfully. 4 Little Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin were on the causeway. An Osprey brightened up lunchtime as it appeared over Tad Bay before drifting towards Blithe Bay. Little passage seemed to be occurring so it was decided to do an assessment on the number of singing birds that were on site. 10 Chiffchaff easily outnumbered the 3 Willow Warblers and a single Sedge Warbler. There were 10 of each for Blackcap and Garden Warblers. Certainly the latter appeared to be well down on previous years. Lesser Whitethroats were heard but a count of Common Whitethroats was not recorded although at least two were found. Additionally there were 2 Skylarks and 4 singing male Reed Buntings. 2 Yellow Wagtails were in suitable breeding habitat. Tree Sparrows were also busy below the dam. Ducks were represented by a loafing female Goosander, a pair of Gadwall a drake Shoveler and surprisingly a pair of Pintail was enjoying the high water levels 50 Tufted Ducks were recorded. A brood of 3 Mallards appeared and several Coot were occupying nests. There were at least 4 pairs of Great Crested Grebes on nests too. The Black Swans were present of course. A Sparrowhawk was seen and Buzzards too. A Cuckoo was heard calling to the north of the Reservoir. During the mid afternoon the causeway was checked out again. A Common Tern attracted attention and as it was followed it flew over a floating log off Beech Tree Point. There were not only 2 Mallards on the log but two other birds that required scoping. These were soon identified as 2 Whimbrel. The songbird survey was continued into the early evening when the Osprey did a repeat performance over Tad Bay before drifting west ending a long day on a high note. 2 Whimbrel were also recorded on the 13th as well as the Dunlin and the Osprey once more.

    Much of the following week was quiet and little changed until the 17th when a moulting Knot was found on the northern side of the causeway. There was also a Ringed Plover, Dunlin and 3 Common Terns on offer. At a favoured location the first Spotted Flycatcher of the year was found in the evening 2 Wigeon were a surprise having commuted from Blithe to Tad Bay during the day. Other birds reported were Coal Tit and a singing Chiffchaff. The Knot was seen again on the 18th when an Arctic Tern appeared with 4 Common Terns giving a chance for those unsure of their sterna identification skills an opportunity to have a crash course. The single Sedge Warbler was relocated.

    On a typically damp early morning the WeBS was carried out by Messrs,. Holt, Powell, Mant and Broadbent. A total of 19 Great Crested Grebes were found. 113 Coot were seen and just 20 Cormorants. 14 Grey Herons was a respectable number. 150 Mallards, 5 Gadwall, the 2 Wigeon and pair of Pintails again. 2 Shoveler were found too, 14 Shelduck were located and the single Goosander. 117 Tufted Ducks was a good total. 9 "Farmyard Geese'' were the usual residents as were the 2 Black Swans that were still trying so hard. 11 Canada Geese and 12 Greylags were recorded. The Mute Swan herd had increased to 32. The Knot was lurking on the shore just south of the causeway and close to the Admaston pull off. A Common Sandpiper was flushed from there as well. A single Ringed Plover was still in residence as was just one Little Ringed Plover. A lone Lapwing flew over the Deep End. 4 Oystercatchers were seen. A single Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were all present. At least 21 Pied Wagtails were around as well as 4 Yellow Wagtails. 2 Skylarks were on the stretch from St. Stephen's Bay to the dam. A Sedge Warbler and 4 singing Reed Buntings got on to the list as did 2 Linnets. Tree Sparrows were in residence too. 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls appeared to join 2 Great Black Backed Gulls and a single Black-headed Gull at the fish farm. A Common Tern was seen. Other birds present but not included on the WeBS were a flock of 20 Starlings at St. Stephen's Farm where a Cuckoo was a pleasant surprise. The Green Woodpecker was flushed from the grassy bank of the dam. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was also in attendance. Many House Martins had arrived with Swallows and Swifts.

    A Black Tern was off Beech Tree Point on the 20th and the Pintails were seen again. Gradually the weather began at last to improve but we had to wait until the 25th for the next significant arrival. The causeway was once again the location where a Sanderling in breeding plumage was discovered in the afternoon. It was with a Ringed Plover and a Dunlin. An Oystercatcher had returned to the causeway too and there was another in Ten Acre Bay. 2 Yellow Wagtails were around the causeway too. A Coot had chicks in Tad Bay where there were 2 Shelduck. A well grown Great Crested Grebe was accompanied by a parent. 6 Lapwings were on the shore. 6 Gadwall were located and the pair of Pintail continued their stay. A Mallard family emerged A Buzzard was over Ten Acre Bay. On 26th a Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin and the Ringed Plover were noted. On 27th an Osprey put in an appearance and the Black Tern lingered. There was also a report of a Barnacle Goose and of course 2 Black Swans!. 2 Spotted Flycatchers were seen at the top of Blithe Bay on 28th. 2 Goosanders also flew over. A female Bullfinch was along the Kittyfisher Brooke. A lone Dunlin was on the causeway. A Kestrel was at nearby Newton. The final reports received were on the 30th when 2 Goosanders were reported once more. Also 2 Common Terns and the pair of Wigeon.

    News from June 2011

    A Black-tailed Godwit present on the 5th and 6th June 2011 at Blithfield. It was colour ringed. It has recently been identified as a bird that was ringed in Iceland the previous year. We thank Richard Powell for his perseverance regarding this matter?

    Please note: It is becoming increasingly difficult for us to compile these monthly reports as fully and as accurately as we would like. Unfortunately a number of birders who visit Blithfield on a regular basis fail to either enter their observations in the log book or send them to us via email at blithfield@westmidlandbirdclub.com. It is not the intention of these reports to just concentrate on rare and scarce birds. Common bird surveys are very important too. Please do not keep your records to yourself. Certainly if a bird of some significance is found please let someone know immediately and contact a bird information service. The Staffordshire Bird News contact number is in the Stansley Wood Hide.

    April 2012

    April 2012 will be remembered for below average temperatures and high levels of rainfall. For the first few days the Reservoir was not quite full Abstraction continued as a drought had been announced for Staffordshire. Consequently Blithfield filled to over capacity by the end of the first week. Water started to spill out of the overflow and by the end of the month it was cascading spectacularly. High water levels usually assist waterfowl breeding success and before the end of the month Coot and Mallard were producing chicks whilst others remained on their nest. Conversely conditions for waders meant that the causeway and dam were likely to be the favoured spots. A female Black Swan sat on her nest throughout the month whilst a pair of Mute Swans looked on perhaps enviously. Great Crested Grebes commenced nest building raising hopes that they might be more successful than the last two years. Migration occurred spasmodically with the general trend being that most common migrants arrived later than normal. Even then it took awhile before they became generally distributed. There was however a good Tern passage with Arctic Terns being prominent especially when the wind switched to the south east. There was a supporting cast of Black Terns. On two days a Little Tern was seen. Highlights included a Pied Flycatcher, a reported Red-necked Grebe, Garganey. A male Redstart adding to the diversity of birds on offer if you were in the right place at the right time. Towards the end of the month on a rare fine afternoon a handsome drake Green-winged Teal rewarded the finder with excellent views!

    On the 1st a surprising bird was an early and silent Tree Pipit described as "bright". Waders were well represented with Curlew, Green Sandpiper , Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover all present. 25 Shoveler,10 Shelduck and 5 Goosanders were all noteworthy. An Osprey went north over Blithe Bay on the 2nd. 3 Long-tailed Tits were observed building a nest on the 3rd. The female Black Swan continued to apparently incubate. 87 Tufted Duck were in Tad Bay. On 4th up to 60 Sand Martins were present. They were accompanied by 12 Swallows and an early House Martin. 2 Shelduck were in Tad Bay. 28 Mute Swans were present on the 5th favouring the winter wheat adjacent to Blithe Bay. 4 Little Ringed Plovers were around the causeway with another in Ten Acre Bay. A Chiffchaff was singing in Stansley Wood. 3 Goosanders were amongst the Blithe Bay willows. 2 singing Reed Buntings indicated some early breeding activity. Just 3 Lapwings were in Blithe Bay. A Kestrel resided near St Stephen's Bay. On a breezy sunny evening 5 Yellow Wagtails flew below the dam. A Snipe was a good find in Blithe Bay on 6th 3 Red-legged Partridge were recorded. News of the real star bird that day sadly did not break until the evening. A member on his first ever visit to Blithfield reported apparently on a bird forum that he had seen and photographed a Red-necked Grebe! Details were scant. There was some confusion about where exactly the bird had been seen. What was definite however was that none of the Blithfield regulars saw it. It was not present when an early morning search was conducted the next day. The first Red Necked Grebe since 2005 at Blithfield had departed!

    Somewhat despondently in damp weather some of us conducted the WeBS on the 7th. 23 Goldeneye was a good April count. 249 Tufted Duck were present and a single Goosander concluded the diving duck species. 23 Wigeon remained and were outnumbered by 152 Teal. 12 Gadwall were seen in the two northern bays. 142 Mallards were present but others may have been lurking in the surrounding vegetation. 43 Shoveler indicated some spring passage. Surprisingly just a single Shelduck was counted. The cob Black Swan favoured socialising with the 39 Mute Swans most of which remained in Blithe Bay whilst the pen continued to sit on her nest in Tad Bay. A single Canada Goose was surprisingly the only one recorded whilst only 10 Greylag Geese were present. 36 Great Crested Grebes were at various locations and a single Little Grebe was the only other representative of that family. 150 Coot were more or less evenly spread around the Reservoir. Only 2 Moorhen were found. 48 Cormorants were in line with an expected seasonal decline. 17 Grey Herons included several immature birds 24 Lesser black Backed Gulls were seen. Many of these appeared to be paired and some courtship and display was observed. Other gulls included single a Great black Backed Gull and a Black-headed gull. 3 Oystercatchers were found. Other waders were 2 Lapwings, a single Snipe, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, a Common Sandpiper. Other migrants included were 3 Wheatear, and a White Wagtail. 9 Pied Wagtails were present around the southern end of the Reservoir. 16 Meadow Pipits were also seen. 2 Skylarks were singing. Other species at Blithfield on the 7th but not classified as WeBS species included 2House Martins,60 Sand Martins,20 Swallows,2 Long-tailed Tits,3 Chiffchaff and a Blackcap.

    An independent count on 8th revealed 159 Teal, 19 Wigeon, 195 Tufted Duck but only 9 Goldeneye, 7 Gadwall. A female Goosander was in Tad Bay. 9 Shelduck constituted an increase. 2 Little Grebe suggested that they may be nesting. The value of counting was reinforced though when the counter discovered a handsome full plumaged drake Garganey near the Teal. Birds in Stansley Wood included a displaying Nuthatch, Tree creeper, a recently arrived Willow Warbler, Blackcap and at least 10 Chiffchaff. 3 Wheatears were in Ten Acre Bay and there were two more on the dam. Below the dam there was a superb male Redstart. An Osprey flew north over Tad Bay. Completing a good day in the evening a Sanderling was discovered on the causeway. The 9th was a Bank Holiday and typically it was very wet and cold. A brief visit to Tad Bay was necessary as sheep had got into the forward hide with all the expected consequences. 2 Oystercatchers were in Tad Bay and 2 more on the causeway. 3 Lapwing in Tad Bay seemed to holding a territory. The male Redstart was seen below the dam again where there were still 3 Wheatears and a Yellow Wagtail. Just a single Willow Warbler was present singing occasionally. 3 drake Goldeneye were in Tad Bay on 10th with 2 Shelduck close by 12 Shoveler remained and a Green Sandpiper was located in Newton Shallows. 2 Common Sandpipers were present and a Redshank. 4 Oystercatchers were seen and a Little Ringed Plover was located. Meanwhile 50 Swallows were seen. The Blackcap sang again in Stansley Wood. Just a single Wheatear was reported on 12th. A Green Woodpecker continued to yaffle below the dam on a daily basis.

    The weather continued to inhibit the migration as winds stubbornly continued to stay in northerly directions. A Raven was a feature of the 13th. 2 Reed Buntings were again present in front of the Stansley Wood Hide. 2 Goosanders remained and 4 Gadwall. The 2 Common Sandpipers lingered but an adult Mediterranean Gull went straight through. Those in the Dell Hide discovered a Tawny Owl on 14th and enjoyed 4 Tree creepers. The splendid male Redstart was located again below the dam. The cold wind held up masses of Sand Martins and 10 House Martins. 2 Little Ringed Plovers were present. Surprisingly a Cuckoo was reported from the Dell Hide on 15th where the Tawny Owl was seen again on a dead branch. Wheatears increased to 3. A drake Pintail was found in Tad Bay where the 2 Goosanders remained. 10 Goldeneye refused to move north as well as 3 Wigeon. A female Pochard was a good find. 2 Common Scoters off Beech Tree Point lifted the despondency on 17th. Further movement was indicated by 13 Wheatears around the dam and fishing club premises. 2 Skylarks sang cheerily and pairs of Pied Wagtails were inspecting suitable nesting sites. The drake Pintail was adjudged to be in the company of a female in Blithe Bay. The wind was in the south east on 18th and it opened the door for the start of an Arctic Tern passage that was to continue for much of the rest of the month. 18 Arctic Terns delighted those that could dodge the showers. 9 Wheatears were still around the dam and the 2 Common Sandpipers continued to stay. Best of all was a brilliant male Pied Flycatcher which was seen briefly in Barn Farm Bay. This first for twenty years was only enjoyed by one observer despite a desperate search in the wet.

    The following day saw an improvement in the weather but only 2 Arctic Terns remained. 2 House Martins were amongst the Swallows in Barn Farm Bay. Only 10 Sand Martins were present demonstrating that once the weather lifts migrants will move on. Willow Warblers at last increased to 4. 2 Tree creepers were again prominent in Stansley Wood. The 2 Pintail were in Tad Bay where a Little Grebe was seen again. 10 Shoveler were observed. A Common Sandpiper was between Barn Farm Bay and Beech Tree Point. 2 White Wagtails on the 20th were a product of south easterlies as well as 2 Yellow Wagtails. 2 Shoveler were identified in Tad Bay where a Gadwall was found with 2 Shelduck and 10 Great Crested Grebes. Migrants continued to trickle through with 4 Yellow Wagtails and 7 Wheatears present on the 21st. Common Sandpipers increased to 5. A similar number of Little Ringed Plovers were counted. A White Wagtail was still around the dam area. A Kestrel was also present. Another rainy day on the 22nd restricted all but the hardy. Only 2 Wheatears ,an Oystercatcher and a Common Sandpiper were recorded. A single Goldeneye was also located. A better day on the 23rd enabled 7 Goldeneye to be registered. 68 Tufted Duck were in Tad Bay and 8 Teal remained as well as a single Gadwall.

    A Coot appeared in Tad Bay with 5 chicks on the 24th. A Curlew flew south over the Deep End as the tracks around there became treacherous. A Common Sandpiper was on the dam where just 2 Wheatears were present. 16 Shelduck were at various locations as they commenced pairing. 2 Gadwall appeared to be investigating the shoreline for a possible nest site. 4 Yellow Wagtails were seen. These include a pair that seemed to be holding a territory at the top of Blithe Bay where 3 Willow Warblers were singing. 14 Lapwings were flushed from the edge of Blithe Bay with 19 Teal that scattered mainly in the middle of the Bay. A count of Shelduck was interrupted when a distinctive Green–winged Teal was found in bright sunshine in front of the northerly of the two hides on the west shore. A Ringed Plover was reported on the causeway. 4 Wigeon were in Tad Bay. 3 Blackcap sang around Stansley Wood. 6 Goldeneye remained. Gadwall increased to 4.

    Weather conditions on 25th were again severe with heavy rain giving way to squally showers. Once again the Arctic Tern door was open. They seemed at times to be all over the Reservoir. Throughout the day their numbers varied. Although most of us would only see about 22 Arctic Terns at any one time one estimate was that a total of 310 -321 Arctic Terns passed through during the day. A single Common Tern stood out off Concrete Bay. 11 Little Gulls were seen. All were adults except a single first summer bird. The first 4 Swifts of the year were over the causeway over 300 Swallows were skimming low over the water north of the causeway. 6 Wheatear were along and below the dam where 3 Yellow Wagtails were seen. 4 Little Ringed Plovers were still present. Arctic Terns were still the main feature with30 present in the afternoon A Little Gull was seen off Beech Tree Point where a Little Tern was seen briefly in atrocious conditions. Apparently this bird had been seen well from the Stansley Wood Hide earlier in the afternoon. A Grey Plover was heard but not seen. The Little Tern spent the morning of the 26th in Blithe Bay or off Beech Tree Point to the delight of several observers. An Osprey was reported but did not linger. An elusive Garden Warbler sang by the Education Hide. 5 Wheatear were discovered below the dam. Meanwhile a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was reported to have flown across the car park. No further details of this sighting are known. Swifts quickly increased so by the 27th 100 Swifts were present over the causeway. 4 Dunlin were reported and Blackcaps increased to 4 too. 14 Arctic Terns were seen again. The Green–winged Teal was in Tad Bay. A Redshank was reported. On the 28th 2 Common Scoters were found originally close to the shore of Ten Acre Bay although throughout the day they seemed to cover most of the Deep End. An Osprey caught a fish in Tad Bay and flew off to find a suitable spot to enjoy its dinner. 6 Goldeneye were still present. 4 Arctic Terns were off Beech tree Point. 5 Yellow Wagtails and 6 Wheatears continued to favour the dam area. The Green–winged Teal continued to enjoy the shallows at the top of Blithe Bay giving distant views from the Stansley Wood Hide or from the Newton Hurst Lane lay by. 9 Arctic Terns were seen again off Beech Tree Point. They were joined by 7 Common Terns. 2 Goldeneye were found. At last on 30th a Whitethroat was singing below the dam. 23 Arctic Terns were joined by 2 superb Black Terns. The continuing Green–winged Teal attracted a steady flow of admirers. A drake and two female Goldeneyes were seen. 2 female and a drake Gadwall remained. Yellow Wagtails were attracted to a manure pile in the field at Beech Tree Point where a White Wagtail was also present. A Willow Warbler also sang as well as several Chiffchaff. Meanwhile the Black Swan continued her vigil.

    March 2012

    March was generally a dry month although showers were prevalent during the first few days especially when the wind moved into the north west. The second week was mainly dull and overcast. The 18th was wet. Some fog was experienced in mid month and was slow to clear some mornings. As the month progressed there were overnight frosts but sunny days causing temperatures to soar well above average. The wind moved into the north during the last two days and it became cooler with drizzle on the final day. Water extraction from the Blithe continued so that water levels became artificially high with the Reservoir full to capacity. This created good conditions for the forthcoming breeding season for wildfowl. The first summer migrants began to trickle through and most of the winter birds moved on. The long staying Black Redstart remained until mid month. There were an intriguing reports of a Sandwich Tern and also a Jack Snipe for which further details are required.

    42 Goosanders were again counted on the 1st illustrating the consistency of the number of birds that continued to roost in Tad Bay this winter. Their number was more than 50% lower than the maximum last winter. 31 Goldeneye was a good count. An adult Iceland Gull was again in the gull roost. The 2 Black Swans were noted on the 2nd. They were joined by 7 Shelduck. 7 Shoveler were present too. A Pink-footed Goose was also recorded. The Black Redstart was still in residence and could be seen anywhere from Mickledale Bay to the Angling Club. Waders were represented by a Green Sandpiper and a single Snipe. The latter species has become notably scarce at Blithfield even as a wintering or passage bird. All sightings need to be reported please. The quietness of the birding scene was reflected by an absence of any records over the first weekend. On the 5th it was possible to show that there were still birds present! 497 Wigeon testified to that and 10 Gadwall including 7 drakes. 2 Goosanders were in Tad Bay where during the morning and 10 Great Crested Grebes. 3 drake Shoveler were there too. 16 Pochard were in Blithe Bay. A total of 24 Tufted Ducks were in the two northern bays and 10 Goldeneye. 2 Oystercatchers were now establishing their pair bonding. A Willow Tit called along Newton Hurst Lane and the Black Redstart was again enjoyed below the dam. Best of all was a Woodcock which rose from near the boardwalk. There have been very few reports of this species this year. 379 Wigeon were counted the next day but these probably did not include the Deep End birds. 9 Pochard were noted and just 2 Gadwall, 12 Great Crested Grebes. 84 Tufted Ducks represented the start of a late winter increase. Also noted was the Pink-footed Goose and the 2 Black Swans again. Resident birds such as 2 Mistle Thrushes, Dunnocks Nuthatches,8 Great Tits,16 Blue Tits,8 Blackbirds and 2 Reed Buntings were all apparently singing and establishing territories. 4 Redwings were also seen. On the 9th the 2 Black Swans were unusually at the Deep End. 24 Lapwings were counted. A Great Black-backed Gull was present too.

    The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) was conducted by Messrs Mant, Betts, Holt, Powell and Ingley on 10th. They recorded 17 Canada Geese,9 Greylag Geese,66 Cormorants,23 Great Crested Grebes, a single Little Grebe and just Redshank one Goosander. Tufted Ducks increased to 113 but Pochards were down to 3. 22 Goldeneye remained. 12 Gadwall were encouraging and there were just 96 Mallard. 6 Shoveler were located and 140 Teal. Only 127 Wigeon remained. 179 Coot and 2 Moorhen were present. Mute Swans increased to 21 but strangely only one Black Swan was located. Waders included 26 Lapwings,2 Redshank and 3 Oystercatchers. 350 Black-headed Gulls were estimated, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls and 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The Black Redstart was again included as well as a Grey Wagtail. 11 Reed Buntings was a good count. 2 Skylarks were along the western shore A Kestrel was seen also Other birds present but not counted were several Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails.

    On 12th the Pink-footed Goose reappeared. A pair of Red-legged Partridge was also found. A Rock Pipit was on the dam on the 13th. A Dunlin was a surprise too. A pair of Grey Wagtails was displaying and looked as if they would settle. 10 Tree Sparrows were noted. Shovelers increased to 10 on the 14th and 4 Pochard remained. 2 Little Egrets appeared on 15th. The Dunlin was seen again. The Rock Pipit was thought to be of the Scandinavian form by the observer. The day was especially noteworthy because the first 4 Sand Martins of the year finally arrived. 50 Fieldfares were below the dam. 6 Sand Martins were seen o0n 17th. 2 male Wheatears put in that species first appearance of the year giving some encouragement to the Blithfield faithful A Sandwich Tern was reported off Beech Tree Point at 1:45pm, but could not be relocated subsequently. A Chiffchaff to was also a new arrival. . A Grey Wagtail was seen again as was a Red-legged Partridge. Other birds seen were the Black Redstart still, 20 Shoveler,26 Goldeneye, a Little Grebe and 24 Mute Swans. An adult Mediterranean Gull was seen on 18th as well as an adult Iceland Gull. A Kittiwake which flew north was the best find of the day however. The 6 Sand Martins remained as well as 2 singing Chiffchaffs. A total of 8 Goosanders lingered on 19th. These included 2 drakes. A Red Kite flew over on 18thh A Peregrine was also recorded. A Sparrowhawk added to the raptor scene. 23 Cormorant were noted. A Curlew passed through and a Green Sandpiper remained. The Black Redstart was seen for the last time. The first Little Ringed Plover of the year arrived on the 22nd whilst 75 Fieldfare moved north. The Peregrine was still looking to cause mayhem. 2 Wheatears were reported again. The only report for a very sunny 23rd was of 2 flyover Common Crossbills. 23 Mute Swans were in Blithe Bay on 26th and 2 Moorhens. At least 2 pairs of Coots had nests. 3 Goosanders were lurking amongst the Blithe Bay willows. 29 Goldeneye were counted and 53 Teal were at various locations. 9 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 4 Shelduck and 160 Wigeon were seen. The Little Ringed Plover was in Ten Acre Bay. A White Wagtail was on the dam.

    The last few days were then very quiet. The reason for the prolonged presence of the 2 Black Swans became evident as one was accompanying the Mute Swan herd and the other was on a nest ! BOU please note. On 30th there was a report of a Jacksnipe in Blithe Bay (this report needs to be substantiated). Another White Wagtail was on Beech Tree Point. A Chiffchaff and a Blackcap were singing opposite the cottages near the Education Centre. 6 Oystercatchers were present and the Green Sandpiper was seen again. A Wheatear was on the dam. 6 Swallows, 5 Little Ringed Plovers and 15 Sand Martins were recorded. More Swallows were reported on 31st.

    February 2012

    The month commenced cold and it soon got colder with significant snowfall on the 4th. A slight thaw followed but with overnight frosts conditions became increasingly treacherous and icy. Both the northern bays froze over. Freezing fog also added to restricted viewing conditions. At least 30% of the Reservoir was frozen over on 11th February when the WeBs was carried out. By the middle of the month the weather had relented and in the last week it became increasingly mild as winds changed from the Siberian easterlies to a balmy Atlantic airflow. Highlights included a redhead Smew, Whooper Swans and Iceland Gulls. The Black Redstart continued to attract admirers. Rainfall was again below average but water levels did not cause the anxieties experienced elsewhere. Blithfield was at 85% capacity towards the month's end.

    The month started with 7 Whooper Swans and a Pink-footed Goose in Blithe Bay. A Shelduck was also there. In Tad Bay there were 2 drake Pintail, 7 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall and 5 Goosanders were present during the day. 2 Great Black-backed Gulls lingered. A Kingfisher was a good find. The Pink-footed Goose remained on 2nd with the Greylag Goose flock. Shovelers increased to 11. The 3rd was described as a "wader fest'' by one observer as the increasing cold weather prompted some hard weather movement. A Sanderling was found on the dam and a Common Sandpiper reappeared. 2 Dunlin were seen and 2 Green Sandpipers were forced out into the open by the encroaching ice. A Grey Wagtail around the dam was worthy of note as was a Little Egret. The Black Redstart was also relocated. Throughout the month it was reported at various locations ranging from Portfields and Mickledale Bays, the sailing Club across the dam to the Angling Club and to even Ten Acre Bay. This caused some conjecture that there may have been 2 Black Redstarts present around the Deep End. This was substantiated by one observer who described different wing panel patterns on a Black Redstart that he saw around the dam compared with a Black Redstart he had seen around Mickledale Bay. Scepticism prevailed however! The Black Redstart was reported again on the 5th. The unseasonal Sanderling was still around the causeway and 2 Dunlin continued with a Green Sandpiper and a Redshank. A 2W Caspian Gull was claimed in the roost on 5th.Interestingly a adult Caspian Gull was standing on the ice in front of Beech Tree Point on the 6th. Not much seemed to have changed during the day. The Sanderling remained along with the Dunlin, Redshank and 2 Green Sandpipers again. A Willow Tit was at the Broompits feeding station. By the afternoon a veil of fog shrouded the middle of a frozen Tad Bay. There was some ice free water at the top of the Bay. It was possible to view from Newton Hurst Lane and conduct a Teal count. They were packed into this small area. As the count commenced a small duck was seen to dive in the shallows. It reappeared almost immediately and revealed its identity as a redhead Smew. This arrival was perhaps to be expected as there was a substantial influx of Smew in the UK from the frozen Continent. Scepticism once again emerged particularly as the bird could not be re found on the 7th. As had previous Smews, this bird preferred the shallows under the willow trees and was elusive for much of its stay. 501 Teal were eventually recorded. This was a maximum count for the month. 11 Pochard were also at the top of Tad Bay with 6 Gadwall and 5 Shoveler. Meanwhile a Green Woodpecker yaffled again from the Broompits. A Nuthatch was at the education feeding station. Surprisingly, perhaps, a Stock Dove was "singing" in Stansley Wood.

    Little was reported during the next few days. The 1W/fem Black Redstart was seen again on 10th. Messrs Mant, Holt Betts, Powell and Smith braved the ice on 11th to conduct the WeBs. As the two northern bays were frozen the Deep End unusually hosted the majority of birds. Thus the importance of the Deep End was again emphasized especially in freezing conditions. Only8 Goldeneye were found. Tufted Duck numbers remained low too as only 42 were present. Pochard increased to 36. 3 Gadwall were found and 309 Mallard were counted and just 338 Teal indicated a departure from earlier in the week. 29 Shoveler was a monthly maximum. A count of 1313 Wigeon was a substantial total this included 898 Wigeon grazing around the aforementioned Deep End. 6 Shelducks were accounted for. 1100 Canada Geese were packed in and 436 Greylag Geese were found. 75 Great Crested Grebes chose to remain at Blithfield. They were outnumbered by 183 Cormorants and 325 Coot. The majority of the 14 Grey Herons were below the dam. Only 65 Lapwings were reported. This reflected a temporary movement away from Blithfield during the cold snap. 3 Dunlin were seen and the first record of the year of an Oystercatcher raised the question whether this was indeed its first day? A single Snipe was flushed. 2 Mute Swans that had been present for several weeks remained as did 2 Black Swans. The latter were later seen to be copulating! The Black Redstart was recorded for the third consecutive month. No gull counts were made but the usual Black-headed, Common, Herring, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls roosted. 13 Pied Wagtails were recorded and a single Reed Bunting. The best was kept until later in the day though as once again the redhead Smew revealed its presence at the top of Tad Bay where it had been previously discovered five days earlier.

    The Smew was located again on the next day. Also on the 12th the Black Redstart was seen. On the 13th 3 Shoveler were reported and the Smew was seen perhaps a little easier than previously as the ice retreated. On 14th the Oystercatcher was seen again. 4 Goosander were included (they were strangely absent on WeBS day). Goldeneye started to build up with 25 recorded. A Buzzard was seen too and the Smew cooperated by coming out into more open water. T he Tad Bay pre roost started a good run of Iceland Gull records. This allowed observers a better opportunity to assess more accurately the age of the gulls. So it was surprising that one observer claimed it was a 2W Iceland Gull and a second observer thought that it was a juvenile in advanced plumage! On 15th a 2W Iceland Gull was confidently reported in Tad Bay. The Black Redstart was found in Portfields Bay on 16th. The same observer then saw it or another over by the Anglers Club a few minutes later noting subtle differences on the wing panels from what he noted in Portfields Bay. 2 Green Sandpipers were below the outfall. 2 Oystercatchers were present. 23 Goosanders were reported and the Smew was again available. 42 Goosanders roosted on 17th in Tad Bay where the Smew remained. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was in the gull roost there too. A Common Crossbill was an interesting find. On 19th 20 Tufted Duck were in Tad Bay where 200 Teal were estimated and 8 Pochard counted. The Smew was still in its favourite patch. At least 200 Lesser Black Backed Gulls were in the pre roost. Best of all though were a total of 3 Iceland Gulls in what was thought to be a Blithfield record. The birds were aged as a juvenile, a 2W and a sub adult. The juvenile Iceland Gull and the 2W were again in Tad Bay on the 20th. The Smew continued to show periodically and the Pink-footed Goose was again found. Meanwhile a pair of Long-tailed Tits were apparently prospecting for a nest site.

    On 21st 708 Eurasian Wigeon were totalled in the northern bays. Although an accurate Deep End count was not made it was still considered the 1200 Wigeon remained at Blithfield. 13 Gadwall were in Tad Bay where copulation was observed..18 Pochard were in Blithe Bay and 2 more in Tad Bay gave a total of 20 Pochard .Goldeneye numbers were back down to 8. The2 Mute Swans continued to cruise around Tad Bay. There was some interaction between them and their antipodian cousins for the 2 Black Swans continued their prolonged residence. A male Sparrowhawk dashed past the Stansley Wood Hide. Oystercatchers had increased to 4. The static nature of the roosting Goosander flock was apparent when 42 were again in Tad Bay at dusk. A 3W Iceland Gull put in a brief appearance on 22nd. Mute Swans increased to 4 on 23rd with a second pair in Blithe Bay. A Shelduck was new in Tad Bay. Goldeneyes were again assessed as 8 and 30 Tufted Duck were present. A group of 10 Golden Plovers flew south over Tad Bay with 30 Lapwings. Later a Dunlin flew high over Tad Bay with around 25 Lapwings. On a beautiful mild morning it was noticeable that several resident birds were singing. It was good to hear a Song Thrush again. This was joined by a Mistle Thrush. Several Chaffinches had commenced singing also. They were joined by Dunnocks, Wrens and Robins whilst a Reed Bunting sang in front of the Stansley Wood Hide. 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming and Nuthatches were very active too. A singing Goldcrest delighted a group from a conifer near the Dell Hide. A flock of 50 Siskins fed high in some larches. They were accompanied by several Goldfinches and up to 10 Lesser Redpolls some of which were in fine breeding plumage. Afterwards an Oystercatcher was found in Blithe Bay. 31 Goosanders were present in the late afternoon. 18 Goosanders had been in Tad Bay during the morning. The Smew was still present.

    The Black Redstart was near the Angling Club and was reported as issuing sub song on the 26th. The first Ringed Plover of the year flew north over the dam where the observer was entertained by several Pied Wagtails and a single Grey Wagtail. 2 Oystercatchers were seen. What was thought to be a movement of returning Lesser black Backed Gulls was also noted. The Deep End roost produced another Iceland Gull on the 28th. This was immediately recognised as a new individual as it had long primary projections with traces of grey on the upper tips. An "angry'' expression and streaks on the head added to the individuality subscribing to the view that this individual was indeed exhibiting features associated with Kumlien's Gull. Earlier in the day the Pink-footed Goose was again reported in Blithe Bay and the Black Redstart was once more near the Angling Club. On the spring like 29th 2 Shelduck were at the Deep End. The high turnover of Iceland Gulls was denoted by a typical adult Iceland Gull. This bird had a friendly facial expression and unstreaked head. Also the pure white primaries were not exceptionally long as they had been on the previous evening's bird. It was therefore thought that possibly nine Iceland Gulls had passed through Blithfield during the winter period. This was due to an unprecedented influx in Northern Scotland. Finally an adult Mediterranean Gull was amongst the 4000 Black-headed Gull.

    January 2012

    Mild stormy and wet weather was a feature of the first part of the month. Consequently Blithfield Reservoir started to fill quickly but there was still sufficient mud for large numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover. A few Dunlin also remained. There was a cold snap mid month and a quieter spell of weather with lower temperatures prevailed with some overnight frost. Birding was rather quiet although there were reports of overflying Pink-footed Geese. The Black Redstart from 2011 continued to perform. The gull roost produced an expected and much admired Iceland Gull.

    The month opened with the Egyptian Goose and one female or juvenile. Black Redstart welcome additions to the New Year Lists for those so inclined. 5 Pintail were reported including three drakes. 6 Goosander were found. 7 Dunlin were on the Tad Bay mud where c 400 Golden Plovers remained. The Egyptian Goose sat proudly on the Admaston Reach shore on the 2nd. At least 60 Cormorant were present and 5 Buzzard were above the Duckley Plantation. The Black Redstart showed well by the sailing Club. 4 Gadwall were in Tad Bay where 15 Pochard were counted. 23 Common Gulls were in the Tad Bay pre roost where 6 Great Black-backed Gulls were present too. They were joined by a Yellow-legged Gull. A creditable 9 Pintail were present on 3rd and 6 Shelduck was also a good early year total. 2 Black Swans were in Blithe Bay(The BTO wish to receive all records of free flying non native species). The flock of 300 Golden Plovers attracted a Peregrine. The Black Redstart was still near the Sailing Club. The 7 Dunlin continued to hang on. A Green Sandpiper was in a drainage ditch at the top of Blithe Bay on the 4th. A drake Pintail was the highlight on the 5th. It was seen again on the 6th when 100 Golden Plovers were estimated to be still present. A Buzzard was also seen. Shelduck increased to nine on the 6th. 12 Gadwall were present too. 2 Green Sandpipers were found in Blithe Bay. A Caspian Gull was a master class candidate.

    30 Goosander were counted on the 8th but this was still a low seasonal count for that species. The 2 Black Swans remained. A Peregrine was also observed. A Marsh Tit was a good year tick for one observer at the Broompits feeding station. An adult Iceland Gull was a nice find at the Deep End roost. A juvenile Iceland Gull was also claimed promoting some discussion between those present. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was in support. The Black Redstart wondered into Ten Acre Bay. An unidentified egret species was seen too briefly on the 9th at dusk. 18 Shelduck were in Blithe Bay and a Pintail was in Tad Bay. A Green Woodpecker yaffled from the Broompits where 2 Marsh Tits and 2 Willow Tits were separated. 250 Golden Plovers were again estimated on the remaining Tad Bay mud. 2 Yellow-legged Gulls were in the Deep End mud. 21 Shelduck continued to surprise on 10th. 8 Gadwall were in Tad Bay where the drake Pintail lingered. A Jay was noted in Stansley Wood. 220 Lapwings were counted on 11th. 10 Goosander were seen and 7 Goldeneye were noted. 22 Shelduck were in Blithe Bay on 12th. 3 Pintail were found and the Peregrine was located again. An adult Caspian Gull was claimed in the roost. 48 Great Crested Grebes were counted on 13th when 3 Snipe put in an appearance. A Green Sandpiper was present too. 150 Pink-footed Geese flew north west as part of a movement of several skeins over Staffordshire. The Black Redstart was at Mickledale Bay again. Only 10 Golden Plovers remained. 75 Common Gulls were in the Tad Bay pre roost whilst a Goosander roost count only totalled 31. 3 Tawny Owls called nearby.

    The WeBS was conducted on 14th by Messrs Betts Holt, Broadbent Ingley and Mant. 16 Goldeneye were found,31 Goosanders were again included. 49 Tufted Duck and 18 Pochard concluded the diving duck totals. Surface feeders were represented by 9 Gadwall, 3 Pintail, 458 Mallard, and 910 Teal. Grazing wildfowl were 668 Eurasian Wigeon from Iceland and Siberia ,21 Shelduck,473 Greylag Geese and 275 Canada Geese. 3 Greylag x Canada Geese hybrids were also included. 15 Mute Swans was the highest total for the month. 135 Cormorants was a big total whilst 51 Great Crested Grebes were present. 19 Grey Herons were at various locations but mostly below the dam. 135 Coot were present. 267 Lapwings were counted. 263 Black-headed Gulls spent the morning at the Reservoir but as with the other gull species there were many more in the roost. 17 Great Black-backed Gulls was a good daytime total. 12 Herring Gulls were also seen. At least 75 Common Gulls remained. A single Yellow-legged Gull was included. Other species recorded were the Black Redstart, several Linnets, Goldfinches, Chaffinches Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits,5 Wrens and a Buzzard. 60 Fieldfares were present. Additionally 3 Mistle Thrushes were also reported.

    The Black Redstart was on the dam near the valve tower on 15th. Pochard increased to 28 0n the 17th. but only 14 Shelduck were found. A Redshank was a surprise and a single Snipe was a good find. A Bullfinch on the 18th was indicative of the small Blithfield population. 4 Shoveler were new. 21 Pochard were logged. A 2nd winter Caspian Gull was found in the gull roost. It was accompanied by a 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull,. At least 100 Lapwings were present. A Green Sandpiper was again In Blithe Bay on the 20th. On 22nd. 6 Yellow-legged Gulls were in the Deep End roost. A Moorhen was the first record of the year for that species. The quiet spell continued on 25th when the Black Redstart was again relocated. 12 Shelduck were still in Blithe Bay and a Little Grebe was a notable find. Only 3 Golden Plovers were seen as water levels had eliminated any sign of mud. A single Pink-footed Goose was found on 26th whilst the drake Pintail was still in Tad Bay. 27 Pochard were counted and 23 Goosander recorded. The Pink foot remained on 27th. 3 Gadwall were found and 4 Shoveler again. A Raven flew over the Deep- End. On 28th a Peregrine was seen again. Only 2 Shelduck in Blithe Bay were counted on 30th, On 31st 2 Willow Tits and 2 Marsh Tits were using the Broompits feeders a flock of. 50 Siskin was estimated. A Crossbill flew over the Reservoir.

    Further information

    Blithfield is a 800-acre (324 hectare) drinking-water supply reservoir, situated to the West of Abbotts Bromley in Staffordshire, England, at SK0524 *.

    © West Midland Bird Club, 147 World's End Lane, Birmingham, England B32 1JX
    Registered charity, number 213311

    Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.

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