Saturday 11 November 2023

Reservoir Logs - October 2023 round-up

                         The first Scoters of the year spent a day at the Wetlands pic @Chris_Farthing

       October saw five species added to the Wetland's year list with three smart drake Common Scoter and a Pintail - both the first for two years - as well as a Grey Plover the highlights. Lesser Redpoll and a heard-only Firecrest were the other additions in a month which also saw a run of scarcer gulls, a late Arctic Tern, Short-eared Owl and a day count of 1000 migrating Redwing

                            A Short-eared Owl visited on the same date as last year pic @Callahanbirder

        The five additions take the year list at the reservoirs to 143 - eight ahead of last year and just one behind's 2020's record high. Red-crested Pochard, which gave the Wetlands a miss last year as well, and Brent Goose are the only obvious gaps so adding new species is going to be hard.

          Three Shelduck made an unseasonal visit on the 18th and a Garganey was found on East Warwick on the 3rd. After being very scarce so far this year, Wigeon returned to form with records on at least seven days with five on the 24th and seven on the 18th. The first Pintail for two years was a female-type found by RE hiding among the Shoveler on No 5 on the 9th.    
                           The Scoter eventually settled on East Warwick (pic @Elliott81758817)                           
          Common Scoter, like Pintail, are nearly annual visitors to the Wetlands but again none were seen in 2022. This year looked likely to be blank as well until CF found three drakes on Lockwood on the 12th. They were flighty at first but settled down on East Warwick for the day. CF also found three Ringed Teal on No 5 on the 27th but, while very attractive ducks, they seem much more likely to have escaped from a wildfowl collection than flown from their natural home in South America. Unusually, neither the first Goldeneye or Goosander of the winter had arrived by the month's end.  

                  Two of the three Ringed Teal which escaped to the Wetlands pic @ Chris_Farthing 

      After the departure of the wintering Great Egret, the species has been scarce with DC's fly-over on the 14th only the fourth of the year. The only record of Red Kite was on the 3rd but Buzzards were seen on at least four days including a year-high count of six in the air together on the 9th - one of several good days this month for migrants. 

       October is usually light on waders but this year bucked the trend with no less than nine species  compared to just four in 2022. Single Lapwing was seen on the 18th and 27th with two on both the 17th  & 24th. Grey Plover is a very scarce visitor with no records since 2018 before the big freeze last December saw one on Lockwood so DC's record of one flying north over Lockwood on the 2nd was the wader highlight of the month. Black-tailed Godwits are usually much more regular but the four going south on the 12th were surprisingly only the second record of the year. The same date saw a Dunlin on Lockwood.  

      Migrant Snipe were resting on the reservoir banks on several days with two on the 9th but the Jack Snipe that dropped onto the shoreline of East Warwick on the 28th was only the second of the year. The autumn's strong Common Sandpiper passage continued with birds throughout the month, Four were still present on the 24th - a fortnight later than the last bird last October - with two staying to the end of the month to suggest the Wetlands may have wintering birds again. In contrast, the only Green Sandpiper was on the 23rd and Redshank on Lockwood on the 26th. 

                  Up to four young Caspian Gulls have been seen this Autumn (pic @Callahanbirder)

      October now seems the best bet to catch up with scarcer gulls at the Wetlands. Photographs suggest there may have been three Caspian Gulls seen this month (and perhaps four over the Autumn) with 1Ws seen on the 19th, 21st, 22nd, 25th and 28th. The month also seems the best time to catch up with Yellow-legged Gulls at the reservoirs The first was an adult found on the 11th by CF remarkably on the same day and the same railings on High Maynard as last year. This was followed by a run of young birds with DC finding a 1W on the 14th, three on 21st - six days later than three were seen last year - with one remaining on the 24th.

                   Adult (pic @Chris_Farthing) and young Yellow-legged Gull  (pic @Callahanbirder)


       Late terns have always got a good chance of being Arctic Terns and that seems to be case of the bird photographed by MLP on the 20th. After a two-month stay in which it hardly ever showed, the Little Owl was last heard on the 2nd. The third Short-eared Owl was on the 22nd over Lockwood - again on exactly the same date as last year. 

                           This tern, though to be a young Arctic, made a brief stop (pic @MLP )

      October is also a good month for Jackdaw passage and although numbers did not run into the hundreds as they did in 2019, 54 were seen on the 16th and 42 on 9th with smaller numbers both over and on the reservoirs on other days. Skylark movement was also stronger than last year when only five were seen all month. Birds were recorded on at least six days with three on both the 8th & 24th.                         

      Single Swallows,  which were not seen in October last year, were recorded on the 3rd, 9th and 20th with a late Reed Warbler as well on the 2nd.  Blackcaps are not regular winterers at the reservoirs so the male seen on the 31st may again be a late migrant. The first Firecrest of the year was heard at the north end of Lockwood on the 22nd by DC and was still there, and still hidden, next day. 

     Fieldfare passage, just like last year, was light with just the odd bird over or on the reservoirs until a flock of 50 on the 24th. This was not the case with Redwing although movement was crammed into two days. Over 60 were seen on the 8th before an estimated 1000-plus flew over next day - twice the highest daily count last year. 

                          The rocky shorelines attracted two Rock Pipits (pic @Chris_Farthing)

      A Black Redstart made a brief appearance on the 27th. No Wheatears were seen last October (although like Swallow a winter bird later turned up) but this year there was a single on the 16th, two for the next two days with one remaining until the 23rd. Up to four Stonechats were around the reservoirs usually on West Warwick. 

     The rocky shorelines attracted Rock Pipits on Lockwood on the 15th and No 5 on the 27th. The first Lesser Redpoll of the year was at the north end of Lockwood on the 8th with two more on the 12th. There was a flurry of Siskins with birds on five days with 15 in several small flocks on the 25th the highest count. 

DB @porthkillier

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