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December 2010 Diary and News
All the latest sightings, news and photos from Chasewater, Cuckoo Bank and surrounding areas
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All records and photos (jpegs) are welcome, please send them via our comments page. Home Key to Contributors
1st
 
No records.
At Pelsall there were 4 Waxwings in Canterbury Close (GE).
2nd
 
No records.
3rd
 
Anglesey Basin G Evans
The dam G Evans

The tiny area of open water on the main lake held 200 Mallard and 7 Mute Swans. Other counts included 2-3 Sparrowhawks, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 4 Coal Tits, 20 Redwings and as I walked down Chapel Street on the White Horse Estate, 2 Waxwings flew over from the direction of Chasewater and landed on the top of poplar trees near the Howdles Lane shops (GE).

G Evans
Blue Tit G Evans
The new Feeding Station at the end of Fly Bay is attracting many birds including a Sparrowhawk and 2 Willow Tits with several Siskins and redpolls feeding in the alders (GE).

A second before the arrival of this Sparrowhawk a Willow Tit was feeding on the table  G Evans
4th
Sat
 
No records for Chasewater although the Mandarin Duck has turned up at Ryders Mere (AS).
5th
Sun
 
A  juvenile Whooper Swan was on the Swag but it flew off to the east (IW). A Goosander was on the 'main lake' and there were still around 400 Mallard, 58 Mute Swans and 23 Canada Geese. Although there has been a thaw, there are severe night frosts forecast for the next few days and even the remaining tiny areas of open water may disappear (GE).
'Swan Lake' G Evans
Slurry Pool G Evans
Swag G Evans
North lake G Evans
From the causeway G Evans
Balcony shore G Evans
From the west shore G Evans
6th
 
Two Curlews flew over the Slurry Pool at dusk (IW).
7th
 
  G Evans
G Evans
G Evans
G Evans
A very severe frost (-10˚C) and yesterday's fog combined to create a fantastic winter wonderland of hoar frost. Only tiny areas of open water remain, with 61 Mute Swans, 34 Canada Geese, around 300 Mallard and a Teal still present. Single Willow Tits were near the Slurry Pool and at the former feeding station, whilst 2 were at the new Feeding Station. Two Buzzards were also noted (GE).
Santa Special G Evans
G Evans
8th
 
No records.
9th
 
Although the slow thaw continues, there has been no increase in the amount of open water. 43 Mute Swans and 23 Canada Geese were on the Boating Pool, a Buzzard flew over Highfields Farm and at dusk many hundreds of gulls purposefully flew north (GE).
10th
 
The snow has all gone and a layer of water covers the ice. A Tufted Duck and a Pochard were on the small patch of open water on the Swag, a Buzzard flew over and a Kestrel was hunting along the west shore (GE).
Jeffrey's Swag G Evans
In Brownhills up to 30 Waxwings were reported from near Tesco (per PW).
11th
Sat
 
The 'Swan Lady' G Evans
With the help of 'The Swan Lady' the large numbers of Mute Swans, geese and ducks on the Boating Pool have survived the latest cold weather. Raffles have partly covered the considerable costs this feeding has incurred but despite the draining of the lake being a major factor in the swans not having enough natural food it seems that LDC has expressed displeasure in the feeding of the swans because it makes them too dependent. It seems that the council would be happy if all the wildlife could disappear from the site; life would be so much easier! Its new leaflet is a classic example of how much the council knows and cares about Chasewater's wildlife (See Latest News). As well as the swans, there were still 415 Mallard, 2 Wigeon, 2 Tufted Ducks and 38 Canada Geese present and a flock of 60 Linnets was on the Balcony Shore (GE).
12th
Sun
 
It was great to see the Rangers also feeding corn to the swans this evening. Through their own initiative they have funded the purchase of the corn from the profits gained from selling corn to the public throughout the year. 57 Mute Swans were present today along with 429 Mallard, 2 Teal, 1 Goldeneye and 2 Tufted Ducks. Up to 70 Linnets were present and the gathering of gulls prior to departure to Blithfield, starting at 14:45, numbered 243 Herring Gulls, 193 Lesser Black-backs, 11 Great Black-backs, 6 Common Gulls and 200 Black-headed Gulls (GE).
Part of the new 'information' boards around the site (GE).
The 3cy Iceland Gull was at Stubbers Green at 14:30 (PJ) and it was presumably one of the many gulls flying over Chasewater on its way to Blithfield where it was seen at 16:00 and was also seen there last night.
13th
 
The Waxwing invasion has arrived with a vengeance today with possibly as many as 250 birds present within half a mile of Chasewater's west shore. At 10:00 around 50 were in Conduit Road, Norton Canes (PJ) and an hour later 21 were in nearby Beaumont Way. Around mid-day 92 flew across the Hednesford Road, Brownhillls West from the direction of the South Shore and perched in a tree in Cherwell Drive and then in Albutts Road where they fed on the Rowan berries near the Pear Tree pub, just as they did during the 2008-9 winter (GE). At 13:20 there were over 150 near Bellsize Close on the Walsall Road in Norton Canes (PJ) but an hour later just the odd one was still present in the area. From today's sightings it is impossible to say if the Norton birds are different from the Brownhills West flock.
5 Wigeon and a Gadwall have returned to the Swag and 10 Teal and 115 Redwings were on the west shore. 20 Lapwings flew west and a Buzzard was perched on a pole by the old farmhouse in Pool Road (GE).
At Stubbers Green the 3cy Iceland Gull was present along with a 2cy Glaucous Gull which is almost certainly the same bird that was at Throckmorton (Worcs) on 12th and at Didcot (Oxon) 2 weekends ago (per PJ). Read more here
3cy Iceland Gull Hughie King
 2cy Glaucous Gull Hughie King
14th
 
From 15:00 at least 300 Waxwings flew north in 11 flocks, presumably to roost on Cannock Chase. An adult Caspian Gull was present. 20 Siskins and 11 redpolls were near the frozen Slurry Pool and up to 500 Redwings were on the west shore (IW).
In Brownhills 80 Waxwings were feeding on Rowan berries along the Lichfield Road near the One Stop depot (GE) and 7 Waxwings were at Conduit Road, Norton Canes (PJ).
Yesterday's Glaucous Gull at Stubbers Green was seen at Dosthill, in the Tame Valley (PDH).
15th
 
No Waxwings were seen flying over between 15:00 and 16:00 and only around 50 Redwings and 5 Fieldfares were on the west shore. The flock of 70 Linnets was on the Balcony shore and the slightly increased area of open water held 4 Tufted Ducks, a drake Goldeneye, 6 Wigeon and 5 Teal (GE).
16th
 
2 Goosanders, a Goldeneye, 50 Redwings, 8 Fieldfares and 100 Starlings were present but no Waxwings were seen around the Pear Tree area at mid-day (GE).
After being many years in the pipeline, at last, the whole site has been notified as a Site of Special Scientific Importance today. The much extended SSSI is now called the Chasewater and Southern Staffordshire Coalfield Heaths SSSI and includes the Hednesford Hills, Cuckoo Bank, No Man's Bank, Norton Bog (incuding the Slurry Pool), Jeffrey's Swag, Chasewater and associated heathland, including the Wharf Lane heath along the canal and Brownhills Common north of the Chester Road. This is a vast area covering 530 hectares and forms an almost continuous corridor from Cannock Chase to the Clayhanger, Jockey Fields and Stubbers Green SSSIs to the south.
New SSSI
17th
 
The only record was of a Wigeon (VT, JT)!
18th
Sat
 
3 Buzzards were present (IW).
A flock of Waxwings was at Silver Court, Brownhills (per GE).
19th
Sun
 
The Hawthorns along the canal and by-pass were full of Redwings and Fieldfares. The monthly WeBS count produced 58 Mute Swans,  33 Canada Geese and 3 hybrid geese, 352 Mallard, 4 Teal, a Tufted Duck, 154 Coot, a Heron and a Snipe. 2 Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk were also seen (NS, GE, JT).
Moonrise over the dam G Evans
Around 20 Waxwings were in the Ridgeway-Warren Road area of Chasetown (JT, VT) and a flock was also present at Silver Court, Brownhills (per GE).
An adult Caspian Gull was reported from the Highfields South Landfill, near Stubbers Green (per IW).
20th
 
After another night of temperatures down to -13˚C only the Coot and Mute Swans remain on the Swag (IW).
67 Waxwings were feeding on Rowan berries at Silver Court, Brownhills until 15:20 when they flew to a tall tree near Tesco (GE). No berries and therefore no Waxwings seem to be left in Norton Canes (PJ).
The drake Mandarin Duck was reported from Ryders Mere (per CM).
21st
 
A Kingfisher flew over the Swag where around 40 Mallard have joined the Coot and 4 Mute Swans. The family of 6 Mute Swans are still on the Slurry Pool (IW). 9 Teal were seen and at the feeding station there were around 12 Bullfinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Buzzard and good numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings nearby (GR).
Although no Waxwings were noted at Silver Court around 09:00 (IW), over 40 were seen from 10:20 to 10:30 (KS) and 98 were present from 14:00 until flying off at 14:30. At 15:00 what was likely to be a new flock of 49 was present for 15 minutes before disappearing to the north (GE, JHu) and a flock of 39 was seen at Great Charles Street at 15:45 (AB).
22nd
 
4 Mute Swans and a Pochard were on the Swag and 6 Mute Swans and 3 Tufted Ducks on the Slurry Pool (IW).
Up to 70 Waxwings were seen erratically during the day at Silver Court (PW, GE).
23rd
 

Around 300 large gulls gathered on the ice before heading north at dusk. 2 Buzzards were present and a Willow Tit was at the feeding station (photos G Evans).
Only one Waxwing was at Silver Court around mid-day (GE).
An adult Yellow-legged Gull was amongst the small number of gulls in the Stubbers Green area (PJ).
24th
 
At the Slurry Pool a male Merlin was feeding on a Blackbird, causing consternation to 7 Reed Buntings. Only one adult Mute Swan was with the 4 immatures, 3 Pochard were present and 2 Ravens flew over to the south (IW). A Buzzard and Sparrowhawk were over Highfields Farm (GE).
At Cuckoo Bank a Woodcock was feeding from cow-pats, a Tawny Owl was present, 2 Ravens flew north and a Curlew flew south towards Chasewater (IW).
No Waxwings were seen at Silver Court (PW).
25th
Sat
 
The second consecutive snowy Christmas Day G Evans
A Woodcock flew over the by-pass at dusk (GE).
26th
Sun
 
No records.
27th
 
The Mandarin Duck was back on the Swag (IW).
28th
 
The Mandarin Duck was on the Swag (IW).
29th
 
The Mandarin Duck was on the Swag (IW).
30th
 
The Mandarin Duck was still on the Swag (IW).
31st
 
The Mandarin Duck was on the Swag and other counts were 59 Mute Swans, 29 Canada Geese, 4 hybrid geese, 15 Tufted Ducks, 3 Pochard, a Goldeneye, Goosander, 21 Teal, 18 Wigeon, a Gadwall and 30 Linnets. Two Willow Tits were at the feeding station (GE).