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February 2010 Diary and News
All the latest sightings, news and photos from Chasewater, Cuckoo Bank and surrounding areas
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1st
 
Frosty start, cloudy later
W2
Chasewater missed the overnight snowfall I left behind in Walsall, but it was still a beautiful morning following a night of heavy frost. The drake Smew was near the power boat club, accompanied by three Goldeneye. Two nice drake Shovelers were also present. A fox was flushed from the embankment by the Slurry Pool at 9:25am. Three Red Deer stags were on the North Heath, engaging in a bout of antler sparring, accompanied by occasional grunts. Buzzard and Fieldfares were present at Highfield Farm (KM).
The valve was fully opened today and so we can expect water levels to drop fairly rapidly. LDC reckon that levels can go down by 1m a week but it is more likely to be considerably less than this at this time of year. The feeding station is still attracting Willow Tits with at least two enjoying the black sunflower seeds.
The gull roost again included the 3cy Iceland Gull, juvenile Glaucous Gull and a 3cy Caspian Gull.
2nd
 
Rain
WNW3
The drake Smew was present on both the Slurry Pool and Jeffrey's Swag and a Woodcock was present in the wet woodland north of Fly Pool. Despite very heavy rain and poor visibility the gull roost included the 3cy Iceland Gull, the juvenile Glaucous Gull and 250 + Great Black-backed Gulls. The proportion of 2cy gulls had increased to 1 in 4 of large gulls present.
Large numbers of gulls were loafing at Stubbers Green throughout the day. These included 3cy Iceland, 4cy Caspian and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls (adult and 3cy). Also present were over 120 Great Black-backed Gulls.

In the Kingswood / Cannock Tip area the 2cy  Glaucous Gull was present during the day (photo R Clay).

3rd
 
Showers
SE2
The 2cy Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull roosted.
4th
Rain clearing
SE3
In the roost tonight were at least 2500 Herring Gulls. Of these the 3cy Caspian Gull arrived at 16.30, 2cy Glaucous Gull at 17.05 and 3cy Iceland Gull at 17.10.
5th
 
Cloudy
SSE2

The drake Smew was on the Slurry Pool this afternoon. In the roost; adult Mediterranean Gull (a different individual to that present on February 3rd), 3cy Iceland Gull, juvenile Glaucous Gull and 3cy Yellow-legged Gull (PDH).

On Cuckoo Bank there were 6 Golden Plovers (EO).
At Kingswood the 3cy Glaucous Gull was loafing during the day. At Stubbers Green the juvenile Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull and 2 (adult and 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls were present.
6th 
Sat
4C 0C
Fog clearing to grey and cloudy
NW2
Fully opened valve (GE).

 

A defoliated dam (GE).

A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker between the Swag and Slurry Pool was the first for several years (per IW). The Smew was on the Slurry Pool and on the Swag there were 67 Goldeneye, 9 Gadwall, 30 Wigeon and 16 Pochard. Nine Goosanders and 50 Linnets were also present. The gull roost held the 2cy Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull, 3cy Caspian Gull, 3cy Yellow-legged Gull and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls (IW, JA, GE et al).

The first Snowdrops of the year (GE)

At Highfields South landfill there was the 2cy Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull, 2 Caspian Gulls and 2 (ringed adult and 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls (PJ).

7th 
Sun
4C 1C
Cloudy
NW4

Water levels are at 2.20m below maximum, a drop of 10cm over the last 24 hours and the Island is once more close to losing its integrity. The Smew continues to spend much of its time on the Slurry Pool. 18 Goosanders and 66 Goldeneye were counted, 20 Goldfinches were at Highfield Farm and 50 Linnets by Brownhills West station. The gull roost held the 2cy Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull, 3cy Yellow-legged Gull and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls. Numbers are still high with Black-headed Gulls probably around the 12000 mark (PJ, IW, JA, GE, SR et al).

Willow Tit ( I Lewington)
The Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull and a 2cy Caspian Gull were seen in the Stubbers Green/Highfields South Landfill area (PJ, ILe).
Glaucous Gull ( I Lewington)
Glaucous Gull ( P Parsons)
2cy Caspian Gull ( P Parsons)
3cy Iceland Gull  ( I Lewington)
8th
4C 0C
Cloudy
NE3
2 Willow Tits were at the Feeding Station.
The drake Smew was on the Slurry Pool this afternoon (PJ).
An adult Mediterranean Gull was in the roost but many large gulls arrived late and were very distant, hampering viewing (PJ).
9th
 
4C -1C
Sunny intervals
N3
The drake Smew was on the Slurry Pool, hiding in the bushy 'island'.

The 3cy Caspian Gull and 3cy Iceland Gull roosted along with 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls, both with extensive black hoods making at least three separate individuals this week. The roost was the largest of the winter so far and covered almost half the lake. 12-15000 Black-headed Gulls were present and the 6-7000 large gulls included over 3000 Herring Gulls, many of which were immature (IW, PJ).

10th
 
4C -3C
Sunny intervals, snow showers.
N4
The water level this evening was down to 2.52 below maximum, maintaining the average 10cm per day drawdown. The 3cy Caspian Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull and 2cy Glaucous Gull roosted as well as 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls, both with extensive black hoods (IW, PJ).
11th
3C -2C
Sunny
N3
The drake Smew was on the main pool near the west shore.
The 2cy Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull, 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls and 2 3cy Caspian Gulls were all in the roost (AA, IW).
12th
5C -1C
Showers
NE2
Another large roost tonight with 5000 plus large gulls and a large proportion of these being 2cy birds. The roost included juv Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull, 1 3cy Caspian Gull and 3cy Yellow-legged Gull (PJ).
13th Sat
4C 2C
Cloudy
NNE3
The Smew flew from Fly Bay to the Swag. Other totals include 24 Goosanders, 67 Goldeneye, 214 Tufted Ducks, 18 Pochard, 42 Wigeon, 11 Gadwall, 3 Teal, 2 Herons, 3 Buzzards, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Grey Wagtails, 20 Red Deer and a Fox (GE).
Two 3cy Caspian Gulls, juv Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull, adult Yellow-legged Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull all roosted (SR,JKH,IM,IW).
In the Stubbers Green / Highfield South landfill area were 3cy Iceland Gull, 3cy Caspian Gull and a 3cy Yellow-legged Gull (PJ).
14th Sun
5C -2C
Sleet
NNW2
The first Stonechat of the year was on the North Heath this morning (N). The Smew was on the Slurry Pool and on the Swag there were 2 Herons, 34 Goosanders, 56 Goldeneye, 11 Gadwall, 40 Wigeon, 22 Pochard and a duck Pintail. All the wildfowl were disturbed by two casual anglers walking along the length of the eastern shore. As water levels fall this shore will become even more accessible and disturbance is likely to increase. 18 Great Crested Grebes were on the lake and flocks of 16 Goldfinches and 5 Siskins were also noted (GE). A Black-headed Gull was present with white ring and black E3HX (EM) and was ringed as a nestling in Holland last year (FM). This evening in the roost the 3cy Iceland Gull, juv Glaucous Gull, 3cy Caspian Gull and adult Mediterranean Gull were all present (IW).
Smew ( GE)
15th
5C 2C
Rain
SW3
The water level has now fallen to 3m below maximum and the South Shore has several emerging islands. 12 Goosanders were on the Swag and 21 Cormorants and 38 Lapwings were counted (GE). The Smew was seen at the north end of the lake (DO). The weather was very wet for the roost but the 2cy Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were found through the murk (IW, GE).
16th
 
5C -2C
Sunny intervals
WSW3
Write your own caption!
Fly Bay (GE)
Early this morning the drake Smew was in Fly Bay and 4 Willow Tits were around the feeding station (IW). Other counts included 31 Cormorants, 85 Lapwings, 4 Shovelers, 11 Gadwall, 24 Pochard, a 2cy Yellow-legged Gull and a 2cy Caspian Gull (GE). Still present in the roost were 3cy Iceland Gull, 2cy Glaucous Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull (PJ, N, IW).
One of the many activities that could really damage the exposed rare shoreline vegetation (GE)  

 

Balcony Shore (GE)

 

Distant rear views and awful light conditions but I feel there is enough evidence here to call this a 2cy Caspian Gull (GE).
17th
 
4C -1C
Fog, sleet and snow!
SE2

This morning a thick fog hung over the partly frozen lake, but the distinctive call of a Curlew could be heard. The bird landed on the north shore and continued to call (IW). A 2cy Glaucous Gull was bathing at the north end of the lake and about 10 Goosanders were on the Swag and at least 20 Cormorants were present. The Smew was with 20 more Goosanders near the dam. Around mid-day there was lots of activity at the Feeding Station with maxima counts feeding at any one time being 16 Bullfinches, 9 Reed Buntings, 9 Chaffinches, 6 Great Tits, 6 Long-tailed Tits, 5 Greenfinches, 5 Robins, 3 Blue Tits, 3 Dunnocks, 2 Blackbirds and 2 Willow Tits along with a Grey Squirrel and 2 Brown Rats. The water-level has now dropped to 3.28m below maximum, revealing a new island off the west shore and on the South Shore there was the first Ringed Plover of the year but of concern was the presence of 13 horse riders on the Sailing Shore which have just added yet more erosion to the sensitive and rare shoreline vegetation (GE). 5 Greylag Geese dropped in for a few minutes at 16:00 but had left by 17:00. The roost held the 3cy Iceland Gull, 2cy Glaucous Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull (PJ).

2cy Glaucous Gull in the fog ( GE)
18th
3C -1C
Cloudy and raw. Heavy evening snow
E3
A Knot was on the ever expanding balcony shore and an Oystercatcher was excitedly calling (KM, GE), both the 2cy Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull and the Smew were on the lake during the morning along with around 30 Cormorants and Goosanders. 20 Redwings, 25 Chaffinches and a Buzzard were at Highfield Farm and 2 Pheasants in the Hednesford Road fields (GE).

Record shots of Iceland and Glaucous Gulls (GE)
Knot ( GE)
19th
4C -3C
Bright start then sleet showers
WNW3
A beautiful snow covered start to the day with 2 Red Deer stags performing to an appreciative audience on the dam. The Knot and Smew were still present and the 3cy Iceland Gull and 2cy Glaucous Gull were in the roost which now holds far fewer large gulls than a week ago but Black-headed Gull numbers are still high with one adult bird carrying a white ring with black E1HT or was it F1NT ?. The large numbers of feeding gulls and Lapwings were flushed off the Balcony Shore by two riders on a quad bike with the passenger guiltily leaning back to cover the registration plate, after it had been photographed! It is this type of activity we have been fearing but we have been assured that the whole site will be treated as a SSSI and behaviour such as this will not be tolerated. The water level has now dropped to 3.5m below maximum or 148.5m above sea level with drawdown due to continue down to a level of 142m before work on the dam starts (GE, PJ, IW). A large bird of prey circling over the north shore was possibly a Goshawk (PW, JT, VT). A wartime bomb was discovered along the base of the dam!
They seem to be wondering why 500 birds had just flown off the shore but this one had knot! (GE)
Red Deer stags looking for trees ( GE)
Cock Pheasant ( GE)
20th Sat
 
2cy Glaucous Gull and 2cy Caspian Gull were both present this morning in a post roost loaf (sliced or unsliced?) on the various shorelines. On the balcony shore a Knot fed with the Black-headed Gulls. The feeding station was again very busy with at least 2 Willow Tits. The roost is now getting much smaller but the 3cy Iceland Gull and 2cy Glaucous Gull were both still present (IW).
Sunset A Colman
A Waxwing was seen and photographed feeding on a bush in the centre of Norton Canes (KCu).
 
Waxwing K Cunningham
21st Sun
3cm of snow cleared during the day.
The WeBS count produced totals of 44 Mute Swans, 39 Canada Geese, 226 Mallard, 39 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 1 Pintail, 1 Shoveler, 34 Pochard, 207 Tufted Ducks, 59 Goldeneye, 31 Goosanders, 1 Smew, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 237 Coot, 3 Moorhens, 1 Cormorant, 1 Knot, 1 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwings, a Dunlin and a Grey Wagtail. The 2cy Glaucous Gull was on the new island off the west shore (GE, IW). The 3cy Iceland Gull, adult Mediterranean Gull and 3cy Yellow-legged Gull roosted (PJ, IW).

Unfortunately the South Shore was badly disturbed by two quad bikes, one the same as on Friday and both being based at the Watersports Centre (GE).

New islands are appearing as the water level falls. It is now about 20cm below the scale on the pier which ends at 3.65m.
 Photos G Evans.

22nd
 
A Ringed Plover was on the Balcony Shore (PW) and the 3cy Iceland Gull roosted (IW).
23rd
 
4C 1C
Cloudy, wintry showers
SE3
The drake Smew was on the Swag this afternoon, the 3cy Iceland Gull and adult Mediterranean Gull were in the roost (IW) and the Oystercatcher was also present (JT).
Two Waxwings made two 5 minute visits during the day to the public garden in the centre of Norton Canes (PW).
24th
 
7C 3C
Foggy start, clearing then evening rain
SE3
The Oystercatcher was present but little of note was seen in the gull roost which still holds around 8000 Black-headed Gulls. Herring Gulls are dominated by immature birds and are outnumbered by around 2000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (GE, IW, ESC).
The 2 Waxwings made a very brief visit to the same site in Norton Canes but are clearly spending most of the time elsewhere, possibly along the M6 Toll or at the Service Station (PW).
25th
8C 2C
Light rain
SSW3
Four Shelducks were off the North Shore (PS). Single Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and female Pintail were also on the main lake and the drake Smew was on the Swag. A single adult Mediterranean Gull was in the roost (IW)
26th
5C 0C
Rain clearing to sunny intervals
W4
The Pintail, Smew and a single Shelduck were still present (IW) along with 24 Goosanders, 10 Shovelers, 3 Common Snipe, a Buzzard, Kestrel and a mixed flock of 50 redpolls, Goldfinches and Siskin (EO). A 3cy Yellow-legged Gull was amongst the gull roost which held around 5000 Black-headed Gulls, good numbers of mainly immature Herring Gulls and reduced numbers of Lesser Black-backs (PJ, IW, GE).
27th Sat
6C 1C
Drizzle, sunny intervals then rain
NE1
Drake Wigeon (GE)
Drake Smew (GE)
Duck Pintail (GE)
Ringed Plover (GE)
Oystercatcher (GE)
Snowdrops (GE)
With water levels continuing to fall the new west shore island is now almost connected to the shore and Fly Bay is empty. During the early morning a Curlew and 2 Kingfishers were at Fly Bay and Pool respectively and a Willow Tit was at the Feeding Station (IW). The Smew, Pintail, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher were also present along with 71 Goldeneye, 33 Goosanders, 176 Tufted Ducks, 24 Pochard, 39 Wigeon, 9 Gadwall, 1 Shoveler, 2 Cormorants, 20 Great Crested Grebes, a Heron, 42 Lapwings, a Jack Snipe, 2 Green Woodpeckers, a Siskin and 30 Linnets (GE, PJ). A Nuthatch and Goldcrest were amongst the tit flock in the very under-watched Jacks Wood (PJ).

The water has now been drawn down by over 4m. Not even the drought conditions of 1976 quite touched the 4m mark and there haven't been scenes like this since 1957 when levels went down by 4.5m.
28th Sun
5C 1C
Cloudy
NW3
 A Curlew and 2 Ringed Plovers were present during the early morning (NS). A Shelduck was on the west shore and the Smew was on the Swag along with 34  Goosanders (GE, PW). The 3cy Iceland Gull was found in the gull roost (IW).
What were very likely to be the same 2 Waxwings as those seen recently at Norton Canes were found feeding on cotoneaster at National Tyres in Brownhills during the early afternoon (IW).