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January 2010 Diary and News
All the latest sightings, news and photos from Chasewater, Cuckoo Bank and surrounding areas
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Grey Wagtail (GE)
South Shore (GE)
A cold but sunny start to the year and despite the Swag and Slurry Pool being almost completely frozen, all but the shoreline fringes of the main lake were ice free. Counts included 72 Cormorants, 4 Herons, 61 Canada Geese, 35 Goosanders, 5 Gadwall and 36 Great Crested Grebes. However, the main interest lay with the gulls again and during the day 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and a superb adult Caspian Gull (photos below) were showing well (GE). The adult Mediterranean Gull was on the Slurry Pool ice (RSo) and at dusk the gull roost held a remarkable 6 Caspian Gulls. Two adults and 2 3cy birds were seen from the South Shore (IW, N) and the Kingswood and Stubbers Green 4cy birds were seen from the West Shore. 5 (3 adults, 2 4cy) Yellow-legged Gulls were also present in the very large roost (PJ, GE).

A new year so the Stubbers Green 3cy is now a 4cy bird and was photographed in the roost (GE).
Although very similar to the adult seen recently at Kingswood, the Caspian Gull above appeared to show a brighter and slightly shorter bill and its legs were less evenly coloured with pale pink and yellow hues and pink feet. The other adult seen in the roost could well be the Kingswood bird.
At Stubbers Green there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull carrying a metal ring (PJ).
Sunny intervals, sleet and snow.
45 Goosanders, 46 Great Crested Grebes, 8 Little Grebes and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls were seen during the day (PJ). 3 (adult, 4cy, 3cy) Caspian Gulls and 3 (2 adults, 2 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls in the roost were reward for braving the sleet and snow (IW) whilst for those sheltering in the warmth of a car there was an extra 3cy Caspian Gull (GE).
At Kingswood there were 3 (4cy, 2 3cy) Caspian Gulls and 4 (3 adults, 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls (SR).
The dam ( GE)
The hole in the dam ( GE)
Most of the main lake remains ice free but the five day forecast indicates that this may not last for long. During the morning an adult Caspian Gull was on the frozen Swag and a 3cy Yellow-legged Gull near the dam (RSo). 26 Mute Swans, 10 Wigeon, 11 Pochard, 30+ Goosanders, several Goldeneye, 35+ Cormorants, 43 Great Crested Grebes and 20 Common Gulls were present during the day (GE) along with 3 Jack Snipe and 2 Common Snipe (NS). The gull roost was large but viewing from the South Shore meant that many gulls on the ice north of the Island couldn't be checked. However, the 2 4cy Caspian Gulls and a probable adult were present along with the adult Mediterranean Gull (PJ, IW, EGP, GE).
The only clouds were caused by Rugeley Power Station ( GE).
At Kingswood a 3cy Caspian Gull (SR) and the Black Swan (EGP) were noted.
Only three very small areas of the lake remained unfrozen; the patch by the Watersports jetty holding 31 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 4 Goldeneye and 4 Pochard whilst by the Sailing Shore there were 8 Goldeneye (GE) a Little Grebe and a Goosander had been present earlier in the day (PW). The gull roost was tightly packed together making it difficult to study but 3 (adult, 2 4cy) Caspian Gulls and 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls were found (IW).
A 4cy Caspian Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were seen at Kingswood during the day (JA).
Cloudy then snow

The patches of open water just about remained with 24 Great Crested Grebes and a Little Grebe by the Watersports Centre, several Goldeneye off the Sailing Shore and 28 Mute Swans and 32 Canada Geese near the Castle on the South Shore (GE). The adult Mediterranean Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were found amongst the tightly packed gulls roosting on the snow covered ice (IW).

Early snow then sunny

6cm of snow was enough to close most local schools and provided an opportunity to see how the wildlife was coping with this real taste of winter. On the Swag a patch of open water by the road held 153 Coot, 52 Mallard and 4 Mute Swans (GE). A Woodcock was by the Slurry Pool (NS). The three small areas of open water on the lake continue to hold wildfowl with overall totals (including the Swag) being 41 Mute Swans, 124 Canada Geese, 286 Mallard, 18 Tufted Ducks, 27 Goldeneye, 1 Goosander, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Little Grebes, a Cormorant, 408 Coot, 8 Moorhens, 5 Lapwings and, most surprisingly, a Dunlin. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was present throughout the day and was joined at dusk by 2 adult Caspian Gulls. At 16:20 many of the gulls left to the north, probably heading for Blithfield, which presumably has more open water. Several Robins, Dunnocks and a Lesser Redpoll were feeding on the South Shore and 40 Linnets flew into the Watersports Bay gorse to roost. At dusk a Kestrel was hunting over Anglesey Basin and a Sparrowhawk briefly perched on the fence by the main entrance (GE, IW).
Its a pity that some of the considerate actions in feeding the wildfowl on the Swag didn't include the taking away of the plastic bags and wrappers (GE).
This tiny patch of open water off the Sailing Shore is an oasis for wildfowl and bathing gulls (GE).

An adult Yellow-legged Gull on its winter holiday from the Mediterranean ( GE).
The following superb photos were taken at the Feeding Station. All images N Stych.
Willow Tit
Blue Tit
Male Bullfinch
Female Bullfinch
Female Chaffinch
Female Reed Bunting

The small areas of open water continue to provide a refuge for the Mute Swans, Canada Geese. Coot and Mallard (GE). 8 Little Grebes were by the Watersports Centre, 3 Lapwings remained and a Golden Plover flew over. At dusk large numbers of gulls flew in to bathe and roost including 2 (3cy and adult) Caspian Gulls and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. However, all but around 200 large gulls eventually flew off to the north-east leaving a very bare and desolate scene (IW). A Willow Tit was seen at the Feeding Station (NS).

Sunny intervals
No records received.
Snow showers, sunny intervals
The second time today that this lady had come to feed the birds; a tremendous effort ( GE).
The dark patch on the right of the photo is the open water that held most of the swans, geese and ducks ( GE). 
5 Whooper Swans flew over from the north-east at 08:20 (NS). 42 Mute Swans and 129 Canada Geese were mainly concentrated around the unfrozen patch off the South Shore along with 210 Mallard and 12 Goldeneye. Overall totals included a record 414 Mallard, 1 Teal, 9 Tufted Ducks, 362 Coot, 8 Moorhens, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Little Grebes, 2 Herons and a Grey Wagtail. 13 Common Gulls were on the almost completely frozen Swag and others were on the lake where many hundreds of gulls spent the day but eventually they all left to roost elsewhere, probably Blithfield, since a great increase in numbers were reported there tonight including many Herring Gulls, twice as many Lesser Black-backs than usual and 10 Yellow-legged Gulls (RB). Back at Chasewater 2 adult Caspian Gulls briefly bathed and preened before moving on, as did 2 (5cy and 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls (GE, IW). Three Buzzards were present and at dusk a Woodcock flew into the Anglesey Basin area (IW). The Feeding Station was very busy with the usual species, although there were no Willow Tits seen during a 20 minute period (GE).

24 hours after two men died after falling through the ice of a lake in Leicestershire this man and 3 lads decide to put Darwin's theory of natural selection to the test ( GE).

At Kingswood there were 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, an adult Caspian Gull, 9 Curlews and a Black Swan (PJ).
A Little Egret was seen along the Ford Brook at Clayhanger (CM).
Light snow
Wildfowl totals included 43 Mute Swans, 102 Canada Geese, 411 Mallard and 16 Goldeneye (GE). A Woodcock was feeding near the Sailing Shore, a Water Rail was at Fly Pool, 4 Shoveler flew around, 3 Willow Tits were at the Feeding Station and amongst the large gathering of gulls on the ice there were 2 adult Caspian Gulls, 3 (2 adult and 5cy) Yellow-legged Gulls and an adult Mediterranean Gull (IW). Two or three thousand gulls drifted off to the north during the afternoon but there were still around a thousand left on the ice at 16:30 (GE).
Early snow, cloudy
Another 3cm of snow overnight more than replaced what had been lost during a slight thaw yesterday. 23 Teal were in Fly Bay, a Woodcock was near the Feeding Station where 3 Willow Tits were present (IW). By 16:35 no more than 100 gulls were present, though the swan, goose and Mallard numbers appeared to be holding up around the South Shore water hole (GE).
The Teal were still along the stream between Fly Pool and Fly Bay, a few Goldeneye were on the open water and 2 Willow Tits were at the Feeding Station (IW).
Heavy snow
Snow for most of the day has formed a 12cm deep layer, though a thaw is forecast soon. Two Willow Tits were at the Feeding Station, a handful of Goldeneye remain but again the gulls flew north after initially gathering on the ice during the afternoon (IW). 

1C 0C
Fog and thaw
Two Willow Tits and several Bullfinches were at the Feeding Station. The loafing gulls again departed to the north during the afternoon (IW).
3C 2C
Most of the snow has now gone but there is little sign of a change in wildfowl numbers with a few Goldeneye still feeding in the small patches of open water. The Feeding Station was being well used by the usual species including 2 Willow Tits (IW).
5C 3C
Early rain then cloudy and misty

Sadly there has been a mass death of young fish in Anglesey Basin. The cause of death is not known but apparently they were seen a few days ago gasping for air and the sluice was opened slightly to increase the flow of water but to no avail and when the water froze they died. The photo shows over 2000 dead fish lying on the bed of the canal yet there were up to 50 times as many in total including huge numbers in the outlet from the reservoir. The vast majority were presumed Roach fry with smaller quantities of Perch. (See Diary for 24th December 2009).

There has been a complete thaw of the snow although the lake has only slightly more open water than during the week. The water level is now standing at 2.05m below maximum, the highest since last August.  25 Goldeneye, 18 Goosanders and 48 Mute Swans were present and amongst the many loafing gulls on the ice was a 3cy Caspian Gull (GE, PJ, IW).

This Caspian Gull is very probably the individual that was seen on the last day of 2009 at Stubbers Green. Although found when conditions were quite foggy, its distinctive shape and strikingly large size made it stand out well amongst the other gulls (GE, PJ, IW).
At the Poplars Landfill there were 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and 2 Ravens and at nearby Kingswood there were 6 Goosanders and the Black Swan (PJ).
6C 3C

Plenty of reedbeds in the Norton Bog/Slurry Pool area but no sign of any Bitterns ( G Evans).
The totals counted during the monthly WeBS survey were 54 Mute Swans, 48 Canada Geese, 3 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 410 Mallard, 1 Pochard, 6 Tufted Ducks, 17 Goldeneye, 7 Goosander, 4 Herons, 8 Moorhen, 358 Coot, 1 Jack Snipe, 2 Common Snipe and a Woodcock. Two Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk were also present. At least 12 Bullfinches were at the Feeding Station along with 2 Willow Tits, 10 Greenfinches, several Reed Buntings and 2 Green Woodpeckers nearby (NS, RS, GE). Fewer gulls than recently gathered on the ice during the afternoon and when gulls flew in to roost many hundreds soon left to the north, presumably to roost at Blithfield. The 2 Glaucous Gulls, previously seen at the Highfields South Landfill / Stubbers Green area arrived late and at least the 3cy bird appeared to fly north at 16:48 (PJ, JA, IW, GE).
At Stubbers Green the regular 4cy Caspian Gull was seen early in the morning (MY, IW) and a 3cy Glaucous Gull was present later. This bird flew off to feed at the nearby Highfields South Landfill where a juvenile (2cy) Glaucous Gull was also found (MY, IW, PJ, JA, TP, IW, N, GE)

2cy Glaucous Gull ( G Evans) 3cy Glaucous Gull ( G Evans)
6C 3C
Sunny intervals
This evening the gulls flew in from the south, probably mainly from the Stubbers Green area. The 4cy Caspian Gull was seen and tonight the gulls stayed to roost on the ice. Probably yesterday's 3cy Glaucous Gull was found during the day at Priorslee Lake, Telford and roosted at Belvide (PJ, IW, JB).
At Kingswood there were 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls (PJ).
At Stubbers Green the 4cy Caspian Gull and a 3cy Yellow-legged Gull were seen (EGP).
5C 2C
Two Brent Geese flew from the South Shore at around 16:00, 108 Lapwings were on the ice as well as the juv Glaucous Gull (IW). The gull roost is still gathering on the ice rather than on the open water which is much more extensive than over the weekend and has attracted back a couple of Great Crested Grebes and a handful of Tufted Ducks (GE).
3C -1C
Light rain
A drake Smew was near the Sailing Shore and Fly Bay (IW, PJ, ESC). No gulls of note were seen in the roost (IW).
4C 3C
Little Egret J Taylor

A Little Egret was on the North Shore this morning until disturbed by a dog walker (JT, VT) and it was also seen, by another dog walker, flying up with a Heron from near the path on the north side of the Swag (per GE). The drake Smew was still present and 6 Wigeon were on the still largely frozen Swag (PW). Two juvenile Glaucous Gulls were found in the roost, one being the bird photographed on the 17th and the other a slightly smaller bird with a paler breast (IW).

8C 3C
The 2 juvenile Glaucous Gulls were still present at 07:45 am (PJ) and during the evening one was seen to roost along with an adult Mediterranean Gull before the visibility deteriorated (PJ, EGP, SH, RB, PDH). The drake Smew and 20 Goosanders were also seen (PS). 
7C 2C
A Barn Owl was seen hunting along the by-pass, near the M6 Toll access road at 01:10am (GTa). The Smew was on the main lake until disturbed by boats when it flew to the Slurry Pool where there were also 14 Goosanders and 27 Tufted Ducks. On the Swag there were 55 Goldeneye, 9 Goosanders, 156 Tufted Ducks, 10 Pochard, 4 Gadwall and 21 Wigeon (GE). 2 Jack Snipe and a Woodcock were also reported (SR). Nothing of note was seen in the gull roost (PJ, IW, GE).
Smew G Evans
4cy Caspian Gull G Evans

At Stubbers Green/ Highfields South Landfill there were 2 (3cy, 4cy) Caspian Gulls, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a Buzzard (PJ et al).

5C 1C
Sunny morning then rain
The drake Smew was with Goosanders on the Slurry Pool (PJ). The gull roost was impressive with at least 10 000 Black-headed Gulls, a juvenile Glaucous Gull and the Iceland Gull arrived from the Stubbers Green area at 16:00 (PJ, GE, IW).


Iceland, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls ( G Evans)
At Stubbers Green/Highfield South Landfill the 4cy Caspian Gull was present and a 3cy Iceland Gull was likely to be the same bird as the one last seen on December 23rd 2009 (PJ, GE).
Iceland Gull ( G Evans)
Iceland Gull ( G Evans)
4C 0C
The drake Smew was still present. The juvenile Glaucous Gull arrived in the roost at 15:40 and the 3cy Iceland Gull at 16:50 (PJ, IW, BS).
At Stubbers Green the 4cy Caspian Gull and 3cy Iceland Gull were seen (pager).
2C 0C
Sunny intervals
The drake Smew was on the Slurry Pool. 17 Goosander, 2 Common Snipe, 30 redpolls and 20 Chaffinches were also counted. Up to 35 Red Deer were near the motorway bridge (EO) and another 11 Red Deer were near the Feeding Station (JT, VT). Conditions for observing the large gull roost were ideal and up to 3000 Herring Gulls were noted including a large influx of immature birds. The 4cy Caspian Gull arrived at 15:45, the juvenile Glaucous Gull at 16:15 and the 3cy Iceland Gull at 16:26. A Shelduck was also present (PJ, IW, N).
Seven Red Deer were on Cuckoo Bank and the few bird records included 3 Pheasants, 2 Common Snipe, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kestrel, 10 Redwings and a Coal Tit (EO).
The 3cy Iceland Gull was also seen at Stubbers Green (EGP).
6C 3C
Light rain
The 4cy Caspian Gull arrived in the roost at 15:40 followed by the juvenile Glaucous Gull and 3cy Iceland Gull (PJ, IW, ESC).
The 4cy Caspian Gull and 3cy Iceland Gull were also seen at Stubbers Green (per PJ).
6C 5C
Sunny intervals
A Little Egret was on the North Shore (GQ) and the drake Smew was present on the Slurry Pool this morning.
The roost held the 3cy Iceland Gull, the 2cy Glaucous Gull and an adult Yellow legged Gull (IW).
3C -2C
Sunny intervals
The drake Smew was on the Slurry Pool at 10 am and a drake Pintail was with 13 Wigeon on Jeffrey's Swag. The gull roost held the juvenile Glaucous Gull arrived at 15:45, 3cy Iceland Gull at 17;00 and a new, probably female, 3cy Caspian Gull, which could be the one recently seen at Belvide, appeared at 16:40 (PJ, IW).
Large numbers of Bullfinches were at the feeding station with a peak count of 23. 2 Willow Tits were also noted.
The juvenile Glaucous Gull and 3cy Iceland Gull were also seen at Stubbers Green along with an adult Yellow-legged Gull (PJ, IW, PDH, TH).
Iceland Gull K Mather
3C -2C
During a 2 hour survey for the BTO Winter Atlas in the tedrad covering the north end of the lake, Swag and Slurry Pool amongst the birds recorded were 60 Canada Geese, 248 Tufted Ducks, 69 Pochard, 1 Smew, 55+ Goldeneye, 22 Goosanders, 48 Mallard, 43 Wigeon, 3 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 30 Lesser Redpolls and a  Siskin. Very few small passerines were noted apart from those at the Feeding Station and even these were disturbed by photographers getting too close (GE).
The gull roost held 3cy Iceland in at 16.35, 2 cy Glaucous in at 16.20 and a 3cy Caspian Gull showing well from the west shore balcony (IW).
During the day the Stubbers Green / Highfield South Landfill area held the 3cy Iceland , 2cy Glaucous and 4 Caspian Gulls (2cy, 2 3cy and a 4cy). Also in the area were 4 Ravens (PJ et al).
3C -1C
The drake Smew was on Jeffrey's Swag in the small area of open water along with 8 Gadwall, 45 Wigeon, 26 Goldeneye and 57 Pochard, one of which was a leucistic 'ginger' bird (GE).
In the Stubbers Green area a juv Glaucous Gull, 3cy Iceland Gull, 2 (2cy and 3cy) Caspian Gulls, 2 (adult and 3cy) Yellow-legged Gull were all present (PJ).
The gull roost held the usual suspects including the 3cy Iceland Gull, 2cy Glaucous Gull and 2 (3cy and 4cy) Caspian Gulls (PJ, JA, IW).