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August 2011 Diary and News
All the latest sightings, news and photos from Chasewater, Cuckoo Bank and surrounding areas
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The search for Essex Skippers continued but no matter how dark the upper surface of the antennae appeared, the underside of the tips were always orangey brown confirming them as Small Skippers (GE). A Dunlin was present (VT, JT).
Small Skipper G Evans
Small Skipper G Evans
Cannock Extension Canal
Unbranched Bur-reed
The Cannock Extension Canal Special Area of Conservation displayed its usual wide variety of water plants including a fair quantity of Floating Water-plantain but no sign that it had flowered. 1-2 Red-eyed Damselflies were also present (GE).
13 Common Terns and a Gadwall were present (VT, JT).
The Water-ski Club are digging out a channel (first attempted in November 2009) to provide boat access to the club once water levels have risen to around 2m below maximum; 6m higher than at present. All the correct procedures are said to have been followed including permission from Natural England who last December scheduled the site a SSSI, partly because of the rare littoral vegetation which is now being destroyed. However, at certain water levels the channel should create an offshore island which could be undisturbed and attractive to birds. The gull roost held around 600 large gulls and 900 Black-headed Gulls (GE).

A survey of the Stonnall area for a forthcoming book about the parish produced Essex Skippers, Holly Blue and Willow Tit along Forge Lane, Purple Hairstreak at the junction of New Barns Lane and Footherley Lane, Small Copper along Mill Lane and a recently fledged brood of Spotted Flycatchers along Thornyhurst Lane (GE).
Essex Skipper with 'dipped in ink' antennae tips G Evans
Forge Lane, Stonnall.
3 Common Sandpipers, 8+(7 juveniles) Little Ringed Plovers and 4 Common Terns were present and in the gull roost there were 6 adult/near adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 550 Lesser Black-backs and 800 Black-headed Gulls. The channel is now over 100m long, 9m wide and around 1m deep and is down to a layer of clay which is probably important for keeping the lake (when its there) water-tight! (GE).
Essex Skipper G Evans


Male Essex Skipper G Evans


Chasewater's first confirmed Essex Skippers were found on the west shore grassland and the map from the Staffordshire Ecological Record (updated June 2011) shows just how few records have been submitted for the county. Just as with the BTO Bird Atlas, I encourage everyone to send in their records so that these maps can show as accurate picture of distribution as possible. Our home 10km square is SK00 but most of Cuckoo Bank lies on the southern edge of SK01.

Even more pleasing than the Essex Skippers  was a Wall Brown that briefly stopped to feed on the same patch of knapweed as the skippers. The first map shows the former distribution of Wall Browns in the west midlands yet it is now considered to be extinct in Warwickshire and very scarce in Staffordshire with the map showing most of the records to be pre 2000. Other butterflies seen were Small Skippers, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Small Heath, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White, Small White and Large White. Large numbers of gulls were present throughout the day, including 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls (GE).

Click on maps for larger image.

C = Chasewater


The 'Balcony' shoreline continues to be excavated with the channel now 120m long and 13m wide.

7 Common Terns were present and the gull roost held at least 3 adult or near adult Yellow-legged Gulls. The coffer dam has now been partially drained so it's presumed that an inspection of the outlet pipe should be possible sometime next week (GE).
An Essex Skipper was seen on the west shore grassland (NS).
At Clayhanger Marsh a Spotted Crake was heard and briefly seen during the early afternoon but despite a near continuous vigil through to the evening it wasn't encountered again (CM et al).
No records.
Buzzard, Sparrowhawk (including calling young), Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Tern and a Cormorant were all noted and 33 Tufted Ducks and 55 Mallard were on the Slurry Pool (GE). 3 Kestrels, 5 Little Ringed Plovers, and 3 Common Sandpipers were also seen (VT, JT).
An adult Little Ringed Plover on the Sailing Shore was with at least one unfledged chick. A Redshank and Common Tern were at the Swag (PW) where there were also 12 Magpies on the shore, 1-2 Whitethroats were present and workmen were replacing the causeway fencing at last (GE).
The adult Little Ringed Plover was again seen with a nearly fledged chick and a Common Tern was over the Swag (PW).
A Red Kite was seen over Warren Road, Chasetown (VT, JT).
No records.
No records.
A Tree Pipit was noted (VT, JT).
A Swift was present (VT, JT). A Muntjac was seen crossing Norton East Road just above the Swag at 11:30 (ATh).
No records.
2 Greenshanks, a Curlew and 2 Cormorants were present (GE).
A Whitethroat, Goldcrest and 2 Red Deer were noted (VT, JT). The gull roost held 11+ Yellow-legged Gulls, 1600 Lesser Black-backs, 10+ Herring Gulls and 1100 Black-headed Gulls. 4 Little Ringed Plovers, a Kestrel and Buzzard were also present (GE).
It was very quiet on Cuckoo Bank although lots of Willow Warblers were present. 2 Wall Browns, 3 Small Coppers, 4 Common Blues and several Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns were amongst the butterflies seen but very few dragonflies were noted (EO).
No records.
A rather delayed WeBS count produced the following totals: 47 Mute Swans, 130 Canada Geese (+ 2 hybrids), 201 Mallard, 1 Shoveler, 61 Tufted Ducks, 251 Coot, 2 Moorhens, 3 Herons, 1 Cormorant, 7 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Little Grebe, 39 Lapwings, 1 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and 3 (adult, 2 juveniles) Little Ringed Plovers. A Wheatear and a Swift were also present along with Small Copper, 5 Common Blues, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Small Heath, Peacock and Small Whites. Rather low dragonfly numbers included several Common Darters, Brown Hawkers and a Black-tailed Skimmer (GE).
The Dam (GE)
A Little Egret was present till 10:15 when it flew north-west. Also present were 130 Canada Geese, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 10 Jays and all three hirundines. Of particular interest was the record of 2 Tree Bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) amongst the Common Carder and White-tailed Bumblebees present (CM). A Hobby was present (VT, JT). The gull roost held 1700 Lesser Black-backs, several Herring Gulls, 6+ Yellow-legged Gulls and 1200 Black-headed Gulls (GE).

At dusk a Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper were heard and 3 Little Ringed Plovers were still present. The gull roost appeared a little smaller than last night but birds were arriving later. At least 8 (5 adult, 3cy, 1cy) Yellow-legged Gulls were present (GE).
The adult and 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers were still present along with 37 Lapwings and the gull roost held 7 Yellow-legged Gulls. 2 Cormorants were on the Swag (GE).
A walk around the Swag and Slurry Pool produced a Pochard, 2 Cormorants, several House Martins, a Swift, 1-2 Willow Tits, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. 2 Swallows, a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were over the dam but there was no sign of any Little Ringed Plovers today (GE).
At dusk 4 Green Sandpipers and at least one Common Sandpiper were present. The gull roost was similar to recent days and included 3 (2 adult, 1cy) Yellow-legged Gulls and up to 5 intermedius Lesser Black-backs (GE).
A Little Owl was calling on the White Horse Estate at 00:45 (GE).
Two adult Grey Partridges were seen along Mill Lane, Stonnall; we still don't have proof of breeding in SK00 (GE).
The 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers were still present along with 37 Lapwings. An adult argentatus Herring Gull was in the gull roost which was panicked twice by an unseen cause; the remaining gulls packing closely together along the south shore (GE).
Sunset (GE)
On Cuckoo Bank there was a Redstart, 2 Ravens, 3 Kestrels, 3 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk (GR).
A Wheatear and Chiffchaff were on the Sailing Shore and around 70 Lapwings were present (PW). The gull roost held 550 Lesser Black-backs, 20 Herring Gulls including at least one argentatus, 1 1cy Yellow-legged Gull and 1000 Black-headed Gulls (GE).
On the south shore there were 14 juvenile Goldfinches and 16 Meadow Pipits. Also present were 86 Lapwings, 206 Canada Geese and 4 hybrids, 4 Cormorants, 47 Mute Swans and 70 hirundines comprising fairly even numbers of House and Sand Martins but only 1-2 Swallows (GE).
Swag from Norton East Road (GE).
Lapwing numbers have increased to at least 145, 2 Cormorants were present, a Swift was overhead and a Chiffchaff was singing near the Sailing Club (GE).