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December 2011 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
 

The Norton Bog area held 2 Mute Swans, 66 Mallard, 55 Tufted Ducks, 8 Goosanders, a Great Crested Grebe, 49 Coot, 4 Moorhens, 2 Kestrels, a Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 15 Siskins, and a mixed flock of 45 redpolls and Goldfinches. On the Swag there were 2 Mute Swans, 25 Teal, 17 Wigeon, 4 Goosanders, 10 Tufted Ducks, 5 Cormorants, 140 Coot, a Moorhen and a Great Crested Grebe. On the main lake there were a further 2 Goosanders, 4 Goldeneye, 17 Tufted Ducks and at least 145 Teal making a record total of 170. The gull roost held maxima of 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 395 Lesser Black-backs, 220 Herring Gulls, 24 Great Black-backs, 10 Common Gulls and 5000 Black-headed Gulls  (GE). The Short-eared Owl flew along the dam and over towards the canal (GR).
At Stubber's Green the large adult Caspian Gull and adult Mediterranean Gull were seen along with another adult Atlantis type Yellow-legged Gull with a more extensive hood than previous birds (EGP).
2nd
 
The Swan Lady and friends GE
Hooded and white-breasted Herring Gulls are quite frequent but the upperparts are much paler than the atlantis types GE
The gull roost held 350 Lesser Black-backs, 210 Herring Gulls 15 Great Black-backs, about 10 Common Gulls and 5000+ Black-headed Gulls.  An adult Mediterranean Gull was also present which had only a small area of black behind the eye and therefore different from the Stubbers Green bird and proving that there are at least 2 adults around. Two adults and a 2cy  Yellow-legged Gull were also in the roost and one of the adults still had some dark flecking on the head. The confusion I had regarding the adult Atlantis type gull on November 28th was cleared up tonight when I saw an image of what must be the same bird on the Belvide Blog, it having roosted there tonight. Its hard to believe that there are at least 3 of these bewildering gulls about in the area; we just need to keep on looking and learning (GE).
This image was taken at Belvide tonight by Steve Nuttall and is almost certainly the same gull as the one at Chasewater on November 28th and Stubbers Green yesterday.
3rd
Sat
 
At least 164 Teal were on the main lake and a further 23 on the Swag making an all time record count of 187. Also on the Swag were 13 Wigeon, 5 Pochard, 6 Goosanders and 3 Cormorants. A Peregrine attacked a Black-headed Gull in the roost but flew south without its prey (PJ). The bird's presence could account for the reduced roost size recently which tonight numbered 6500 Black-headed Gulls, 11 Common Gulls, 270 Lesser Black-backs, 12 Great Black-backs and 145 Herring Gulls along with an adult Yellow-legged Gull and an impressive 3 adult Mediterranean Gulls (PJ, IW, GE, EGP et al).
Caspian Gull at Stubber's Green GE
Adult Yellow-legged Gull GE
Pink dyed Black-headed Gull GE
At Stubber's Green the large adult Caspian Gull was present (EGP, GE et al).
4th
Sun
 
The first rainy day for a long time and the numbers of large gulls in the roost were over twice as many as last night including at least 47 Great Black-backs, 550 Lesser Black-backs, 350 Herring Gulls, 11 Common Gulls, 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls, 2 (adult, sub-adult) Yellow-legged Gulls and the large adult Caspian Gull. One of the adult Herring Gulls showed features typical of some of the Arctic populations of argentatus with the only obvious black on the closed wing showing as a sub-terminal band on p7 (GE, IW).
At Stubber's Green the large adult Caspian Gull was present around mid-day (BG) and there was yet another sighting of a new adult L. m. atlantis type gull (CM, DGl).
5th
 
The sub-adult atlantis type Yellow-legged Gull was once again found in the roost after four blank evenings but as it didn't appear till 16:25 it was too dark to photograph or learn anything new about it; its just good to know its still around. Also present were 40+ Great Black-backs, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, adult Mediterranean Gull and similar numbers of other gulls to yesterday and the pink-dyed Black-headed Gull was also present (GE, IW).
The adult Caspian Gull was reported from Stubber's Green (BG).
6th
 
18 Goosanders were on the Swag (GR). The gull roost held 650 Lesser Black-backs, 41 Great Black-backs, 350 Herring Gulls, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, the small adult Caspian Gull and the pink-dyed Black-headed Gull was amongst the uncounted smaller gulls (GE).
The large adult Caspian Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were at Stubber's Green whilst many hundreds of large gulls were feeding at the nearby Highfields South landfill (GE, KC). An immature Peregrine flew south-east at 13:45 (KC).
7th
 
A Willow Tit was at the Feeding Station (DG). Despite watching the roost from 15:15 the 'sub-adult atlantis type Yellow-legged Gull' wasn't seen till 16:25 when, due to the fading light, it appeared only a shade paler than the surrounding Lesser Black-backs which numbered only 270. Other counts included 260 Herring Gulls, 12 Great Black-backs, 20 Common Gulls, 3 (adult, 2 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls and an adult Mediterranean Gull (GE, IW).
8th
 
On the Swag there were 18 Wigeon, 2 Gadwall, 16 Teal, 38 Mallard, 4 Tufted Ducks, 18 Goosanders, a Little Grebe and 360 Black-headed Gulls. At least 35 Great Black-backs and 2 (adult, 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls were seen in the gull roost (GE).
The adult Caspian Gull was reported from Stubber's Green (BG).
9th
 
A juvenile Peregrine put on a breath-taking display as it 'played' with the gulls before heading south at 16:00. All the gulls were disturbed and many flew north before the remainder settled and were joined by the latecomers. An adult Mediterranean Gull with less dark on the head than the one on 7th and 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls were noted along with another confusing bird with light streaking on the forehead, crown and nape and an upperparts tone which contrasted with all the Lesser Black-backs by being paler but darker than the Yellow-legged Gulls (GE et al).
10th
Sat
 
There was an increase in wildfowl numbers on the main lake including 18 Goosanders, 85 Tufted Ducks and 12 Pochard. 140 Lapwings were present and the gull roost held 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 40 Great Black-backs, 350 Herring Gulls and a big influx of 1100 Lesser Black-backs (GE, NM et al).
11th
Sun
 
On the Swag there were 30 (15 adult drakes) Goosanders, 17 Teal, 14 Wigeon, 53 Mallard, 6 Tufted Ducks and a Pochard. The Slurry Pool held 56 Tufted Ducks, 1 Pochard and 3 Teal. On the main lake there were 2 Goosanders and 58 Tufted Ducks. Heavy rain restricted viewing of another large gull roost which included 60 Great Black-backs (GE).
12th
 
A mixed flock of around 200 Siskins and redpolls was in the Norton Bog area (IW). The gull roost held an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 475 Lesser Black-backs, 475 Herring Gulls, 60 Great Black-backs, 8000 Black-headed Gulls and a small adult Caspian Gull type but not the same bird as seen earlier at Stubber's Green which was missing p6 in the left wing (GE).
An adult Caspian Gull  was at Stubber's Green (GE).

This bird has far less black than white in p10 which has an extensive white tip and very pale tongue on the underside. P5 has a full black band but p4 is unmarked (and p6 is missing in the left wing). The iris is very dark and so is the eye-ring. The bill has a length/depth ratio of 2.7 but the pale yellow legs are on the short side. All these traits result in a score of 6 which is well within the limit of pure Caspian Gull (GE).

13th
 
It was good to see that Norton Brook is now flowing into the Swag but Crane Brook stops flowing when it reaches the alder wood to the west of the Slurry Pool, where there were 15 Siskins. A flock of 50 Linnets was in the Fly Bay area where there were good numbers of Teal, Mallard and 1-2 Wigeon. The gull roost held 24 Common Gulls and an adult Yellow-legged Gull (GE).
At Stubber's Green there were 320 Herring Gulls, a small adult Caspian Gull type, 6 Goosanders and a Kingfisher (GE).

This Caspian type is almost certainly the same as the one seen in the roost on November 11th and 20th and at Stubber's Green on 26th and 27th. It is very distinctive with plumage tone rather michahellis-like, deep yellow eyes that appear dark at any distance and medium length pink legs (GE).

14th
 
A Peregrine was seen at around 15:00 (per DG). The gull roost held an adult Mediterranean Gull,  2 (adult, 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, and the Caspian Gull type seen at Stubber's Green yesterday (GE). Mealy Redpolls were seen amongst the Norton Bog finch flock around this day (IW).
At Stubber's Green there were 15 Shovelers and 3 Goosanders (GE).
15th
 
8 Goosanders, 21 Wigeon and 10 Teal were on the Swag. The gull roost held an adult Mediterranean Gull, adult Yellow-legged Gull, 270 Herring Gulls, 450 Lesser Black-backs, 26 Great Black-backs, 20 Common Gulls, 7500 Black-headed Gulls and the small adult Caspian Gull type (GE).
Pied Lesser Black-back! (GE)
16th
 
A brief look at the gull roost showed there to be only around 150 large gulls present including the adult Yellow-legged Gull and the small adult Caspian Gull type (GE). A Shelduck was noted on the Swag (GH).
5 Waxwings were seen in Railway Street, Norton Canes (GH).
17th
Sat
 
Two Mealy Redpolls were present at dusk in the south shore willow growth, presumably about to roost. At least 28 Goosanders and 3 Goldeneye were on the main lake and the gull roost held the adult Yellow-legged Gull, 250 Herring Gulls and 170 Lesser Black-backs (GE).
Large numbers of gulls were feeding at Highfields South landfill but only around 150 large gulls were seen at Stubber's Green, almost all being adult/sub-adult Herring Gulls (GE).
18th
Sun
 
50 Linnets were on the lake bed and 9 unidentified redpolls were on the South Shore. The provisional WeBS count totals were 10 Mute Swans, 63 Canada Geese, 16 Wigeon, a record 217 Teal, 342 Mallard, 43 Tufted Ducks, 4 Goldeneye, 32 Goosanders, 1 Cormorant, 2 Grey Herons, 8 Moorhens, 213 Coot, 130 Lapwings and 4 Snipe. The gull roost held 8300 Black-headed Gulls (including the pink-dyed bird), an adult Mediterranean Gull, 20 Common Gulls, 175 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 230 Herring Gulls, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and 22 Great Black-backed Gulls.

19th
 
A day of persistent rain that just eased off in time to do the roost which numbered 30 Common Gulls, 61 Great Black-backs, 495 Herring Gulls, 360 Lesser Black-backs, the adult Yellow-legged Gull and the small adult Caspian Gull type that was photographed at Stubber's Green on 13th (GE).
20th
 
The gull roost held the small adult Caspian Gull type (the wing details are yet to be studied), the adult Yellow-legged Gull, 525 Herring Gulls, 450 Lesser Black-backs and a big influx of 115 Great Black-backs (GE).
The small adult Caspian Gull was at Stubber's Green and flew towards Highfields South landfill at 13:15 (EGP).
21st
 
The gull roost appeared slightly smaller than last night but the only counts made were of 86 Great Black-backs and 30 Common Gulls. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was also present along with a very dark 1cy Lesser Black-back. 16 Mute Swans were on the main lake and Boating Pool and 20 Fieldfares and 40 Linnets were also noted (GE).

At Stubber's Green the large adult Caspian Gull showed well, having not been reported since the 8th. A trait score of 8 indicates the good likelihood of it being a pure Caspian Gull (GE).

This small, pale, white-headed gull was only seen briefly on the water at Stubber's Green when it was facing away and was reminiscent of Iceland Gull until its wings could be seen and as it flapped it showed a surprising pattern of white tip on p10 with a long white 'tongue'. Only p6-10 had black sub-terminal markings with that on p6 being very thin and broken but all the primaries had white 'tongues' on the inner webs. It flew to the grass where it preened and then slept and was joined by a similar, darker eyed adult (last image) and eventually flew to the north-west. The primary pattern is not right for argenteus but northern argentatus would usually be expected to be larger, darker and less round-headed. It would be interesting to know which side of the Atlantic it originated from (GE).

The image to the left shows the great range in size and tone dispayed by Herring Gulls with argentatus in the background and argenteus in the foreground. The images to the right are of another darker eyed argentatus type which may also have a few Caspian genes (GE).

22nd
 
A Raven flew north-west over the dam at 08:25. 15 Goosanders and a drake Shoveler were on the Swag and 22 Goosanders were on the Slurry Pool, with 8 Red Deer hinds nearby. 2 drake Goldeneye were on the Main Lake (KM). 51 Golden Plovers were present during the afternoon along with around 100 Lapwings. The gull roost held 53 Great Black-backs, 275 Herring Gulls, 262 Lesser Black-backs, 28 Common Gulls, uncounted 1000's of Black-headed Gulls and an adult Yellow-legged Gull (GE).
The large adult Caspian Gull was at Stubber's Green (KC).
23rd
 
It rained for much of the day and the gull roost was observed in rather unpleasant conditions, resulting in only the adult Yellow-legged Gull being seen and there are now several white-headed adult Herring Gulls present (GE, JA).
24th
Sat
 
Amongst the usual Mallard, Teal and Wigeon on the Swag there were single drake Gadwall and Shoveler and the gull roost held 76 Great Black-backs and the adult Yellow-legged Gull (GE, JA).
At Kingswood there were 200 Lapwings and just one of the gull gatherings held 200 Herring Gulls with many more swirling around the landfill or loafing out of sight (GE).
25th
Sun
 
150 Lapwings were on the South Shore during the morning (GE).
26th
 
The gull roost was disappointing with no more than 300 large gulls present and the Black-headed Gulls were quite agitated, hinting that they may have been disturbed by a raptor or perhaps by two sailing boats that had earlier ventured onto the lake as part of the Sailing Club's traditional Boxing Day meeting (GE).

27th
 
Totals included 23 Mute Swans, 70 Canada Geese, 260 Mallard, 170 Teal, 34 Tufted Ducks, 5 Goosanders, 3 Goldeneye and 100 Lapwings. The gull roost was very impressive but I hadn't allowed enough time to do it justice and many of the gulls were disturbed by fire-works being let off in Norton at 16:25. However, totals included 236 Great Black-backs, a 3/4cy Iceland Gull, a rather small probable 2cy Glaucous Gull, the large adult Caspian Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull (GE).
Iceland Gull GE
Glaucous Gull and Caspian Gull GE
28th
 
Better views of the Iceland Gull tonight showed it to be probably a 4cy bird and therefore quite likely to be the returning bird from last winter and the previous two winters. It was seen to fly out to the north at 16:00 when a Peregrine was causing mayhem again, resulting in a much smaller roost than last night. Counts produced 145 Lapwings, 65 Great Black-backs, 225 Herring Gulls and 2 (2cy and adult) Yellow-legged Gulls (CM, SR, JJH, PJ, IW, GE et al). An adult Caspian Gull was also present during the early afternoon (SR).
Iceland Gull GE
29th
 
The 4cy Iceland Gull, adult Yellow-legged Gull and adult Mediterranean Gulls were present in the smallish roost which also held 98 Great Back-backs and 350 Lesser Black-backs. A very large and pale 1cy possible Herring x Glaucous Gull was also present for a while before flying north. 20 Goosanders and 4 Goldeneye were also seen (GE, PDH).

The 4cy Iceland Gull appears adult apart from small dark marks on and above the gonys and a slight brownish wash on the coverts.
Iceland and Mediterranean Gulls  GE
30th
 
A brief cessation of the afternoon rain allowed the gull roost to be checked and the 4cy Iceland Gull was present along with around 450 Herring Gulls and uncounted numbers of other gulls. 6 Goosanders, 4 Goldeneye and a single Great Crested Grebe were also noted (GE).
31st
Sat
 
The 4cy Iceland Gull and 2 (adult, 1cy) Yellow-legged Gulls roosted and 6 Goldeneye were also present (GE, IW).