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January 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
Sat
 
6 Goosanders were present but there was no sign of the Mandarin Duck (IW).
2nd
Sun
 
The 3/4cy Iceland Gull which has been in the area since November 22nd was present until at least 16:35 and a probable adult Caspian Gull was also seen. 3 Willow Tits were seen along with a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 9 Tufted Ducks, 5 Pochard, 2 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 2 Goldeneye, 4 Goosanders, 31 Lapwings, a Sparrowhawk, 30 Linnets and 6 Bullfinches (GE, GR).
3rd
 

A juvenile Glaucous Gull and the 3/4cy Iceland Gull were seen in the roost (IW). Also present were 44 Canada Geese, 6 Teal, 2 Pochard, 4 Goosanders, 57 Lapwings, 3 Common Gulls, 12 Siskins, 5 Bullfinches, 2 Jays and single Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Yellowhammer and Meadow Pipit. Finally, on Pool Road farm there were six magnificent Red Deer stags, five young ones and an adult with ten points (CM).

4th
 
The Iceland Gull was present for a while amongst the tightly packed gulls, many of which appeared to leave to the north-east. There was even less open water than yesterday but 4 Goosanders and 11 Tufted Ducks were seen (GE, IW, PJ).
5th
 
There were 230 Mallard on the Swag along with 1 Pochard, 7 Tufted Ducks, 4 Mute Swans and 2 Willow Tits. 6 Mute Swans and a female Goldeneye were on the Slurry Pool (IW).
At Stubbers Green there was a Barnacle Goose with the Canada Geese and also 8 Goosanders on the sailing lake (KC).
6th
 
There is still very little open water and although a few gulls gathered for a while, none stayed to roost. However, a flock of 30 Waxwings flying north at 16:10 was good compensation. Also present were 15 Tufted Ducks, 7 Pochard, 101 Lapwings, a Kestrel and a Stock Dove (GE, IW).

At Stubbers Green there was a possible Caspian Gull on the ice at around 2:40pm. It was a small adult, with small dark eye, white head, long pale yellow bill, long tapering wings and angled stance compared to more horizontal Herring Gulls. However, it was only viewed with binoculars and it flew with others towards the tip when disturbed by horse graziers and there was no further sign. Also the Barnacle Goose was still present and 15 Goosanders (KC).

7th
 
Heavy snowfall during the morning resulted in little being seen. The 40+ Mute Swans remain on the south shore boating pool and a few Redwings and Fieldfares were in Highfield Farm (GE).
15 Waxwings were along the Cannock Road at Heath Hayes at 09.30 this morning (GH).
8th
Sat
 
50% of the water area is now ice-free resulting in far more gulls being attracted down to at least pre-roost including 2 (juvenile and 3/4cy) Iceland Gulls (IW). Nine Goosanders were present and it is likely that many more will be attracted in the near future as water-levels are lowered and the fish capture undertaken (GE).
9th
Sun
 
The thaw continues and at last there is a likelihood of something turning up! 4 Curlews and 113 Lapwings were on the shore, 4 Waxwings flew north, 46 Goosanders and 12 Wigeon were present and 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and the 3/4cy Iceland Gull were amongst the large gathering of gulls, many of which flew north at dusk (IW, N, PDH, GE).
17 Waxwings were at Silver Court, Brownhills during the afternoon (IW).
In the Stubbers Green/Highfields South landfill area there were 2 Ravens, the 3/4cy Iceland Gull and an adult Caspian Gull (PJ, IW).
10th
 
Wildfowl totals included 47 Goosanders, 35 Tufted Ducks, 10 Pochard, 3 Goldeneye, 25 Teal, 3 Gadwall, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 1 Cormorant. 110 Lapwings were present and the pre-roost of gulls held a possible 3cy Glaucous x Herring Gull hybrid, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 70 Great Black-backed Gulls and 13 Common Gulls (GE).
Possible hybrid 3cy Glaucous x Herring Gull with Lesser Black-back and Herring Gulls (GE)
 
On Brownhills Common there was a Willow Tit and 3 clumps of Western or Intermediate Polypody (GE).
21 Waxwings were briefly at Silver Court, Brownhills during the afternoon (PW).
A juvenile Glaucous Gull was at the Poplars landfill, Cannock (JJH).
11th
 
A drake Smew was present and is probably the same individual that has graced the lake for several winters (LAW, PS, GE, PW). A Woodcock was flushed from scrub near the sailing club (RR). The drake Mandarin Duck has now found its way to the south shore boating pool (JT, VT). A probable adult Caspian Gull was present in the pre-roost gathering of gulls (GE).

Up to 70 Waxwings were at Silver Court during the afternoon (PW).
At Stubbers Green the regular Iceland Gull was present along with a probable near adult Caspian Gull (EGP, KC).

What looks like a good near adult Caspian Gull at Stubbers Green (KC).
12th
 
The drake Smew was reported (per PJ).
50 Waxwings were at Silver Court, Brownhills (photo P Ward)
At Stubbers Green the regular Iceland Gull and probable adult Caspian Gull were reported again (per PJ).
13th
 
The drake Smew and Mandarin Duck were on the main lake along with 6 Goldeneye, 2 Great Crested Grebes and 5 Goosanders. The Iceland Gull (JJH) was seen amongst the small numbers of large gulls gathered with 3000 Black-headed Gulls and 13 Common Gulls with most appearing to continue heading north (GE, AB).
Up to 65 Waxwings were at Silver Court (PW, PJ)

 (photos P Ward)

The Iceland Gull was reported from Stubbers Green (BG).
14th
 
The drake Smew, Mandarin Duck, 9 Goldeneye and 40 Linnets were present. The 3cy Iceland Gull, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 60 Great Black-backs and up to 5000 Black-headed Gulls were present during the late afternoon but again most of the large gulls left to the north (PJ, PDH, GE, AB). At least 9 Goosanders were present (KSa).
Up to 65 Waxwings were at Silver Court with the last birds seen at 14:30 and there are now very few berries left (PW).
An adult Yellow-legged Gull was at Stubbers Green (KSa).
15th
Sat
 
The drake Smew, 9 Goldeneye, the drake Mandarin Duck, 3cy Iceland Gull and 227 Lapwings were present. A probable 2cy Caspian Gull was also present but it was disturbed by dog walkers before it could be closely examined (GE).
Up to 60 Waxwings paid a brief visit to Silver Court (PW).
16th
Sun
 
The monthly WeBS count produced (provisional) totals of 54 Mute Swans, 74 Canada Geese, 5 hybrid geese, 44 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 26 Teal, 220 Mallard, 58 Pochard, 99 Tufted Ducks, 15 Goldeneye, 1 drake Smew, 57 (18 adult drakes and 39 'red-heads') Goosanders, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Cormorants, 3 Grey Herons, 3 Moorhens, 183 Coot, 269 Lapwings, 1 Jack Snipe and 10 Snipe. 15 Chaffinches, 15+ Long-tailed Tits and a flock of over 60 Linnets were also noted and 2 Red Deer stags were sparring on the north shore (GE, NS). The usual Iceland Gull, adult Yellow-legged Gull and 7000 Black-headed Gulls were seen in the roost (IW).
Around 60 Waxwings were briefly present at Silver Court, Brownhills (PW).
17th
 
The drake Smew and Mandarin Duck were present along with 3 Great Crested Grebes, 322 Lapwings and 30 Linnets. The gull roost held a juvenile Iceland Gull (probably the same as on 8th), adult Yellow-legged Gull, 14 Common Gulls and up to 7000 Black-headed Gulls (GE, IW, JA).
No Waxwings were seen at Silver Court during an hour's watch during the morning (PW).
The usual 3/4cy Iceland Gull was seen at Stubbers Green but must have been one of the many large gulls passing over Chasewater during the late afternoon as it was seen in the Blithfield roost (BG).
18th
 
At 10:15 a Red Kite came over from Norton Bog hill, over my head, circled around the Sailing Club and drifted east over the dam. Its white head, clear white wing patches, clear forked tail used as a rudder and generally rusty colour were all noted. My first local one (EO). Also seen were 2 Ravens, 15 Goosanders, a male Sparrowhawk, 80 Lapwings and 40 Linnets. At the feeding station there was a Willow Tit and a flock of finches contained mainly Goldfinches and the odd redpoll (EO). The drake Smew and a Golden Plover were also present and the juvenile Iceland Gull and the year's first adult Mediterranean Gull were in the roost (IW).
Around 40 Waxwings were seen near the junction of Ogley Hay Road and Spinney Lane, Boney Hay (PW).
19th
 

The fish capture started today with at least the first two catches being unsurprisingly poor. There were around 6 fair sized Pike and a couple of good Roach and Perch with a few landing net's worth of fry; no wonder there have been very few Cormorants about and the Goosanders have mainly been feeding on the smaller pools. The drake Smew was still present and 6 Shovelers were new. At least 150 Waxwings were along Burntwood Road, Norton Canes at around 08:30 (PJ) but only small numbers were briefly seen later (GE, PW). The juvenile Iceland Gull was in the roost (JA, GE).

Shepherd's delight ( P Ward)
Evening light at Norton ( P Ward)
Around 30 Waxwings were briefly seen at Ogley Hay Road, Boney Hay (PW).
20th
 
A hoar frost and mist lingered all day, with just occasional spells of sunshine. The Smew was still present along with 41 (14 adult drakes and 27 'red-heads') Goosanders, 10 Goldeneye, 69 Canada Geese, 28 Teal, 54 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 1 Cormorant, 85 Lapwings, 18 Common Gulls, 3 Herons, a Kestrel and a Buzzard (GE). Around 100 Waxwings were along Burntwood Road, Norton Canes during the morning and 30 in the afternoon (PW, DG).
21st
 
A Green Sandpiper was new for the year, as was a heard Redshank and a Rook! Other sightings included the drake Smew, 55 Canada Geese, 5 Goldeneye, 6 Gadwall, 43 Wigeon, 15 Pochard, 2 Cormorants, a Sparrowhawk, 7 Bullfinches, 2 Willow Tits and 3 Yellowhammers (CM). 57 Goosanders were also counted and the gull roost held the juvenile Iceland Gull, adult Mediterranean Gull and 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls (IW).
Only 6 Waxwings were seen at Norton Canes this morning and up to 50 were at Boney Hay (PW).
22nd
Sat
 
There were 88 (30 adult drakes) Goosanders which is a new site record along with the drake Smew, 7 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Cormorants and around 10 Goldeneye (SR, GE). A walk across Highfields Farm produced very little apart from 20 Blue Tits, 6 Long-tailed Tits, 16 House Sparrows, 4 Greenfinches and 4 Bullfinches (GE). The juvenile Iceland Gull was in the roost again (SR, JA).
Waxwings were again reported from Silver Court, Brownhills.
23rd
Sun
 
The drake Smew and good numbers of Goosanders were present and 3 Willow Tits and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were also seen (GE, NS). The gull roost held the juvenile Iceland Gull, over 1150 large gulls including 50+ Great Black-backs and equal numbers of Herring and Lesser Black-backs (PJ, IW, N, JA).
On Cuckoo Bank there were 7 Goosanders, 4 Snipe and 3 Pheasants along with 18 (6 stags) Red Deer, a Hare and Fox. On No Man's Bank there were 17 Red Deer hinds (NS).
24th
 
The drake Smew and at least 20 Goosanders were reported (SBi).
1700 large gulls were at The Poplars Landfill, Cannock (PJ).
25th
 
No records.
26th
 
Good numbers of gulls were gathered on the Swag during the afternoon and 25 Pochard, 51 Tufted Ducks and several Wigeon were present (GE).
Around 20 Waxwings were seen in Highfield Road, near the junction of Elder Lane, Burntwood at 14:50 (TS).
27th
 
Three flocks of Waxwings, totalling about 120 birds, flew low to the north-east over Conduit Road, Norton Canes at lunchtime and good numbers of gulls were flying towards Chasewater from Cannock during the late afternoon (PJ). A group of between 38 and 42 Waxwings was also seen at Catshill Junction on the canal just outside Brownhills between 16:00 and 16:30 before they flew off towards the centre of Brownhills as it was getting dark (RCa).
28th
 
The drake Smew, 45 Goosanders, 10 Goldeneye and around 100 Lapwings were all present and the gull roost held the juvenile Iceland Gull, 2 (3cy, adult) Yellow-legged Gulls and up to 7000 Black-headed Gulls (GE).
A Great Northern Diver was a great find at Ryders Mere and hopefully it will pay a visit to Chasewater during the next few days (RF, CM).
29th
Sat
 
The drake Smew and 42 Goosanders were present along with 18 Gadwall and 49 Wigeon. The gull roost held both of the 'regular' Iceland Gulls (last recorded together on January 8th) and an adult Mediterranean Gull amongst 7000 Black-headed Gulls, 35 Common Gulls and growing numbers of large gulls (PJ, IW, JA, GE).
A rather bleached juvenile Iceland Gull (GE)
In Norton Canes 20 Waxwings flew south-west over Walsall Road and over 40 were feeding on berries in Poplar Street (PJ, JA).

The diver was still present at Ryders Mere and as these images clearly show the bird is actually a Black-throated Diver; an even better record for the site! Some have suggested it may be a Pacific Diver as it does seem to show a bit of a chin strap but the upper neck is rather dusky and its head doesn't have the smooth, snake-like lines shown by the birds found recently in Britain and the white flank patch is always visible (GE).

Two great photos of the diver by Jim Almond. To see more click here.
30th
Sun
 
Raven G Evans
The drake Smew was still present along with 2 Shovelers, 80 Linnets and around mid-day there was a flurry of Raven activity with one being chased along the canal and over the motorway by 2 Carrion Crows, then 4 performed over the Sailing Shore before heading east over the dam and half an hour later two reappeared with at least one of them settling in a tree on the north shore. Nine Red Deer were on the heath near the OEC (GE). The 2 Iceland Gulls were present again in the roost (per JA).
Smew G Evans
The Black-throated Diver was still performing well at Ryders Mere (PW, GE). The following images are all Phill Ward and show a range of postures and features (as usual, click on images for full size).

The 3/4cy Iceland Gull was seen at Stubbers Green (EGP).
31st
 
After a night with temperatures down to -6˚C all but a tiny area of water was frozen and there was no sign of the Smew (PW, GE). 20 Goosanders, 10 Goldeneye and 48 Tufted Ducks remained and the gull roost held the 3cy Glaucous Gull seen earlier at Kingswood and which is probably the bird last seen in the area on December 13th (PJ, IW, PDH).
The Black-throated Diver at the partly frozen Ryders Mere was seen to fly off to the west around mid-day (BS).
A 3cy Glaucous Gull was seen at Kingswood (PDH)
The 3/4cy Iceland Gull was at Stubbers Green (PDH, JA). The images ( Jim Almond) beautifully show the Iceland Gull's plumage but still discussion is active over just how old the bird is. Some say 2nd winter (3cy) but I still feel its the returning 2nd winter from last year and therefore making it a slightly retarded 3rd winter (4cy). What do you think? (GE).