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July 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
 
2 Common Sandpipers were present and the gull roost held a 3cy Yellow-legged Gull, 180 Lesser Black-backs and 85 Black-headed Gulls (GE).
3cy Yellow-legged Gull GE
2nd
Sat
 
No Chasewater records but Barn Owl and Hobby are now confirmed breeders in SK00.
A Purple Hairstreak was seen at Little Wyrley (KM).
3rd
Sun
 
5 Ringed Plovers and a Common Sandpiper were present (RSo). 9 Common Terns included a pair with three fledged young presumably on a day trip from Ryders Mere. The gull roost held a 3cy Yellow-legged Gull, 125 Lesser Black-backs and 185 Black-headed Gulls including a few juveniles (GE).
A brood of recently fledged Siskins was present at Wyrley Hayes and the sight of 3 juveniles lined up on a branch, appearing to be waiting to be fed seemed to indicate very local nesting, perhaps in the group of 15 Scots Pines that remain in what is now a predominantly Oak wood since the removal of rhododendron and several trees. A Southern Hawker was present and Red-eyed Damselflies were along the canal where a small patch of Floating Water-plantain was seen (GE).
4th
 
No records for Chasewater but 4 Grey Partridges were calling at dusk in fields between Stonnall and Shenstone (GE).
5th
 
A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was feeding from plants on the Brownhills West Station platform (RA). At the Swag there were 2 Oystercatchers, 6 Lapwings, 1 juvenile Little Ringed Plover and 3 Common Terns. On the main pool there were 40 Lesser Black-backs, a 4cy Yellow-legged Gull, an Oystercatcher and a Buzzard (GE).

 

Hummingbird Hawkmoth RA

6th
 
No records.
7th
 
The gull roost held 2 (3cy, adult) Yellow-legged Gulls, an adult Common Gull, 95 Lesser Black-backs, 2 (2cy, 3cy) Herring Gulls and 180 (10 juveniles) Black-headed Gulls (GE).
8th
 
A Common Sandpiper and 2 Common Terns were present and the gull roost numbered at least 4 (3cy, 3 4cy/adult) Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 Herring Gulls, 254 Lesser Black-backs and 230 Black-headed Gulls (GE).
9th
Sat
 
At least one Yellow-legged Gull was present during the morning and at the Swag there were 5 Little Ringed Plovers, including 3 fledged juveniles and an Oystercatcher. It may take a long time for the Swag to refill since, despite heavy recent rain, there is no water flowing into the Swag from Norton Brook (GE).

At Eights Wood a Siskin was heard and Willow Tits appear to have nested. There was also a suddenly explosion of Crossbill calls and although they were not seen it was felt they had flown north. What was probably the same flock was later seen, 2km away, flying over Hazelslade LNR when 16 were counted and at least 2 Siskins were also present (GE).
Hednesford Hills from Cuckoo Bank GE
Cuckoo Bank from Eights Wood GE
A Little Egret was found at Clayhanger (SH, CM).
10th
Sun
 

The old weir has been completely removed and some embankments have been re-profiled but there is little change to the new culvert/bridge. The dam has been strimmed and the silt curtain placed in the canal to protect the rare flora from increased levels of silt when the lake is eventually lowered to expose the outlet pipe for examination and repair if required (GE).

Nine-foot works GE
The dam GE
Silt curtains GE

Although there appear to be no Round-leaved Sundews surviving in the sphagnum below the dam, the population to the south of the canal is doing well with the main area now extending to a 16m length of the overflow channel. Narrow-leaved Water-plantain was identified for the first time along the canal (GE).

Sundew GE
Narrow-leaved Water-plantain GE
Loafing gulls were present throughout the day including 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 3 (2 2cy, 4cy) Herring Gulls and 66 Lesser Black-backs. An Oystercatcher and Common Sandpiper were present along with 6 Common Terns, a Shoveler, 102 Canada Geese and 42 Mute Swans. Tufted Duck numbers have increased to 58 and it was good to see a duck with 2 ducklings on the Swag. It would appear that the juvenile Little Ringed Plovers are dispersing elsewhere (perhaps Blithfield which has had record numbers recently) as soon as they become independent since only one fledged juvenile was seen. At least five territories remain active with behaviour indicating that there are unfledged young at two territories around the Waterski Club, at the north end of the 'lake' 3 half grown juveniles were present, by the pier there were at least 2 young chicks and the replacement clutch laid on June 16th has started to hatch today. Although they are usually single brooded, it would appear that 1-2 pairs have managed 2 broods. The total number of adults/fledged juveniles present today was around 24.
 
Where's dad? GE
Yellow-legged Gull and Shoveler GE
Yellow-legged Gull and Lesser Black-backs GE
11th
 
A very quick look at the Swag produced nothing new (GE).
In the Stonnall area 12 Crossbills flew north along Footherley Brook at 17:50, briefly stopping in the wood along Footherley Lane. Along Whitacre Lane there were 4 Tree Sparrows, 2 Yellow Wagtails and a Hobby flew through (GE).
12th
 
The gull roost was impressive tonight with over 1000 present, including 9 (7 adults, 4cy, 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 4 Herring Gulls, 542 Lesser Black-backs, an adult Common Gull and 452 Black-headed Gulls. 2 Kestrels and 2 Common Terns were also present (GE).
On Cuckoo Bank there were 2 Hobbies and 4 Ravens (BM).
The Little Egret was at Clayhanger (KM).
13th
 
A late arrival meant that the gull roost wasn't carefully examined but it was a similar size to last night's and at least 3 Yellow-legged Gulls were present. 1-2 Oystercatchers were heard (GE).

On Cuckoo Bank 3 adult Hobbies were hunting around mid-day (DO) and during the evening a Raven flew over, a Grasshopper Warbler briefly sang and there were family parties of Willow Tit and Bullfinch (GE).

A Cuckoo Bank sunset meant I was too late to photograph anything but the moon when I arrived at Chasewater GE

14th
 
Two Ravens and a Sparrowhawk carrying prey flew north over the translocation heath and during the evening the gull roost again held good numbers of Lesser Black-backs and Black-headed Gulls and at least 5 Yellow-legged Gulls were present (GE).
The Little Egret was still at Clayhanger (CM, RF, SH).
A Little Owl was calling near Whitacre Lane, Stonnall (GE).
15th
 
The one year anniversary of the Franklin's Gull but I gave up looking for its return due to the rain and all the gulls standing in the middle of the lake bed and facing me. At least 3 Yellow-legged Gulls were present but anything else could have been there! (GE).
16th
Sat
 
Two Oystercatchers and several Little Ringed Plovers were present and the gull roost held at least 6 Yellow-legged Gulls (GE).
17th
Sun
 
Hedgerow Cranesbill GE
Common Spotted Orchid GE
Polytrichum moss GE
Cranberry and Cross-leaved Heath GE
The lack of boating activity on the canal has allowed many water plants to grow undisturbed, resulting in the first record of Arrowhead, a scarce plant that is frequent along some stretches of the Wyrley and Essington Canal but hadn't previously been noted along the Chasewater stretch of the Anglesey Branch. The state of the bog below the dam is discussed on the News page (GE).
Arrowhead GE
The WeBS Count produced 48 Mute Swans, 111 Canada Geese, 129 Mallard, 25 Tufted Ducks, 13 Great Crested Grebes, a Cormorant, a Moorhen, 179 Coot, 5 Common Terns, a Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Oystercatchers, 8 Little Ringed Plovers, 14 Lapwings and a Common Sandpiper. Family groups of 4 Kestrels and 4 Green Woodpeckers were around Anglesey Basin (GE, NS).
18th
 
The Little Egret, up to 15 Common Terns, 2 Oystercatchers, a juvenile Green Woodpecker and a Kingfisher were at Clayhanger (CM, RF).
19th
 
A few of the many plants seen in and around the canal are shown below. Young, submerged specimens of Narrow-leaved Water-plantain can share many features of Floating Water-plantain but the basal leaves are wider than 2mm and the floating leaves are pointed rather than blunt elliptical (GE).
Cowberries GE
Tubular Water-dropwort GE
Heath Wood-rush GE
Star Sedge GE
Floating Water-plantain flower GE
Floating Water-plantain GE
 Narrow-leaved Water-plantain GE
Narrow-leaved Water-plantain carpels GE
During the evening a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling on the North Shore Heath and 63 Lapwings flew over. Several of the many Round-leaved Wintergreens are now in flower (GE, NS, PW, TH, JHop).
Yellow-legged Gull and Lesser Black-backs GE
Pick out the odd ones!
A better view of an odd gull

The gull roost held several intermedius type Lesser Black-backs and at least 2 (adult, 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls. Another adult herring gull type had a rather small, domed head and long, thin pale bill and may have been a Caspian, whilst a probable 4cy bird had a tone of medium grey colouration distinct from all the other gulls and may have been a hybrid (GE).

At Clayhanger it was really sad to see such a special site (like Chasewater, a botanical SSSI) dominated by Ragwort and Crassula (New Zealand Pigmyweed). Such an abundance of Ragwort is usually the effect of over grazing; the plant dies after it has seeded and the seeds only grow where there is limited competition such as on overgrazed and trampled ground. It's poisonous to most animals, apart from Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, and so becomes dominant in exactly the place you don't want it - horse pasture. The horses are probably partly responsible for the rapid spread of Crassula, an invasive alien of wetlands and just a tiny fragment carried on hoof or foot can spread it from pool to pool and marsh to marsh where it can grow to exclude all other native species (GE).
Endless Ragwort GE
A sea of Crassula GE
20th
 
 
21st
 
 
22nd
 
At Stubbers Green many hundreds of large gulls were dropping in and out to wash and preen before they were all disturbed by dog-walkers. Over 20 Herring Gulls were counted and several Yellow-legged gulls were present including the first juvenile of the year.
Adult Yellow-legged Gull GE
Three species of gull GE
3cy Yellow-legged Gull GE
Along Forge Lane, Stonnall there were Essex Skippers and 4 Oystercatchers flew south (GE).
Male Essex Skipper GE
Male Essex Skipper GE
Female Essex Skipper GE
23rd
Sat
 
On Cuckoo Bank there was a Hobby and a brood of fledged Sedge Warblers (NS).
24th
Sun
 
At Plant Swag there were broods of Willow Tit and Bullfinch and Small Skippers were evident (GE).
25th
 
A butterfly session near Little Aston sewage works produced Essex, Small and Large Skippers, Common Blue, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Green-veined White, Small White, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown (GE).
Large Skipper GE
26th
 
At 13:15 a Red Kite briefly appeared over the Chasewater Heaths station area and gave a single chance to take a distant record shot (GE).
 
27th
 
2 Grey Partridges were seen on the lake bed, along with 11 Common Terns, 83 Canada Geese, a Cormorant, Buzzard and a Red-eyed Damselfly (CM). A Hobby was hunting around the dam, a Common Sandpiper, an Oystercatcher and 44 Lapwings were present along with a total of around 11 Little Ringed Plovers composed of 7 adults and 4 fledged juveniles with 3 chicks still being brooded and surviving well on the south shore. During the evening over 300 Lesser Black-backs were present with at least 6 Yellow-legged Gulls of all ages from juvenile to adult (GE).
28th
 
The coffer dam is being installed, the toe-drain/filter works continue below the dam and the fencing around the grazing extension adjacent to the translocation has been completed (GE).
29th
 

Sandy Bay is certainly living up to its name at the moment.
30th
Sat
 
A search of the translocation heath produced only Small Skippers and we are still without a definite site record of Essex Skipper .... unless you know better! (GE).
Small Skipper GE
Small Skipper GE
Hammerwich GE
Its good to see that in Hammerwich environmental awareness and community spirit has led to several schemes to enhance the parish's bio-diversity. There are several Barn Owl nest boxes (although the one active nest I know is in a natural tree hole) and the wild flower meadow shown in the photo is alive with butterflies including Small and Essex Skippers and Small Copper (GE).
31st
Sun
 
No water is flowing into the Swag so levels remain very low and 43 Coot, 5 Tufted Ducks and 2 Common Terns were present. The Slurry Pool held a further 24 Tufted Ducks and a Cormorant. A Little Ringed Plover appeared to still be on territory on the Sailing Shore (GE).

At least 3 Yellow-legged Gulls and several  intermedius type Lesser Black-backs were amongst the gathering of gulls on the main lake where the two gulls first seen on the 19th were present. The distinctively grey toned bird proved to have pale pink legs and the Caspian type looked good but perhaps a tone too dark but unfortunately they were all disturbed when someone walked across the middle of the lake bed (GE).