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March 2011 Diary and News
All the latest sightings, news and photos from Chasewater, Cuckoo Bank and surrounding areas
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A pair of Great Crested Grebes are nesting on the Swag. 22 Goosanders and 50 Linnets (GR) and 3 Shelduck were present (VT, JT). The gull roost held 4600 Black-headed Gulls, 360 Lesser Black-backs, including several intermedius/intergrades, 2 Great Black-backs, 70 Herring Gulls and 2 Common Gulls but the 2cy Iceland Gull roosted at Blithfield (IW, GE).
The 2cy Iceland Gull roosted again along with similar or slightly higher numbers of other gulls as last night. A party of 13 Pochard were on the main lake (IW, GE).

2 Greylag Geese flew to the east and 16 Goosanders, 3 Pochard, 2 Wigeon, 2 Gadwall, 8 Teal, an Oystercatcher, 55 Lapwings and 90 Linnets were present. The gull roost was smaller and rather unsettled but the 2cy Iceland Gull was amongst around 200 Lesser Black-backs, 50 Herring Gulls, 15 Common Gulls and 3000 Black-headed Gulls (GE).

A new road has been put through to access Sandy Bay which will be used to store materials as will the site of the old trotting track stadium, both within the new SSSI.

Water is still being let out into the canal with special booms and silk curtains to prevent pollution of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) five miles away on the Cannock Extension Canal which is home to Floating Water-plantain (Luronium natans) which also grows in the Anglesey Basin (GE).

The 2cy Iceland Gull was present in a similarly sized roost as last night (GE, IW).
On Cuckoo Bank there were 3 Grey Partridges (N).
The 2cy Iceland Gull roosted (IW).
 10 Golden Plovers and a Grey Partridge were on the fields above Cuckoo Bank (N, IW).
20 Goosanders, a Pochard and a Grey Wagtail were on the Swag. The 2cy Iceland Gull and 3 (adult, 2 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls were in the roost which numbered 2800 Black-headed Gulls, 160 Lesser Black-backs, 60 Herring Gulls, 2 Great Black-backs and 5 Common Gulls (IW, GE).
Iceland Gull amongst the roost (GE)
Work on the Nine-foot pool and weir started started last week (GE).
A Redshank and Oystercatcher were present. The gull roost held the 2cy Iceland Gull, 220 Lesser Black-backs, 40 Herring Gulls, 10 Common Gulls and 3200 Black-headed Gulls (IW, GE).

A strikingly large and attenuated presumed graellsii certainly made me think! (GE)
The Iceland Gull arrived at 17:25 (GE)
Work on the Nine-foot continues (GE)
The overflow (GE)
Anglesey Basin (GE)
A good total of 65 Teal was present along with a Ringed Plover, Redshank, Oystercatcher, 8 singing Reed Buntings, a singing Willow Tit near the OEC (IW) and another pair along Crane Brook, 9 Great Crested Grebes, 14 Goosanders, 8 Goldeneye, a Pochard, 2 Wigeon, 2 Ravens, 6 Buzzards, 2 Sparrowhawks, a Kestrel, 2 Snipe, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 15 Goldfinches, 1-2 Siskins and 35 Linnets (GE). A pair of Stonechats were on the North Heath (VT, JT). The gull roost held 2 (adult, 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 230 Lesser Black-backs, 40 Herring Gulls, 8 Common Gulls and around 3000 Black-headed Gulls (IW, GE).
Eight Red Deer on the North Shore (GE).
High and dry Sailing Club (GE)
Recent lowering of the water level has exposed huge quantities of Zebra Mussels (GE).
Colts-foot - a good sign of early spring (GE).
A roof of Ivy and a carpet of Snowdrops (GE).
At last, materials are being delivered (GE)
Installing the pumps to lower the Swag by 1.3m (GE).
The site was visited by John Craven and the Countryfile team as they were doing an article on flooding! It will be broadcast on Sunday 20th. 2 Oystercatchers, a Redshank, 5 Gadwall, 2 Goosanders and 6 Goldeneye were present. The gull roost only held an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 115 Lesser Black-backs, 30 Herring Gulls, 5 Common Gulls and 2300 Black-headed Gulls; the lower numbers probably partly attributable to the presence of three scramble bikes on the shore (GE). One of the Galliford Try workmen, who has good knowledge of birds of prey, having kept a Buzzard for eight years, claimed seeing a Marsh Harrier flying low over the lake bed today (per GE).
A flock of 26 Waxwings was seen in Lichfield (PW).
Water has now started to be pumped out of the Swag in preparation for the installation of a new culvert. An Oystercatcher was present and the rather small gull roost held a 2cy Yellow-legged Gull, 100 Lesser Black-backs, 10 Herring Gulls, 6 Common Gulls and 2000 Black-headed Gulls (GE).
2cy Yellow-legged Gull standing on the water! GE
Water being pumped from the Swag to the main lake GE
Yet more Aylesbury Duck types have been put on the 'Boating Pool' - a pure Mallard will soon be a rare sight GE
Totals included 37 Mute Swans, 48 Tufted Ducks, 5 Goldeneye, 49 Teal, 2 Wigeon, 5 Buzzards, a Redshank and over 100 Linnets. Two Little Grebes were on the Slurry Pool. At 18:00 the gull roost numbered 1600 Black-headed Gulls, 128 Lesser Black-backs, 23 Herring Gulls, 6 Common Gulls and a 2cy Yellow-legged Gull (GE).
Although invited for supper by the Sparrowhawk, the Blackbird decided not to stay! GE.
Nothing of note was seen during a very brief, rained off visit in the evening (GE).
A Raven and an Oystercatcher were present (GE) and 5 Curlews flew south-west. The monthly WeBS count also produced 38 Mute Swans, 16 Canada Geese, 1 Gadwall, 21 Teal, 110 Mallard, 49 Tufted Ducks, 8 Goldeneye, 2 Goosanders, 2 Little Grebes, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Herons, 3 Moorhens, 96 Coot, 4 Lapwings and a Redshank.  A very probable Chiffchaff was briefly seen (NS). Dozens of frogs were in a small pool near the north end of the causeway (DE).
A Little Ringed Plover was on the South Shore, a Redshank, 2 Oystercatchers, 10 Lapwings, 14 Great Crested Grebes, a Little Grebe, 2 Gadwall, a Goosander, 2 Buzzards, a Kestrel and 160+ Linnets were also present. The small gull roost held 2 (2cy, 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 130 Lesser Black-backs, 20 Herring Gulls, 2 Common Gulls, 650 Black-headed Gulls at at 18:00 what was almost certainly the regular 2cy Iceland Gull reappeared after a break of a week (GE).
On Cuckoo Bank an Osprey was reported to be sitting in a tree near the pool along the old Ironstone Road. The observer is familiar with the species and has no doubts as to the identification! (per PW).

2 Oystercatchers, a Redshank and Little Ringed Plover were present and a Curlew flew over (VT, JT).

The Nine-foot bridge put up a stubborn resistance but finally succumbed to a brutal and persistent attack (GE).
A very murky and quiet day with only the gull roost providing any interest. The 2cy Iceland Gull was present along with an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 180 Lesser Black-backs, 22 Herring Gulls and 650 Black-headed Gulls. 1-2 Oystercatchers were heard (GE).
The Swag has now been drawn down by almost 1m resulting in an extensive area of mud being exposed; 2 drake Shovelers, 3 Gadwall, 2 Teal and a Goosander were present, a Buzzard was perched in a tree and 2 Ravens were overhead. It needs to be lowered by another 30cm before works on the culvert can start next week. On the main lake area there were a further 20 Teal, 6 Goldeneye, 2 Redshanks, a Ringed Plover, a Little Ringed Plover, 3 Sand Martins and 100+ Linnets. There appeared to be movements of gulls with Black-headed gulls mainly flying east but at 16:45 a mixed party flying north-west included a 2cy Iceland Gull, which appeared less bleached than the regular bird which arrived to roost at 17:20. The roost also held 550 Black-headed Gulls, 100 Lesser Black-backs including 2 probable intermedius, 15 Herring Gulls and a Common Gull (GE).
Redshanks (GE)
Ringed Plover (GE)
Little Ringed Plover (GE)
Iceland Gull (GE)
Once more unto the breach! (GE)
The 2cy Iceland Gull was again in the gull roost which numbered 120 Lesser Black-backs, 20 Herring Gulls and 450 Black-headed Gulls. A Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, 3 Sand Martins and a Chiffchaff were also present (JA, GE).
23 Waxwings were in a back garden in Chapel Avenue, Brownhills at around 09:15 and 3 Buzzards overhead later in the morning (GE).
32 Goosanders were on the Swag along with 5 Gadwall, 2 Wigeon, 3 Teal and a Pochard. 2 Oystercatchers and a Sand Martin were present but very few gulls roosted with 120 Black-headed, 1 Common, 35 Lesser Black-backs, 5 Herring Gulls and a 2cy Yellow-legged Gull. It would appear that the Iceland Gull roosted at Blithfield. A pipistrelle was flying along the west shore at dusk (GE).
The 'Supermoon', only 356 000km away, rising as a vivid orange orb over the Hopwas mast and changing into a silver coin as it rose higher in the night sky ( GE).
A Brimstone flew through the garden but there was no sign of the Waxwings (GE).
An Oystercatcher, 2 Snipe, 2 pairs of Gadwall, Teal and a few Reed Buntings were seen from the Sailing Club (AB).
There were around 35 Waxwings this afternoon in a tree along Cumberledge Hill Road in Cannock Wood, they seemed very quiet, not really trilling much, perhaps saving energy now for the big fly home! Also saw a lizard basking on Gentleshaw Common (GTa).
The causeway has now been fenced off although another 50cm+ has to be drained from the Swag before major works can start on the culvert. 4 Little Ringed Plovers were together on the shore along with 20 Lapwings. 2 Ravens, 5 Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk were overhead, at least 8 Jays, 70 Linnets, 5 Skylarks, up to 10 Meadow Pipits, 39 Tufted Ducks, 2 Goosanders, 2 Goldeneye, 5 Gadwall, 24 Teal, a Wigeon were present and 5 Chiffchaffs were singing. The gull roost numbered 230 Black-headed Gulls, 14 Lesser Black-backs and 6 Herring Gulls. Any bird identification by call has to be made very cautiously since the local Jays are brilliant at mimicry, resulting in reports of a phantom Buzzard and a very early Cuckoo recently (GE).
Work started on the causeway today but water is still being pumped from the Swag which held 14 Teal, 5 Gadwall and a Wigeon. 30 Waxwings were in the alders behind the Feeding Station (MT). A Greylag Goose, 3 Oystercatchers, 2 Buzzards, 2 Kestrels, 2 Sparrowhawks and a Chiffchaff were present and the ever diminishing gull roost held 77 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Lesser Black-backs and 2 Herring Gulls and 20 large gulls flew over to the north, presumably to roost at Blithfield (GE).
The result of a territorial dispute on the ever shrinking Swag, this adult swan has turned into a rather ugly 'duckling' (GE).
Pumping from the Swag suddenly stopped at 10:30 and work started in earnest on the causeway. The Swag has been lowered by 1.3m over the past 2 weeks and a great area of mud has been exposed which could attract some interesting waders during the spring migration. 2 Redshanks, 18 Teal, 5 Gadwall and 2 Herons were present and a sudden invasion of Goosanders resulted in 15 dropping onto the Swag and 24 more passing over. A Chiffchaff was singing along the west shore and a Common Gull was on the main lake (GE). At dusk there were 3-4 pipistrelles and Noctules around the Slurry Pool (IW).
Low tide at the Swag (GE).
The Swag held 28 Teal, 5 Gadwall, a Wigeon, a Heron and 2 Sparrowhawks were overhead. Also present were 2 Dunlin (first for the year), an Oystercatcher, 5 Shovelers and a Chiffchaff was singing. The gull roost held 86 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Lesser Black-backs and a Herring Gull (GE).
North end of the 'lake' (GE)
Slurry Pool (GE)
Four pairs of Little Ringed Plovers were on the lake bed along with an Oystercatcher, a Ringed Plover, 3 Chiffchaffs, 10 Linnets and a singing Willow Tit near the Nine-foot. Most of the activity was on the Swag with another pair of Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Redshanks, an Oystercatcher, 5 Gadwall, 19 Teal, a Wigeon, 6 Goosanders and 105 Sand Martins during the evening which looked as if they might be about to roost around the Slurry Pool but were put off by a couple of lads clambering through the reeds with a fishing rod. The tiny gull roost numbered 44 Black-headed Gulls and single Lesser Black-back and Herring Gulls (GE).
A very early morning visit produced a Tawny Owl near Jack's Wood and up to 200 Sand Martins over the Swag, suggesting that they may have roosted locally (NS). 2 Cormorants flew over (CM), 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming around the site, a Little Grebe was on the Slurry Pool (GR) and 9 Shovelers were present (VT, JT). At dusk there were 30 Sand Martins over the main lake and 80 over the Swag where there were also 2 Redshanks, 5 Gadwall and 15 Teal. At 18:15 there were 46 Lesser Black-backs and a Herring Gull but only 18 Lessers stopped to roost with 138 Black-headed Gulls (GE).
An Osprey flew west during the late morning (LS), two Wheatears were on the South Shore (SE), 3 Goldeneye were on the main lake, 7 Siskins flew north and on the Swag there were 22 Teal and 6 Gadwall. On Norton Bog there were 2 Buzzards, a Snipe, single Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 2 Chiffchaffs. At dusk there were 38 Sand Martins over the main pool, 1-2 Little Ringed Plovers calling and the gull roost consisted of 35 Lesser Black-backs, 5 Herring Gulls and 131 Black-headed Gulls. 100 bird species have now been seen during 2011 (GE).
An incident this afternoon involving 2 young horse-riders replicated one from last April when a horse became stuck in the mud, causing great stress to the horse and rider. Fortunately the horse eventually struggled out of the mud, at least half an hour before the fire brigade arrived. It is clearly time to put up the fencing to protect the Little Ringed Plovers and deter general roaming over the lake bed. The photo shows after the event. The black mud, where the horses sank and where this young family are about to walk, is very unstable in patches due to springs ( GE).
On Cuckoo Bank an Osprey was mobbed by Lapwings as it flew to the east at 11:40; it seems likely that this was the same as the Chasewater bird though it seems to have been on a rather meandering course north. A remarkable 43 Goosanders were present along with 2 pairs of Little Grebes, 3 Herons, 1 Snipe, a Buzzard, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and several singing Skylarks (GR).
Around mid-day there were 3 Little Ringed Plovers, an Oystercatcher, 7 Goldeneye, a Siskin and over 45 Sand Martins at the main lake and 4 Buzzards were over Norton Bog. At dusk there were 2 Redshanks, 25 Teal, 3 Gadwall, a Wigeon and around 150 Sand Martins at the Swag and the gull roost was composed of 83 Black-headed Gulls, 7 Lesser Black-backs and a Herring Gull (GE).
On the Swag there were over 100 Sand Martins, an Oystercatcher, 2 Gadwall, 1 Wigeon, 17 Teal and a Chiffchaff. At dusk 32 Goosanders, probably all immatures, dropped onto the main lake where there were 2 Goldeneye, 5+ Little Ringed Plovers, a Ringed Plover, an Oystercatcher and the gull roost numbered 83 Black-headed Gulls, 18 Lesser Black-backs and 5 Herring Gulls (GE).
A Blackcap was singing at Norton Bog (IW). At the Swag there were 3 Gadwall, 15 Teal, a Wigeon, an Oystercatcher, a Willow Warbler and at dusk over 300 Sand Martins were present. Around the main lake there were 3 Ringed Plovers, 4+ Little Ringed Plovers, a Dunlin, 2 Goosanders, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and 6 Sand Martins. The gull roost held 115 Black-headed Gulls and 12 Lesser Black-backs (GE, PW, JH).
A Long-tailed Tit was sitting on eggs. Also seen were 25 Linnets, a Swallow, Raven, Little Grebe (GR), 2 Goldeneye, 6 Gadwall, 6 Buzzards, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Oystercatchers, 5+ Little Ringed Plovers, 100 Sand Martins and 2 2cy Great Black-backed Gulls (GE).