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October 2011 Diary and News
All the latest sightings, news and photos from Chasewater, Cuckoo Bank and surrounding areas
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Very few large gulls stayed to roost with large numbers passing over towards Blithfield, taking with them all but 82 Lesser Black-backs and 8 Herring Gulls that appeared to settle amongst the 1600 Black-headed Gulls and a 1cy Common Gull (GE).
Yellow-legged Gull
Herring Gull
Herring Gull
At Stubbers Green/Highfields South Landfill there were at least 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and adult Lesser Black-backs with rings red with white PYC which was ringed as a pullus at Orford, Suffolk and blue with orange ALL which is a Gloucester bird. The Herring Gull in the third photo is probably a northern argentatus since the new P5 has no black and P6 only a small mark. The outer primaries are old and yet to be replaced (GE, RC).
It's 40 years to the day since I saw a Cory's Shearwater on Target Point! However, despite the aging and aching spine, I still managed to struggle out just before dusk to see that the gull roost is still very reduced in size with 1900 Black-headed Gulls, 217 Lesser Black-backs and 2 Herring Gulls. The only other bird of note was a Swallow flying south-east over the house (GE).
An adult Yellow-legged Gull was present in the roost (PJ).
8 Wigeon were on the Swag and a Common Sandpiper and Raven were on the shores of the main lake. The gull roost was a little more impressive but many large gulls were still deciding to fly north. Totals included 3 (2 adults, 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 420 Lesser Black-backs, 20 Herring Gulls and 2500 Black-headed Gulls (GE, PJ).
An escaped Indian Eagle Owl was found in a Clayhanger garden and remains at large (AS, CM). There has been a report of one having escaped from a Cannock falconer recently and this could very well explain my brief and confusing sighting on 23rd September. See September Diary (GE).
The 2 Pintail and 8 Wigeon were on the Swag. 3 Gadwall, 8 Teal, 2 Snipe, 4 Cormorants and a Wheatear were at the main lake. A migrating Red Admiral was making good progress as it flew over the lake into the fresh south-west wind. The gull roost held an adult Mediterranean Gull, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 3300 Black-headed Gulls, 300 Lesser Black-backs and 12 Herring Gulls (GE).
10 Wigeon were on the Swag. The gull roost held 3200 Black-headed Gulls, a 1cy Yellow-legged Gull, 25 Herring Gulls and 225 Lesser Black-backs and 20 Pied Wagtails flew west along the south shore to roost (GE).
10 Wigeon were on the Swag. At the main lake there were 2 Gadwall, 2 Shovelers, 5 Cormorants, 10 Blackbirds and 30 redpolls flew over. The gull roost held an adult Mediterranean Gull, 3300 Black-headed Gulls, 2 (1cy, 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 18 Herring Gulls and 300 Lesser Black-backs (GE).
Mediterranean Gull GE
The gull roost was developing well until the sound of fireworks caused many to fly north, leaving 2600 Black-headed Gulls, 3 (2 adult, 1cy) Common Gulls, 3 (2 adult, 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 25 Herring Gulls and 256 Lesser Black-backs (GE).
5 Gadwall were on the main lake and 4100 Black-headed Gulls roosted along with 2 adult Great Black-backs, 25 Herring Gulls and 234 Lesser Black-backs, one of which showed several characteristics of fuscus or 'Baltic Gull' (GE).

The first photo shows how it contrasted with all other Lesser Black-backs, all of which were in active moult of the outer primaries. Its white head, jet black wings and mantle, rather long, thin bill and the only sign of active moult being what looks to be a partially grown P4 all suggest the possibility of Baltic Gull. Each worn outer primary feather has retained a tiny white tip and only P10 has a thin white 'mirror'. However, its general size and structure only differed slightly from other Lesser Black-backs and without a ring on its leg it may have to remain an intermedius/fuscus (GE).
The gull roost held 310 Lesser Black-backs, 3 adult Great Black-backs, 30 Herring Gulls and uncounted Black-headed Gulls but appearing to be in similar numbers to last night. Many large gulls flew over to the north and last night's interesting gull was not seen although there were several very dark (but not black) intermedius Lesser Black-backs and 5 with white heads (GE, PJ).
 Lesser Black-backed Gull
Bellowing Red Deer stag
( G Richardson)
One of presumably many Rabbits suffering from myxomatosis (GE)
4 red-head Goosanders were on the west shore lake (VT, JT), 2 Pintail and 3 Shoveler were on the main lake and 3 Gadwall were on the Slurry Pool with another on Fly Pool (GR).

A count on the Swag, which is still one metre below its normal level, produced 2 Mute Swans, 24 Canada Geese, 2 Mallard, 15 Wigeon, 2 Gadwall, 129 Coot, 1 Moorhen, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Heron, 6 Lapwings, 75 Black-headed Gulls, 6 Lesser Black-backs and a Sparrowhawk (GE).
The gull roost was more impressive tonight with 3 (2 adults, 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 3 adult Great Black-backs, over 70 Herring Gulls, including many argentatus and 530 Lesser Black-backs, including several intermedius. Birds were still arriving when nearly dark and only small numbers appeared to fly over or depart, as the 2cy Yellow-legged Gull did, to the north (PJ, GE).
At the Swag there were 105 Canada Geese and 15 Wigeon. In the Norton Bog/Slurry Pool area there were 2 Mute Swans, a Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebes, 5 Pochard, 45 Tufted Ducks, 10 Teal, 57 Mallard, 48 Coot, 4 Moorhens, a Buzzard, 30 Carrion Crows, 70 Lapwings flew north, a Yellowhammer flew over and there were at least 40 Lesser Redpolls, 20 Siskins, 10 Goldfinches and 10 Bullfinches. On and around the main lake there were 24 Teal, 5 Shovelers, 3 Cormorants, 150 Lapwings, 3 Snipe, 3 Herons, a Kestrel and a Grey Wagtail. Speckled Wood, Migrant Hawker and Common Darters were also noted (GE, GR).

 At 18:20 the gull roost held 434 Lesser Black-backs and 49 Herring Gulls but ten minutes later, as hundreds arrived from the south (Stubbers Green), many birds rose up and flew north, accompanying the majority of the Stubbers birds. However, amongst the remaining birds there was an adult bird that looked perfect for Caspian Gull but it was not the bird seen earlier at Stubbers Green. Its primary pattern was not seen in flight but at rest it appeared very attenuated and elegant, with apparently fully grown new primaries with 4 visible white tips, 'Caspian grey' mantle, small white head with darker smudge around the eye and pale, parallel edged bill with a darker sub-terminal mark. It soon flew and probably headed north. (GE).

 A 3cy Caspian Gull was amongst the many hundreds of gulls feeding at Highfields South Landfill and bathing/loafing at Stubbers Green Swag. One count totalled 370 Lesser Black-backs, one Great Black-back and 84 Herring Gulls whilst hundreds were swarming over the tip, implying there must be over 1000 large gulls present (GE).
A more marked bird than typical but it is almost identical to the bird in plate 79 of the Caspian Gull identification paper in 'British Birds' March 2010. I'd appreciate your thoughts (GE).
A rather grey mid-October morning that, with the present habitat, gave hopes of a surprise like last year's Lapland Buntings. There was certainly evidence of migration with over 120 Redwings passing over from the east along with frequent calls of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, redpolls and Siskins. 220 Lapwings were on the lake bed but the surprise turned out to be 3 Red-legged Partridges scampering over the western area of the lake bed; hardly long distance migrants but my first sighting for many years and the second record this year after Chaz's two in May (GE).

The gull roost held 3 (2 adult, 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 Great Black-backs, 3 Common Gulls and last night's adult Caspian Gull appeared at about 18:15 and at 18:35 it flew north along with many other large gulls; a perfect replica of last night's behaviour. The assumption is that it is the same as the Stubbers Green bird but 4 white primary tips were very obvious on the right wing, as they were last night, but the photo below show only 3 white tips on the left wing. Reference to photos taken in September show that 3 distinct white tips showed in the right wing and only two on the left so it seems the moult is occurring at a slightly uneven rate and its almost certainly the same bird. A Common Sandpiper was also present (PJ, GE).

At Stubbers Green the adult Caspian Gull, first seen in the roost at the end of September, was present along with 3 very attenuated, presumed intermedius, Lesser Black-backs and 2 2cy Yellow-legged Gulls (GE).
Adult Caspian Gull GE
In flight
A very long winged presumed intermedius GE
Large 2cy Yellow-legged Gull with Lesser black-back GE
A paper on the identification of L f fuscus in the latest edition of Dutch Birding concentrates on 2cy as they conclude that no other age-class can be identified with confidence in the field.
120 Fieldfares were along the canal with many Redwings, over 20 Skylarks and several redpolls, Siskins and Meadow Pipits passing overhead. 3 Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk were also seen. Around the main lake there were 40 Linnets, 38 Teal, 4 Shovelers and 4 Cormorants. A Migrant Hawker was hawking and 4 Red Admirals flew south-west whist 3 more and a Comma fed on the Ivy growing against the dam cottage wall. Many large gulls continue to overfly the lake to the north but around 400 Lesser Black-backs, 50 Herring Gulls, 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull,  2 Common Gulls and a Great Black-backed Gull appeared to stay to roost amongst the many Black-headed Gulls (GE).
At Stubbers Green there were 2 Yellow-legged Gulls, a Great Black-back and a Chiffchaff (GE).
An hour on the dam from sunrise produced 2 Ravens, 17 Jackdaws, a Buzzard, 30 Redwings, 4 Fieldfares, 16 Skylarks, 25 redpolls, 4 Siskins, a Goldcrest, 11 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 3 Cormorants and a very obliging Kingfisher.

The gull roost held 3400 Black-headed Gulls, 207 Lesser Black-backs, 29 Herring Gulls, 2 (adult, 2cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 3 adult Great Black-backs and 3 Common Gulls (GE).

Probably the same intermedius as the one at Stubbers Green on 13th alongside a Great Black-back.
Female Kingfisher GE
The WeBS count produced 29 Mute Swans, 79 Canada Geese, 27 Wigeon, 1 Gadwall, 17 Teal, 140 Mallard, 14 Pochard, 94 Tufted Ducks, a Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebes, 15 Great Crested Grebes, 9 Cormorants, 3 Herons, 6 Moorhens, 316 Coot, 180 Lapwings and 2 Snipe. A Wheatear was also seen (NS). The gull roost held 4500 Black-headed Gulls, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 225 Lesser Black-backs, 38 Herring Gulls, an adult Great Black-back and 2 Common Gulls but at 18:35 a banger was set off and the whole roost took to the air with over 200 birds flying off to the north (GE).
An adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose was present on the south shore at dusk (PJ). The gull roost held 450 Lesser Black-backs including the black intermedius, 5 Great Black-backs, a 2cy Yellow-legged Gull, 40 Herring Gulls, 4 Common Gulls and 4000+ Black-headed Gulls (PJ, GE).
Brent Goose GE


There was no sign of the Brent Goose at around 07:00 but a Rock Pipit, Wheatear, 3 Red-legged Partridges and 122 Lapwings were on the shore and other totals were 153 Canada Geese, 24 Wigeon, 5 Gadwall, 51 Teal, 85 Tufted Ducks, a drake Goldeneye, 7 Pochard, 1 Shoveler, 3 Little Grebes, 4 Cormorants, 4 Snipe, a Jack Snipe, 3 Buzzards, 2 Kestrels, a Goldcrest, a Grey Wagtail, 30 Linnets, 15 Lesser Redpolls and several over-flying Skylarks (CM, GE, PW). The gull roost held 4 Great Black-backs, 6 Common Gulls, 4 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and, as the light was fading, the 3cy and adult Caspian Gulls from last week appeared (GE, PJ).
9 Goosanders and a Grey Wagtail were present (GR). Large numbers of gulls flew out at dusk, just as the wind dropped to near calm. The 3cy Caspian Gull, 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 5 Great Black-backs and 8 Common Gulls were amongst the good sized gathering before the northerly exodus (PJ, GE).
The gull roost held 4 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 5 Great Black-backed Gulls, 5 Common Gulls, 45 Herring Gulls, 390 Lesser Black-backs and 4000+ Black-headed Gulls although many large gulls continue to fly over to the north (GE, JJH).
7 Goosanders were present (PW).The first arrival of large gulls, including 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls (photos), came from the Cannock area but many flew north after a few minutes. Many arriving later from the south, presumably the Stubbers Green birds, also passed over with only small numbers coming down to join the largely Black-headed Gull roost (PJ, GE).

At Stubbers Green the highest counts at any one time were 500 Lesser Black-backs, 188 Herring Gulls, 5 (3 adults, 2cy, 1cy) Yellow-legged Gulls, 6 Great Black-backs, 1 Common Gull and 212 Black-headed Gulls although total numbers present in the Stubbers/Highfield South area were likely to be much higher. A Green Sandpiper and 12 Pochard were also present (GE).
2 Wigeon were the only ducks on the Swag which is probably the lowest 'duck count' I've ever made on the pool. The only other waterbirds present on the Swag were 136 Coot, a Moorhen, 11 Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swans and a Great Crested Grebe. The gull roost was also disappointing with large numbers flying high to the north. The highest counts on the water were 3300 Black-headed Gulls, 160 Lesser Black-backs, 20 Herring Gulls, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 4 Great Black-backs and 3 Common Gulls (GE).
22 Cormorants were on the main lake (GE).
On the Swag there were 10 Wigeon and 2 Mallard and a Canada Goose and Lesser Black-backed Gull were both dead on the shore. The main lake held a further 6 Wigeon and 5 Shoveler. The gull roost was larger tonight with the following totals counted at around 18:00; 4600 Black-headed, 600 Lesser Black-backed, 108 Herring, 20 Great Black-backed, 3 Common and 3 (2 adult, 1cy) Yellow-legged Gulls (GE).
On the Slurry Pool there were 32 Teal, 73 Tufted Ducks, 4 Pochard, 53 Mallard, 2 Mute Swans, 40 Coot, 4 Moorhens, 2 Little Grebes, a Great Crested Grebe and a Heron. On the Swag there were 14 Wigeon, 5 Mallard, a Great Crested Grebe, a Heron, 88 Canada Geese, 147 Coot and 2 Mute Swans and on the main lake there were 18 Tufted Ducks, 24 Teal and 11 Great Crested Grebes. The small adult Caspian Gull, last seen on the 18th, was present for a while but it flew out to the north at around 17:00. There were 4 (3 adults, 1cy) Yellow-legged Gulls amongst the good sized gathering but many flew north leaving smaller numbers to roost (PJ, GE).
Gull roost GE
At Stubbers Green there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull (GE).
A poor gull roost tonight with many birds flying over to the north, leaving only 2500+ Black-headed Gulls, 240 Lesser Black-backs and around 50 Herring Gulls. Even a late arriving adult Yellow-legged Gull soon flew off to presumably roost at Blithfield (PJ, GE).
The first rainy day for over a month, since what rain we have had has been at night, and the muddy shores of the Swag appeared to be attractive with a Little Egret present at 10:30 but it flew towards the Slurry Pool when mobbed by two Black-headed Gulls. Also present were 14 Wigeon, 34 Mallard, 5 Teal and 87 Canada Geese.

The gull roost was much more impressive than recently with a count of 1003 Lesser Black-backs being made when many were still arriving from Stubbers Green, however many departed to the north, leaving 600 to roost. Other counts included 4100 Black-headed Gulls, 14 Great Black-backs, 180 Herring Gulls and 4 adult Yellow-legged Gulls (GE).

A female Blackcap was in a White Horse Estate garden (GE).
At Stubbers Green there were large numbers of gulls on the Swag with highest counts being 615 Lesser Black-backs, 180 Herring Gulls, 3 adult/sub-adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 8 Great Black-backs and a Common Gull (GE).
Norton Bog GE
Heath near Outdoor Education Centre GE
Old cottage GE
8 Goosanders were present (VT, JT) Many bees but no butterflies, were still feeding on the Ivy covering the walls of the old dam cottage and a Buzzard was hunting over the 'development' land north of the bypass. 11 Siskins and a Green Woodpecker were at Norton Bog. Near the old cottage a Harlequin Ladybird  landed on my hand; this is an invasive and aggressive species that may have a drastic impact on our native species of ladybird. The map shows that it was first recorded in our area only 3-4 years ago and it is expanding its range rapidly. More information can be found here.
Harlequin Ladybird GE

Harlequin Ladybird distribution map (Click on image to enlarge)


The early gathering of gulls appear to arrive from the Cannock area and today included a new, large and classic, presumed male Caspian Gull which was present from 16:00 till 16:25 when, just as it was about to be photographed, it flew off with many other large gulls to the north-west. A new adult Mediterranean Gull (photo) and 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls were also present along with counts of 4200 Black-headed Gulls, 503 Lesser Black-backs, 150 Herring Gulls, 8 Great Black-backs, and 3 Common Gulls but yet again many birds departed to the north when the bulk of presumed Stubbers Green birds arrived at around 18:00 (PJ, GE).

Buzzard GE
At Mill Green Park, Cannock, there were 44+ Teal, 65 Mallard, a Water Rail, 10 Moorhens, 1-2 Willow Tits, Nuthatch and Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers (GE).
Mill Green Park GE
At dusk 3 Goosanders flew south and 22 Great Crested Grebes were on the main lake along with 4200 Black-headed Gulls, 444 Lesser Black-backs, 10 Great Black-backs and uncounted Herring Gulls (GE).
Hundreds of gulls were still present at Highfields South landfill near Stubbers Green at 17:35 (GE).
The adult Caspian Gull was present between 15:30 and 15:45 when it again flew to the north-west. Also present were 2 (adult, 3cy) Yellow-legged Gulls but many gulls passed over to the north and maxima counts of birds on the water included 4000 Black-headed Gulls, 200 Lesser Black-backs, 50 Herring Gulls, 9 Great Black-backs and 3 Common Gulls (GE, TB).
3cy Yellow-legged Gull
The photos show a rather distant and head-on Caspian Gull in bright low light which cast a yellow hue but the following features are shown. 1) A very thin sub-terminal black band on the otherwise extensively white tipped outer primary (P10) which also has the rest of the outer web black and a much narrower patch of black on the inner web. 2) All primaries are new and fully grown. 3) White pearl-drops on the inner edge of the black bands on P5-7. 4) A white head with contrasting small dark eye. 5) A pale yellow bill with, on the lower mandible only, a pale red spot with a small black spot on the inner edge. 6) No gonydeal angle and a  gradual curve on the culmen ie a distinctive bill shape. 7) Pink legs with long tibia (GE).
Yesterday's Caspian Gull was not seen but the small adult, last seen on 25th, arrived at dusk but many large gulls did not stop to roost, including an adult Yellow-legged Gull. A 2cy Mediterranean Gull was amongst the 4000 Black-headed Gulls (GE, PJ).
2cy Mediterranean Gull GE
Adult Caspian Gull GE