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Priory Country Park

BIRD REPORT
2012

Compiled by: DAVID KRAMER

Summary of the year


Classified List
Analysis of Blackcap Ringing Data
Analysis of Chiffchaff wing lengths

SUMMARY
2012
January
The mild weather which ended 2011 continued into January 2012 with the temperature in the
early morning of the 1st
C with total cloud cover and a very
light SW wind. Both Blue and Great Tits were numerous and very active and, out of nine
Song Thrushes, eight were singing. Gadwalls were at 47 and Coot at 98 but there were fewer
Tufted Ducks than previously. After the December rains the pool on field 5 of Fenlake was
quite substantial and attracted seven Common Snipes. In the
late afternoon nine Little Egrets and 1600 Jackdaws came to
roost. A Shelduck spent a short time on the main lake on the
2nd, a Grey Wagtail was on the canoe slalom course and 131
Lapwings flew over to Fenlake. Parties of Pied Wagtails,
totalling 47, flew southwest to roost in the late afternoon. Gale
force winds made going hard on the 3rd. The leucistic Jackdaw
was present in the Finger Lakes and two different leucistic
Jackdaws were amongst the roosting corvids on the 4th.
Pochards had increased to 68 of which only eight were female.
Heavy pre-dawn rain on the 5th gave way to some sunny
periods and a Jay on the south side was the first of the year.
Small flocks of
Redwings and Fieldfares passed through on a sunny but frosty
th
6
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th
the 7 and a Common Buzzard was quartering the fields there. Song Thrushes were again
relatively numerous on the 9th and, of the eleven seen, eight were singing. A Chaffinch,
which had attempted to sing on the preceding days was now in good voice. Kingfishers were
being seen regularly during this period and both male and female Great Spotted Woodpeckers
were heard, and seen, drumming. A Siberian Chiffchaff at Meadow Lane from the 9th was
good reason for a slight diversion. A cold front arrived on the 13th
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- C for much of the morning. Thirty-f
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previous winters there was a regular roost he
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l y ea had been
constructed on the ll

h
may have been the cause of their irregularity
this winter.
It was a beautiful sunny, but frosty, morning
on the 14th but the morning temperature after
dawn was at - . C not increasing much after
this. Two Kingfishers were active along the
south side. A cloudy start on the 15th quickly
cleared to give a frosty, but sunny, morning.
Pochard had increased to 91. In the evening
39 Corn Buntings came to roost and these increased to 57 on the 16th. The numbers of
wildfowl increased slightly in the following days amongst which were 67 Gadwalls.

A Mistle Thrush sang on the south side on the 19th and a Common Buzzard again over
Fenlake on the 21st. Things quietened down a bit in the following days but 24 Fieldfares on
the 23rd were the first for a while. Blackbirds increased to 46 on the 27th and further to 53 on
the 28th when a Common Buzzard flew in and
landed near the south hide. A male Goosander
flew along the river and eventually landed on the
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yf l
.
February
The cold weather continued with the temperature
s
- C and not rising much above
freezing during the remainder of the day. In the
north-easterly winds the wildfowl had redistributed themselves towards the north side of the
main lake and 17 Wigeon were amongst them. A big surprise was a Bearded Tit which flew
over towards the Willington/100 acre area. The cold but sunny weather continued on the 2nd.
With the temperature hardly rising to freezing point during the day, ice began to form along
the north side of the main lake, most of the Finger Lakes and also on parts of the Navigation
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Kingfisher put on a good show and Gadwalls had increased to 71. A dog flushed a party of
12 Common Snipes on Fenlake. It was even colder on the 3rd w h h
f- . C
at 0730. Two Common Buzzards were over Fenlake, two Water Rails were seen in the Finger
Lakes and Ray Roche had an Otter walk over the ice outside the Kramer Hide. A Mistle
Thrush flew over and a dead Common Shrew was doubtless a victim of the cold weather.
In the late afternoon 74 Corn Buntings, 38
Cormorants and 1100 Jackdaws came in to
roost. It was even colder on the morning of the
4th w h
f - C. Most of
the water areas were frozen but the wildfowl on
the main lake had managed to keep quite a
reasonable area open. Again it was pleasantly
sunny with virtually no wind and four Little
Egrets had decided to perch in a tree on the
Finger Lakes whilst they preened in the warmth of the sun. A Bank Vole had the same idea
for, despite the temperature, one was running around
along the Priory Wall and diving into holes only to
pop out again to sun itself. A Common Buzzard was
again on Fenlake but the highlight was a Black-tailed
Godwit which was standing on the ice amongst the
Gulls and wildfowl on the main lake. Totals of 85
Gadwalls and 45 Tufted Ducks were the highest of
year so far. The weather changed dramatically in the
evening when a warm front approaching from the
west met the cold air which extended eastwards. The result was snow! So, we awoke on the
5th
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ly, f h v

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f
C felt quite warm! A flock of 93
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Lapwings were standing on the ice and the Gadwall count was up to 106. Most passerines
were hard to find but at least one
Chaffinch summoned up enough energy
to sing. Two Common Buzzards, a
Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel were over
Fenlake and Kingfishers, reluctant to
fly, were seen regularly. A Common
Snipe flew over in the late afternoon but
only one Little Egret came to roost.
Although there was a slight thaw, most
of the snow was still around on the 6th.
The Kramer Hide in the snow.
The numbers of most waterfowl were
about the same but 32 Teal were standing on the ice. A Water Rail was again along the spit
and a Woodcock flew up from the south side. A Stonechat was again showing well on
Fenlake after an absence of more than three weeks and a Buzzard sat stoically in one of the
trees there. A party of seven Goosanders arrived around mid-day but soon departed. Again,
there was a slight thaw on the 7th, but there was still plenty of snow around. Two Jays were
making a lot of noise over near the Cardington Lock and five of the seven Goosanders turned
up for a brief stay before departing at 0940.

Eighty-seven Corn Buntings came to roost on the 8th and 98 (the highest of the winter so far)
on the 9th when a Tawny Owl was calling at the back of Kingsmead. About 4-5cm of snow
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following day. Ninety-four Corn Buntings were at roost and 12 Stock Doves roosted at the
b k f
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ll ly . C at
th
10.00am on the 11 . A Kingfisher was still active at the leat pool on the south side and a
W
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f
h Th
lS
(
ll
f w er at the bottom of
h
wh h
unfrozen seemingly however low the temperature is). The Corn
Bunting roost reached its peak at 119. Gadwalls were at their greatest number on the 12th
when 177 were on the main lake and a Woodcock flew up from the spit/crescent area on the
13th. Common buzzards were seen almost daily during this period with often two together.

Milder air arrived from the 14th onwards and the ice began to thaw and some of the wildfowl,
particularly Gadwalls, departed.

The East Finger Lake at sunset on 13th February


A pair of Sparrowhawks was displaying on the 15th and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers
were drumming. The first Goldeneye of the year, a female, arrived on the 16th and 54 Tufted
Ducks were present. A swarm of midges attracted the attentions of a small group of Longtailed Tits on the 17th and they flew out from a bush and caught them flycatcher-fashion but
not as expertly! A Treecreeper on the 18th was the first for several weeks and six Little Egrets
came in to roost. Many of the 16 Dunnocks recorded on the 20th were singing and a
Kingfisher was noted almost nightly arriving to roost at the side of the Kramer Hide. A Jay
was recorded on several days from the 23rd onwards and the Stonechat also showed on
Fenlake for several days in succession. A Bank Vole was seen on the 24th and it was warm
enough for a Pipistrelle sp. bat to be out feeding along the north side in the evening. A total
of 58 Blackbirds on the 25th was a probable indication of a return movement.
In the last days of the month Pochards were feeding voraciously in the early morning
in preparation for their return migration and were well dispersed over the lake. A party of 11
Common Buzzards circling over the park on the 26th was a site record but a sign of things to
come. Magpies, Carrion Crows and at least one pair of Coot had almost completed nests by
the 28th. The Stonechat was seen again on Fenlake on the 29th and seven Little Egrets came in
to roost in the evening as did the Kingfisher.
March
Thick mist on the 1st and 2nd
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.M y f h
Mute Swans had departed but it was difficult to make any accurate counts of other species in
the mornings. Two Oystercatchers which flew over on the 4th were the first of the year. A

Water Rail was recorded on the 5th and nine Little Egrets came to roost in the Finger Lakes in
the evening. Things were very quiet for the next few days but it was gradually becoming
warmer. A pair of Kingfishers was prospecting along the river, Magpies and crows were
building nests and many birds were displaying. The first Chiffchaff of the spring was singing
on the 10th, one day before last year. Three of the five Egyptian Geese which had spent
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and 26 Teal were on Fenlake.
th
Frogs and toads were spawning in the Finger Lakes on the 12 and 13th and the first Sand
Martins of the year (2) arrived on the 14th. In the evening 12 Corn Buntings arrived at the

l f
L l Egrets roosted. The first Blackcaps of the
spring migration, a male and a female, arrived on the 16th and the twelve Little Egrets that
arrived at roost was the highest number ever recorded in the park and was one of the highest
numbers ever in the county. Chiffchaffs had increased to nine by the 20th and three Jays spent
quite a time around the park. A pair of Rooks built a nest at the back of Kingsmead, the first
time they have nested in the park. Th w h
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C or more by early afternoon. A Red
nd
Kite passed over on the 22 and a very early House Martin (the earliest ever in the park)
spent a short time over the Finger Lakes before moving on. By the 25th Blackcaps had
increased to at least four and Chiffchaffs to ten. At least ten Sand Martins passed over and
amongst them was another early House Martin. The morning of the 26th was fog free and
sunny
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,
f
Chiffchaffs, five male Blackcaps, Grey Wagtail, Oystercatcher and Kingfisher, there was
little different. The three Egyptian Geese on the main lake on the following day however was
a bit different h y

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y,
building up to quite a warm day continued and it was sufficient to stimulate a pair of
Redshanks and a pair of Lapwings to display. A Swallow on the 31st was the first of the year.
The Rooks which had started nesting on the back of Kingsmead abandoned their nest but this
was compensated for by three pairs building nests on the south side of the lake h
k
own rookery!
April
Another fine sunny day to start the month. Blackcaps had increased to 22 males, Chiffchaffs
to 21 males and 21 Sand Martins were over the lake. A Common Snipe and an Oystercatcher
flew over. The first Willow Warbler of the year was singing in the car park and later behind
the sailing club on the 2nd. Things remained fairly constant on the next day but a pair of
Goldeneyes added interest on the 4th when Willow Warbler had increased to five singing
birds. Cloud and strong NE winds brought down 130 sand Martins on the 5th and eight
Willow Warblers were singing. A Sedge Warbler singing by the sewage works bridge was
the first for the year on the 6th and seven Common Buzzards flew over. Thirty-eight Sand
Martins were in the same area and a House Martin joined them. The 7th was a duller, cloudier
day but brightened up considerably when two adult Kittiwakes appeared over the south side
of the lake and, after a couple of minutes made their way off to the northeast. The dull
weather continued on the 8th and 9th and the birds reflected the weather! It rained for much of
the day on the 9th and this became quite heavy in the evening. It was with some relief that the
10th dawned bright and sunny and it was good to see the first Common Tern of the year pass

through over the lake. This was followed by two more-accommodating birds which remained
on the buoys. The biggest, and most pleasant,
surprise was a fine male Redstart which spent
the day along the south side of the main lake
showing off to all who came to see it. This was
the 22nd record of this species for the park. An
early start on the 11th for one observer was
rewarded by the first Common Sandpiper of the
year flying around the main lake and eventually
settling by the beach. However, it moved on
fairly quickly. There was little on the 12th but
the Redstart was again present on the 13th and
Sedge Warblers had increased to three. Two Oystercatchers flew over as did a Mistle Thrush
and two Common Buzzards circled overhead. The first Cuckoo arrived on the 14th and, after
a fine morning, an Arctic Tern arrived between showers in the late afternoon of the 15th.
Despite a cold and frosty, but sunny, start to the 16th the first Reed Warbler of the year was
singing well in the crescent. Rain in the early morning of the 17th lasted much of the morning
but a short visit early on revealed four Shelducks on the main lake. An adult Kittiwake passed
through and off to the northeast. The rain continued on and off for the following week,
sometimes very heavy but often with some good sunny periods between showers, particularly
in the mornings. There were very few new arrivals during this period but 32 Blackcaps were
counted on the 21st and a Grasshopper Warbler was singing on Fenlake. Six Fieldfares flew
over and Jays and Oystercatchers (including four on the 22nd), both put in an appearance. A
Goldcrest was singing on the south side.

Female Grey Wagtail at the Cardington Sluice


A pair of Grey Wagtails set up a territory at the Cardington Sluice and were nest building on
the 21st and 22nd and a couple of pairs of Sand Martins continued to investigate the artificial
nest holes on the island. Rain in the afternoon was fairly torrential and there were plenty of
puddles on the 23rd. An adult Kittiwake arrived around 0700 but passed through after ten

. Tw G
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W l w f
F l k .R
th
showers continued on the 24 but three Arctic Terns were present early on but moved off to
the north at 0712. A Cuckoo showed well and an Oystercatcher flew over. The weather was
grim again on the 25th, raining for the whole of the morning but it was fine and sunny on the
26th. Eleven Swifts, the first for the year, spent much of the day over the park. The following
morning, after a cloudy, but dry, start it rained from just after 0910 bringing down 46 Swifts.
The first Common Whitethroat was found and a Cuckoo was again present. The first Garden
Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat arrived on the 28th when there was light rain throughout the
morning. 160 Sand Martins, 50 House Martins and 40 Swallows were over the lake but,
interestingly, no Swifts. Two Goldcrests were singing on the south side. The rain of the 28th
continued throughout the morning of the 29th and into the afternoon. A Black Tern on the
afternoon of the 30th was the first of the spring.
May
It rained heavily for the whole morning and part of the afternoon on the first day of the month
and so there was little reward in the way of birds apart from a Cuckoo, three Oystercatchers,
four Lesser Whitethroats, 36 Swifts and 100 Sand Martins. A visit in the afternoon was more
rewarding as three Arctic terns arrived at about 1430 and departed high to the northeast at
1520. Although it was rain free on the 2nd the river was still high and the lake overflowing. A
total of 13 Arctic Terns passed through and a Common Sandpiper flew across the lake. A
party of 65 Swifts came down and joined the 180 Sand Martins and 45 House Martins. After
heavy overnight rain th w j
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weather! Sand Martins increased to 200 and two Arctic Terns flew through in the afternoon.
The Grasshopper Warbler was still present on Fenlake on the 5th and the first Hobby of the
year flew over on the 6th and again on the following two days. Up to 280 Swifts were over the
main lake on the 8th and 11 Reed Warblers on the 9th indicated a new arrival. After overnight
rain the number of Blackcaps totalled 34 on the 10th and 31 were counted on the following
day. We had some good sunny periods and, although cooler on the 12th, there was hardly a
cloud in the sky for much of the day. The pairs of Mute Swans on the Finger Lakes and by
the sewage works bridge both hatched their young as did several pairs of Coots. The first
young Long-tailed Tits of the year were in the Finger Lakes.
The fine, cool, weather continued on the 13th. The first Turtle Dove of the year settled
h
h f
v al minutes before moving off and a Peregrine, also the first of the
year, flew over whilst Ed Green was ringing. Two Oystercatchers, two Jays, two Little Egrets
flew over and the Grasshopper Warbler was still singing on Fenlake. The following few days
were often quite cool and were characterised by good numbers of Swifts, (up to 300 on the
18th), and hirundines over the lake. A pair of Oystercatchers was seen regularly and a
Common Sandpiper passed through with three around the lake on the 19th. Reed Warblers
had been arriving daily and 21 males were counted on the 22nd. The number of Mute Swans
increased greatly with 104 on the main lake on the 22nd and 113 on the 24th. The first Ringnecked Parakeet since 2005 flew along the New Cut to the sewage works on the 24th and was
later seen as it flew along the south side of the park.

The 25th was the first of six days of hot, sunny weather and with it most of the Swifts and
hirundines disappeared! The pair of Mute Swans on the main lake hatched five young. A
Red Kite flew over on the 26th and a Common Sandpiper was present for a short while. The
first female Cuckoo of the year was around the Finger Lake on the 27th and two Egyptian
Geese landed on the main lake for a few minutes before departing. The Red Kite (identified
as the same by its moulting primaries) flew over again on the 28th. The cloud returned on the
last day of the month and with it the Swifts, about 120 being over the main lake. Common
Buzzard and an Oystercatcher also flew over.
June
The weather was rather mixed on the first day of the month but at least it remained fine. The
cloudy weather brought down 160 Common Swifts but not many hirundines. Several
Blackbirds were carrying nesting material and a grey Wagtail was near the sewage works
bridge. Two male Cuckoos were in the area and one spent some time feeding on the
caterpillars of the Spindle Ermine Moth in the Long Hedge. It rained for the much of the
morning on the 2nd

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st from singing along the south side. An
adult Great Spotted Woodpecker accompanied a juvenile, also near the sewage works bridge.
It rained for the whole of the day on the 3rd and, apart from swifts, hirundines and 141 Mute
Swans, little of note was recorded. A Hobby, an Oystercatcher and a Jay were recorded on
the 5th and two male Goldcrests were singing on the 6th. Cloud and rain were the order for
much of the month and most birds were attempting to feed their young in the appalling
weather. Both male and female Cuckoos were seen fairly regularly and Hobbies flew over on
the 9th and 10th. Two Oystercatchers flew over on the 11th and 150 Swifts, 60 Sand Martins
and 40 House Martins were over the main lake. Both a Red Kite and a Common Buzzard
flew through around mid-morning. The 13th was the first sunny day for a while and an Osprey
took advantage of the good weather to fly through just after mid-day but drifted off to the
north. Oystercatcher and Little Egret acted as the supporting cast. Swifts still numbered 150
on the 14th. Strong winds kept many passerines in cover in the following days but both Hobby
and a Green Sandpiper put in an appearance on the 18th. A Lesser Whitethroat decided to start
singing again near the Visitor Centre and Oystercatcher, Hobby and Red Kite put in further
appearances. A pair of Tufted Ducks hatched nine young (reduced to four in the days
following) on the 26th the first to have bred in the park since 1986! A Common Buzzard
flew over on the last day of the month and two Treecreepers were seen.
July
The weather for July was very mixed with some sunny periods but also heavy rain. It started
pleasant enough with plenty of warblers still active and a singing Goldcrest on the 1st. The
Finger Lakes Great Crested Grebes hatch three young and a Mistle Thrush and Little Egret
flew over on the 2nd. A Grasshopper Warbler gave two bursts of song from The Rough on the
5th and a Shoveler was on the main lake. A pair of Great Crested Grebes hatched three young
on the main lake on the 7th and two Pochards were also present. A Hobby flew over and the
Lesser Whitethroat was still singing behind the Visitor Centre. There was plenty of rain in
the following days resulting in much surface water and continuous overflow from the main
lake. Four Pochards were on the main lake on the 13th and the first juvenile Common Terns

arrived with their parents. Kingfisher, Oystercatcher and Little Egrets were seen occasionally.
Young of both great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were becoming more active but the bad
weather seemed to have had a negative effect on the tits as few family parties were seen. A
big surprise on the 18th was when a Great Crested Grebe swam out of the reeds on the south
side proudly sporting three new young on its back. Sunny weather on the 21st brought out the
first Gatekeepers. The first returning Common Gull arrived on the 25th and one, possibly the
same, visited on the following two days. A Green Sandpiper arrived from the northeast on the
27th and, after circling the lake a couple of times, headed off to the southwest. A Willow
Warbler on the 28th (the first of the post-breeding period) indicated that passage was
underway a fact supported by the arrival of 20 at Portland on the previous day. Nineteen
Reed Warblers were still present and both little Egret and Common Buzzard flew over.
Eleven Chiffchaffs on the 29th suggested that they had begun to move as did 80 Swifts, 14
House Martins and six Sand Martins on the 30th.
August
Cloud cleared to give some good sunny periods on the first day of the month and the wind
had moved round to a light easterly. A Tawny Owl was calling at 0400 hrs and a Pochard was
on the main lake. Several species were beginning to form post-breeding flocks with 16 Longtailed Tits on the first and 28 Goldfinches on the 2nd both in single flocks. A Lesser
Whitethroat was, rather unusually, singing on the south side on the 3rd and another was on the
. Despite the weather forecast there were some good sunny periods in the mornings of
the following few days, although there were sometimes heavy showers in the afternoons and
evenings. Willow Warblers were again present on the 5th and 6th and a Common Sandpiper
flew up from the lake margin on the 6th. A single flock of 24 Long-tailed Tits was also seen.
Garden Warblers and Blackcaps were becoming more difficult to find in the following days
but eight Willow Warblers and a Lesser Whitethroat were seen on the 9th. Chiffchaffs
increased to 17 on the 10th and five Shovelers were on the main lake.
A Barn Owl, the first of the year, was seen in the evening by one of the rangers whilst
doing a bat round. A Green Sandpiper flew over on the 11th and Chiffchaffs reached 20 on
the 13th when a Lesser Whitethroat was also seen. The weather remained mostly sunny during
the following days but there was little change in the bird population. Sixteen Swifts moved
through on the 15th and both Sedge Warbler and Common Buzzard were seen. A total of 75
Swifts moved south on the 17th and two Jays w
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h
. A
ly Wigeon
th
was on the west Finger Lake on the 18 and five Swallows passed south. A Tawny Owl was
recorded in the evening. A Green Sandpiper flew over on the 21st. Nineteen Chiffchaffs, 12
Reed Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat and one Garden Warbler were counted on the 22nd and
14 Swifts passed over. Swift passage continued on the 23rd with 26 over. A Common
Sandpiper flew along the river. Gadwalls had gradually increased in the Finger Lakes with
seven on the 23rd and 15 on the 24th.
The first Snipe of the autumn passed over on the 25th as did 107 House Martins, three
Swallows and two Swifts. Kingfisher, Treecreeper and Grey Wagtail were also noted. The
following day was significantly better for passerines with a Spotted Flycatcher along the

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19 Chiffchaffs, 9 Willow Warblers,
17 Blackcaps, 16 Reed Warblers and singles of
Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Garden
Warbler. Passerines were generally less active on
27th but, nevertheless, 23 Reed Warblers, 20
Chiffchaffs, Lesser Whitethroat and Garden
Warbler were all recorded. Two Common SandPipers were around the main lake on the 28th and
Swifts continued to pass through with 21 overhead at one stage. Tits were particularly active
with Long-tailed totalling 46 and Blue Tits 24. A Jay was present along the south side. Four
Wigeon were on the main lake on the 29th. Two little Egrets flew over on the 30th and 140
House Martins passed through. The 21 swifts were still present and two Goldcrests were near
the sailing club. It was fine and sunny on the last day of the month when the first Teal of the
autumn were present on the Finger Lakes and four Swifts passed over.
September
It was a cloudy start to the month but five Teal were on the main lake and two Swifts and 45
House Martins overhead for a while. Two Kingfishers were seen together and two adult
Common Gulls were the first for a while. Three swifts were present on the 2nd. It was a good
day for warblers on the 3rd when 23 Blackcaps, 21 Chiffchaffs and 11 Reed Warblers were
counted along with smaller numbers of Willow Warblers, Garden Warblers, Whitethroats and
Lesser Whitethroats. However, on the following day, only five Blackcaps could be found
suggesting that these warbler groups move around during the post-breeding period. A
Wigeon, three Shovelers and two Teal were present on the 4th and five Little Egrets came in
to roost in the evening. The sunny weather of the previous few days continued on the 6th
although i w
v y l . C start. The 25 Chiffchaffs recorded were mainly along the
north and west sides of the main lake but the 14 Blackcaps were in three main sections of the
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Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers gave brief bursts of song. A Jay flew over the main lake
and the first Yellow Wagtail of the year flew across the sewage works bridge. A late Swift
flew south over the car park.
A family party of four Kingfishers were in the Finger Lakes on the 7th, a Common
Sandpiper flew over and a Wigeon was on the main lake. A Garden Warbler and two Lesser
Whitethroats were seen and four Little Egrets came in to roost in the evening. The weather
remained sunny on the 8th when a Coal Tit, (the first of the year), was singing near the Visitor
Centre. A cloudy start to the 10th brought down about 150 House Martins and a Tawny Owl
was calling at 2.00 am. A Garganey was a surprise visitor on the 11th. The mornings of the
12th and 13th start v y l w h
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C. Both a Hobby and a Mistle
th
Thrush flew through early on the 13 and about 200 House Martins collected over the park.
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south side were juveniles. Many of the 23 Blackbirds were feeding on elderberries. Two
Willow Warblers were still present on the 14th and both Common Gull and a Kestrel were
seen but many other passerines were quite scarce. A Meadow Pipit, the first of the autumn
flew south. The first Siskins (4) of the year were seen on the 15th and a Hobby passed

through, doubtless taking a serious look at some of the 60 House Martins which had collected
over the Finger Lakes. Four more Meadow Pipits passed south and three of the six Song
Th h w h h fly . The sunny weather of the previous few days continued on the
16th and 17th. Chiffchaffs totalled 24 on the 16th and nine Blackcaps were seen. A pair of
Pochards was on the main lake and 12 Swallows passed south. A Siskin was present on the
17th and, although 17 Chiffchaffs and eight Reed Warblers were seen, only two Blackcaps
showed. Twelve Tufted Ducks were on the main lake and 14 Gadwall, a Wigeon, three
Shovelers and three Teal on the Finger Lakes. Two Great Black-backed Gulls south were the
first of the autumn. There were some good sunny periods in the following days but there was
a noticeable drop in temperature. A flock of 60 Goldfinches was feeding on teasels near the
sewage works bridge on the 19th
w T w y wl w
ll
h v
.
th
Al h h w
. C on the morning of the 19 a Willow Warbler was singing well at the
end of the spit and 19 Chiffchaffs were counted. Seven Siskins passed over. Swallows,
House Martins and a couple of Sand Martins were over the park on the 20th and Siskins were
seen again with 12 passing south. Gadwalls increased to 24 on the 22nd and to 26 on the 23rd
when 21 Wigeon were also present. The first significant rain of the month fell on the 24th.
House and Sand Martins, Swallows, Meadow Pipits and Siskins passed over to the end of the
month and, although Blackcaps and Reed Warblers were difficult to find at times, they also
were seen to the end of the month. A Common Buzzard passed over on the 26th and a
Common Snipe on the 27th. A large increase of Jays in the country took place in the last few
days of the month and this was also noted both in the county and at Priory CP. A total of
eight passed over on the 29th and a Mistle thrush also flew west. Another Common Snipe was
seen flying over towards Willington. A Common Buzzard, a Jay and several Siskins were
seen on the last day of the month and the first Little Grebe of the autumn was on the Finger
Lakes. Hirundines were still passing over and these included a party of 11 Sand Martins.

October
There was a mainly cloudy start to the month but House Martins were passing over and Reed
Warblers, a Blackcap and a Jay were also present. A Lesser Redpoll was not only the first for
the autumn but also the first for the year. It was a little brighter on the 2nd and migration was
again in evidence with House Martins, Sand Martins, Swallows, Meadow Pipits and Siskins
passing over in reasonable numbers. Two Lesser Redpolls and two Jays were also seen as
well as single Reed Warbler and Blackcap. Passage continued on the 3rd with 242 House

Martins, a Swallow, Meadow Pipits and a Snipe overhead and ten Chiffchaffs were around
the park. It was a bit of a surprise in the evening when a total of 14 Little Egrets came in to
roost in the Finger Lakes. These continued to come in during the following evenings. The
Highlight of the 5th was a Hobby which spent some time around the park. A Common
Buzzard, two Lapwings, four Siskins and a Jay flew over as well as several House Martins
and Swallows. Three more Jays passed through on the 6th but only one each of Swallow and
house Martin. Seven Blackcaps and seven Chiffchaffs were ringed as was one of the Jays.
Two male Red-crested Pochards were on the main lake on the 7th as were two Common
Pochards. Robin numbers were quite high at 21. Thirty-one Cormorants roosted at the back of
Kingsmead in the evening but only eleven Little Egrets came to roost. The first Redwing of
the year was near the Visitor Centre on the 8th, seven Swallows passed south and the first
W
R l f h
w
ll
f
h

. Thirteen Little Egrets


came in to roost.
The last two Swallows of the year passed south on the 10th and the Cormorant roost at the
back of Kingsmead numbered 38. Blackcaps were recorded on the 10th, 12th and 18th.
Redwings numbered 44 on the 11th. The first Fieldfare of the autumn was recorded on the
19th. The weather, which had been very mixed during the previous week, settled down to
become a rather tedious mixture of dark mornings, mild temperatures and mist and drizzle
which lasted for the following few days. Thirty-seven Long-tailed Tits on the 21st was the
second highest count of the year and Coot increased to 118 on the 22nd. The number of
Blackbirds rose to 32 on the 23rd of which 19 were in one flock, presumably migrants. Two
Corn Buntings, the first of the autumn, flew out of the crescent reed bed in the morning,
presumably having roosted overnight. In the evening seven Little Egrets roosted and 74
Greylag Geese flew over. The highlight of the day, however, was an Otter which spent some
time in the east Finger Lakes in the morning. The misty mornings continued on the 24th but a
party of 17 Lesser Redpolls flew west. In the late afternoon two Shelducks flew northeast and
12 Fieldfares flew south. Forty-seven Cormorants, 1100 Starlings and five Corn Buntings but
only three Little Egrets came to roost. Although there had been north-easterly winds for a
couple of days, things were fairly quiet on the 25th with 62 Woodpigeons south perhaps
giving a little hope for the future. Passage was more noticeable on the 26th when 576
Woodpigeons passed south, 133 Fieldfares and 77 Redwings passed over west. In the evening
34 Corn Buntings, five Little Egrets and 1000 Jackdaws came in to roost. It was much colder
on the 27th
C start with slightly fewer Woodpigeons, Redwings and Fieldfares passing
v . Th h hl h f h
yw
Sw ll w wh h
v h

th
the evening, one day later than the previous latest which was on the 26 October 1991. A
visitor reported hearing a Bittern booming in the crescent reed bed on the 27th. It was another
cold morning on the 28th and, again, a few Fieldfares, Redwings, Starlings and Chaffinches
passed over west. A W
k fl w
f
h
h
Goldeneye on the main lake
was the first of the year. Lesser Redpolls were to feature during the day with 13 trapped
l
l. Th
h Sw ll w
v h

h
h
dusk.

About 2100 Starlings were seen flying NE to roost at dusk on the 29th. The Bittern was again
heard to boom on the 30th, Bl k
w
h S w k
Bl k
w
counted. Fifty-three Cormorants came in to roost at the back of Kingsmead and 47 Corn
Buntings entered the crescent reed bed roost. The last day of the month was rather dull with
the occasional sunny period. Goldfinches reached their monthly peak of 102 of which 70
were near the sewage works bridge and 359 Fieldfares passed west in a rather leisurely
fashion at treetop height.
November
The rain having lashed down overnight, the start to the month was a rather wet one with
much surface water and still the occasional shower. Blackbirds were still in good numbers
with 38 counted. Three Kingfishers were seen together and a Jay flew over the Flower
Meadow. The weather made up for it on the morning of the 2nd when it was fine and sunny. A
few Chaffinches made their way west and a Woodcock was flushed in the Finger Lakes area.
In the late afternoon 58 Corn Buntings came in to roost as did 48 Cormorants and three Little
Egrets. It was again fine and sunny on the 3rd with a little frost in places. Five Mistle
Thrushes flew southeast and two Treecreepers were seen. It rained for much of the day on the
4th and, as a result little of note was seen, particularly amongst the passerines. In the evening
c1500 Jackdaws came in to roost and at least two Water Rails were in the Finger Lakes. It
was a much brighter day on the 5th but there was little of special note in the morning, just five
Little Grebes on the Finger Lakes, a Little Egret on the shingle beach, a Water Rail, a Jay, a
couple of Siskins and a Redpoll. In the early evening 11 Little Egrets, 37 Corn Buntings and
47 Cormorants roosted. The sunny weather continued on the 6th but, apart from 120
Woodpigeons south and 79 Fieldfares west there was little different. Seventy-three Corn
Buntings and 61 Cormorants roosted on the 7th and 56 Common Gulls on the 8th indicated
that passage was underway. Thirty-eight Common Gulls were present on the 9th and 81
Herring Gulls passed south. The h ff h ff w
h
h

Green Sandpiper flew over. Siskins, Lesser Redpolls and Goldfinches continued to be seen. A
th
S
Th h w
h
h
h
, ten days earlier than last year and a week
earlier than 2010. There was a further southward movement of Herring Gulls with 127
v . Tw h
S l
j
h
B
h

th
roost. Water Rails continued to be heard on the 13 and 60 Corn Buntings roosted. It
remain
l v ly l ,
h
h h
ll
w
f
w ll
th
the evening. Two Goldeneyes were on the main lake on the 17 . A female Blackcap was near
the Visitor Centre on a sunny and frosty 18th, 34 Stock Doves flew out of roost on the south
side and a Waxwing was spotted in trees just over the sewage works bridge. A fine male
Goldeneye was on the main lake on the 19th
l Bl k
h

th
reed bed. The weather turned damp with some very heavy overnight rain on the 20 which
continued for much of the following day. The Goldeneye remained for another couple of days
but passerines were difficult to find in the bad weather. It was much better weather on the
23rd and better for birds with a Slavonian Grebe on the main lake being a pleasant surprise.
Seventeen Siskins were seen and a male Blackcap was near the Visitor Centre again. The
Slavonian Grebe was still present on the following day and the increasing water level resulted
in two Water Rails showing well along the north side of the main lake. It rained from midday and continued overnight causing a further rising of water levels and the flooding on the
south and east sides. A male Goldeneye and a male Blackcap were the highlights of the day.

The barely recognisable Canoe Slalom Course on the morning of the 25th November
Having been absent on the previous day the Slavonian Grebe was again present on the 26th
and again on the 27th but it was interesting to note that, possibly as a result of the flooding,
passerines were quite scarce and most Mallards had departed. On the 28th a single flock of
600 Lapwings passed northeast, again probably having been displaced by floodwaters.

December
It was a cold, fairly dull start to the month with the
l wf
h
ly
ly C during the day. The Slavonian Grebe continued to put in an
appearance and Gadwalls had increased to 51. Bright and sunny weather heralded the start of
the 2nd but the temperature had d
- C overnight and thin ice covered part of the
west Finger Lake as well as the puddles. A Goldeneye and a male Goosander were present on
the main lake and a Green Sandpiper flew over. Nine Bullfinches were recorded. Three male
and a female Blackcap were present, two of the males and one female being trapped. A
surprise on the 3rd was two Ruddy Ducks on the main lake, the first since January 2008.
There was a light covering of snow on the morning of the 5th when two male Goldeneyes
joined the Slavonian Grebe. Ice covered much of the Finger Lakes and the west part of the
main lake on the 6th but there were good sunny periods later in the morning and on the
following days. A Common Buzzard settled in the Finger Lakes on the 6th. It was a wet start
to the morning of the 7th and rain soon turned to sleet, quite heavy at times. Forty-five Corn
Buntings came to roost in the evening and 34 Pied Wagtails passed over southwest to roost.
A male Goosander flew over on the 8th
Bl ckcap was near the car park. A Green
Sandpiper flew up from the sewage works. Goldeneyes increased to three on the 9th and a
W
k w fl h f
h
h.

Blackbird feeding on Spindle berries.


There were some very sunny days from 5th 13th of the month with a heavy frost on the 12th.
A Waxwing near the sewage works bridge was a surprise in the 10th and a female Blackcap
was near the car park area on the 11th. Gadwalls had increased to 129 on the 14th and there
were further records of Water Rails, Common Buzzard, Siskins and Redpolls. A party of 17
Snipes flew over and landed on Fenlake on the 19th. Heavy rain in the following days caused
th
flooding on the 24th wh h

w
l h
. Christmas Day provided the

last sighting of the Slavonian Grebe and Tawny Owls were heard in the evening. Song
Thrushes were singing well on the 28th and a Common Buzzard flew over on the 29th. Three
Goosanders, a male and two females, flew in and landed on the 30th and 27 Pied Wagtails
were on the partially flooded Kingsmead on the 31st.

..

SYSTEMATIC LIST
2012

MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor


A breeding resident and visitor.

Most counts during January were between 25 and 50 but 74 were present on the 18th. With the onset
of the freezing weather in early February the numbers increased to 88 on the 6th, 123 on the 8th and
133 on the 12th. The Mute Swans, along with the Canada Geese, performed an important function in
keeping open quite a large ice-free area on the main lake from which smaller waterfowl benefitted.
With milder weather during the second half of February numbers declined to around 70 by the end of
the month. There was a rapid decline in early March and only eight were present on the 4th. Birds
returned to the lake during April, increasing to 51 on the 26th but there was a further increase in May,
possibly due to preparations for the Bedford Rowing Regatta (later cancelled due to dangerous river
conditions), when 92 on the 19th increased to 106 on the 22nd and further to139 on the 28th and 31st
May.
Monthly maxima
Jan
74

Feb
133

Mar Apr
19
51

May
139

Jun
164

Jul
136

Aug
135

Sep
55

Oct
28

Nov Dec
28
45

Numbers increased significantly mid May onwards from 46 on the 17th to 92 on the 19th and up to
139 on the 28th. Over 100 were recorded on almost every day in June, over 150 on several days, and
th
peaked at 164 on the 7th. I w
l f
h
August that numbers were regularly below 100
and, by the end of September, only 28 were present. It is not certain why numbers were so high during
May to August but it may be related to growth of aquatic vegetation providing an excellent food
supply combined with disturbance on the river along the Embankment. The fact that May to August
are also peak months for water sports on the main lake suggests that food supply may be the main
factor as they showed a high tolerance of water-based recreational activities. From October to the year
end between 15 and 25 were present on most days (av. = 19.8).
Breeding:
Pairs nesting: Finger Lakes hatched their young (3) on the 11th May, island, south side, sewage works
bridge hatched their young (3 down to 2) on the 11the May and the pair on the main lake hatched five
young on the 25th May. The pair on Riverside lost their eggs in the rising waters but a female with six
young was on the river along the south side on the 2nd June.
Ringing:
th
A Mute Swan ringed with a V

M l w, B k h
h
July 2010 as part of
th
h Sw U

yw f
P y P
h
February 2011 having
travelled 67 km NNE in about 200 days (per Ed Green, Ivel Ringing Group).
BEWICKS SWAN Cygnus columbianus
A scarce winter visitor. Twelve previous records. Last recorded in December 2010.

WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus


A rare winter visitor. Ten previous records. Last recorded in December 2009.

PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrynchus


A very rare winter visitor. All three previous records have been of large flocks. Last recorded in June 2011.

[
w
h

J
y
F
y l
w hfv E y
G
,
over 100 Barnacle geese and good numbers of Greylags and Canada Geese. It was seen on 1st
March regularly to the 10th March.]
WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser albifrons
A very rare winter visitor. Three previous records. Last recorded in December 1996 ( l
in February and March 2011).

GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser


A regular visitor throughout the year and occasional breeder.

One to five were regularly present in January but a party of 22 flew over on the 7th as did 11 on the
10th. Eleven were also recorded flying over on the 3rd February. One pair established a territory on the
island in late February and four young were hatched on the 30th A l
w

. One to
ten were seen almost daily until late May with a few in early June but there were no records from the
14th June to the 21st August. There were only a few records of small numbers in the following two
months but 74 flew over towards Willington on the 23rd October. One to three were occasionally
present to the end of the year with 26 present on the 28th December and 14 on the 29th.
GREATER CANADA GOOSE Branta Canadensis
A breeding resident. Numbers may be enhanced by birds disturbed from neighbouring areas. The population of
this species has been controlled by oiling eggs since 2004.

Numbers varied greatly early in the year with fairly large numbers coming in to roost on some
evenings. After these roosting birds had departed numbers were mainly between eight and 20 on the
main lake with some of the roosting birds occasionally feeding on Fenlake. Fourteen pairs were
present on the island in late February.

Monthly Maxima
Jan
131

Feb
109

Mar Apr
66
49

May
82

Jun
97

Jul
88

Aug
101

Sep
90

Oct
48

Nov Dec
145 221

Five pairs successfully reared a total of 24 young (6, 5, 5, 4, 4). Oiling of eggs again took place this
year and involved 169 eggs from 36 nests (146 eggs from 31 nests on the main lake and 23 eggs from
five nests on the Finger Lakes). The netting erected along the front of the sailing club to prevent the
geese entering and defecating on the lawn was again very successful in reducing the numbers in the
park, particularly in when it was well maintained, and most of the larger counts were of birds roosting
on the water or flying over after departing from nearby roosts on the river. The heavy rain in
November flooded the Riverside Meadow and often more than 100 Canada Geese were attracted to

the area during this time but, later in the month they were often on Kingsmead with the highest count
being 221 on the 29th December.
BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopsis
Feral birds are occasionally recorded in the park and are usually part of the Roxton flock.

A flock of 93 flew in from the east and back out again on the 5th February. (A flock of over 100 was
l ly
h h
/ W ll
F
J
y M h. One flew over on the 31st
March. Twenty flew west over the park on the 27th November and 54 passed northeast on the
following day.
BRENT GOOSE Branta bernicla
A very rare winter visitor. Six previous records. Last recorded in November 1994.

EGYPTIAN GOOSE Alopochen aegyptiaca


Three previous records; one of three birds in November 1993, another three birds in March 1998 and one in
May 2001.

Fv w
l ly
h
f
J
y early March and three of these passed
th
over the park on the 11 March. Three were on the main lake on the 27th March and two made a short
visit on the 27th May.
COMMON SHELDUCK

Tadorna tadorna

An uncommon but regular visitor and passage migrant, mainly in spring. Breeding at nearby Willington has
resulted in sightings of both adults and immature during and after the breeding season.

One was present for a short time on the 2nd January and two were present for a short time on the 9th
February. Heavy rain on the 17th April was the probable cause of four (2m + 2f) being on the main
lake in the morning. Two flew northeast in the late afternoon of the 24th October.
[RUDDY SHELDUCK] Tadorna ferruginea
Two previous records: in June 1985 and July-September 1994. Both were thought to be escapes.

[WOOD DUCK]

Aix sponsa

Once an irregular visitor, now rare. Last recorded in 1994.

MANDARIN DUCK

Aix galericulata

An irregular visitor.

A male was on the main lake with the Mallards on the 12th November. This is the first record since
one on the 6th November 2009.
EURASIAN WIGEON Anas penelope
A regular winter visitor mainly from Scandinavia.

Up to eight, but more usually 3-6 were present daily in January. Seventeen were on the main lake on
the 1st February but these declined rapidly and the last of the winter, a male, was seen on the 13th
February. The first of the post-breeding period was a male on the 18th August followed by four on the

29th. A male was on the main lake on the 2nd and 4th 9th September with two present on the 11th and
three on the 13th. The same male was present on the 17th, 18th, 20th and 22nd 23rd with three on the
21st and an additional 20 (parties of 12 and 8) on the 23rd. Nine on the 24th and two on the 27th were
the last September records. In October three were on the main lake on the 8th, six on the 9th, 19 on the
10th and nine on the 11th. A party of 12 flew northeast on the 23rd October after which only one to five
were seen to the end of the month. November records were fewer with singles on the 4th and 8th
followed by three on the 24th and 25th, nine over on the 29th and four on the 30th being the only
records. In December between one and five (mainly one to three) were present on most days but 14
were on the main lake on the 1st and six on the 2nd and 4th.
GADWALL Anas strepera
A regular winter visitor in small numbers. Occasionally recorded at other times of the year.

Between 45-55 were present on most days in January with 59 on the 17th, 67 on the 18th and 57 on the
23rd being the highest counts. After 48 on the first of February numbers increased to 71 on the 2nd, 73
on the 3rd and 86 on the 4th but 106 were present on the 5th. High numbers were recorded in the
following few days with 118 on the 7th, 142 on the
9th and 177 on the 12th. Numbers declined after this
with 33 on the 21st, 24 on the 23rd and 12 on the 28th.
Copulation was observed on the 19th and a leucistic
individual was present on the 24th and 26th February.
Although recorded regularly throughout March
numbers recorded were of 16 or fewer. Although
recorded daily throughout April most counts were
of three or four with seven on the 8th. There were
no counts above three during May but, in June, a
party of ten, which included three free-flying
Grey Gadwall
juveniles, were present with five adults on the following day. One to three were regularly recorded to
the end of the month. After three on the 1st July there were just five records of singles in the rest of the
month.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
67 177 16
7

May
3

Jun
10

Jul
3

Aug
15

Sep
29

Oct
28

Nov Dec
37 129

After three on the 4th August the species was seen more regularly building up from one on the 11th to
seven on the 19th, 15 on the 24th and 12 on the 25th. Between five and 12 were then present daily until
a further increase later in September when 14 on the 17th increased to 17 on the 21st, 24 on the 22nd, 26
on the 23rd and 29 on the 25th and 27th. Higher counts in October included 28 on the 4th, 27 on the 8th
and 25 on the 11th. Counts were regularly between 15 and 20 during November with 37 present on the
last day of the month and 51 on the 1st December. Numbers increased in mid-month, when most of the
main lake was iced over, with 81 on the 13th and 129 on the 14th. Numbers declined after this but 61
were counted on the 29th December.
EURASIAN TEAL Anas crecca
A fairly regular winter visitor in small numbers from September to April.

One to 15 were regularly recorded during January and February mainly in the Finger Lakes but a
party of 32 was standing on the ice on the 6th February and 26 were present on Fenlake on the 11th
March. The highest March count in the park was of 19 on the 3rd and up to nine were seen in early
April with only the occasional pair being seen after the 13th.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
14
32
19
9

May
2

Jun
0

Jul
0

Aug
2

Sep
7

Oct
33

Nov Dec
19
18

The first of the post-breeding period were two on the 31st August followed by five on the 1st
September and two on the 4th. Three on the 12th September increased to four on the 13th and seven on
the 14th. Small numbers (ten or fewer) were recorded regularly until the end of October when 33 were
recorded on the 28th of which 30 arrived, presumably having been disturbed from Fenlake. Similar
numbers were recorded in November with 17 on the 12th, 19 northeast on the 13th and 18 on the 23rd
being by far the highest counts. After the flooding of the Finger Lakes the birds departed, presumably
moving on to more favourable areas newly created by the floods. They returned as soon as the
floodwater receded and were again recorded daily with higher counts involving 16 on the 2nd
December and 18 on the 6th.
MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos
A common resident and winter visitor.

Numbers were quite variable during January and February with between 50 and 80 present on many
occasions but reaching 113 on the 25th January and 111 on the 12th February. Numbers declined to
near the breeding population at the end of February.
Monthly maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
113 111 68
72

May
53

Jun
88

Jul
122

Aug
139

Sep
90

Oct
77

Nov Dec
105 94

A broken egg was found, presumably predated, on the 7th April and two broods had hatched on the
13th April. Twenty-seven broods totalled 181 young (av. 6.7 per brood).

Year
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008

The Distribution of the Production of Young by 14-Day Periods 2008


Apr Apr A/M May M/J Jun J/Jul Jul
Jul
Jul/A Aug
2-8 9-22 23-6 7-20 21-3 4-17 18-1 2-15 16-29 30-12 13-26
0
17
32
55
26
2
19
14
0
8
8
0
18
40
43
19
20
2
4
0
8
0
8
0
38
16
7
18
34
12
5
0
0
0
0
80
25
34
28
13
0
0
0
0
0
5
46
10
33
10
4
2
8
0
0

Total
181
154
138
180
118

Ringing:
A bird ringed on The Embankment, Bedford, on the 9th July 2003 was found dead at Priory C.P. on
the 5th March 2012 - a remarkable life-span for one fed on such a diet!
PINTAIL Anas acuta
An uncommon winter visitor. Forty-four previous records.

GARGANEY

Anas querquedula

A rare passage migrant. Eleven records. Last recorded in July 2011.

One was on the west Finger Lake for a short time on the 11th September.
SHOVELER Anas clypeata
Mainly a regular winter visitor from September to May. Occasionally observed in summer.

Numbers in the early part of the year were again quite low with maxima of only ten in January and
February and five in March. A pair was present on 13th April but there were no May or June records.
There were two records of singles in July and five, a family party, were on the main lake on 10th
August. One flew over on the 24th August.
Monthly Maxima

Jan
10

Feb
10

Mar Apr
5
2

May
0

Jun
0

Jul
1

Aug
5

Sep
6

Oct
3

Nov Dec
17
12

In September one was present on the 1st and three on the 4th with two to six regularly present after
this. Higher counts in November were of eight on the 6th and 17 over (possibly from Fenlake) on the
29th. Up to 12 were present in December but most counts were of seven or eight.
RED-CRESTED POCHARD

Netta rufina

An uncommon visitor, mainly in winter. Most, if not all, used to be visitors from the group on the river in the
Q
P k
fB f
but a large dispersal early in 2010 from Cotswold Water Park resulted in over 30
being recorded in the county and some of the present records may be from this source.

Two males were present on the 7th October.

COMMON POCHARD Aythya farina


A common winter visitor from the Baltic and Russia. Occasional in summer.

Numbers rose from 33 on the 1st January to over 100 by the end of the month, peaking at 116 on the
24th, and although numbers in February fluctuated between 36 on the 16th and 128 on the 5th most
counts were between 80 and 120. The Pochards were more dispersed over the lake from mid to late
February. They were actively feeding and taking short excursion flights before their return journey.
After having completed their feedi
fl h
h yw l
h
h
h
wh
they were much easier to count!
Monthly Maxima

Jan
116

Feb
128

Mar Apr
81
0

May
2

Jun
0

Jul
4

Aug
1

Sep
4

Oct
12

Nov Dec
12
51

After 81 on the 1st March birds gradually departed with 36 present on the 5th down to 16 on the 11th. A
female was then present on several days to the 22nd March. There were no further records until two on
the 10th May followed by a male on the 13th May. There were no June records but two were present on
the 7th July and four on the 13th. There were only two records of singles in August and five records of
up to four in September. There were occasional records of two or three in November but six were

th
present on the 19th and 1
h
. Twenty-five on the 1st December represented a significant
increase. These had increased to 51 by the 31st December.

FERRUGINOUS DUCK Aythya nyroca


A very rare visitor. Two previous records, involving different birds, in November 1998 and December 1998 to
March 1999. The origin of these birds was probably related to releases at Swiss Gardens in early 1998 and
subsequent breeding there.

TUFTED DUCK

Aythya fuligula

A fairly common winter visitor from Northern Russia, Scandinavia and Low Countries. Scarce in summer. Last
bred in 1986.

Most counts in January were of about 20 - to 30 with 35 on the 20th being the highest count. Numbers
were a little higher during February with counts of over 40 on six days and of 50 or more on three
days. The highest count of 54 was on the 16th February.
Monthly Maxima

Jan
35

Feb
54

Mar Apr
34
15

May
13

Jun
10

Jul
16

Aug
15

Sep
12

Oct
23

Nov Dec
53
93

A pair nested on the island in the main lake and produced nine young on the 26th June but these had
decreased to eight by the following day when they moved to the Finger Lakes. Eventually only four
young survived. This is the first time that this species has bred in the park since 1986.

Tufted Duck with eight young


Up to 11 were present in August, up to 12 in September and up to 23 in October. Numbers were
usually between 15 and 25 in November but more arrived during the latter part of the month with 49
on the 27th increasing to 53 on the 30th. Numbers remained fairly high, usually over 45, with peaks of
59 on the 6th December, 72 on the 15th, 93 on the 16th, 81 on the 17th and 78 on the 19th.
GREATER SCAUP

Aythya marila

A scarce winter visitor from Iceland, Northern Europe and Russia.

LONG-TAILED DUCK

Clangula hyemalis

A rare winter visitor from the Arctic and Scandinavia. One previous record, November 1982 to February 1983.

COMMON SCOTER Melanitta nigra


A rare visitor from arctic Russia and Scandinavia, mainly spring and autumn. Five previous records. Last
recorded in April 2000.

COMMON GOLDENEYE

Bucephala clangula

A fairly regular but uncommon winter visitor from northern and central Europe.
th
Th
ly
f h f
w
w
f
.
h
February. A pair was on the main
th
lake on the 4 April. The first of the autumn was an immature on the 28th October. (Tw w

st
th
th

h
November with a single present to the 14 ). Two were on the main lake on the 17
November with a single male recorded on the 19th 21st and again on the 25th November. A
/
was present on the 29th November. I D
/
.w
h nd and two males from
the 5th to the 8th were joined by a fem/imm. on the 9th. A male was present on the 10th, two immatures
on the 11th and 12th and one immature on the 13th, 15th, 16th and 20th.

SMEW Mergus albellus


A rare winter visitor from northern Russia. Last recorded in December 2007.

RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator


A rare winter visitor and passage migrant from northern Eurasia and northern Britain. Nine previous records.
Last recorded in January 1998.

GOOSANDER Mergus merganser


An uncommon but regular winter visitor from northern Europe and northern Britain. Less frequent in mild
winters. Earliest: 29th October 1983. Latest: 11th April 1990.
th
A fl w l
h v
h
January and
l
h
l k .H w v ,

y
long. A
y f v h

v
mid-day on the 7th February but soon departed
to h
.
h f ll w
yfv h

arrived but, after having a short swim and then


standing on the ice to preen, they too made their
exit, but this time to the west. A male was
present for a short time on the 2nd December
and a male flew over west on the 8th. A male and
two females arrived on the morning of the 30th
December.

RUDDY DUCK

Oxyura jamaicensis

An uncommon visitor. Has been recorded in all months. Last recorded in January 2008. Expected to occur less
frequently as a result of recent culling in the UK.

Two present on the 3rd December were the first in the park since January 2008.
RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE

Alectoris rufa

Once an irregular visitor to the park but now very infrequent since mineral extraction commenced in
neighbouring fields. Last recorded in June 2009.

GREY PARTRIDGE Perdix perdix


An uncommon, now almost rare, visitor to the park. Occasionally seen in the surrounding fields. Last recorded
in April 2009.

QUAIL Coturnix coturnix


A rare passage migrant. Two previous records in May and June 1989.

COMMON PHEASANT

Phasianus colchicus

A breeding resident in small numbers.

One to four were regularly seen in and around the park with the highest count being six in January but
sightings became less frequent from mid-July onwards.
BLACK-THROATED DIVER

Gavia arctica

A rare winter visitor. Southward coastal movements from breeding areas in western Scotland take place during
the winter. One previous record, 20th-22nd November 1993.

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer


A rare winter visitor. Moves south to coasts from breeding area in Iceland and Greenland. Five previous records.
The first, in February 1983 was the fourth county record. Other records involved singles in December 1989,
January 1990, November 1998 and November 2006.

FULMAR Fulmaris glacialis


A very rare visitor. Two records; one in September1989, the sixth record for the county, and one in February
2004.

GANNET Morus bassanus


One on 14th-15th November 2011 was the first record for the park.

GREAT CORMORANT

Phalacrocorax carbo

May be seen throughout the year but mainly a winter visitor from coastal and inland breeding sites. Roosting
started in 2001.

Recorded daily in the park with numbers lower during the breeding season.
Monthly Maxima (second row) and Monthly Average (bottom row) not including evening roosts.

Jan Feb Mar Apr


28
31
19
14
19.7 17.3 10.2 3.8

May
8
3.2

Jun
5
2.8

Jul
15
6.0

Jun

Jul

Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


18
18
27
29 40
11.2 12.7 14.9 14.9 23.4

Roosts:
Jan
48

Feb
50

Mar
24

Apr

May

Aug

Sep

Oct
53

Nov
61

Dec
52

P. c. sinensis Hybridisation with P. C. carbo sometimes makes it difficult to identify the races of this species.
Up to five were present in January and February but hybridisation with P. carbo and with
carbo/sinensis hybrids is now making it difficult to distinguish this race with any accuracy.

SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis


A rare winter visitor. Six previous records. Last recorded in March 1995.

EURASIAN BITTERN Botaurus stellaris


A very rare visitor. Recorded in October 1994, February 1997, February 2002, December 2010- February 2011.

One was heard to call w


h
Finger Lake on the 30th October.

7th October and one called from the east

LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzetta


Once rare but now a regular visitor. First recorded in May 1986. Annual since 2001. Has roosted regularly,
mainly in autumn through to spring, since 2006.

Although seen occasionally in the park during the day most records are of birds roosting in the Finger
Lakes roost. Roost counts during the summer months are often do not take place due to the lateness of
sunset (most arriving well after sunset).
Roosting:
The roost varied between two and nine in January. Nine roosted on the evening of the 1st January and
eight were seen departing from the roost in the morning. Most counts were of six or seven but only
two came in on the 16th. Between one and five roosted in February but six came in on the 18th and
seven on the 29th. In March the number attending roosts varied but nine on the 5th and 20th, ten on the
14th and 12 on the 16th were the highest counts. The count of 12 on the 16th was the highest number
ever recorded in the park and was one of the highest ever recorded in the county.
Five came in to roost on the 4th September and four on the 7th. It was a bit if a surprise when, on the
3rd October, a late afternoon visit revealed 14 Little Egrets in the roost. The same number was also
present on the 5th, 6th but only 11 on the 7th followed by 12 on the 8th and 13 on the 9th. After ten on
the 10th the number declined with five to seven on most nights but down to one on the 31st October.
Numbers remained low until the 5th November when 11 roosted. The roost varied after this with four
to eight recorded on most visits in November. Up to seven were recorded in December.
Daytime records:
One was present on the 20th January and four remained in the Finger Lakes for quite a time on the 4th
February. One was on the edge of the main lake on the 28th February and singles were present on the
1st and 3rd March. Counts of six on the 12th March and four on the 16th were of birds late departing the
roost. One to three were regularly recorded in the park after this to late April but there were only two
May records, one on the 5th and two on the 13th. In June singles were recorded on the 13th, 17th and
27th with three on the 14th. There were six records of singles in July and two records of singles in
August with two over on the 30th. One flew SE over the park on the 9th September and one was
present in the Finger Lakes on the 25th September. Three were present on the morning of the 27th
October and singles flew over on the 31st October and 1st, 5th, 6th, 8th, 19th, 26th and 27th November
with two present on the 30th November. In December singles were recorded on the 8th and 10th. Seven
on Kingsmead on the 25th December had presumably just departed from roost. Two were in the Finger
Lakes on the 31st December.

GREY HERON Ardea cinerea


A non-breeding resident and visitor.

The population remained relatively stable throughout the year with eight on 4th July and 11
on the 9th representing dispersal of young from breeding sites.
Maximum Day Count
Jan Feb Mar Apr
8
4
4
6

WHITE STORK

May
5

Jun
5

Jul
11

Aug
5

Sep
7

Oct
5

Nov Dec
6
8

Ciconia ciconia

One which flew northeast over the park on 3rd May 2011 was the first record for the park.

LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis


An uncommon but regular winter visitor from September to April. Occasionally recorded in summer.

Scarce this winter with one to three recorded regularly during January but followed by only three
records of singles in February and one on the 7th March.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
3
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
3
6
6
The first of the autumn was a juvenile on the 30th September. (A pair hatched three new young on the
sewage works bridge pool on 25th August.) One to five were recorded regularly after the first week of
October to the year end.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE

Podiceps cristatus

Breeding resident, winter visitor and passage migrant.

Numbers declined to the breeding population in April and May and were then supplemented by young
birds and dispersing adults during the post breeding period. The highest count was of 35 on the 28th
July.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
21
11
20
15
13
13
35
28
22
26
24
21
Three pairs produced young. A pair on the Finger Lakes made an unsuccessful attempt at breeding in
May but constructed a new nest at the end of the month and had four eggs on the 9th June. Three
young hatched on 2nd July of which two survived. A pair on the main lake had three young on the 7th
July and a second pair on the main lake had three newly hatched young on the 18th July. Seven young
survived (2+2+3).
RED-NECKED GREBE

Podiceps grisegena

A rare visitor, mainly in winter but occasionally on passage. Breeds in Europe, east from Denmark. Nine
previous records. Last recorded in November 2005.

SLAVONIAN GREBE Podiceps auritus


A rare passage migrant in winter and spring. Thirteen previous records. Last recorded in May 2011.

One was present on the main lake from the 23rd November to the 25th December. This was the
fourteenth record for the park.

Slavonian Grebe
During the first days of its stay it was harassed by a Great Crested Grebe which, on two occasions was
observed to grab the bird by its neck and shake it!
BLACK-NECKED GREBE

Podiceps nigricollis

A rare visitor. Eleven previous records. Last recorded in November 2008.

HONEY BUZZARD

Pernis apivorus

One previous record: two east over the park on the 6 th October 2000.

RED KITE

Milvus milvus

Eleven records. First recorded on 2nd April 2004 followed by two records in 2005, one in 2006 and one in 2007.
First bred in the county in 2008.

One flew over the park on the 22nd March and one flew southwest over the park on the 26th May. This
bird visited again on the 28th May. A different bird was over the park on the 12th June and again on the
25th.
MARSH HARRIER

Circus aeruginosus

A very rare visitor. Five previous records, all between April and mid-June.

HEN HARRIER

Circus cyaneus

One over the park on the 23rd November 2006 was the first record for the park.

NORTHERN GOSHAWK

Accipiter gentilis

A very rare visitor. Six previous records. First accepted record in March 2002 followed by one record in April
and two in October of the same year. One in April 2004 and one in April 2007.

SPARROWHAWK

Accipiter nisus

A regular visitor throughout the year. Often breeds either in the park or nearby.

A male and a female were recorded from the 27th January onwards and these birds displayed regularly
over the park from the 10th February to the end of the month. A pair was present on the 30th and 31st
March and were displaying on the 1st and 2nd April.
Bird Days
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
11
23
11
20
10
6
9
14
13
13
10
15
The number of bird days recorded this year was 155 which is better than the 129 of 2011 and 141 of
2009 but below the 179 in 2010.
COMMON BUZZARD

Buteo buteo

Once a rare visitor to the park, now more frequent. Now a regular breeding bird in the county it will doubtless
visit more regularly. First recorded in the park as recently as March 1998.

There were six records of singles and one of two in January. One or two were recorded almost daily
during the first half of February but a party of 11 over on the 26th February was the largest count for
st
h
k
w
v h

March. The largest party in April was of seven


th
which flew over on the 6 .
Bird Days
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
7
27
5
21
7
2
3
2
5
2
0
8
Recorded in every month except November but more were recorded from February to April. Birds
were noted on 66 days this year continuing the upward trend (47 days in 2011, 24 days in 2010).
ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD

Buteo lagopus

One west on the 5th November was accepted by the Beds Bird Club Rarities Panel and, as such, was the first
record for the park.

OSPREY

Pandeon haliaetus

A fairly scarce, but now almost annual, passage migrant. Forty previous records. Last recorded in April 2008.

One arrived over the park at about 1208 on the 13th June, drifting off to the north at 1218 (David
Fisher).
KESTREL

Falco tinnunculus

Once an uncommon but fairly regular visitor. Serious recent decline, (182 bird days in 2002 down to 9 in 2007),
probably as a result of nearby mineral extraction removing feeding habitat.

Recorded on 65 bird days this year compared with 38 in 2011, 66 in 2010 and 66 in 2009. It will be
interesting to see wh h h
f
f
l x
h
y positive effect
on this species.
Bird Days
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
5
7
6
3
3
5
2
6
6
7
2
13

MERLIN

Falco columbarius

A rare winter visitor. Fifteen previous records. Last recorded on 30 th December 2004.

HOBBY

Falco subbuteo

An uncommon passage migrant and summer visitor.


Earliest: 24.04.91 and 93. Latest: 18.10.95.
Average earliest in spring 1985 to 1999: 1st May. 2000 to 2009: 4th May.
Average latest in autumn 1985 to 1999: 24th September. 2000 to 2009: 25th September.

The first arrived on the 5th May and singles were also seen on the 6th and 7th. There were no further
sightings until one on the 19th May followed by singles on the 5th, 9th, 10th, 16th, 18th and 24th June.
There were only three records, all of singles, in July. There were no sightings from 14th July to 13th
September when one flew SW. After one on the 15th September and one on the 23rd the last flew over
on the 5th October.
PEREGRINE FALCON

Falco peregrines

First recorded in February 1996 and again in September of the same year. Twenty-six previous records. Now
breeds in the county.

One flew over on the 13th May.

Photo: Ed Green
WATER RAIL

Rallus aquaticus

A regular but uncommon visitor, mainly in winter. Only one summer record, in August 1989 on Fenlake.
Earliest arrival in autumn: 05.09.09. Latest departure in spring: 23.04.03.
Average date of first autumn arrival 1990-2009: 15th October.
Average date of last spring departure 1990-2009: 3rd April.

This species was difficult to find in January, possibly due to only one bird being present, but it was
recorded on seven days. Records were almost daily in February, mainly of singles but of two on three
th
days. Si l w
l ly,
ly
h

h
March.
th
Th f
f h
w
h

h
October after which singles were
th
th
th
recorded on the 10 , 19 , 25 and then daily to the end of the month. At least two were in the Finger
Lakes on the 4th November and at least one was recorded almost daily during this month. Flooding of
the Finger Lakes was the probable reason why two birds were on the north side of the main lake on
the 24th November. One was heard calling strongly from Fenlake on the 17th November. Up to three
were recorded almost daily during December.

CORNCRAKE

Crex crex

One from the 16th to 20th June 1998 is the only record.

MOORHEN

Gallinula chloropus

A breeding resident in small numbers and a winter visitor.

Usually between four and eight were counted daily except on days when Kingsmead was particularly
suitable for feeding. Eleven were there on the 7th January, 19 on the 10th and 25 on the 11th.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
25
12
16
7

May
3

Jun
5

Jul
13

Aug
16

Sep
12

Oct
14

Nov Dec
9
9

At least four pairs bred. A pair hatched two young on the river by the sewage works bridge and a nest
in the Finger Lakes contained 7 eggs on the 9th 25th May. Three new young hatched on the 25th July
and four young hatched on the 3rd August.
COMMON COOT

Fulica atra

A breeding resident in small numbers. No longer a winter visitor.

Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
128 164 56
36

May
29

Jun
31

Jul
60

Aug
54

Sep
67

Oct
118

Nov Dec
87 100

Breeding:
A pair had an almost complete nest by the south hide on the 28th February and by late March at least
eight pairs had built nests. A pair had laid an egg by the 7th April. Fourteen pairs nested and some
produced second broods but the survival rate was very low.
OYSTERCATCHER

Haematopus ostralegus

An uncommon passage migrant. Has increased from April to July in recent years due to breeding taking place in
the Willington complex of gravel pits.

The first of the year were two which flew over on the 4th March. These were followed by one on the
10th March, two on the 12th, one on the 13th, two on the 20th and 21st and singles on the 25th, 26th, 27th
and 30th. There were 13 April records, mostly of one or two birds but one of four on the 22nd and 15
records of one to two in May with three on the 1st May. In June there were six records of singles with
two over on the 11th and four records of singles in July.
AVOCET

Recurvirostra avosetta

A very rare passage migrant. Two previous records: 27 th March 1983 and 16th April 2008.

LITTLE RINGED PLOVER

Charadrius dubius

An uncommon passage migrant, wintering in central Africa.

RINGED PLOVER

Earliest: 19.03.89

Charadrius hiaticula

An uncommon passage migrant wintering in central and east Africa. Bred in 1982.

Latest: 17.09.89

EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER

Pluvialis apricaria

A regular winter visitor in varying numbers. Winters in southern Britain, breeds in northern Britain.

There were no records of this species this year. This is the first time since at least before 1979.
GREY PLOVER

Pluvialis squaterola

A scarce passage migrant. Twenty-five previous records. Last recorded in October 2008.

LAPWING

Vanellus vanellus

Once a common passage migrant and winter visitor, now less frequent. Bred in 1991 and attempted in 2000.

During the first half of January flocks of 150 to 200 regularly flew over and settled on Fenlake.
Although recorded regularly from February to the end of April most counts were of one of two birds,
occasionally up to four but, after 4th May, there were no further records until three over on the 15th
June. Twelve over on the 28th and eight on the 29th June indicated passage. One flew NE on the 4th
July and 22 passed northeast on the 21st. There were no further records until one SW on the 15th
September and 2 southwest on the 5th October. Towards the end of the month 16 passed southwest on
the 25th, two northeast on the 26th and 13 northeast on the 28th. Flocks of 30 50 passed over
occasionally during November but 600 northeast on the 28th had probably been displaced by
floodwaters.
RED KNOT

Calidris canutus

A rare visitor to the park. Recorded on only four occasions. One record of 23 on the 23rd January 1994 was the
first for the park and the highest number ever recorded in the county up to that time.

LITTLE STINT

Calidris minutes

A rare passage migrant. Two previous records, September 1985 and September 1993.

CURLEW SANDPIPER

Calidris ferruginea

A rare passage migrant. One previous record on the 13 th August 1981.

DUNLIN

Calidris alpina

An uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor.

RUFF

Philomachus pugnax

A scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Thirty-two previous records.

JACK SNIPE

Lynocryptes minimus

A rare winter visitor.

COMMON SNIPE

Gallinago gallinago

A regular winter visitor and passage migrant in small numbers.

Up to eight were on Fenlake during the first half of the month but a period of heavy rain mid-month
raised the water level made the edges of the main fool unsuitable causing the birds to move back into
the vegetation and out of site. A dog flushed a party of 12 on Fenlake on the 2nd February. One flew
over on the 1st April.

The first of the post-breeding period was one over on the 25th August followed by singles flying over
towards Willington on the 26th and 29th September. One passed southwest on the 3rd October. Two
flew over northeast on the 30th November.
WOODCOCK

Scolopax rusticola

An uncommon visitor and passage migrant, mainly in winter. Sixty previous records.

One was flushed in h ough on the 1st January and one flew up from the south side on the 6th
th
February.
fl w f
h

h
February.
fl w f
h
h
h
October, one was flushed from near the steps in the same area on the 2nd November and one was
fl h f
h
h
h th December.
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT

th

Limosa limosa

Once a rare passage migrant, now becoming more frequent. Last recorded in December 2009.

One was present on the ice on the main lake on the 4th February.
BAR-TAILED GODWIT

Limosa lapponica

A fairly rare passage migrant, mainly in spring. Breeds in the low arctic. Seventeen previous records, eleven in
spring. Last recorded in September 2005.

WHIMBREL

Numenius phaeopus

A scarce passage migrant, mainly mid-April to mid-May. Breeds in northern Europe, NW Russia, Iceland and
northern Britain. Winters in coastal Africa. Thirty-nine previous records. Last recorded in August 2009.
Earliest: 16.4.98.
Latest: 25.8.96

CURLEW

Numenius arquata

An uncommon but regular passage migrant. Seventy-five previous records. Average first date for spring passage
1980-1999: 8th April. 2000-2009: 4th April.

COMMON SANDPIPER

Actitis hypoleucos

A regular summer visitor and passage migrant. Winters in central and southern Africa.
Earliest: 25.3.05.
Latest: 20.10.2000.
Average arrival date on spring passage 1980-1999: 18th April.
th
2000-2009: 14 April

The first of the year arrived on the 11th April but there were no further records until singles on the 2nd
and 6th May. One passed through on the 18th May and three were around the main lake on the 19th.
Singles were recorded on the 25th and 26th May. There were no further records until one on the 6th
August indicated return passage followed by one on the 23rd August and two on the 28th. One flew
over on the 8th September.
GREEN SANDPIPER

Tringa ochropus

An uncommon bur fairly regular visitor. Has been recorded in all months of the year.

One was recorded at the sewage works bridge on the 18th June, one arrived from the northeast and
departed to the southwest on the 27th July and singles flew over on the 11th and 21st August. One flew

over on the 9th November as did one on the 3rd December. One flew up from the sewage works and
over the park on the 8th December.

SPOTTED REDSHANK

Tringa erythropus

A rare passage migrant. Winters in central Africa. Breeds in northern Europe and Russia. Six previous records.
Last recorded in September 2000.
Earliest: 3.4.88.
Latest; 26.9.99.

GREENSHANK

Tringa nebularia

An uncommon passage migrant, mainly July to September. Winters in southern Africa, Breeds in northern
Europe and Russia. There have been 108 previous records in the park, all but eleven in autumn (six in spring
2000). Earliest: 3.5.95.
Latest: 12.10.99.

WOOD SANDPIPER

Tringa glareola

A very rare passage migrant. Recorded in August 1982, July 1996 and September 2004.

COMMON REDSHANK

Tringa totanus

An uncommon winter visitor and regular passage migrant.

Singles were recorded on the 13th, 14th, 15th, 24th and 25th March with a pair displaying over the park
on the 28th March. One flew over on the 3rd April.
TURNSTONE

Arenaria interpres

A rare passage migrant. Seven previous records. Last recorded in July 2002.

RED-NECKED PHALAROPE

Phalaropus lobatus

A very rare passage migrant. One on the 30th May 1991 was the first for the county since one was shot at
Houghton Conquest on the 1st June about 1880.

GREY PHALAROPE

Phalaropus fulicarius

One on the 14th October 2002 was the seventh county record since 1900.

POMARINE SKUA

Stercorarius pomarinus

A very rare visitor. One on the 20th-21st November 1999 was first for the park and the fifth for the county.

BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE

Rissa tridactyla

A rare visitor, mainly in spring, and storm-driven passage migrant. Sixteen previous records. Last recorded on
the 10th April 2005.

A pair of adults arrived at about 0750 on the 7th April and departed to the northeast at 0757. This was
the 17th record for the park. An adult passed northeast in rain at 0737 on the 17th April. An adult
arrived over the main lake at about 0700 on the 23rd April and, after flying around, landed on the
artificial sand martin bank on the island. It went for a further excursion before departing at 0710 (19th
record for the park).

BLACK-HEADED GULL

Larus ridibundus

Passage migrant and resident. A common winter visitor from Fenno-Scandia and the Low Countries.

Up to 250 were recorded in January and up to 200 in February but, after 157 on the 11th March
numbers declined to 53 on the 4th April and 18 on the 15th. Apart from 34 southwest on the 21st April
most records after this were of less than ten, usually less than five until mid July .
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
250 200 157 53
14
7
14
79
75 190 280 160
The first juvenile arrived on the 25th July. Numbers increased in October and flocks often passed over
to roost in the evening. These included 270 SW on the 9th October.
LITTLE GULL

Larus minutus

An uncommon but regular passage migrant, mainly in spring. Breeds from Holland and Denmark across to N.
Asia. Winters south to the Mediterranean. Earliest: 31.3.97.
Latest: 26.11.93. Average earliest on spring
passage 1980-1999: 27th April. 2000-2009: 26th April. One summered in 2000, the first summering record for
the county.

MEDITERRANEAN GULL

Larus melanocephalus

A rare visitor. Ten previous records. Last recorded in July 2011.

COMMON GULL

Larus canus

Mainly a winter visitor, with numbers tending to increase in recent years. Although a few arrive in late June and
early July the main arrival commences in October.

Numbers were relatively small in the first three months of the year with two to ten present for much of
the time. Sixteen were present on the 7th and 8th of February and 21 on the 12th. In March 28 were
present on the 3rd, 18 on the 9th and 21 on the 11th but numbers declined after this. One to three were
seen in the first week of April but singles on the 12th and 14th April were the last of the first winter
period.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
11
21
28
3
0
0
1
1
2
6
56
46
The first returning bird was an adult on the 25th July with one, possibly the same bird, on the 26th 29th July. There were no further records until one on the 7th August followed by two on the 1st
September and singles on the 14th and 30th. The species became more regular from the 8th October
with three to six seen on most days but a noticeable increase took place on the 8th November with 56
present and 38 on the 9th. Thirty-eight were again present on the 13th November and 26 on the 23rd.
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL

Larus fuscus

A regular passage migrant. British birds winter in SW Spain, Portugal and NW Africa. Winter visitor in small
numbers. Now fairly regular in summer with post-breeding movements taking place in late June to August.
There has been an increase in wintering records in recent years.

Small numbers passed over, mainly south or southwest almost daily in January with peaks of 13 on
the 1st and 15 on the 6th. A total of 52 passed south on the 5th February but other February movements
all involved less than ten.
Monthly Maxima - not including passage.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul
1
2
3
18
14
9
6

Aug
7

Sep
4

Oct
3

Nov Dec
3
2

Numbers present in the park remained low until November but parties passed over to and from roost.
These included 19 southwest on the 15th July, 20 south on the 5th August, 19 southwest on the 26th
September, and 23 northeast on the 11th November.
Races:
Larus fuscus intermedius
One was on the main lake on the 3rd March.
HERRING GULL

Larus argentatus

A regular winter visitor and passage migrant in small numbers. May have bred in Bedford in recent years.

Passed over south or southwest almost daily during January in greater numbers than Lesser Blackbacked. Peaks included 13 on the 9th, 20 on the 15th, 13 on the 21st, 15 on the 23rd, 34 on the 25th and
42 on the 26th. Small numbers were seen regularly to the end of May but this species was seen on a
total of only 14 days in June and July. From 1st August to the 24th October there were only 16
sightings, mainly of one or two birds, but passage increased after this with 13 north on the 28th
October, 81 south on the 9th November and 127 south on the 12th November. A further 35 were
present on the lake on the 9th November. Twenty-six passed south on the 19th November.
Monthly Maxima - not including passage.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul
1
8
7
9
6
4
1

Aug
3

Sep
2

Oct
3

Nov Dec
35
15

Lesser/Herring Gull (L. fuscus/argentatus)


Forty-six passed south on the 17th January were mainly Herring Gulls, 17 flew northeast on the 4th
February and 63 passed southwest on the 17th February.
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL Larus michahellis
First recorded on 24th July and 2nd August 1992. Singles recorded on 15th July 2000; 23rd December 2001; 7th
and 8th March 2002.

ICELAND GULL

Larus glaucoides

A very rare winter visitor. Three previous records: one at the sewage works on the 18 th March 1962 was the first
county record, one on the 11th December 1994 and one on the 25th April 1998.

GLAUCOUS GULL

Larus hyperboreus

A very rare winter visitor. Three previous records: November 1983, November 1991 and February 1996.

GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL

Larus marinus

A regular winter visitor and passage migrant in small numbers. British population more or less resident. FennoScandinavian population wholly migratory, reaching the east coast of Britain from September onwards with
numbers peaking in October. Return passage is mainly in March and April.

Two to six were recorded passing over on seven days in January and up to three on eight days in
February. Singles passed over on four days in March and five passed northeast on the 28th March.
Two south on the 17th and one southwest on 19th September were the first of the autumn. Singles
passed south on the 8th and 29th October and four passed south on the 1st November when one was
also on the main lake.
LITTLE TERN

Sternula albifrons

A scarce passage migrant. Twenty previous records nineteen of which were of single birds. Last recorded in
April 2005.
Earliest: 22.4.01. Latest: 26.8.01.

CASPIAN TERN

Hydroprogne caspia

A very rare vagrant. One previous record, on 17 th April 1992, was the second county record.

BLACK TERN

Chlidonias niger

An uncommon but regular passage migrant. Winters on the west coast of Africa. Breeds in the Low Countries,
mainly Netherlands. Earliest: 18.4.84. Latest: 22.10.2000.
Average earliest date on spring passage 1980-1999: 30th April. 2000 to 2009: 1st May.

One arrived at about 1600 on the afternoon of the 30th April.


SANDWICH TERN

Sterna sandvicensis

A scarce passage migrant. Winters on west and south African coasts. Thirty-two previous records which have
involved 107 birds.
Earliest: 8.4.96.
Latest: 30.9.2000. Average earliest1980-1999: 26th April. 2000th
2009: 17 April

COMMON TERN

Sterna hirundo

A common summer visitor and passage migrant. Winters mainly along the west African coast. Bred in 1982.
Earliest: 24.3.97.
Latest: 23.10.87.
Average earliest date on spring passage 1980-1999: 10th April.
2000 to 2009: 7th April.
th
Average latest date on autumn passage 1980-1999: 17 September. 2000 to 2009: 10th September.

One passed through early on the 10th April and was followed by two more which remained on the
main lake. Three to four were present daily to the 18th with greater numbers in the following days.
Thirteen were present on the 28th April. Counts did not exceed 12 in May and 6 in June with the first
juveniles not arriving until the13th July, a little later than usual. Numbers reached a peak in late July
with 20 on the 27th and 22 on the 28th.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
13

May
12

Jun
6

Jul
23

Aug
12

Sep
3

Oct

Nov Dec

Juvenile Common Tern


Up to 12 were recorded in the first half of August but, after this, apart from six on the 29th, only one to
five were seen to the month end. After three on the 1st September the only other records were of one
on the 3rd September, two on the 4th and the last one on the 5th September.
ARCTIC TERN

Sterna paradisaea

An uncommon migrant, mainly in spring. Occasionally occurs in large numbers after periods of strong winds
from the northern sector during the second half of April and early May. Winters in the southern Antarctic
oceans. Recorded on 135 days in the last 28 years, all but four in spring. Earliest: 6.4.91.
Latest: 16.10.87.
Average earliest date on spring passage 1981 1999: 21st April. 2000 to 2009: 27th April.

One arrived in the late afternoon on the 15th April during afternoon rain and hail showers. Three were
present over the main lake on the 24th April but departed at 0712. Three arrived at 1430 on the
afternoon of the 1st May and departed high to the northeast at 1722. A total of 13 passed through on
the 2nd May and two on the 3rd.
LITTLE AUK

Alle alle

One previous record on the 3rd November 1995.

ROCK DOVE/FERAL PIGEON

Columba livia

Once a fairly common resident with 300-400 regularly recorded until 1990. Now an uncommon visitor.

There were usually four to six records of this species in each month, all of one to four birds.
STOCK DOVE

Columba oenas

An uncommon, but regular, visitor in varying numbers, mainly in winter. Roosts in some years at the back of
Kingsmead.

Up to six were regularly recorded feeding on Kingsmead and coming to roost in the Finger Lakes in
January and up to 13 in February. One to five were recorded irregularly during the remainder of the
year with eight on the 15th June. More unusual records involved a party of nine which flew north on

the 8th November, 44 which flew up from trees on the south side early on the 14th November and 34
from the same spot on the 18th. It is probable that these birds had been roosting.
WOODPIGEON

Columba palumbus

A regular breeding resident in small numbers, winter visitor and passage migrant, sometimes in large flocks.

Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
64 170 57
82

May
22

Jun
19

Jul
26

Aug
48

Sep
40

Oct
576

Nov Dec
400 246

Southward passage commenced on the 25th October when 62 passed south with 576 south on the 26th
and 481 south on the following day. They were also more common within the park during this period
with 145 counted on the 26th. Passage continued on the 27th with 481 passing south but there was
virtually no passage on the following day. An interesting northward movement was noted in the first
half of November which included 88 on the 7th, 200 on the 8th, 110 on the 10th, 400 north on the 11th
and 200 northeast on the 13th.
Roosts:
Up to 120 roosted in the Finger Lakes in January.
COLLARED DOVE

Streptopelia decaocto

A breeding resident in small numbers. May form roosts in winter.

One to five were seen almost daily throughout the year with larger numbers recorded in the last week
of July which included nine on the 26th and 14 on the 29th. Five to ten were regularly recorded in
September.
TURTLE DOVE

Streptopelia turtur

A scarce summer visitor.

Earliest: 26.4.82.

Latest: 20.10.81.

th
One
v
h
h
h
May but, after several minutes, flew off to the southwest. One
flew along the Long Hedge on the 15th May.

Photo: Ed Green.

RING-NECKED PARAKEET

Psittacula krameri

Three previous records; two in September 1982 and one from 19th August 2004 to 9th February 2005.

One flew along the New Cut and landed in a tree next to the sewage works on the morning of the 24th
May. It then flew into the sewage works area but was seen again as it flew west along the south side
of the main lake - the first since February 2005 and the fourth record for the park.

CUCKOO

Cuculus canorus

A regular summer visitor. Earliest: 10.4.90.


1999: 21st April; 2000 2009: 19th April.

Latest: 20.10.81. Average earliest date on spring passage 1981

The first arrived on the 14th April and one was again present on the 15th. There were no further
records until singles on the 24th and 27th April. A male was recorded daily throughout May with two
on the 6th, 9th and 23rd but it was not until the 27th that the first female arrived, eight days later than last
year. A female was also present on the 29th May and 5th, 6th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 21st,
26th and 27th June.

Male Cuckoo feeding on larvae of Spindle Ermine Moth 1st June 2012
In July males were recorded on the 1st, 2nd and 4th with females on the 4th, 5th and 7th. The last was a
male on the 12th July.
BARN OWL

Tyto alba

An occasional visitor. Not recorded in the park since 1996.

One was seen on the evening of the 10th August by a ranger (DF).

LITTLE OWL

Athene noctua

A rare visitor. Fifteen previous records. Last recorded in September 2003.

TAWNY OWL

Strix aluco

A past resident. Bred in 1991-93. Infrequently recorded in recent years.

One was calling around dusk on the 9th February and one was heard and seen in the marina on the 12th
and 13th March. One was again present in the marina on the 9th April and nearby on the 1st July. One
called from the marina area on the 18th August. One was calling at 0200 am on the 10th September and
there were several reports on unspecified dates around that time. Two were calling on 18th September
as were two on the 25th October, one on the 11th November and two on the 16th.
LONG-EARED OWL

Asio otus

A rare winter visitor. Six previous records. Last recorded in October 1993.

SHORT-EARED OWL

Asio flammeus

A very rare visitor. Seven previous records. Last recorded in April 2004.

SWIFT

Apus apus

A common summer visitor and passage migrant. Earliest: 17.4.94. Latest: 22.9.84.
Average earliest date on spring passage 1981 1999: 26th April; 2000 2009: 23rd April.
Average latest date in autumn 1980-1999: 13th September;
2000 2009: 31st August.

The first arrived on the 26th April when 11 were present followed by 46 on the 27th. They were then
seen regularly with the inclement weather bringing down 80 on the 2nd May, 150 on the 7th, 280 on the
8th, 250 on the 9th, 150 on the 10th and 11th, 260 on the 17th, 300 on the 18th, 200 on the 19th and 22nd.
Hot, sunny weather followed for the next few days and few were present until 80 in cloudy weather
on the 29th and 120 on the 31st May. High numbers continued into June with maxima of 160 on the 1st,
200 on the 3rd, 150 on the 12th and 14th and 120 on the 22nd with many counts of 60 to 80. Although
numbers were lower in July there were some reasonable counts with 55 on the 1st, 50 on the 2nd and
13th and 80 on the 30th. Passage was noticeable from mid-August with higher numbers involving 75
south on the 17th, 14 on the 22nd, 26 on the 23rd, eight on the 24th, 21 on the 28th 29th and 26 on the
30th. Four were overhead on the 31st August but, after this, numbers reduced greatly with two on the
1st, three on the 2nd September and one, the last, south on the 6th.
KINGFISHER

Alcedo atthis

Recorded almost daily but can be totally absent during and after periods of severe cold weather. Often breeds
within the park or nearby.

One to two were regularly recorded during the first four months of the year with slightly fewer
records in May.
Bird Days
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
32
26
30
13
14
3
6
9
39 21* 32
24
* Seven days not covered.
An interesting series of records during the first winter period was of a Kingfisher which was regularly
observed during January and February coming in to roost by the Kramer Hide at, or just after, sunset.
This was last recorded on the 5th March. Although the observer was unable to ascertain whether the

bird was roosting in a hole in the bank or in the bush close to the bank he has been unable to find any
other reference to Kingfishers using the same site each night to roost.
There were only three records of singles in
June and six in July giving rise to the
speculation that, if breeding did take place,
the nest may have been destroyed by the
rising waters after record levels of rain
during the breeding season. There were
seven records of singles and one of two in
August but spirits were raised when a
family party of four, which included at
least three young, arrived in the Finger
Lakes on the 7th September.
Bird Days
Year Jan
2012 32
2011 4
2010 11
2009 32
2008 48

Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
26
30
13
14
3
6
9
39 21
32
24
3
0
1
5
8 13 15
31 23
33
31
17
14
6
6
9
9
12
18 29
30
5
32
23
7
8
20 20 12
32 30
52
50
38
27
18
16
35 25 25
38 24
56
54

Year
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
EUROPEAN BEE-EATER

1st Half
118
21
63
122
182

2nd Half
131
146
103
196
222

Total
249
167
166
318
404

Merops apiaster

A very rare summer visitor. One on the 29th June 1991 was the first county record.

GREEN WOODPECKER

Picus viridis

A breeding resident. This vociferous species has increased greatly in recent years.

Regularly recorded throughout the year with two or three pairs breeding. The August peak in records
suggests that breeding took place a little later this year, possibly due to weather conditions in spring.
Bird days
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
60
65
91
55
29
17
74 135 87
36
49
53

GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER

Dendrocopus major

A breeding resident. First bred in 1995.

Regularly recorded in January, but less so in periods of bad weather. Drumming was first heard on the
28th January and regularly throughout February.

Bird Days
Jan Feb
30
38

Mar Apr
36
13

May
23

Jun
21

Jul
46

Aug
66

Sep
54

Oct
50

Nov Dec
42
41

An immature female was along the south side on the 30th May.
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER

Dendrocopus minor

Now a rare visitor. Has bred.

RED-BACKED SHRIKE

Lanius collurio

A very rare passage migrant. Only one record, an immature on the 5 th September 1996.

GREAT GREY SHRIKE

Lanius excubitor

A rare winter visitor. Six previous records. Last recorded in November 1998.

WOODCHAT SHRIKE

Lanius senator

A very rare vagrant. One record, 17th July to 29th August 1972.

JAY

Garrulus glandarius

Once a scarce visitor mainly in autumn, now more frequent particularly during the summer. Recorded on 36
occasions in the twenty-four years from 1982 to 2005 and 56 occasions from 2006-2008.

Singles were recorded on the 5th and 29th January. Two were near the Cardington lock on the 7th
February and singles were present on the 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th February; 2nd March, 10th, 11th, 14th
March with two on the 15th March, three on the 20th
and one on the 25th. Two were present on the 6th April
with singles on two days and pairs on three further days
in April. There were three records in May, singles on
the 1st and 20th and two on the 13th, two records in June:
singles on the 5th and 20th and two on July 18th followed
by one on the 30th. In August two on the 17th were
followed by singles on the 23rd and 28th. One on 6th
September preceded one on the 8th, two on the 13th, one
on the 16th and two on the 17th. Eight flew over (3 W,
5 N) on the 29th September with one west on the
following day. These were part of a large movement
recorded in many parts of the country and involved,
initially, British birds but large flocks were noted
coming in off the sea on the east coast from about the
27th September onwards. In October one was recorded
on the 1st, two in the 2nd, one on the 5th, three on the
6th, two on the 9th, two on the 11th and one on the 18th.
Singles were also recorded on the 25th, 28th, 29th and
30th October and again in November on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd,
5th and 9th. In December singles flew over on the 3rd,
9th, 15th and 18th.

MAGPIE

Pica pica

A breeding resident in small numbers. Roosting annually since 1995.

Up to 31 were recorded in January. Nesting was well underway by the end of February with three
completed nests by the 3rd March. At last four pairs bred.
Roost:
Roosting was very irregular in January with 34 on the 13th and 45 on the 18th being the only high
counts.
JACKDAW

Corvus monedula

In recent years large numbers have collected in autumn and winter on Kingsmead in the late afternoon before
going to roost. Often roosts in the park from mid-summer through the winter. Has bred in the park.

Most records refer to birds which roosted in the park and larger morning counts often refer to birds
departing early from roost. One to three birds were frequently recorded passing over during the day
but, from early June to the second week of July, family parties collected in the Finger Lakes. These
post breeding gatherings have only occurred in recent years and the numbers involved have increased.
This year numbers peaked t 140 on the 23rd and 25th June before declining. The last gathering was of
eight on the 11th July.
Roost
Up to 1600 roosted in January, up to 1200 in February and 1400 in March.
Two different birds h w

v
y and a pied variety were amongst the roosting flock
in January and February. The roost was well underway again by October with 800 being the highest
count in that month. The highest count in November was 1600 on the 19th and in December 1350 on
the 9th.
ROOK

Corvus frugiligus

An occasional visitor but can be seen passing over, more frequently to and from roosts in winter, but also when
feeding young. In the late afternoons large numbers occasionally join with Jackdaws and Carrion Crows to feed
on Kingsmead and attend the roost.

Some joined the other corvids at roost in early January and involved 25 on the 1st, 100 on the 4th, 180
on the 6th and 80 on the 9th. Two were in Kingsmead on the morning of the 3rd. Numbers roosting
were lower in February with 38 on the 13th, 26 on the 15th and 31 on the 25th being the highest counts.
A pair built a nest at the back of Kingsmead on the 21st March but this was abandoned after a few
days. Three pairs had built nests on the south side by the 31st March and four pairs were present at this
site on the 7th April. However, by the 20th April only one nest was occupied. This is the first time that
this species has nested in the park. From June to the end of the year there were only two records, two
on the 8th September and one NE on the 4th October.
CARRION CROW

Corvus corone

A breeding resident in small numbers. Roosting since 1993 when an increase was noted in the numbers coming
into the park to feed.

In January and February up to 54 were recorded in the park during the day, mainly on Kingsmead,
and up to 120 roosted with other corvids. Apart from 84 on the 20th June and 48 on the 21st most
counts were of five to twenty-five. There was an increase in late December with 50 on the 28th and 60
on the 29th. The number roosting during the second winter period was usually between 100 and 150.
RAVEN

Corvus corax

A very rare visitor. One on the 30th October 2003 was followed by one on the 3rd September 2011.

GOLDCREST

Regulus regulus

An uncommon but regular winter visitor. Bred in 2003 and 2004.

Singles were recorded on the 10th, 11th and 28th January, 6th February and 3rd, 9th (song), 14th and 23rd
March. In April singles were recorded on the 6th and 7th followed by one singing on the south side on
the 21st.Two males established territories, one to the east of the canoe slalom course and one along the
south side and both were singing regularly in May and June. There were two records of singles, both
singing, in July and two on the 30th August. An increase was noted from the 13th September onwards,
(when three were present), with one on the following day and one to four almost daily from the 22nd
September onwards and up to eight in October. Between one and five were regularly recorded during
November and December.
Ringing Recovery:
An interesting recovery was of a male Goldcrest ringed at Flamborough Head, East Riding of
Yorkshire, on the 10th September 2011 retrapped at Priory Country Park on the 17th December, 2011,
having travelled 221 km south in 98 days (per Ed. Green, Ivel Ringing Group). The date and place
that it was originally trapped suggests that it was probably an immigrant from Europe.

FIRECREST

Regulus ignicapilla

A very rare winter visitor. Eight previous records. Last recorded in December 2004.

PENDULINE TIT

Remiz pendulinus

A very rare visitor. One on the 18th-19th September 1991 was the first county record.

BLUE TIT

Cyanistes caeruleus

A common breeding resident.

Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
27
18
25
22

May
11

Jun
23

Jul
9

Aug
24

Sep
25

Oct
16

Nov Dec
14
16

May
10

Jun
13

Jul
6

Aug
13

Sep
13

Oct
11

Nov Dec
12
9

GREAT TIT Parus major


A fairly common breeding resident.

Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
28
23
24
17

COAL TIT

Periparus ater

A rare visitor. Only ten previous records. Last recorded in June 2011.

One was singing by the Visitor Centre on the 8th September.


WILLOW TIT

Poecile montanus

Once an uncommon visitor, mainly during post-breeding dispersal. It is now thought to be almost extinct in the
county. Last recorded in Priory C. P. in September 2004.

MARSH TIT

Poecile palustris

Only seventeen previous records. Last recorded in June 2011.

BEARDED TIT

Panurus biarmicus

A very rare visitor. The only records were in October 1988, October 2004 and November 2010.

One flew over towards Willington/100 Acre on the morning of the 1st February.
SKY LARK

Alauda arvensis

Winter visitor and passage migrant. Once a summer resident, now only seen occasionally in summer. Bred in
1995.

There no records in January, six records (five of singles, one of two) in February and four records of
singles in March. Singles over on the 12th May and 2nd June were the only records from the 19th March
to 29th September when two passed west. Small numbers, usually one or two but eight on the 9th,
passed over during October. One or two passed over during the first half of November. There were
only three records in December, all singles.
SAND MARTIN

Riparia riparia

A common summer visitor and passage migrant. Earliest: 2.3.2000. Latest: 09.10.01.
Average earliest date on spring passage 1980-1999: 26th March; 2000 -2009: 18th March.
Average latest date on autumn passage 1981 1999: 28th September. 2000- 2009: 24th September.

The first of the year were two on the 14th March followed by three on the 17th. Two to three were then
recorded almost daily until ten on the 25th March. Peaks after this date involved 18 on the 31st March,
21 on 1st April, 130 on the 5th and 38 on the 6th. Up to 50 were then present regularly with peaks of
160 on the 28th April, 180 on 2nd May, 200 on 3rd, 140 on 15th, 180 on 20th and 250 on the 21st. After
counts of 80 on the 2nd June, 110 on the 2nd and 60 on the 4th, 11th and 12th all counts to the end of the
month were less than ten. Up to four pairs were regularly entering the artificial nest holes on the
island during the second half of April but did not remain to breed.
Autumn migration was disappointing with 60 on the 12th September, 25 on the 14th and 11 on
the 30th the only counts of more than five. A late party was one of 19 which passed south on the 2nd
October.
BARN SWALLOW

Hirundo rustica

A common summer visitor and passage migrant. It used to breed regularly under the bridges around the park but
not in recent years. Earliest: 13.2.2000. Latest: 26.10.91.
Average earliest on spring passage 1980-1999: 2nd April; 2000 2009: 28th March.
Average latest on autumn passage 1980-1999: 13th October; 2000 2009: 14th October.

The first to arrive was one on the 31st March followed by two on the 5th April and one on the 7th.
Apart from 60 over Fenlake on the 4th May numbers did not exceed 40 until 200 on the 20th May with
60 on the following day. Numbers were very low (1 2) during the last week of May and, apart from
11 on the 3rd June, no more than five were recorded in the first half of June with only one record of
one bird from 13th 30th June. There were only w
,(
), J ly
w
l
th
the 5 August that small numbers, (8 or fewer), were seen with any regularity. Small numbers were
recorded almost daily in September with the highest counts involving 12 south on the 16th, 55 on the
23rd and 27 south on the 28th. In October 56 passed south on the 2nd, one on the 3rd, 5 on the 4th, 12 on
the 5th, 7 on the 8th, two on the 9th and the last two of the main population on the 10th. A surprise was
wh
v h

bed at dusk on the 27th October and it was even more of a


th
wh h
v h

h
h
k
h
th
October, both records being later than the previous latest of 26 October 1991.
HOUSE MARTIN

Delichon urbicum

A fairly common summer visitor. Mainly a passage migrant. Earliest: 24.3.03. Latest: 1.11.89.
Average earliest date on spring passage 1980-1999: 12th April; 2000 2009: 5th April.
Average latest date on autumn passage 1980-1999: 12th October; 2000- 2009: 10th October.

The first arrived on the 22nd March - the earliest ever date for the park. One was present on the 25th
March, again a very early bird. One was present on the 30th and two on the 31st. There were no further
records until five on the 5th April and four on the 11th. Singles were seen from the 18th to 21st
increasing to 50 on the 28th April. Numbers in May were regularly between 40 - 60 with 80 on the
21st. The highest counts in June were of 100 on the 4th and 40 on the 12th but, after this, no more than
six were recorded on any day to the end of the month. Similarly, in August, counts in the first three
weeks were of 12 or fewer but numbers increased during the last week with 107 on the 25th and 140
on the 30th being the highest counts. Passage got underway in September with 151 south on the 10th,
86 south on the 11th, 200 over on the 13th and many counts of 60 to 80 in the rest of the month. Higher
counts in the last week of September included 100 over on the 25th, 123 south on the 28th and 104
south on the 30th. In October 89 passed south on the 1st, 45 on the 2nd, 242 on the 3rd, 34 on the 4th, 6
on the 5th, and the last, a single, on the 6th.
CETTIS WARBLER

Cettia cettia

A very rare visitor but increasing in regularity. First recorded January to April 1997, the first county record.
Recorded again in October 1997, October 1998, 12 th December 1999 to 8th February 2000. One recorded in
October 2001. Recorded again in the winter periods of 2003/04 and 2006/07 and in September 2010. One
present from 12th March 5th June 2011 was the longest stay recorded (86 days). One in September 2011. First
bred in the county in 2008.

LONG-TAILED TIT

Aegithalos caudatus

A breeding resident in small numbers.

Recorded almost daily throughout the year.


Monthly maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
17
19
11
12

May
14

Jun
14

Jul
18

Aug
46

Sep
38

Oct
37

Nov Dec
28
51

About eight pairs nested in the park but survival of early broods was low. Totals of 46 were recorded
on 28th August, 38 on the 6th September and 51 on the 18th December.
YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER

Phylloscopus inornatus

A very rare vagrant. One on the 17th October 1997 was the first county record.

RADDES WARBLER

Phylloscopus schwarzi

A very rare vagrant. One on the 12th October 1991 was the first county record and the second inland record for
Britain.

WOOD WARBLER

Phylloscopus sibilatrix

A rare passage migrant. Five previous records, four in spring and one in autumn. Last recorded in May 2008.
Earliest: 23.4.83. Latest: 7.9.95.

COMMON CHIFFCHAFF

Phylloscopus collybita

Mainly a breeding summer visitor and passage migrant in increasing numbers. An occasional, and seemingly
increasingly, winter visitor from Fennoscandia and Siberia. Some British birds regularly overwinter. Average
earliest on spring passage 1985 1999: 20th March; 2000 2009: 12th March.
th
The first f h
w
h
h
h
March, two days before the 2000-2009
average date and one day before that of 2011. Singles were present from the 13th onwards increasing
to four on the 16th, six on the 17th, nine on the 20th and ten on the 23rd March. Peak counts after this
date involved 18 on the 30th March, 21 on the 1st April and 19 on the 6th.

Eighteen males held territory (seventeen last year) Average number of territorial males for 2001-2005
= 16.4; 2006-2010 = 14.8).

25

20

15

10

0
90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Chiffchaff Territorial males 1990-2012


Birds were fairly quiet during June and July with most counts being of ten or fewer but an increase
was noted in August with 17 on the 10th, 20 on the 13th and 27th. Good numbers were present in
September with higher counts including 21 on the 3rd, 25 on the 6th, 18 on the 15th and 24 on the 16th.
After 19 on the 19th and 18 on the 20th numbers began to decline. Peaks in October involved 10 on the
3rd and 12 on the 4th, but after six on the 10th and three on the 13th, only one or two were recorded until
one on the 27th October. In November singles were recorded on the 3rd, 9th, 10th and 11th.

WILLOW WARBLER

Phylloscopus trochilus

A fairly common summer resident and passage migrant. The population has declined since the mid 1990s.
Earliest: 23.3.05. Latest: 9.10.88.
Average earliest 1985 1999: 2nd April; 2000 2009: 31st March.
Average latest 1985-1999: 20th September; 2000-2009: 20th September.

The first to arrive was one on the 2nd April followed by three on the 3rd, five on the 4th and eight on the
5th. Numbers were slightly lower after this until 11 on the 27th. Remarkably only one to three were
recorded up to two on the 9th May after which there were no further records until autumn passage.
For the first time on record, no males held territory this year, reflecting the decline of this species
particularly in south-eastern England. (Average number of territorial males 2001-2005 = 11.4;

average 2006-2010 =10.5).


The first of the post breeding season was one on the 28th July followed by three on the 5th August
building up to eight on the 9th August. This coincided with passage at Portland BO where up to 20
were noted during this period. Nine were present on the 26th August of which several were singing.
Only one to five were recorded in early September with two on the 14th and one on the 19th being the
last.

35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Willow Warbler - Territorial males 1988-2012


BLACKCAP

Sylvia atricapilla

A fairly common summer resident and passage migrant. Fairly regular winter visitor. Winters in southern
Europe and north Africa. A few from central Europe winter in England.
Average earliest 1985-1999: 3rd April; 2000 2009: 26th March.

Th
ly
f h f
w
w
f on the south side on the 16th January, feeding on
th
ivy berries. The first
v l w

h
h
March with one or more
st
seen regularly after this. Three were present on the 21 and four males on the 25th. Numbers gradually
increased to peaks of 21 on the 31st March and 22 on the 1st and 7th April. Numbers remained fairly
high after this with further influxes noted in May which included 24 on the 2nd, 25 on the eighth, 34
on the 10th, 31 on the 12th and 27 on the 13th.
Thirty-three males held territory (32 last year). Average for 2001-2005= 27.4 territorial males;
average for 2006-2009 = 34.
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Blackcap - Territorial males 1985-2012

Numbers were fairly low in August with less than ten recorded on all but five days. There was an
increase towards the end of the month with 17 on the 26th increasing to 19 on the 31st. However, only
nine were recorded on the 1st September. A similar fluctuation was noted in the following few days
when, after 23 on the 3rd September, only five were recorded on the 4th. On the days when larger
numbers were recorded many w
l
( . .
l
h

h rd) often with other


Sylvia and Phylloscopus warblers and this suggests that Blackcaps, other Sylvia warblers, and to some
extent Phylloscopus warblers may wander over quite a large area during the post-breeding period.
Other larger counts involved 19 on the 5th September, 17 on the 7th and 18 on the 9th. Numbers
declined after this but 10 were present on the 30th September and eight on the 6th October. Many of
40
35
30
25
20

2011

15

2012

10
5
20-Aug
22-Aug
24-Aug
26-Aug
28-Aug
30-Aug
01-Sep
03-Sep
05-Sep
07-Sep
09-Sep
11-Sep
13-Sep
15-Sep
17-Sep
19-Sep
21-Sep
23-Sep
25-Sep
27-Sep

Number of Blackcaps recorded in autumn 2011 and 2012 compared


the higher autumn counts, not surprisingly, coincide with ringing activities in the park. They became
quite scarce after this with singles on the 10th, 12th, 18th and 30th October. As usual, birds were
attracted to Spindle berries in November with a female present on the 14th and 18th and males on the
19th, 23rd, and 25th. A male and two females were seen together on the 30th November whilst on the 2nd
December two males and a female were trapped and an additional male was near the Visitor Centre.
Thus at least three males and two females were present during late November and early December. A
female was by the car park on the 8th and 11th December.

Ringing:
One ringed at Priory C.P. on the 7th September, 2011, was trapped at Grafham Water on the 12th May,
2012.
One ringed at Priory C.P. on the 14th September (one of 25 that day) was controlled at Portland Bill,
Dorset on the 28th April, 2012. This is an interesting record as previous Priory C.P. recoveries of this
species show Blackcaps leaving the country via Iklesham (Sussex) and the south east of the country in
September whereas this is the first recovery showing a Blackcap arriving in spring and doing so from
the southwest (per Ed. Green, Ivel Ringing Group).

GARDEN WARBLER

Sylvia borin

A fairly common summer resident and passage migrant in suitable habitat. Winters in central and southern
Africa. Earliest: 10.4.91. Latest: 7.10.85.
Average earliest 1985-1999: 23rd April; 2000 2009: 22nd April.
Average latest 1990-1999: 13th September; 2000-2009: 14th September.

The first did not arrive until the 28th April but it was not until May 3rd that the second was recorded.
Numbers remained low throughout the month with eight on the 6th being the highest count.
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
85

87

89

91

93

95

97

99

01

03

05

07

09

11

Garden Warbler - Territorial males 1985-2012


Twelve males occupied territory (eight last year). Although seen almost daily during August and early
September all counts were of four or lower and after four on the 4th September counts were of only
one or two until the last two on the 9th September.
LESSER WHITETHROAT

Sylvia curruca

A regular but uncommon summer visitor and passage migrant. Winters in the Ethiopian highlands. Has bred
since 1985. Earliest: 9.4.97. Latest: 2.10.89.
Average earliest 1985-1999: 24th April; 2000 2009: 21st April.
Average latest 1985 1999: 21st September; 2000 2009: 14th September.

The first arrived on 28th April followed by one on the 30th April and four on 1st May . Only one male
occupied territory this year. Average territorial males for 2001-2005 = 4.4; average 2006-2009 = 3.8
territorial males.
14
12
10
8
6
4
2

1990
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
00
01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08
09
10
11
12

Lesser Whitethroat -

Territorial males 1990 - 2012

There was only one record in July, on the 7th and no further records until singles on the 3rd, 9th and 13th
August. There were four records of singles in the remainder of the month but three together on the 3rd
September followed by one on the 4th.
COMMON WHITETHROAT

Sylvia communis

Once uncommon but now a fairly common passage migrant and summer visitor. Winters in Africa. Earliest:
9.4.95. Latest: 5.10.06.
Average earliest1985-1999: 18th April; 2000 2009: 16th April.
Average latest 1985 1999: 21st September; 2000-2009: 29th September.

The first was on Fenlake on the 22nd April with two there on the 24th. Singles were recorded in the
park from the 27th April increasing to six on 24th May.
Six males held territory (9 in 2011).
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12
Common Whitethroat - Territorial males 1991 - 20112

One to four were regularly recorded to the 12th July but after this they became difficult to find. One
was trapped on the 28th July but there were only eight records of singles during August. Four were in
h
h
h rd September, the same day as a large count of Blackcaps but the only other
records were of singles on the 5th, 10th and 13th September.
Ringing:
A bird trapped at Priory CP on the 7th May 2007 was retrapped on the 27th May 2012 (per Ed Green,
Ivel Ringing Group).
GRASSHOPPER WARBLER

Locustella naevia

Bred in 1993 and possibly bred in 2000 but otherwise an uncommon passage migrant. Earliest: 31.3.98.
Latest: 3.8.83.

One was singing on Fenlake on the 21st and again from the 22nd April 13th May. There were no
f h
f
h
l
h
h
h th July.

SEDGE WARBLER

Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

Once common but now declining breeding summer resident and passage migrant. Winters in Africa. Earliest:
31.3.98. Latest: 16.10.94.
Average earliest 1985-1999: 9th April; 2000 2009: 9th April.
Average latest 1985-1999: 26th September. 2000-2009: 11th September.

The first arrived near the sewage works bridge on the 6th April and remained in the same area during
the following days. Three were present on the 13th April with four to seven until the 12th May when 10
were present. Most of these passed through and only three males held territory, seven last year.
Average for 2001-2005 = 17. Average for 2006-2010 = 8.6.
50
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12
Sedge Warbler Territorial males 1991 2012

Although seen regularly in June, numbers were low (1 to 3) and there were only five records, all of
singles, in July. After singles on the 5th, 7th the last was recorded on the 15th August
REED WARBLER

Acrocephalus scirpaceous

A common breeding summer resident and passage migrant. Winters in tropical Africa. Earliest: 14.4.93.
Latest: 13.10.89.
Average earliest 1985-1999: 24th April; 2000 2009: 21st April.
Average latest 1985-1999: 8th October. 2000-2009: 7th October.

Th f
v w
l
h
reed bed on the 16th April. There were counts
of up to 21 in May, 24 in June, 27 in July and 23 in August.
Twenty-eight males held territory, twenty-seven last year. Average for 2001-2005 = 29.2; average
2006-2010 = 29.).

60
50
40
30
20
10
0
82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Reed Warbler Territorial males 1982-2012


Nine to twelve were recorded daily to the 9th September after which numbers declined. Eight were
present on the 18th September and seven on the 21st with smaller numbers after this but the only
October records were of five on the 1st October, one on the 2nd and one (trapped) on the 6th.
WAXWING

Bombycilla garrulus

A rare visitor usually occurring only in irruption years. There were five records in 1996, five in 2005 and one in
January 2011.

One was present by the sewage works bridge on the 18th November (GG) and one was in the same
place on the 10th December.
NUTHATCH

Sitta europaea

A rare visitor. Seven previous records. Last recorded in August 2002.

TREECREEPER

Certhia familiaris

An uncommon breeding resident.

There were only three records in January: one on the 17th, two on the 21st and one on the 28th. There
was only one record of a single in February, five in March, two in April and none in May. One to two
were recorded fairly frequently in July with juveniles being both seen and trapped.
WREN

Troglodytes troglodytes

A common breeding resident.

Maximum Day Counts


Jan Feb Mar Apr
10
12
22
21

May
19

Jun
13

Jul
16

Aug
14

Sep
16

Oct
13

Nov Dec
12

Forty-two males held territory (2001-2005 average 44.2; 2006-2009 average 38.2)
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Wren Territorial Males 1991-2012


STARLING

Sturnus vulgaris

A resident in very small numbers. Also a winter visitor from east and northern Europe in much smaller numbers
in recent years.

Most counts during the year were fairly low but numbers were enhanced after the breeding season by
juveniles. Flocks of up to 80 were noted passing north-east to roost during October. Some passage
was noted in late October with 161 west on the 28th and 59 west on the 29th being the largest
movements.
Monthly Maxima (second row) and Daily Average (bottom row)
not including passage birds or roosts
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
27
4
4
63
85
78
30 130 115 130 100 104
1.1 0.4 0.16 5.3 14.2 10.8 5.2 8.6 24.6 15.8 18.6 8.9

Small flocks were noted in October and November passing northeast to roost at dusk with 80 on the
27th, 2100 on the 29th and 780 on the 31st October. Similarly flocks were noted passing southwest in
th
the ly
. A fl k f
h

h
November.
RING OUZEL Turdus torquatus
A rare passage migrant. Eight previous records. Last recorded in September 1994. Earliest: 15.4.84. Latest:
29.9.94.

BLACKBIRD

Turdus merula

A common breeding resident. Winter visitor and passage migrant.

Counts were regularly between 20 and 30 during January but an increase later in the month to 46 on
the 27th, 53 on the 28th and 43 on the 30th probably involved new birds as two new partial albino birds
appeared during this period. Good numbers continued to be recorded throughout February with peaks
of 31 on the 16th, 34 on the 19th, 35 on the 21st and 58 on the 25th. The March peak was 41 on the 12th
and, in April, 34 were counted on the 4th.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
53
58
41
34

May
27

Jun
22

Jul
22

Aug
25

Sep
23

Oct
44

Nov Dec
38
47

Twenty-four males occupied territories, 17 last year. Average 2001-2005 = 11; 2006-2010 average =
17.4)
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Blackbird - Territorial males 1991-2012


Numbers remained relatively constant after the breeding season but a count of 32 on the 23rd October
included one group of 19 indicating immigration (1220 arrived at Spurn on the 22nd October). A total
of 44 was recorded on the 30th October and 38 on the 1st November. Fairly high numbers were
recorded throughout December with 40 recorded on the 8th, 14th, 16th and 28th; 41 on the 5th and 19th;
42 on the 18th and 47 on the 17th.

FIELDFARE

Turdus pilaris

A regular winter visitor and passage migrant, sometimes in large numbers. Often scarce in the first winter
period.

Generally scarce during the first winter period with just the occasional flock passing through. These
involved 28 on the 6th January, 45 on the 15th, 15 on the 17th and 24 on the 23rd January. Peaks of 134
on the 7th February and 29 on the 10th were by far the highest during the first half of February but
there were only two records in the second half of the month: 11 on the 16th and 15 on the 26th. In
March eight flew over on the 2nd and 14 on the 20th.

The first of the autumn was one on the 19th October followed by 12 south on the 24th October. Passage
was more noticeable on the 26th when 133 passed west and an additional 48 were in the park. Passage
continued on the 27th with 183 west and on the 28th when 370 passed west. On 31st October a total of
359 passed west in leisurely fashion at about treetop height. Westerly movement continued during the
f
h lf f N v
,
l
ly f h
v lv
h rd, 180 on the 5th, 75 on the
th
th
th
th
7 , 205 on the 11 , 96 on the 12 and 91 on the 13 . Apart from 148 on the 4th December only small
numbers were seen to mid-month and none at all after the 16th.
SONG THRUSH

Turdus philomelus

A declining breeding resident but showing signs of recovery since 2000. Passage migrant. Often scarce in
winter.

Six to eleven were regularly recorded in January with up to eight singing on any day during the first
half of the month.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
11
10
14
10

May
8

Jun
9

Jul
7

Aug
4

Sep
6

Oct
4

Nov Dec
10
3

Seventeen males occupied territories, 17 last year. 2001-2005 average 10.4; 2006-2010
average 18.2.
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Song Thrush - Territorial males 1991 - 2012


th
H h fly (
h
y
l
)w f
y h
h
September and again by four birds on the 2nd October. The first song of the winter was noted on the
12th November (22nd November 2011, 19th Nov. 2010, 11th Nov. 2009)

REDWING

Turdus iliacus

A common passage migrant. Winter visitor in small numbers. Earliest: 25.9.82.

Latest: 11.5.84.

Higher numbers recorded in the first half of January involved 29 on the 3rd, 54 on the 6th, 47 on the 9th
and 70 on the 15th but this species was only thinly distributed after
this. Most records in February were of five or less with other
records of seven and eight and the pattern was very similar in
March when the only record of more than eight was of 23 on the
17th. As expected, the species was scarce in April with five east on
the 3rd, five on the 7th, one on the 8th and the last two on the 11th.
The first of the autumn was one near the Visitor Centre on the 8th
October, our only representative of what was otherwise quite a
widespread movement throughout the county. After four on the 9th,
six west on the 10th and 44 on the 11th only small numbers were
recorded until the 26th October when 77 passed west. Passage
continued on the 27th when 199 passed west as did 131 on the
following day but, as with Fieldfares, there was no passage on the
29th October. Small numbers, usually 15 or fewer, were recorded
almost daily during November and December with 48 on the 28th
November, 68 on the 29th November an 55 on the 1st December
being the highest counts.

MISTLE THRUSH

Turdus viscivorus

An infrequent visitor. Seen more regularly in recent years.

There were only fourteen records during the year; three records in January, February and March, one
in each month. Singles were recorded on the 13th and 21st April but there were no further records until
one on the 2nd July. The only August record was of one on the 24th. In September one was present on
the 13th and one flew west on the 29th. There was only one record, of a single bird, in October but five
passed east on the 3rd November. The only other records were of singles on the 10th and 14th
November and one on the 16th December.
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER

Muscicapa striata

An uncommon summer visitor in decreasing numbers. Now mainly in autumn.


Earliest in spring: 26.04.91. Latest: 26.09.93.

There were no spring records. The first of the autumn and only record was one on the 26th August.
ROBIN

Erithacus rubecula

A common breeding resident. An increase often noted in autumn may be due to passage.

Recorded throughout the year with fewer during June and July when birds spend more time feeding
young rather than singing to maintain territories. There were no signs of autumn passage this year.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
23
21
23
23
19
12
7
15
21
21
18
17
Twenty-nine males occupied territories, 25 last year. Average 2001-2005: 26.2; average 2006-2009
24.6).
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Robin - Territorial males 1991-2012

NIGHTINGALE

Luscinia megarhynchos

A rare resident and passage migrant. Only three records before 1993. Bred 1993 to 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2003.

BLACK REDSTART

Phoenicurus ochurus

A rare passage migrant. Although some birds winter in SW Britain, most winter in the Mediterranean region.
Seven previous records. Last recorded in April 1992.

COMMON REDSTART

Phoenicurus phoenicurus

A scarce passage migrant. Twenty-one previous records. Last recorded in April 2006. Earliest: 08.4.06.
Latest: 19.9.02.

A fine male was present along the south side of the main lake on the 10th April and was seen again on
the 13th, presumably having been there all the time.

WHINCHAT

Saxicola rubetra

Un uncommon but fairly regular passage migrant. Earliest: 17.4.83.


on spring passage: 2nd May.

STONECHAT

Latest: 15.10.88. Average earliest date

Saxicola torquatus

An uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor. Recorded more regularly during the winter in recent years,
particularly in neighbouring fields. Earliest: 28.9.94. Latest: 30.4.89.

The bird seen on Fenlake from November 2011 remained at this site was as observed on the 7th and
14th January and 6th, 23rd, 24th, 26th and 29th February.
NORTHERN WHEATEAR

Oenanthe oenanthe

An uncommon passage migrant in decreasing numbers. Earliest: 8.3.89.


Average earliest date on spring passage 1981 1999: 30th March.

Latest: 11.10.82.

PIED FLYCATCHER

Ficedula hypoleuca

A scarce passage migrant. Eleven previous records, eight in spring, three in autumn. Earliest: 15.4.93. Latest:
21.9.79 and 83. Last recorded in September 2004.

DUNNOCK

Prunella modularis

A fairly common breeding resident in suitable habitats.

Good numbers were recorded throughout the first winter period, particularly in the second half of
February with 16 on the 20th and 23rd and 18 on the 25th. The first song was heard on the 27th January
and regularly after this. Birds were displaying from February onwards. Tw
w
h h
fly
h th October.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr
12
18
18
17

May
6

Jun
11

Jul
8

Aug
7

Sep
16

Oct
15

Nov Dec
14
12

Fourteen males occupied territories, (2001-2005 average 9; 2006-2009 average 10.6).


16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Dunnock - Territorial males 1991 - 2012

HOUSE SPARROW

Passer domesticus

A breeding resident and visitor in small numbers. Can be scarce in winter.

This species was recorded regularly during the first six months of the year but, as usual, numbers were
very variable. Most sightings were around the Visitor Centre, the duck feeding area and the sailing
club, i.e. in places where food is either put out for birds or where food is consumed by visitors.
Numbers recorded were usually of five or fewer but 24 were near the Visitor Centre on the 6th
January, 21 on the 22nd and 19 on the 31st January. There were several counts of 10 to 13. From July
onwards there were only 40 records to the end of the year most being of one to three birds.
TREE SPARROW

Passer montanus

A very rare visitor. Last recorded in January 1995.

YELLOW WAGTAIL

Motacilla flava

Once a common passage migrant and breeder in small numbers, now a passage migrant in small numbers. Has
bred. Recent decline. Earliest: 28.3.89. Latest: 1.10.83. Average earliest date on spring passage: 6 th April.
Not recorded for the first time in 2005. Not recorded in 2011.

One flew over the sewage works bridge on the 6th September the only record!
GREY WAGTAIL

Motacilla cinerea

Now more or less a resident. Has bred either in the park or nearby since 1999.

Singles were recorded regularly along the canoe slalom course throughout January and February with
two on the 14th February and three on the 29th. Pairs were present near the sewage works bridge and
by the canoe slalom course during the second half of March and into April. Nest material was being
collected by both the male and the female on the 21st and 22nd April but a nest at the sluice gate was
later deserted, possibly due to nearby construction work on it and the river.

Male Grey Wagtail on the canoe slalom course.


There were fewer records during June and July but, after this, birds were reported on the majority of
days to the end of the year. Juveniles were recorded in August and September indicating that breeding
probably took place nearby. The highest count was of seven (including juveniles) on the 4th
September.
PIED WAGTAIL

Motacilla alba

Resident and passage migrant. Large numbers are sometimes seen going over to roost.

One to two were recorded fairly regularly throughout January and February with 47 passing southwest
to roost on the 2nd January. Six passed southwest to roost on the 9th January and 9 on the 21st
February. One or two were recorded fairly regularly until late September, with five adults with one
young on the 9th July being the largest count, but from October onwards they were recorded on an
almost daily basis. Parties passed over southwest to roost in October and December with counts of 21
SW on the 11th November, 16 SW on the 18th November, 34 SW on the 7th December and 20 SW on

the 9th December being the largest counts. Floodwater on Kingsmead attracted 29 on the 28th and 30th
December and 27 on the 31st.
TREE PIPIT

Anthus trivialis

A very rare passage migrant. Four records, two in May 1996, one in September 2002 and one in August 2006.

MEADOW PIPIT

Anthus pratensis

A fairly common migrant. Winter visitor in varying numbers.

There were just three records of singles passing over in the first two months of the year followed by
five records in March and two in April, all of singles, the last being one on the 7th April. The first of
the autumn was of one south on the 14th September followed by four south on the following day.
Singles passed over on the following two days as did two on the 22nd, 8 on the 23rd, 18 on the 28th and
six on the 30th. In October one or two passed over on most days but seven passed southwest on the
1st, 28 south on the 2nd and seven south on the 5th. One to four passed over fairly regularly in
November and up to three to the 10th December. There were no further records after this.
ROCK PIPIT

Anthus petrosus

A rare passage migrant. Five previous records. Last recorded in March 1983.

WATER PIPIT

Anthus spinoletta

A rare passage migrant. Five previous records. Last recorded (on Fenlake) in December 2011.

CHAFFINCH

Fringilla coelebs

Breeding resident, winter visitor and passage migrant.

Up to 22 (25th) were recorded daily throughout January and up to 29 (2nd) in February. The first song
was heard on the 9th January and many were singing from late January onwards.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
22
29
24
27
22
20
6
10
16
38
22 17
Twenty-six males held territory, 23 in 2011and 19 in 2010. Average territorial males 2001-2005 =
23.4; average 2006-2009 = 20.
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Chaffinch - Territorial males 1991-2012

Some passage was noted in late October with 11 west on the 25th and 22 west on the 28th and in
November with seven west on the 2nd and 17 west on the 3rd.
BRAMBLING

Fringilla montifringilla

An irregular and uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor.

GREENFINCH

Carduelis chloris

Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor.

This species was particularly attracted to the hedge behind the sailing club in the first winter period
with numbers varying between one and 21 (19th) in January and up to 30 (3rd) in February. About four
pairs bred.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
21
30
14
4
5
6
4
12
7
14
14 16
Roost 24 roosted in the Finger Lakes on the 6th January. Numbers of this species continue to be low
and only one to three were recorded on many days.
GOLDFINCH

Carduelis carduelis

Breeding resident and passage migrant.

Small numbers, usually four to thirteen, were recorded daily during the first winter period with 26 on
the 18th January and 19 on the 7th February being the highest counts in those months. The first song
was heard on the 24th and 25th February.
Monthly Maxima.
Jan Feb Mar Apr
26
19
18
13

May
12

Jun
11

Jul
14

Aug
30

Sep
70

Oct
102

Nov Dec
66 32

There was a noticeable increase towards the end of October which included 28 on the 28th and a
further 14 passing over west, 64 on the 29th and 102 on the 31st. Higher counts during November
involved 66 on the 1st, 59 on the 7th and 57 on the 9th. After 54 on the 19th and 44 on the 22nd numbers
declined with less than ten being counted on most days in December. Thirty-two were recorded on the
24th December and 27 on the 31st.
SISKIN

Carduelis spinus

An irregular winter visitor and passage migrant in varying numbers.

Very few were recorded in the first winter period with one over on the 21st February, two over on the
29th February and one over on the 2nd March. These were followed by two on the 18th March and one
on the 21st.
A pair was in the alders and willows bordering the crescent reed bed on the 30th April. The first of the
autumn were four on the 15th September followed by one on the 17th, seven south on the 19th, 12 south
on the 20th and ten on the 22nd. Up to three were regularly seen to the end of the month. Recorded
almost daily throughout October with 14 south on the 2nd being the largest count.

The pair of late Siskins on the 30th April the male was singing.
One to six were recorded regularly throughout November with 17 on the 23rd and 16 on the 30th. High
counts in December include 34 on the 6th and 23 on the 12th but numbers during the second half of the
month did not exceed five.
LINNET

Carduelis cannabina

An uncommon visitor and passage migrant. More common in winter. Irregular breeder.

LESSER REDPOLL

Carduelis cabaret

An uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant in varying numbers. Recorded less frequently in recent years.
Last bred in 1991.

None was recorded during the first winter period. One was present on the 1st October, two on the 2nd,
one on the 8th and 10th, three on the 11th and one on the 21st. A party of 17 flew west over the park on
the morning of the 24th October. Thirteen were trapped on the 28th October.

Although recorded daily in November most counts did not exceed five but 12 were recorded on the 8th
and nine on the 17th and 26th. One or two were present on many days in December with three on the
2nd and five on the 9th being the highest counts.

COMMON (MEALY) REDPOLL

Carduelis flammea

A rare winter visitor. The only records involve one in March 1981 and three in January 1986.

COMMON CROSSBILL

Loxia curvirostra

Three previous records, October and November 1997 and April 2003.

BULLFINCH

Pyrrhula pyrrhula

A breeding resident in small numbers.

Regularly recorded throughout the year but more difficult to find from May to July. About four pairs
bred again this year. The highest counts were nine on the 7th and 23rd January, 14th November and 2nd
and 30th December.
Monthly Maxima
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
9
6
6
4
4
3
2
3
3
8
9
9
Average monthly maxima 2005-2007
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
9.7 13
10
9
3.3
4

SNOW BUNTING

Jul
6

Aug
6

Sep
6

Oct
8.3

Nov Dec
9.7 12

Plectrophenax nivalis

A very rare winter visitor. One recorded on the 8 th November 1980 and one (not submitted to the rarities
committee by the observer) on the 15th November 1996.

YELLOWHAMMER

Emberiza citrinella

An uncommon visitor.

Not recorded this year.


REED BUNTING

Emberiza schoeniclus

A breeding resident and winter visitor.

Singles were regularly recorded during January and the first half of February with the first song heard
on the 11th. Singing was heard regularly after this with up to three males singing around the park and a
further two on Fenlake. Three to four were regularly seen in early March but eight were counted on
the 4th.
Eight males occupied territories, a significant increase on previous years. There were no records in
August or September and the first of the autumn was of one on the 2nd October followed by two on the
7th. There were more records from late October to late November when up to four roosted in the
crescent reed bed. Five were trapped on the 10th November. Less frequently recorded during
December, mainly one or two but four on the 18th.

CORN BUNTING

Emberiza calandra

An infrequent daytime visitor but may roost in fairly large numbers in some years.

Roost:
Between 12 and 20 roosted on most evenings in January but 26 roosted on the 13th, 39 on the 15th and
57 on the 16th, before resuming more usual numbers. Cold weather in early February resulted in
another increase with 74 attending on the 3rd February. This built up to 87 on the 8th, 98 on the 9th, 94
on the 10th and 119 on the 11th February. With mild weather after, apart from two on the 18th, this no
birds came to roost until the end of the month. Fifteen which departed from the reed bed on the 2nd
March indicated that the roost had recommenced. Numbers however were small and after 12 on the
14th the last involved four on the 16th and two on the 20th March.
The first of the second winter period were two which exited the crescent reed bed on the morning of
the 23rd October, presumably having roosted overnight. Three exited the roost on the morning of the
24th and five came in to roost in the evening. Thirty-four came to roost on the very cold night of the
26th with 16 on the following evening, only five on the 28th, 19 on the 29th and 47 on the 30th October.
In November the highest roost counts included 58 on the 2nd, 73 on the 7th, 43 on the 10th, 60 on the
13th and 18 on the 18th. Forty-five roosted on the 7th December.

Corn Bunting

(Photo Ed Green)

Contributors: J. Anderson, D. Barnes, J. Bishop, R. Bowler, N. Cook, D. Fellman, G. Glazebrook,


E. Green, D. Kramer, N. Monsey, D.J. Odell, A. Ploszajski, R. Roche.

Analysis of data collected from ringed Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla at Priory Country Park from
1991-2011.

Timing of Post-breeding Blackcap movements at Priory Country Park.


David Kramer
Summary:
Data obtained by the Ivel Ringing Group when trapping Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) at Priory Country Park,
Bedford, from 1991-2011is presented in graphical format and analysed. It is concluded that, when dates are
compared during the study period:
i) Adult Blackcaps pass through mainly in July with only small numbers passing through from August
to October whereas the passage of 1st year Blackcaps peaks in late August to mid-September. Rather
surprisingly, adults have passed through later in recent years.
ii) Adult males passed through before adult females in both 1991-2001 and 2002-2011.
iii) The date on which the first 3J (incomplete post-juvenile moult) Blackcap of the year was ringed
(1991-2011) has become gradually earlier by about 18 days during the 21-year period indicating an earlier
breeding season.
iv) The peak movement of ringed 1st year Blackcaps was earlier in 2002-2011 than in 1991-2001.
v) The number of ringed 3

k
h in 1991-2001 and again in 2002-2011 but both
males and females passed through earlier in 2002-2011 than in 1991-2001.
vi) In 1st year (3J and 3) which could be sexed males predominated with 58% males and 42% females.
In adult Blackcaps, of 79 adult Blackcaps ringed males predominated with 58.2% (n=46) males and 41.8%
(n=33) females.
vii) Juvenile Blackcaps may move away from, and those from other areas visit, the study area after
fledging possibly in order to develop a stellar compass which would enable them to complete their outward
(autumn) and return (spring) migrations.

Introduction:
Blackcaps are mainly summer visitors to the UK arriving in late March and early April and departing
in September and October. British birds winter mainly on the Iberian peninsular, Morocco and
northwest Africa (Wernham et al 2002). Since the early 1960s there has been a shift in the wintering
areas of a population breeding in western-central Europe and an increasing proportion of these birds
now winters in England (Berthold and Terrill 1988). Blackcaps have also been arriving earlier in
spring, possibly due to changes as a result of climate change. This paper concerns the movements of
British breeders after breeding.
Most birdwatchers probably think of the autumn migration of the Blackcap as a fairly simple
affair with British birds putting down fat reserves before departing to their wintering areas in
September and October. Whilst observing the trapping and ringing of Blackcaps at Priory Country
Park, Bedford, Bedfordshire, I was puzzled by some of the relative numbers of adults and juveniles at
different times during the post-breeding period and also the patterns in the data being collected. I
looked at the ringing data for Blackcaps trapped at Priory C. P.. I chose to look at the data from June
to the end of September as this was the most consistently recorded whilst from October onwards the
number of Blackcaps trapped was too low to draw firm conclusions.

Blackcaps have been trapped and data collected at Priory Country Park since 1991. Using this data a
number of questions can be asked:When do Blackcaps pass through Priory Country Park on their return migration?
Are Blackcaps passing through earlier in recent years than in the past?
Is there any difference between when males and females pass through?
Is the timing of return passage different in adults to first-year birds?
Has the date of the first trapped 3J (incomplete post-juvenile moult) Blackcap changed during
the period in question, possibly indicating a change in breeding season?
What is the proportion of males to females passing through?
Why does the proportion of juveniles to adults far exceed the expected ratio?
Trapping:
Regular trapping began at Priory Country Park in 1991 and has continued to the present day. It is a
Constant Effort Site (CES) and as such ringing starts at the beginning of May through to the end of
August. During this period visits are made approximately every ten days (variations being due to
weather conditions etc.) and the same net length is used throughout this period. Only the occasional
visit is made during April to check the site and net set-up before starting in May this minimises
disturbance which may affect the results of the survey. During the period from 1991 to 2011 the total
number of Blackcaps ringed was 1792.
During the period under consideration (1991 to 2011) the trapping of Blackcaps has occurred on 355
occasions, averaging 16.9 visits per year. The number of occasions each year has varied due to the
personal circumstances of the ringers, the lowest being nine visits in 1996 and 2006 and the highest
being 27 visits in 2008 and 2009. Trapping during winter has taken place on a less regular basis. As
ringing did not take place during much of the spring passage this paper concentrates on the 1458 birds
ringed during the post-breeding period and autumn departure.
The data shows that the number of birds ringed per visit has not changed significantly over the two
periods (fig. 1).
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0

1991-2001
2002-2012

Spring

Summer

Early passage

Late passage

Fig. 1. Average number of Blackcaps ringed per visit for the periods
1991-2001 and 2002-2011
During the period 1991-2001 the number of ringing sessions was 150 during which 786 Blackcaps
were ringed, an average of 5.24 birds per session. During the 2002-2011 period the number of ringing
sessions was 196 during which 996 Blackcaps were ringed, an average of 5.08 birds per session.
Similarly, there was little difference between average ringing totals in the different periods (spring,
summer, early and late passage) in the two eleven-year periods.

Results
Has the increase in the Blackcap population resulted in an increase in the number of Blackcaps
ringed?
The data collected during BTO surveys indicates that the UK population of Blackcaps has increased
by 175% between 1970 and 2009 whilst the BBS (BTO, Breeding Bird Survey) indicates an increase
of 73% between 1995 and 2009 (Eaton MA et al, Th S
f h U B
). S l ly, h
breeding population at Priory CP as indicated by territorial males has increased significantly. In 1991
eight territorial males were recorded during the breeding survey and this increased to over 30
territorial males by 2005. Based on territorial males the Blackcap population was, on average, 29%
higher in the period from 2002-2011 than in 1991-2001(Fig. 2).
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11

Fig.2. Territorial male Blackcaps at Priory C.P. 1985-2011


Blackcap passage.
The average first arrival dates for Blackcaps at Priory C.P. are 3rd April for the 15-year period 1985 to
1999, 26th March for the ten-year period 2000 to 2009, and 18th March for the period 2010-2012,
indicating an earlier average arrival in recent years by about 16 days. First arrival dates are shown in
Fig. 3.
One feature of the trapping of Blackcaps in the late summer and autumn of 2011 was that of
all the birds trapped very few were ever retrapped at the site, not only throughout the whole period
from 1st August to 31st October but even on the same day! This strongly suggests that the birds passed
through fairly rapidly.

45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

Fig. 3 First arrival dates of Blackcaps 1990-2011


(Vertical axis: 1= 1st March)
Adults from June to October
Most birdwatchers probably assume that adult Blackcaps pass through inland sites at the same
time and peak at the same time as first-year birds. In fact adult Blackcaps passed through mainly in
July with only small numbers passing through from August to October.
250
200
150
100
50

Total adults 19912011


Total 1st year
1991-2011

Fig. 4. Total number of adult and first year ringed Blackcaps June - October 1991-2011
showing that throughout the 21-year period adults peaked in July and first-year Blackcaps in late
August to mid September.

40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
3-12 13-22 23 2-11 12-21 22-31 1-10 11-20 21-30 31 10-19 20-29 30
Jun Jun Jun-1 Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug-9 Sep Sep Sep-9
Jul
Sep
Oct

Fig. 5. Number of adults ringed June-October 1991-2011. Adult movement peaked in July.
The number of adults declined rapidly during late July and early August (Fig. 5) this suggests that
adult Blackcaps vacate their breeding areas and disperse, possibly southwards, over the wider
countryside.
Adult Blackcaps passed through later in 2002-2011 than in 1991-2001.
The ringing data indicates (Fig. 6) that adults peaked in the ten-day period 2nd 11th July in 19912001 but in the period 12th 21st July in 2002-2011. It seems that this increase occurred
approximately ten days later in the recent years. This may be due to an increasing number of pairs
becoming double-brooded.
40
35
30
25
20

Total adults 1991-2011

15

Adults 1991-2001

10

Adults 2002-2011

31 Aug-9 Sep
10-19 Sep
20-29 Sep
30 Sep-9 Oct

12-21 Jul
22-31 Jul
1-10 Aug
11-20 Aug
21-30 Aug

3-12 Jun
13-22 Jun
23 Jun-1 Jul
2-11 Jul

Fig. 6. Number of adult Blackcaps ringed 1991-2002 and 2002-2011 compared.


Showing that the number of adults ringed peaked in July and that the peak was later
In 2002-2011 than in 1991-2001

Adult males passed through before adult females in both 1991-2001 and 2002-2011.
Adult Blackcaps pass through earlier than expected.
From the 1st August to 31st October during the eleven-year period from 1991-2001 a total of 464
Blackcaps was ringed. Of these only 7% (33) were adults. The situation was similar during the tenyear period from 2002-2011 when a total of 527 Blackcaps were ringed of which only 6.8% were
adults. (6.9% adults for the 21-year period 1991-2011).
Of the 79 adult Blackcaps trapped and ringed during this period the number of adult males (46) was
greater than adult females (33). However, adult males peaked in the period 2nd 11th July whilst adult
females peaked a little later in the period 12th 21st July (Fig. 7). Adult males departed approximately
ten days before adult females.
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0

31 Aug-9 Sep
10-19 Sep
20-29 Sep
30 Sep-9 Oct

12-21 Jul
22-31 Jul
1-10 Aug
11-20 Aug
21-30 Aug

3-12 Jun
13-22 Jun
23 Jun-1 Jul
2-11 Jul

Adult males 1991-2001


Adult females 19912001

Fig. 7. Number of adult males and females ringed 1991-2001


In both periods adult males pass through before females (Males 2nd 11th July and females 12th -21st
July in 1991-2001; males 12th 21st July, females 22nd July 31st July in 2001-2011.
The dates on which the first 3J (incomplete juvenile moult) Blackcaps of each year have become
gradually earlier by about 18 days in the period 1991-2011.
The dates of the first 3J (incomplete post-juvenile moult) Blackcaps trapped each year were plotted
for the 20-year period 1992 2011 (see Fig. 8).
Because of the slight variation in the dates of ringing sessions the date of the first 3J Blackcap trapped
is only accurate to within ten days. Nevertheless it does show a significant trend for earlier production
of young and this could be by as much as much as eighteen days. During the very early stages of
moult it is not possible to determine the sex as the plumages are very similar. When these are plotted
separately these also indicate an earlier production of young in 2002-2011 by ten -20 days compared
with 1991-2002 (Fig. 9). Similarly the majority of 3J juveniles (total of sexed and unsexed) are now
being recorded between ten and 20 days earlier in 2002-2011 than in 1991-2001 (Fig.10).

35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

Fig. 8. Date of the first fledged (3J) young Blackcap of the year trapped at Priory C.P. 1992-2011
(On the y axis 0 = 30th May, 32 = 30th June.)

45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10

3J unsexed 1991-2001
3J unsexed 2002-2011

5
0

Fig.9. 3J unsexed Blackcaps 1991-2001 and 2002-2011 compared showing that young were produced
earlier in 2002-2011 than in 1991-2001

80
70
60
50
40
30

3J 1991-2001

20

3J 2002-2011

10
24 May-2 Jun
3-12 Jun
13-22 Jun
23-1 Jul
2-11 Jul
12-21 Jul
22-31 Jul
1-10 Aug
11-20 Aug
21-30 Aug
31-9 Sep
10-19 Sep
20-29 Sep
30-9 Oct
10-19 Oct
20-29 Oct
30-8 Nov

Fig.10. Temporal distribution of all 3J Blackcaps 1991-2001 and 2002-2011 compared,


showing that young were produced earlier in 2002-2011 than 1991-2002.
The fact that virtually no juvenile Blackcaps ringed were retrapped in the same year suggests that they
departed the area. The main passage period (as indicated by ringed birds) of 3J (incomplete postjuvenile moult) males and 3J females is the same and they peak at the same time (1st 10th August).
Similarly h
ff
y (
l
j v l
l) l
f
y females is
th
th
the same and they also peak at the same time, 10 -19 September 1991-2001 (Fig. 11).

60
50
40
30
20

3 male

10

3 female

24 May-2 Jun
3-12 Jun
13-22 Jun
23-1 Jul
2-11 Jul
12-21 Jul
22-31 Jul
1-10 Aug
11-20 Aug
21-30 Aug
31-9 Sep
10-19 Sep
20-29 Sep
30-9 Oct
10-19 Oct
20-29 Oct
30-8 Nov

Fig. 11. 3 (completed post-juvenile moult) and first year Blackcaps showing that they pass
through during the same period and peak at the same time. Males (58%) outnumbered females
(42%)1991-2001

Is there a difference in the proportion of the sexes?


First Year Blackcaps.
Of the 345 first year birds (3J and 3) which could be sexed males predominated with 58% males to
%f
l . f h
f
J Bl k
, wh h
l
x (
) l
f
%, l
h
h
( %).
Adult Blackcaps.
In adult Blackcaps, of 79 adult Blackcaps ringed, males predominated with 58.2% (n=46) males and
41.8% (n=33) females.

Conclusions
Blackcaps at Priory C.P. are breeding and producing young about 18 days earlier in 2011 than in
1991. This is shown both by the first juveniles being trapped earlier and the earlier date of peak
numbers of juveniles being trapped.
Adult Blackcaps move away from breeding areas mainly in July, well before juveniles which mainly
pass through in late August and September.
Adult males depart on average about ten days before adult females but both adult males and females
departed later in the period 2002-2011 than in 1991-2001. This may be due to climate-related
conditions enabling Blackcaps to have more second or replacement broods.
The peak movement of juvenile Blackcaps was earlier in the period 2002-2011 than in 1991-2001 but,
whereas adult males passed through earlier than adult females, both male and female juveniles passed
through together.
The ratio of juveniles to adults was far higher than expected and this could be explained if there are
two (or more) phases to juvenile post-breeding movements, the first possibly involving juveniles
w
h l l
wh h
h
l

( ll
magnetic), and the second being migration itself.
Males formed 58% of both adults and juveniles trapped . This could represent a real difference in the
proportion of males to females or it is possible that males are more susceptible to being trapped than
females.
Discussion
Breeding
As a result of climate change Blackcaps are arriving at Priory C.P. at least 18 days earlier in recent
years than in 1991 (Fig. 2). The average earliest arrival for 1985-1999 was 3rd April and this has
moved forward at an alarming rate to the 26th March for 2000- 2008 and 18th March for 2009-2012,
sixteen days earlier than that of the 1985-1999 average. The first 3J Blackcaps are being trapped about
18 days earlier now (2011) than in 1991 (Fig. 9). This relates well to the earlier arrival dates. It is
possible that, as a result of climate change, feeding resources are better either in wintering areas or at
stopover points or both, resulting in them being able to accumulate energy resources more quickly,
spend less time at stopover points, arrive in better condition and commence breeding sooner. If both
earlier arrival and earlier breeding are a result of physiological and behavioural changes (phenotypic
plasticity) then it seems likely that, if warming trends continue, then limits to plasticity may be
exceeded and the fate of the Blackcap population will be determined by the level of genetic variation
available (Lehikoinen and Sparks, 2010). Earlier arrival dates could also be explained if Blackcaps are
now wintering further north than they used to, thus reducing the distance travelled. As the initiation of
migration is controlled by photoperiod it might be possible for birds to start migration earlier if they
winter in areas where there is little photoperiodic variation, e.g. equatorial regions, but this seems to

be less likely in more northerly wintering Blackcaps which winter from Morocco and the Iberian
peninsular northwards.
Timing of passage
Adult Blackcaps mainly passed through Priory P.C. in July with lower numbers in early August and
very few after mid August. This was also noticed by D. R. Langslow (
) wh h
h h
f
l
A
w
ll
v
lly
w
h f
A
.
The question arises as to where the adult Blackcaps go. It is possible that the food resources in their
breeding area are depleted as a result of them feeding not only themselves but also up to two broods
of young and they could be dispersing more widely to other habitats to take advantage of food
resources. This seems unlikely as they are replaced by even larger numbers of juvenile birds.
Although postnuptial moult may commence as early as late June it gets well underway by mid-July
and is not completed until late September. It is therefore probable that adult Blackcaps choose a wider
spectrum of habitats in which to moult than first year birds. This may be related to food as it would
also provide a wider spectrum of food types. BTO national ringing data, (The Migration Atlas, 2002),
shows that British breeders make southerly movements in July and August. The data from Priory C.P.
shows that the earliest movers are mainly adults. Adult Blackcaps passed through later in the period
2002 2011 than in 1991-2001. It could be that, as a result of earlier breeding, more Blackcaps are
able to produce second broods, or replacement clutches should nest failure or predation occur, and are
staying longer at their breeding site before dispersing.
The ratio of the number of juveniles to adults visiting the site was well in excess of those expected. If
one assumed a reasonable survival rate of 60% for the young, (60.4% given in BWP for British
Blackcaps), the ratio of adults to young would be 2.4 :1 if two clutches of four eggs are laid, but only
1.2 :1 for only a single clutch. Blackcaps are mainly single brooded but two broods have been
reported, mainly from southern Britain (BWP vol. VI, 1992). As a result of climate change it seems
likely that double broods will now be more frequent in both southern Britain and further north. As the
ratio of juveniles to adults at Priory C.P. was 5.6 : 1 it suggests that the total number of juveniles
visiting the site in the post breeding period is approximately between 2.3 and 4.7 times that which one
might expect depending on the number of double broods. It seems therefore that juveniles on
passage/dispersal during the immediate post breeding period select habitat which is similar to their
breeding habitat whereas adults choose different habitats. It is possible that the breeding habitat type
is imprinted on juveniles soon after hatching and that large number of juveniles select this habitat type
as they disperse during the post breeding period. This would result in increased competition and the
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evidence to support or refute this.
Mukhin et al ( 2005) showed that juvenile Reed Warblers started nocturnal flights at 38 days
whereas migration did not commence until they were at least 50 days old. Post-fledging Eurasian
Reed Warblers made short dispersal movements. These movements were always at night, no greater
than 44 km and showed no preferred heading. During this period length of flight and activity
increased continuously. Whereas the adult Reed Warblers had good deposits of fat the post-fledging
dispersing birds had no stored fat. Mukhin et al relate the function of these nocturnal pre-migratory
flights to the development of a stellar compass, necessary for detecting the compass direction towards
winter quarters and for the formation of a navigational target which will be used during the return
(spring) migration. There may be a similarity between Reed Warblers and Blackcaps in this respect
but whereas the post-fl
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, ( h l
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),
there is, as yet, no evidence for this in the Blackcaps at Priory C. P. Exploratory movements like

those found in Reed Warblers could however account for the large number of new juvenile Blackcaps
ringed at Priory C.P. during the post-fledging period.
The later departure of adult females may be due to the fact that although both adult males and
females play an equal part in feeding and caring for young females may take longer to replenish
energy reserves as a result of egg laying.

Acknowledgements
My thanks to the Ivel Ringing Group for allowing me to use their data and to Ed Green for making
useful comments.
References
Barlein, F. (2000). Photoperiode und Nahrungsangebot beeinflussen zugzeitliche Fettdeposition.
Jber.Institut Vogelforschung 4:5.
Berthold , P. and Terrill, S.B. (1988). Migratory behaviour and population growth of Blackcaps
wintering in Britain and Ireland: some hypotheses. Ringing and Migration, 9: 153-159.
Brown, A. and Grice, P. (2005). Birds in England. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.
Cramp, S. (1992) Handbook of the Birds of Europe the Middle East and North Africa. Vol. 6, 512.
Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Fransson, T. (1995). Timing and speed of migration in North and West European populations of
Sylvia warblers. Journal of Avian Biology, 26: 39-48.
Langslow, D. R. (1976). Weights of Blackcaps on migration. Ringing and Migration, 1:2, 78-91.
Leisler, B. and Schulze-Hagen, K. (2011). The Reed Warblers. Max Plank Institute for Ornithology.
KNNV Publishing, Zeist.
Lehikoinen, E. and Sparks, T. H. (2010) in Mller, A. P., Fiedler, W. and Bethold, P. Effects of
Climate Change on Birds, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Mller, A. P., (2011) in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Christie, D. Handbook of the Birds of the World.
Vol. 16: 26. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Mukhin, A., Kosarev, V. and Ktitorov, P. (2005). Nocturnal life of young songbirds well before
migration. Proc. Roy.Soc. B-Biol. Sci. 272: 1535-1539.
Newton, I. (2008). The Migration Ecology of Birds. Academic Press, London.
Schaub, M. and Jenni, L. (2001) Stopover durations of three warbler species along their autumn
migration route. Oecologia 128: 217-227.
Wernham, C., Toms, M., Marchant, J., Clark, J., Siriwardena, G., Baillie, S. (2002). The
Migration Atlas. T. and A.D. Poyser, London.

Chiffchaffs trapped at Priory Country Park 1990 2011


Analysis by wing length.
David Kramer

Wing lengths of 599 Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) ringed at Priory Country Park during the
years 1990 -2011 were plotted (Fig. 1). The range was from 54mm to 66mm. (Ticehurst, 1938 gives a
range of 53 mm - 64 mm for P.c. collybita and 54 mm - 67 mm for P. c. abietinus.)
The graph is distinctly bimodal illustrating sexual difference in this monomorphic species and
indicating that wing length can be a good indicator of sex (but see discussion later).
Females show a peak at 57 mm and males at 62mm but the graph indicates an overlap of
approximately 4.5 mm (by extrapolation).
120
100
80
60
40
20
0

Fig. 1 Distribution of all wing lengths of Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) trapped


at Priory Country Park 1990 2011
(0.5 rounded down)
Analysis by month indicates that most birds trapped in March (fig. 2), as expected by song, are males
and bimodality doesnt begin to show until April when more females arrive.
Interestingly the graphs for April and May indicate trimodality with two peaks within the range of
female wing lengths. This is probably a chance result as the sample size was quite small. The
possibility of it being due to the presence of the longer winged race P. c. abietinus could probably be
discounted as, if this was so, one would expect similar twin peaks for males.
There was no distinct shift in the peaks during the breeding/post breeding period as a result of
different wing measurements of juveniles. This is possibly due to first year birds tending to have
longer wings after their first moult than in their first breeding season and also due to primary wear
in adults. However, again, the sample size is quite small.
The wing lengths given in Svensson (1992) for P.c. collybita and P.c. abietinus suggest that birds
with a wing length of 65 mm 67 mm would be abietinus. Four birds trapped at Priory C.P. come
into this category. In spring birds with a wing lengths of 65 mm were trapped on 25th March 2005

and on 17th April 2010. Using the data given in Svensson as a guide one might, quite reasonably, be
led to conclude that both these, in terms of wing length, were probably abietinus. However , the
latter bird (5F8468) had also been trapped on five previous occasions with its wing length being
measured as 63 mm on 3rd April 2008, 63 mm on 25th July 2008, 65 mm on 10th September 2008, 64
mm on 26th June 2009 and 65.5 on 4th July 2009. If all the measurements were correct one can only
assume that either the range of wing length for P. c. collybita needs to be extended to include these
measurements or, (very unlikely), that it was a specimen of P. c. abietinus which spent at least two,
possibly three, three breeding seasons in the UK.
Birds with wing lengths of 66 mm on 19th September 1998 and 66mm on 26th August 2000
also come within the range of abietinus. More birds of the race abietinus may pass through in spring
and autumn but as their wing lengths may also be in the range of P. c. collybita it would be
impossible to distinguish them by wing length.
Of twelve birds trapped in the period November to January, (none have been trapped in February),
wing lengths range from 55mm to 64 mm (Fig. 10) falling within the ranges for both P.c. collybita and
P. c. abietinus.
Should ringers record the sex of Chiffchaffs using the criteria of wing length?
Although it is worthwhile for a ringer to record whether a bird is a female by the presence of a brood
patch it seems unnecessary to indicate the probable sex of a Chiffchaff using wing length. If a ringer
uses a sharp cut-off point (e.g. those with a wing length >59 are , <59 are ) this ignores the area
of overlap and implies a false confidence. A significant number of birds will have been wrongly sexed
and if a researcher used these records it would distort his/her results.
If a ringer ignores measurements in the region of overlap or chooses to use only extreme
measurements to allocate a sex this would exaggerate the differences between the sexes (more in
the second case than the first).
It is better just to record wing length without recording sex and leave the analyst to use them as he
or she wishes.
Graphs:
10

10

Fig. 2.

March

Fig. 3.

April

16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0

Fig. 4.

May

Fig. 5.

25

25

20

20

15

15

10

10

Fig. 6.

July

Fig. 7.

June

August

4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0

30
25
20
15
10
5
0

Fig. 8.

September

Fig. 9.

October

3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
53mm
54mm
55mm
56mm
57mm
58mm
59mm
60mm
61mm
62mm
63mm
64mm
65mm
66mm
67mm

Fig. 10.

November, December and January

Acknowledgements:
My thanks go to the Ivel Ringing Group and Ed Green who put in the hard work trapping the birds
and supplied me with the data.