Saturday, 15 February 2014

Good weather for ducks

 Pochard- over 60 of these in January- the second highest number on record
 Tufted Duck- Over 140 of these in January- the second highest record count 
 Shovelers- looks like numbers of dabbling duck reduced as the lake depth increased
 Teal- A maximum of 275 in January- fewer birds are on the deep lakes with birds concentrating on the beds
There were still 15 Mute Swans in January following the best year for them on record from last year

Just been working on the January records for the 2014 Beddington Farmlands Bird and Wildlife Report and interesting to see the affects that this wet and mild weather is having on the birds. Up to 7 Jack Snipe, 30+ Snipe, a wintering Redshank and up to 4 wintering Stonechat indicates some reasonable wetland available (and recovery of Stonechats following a series of cold winters) and the large numbers of diving ducks is a reflection of the greater volume and depth of water. Dabbling ducks seemed to have declined since December- maybe the water is too deep.
Also interestingly for the first time Great Black-backed Gulls outnumbered Lesser Black-backed Gulls on site- a reflection of a very significant decline of Lesser Black Backs at the site (e.g. up to 2000 wintering in 2003 and only 20 in January 2014).
Only one or two Tree Sparrows in January (surely on the way to local extinction) and also low numbers of other seed eating birds- maybe too wet or due to lack of available ruderal habitat including arable weeds that provides seeds (coarse grasses appear to be dominating the restoration mounds- probably need to be ploughed to re-activate the pioneering arable seed-rich weeds?). Who knows and with the restoration management as it is at the moment not much point in even trying to solve conservation problems- as Viridor don't act on much of the advice given anyway. 

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