November – December 2016
Aside from the usual wildfowl, a pair of Goosanders were seen in mid November followed by five later in the month, and a redhead Smew put in a brief appearance on the old motorboat water, just on-site on Christmas Eve.
A sprinkling of Bittern sightings were recorded throughout the period. Some of these relate to an unringed bird, whilst some at nearby Amwell have been of a ringed bird so it appears that the bird ringed and released at Rye Meads has moved over and been replaced by a fresh arrival.
Of the less regular waders, a Woodcock and a Curlew were recorded in December.
Up to four Buzzards were counted and three single Red Kites were seen, with single Peregrines on seven dates and a pair once.
There were several reports of a small flock of Bearded Tits. Yet again it is difficult to separate good records from the ‘me-too’ observations but certainly three were present on one date in December followed by an indeterminate number on Christmas Eve.
Another excellent winter period for Chiffchaffs, with up to seven in November rising to around 13 in December including at least one ‘tristis’ type bird. Once again, they seemed the most numerous passerine in the South lagoons by the end of the year. A Blackcap was a nice catch in November.
A spectacular event occurred in November when 3,500 Starlings lined up on the pylon wires above the Lee Marsh prior to the roost filling up and over-spilling into the reeds at the back of the scrape. This sort of number has been unknown on site in the last few decades and was presumably caused by an influx of recently arrived continental birds accreting around our kernel winter roost of less than a hundred birds.
There have still been no large movements of thrushes noted but small numbers have been consistently present and a roost of 40 Redwing and 60 Fieldfares was discovered in an ivy-covered hawthorn at the end of the year. Single Stonechats were present on two dates and a pair were recorded once. A Water Pipit seems to have been consistently present on site since mid November, joining up to 25 Meadow Pipits.
Goldfinches provided the highest finch counts of the winter so far with flocks of 25 in November and 40 in December. Smaller finches have been very poorly represented so far and consist of three single Siskins, one Linnet and no Lesser Redpolls. Finally, a roost of seven Yellowhammers was found in November.