April 2014

Tuesday, 1 April 2014 to Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Highlights: The adult Black Brant continued to associate with dark-bellied Brent Geese at Roa Island (to 1st).

Bassenthwaite Lake: The male Osprey was already present at the nest site when the webcam was switched on (3rd) and was soon joined by last year’s female. The first egg was laid (23rd) and incubation continued smoothly.

Esk/Irt/Mite complex: The Irt hosted an early flock of 21 Whimbrel (5th) while two Little Egrets remained on the Esk.

Furness: The Leven Estuary provided a Long-tailed Duck (10th), Common Sandpiper (15th) and 32 Black-tailed Godwits (23rd) along with up to four Little Egrets. Mere Tarn hosted four Gadwall, three Shoveler and two Water Rails.

Hodbarrow: Wildfowl included over 300 Eider on the lagoon. Pick of the waders was a single Black-tailed Godwit. Good numbers of Sandwich Terns frequented the adjacent estuary but showed no signs of settling to breed. Nearby Silecroft produced a Black-throated Diver (18th) and up to 25 Red-throated Divers.

Garganey, North Plain, Darren Robson
Garganey, North Plain, Darren Robson
Whimbrel, Drumburgh, Darren Robson
Whimbrel, Drumburgh, Darren Robson

Inner Solway: At least four Little Egrets still roamed the area. Numbers of Pink-footed Geese remained high with an adult Eurasian White-fronted Goose also still in the Anthorn area (13th) and some 13000 Barnacle Geese lingering on Rockcliffe but pick of the wildfowl were up to three Garganey, two drakes and a duck, at North Plain (from 11th). Skua passage began promptly (6th) with an Arctic and a Great but by the end of the month totals were little short of abysmal with just one Pomarine, eight Arctic and eight Great logged. Also seen off Bowness-on-Solway were Red-throated Divers (max. 40), Fulmars (max. four), Gannets (max. 16) and Kittiwakes (max. 150). Pick of the waders was an Avocet at Carr Beds (19th), a winter plumage Curlew Sandpiper at Bowness-on-Solway (19th) and a Jack Snipe at Wedholme Flow along with a Greenshank at North Plain, Black-tailed Godwits (max. 22 at Wedhome Flow) and modest numbers of Whimbrel.

Kent Estuary: A drake Garganey and two Avocets were brief visitors (20th). At least seven Little Egrets were present. Five Whooper Swans (17th) were on the late side. Three Black Terns were seen at Arnside (26th) while waders included a single Black-tailed Godwit and two Whimbrel.

Outer Solway: A pair of Garganey visited a small pond near Nethertown (27th). Five Purple Sandpipers remained at Workington while passage Whimbrel included 45 at Allonby. Mediterranean Gulls comprised two, an adult (not ‘Stumpy’) and a first-year bird, at Workington. A Blue-headed Wagtail was found on flooded fields near Siddick sewage works (19th).

Walney Bird Observatory. Sea passage was again steady rather than spectacular throughout the month with reasonable numbers of Gannets (max. 116 on 12th), Red-throated Divers (max. 34 on 12th), Common Scoters (max. 143 on 12th), Guillemots (max.101 on 17th), Razorbills (max. 51 on 22nd), Kittiwakes (max. 55 on 12th), Sandwich Terns (max. 343 on 12th) and Arctic Terns (max. 101 on 26th) and small numbers of Fulmars, Manx Shearwaters and Little Terns. Highlights were limited to up to three Shags, a Great Northern Diver (2nd), Goosander (5th), Black Guillemot (12th), Great Skua (25th) and a total of five Arctic Skuas. Little Egret numbers steadily dwindled through the month and a single Water Rail was logged (21st & 24th). A Marsh Harrier lingered (25th-26th). A total of 676 Pink-footed Geese headed north and some of up to 136 pale-bellied Brent Geese remained to the month’s end. The long-staying Long-tailed Duck finally departed (10th) and waders included Jack Snipe (1st), Purple Sandpiper (two on 13th), Black-tailed Godwit (three on 12th), Whimbrel (27 on 26th) and several Greenshank. Single Ring Ouzel (1st & 25th) was the pick of the passerine sightings while two Jays (15th) were unusual. However, migration was generally low key with totals of 50 White Wagtails, 17 Lesser Redpolls, seven Redstarts, five Whinchats and two Siskins while species peaks included 90 Willow Warblers (21st) 76 Wheatears (24th) and 10 Blackcaps (29th). Migrant departure dates included Redwing (6th) and Fieldfare (24th).

Other sites: Passage Whooper Swans included 49 on the Leven Estuary at Greenodd, a pale-bellied Brent Goose was seen at Flookburgh (29th) and a Long-tailed Duck was at Watchtree N.R. (28th). Ospreys passed over Gilpin Bridge, Carlisle airport, . Little Egrets included three in the Lyth Valley. Adult Little Gulls appeared at Talkin Tarn (5th) and Longtown (30th) where a Black Tern was also seen (26th). Trips of six and two Dotterel were observed at felltop sites.

Migrant arrivals: First dates reported at the time of writing were Common Sandpiper, River Bela (11th); Grasshopper Warbler, Kendal (11th); Lesser Whitethroat, Rampside (11th); Sedge Warbler, Campfield Marsh (11th); Redstart, Sedbergh (11th); House Martin, Killington Reservoir and Arnside (11th); Cuckoo, Walney (14th); Common Whitethroat, Lowick Common (15th)’ Tree Pipit, Meathop Moss (16th); Whinchat, Skinburness (17th); Little Tern, Hodbarrow (18th); Yellow Wagtail, Haverigg and Longtown (18th); Reed Warbler, Mere Tarn (18th) Pied Flycatcher, Great Salkeld (19th); Arctic Tern, Walney (22nd), Wood Warbler, Upper Greta Valley (25th); Common Tern, Walney (26th). Garden Warbler, Roudsea (26th); Swift, Penrith (28th).