December 2011

Period: 
Thursday, 1 December 2011 to Saturday, 31 December 2011

Highlights: The Leighton Moss Glossy Ibis briefly crossed the border from Lancashire, being seen in flight near Arnside (15th). A drake Green-winged Teal lingered at Hodbarrow all month, briefly joined by a second bird (3rd), the first multiple sighting in the county. The Great White Egret remained around Campfield Marsh though ranging more widely and being joined by a second bird at Burgh Marsh (24th) while the long-stayer was seen intermittently at Kents Bank all month.

Furness: Foulney Island hosted two Shags and two Short-eared Owls while two Mediterranean Gulls were at nearby Rampside.

Tundra Bean Geese, Blackdyke, Craig Shaw
Tundra Bean Geese, Blackdyke, Craig Shaw
Bewick's & Whooper Swans, Newton Arlosh, Keith Hamilton
Bewick's & Whooper Swans, Newton Arlosh, Keith Hamilton

Inner Solway: Up to 11 Bewick’s Swans frequented the Newton Arlosh/Wedholme area while a remarkable 624 Whooper Swans were also present, roosting on Wedholme Flow and flighting out to feed in the surrounding fields. Tundra Bean Geese continued to be found with up to 23 in the Cargo/Calvo/Blackdyke area while European White-fronted Geese consisted of 44 near Abbeytown, 20 on Border Marsh, 20 at Cargo and eight near Newton Arlosh. Three Greenland White-fronts appeared at Blackdyke, Silloth (13th). The returning Ross’s Goose was seen on Burgh Marsh (14th) and Rockcliffe Marsh (28th-30th) while Barnacle Geese included 5000 on both Border Marsh and Burgh Marsh. Westerly gales produced a Leach’s Petrel (13th), a Great Skua (8th) and single Little Gulls (8th & 13th) at Bowness-on-Solway, along with Kittiwakes (max. 70). The only Twite reported were 19 at Bowness-on-Solway.

Kent Estuary: Wildfowl included eight European White-fronted Geese near College Green Farm (1st-5th), six Barnacle Geese on Foulshaw, up to 12 Whooper Swans, 744 Pintail and eight Eiders. Little Egret numbers declined (max. eight). A Marsh Harrier put in an occasional appearance (15th & 24th) and both a male and a ringtail Hen Harrier were also seen.

European White-fronted Goose, Soddy Gap, Craig Shaw
European White-fronted Goose, Soddy Gap, Craig Shaw
Mediteranean Gull, Workington, Keith Hamilton
Mediteranean Gull, Workington, Keith Hamilton

Outer Solway: Some 11 Greenland White-fronted Geese, a single European White-fronted Goose and 53 Whooper Swans were near Allonby (4th-6th) while two European White-fronted Geese lingered at Soddy Gap where the female Long-tailed Duck remained in residence (to 20th) and an impressive 307 Goosander were also counted along with 130 Common Snipe and a single Jack Snipe. At least two Bitterns were still at Siddick Pond as were up to 23 Whooper Swans. Workington produced a Great Northern Diver (15th), a Shag, two Great Skuas (3rd & 14th), a juvenile Sabine’s Gull (3rd), an adult Yellow-legged Gull (18th), a highly unseasonable Sandwich Tern (27th), a Little Auk (8th) and at least 30 Purple Sandpipers. Mediterranean Gulls were relatively scarce with just two, including the regular adult, in the Workington area and two adults at Soddy Gap.

Walney Bird Observatory: Westerly gales provided a few offshore highlights with Little Gulls (two on 10th & 15th), single Velvet Scoter (4th & 11th) and an adult Mediterranean Gull (11th) amongst late records for Arctic Skua, Fulmar and Gannet. Also seen were good numbers of Kittiwakes (max. 480 on 15th) and Red-throated Divers (max. 21 on 15th) and smaller numbers of Common Scoters, Guillemots and Razorbills. A few Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans continued to head south and the Brent Goose flock steadily increased to further record levels with 165 pale-bellied birds present by the month’s end. A Eurasian White-fronted Goose was grounded (10th), the Long-tailed Duck remained in residence (to 18th) and a Goosander (10th & 24th) was unusual. Waders were led by a Grey Phalarope (4th) displaced by the storms but also included 26 Purple Sandpipers, eight Greenshank and a Black-tailed Godwit amongst good numbers of the commoner species. Several Short-eared Owls continued to hunt the island and at least 24 Little Egrets remained. A Brambling and 140 Twite were the pick of the passerines.

Other sites: Whooper Swans included 65 at Hodbarrow and 44 at Kirkby Thore. European White-fronted Geese consisted of a massive 205 near Longtown (accompanied by at least one Bean Goose), 93 near Little Salkeld, up to 44 in the Walby/Park Broom/Aglionby area (also accompanied by at least one Bean Goose), and up to 27 near Flookburgh/Holker along with two Tundra Bean Geese (9th & 28th), 29 Barnacle Geese and a Ruff. The redhead Smew and female Mandarin remained at Whinfell Tarn (to 28th) as did the Long-tailed Duck at Longtown Ponds (to 16th) and the Black-throated Diver on Bassenthwaite Lake (to 4th) while a new redhead Smew appeared briefly on Talkin Tarn (31st). Three Spotted Redshanks took up residence on the Esk Estuary near Ravenglass (4th-31st), a Black Redstart visited Watchtree N.R. (4th & 22nd) and Crossbills included six in Grizedale Forest.