December 2012

Period: 
Saturday, 1 December 2012 to Monday, 31 December 2012

Highlights: The adult Red-breasted Goose continued to associate with Barnacle Geese at Cardurnock (to 2nd) while the drake Green-winged Teal lingered at Hodbarrow all month. Meanwhile, the long-staying Great White Egret remained in residence at Campfield Marsh (to 1st) and a Great Grey Shrike was photographed at Culgaith near Penrith (9th).

Furness: Foulney Island produced two Slavonian Grebes, a Scaup and a Short-eared Owl (15th) along with one pale-bellied and 52 dark-bellied Brent Geese and 2600 Eider. Cavendish Dock hosted a Shag. A Siberian Chiffchaff was reported from an Ulverston garden (3rd).

Hodbarrow: The Slavonian Grebe lingered all month. Wildfowl included four Scaup and at least three Gadwall while pick of the waders was a Black-tailed Godwit. At nearby Silecroft, up to four Velvet Scoters accompanied 151 Common Scoters (2nd-13th) along with two Scaup while a Great Northern Diver was also seen (30th) and a late Gannet flew south (15th).

Whooper Swans, Blackdyke, Craig Shaw
Whooper Swans, Blackdyke, Craig Shaw

Inner Solway: Whooper Swans included an exceptional 681 at Blackdyke near Silloth, two Bean Geese consorted with Barnacle Geese at Newton Marsh (7th) and at least 4000 Pink-footed Geese were in the area. A Little Egret lingered. Raptors included Hen Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine and at least three Short-eared Owls hunted the saltmarshes.

Kent Estuary: At least eight Little Egrets were present. Wildfowl included 639 Pintail and pick of the waders was a Black-tailed Godwit. Up to 26 Twite roamed between Grange over Sands and Holme Island.

Short-eared Owl, Mawbray, Craig Shaw
Short-eared Owl, Mawbray, Craig Shaw
Mediterranean Gull, Workington, Tristan Reid
Mediterranean Gull, Workington, Tristan Reid

Outer Solway: At least two Bitterns were seen occasionally at Siddick Pond. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was at Sellafield (11th) while Mediterranean Gulls comprised single adults at Parton and Workington where at least 30 Purple Sandpipers roosted. Soddy Gap hosted three Gadwall and 180 Goosanders. Three Short-eared Owls hunted the Mawbray/Allonby area.

Walney Bird Observatory. Offshore highlights were limited to single Little Gull (3rd) and Slavonian Grebe (15th), up to 12 Scaup and 15 Shags plus good numbers of Red-throated Divers (max. 44 on 8th), Common Scoters (max. 575 on 8th) and Kittiwakes (max. 30 on 1st) and several late Gannets (8th & 10th). A total of 640 Pink-footed Geese and eight Whooper Swans flew through while other wildfowl included up to 176 pale-bellied and 58 dark-bellied Brent Geese and 64 Barnacle Geese (10th). Waders were led by 15 Purple Sandpipers, 12 Greenshank and single Black-tailed Godwit and Jack Snipe amongst the commoner species. At least three Water Rails and 22 Little Egrets were logged while a Kingfisher (21st) and second-winter Mediterranean Gull (16th) were unusual. A very elusive Twite flock held 180 birds at the beginning of the month and late moving passerines included a Lesser Redpoll (7th) and Grey Wagtail (15th). The Hooded Crow was present, albeit elusively, throughout the month.

Waxwings generally became less widespread though some spectacular flocks were still to be found with peak counts of 350 on Arnside Knott; 100 at Derwent Water; 50 at Keswick; 40 at Scotby; 20 near Beckermet; 19 in Carlisle; 18 in Kendal; 17 at Wetheral Pasture; 14 in Dalston; seven at West Common; seven a Salkeld Dyke; four at Jockey Shield; four at Hodbarrow; four at Kents Bank; three in Ulverston; three at Sandale and a single in Cockermouth.

Other sites: Two Little Egrets and a Greenshank frequented the Esk Estuary near Ravenglass. Four Little Egrets frequented the Lyth Valley, with at least three also on the Duddon Estuary. Longtown Ponds hosted 24 Whooper Swans and 44 Gadwall. A Spotted Redshank on the Leven Estuary at Old Park was presumably wintering. A Hooded Crow was found near Burneside (31st) and a flock of 25 Snow Buntings graced Loadpot Hill at the north end of High Street (17th).