March 2012

Period: 
Thursday, 1 March 2012 to Saturday, 31 March 2012
Lesser Snow Goose, Lessonhall, Darren Robson
Lesser Snow Goose, Lessonhall, Darren Robson
Laughing Gull, Dalton-in-Furness, Tony Phizacklea
Laughing Gull, Dalton-in-Furness, Tony Phizacklea

Highlights: Two second records for the county occurred this month when a brief Dartford Warbler at Park Point near Arnside (6th) was followed by a slightly more obliging first-winter Laughing Gull near Dalton-in-Furness (17th-18th). A Rough-legged Buzzard was a brief visitor to Geltsdale (15th). A White Stork over Wetheral (23rd) appeared next day at Houghton Hall Garden Centre near Carlisle. The blue morph Lesser Snow Goose reappeared, this time at Lessonhall and Raby Cote (12th-15th) and the Great White Egret remained at Campfield Marsh all month.

Furness: Rampside hosted 62 dark-bellied Brent Geese, and four Little Egrets, two Short-eared Owls hunted Foulney Island while c3,500 Eider and a single female Scaup were between Foulney and Aldingham. The Leven Estuary at Greenodd held 10 Whooper Swans while a Greenshank remained at Cavendish Dock and a Green Sandpiper was at Standing Tarn.

Hodbarrow: Wildfowl included two Shoveler, six Gadwall and two Scaup while two Black-tailed Godwits were the pick of the waders.

White-fronted Geese, Whitrigg, Darren Robson
White-fronted Geese, Whitrigg, Darren Robson
Ruff, Anthorn, Darren Robson
Ruff, Anthorn, Darren Robson

Inner Solway: Pink-footed Geese remained in good numbers while Tundra Bean Geese were limited to a single at Whitrigg. Meanwhile European White-fronted Geese peaked at 23 at Lessonhall where a remarkable 80 Greenland White-fronts were also counted. Barnacle Geese included 10000 on Rockcliffe Marsh. Other wildfowl included a drake Garganey at North Plain (26th-31st) and 14 Scaup at Grune Point. An Osprey flew over Finglandrigg Wood (29th). At least one Little Egret remained in the area. Pick of the waders were single Ruff at Anthorn and North Plain and small numbers of Black-tailed Godwits (max. 11 at North Plain). The long-staying juvenile Glaucous Gull was seen intermittently at Burghmarsh Point and New Sandsfield (to 15th).

Kent Estuary: Wildfowl included 19 Whooper Swans. At least 11 Little Egrets remained. At least two different Marsh Harriers were seen near Arnside (from 5th). Waders included a Ruff and a Black-tailed Godwit near Arnside.

Outer Solway: A Red-necked Grebe was seen off Sellafield (30th). The female Long-tailed Duck remained in residence at Soddy Gap all month along with a female Scaup and three Short-eared Owls. At least two Bitterns lingered at Siddick Pond Little Ringed Plovers were seen at two sites. Mediterranean Gulls remained scarce with just the usual one-legged bird at Workington The juvenile Glaucous lingered between Maryport and Allonby (to 5th). A male Black Redstart appeared at Workington (22nd).

Walney Bird Observatory: Offshore sightings were highlighted by up to six Shags and a Goosander (19th) amongst good numbers of Red-throated Divers (max. 22 on 8th) and Kittiwakes (max. 80 on 8th). Also seen were the first Sandwich Terns (from 8th) amongst small numbers of Gannets, Common Scoters, Guillemots and Razorbills. Little Egrets (max. eight on 22nd) steadily declined and several Water Rails were logged. An Osprey rested from its journey north (29th) while Short-eared Owl, Merlin and Peregrine were seen regularly. A total of 270 Pink-footed Geese and 184 Whooper Swans flew through while flocks of 35 Barnacle Geese (2nd) and up to 153 pale-bellied Brent Geese were recorded along with two Scaup and single Long-tailed Duck (all month), Goosander (4th) and Gadwall (10th-11th). Waders included 12 Purple Sandpipers, nine Greenshank, four Black-tailed Godwits and a Jack Snipe. A Water Pipit appeared amongst 16 Rock Pipits (10th) and additional passerine highlights involved a Yellowhammer (15th) and Ring Ouzel (25th). A good passage of Goldcrests was recorded (max. 60 on 15th) and Meadow Pipits were much in evidence (max. 510 on 22nd) along with totals of 37 Siskins and 15 Lesser Redpolls while 60 Twite were logged.

Migrant arrivals: First dates reported at the time of writing consisted of Sand Martin, Moota Quarry (5th), Chiffchaff, Walney (13th); Wheatear, Walney (18th); Sandwich Tern, Walney (19th); House Martin, Anthorn (19th); Ring Ouzel, Geltsdale (23rd); Willow Warbler, Old Sandsfield & Hodbarrow (25th); Blackcap, Walney (29th); Swallow, Ulpha Meadows (31st).

Hawfinch, Sizergh, Craig Shaw
Hawfinch, Sizergh, Craig Shaw

Other sites: The Longtown area hosted an unexpected Bittern (23rd), the lingering Bewick’s Swan (to 10th), 75 Whooper Swans, nine European White-fronted Geese, two Tundra Bean Geese, the long-staying Long-tailed Duck (to 30th) and a redhead Smew (18th-19th). Another redhead Smew appeared on Derwent Water (13th). A Red-breasted Goose and a white Snow Goose, both of unknown origin, consorted with Greylags near Askham. Some 35 Whooper Swans dropped in at Grasmere. An Osprey returned to Bassenthwaite Lake (29th). The Irt Estuary near Ravenglass held six Tundra Bean Geese (23rd) and two Greenland White-fronts (23rd-30th) while the nearby Esk hosted two Little Egrets and two Spotted Redshanks with a single Greenshank on the Mite Estuary and a Black Redstart at the Qinetic depot (24th-25th). Another two Little Egrets frequented the Lyth Valley. A Ruff and three Black-tailed Godwits were on Walby floods near Crosby-on-Eden. Hawfinches included 14 at Sizergh Castle, 13 at Grange-over-Sands and two at Bowness-on-Windermere and 10 Snow Buntings were on Helvellyn.