March 2013

Friday, 1 March 2013 to Sunday, 31 March 2013
Todd's Canada Goose, Whitrigg, Darren Robson
Todd's Canada Goose, Whitrigg, Darren Robson

Highlights: The Todd’s Canada Goose was seen intermittently among the Barnacle Geese around Kirkbride and Whitrigg (11th-14th). A Great White Egret, perhaps the regularly returning bird, was in the Kent Channel at Grange-over-Sands (19th).

Furness: A Red-necked Grebe was seen between Aldingham and Roosebeck (11th). The Foulney area held 70 dark-bellied and 40 light-bellied Brent Geese along with the long-staying Black Brant/hybrid and a Greenshank.

Hodbarrow: The Slavonian Grebe remained in residence (to 19th); Wildfowl included four Scaup and nine Gadwall while pick of the waders were four Black-tailed Godwits. Nearby, Silecroft continued to host a Great Northern Diver just offshore (to 2nd), a Spotted Redshank was at Borwick Rails (16th) and three Little Egrets were on Green Road Marsh.

Inner Solway: Whooper Swans included 124 at Longcroft while at least 12000 Pink-footed Geese were present. Two Little Egrets lingered. Raptors included Hen Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine while at least one Short-eared Owl also hunted the saltmarshes. A second-winter Mediterranean Gull was at Old Sandsfield (8th) and, despite the wind direction, 175 Kittiwakes passed Bowness-on-Solway (31st). A flock of 40 Twite frequented the Anthorn area and six Crossbills were at Cliburn Moss.

Kent Estuary: At least nine Little Egrets were present and up to 27 Whooper Swans visited Halforth. Waders included four Jack Snipe at Kents Bank.

Yellow-legged Gull, Whitehaven, Steve Sheehan
Yellow-legged Gull, Whitehaven, Steve Sheehan

Outer Solway: Two Bitterns remained at Siddick Pond. The adult Yellow-legged Gull was seen again at Whitehaven (17th-18th) while Mediterranean Gulls comprised two, an adult and a second-winter, at Hawker Marsh and single adults at Mawbray and Workington where 20 Purple Sandpipers were also to be seen. Soddy Gap hosted three Jack Snipe and two Black Guillemots were seen at Whitehaven. Four Short-eared Owls continued to hunt the Mawbray area while, more unusually, a Long-eared Owl roost near Silloth held at least five birds.

Walney Bird Observatory. The sea provided a few Sandwich Terns and Gannets (from 21st) along with two Shags and small numbers of Red-throated Divers (max, 12 on 2nd), Guillemots (max, 11 on 30th), Razorbills (max, 45 on 31st), Common Scoters (max, 30 on 31st) and Kittiwakes (max, 16 on 21st). Two Water Rails were logged, at least six Little Egrets remained and a Spoonbill which flew east (21st) proved to be the highlight of the month. Wildfowl included 160 pale-bellied and five dark-bellied Brent Geese, 17 Whooper Swans, 10 Shoveler and five Scaup while 26 Purple Sandpipers, four Jack Snipe, four Greenshank and two Black-tailed Godwits were the pick of the waders. Passerine movements included 20 Blackbirds (16th) but the persistent cold weather generally blocked migration with just six Goldcrests (from 18th), three Wheatears (from 26th) and single Grey Wagtail (5th) and White Wagtail (30th) amongst a small passage of Meadow Pipits (max, 100 on 31st) and Pied Wagtails (max, 16 on 29th). Wintering finch flocks included 60 Twite and 50 Goldfinches while the Hooded Crow remained in residence.

Migrant arrivals: First dates reported at the time of writing were Chiffchaff, Greystoke Forest (15th); Sandwich Tern, Walney (21st); Swallow, Arnside (21st); Wheatear, Sellafield (24th); Sand Martin, Ambleside (30th).

Waxwings continued to be seen though often short-staying with peaks of 46 in Kendal, 43 in Penrith, 25 in Levens, 17 in Lindale, 16 in Grange-over-Sands, 13 in Bigrigg, seven in Scotby, six in Arnside, five in Carlisle and one in Wetheral.

Other sites: The Longtown area hosted 70 Whooper Swans, 7000 Pink-footed Geese and 57 Barnacle Geese. The first Osprey returned to Bassenthwaite Lake (29th). Little Egrets included seven in the Lyth Valley and one on the Esk Estuary near Ravenglass. The Sizergh Castle Hawfinches were generally elusive and peaked at just four; meanwhile, up to eight birds frequented a Grange-over-Sands garden. A flock of 20 Snow Buntings were on Longlands Fell above Charleston Gill.