Records were broken at the weekend as Ladywalk secured it’s highest autumn total for an all-dayer with a neat 90 species. The team of 6 started pre-dawn as usual and started brightly, kicking off with Tawny and Barn Owls in the gloom. At the north end Pete picked up a distant Marsh Harrier, having been seen earlier at Middleton. Simultaneously, Steve Cawthray picked up a Great White Egret over on Eon Meadows and a good tick in the form of a Snipe whilst a single juvenile Black-tailed Godwit graced Main Pool and was the anomaly in an otherwise migrant wader free day. Overhead passage was a bit thin on the ground, just a handful of Meadow Pipits with 1 Yellow Wag early on but they were accompanied by a number of Grey Wagtails heading south. On the ground things were disappointingly quiet in the cool, blustery conditions. It took an age to find warblers, we finished with just a single Garden and 2 Reed Warblers whilst we failed to find the usual Lesser Whitethroat.
Breakfast baps and an excess of chocolate doughnuts were enjoyed out in the reeds and we totted up our mornings work – 75 species – perhaps 5-10 species down on the norm at this point, so plenty of gaps to fill. As the rain came down though and the waders refused to fall from the sky, it wasn’t looking good.
Fortunately, we had a fantastic period after breakfast, mopping up expected species and picking up a few more surprises. Sam and Kev were dedicated in their stakeout for the humble House Sparrow, they picked up a Hobby over B pools and a late Swift bombed through. The Garganey that must be here every day lately was pinned down at the unlikely site of Rudd Pool snoozing with his Gadwall rather than Teal mates and Pete & Steve moved further afield to Whitacre Pool and the waterworks spooking 2 Redstarts along the hedgerows.
The morning team finished early afternoon with 90 species (we thought it was 88 at the time) leaving Richard Walker to fly the flag late in the day and do his best to find something from a list of no-shows but it wasn’t to be. Species missed that we would expect were Mistle Thrush and Lesser Whitethroat, Red-legged Partridge, Skylark, maybe LSW. Wader-wise anything would have done, we’re not fussy – Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Greenshank- but it didn’t matter. It does show the potential though, that the dream 100 day is possible even at Ladywalk if it all goes your way, though more likely in the spring for us. Bring on May.
Thanks go to the team; Pete, Steve, Sam, Kev, Mark, Richard and Ben and thanks to the organisers. A pleasure as always to be part of the West Midland All-Dayer.
Species List (WeBS Counts in Brackets)
Mute Swan (18), Greylag Goose, Canada Goose (5), Mallard (162), Gadwall (61), Shoveler (12), Wigeon (7), Teal (73), Garganey (1), Tufted Duck (9), Goosander (6), Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe (9), Great Crested Grebe (5), Cormorant (13), Little Egret (3), Great White Egret (1), Grey Heron (4), Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Water Rail (2), Moorhen (34), Coot (55), Lapwing (1), Black-tailed Godwit (1), Snipe (2), Black-headed Gull (24), Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, Swift, Kingfisher (3), Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail (4 thru north – 1,2,1), Grey Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart (2), Song Thrush, Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer.
Total: 90 species
The scruffy bunch
The elusive Garganey