April WeBS Day

   Ladywalk was a noisy place to be today (Sunday 9th). Through the newly leaved trees we could hear the endless squawking of a what sounded like an enormous flock of gulls and the unusual sounds of the Cormorants sitting on their nests. A few of the nests are now occupied with very ugly chicks, all panting away due to the summer-like heat. The enormous flock turned out to be just 253 Black-headed Gulls (there had 500 the previous day) but in amongst them on the recently cleared island, stood 2 handsome adult summer Med Gulls! Present when I arrived but they didn’t stay for long though, disappearing at about 10:15 with other gulls. Quite a rarity for Ladywalk really.

   As far as waders go, Lapwing numbers were up to 13 with 10 on the islands and marsh at Main Pool, 2 on B and unusually 1 on the river island. They seem a little undecided on where to make their homes at the moment, with nesting scrapes being made in front of Riverwalk Hide and then abandoned. 3 Little Ringed Plovers were moving around whilst 3 Redshanks were vocal on Main Pool with a bit of displaying going on. The pair of Oystercatchers look settled and at least 1 Snipe lurked between the islands.

   A single Swallow skimmed around B pools whilst 20+ Sand Martins were checking out the riverbank behind Bittern Hide. Lovely to hear so many Willow Warblers around plus a few Blackcaps but no sign of any Whitethroats yet and the reedbeds remain quiet.

WeBS List;

   Mute Swan 12, Greylag Goose 5, Canada Goose 62, Shelduck 3, Mallard 48, Gadwall 40, Shoveler 13, Teal 25, Tufted Duck 79, Goosander 5, Little Grebe 6, Great Crested Grebe 6, Cormorant 69, Little Egret 1, Grey Heron 2, Moorhen 13, Coot 32, Oystercatcher 2, Little Ringed Plover 3, Lapwing 13, Redshank 3, Snipe 1, Black-headed Gull 253, Mediterranean Gull 2, Lesser Black-backed Gull 3.

   Pete Lichfield remarked that there were more butterflies around yesterday than birds and there certainly was a good showing. Orange-tips and Brimstones were everywhere, both well into double figures. They were as usual reluctant to settle, racing round the reserve though a few Orange-tips were enjoying the large patch of Lady’s Smock in the woodland ride to the left of the wood yard. Several Commas and Small Tortoiseshells were about too with smaller numbers of Peacock, Speckled Wood and Large White.

IMG_0927

Male Orange-tip on Lady’s Smock or Cuckoo flower (so called as it usually appears with the arrival of the first Cuckoo).

   Finally, we’d just like to tell you about the upcoming spring all day birding event on Saturday 6th May. Groups at well known birding sites around the midlands will be making an effort to record as many species as possible at their sites during those 24 hours. Birding in early May brings the chance of exciting migrants passing through and with all sites covered it makes sure that nothing is missed as well as being a bit of friendly competition as to who can record the most species! Ladywalk came out on top last spring I think but got smashed by Middleton Lakes in the autumn. So we’ll see what happens and enjoy it whatever. Ladywalk has a small team but all are welcome to come and add a pair of watchful eyes at any point in the day to contribute as we can’t be everywhere at once. If the weather is warm overnight moth traps will be set up the previous evening so there will something else to look at as well. Hope you can make it.

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