Sunday, 20 April 2014

An Influx of Arctic Terns into the West Midlands

The conditions looked ideal for bringing down a few Arctic Terns this morning. I therefore met up with Dave Hutton at Shustoke Reservoir early on where unfortunately the only thing Arctic seemed to be the weather. Dennis Woodward was already on site at 'the concrete bowl' and typically we had turned up too late. A total of 13 Arctic Terns were present at first light but they had flown off high before we arrived on site. We braved the bitterly cold conditions for over a hour but unfortunately there was not a sniff of a single globe-trotting sterna.

The ugly surroundings of Shustoke Reservoir near Coleshill.
Photo by Adam Archer

After a quick thaw out back home for a while, I headed down to Alvecote Pools but once again there was not a single Arctic Tern to be found. To be fair though, we do not really get that many on passage. The 6 Common Tern that had spent the day around Mill Pool yesterday had moved on too. The pair of gaudy male Red-crested Pochard were still on site though along with a single Little Egret.

I then received a message from Dave telling me that a few Arctic Tern had dropped in back at Shustoke, so off I went. By the time I arrived on site there were no less than 26 birds feeding around the east end along with a single Common Tern and a handsome summer-plumaged Little Gull. Steve Haynes was also scouring the reservoir and pointed out my first Common Swift of the year as it drifted over the west end of the reservoir. It was hard to keep tabs on whether any of the terns departed and were replaced by fresh birds. Some of the flock would often gain height and look like they were about to move on whilst some even loafed around on the surface of the water amongst the Black-headed Gulls, a pretty strange sight indeed.

An Arctic Tern takes a quick rest at Alvecote Pools.
Photo by Adam Archer

The early evening was spent back down at Alvecote Pools and I was glad to have made the effort. As soon as I pulled up I could see a trio of Arctic Terns feeding around Mill Pool and superb views of them were enjoyed as they flew by close to the edge of the lake.  Once again the Red-crested Pochard were still about as was the Little Egret. Other additions included 40 Swallow, 30 House Martin, 2 Sand Martin and a pair of Willow Tit. Another enjoyable although chilly day out in the field.

Red-crested Pochards at Alvecote Pools
Photo by Adam Archer

Arctic Terns in the West Midlands

Below is a roll call of Arctic Tern sightings in the region for today. All are maximum site counts for the day. It is difficult to assess exactly how many birds would have passed through the region today.
  1. Blithfield Reservoir, Staffordshire - 48 birds
  2. Uttoxeter Quarry, Staffordshire - 38 birds
  3. Shustoke Reservoir, Warwickshire - 26 birds
  4. Upper Bittell Reservoir, Worcestershire - 18 birds
  5. Draycote Water, Warwickshire - 17 birds
  6. Himley Great Pool, Staffordshire - 15 birds
  7. Belvide Reservoir, Staffordshire - 10 birds
  8. Edgbaston Reservoir, West Midlands - 10 birds
  9. Alvecote Pools, Warwickshire - 3 birds
  10. Branston Pits, Staffordshire - 3 birds
  11. Ripple Pits, Worcestershire - 3 birds
  12. Chasewater, Staffordshire - 2 birds
  13. Upton Warren, Worcestershire - 2 birds
  14. Gailey Reservoir, Staffordshire - 1 bird
  15. Westport Lake, Staffordshire - 1 bird

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