Sunday 15 November 2015

Counting Coots

Lade - mild, cloudy, occasional sun, windy, drizzle, w 6 - 1000hrs - Strong winds blasting across south lake made for difficult viewing for the monthly WeBS Count which was carried out by a combination of old fashioned counting and photographing flocks for checking later, such is the huge numbers of waterfowl present. I carried out a rough count on Friday, in slightly calmer conditions, which tallied with todays count.
Coots numbered a staggering 1,480, a new site record (or at least since I`ve been counting these past 10 years), plus 550 Gadwalls (also a record), so pretty much a 3:1 ratio, and 22 Dabchicks along with good numbers of Wigeon and Shoveler, but fewer Tufted Duck and Pochard. The reason for this glut of dabblers is almost certainly due to an abundance of food in the form of masses of Canadian water weed, which also supports invertebrates such as small water snails and insect larvae.
On the more sheltered north lake around 1,000 gulls comprised mainly Black-headed and Herring, but in the throng were 5 Meds and a 1st winter Caspian. More bird bio-mass on the fields to the north included 500 Lapwings, 100 Golden Plovers, 200 Woodpigeons, 100 Stock Doves, 100 corvids, 20 Magpies and 50 Fieldfares.

                               Canadian water weed

                               Coot and Gadwall, go together like rhubarb and custard                                

                                Coots feeding on water weed

Walland Marsh - Joined CP for the monthly harrier count this afternoon, where thankfully after this mornings effort the abacus was redundant and the wind had relented somewhat. In poor light and drizzle 16 Marsh Harriers came to roost in reedbed, nearly all female or immature birds. Also noted in the general area 2 Buzzards, 2 Kestrels, 12 Skylarks, 10 Fieldfares, 2 Cetti`s Warblers and calling Water Rails. 

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