January was a generally mild month til the last week (we probably can’t remember that today, with snow falling) and there have been several highlights birdwise.
A Yellow-browed Warbler has been viewable on and off at pit 44 (with a Firecrest at the same site) with a second bird at a private site in South Cerney for a few days. This migratory Warbler breeds in Siberia, and in recent years has been an increasingly regular autumn migrant on the east coast, with a corresponding increase in winter records in Britain, including inland locations. They tend to be found where birdwatchers look regularly, and there must be more wintering individuals that are never discovered.
Both of our wintering Great Northern Divers seem to have finally departed towards the end of January, having depleted the Crayfish stocks….. most years see an individual of this species somewhere in CWP, but having 2 is a bonus, conveniently one in Glos and one in Wilts!
Unusual waterfowl include the (presumed) returning drake Ring-necked Duck in the Cleveland Lakes area, a North American species – the female Scaup at pit 132, a predominantly coastal bird, and 2 redhead Smew, an expected but very scarce visitor – let’s hope for a male Smew as a result of the current cold snap. 3 Whooper Swans at Lechlade with the Mute flock are again a half-expected scarcity, as both Whoopers and Bewick’s Swans have occurred with this flock in recent years.
The current cold weather will place stress on our wildlife, with species such as Water Rails and Snipe forced more into the open and passerines such as Cetti’s Warblers, and particularly Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits suffering if the freeze up continues, The local Barn and Short-eared Owls will be more likely to be out hunting during daylight hours so may be more visible. Kingfishers, Herons and Egrets will probably move to the rivers to feed, looking for unfrozen flowing water.
Areas of open water on the main pits will be at a premium, so waterfowl will be concentrated together in these areas, and scanning these flocks will offer the chance of an unusual find.
Thanks again for the records sent so far this year, all appreciated!