April is possibly the most exciting month of the year from the point of view of the birder. Winter visitors are still around and summer visitors are arriving daily. Other migrating birds are passing through and the local residents are setting about the business of reproduction.
Of the winter visitors, Fieldfare and Redwing could be found until mid-month. 50 of the former were on Croston Moss on the 16th, the same day as a good sized flock was feeding in fields at Eccleston. The next day a Redwing was seen in Astley Park. A couple of Siskin couldn't drag themselves away from a garden at Rivington until the 13th. Of the wildfowl, a pair of Goosander was on Anglezarke reservoir on the 10th, whilst Goldeneye lingered throughout with four still being present in the centre of Upper Rivington reservoir on the 26th. Other wildfowl of note was a pair of Gadwall on the River Douglas at Croston on the 22nd.
But the real interest comes from the summer migrants. If you recall from the last newsletter we had some early records this year, which I have repeated here to give a complete picture:-
|Swift||27th||(3rd May)||Jepson's Clough|
|Swallow||27th (March)||(28th March)||Birkacre|
|House Martin||30th (March)||(24th April)||Cuerden|
|Whinchat||30th||1st May||Anglezarke Moor|
|Blackcap||17th (March)||(28th March)||Birkacre|
|Wood Warbler||25th||(No early record)||Heather Lea Woods|
|Reed Warbler||30th||No record||Croston Marsh|
|Lesser Whitethroat||No record||(25th)|
|Little Ringed Plover||8th||(30th March)||Withnell Fold|
It's beginning to look as if Blackcap and Swallow are going to have to be removed from the list of April arrivals! Other birds of note on passage included 23 Whimbrel flying east over Croston Moss on 30th. For those in the right place at the right time it was also a good month for passage raptors. On the 2nd an Osprey was seen flying north along the A6 from the direction of Blackrod. Another was seen flying low up Lower Rivington reservoir on the 13th. A pair of Buzzards was over Bank Hall Bretherton on the 18th. A male Marsh Harrier was watched for 15 minutes over Croston Moss on the 30th. Finally a female Merlin was seen over Anglezarke Moor on the 7th.
If April is the most exciting month then May runs it a close second. May this year was also the month when the bird race was held, on the weekend of the 6th & 7th. 98 species were seen and, whilst nothing exceptional was noted, the Garganey at Cuerden and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Astley Park were good records.
May is probably a good month to do the report by site rather than by species just to have a look at what's about. Starting at Heapey lodges a couple of Garden Warblers were in song on the 20th. A pair of great Crested grebes were at the nest, Tree Sparrows were in evidence and a distant Cuckoo could be heard. Moving on to White Coppice all the site specialities were to be seen throughout the month, including Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker, Little Owl and Redstart with Curlew, Tree Pipit, Whitethroat and Red-legged Partridge thrown in for good measure.
At Anglezarke, a late Goosander was present on the 1st. Both Pied and Spotted Flycatcher had set about breeding as had Redstart and a Wood Warbler was on territory. On the water, there were two or three pairs of Great Crested Grebe and Mallard had chicks.
|Above Rivington several pairs of Lapwing had chicks by mid-month. Also with young was a Tawny Owl, and two pairs of Goldcrest were breeding. Common Sandpiper could frequently be seen from Horrobin embankment and a Kingfisher was at the breeding pond on the 18th. Green Woodpeckers were seen on several dates and Wood Warblers were heard singing in six different woodlands. On the moorland, a Stonechat was noted with four young, whilst Wheatear, Redstart, Redpoll and Crossbill were also recorded.|
Over to the west, several pairs of Lapwing on Croston moss had well grown young by the 7th. Singing passerines in good numbers included Skylark, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer. Other birds of note included Cuckoo, Oystercatcher, and Common Sandpiper along the river. Lesser Whitethroat and Wheatear were recorded on the 21st. At Bretherton, Barn Owl, Cuckoo, Grasshopper Warbler and Ruddy Duck were noted.
At Cuerden, birds with young included Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Great Crested Grebe, and Green Woodpecker was seen on several dates. Sand Martins from local breeding colonies were seen frequently over the water.
At Birkacre, the pair of Great Crested Grebes produced three young, and on the 26th the resident Mute Swans hatched four cygnets. Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch could be seen at the nest, and other birds on territory included Garden warbler, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat. Kingfisher was seen on several dates.
One of the cygnets at Birkacre had disappeared by the 10th and one grebe chick had died. A pair of Canada geese with 4 young appeared from nowhere. Two of the young had disappeared by the 18th, and eventually they all vanished, allegedly killed by the swans! Grey Wagtails were feeding young and by mid-month family parties of Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits were in evidence.
On the 17th in the Kem Mill area of Whittle, Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, Whitethroat, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer were all to be seen.
Most of the records, which arrive in June, relate to breeding. Common Sandpipers were seen with young at both Anglezarke and Lower Rivington reservoirs. Several family parties of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen in the Rivington area, and at least four family groups of Nuthatch were noted in the same area.
Encouragingly, Spotted Flycatchers were noted to be breeding in the Anglezarke and White Coppice areas. Redstart were holding several territories in the Brinscall to Rivington corridor and at Roddlesworth.
Other records of note included Lesser Whitethroat at Croston Moss (18th), and at twin lakes, Bretherton (19th). A pair of Tufted Duck was roaming between Lower Rivington and Anglezarke on the 14th & 15th.
Thanks to the following for submitting records, without which the compilation of this report would have been impossible:-
D.Barker, D.Beattie, J.Burgoine, T.Darbyshire, R.Hoyle, C.Johnson, G.Leather, C.Rae, J.Riley, P.Ross, N.Southworth, R.Spencer, A.Stott, N.West
And to Jean Southworth for her original drawings.
Please continue to submit your records to the editor.
Neil Southworth (Editor)
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