BIRD REPORT (MUTE SWAN TO COLLARED DOVE)
A total of 150 species, including escapes, was recorded this year, two less than last year, despite the fact that Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Twite were recorded after a blank year in 2009. Rarities passing through were Bittern, Little Egret, Great Grey Shrike, Rough-legged Buzzard and Lapland Bunting. All but the latter were single observer sightings. The last two were firsts for the area.
There is this year a deliberate mistake in the report. No prizes for spotting it, but it will be interesting to see if anyone does!
Neil Southworth (Records Secretary)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Uncommon but increasing breeding bird
One was on Cuerden Valley Park lake and another was at Ulnes Walton brick pits in February. A single bird remained in Astley Park throughout the year.
The pair at Yarrow Valley Park had produced 5 cygnets by 11th May. Another pair had 6 recently hatched cygnets on the Leeds Liverpool canal at Adlington on 28th May. A pair at Lower Healey had four recently hatched young on 29th May. A further pair was noted at the E-shaped pond, Bretherton, but breeding success or otherwise is not known.
The adult male at Yarrow Valley Park sadly died on 11th July, leaving the female to raise the year’s brood single handedly. The young at Lower Healey had reduced to three by 17th July.
Two adult and two juveniles were on the Mormon temple lake on 23rd November.
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Occasional winter visitor
Ten were on Belmont Reservoir on 28th January, and 4 were there on 6th February. A herd of 30 birds was on Croston Moss during February.
Two flew north east over Belmont on 20th October and 5 flew north west over the village on 31st October. One was down on Belmont Reservoir on 24th October. Ten flew west over Eccleston on 31st October. Seven were on Croston Moss on 7th November and 9 were there on the 21st. A flock of 19 birds flew over the River Yarrow near Croston and then over Eccleston on 22nd December.
Pink-Footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)
Mainly recorded on passage during the winter months. Some feral birds occur usually with Canada Geese. Amber List.
Skeins seen in January included 300 heading west on the 3rd, and one of 1000 or so heading south over Croston Moss on the 17th. Passage over Belmont in January included 45 west on 2nd, 40 very low west in a blizzard on 5th, 150 north west on 7th and 150 & 120 west on 17th. Three down at Lower Healey lodges on the 27th were of unknown origin, although three down on Belmont Reservoir on 11th February were believed to be of ‘wild’ origin.
A skein of 30 birds flew over Cuerden Valley Park on 3rd February, one of 130 flew west over Belmont on 7th February, skeins of 120 and 75 west over Belmont on 1th of February and another of 250 birds was seen heading north-west over Chorley on 14th February, coinciding with a general return passage of birds from East Anglia. A further skein of 50 birds heading north over Chorley on 2nd March and one of 45 west over Belmont on 13th March may well have been the tail end of the return passage from East Anglia.
The first in Autumn was a small skein of 27 birds west over Belmont on 17th September, followed by two small skeins over Eccleston on 24th and 25th September, and a larger one of 67 birds over Hartwood on the 28th. In October, skeins heading east included 90 over Eccleston (6th), 90 over Croston (16th), 50 over Belmont (17th), 100 over Hartwood (21st), a massive movement of around 3000 birds over Eccleston (23rd) and finally skeins of 250 and 150 over Belmont on 31st.
Skeins were recorded regularly in November, including 150 over Belmont (1st), 300 over Clayton (3rd), 300 over Mawdesley (6th), 500 over Croston Moss (7th) and 49 over Hartwood (28th).
In December, small numbers were noted on the mosses, including 30 on the 29th. Seven were over Euxton on 31st.
Greylag Goose (Feral/escape) (Anser anser)
Scarce feral species
Three were at Belmont Reservoir on 2nd April with a pair there from 14th April to 15th May.
Several were on Upper Rivington Reservoir or in adjacent fields during April. A pair at Upper Rivington Reservoir was noted with 5 young in June.
Greater Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Maximum number seen at Cuerden Valley Park was 26 in March. One pair bred at Kem Mill lodge and two other pairs raised young in the park.
A pair at the E-shaped pond at Bretherton had 5 young on 12th June.
Continuing control of this species in West Pennine Moors, particularly at the core site of Belmont Reservoir, has resulted in a strong downward trend in breeding numbers in recent years. Only 11 pairs bred at Belmont Reservoir, the lowest total since 1988 and a notable decline from the 54 nests in 2004. These 11 pairs raised only 3 young due to licensed control measures (36 eggs ‘pricked’ and 19 adults shot). The moulting flock in June contained just 45 birds – the lowest total since 1981. However, numbers at Belmont Reservoir from August to the year end were the highest since 2000 due to low water levels with the resultant vegetation growth ideal for grazing. Monthly maxima at Belmont Reservoir:-
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 16 43 38 26 41 45 85 79 38 41 29
58 eggs from 12 nests were ‘pricked’ around the reservoirs in the Rivington system on 30th April.
The moulting flock of 120 at Anglezarke reservoir on 30th June was not dissimilar to recent years, but again was well down on the 220 present as recently as 2005.
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Regular breeder in the west. Occasional visitor in the east. Amber List.
Four on Anglezarke reservoir on 26th January were unusual for the time of year. One was at Ulnes Walton on 14th February.
Records in April included 3 at Withnell Fold on 3rd, a pair at Eccleston on 5th, several by the River Douglas at Croston (17th) and 7 at Bretherton on 20th April.
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
Uncommon feral resident and escapee
A pair was noted at Arley nature reserve on 17th April.
5 males and 4 females were at Arley nature reserve on 15th November.
Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Scarce passage migrant and winter visitor. Amber List.
Six were on Anglezarke Reservoir on 17th October and a single bird was on Belmont Reservoir on the same day. One was again at Belmont Reservoir on 6th and 7th November.
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Rare visitor. Amber List.
A pair was on Croston Moss on 18th April. A male was on Adlington Reservoir on 23rd April.
Teal (Anas crecca)
Fairly common passage migrant and winter visitor. Scarce breeder. Amber List.
Records in February included one at Ulnes Walton brick pits (14th), 10 on Anglezarke Reservoir (25th), 3 on the Syd Brook at Eccleston (25th) and 25 at Withnell Fold Flash (28th). On 12th march, a pair was noted at Arley Nature Reserve.
22 were on Upper Rivington Reservoir on 2nd April. Pairs at Eccleston (5th) and at Withnell Fold on 17th April were the latest records of wintering birds.
Pairs lingered at Belmont into late April and a pair bred near a moorland pool. Two pairs bred at Arley Nature Reserve.
In autumn a flock of 25 was noted on Lower Rivington Reservoir on 8th September. A pair was on a pond at Eccleston on 15th September. 79 were on flooded fields near Belmont on 19th September. 120 were at Belmont Reservoir on 31st October – the highest site count since 1995.
26 were on Upper Rivington Reservoir on 7th November. And 76 were on Belmont Reservoir on 20th November..
A flock of around 30 birds was seen over Eccleston on 2nd December.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common winter visitor and breeding resident. Amber List.
Very large numbers were attracted by artificial feeding to a large pond at Belmont during the hard weather in January and again in December. Sheer numbers of birds kept the pond largely open when all other local waters were frozen. 400 were roughly estimated on 5th January.
A female with 11 chicks was noted at a private site at Ulnes Walton on 5th March.
166 were at Belmont Reservoir on 24th October increasing to 174 by 20th November – a site record count (previous record 170 in February 1963).
The freezing conditions in December concentrated birds into small areas of open water, giving counts of 160 at Cuerden Valley Park (7th), 100 in Astley Park (12th), 200 at Yarrow Valley Park (12th), 61 at Heapey (12th) and 360 at the pond in Belmont on 24th.
Pintail (Anas acuta)
Rare visitor. Amber List.
One female was on Belmont Reservoir on 3rd September.
Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Increasingly scarce winter visitor and passage migrant. Amber List.
The species has become very much a scarce visitor in recent years with records in February being confined to 5 on Anglezarke Reservoir (11th and 21st).
A single male was on High Bullough Reservoir on 17th October. Two were on Anglezarke Reservoir (14th & 20th November).
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant. Scarce breeder. Amber List.
Seven were at Lower Healey on 27th February with at least one still there on 17th April.
Two pairs bred unsuccessfully at Belmont Reservoir.
Four returned to Yarrow Valley Park on 19th September.
In October, 6 were on Adlington Reservoir (2nd), 6 were at Lower Healey (24th) and 2 were at Yarrow Valley Park (30th). 18 were on Adlington Reservoir on 29th November.
Nine were at Yarrow Valley Park on 21st December.
Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
Declining winter visitor and passage migrant
Seven birds on Heapey Lodges on 27th February was the best count for the month. One was still at High Bullough Reservoir on 17th April.
First in Autumn was one on High Bullough Reservoir on 14th November, followed by two at Lower Healey on the 27th.
Two were on Upper Rivington Reservoir on 13th December and two were on Yarrow reservoir on 28th.
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Winter visitor in increasing numbers
Yarrow reservoir was the most popular location for the species in January with 20 there on the 16th. 16 of the species were noted on Common Bank Lodge on the 21st, and 4 were on the River Douglas at Bretherton on the 16th. Three were regular in Cuerden Valley Park.
Birds were again noted on Common Bank Lodge in February, peaking at 25 on the 7th. Seven were noted on the lodge at Withnell Fold on the 28th.
At least four remained on Yarrow Reservoir until 17th April. A pair was on the River Douglas at Bretherton on 18th April.
Breeding in the area was confirmed when a female with seven youhg was seen at Hoghton on 4th May. A female / juvenile was on Lower Rivington Reservoir on 9th August.
In November, singles were on the River Yarrow at Eccleston (4th) and at Cuerden (23rd). Four were at Yarrow Valley Park on the 14th.
Three wandered around the rivers Lostock, Yarrow and Douglas in the Croston area during December. Six were on Yarrow Reservoir on 28th December.
Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)
Resident in small numbers on the moors. Red List.
Casual records included singles on Withnell Moor on 6th April and on Anglezarke Moor on 8th April.
RSPB survey work located 20 pairs in 12 km² around Belmont in the breeding season.
250 were driven over guns on Anglezarke Moor on 13th August with 40 shot. 32 were seen during a shoot on Belmont Moor on 18th September.
Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Scarce resident boosted by birds released for shooting
8 birds were noted on Croston Finney on 23rd January. Birds were also noted at Whittle on 2nd April and at Eccleston on the same date. Birds were recorded at Croston and Bretherton on 18th April.
Small numbers were seen regularly on Croston Moss throughout the summer months.
Four were in fields near the River Douglas at Bretherton on 28th November.
Releases were responsible for some 50 still present near Belmont in late December.
Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix)
Uncommon resident boosted by birds released for shooting. Red List.
Two were seen at Eccleston on 5th January, followed by 5 in the same area on the 11th. Coveys of 15 and 5 were at Belmont on 30th January.
One pair when flushed at Roddlesworth on 14th February flew for 1 km, high over Roddlesworth Plantations.
Gamekeepers estimated only two pairs around Belmont in the Spring – up from one pair in 2009, but well down from the 9 pairs in 2007.
Two were noted at Eccleston on 2nd April and at White Coppice on 24th April.
Three were near Belmont on 30th October.
Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Common resident boosted by birds released for shooting
A widespread species in Cuerden Valley Park.
Good numbers were noted at Hoghton Bottoms on 18th April.
Up to 3 males have visited a Belmont garden on an almost daily basis over the last 11 years. However, a female has never been recorded despite the fact that the sexes are roughly equal in number in the adjacent countryside.
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
In the early winter period, 21 roosted at Upper Rivington Reservoir on 17th January.
Ten were on Higher Roddlesworth Reservoir on 27th February and 11 were at Belmont Reservoir on 23rd March..
12 were on wires at Great Hanging Bridge, Croston on 11th September.
28 roosted at Upper Rivington Reservoir on 7th November, but disappeared from the area with the arrival of freezing weather later in the month.
Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
Rare winter visitor. Red List.
One was seen flying towards Yarrow Valley Park on 15th February, but could not be re-located despite a search.
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Rare but increasing visitor
One was seen flying west over the M65 at Brindle on 3rd January.
Another was noted flying north over Lower Rivington Reservoir on 22nd December.
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Common visitor and scarce breeder
The Rivington heronry continues to increase with 10 occupied nests in 2010.
Three adult and four juveniles were at Upper Rivington Reservoir on 14th July.
A bird at Yarrow Valley Park entertained the public on a regular basis in November by demonstrating its fish catching expertise at the fish pass on the River Yarrow.
Despite the freezing conditions, birds were recorded in December at Eccleston, Euxton, White Coppice and Yarrow Valley Park.
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Uncommon breeding bird
Only a single record from Cuerden Valley Park, where there was no evidence of breeding.
A pair had returned to Astley Park lake by 12th March and two pairs were noted at a site at Whittle-le-Woods by 24th March. A pair on Top Lodge at Yarrow Valley Park appeared to be making a breeding attempt, but then disappeared. In contrast the pair in Astley Park had three chicks by 20th May.
One of the pairs at Whittle had four newly hatched chicks on 3rd July. The other pair had a single chick on 5th August. The pair in Astley Park hatched a second brood of three around 25th August.
A pair also bred at Arley nature reserve.
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Common breeding bird, less common in winter
Eight were on Lower Rivington Reservoir on 6th March.
For the third year in succession, the pair at Yarrow Valley Park failed to breed despite several attempts, with the usual suspects – mink and terrapin – being cited as the main culprits for the failure. A pair at Belmont Reservoir was also unsuccessful due to fluctuating water levels.
A pair at the E-shaped pond at Bretherton, however, was noted with two young on 12th June. A pair at Heapey Lodges was noted with three young on 8th August. A juvenile was on the canal spur at Whittle from 12th August.
A pair was at Cuerden Valley Park from 27th January to 23rd November, but again failed to breed.
Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
Rare passage migrant / visitor from reintroduction schemes.
A farmer reported that that one had wintered on Mawdesley Moss until at least 10th May. Reported sightings included one over Eccleston on 13th and 22nd March. Possibly the same bird was over Cuerden Valley Park on 6th April, and Bretherton on 16th May. Records were also received from Mawdesley on 6th June and Eccleston on 21st June.
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeroginosus)
Scarce passage migrant. Amber List.
A female was at Belmont Reservoir on 2nd September.
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Scarce passage migrant. Occasionally lingers in winter. Red List.
A male was seen infrequently around Belmont throughout January and February. A male was also seen over Bretherton Eyes in April.
A ring-tail was over Winter Hill on 16th September, and another was on Mawdesley Moss on 25th November. Both a male and a female / immature were around Belmont in mid-November.
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Increasingly common resident
Sparrowhawk records in March usually relate to birds causing mayhem among small birds, including one taking a House Sparrow at Great Knowley (5th), another causing widespread panic in Duxbury Woods (13th) and one in a garden at Euxton (29th). Another was followed along Back Lane, Eccleston by a member in his van as it skimmed along a hedgerow searching for prey (4th).
In April, a pair was displaying over Burgh Wood on the 10th.
A pair bred successfully in Cuerden Valley Park.
Birds were recorded regularly in July in the Eccleston area.
In September, birds were again seen regularly in Eccleston, and at White Coppice (5th), Buckshaw (6th) and Whittle (18th).
One was seen with prey in Bradley Lane, Eccleston on 11th November, and another was seen eating a Blackbird in a Chorley garden on 28th December.
Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus)
One was seen flying from the direction of Belmont on 25th October, before dropping down on the Lancs side of Winter Hill.
Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Fairly common resident
Buzzards were seen at many locations during March, including 5 at Eccleston (5th), one at Yarrow Valley Park (4th), 3 at Whittle 94th), singles at Withnell Fold (7th), Coppull (10th), Duxbury (13th) and 4 over Yarrow Valley Way (27th). Three were seen at Hoghton Bottoms on 17th April.
A pair was noted at a nest site at Ulnes Walton on 18th April. A pair bred at Croston in private woodland. Two pairs bred in the Belmont area, successfully fledging a total of 4 young. One pair bred at Roddlesworth.
Nine birds together made for an impressive sight as they were seen riding the thermals over Euxton on 22nd May.
In July, an adult and juvenile were noted at Eccleston, and other sightings came from Healey Nab, Mawdesley and Withnell Fold.
Multiple sightings in August included 2 at White Coppice (1st), 4 at Eccleston (8th), 2 at Yarrow Valley Park (8th), 3 at Croston Moss (14th), 4 at White Coppice (22nd), 12 at Belmont (20th) and 10 at Eccleston (25th).
Two adult and two juveniles were seen over Eccleston on 1st September, and 8 birds were seen together over the village on the 8th. Two were disturbed by a farmer on a quad bike at Withnell Fold on 11th September.
Nine birds were seen circling together over Cuerden Valley Park in October.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Regular passage migrant
Birds passing through in Spring included individuals over Arley Nature reserve (10th April), Eccleston (12th April), Charnock Richard (18th April), White Coppice (24th April) and what may have been the same bird fishing the River Darwen at Hoghton Bottoms on 24th and 25th April..
Return passage was noted with a bird at Upper Rivington Reservoir on 2nd August, followed by one at Belmont reservoir on 24th August, then one over Eccleston on 7th September and one high over Clayton on 9th September. Another was at Upper Rivington Reservoir on 15th October.
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Fairly common resident. Amber List.
Although generally regarded as being in decline, the species is still well distributed throughout the area. By way of illustration, birds recorded in March included 2 at Eccleston (3rd), 2 at Heskin (4th), one along Yarrow Valley Way (13th) and 2 at Bretherton (15th). Records in April came from Hoghton Bottoms, Ulnes Walton, Withnell Moor and White Coppice.
July records included birds at Anglezarke, Eccleston, Heath Charnock, Mawdesley, White Coppice, Whittle and Withnell Fold. These included family parties of three birds at Eccleston (24th), White Coppice (25th) and Withnell Fold (15th). A pair also bred in Cuerden Valley Park.
A family party of three birds was on Croston Moss on 14th August.
Birds were well recorded in September with 2 at White Coppice (2nd), singles at Lower Burgh Meadow (4th) and Coppull (5th), 3 at Eccleston (9th), and singles at Withnell Fold (11th), Wheelton Plantation (12th), Bretherton (18th) and Healey Nab (26th).
Merlin (Falco columbarius)
Scarce resident and passage migrant. Amber List.
A pair was on territory in the east of the recording area.
A male was on Croston Moss on 16th October, one was in Cuerden Valley Park on 20th November and one was in the Mawdesley area on 25th November.
Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
Rare summer visitor
One was noted at White Coppice on 26th April. In May birds were noted at Eccleston on the 9th and over Stronstrey Bank on Anglezarke Moor on the 31st. One was again noted at Eccleston on 8th June.
Birds were recorded at both Eccleston and Mawdesley on 16th July, and at Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August and again at Eccleston on 9th August. One was found dead at Charnock Richard on 7th August, believed to have been the victim of a road traffic accident.
One was near Belmont between 2nd and 5th September.
Peregrine (Falco peregrinus)
Scarce resident and winter visitor. Has bred
One was seen regularly around St George’s church and the former mill chimney at Morrison’s supermarket in the centre of Chorley in January, being eventually joined by a second bird in early February. The pair was then resident throughout March and into April, but disappeared during the breeding season. One was seen again, however, on Morrison’s chimney on 4th August.
At least three pairs bred in the area, but at one site the four young are believed to have been stolen, and at another the three fledglings were shot dead. Both crimes were notified to the police.
Prey items noted near Belmont included Mediterranean Gull and Golden Plover along with the more expected Black-headed Gull, Woodpigeon Feral Pigeon and Lapwing.
August sightings included birds at White Coppice (1st and 22nd) and at Eccleston (31st). In September, birds were at Eccleston (5th) and Croston (14th). The town centre pair was seen regularly throughout the month either at St George’s church or on Morrison’s chimney, and from then on to the end of the year. Other sightings in October included birds on Withnell Moor and at Whittle.
Birds were seen in December at Whittle (9th) and on Healey Nab (10th).
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant
One was at Rivington Water Treatment Works on 16th February.
One was on the River Yarrow at Croston on 7th October. Others were seen at Cuerden Valley Park on 7th and 19th December.
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
One was present in a Belmont village garden from 6th to 10th January in hard weather.
Breeds on all available stretches of water in Cuerden Valley Park. Only 6 pairs bred at Belmont Reservoir due to the low water levels. Two or three pairs bred in both Astley Park and Yarrow Valley Park.
A pair with three chicks was noted at Eccleston on 7th September, and another late brood was at Belmont Reservoir on 4th September.
Six were taken by a female Sparrowhawk at a large pond at Belmont during the hard weather in late December – the frozen pond preventing the Moorhens from using their usual diving method of escape.
Coot (Fulica atra)
A pair in Astley Park had two young by 20th May. A pair at the E-shaped Pond at Bretherton had two young by 12th June. Two pairs bred in Cuerden Valley Park.
A pair at Whittle was noted to be incubating four eggs on 3rd July. Two pairs in Astley Park had 4 and 2 young respectively on 5th August. Three or four pairs bred in Yarrow Valley Park.
Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Increasing passage migrant and summer visitor. Scarce breeder.
The first returning birds were 2 at Belmont Reservoir on 16th February, increasing to 17 on 28th February. Two were back at Anglezarke Reservoir on 21st February. In March, 2 were on one of the mothballed development sites at Buckshaw Village (7th), 2 were at Alance Bridge, Rivington (12th) and 4 were at Anglezarke Reservoir (14th).
A pair had returned to Withnell Fold by 5th April. Birds were noted at Ulnes Walton on 18th April. Six pairs bred at Belmont Reservoir with three pairs fledging 6 young. Juveniles were noted at Anglezarke Reservoir in late June.
An adult and juvenile were noted at Eccleston on 22nd July. Four were at Upper Rivington Reservoir on 28th July, and three were at Lower Rivington Reservoir on 5th August. The last at Belmont were 4 on 7th August.
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Uncommon summer visitor
First returning birds were 2 at Buckshaw Village on 24th March. Pairs were also recorded at Anglezarke reservoir on 9th April and on a building site at Pilling Lane, Chorley on 10th April. First back at Belmont was a single on 12th April.
Five pairs bred at Belmont Reservoir with 3 broods seen – the best year at the site since 2000.
Two pairs were noted on Anglezarke Reservoir with juveniles seen in late June.
One was on Upper Rivington Reservoir on 14th July with the last two at Belmont on 21st July.
Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor. Has bred
A record year around Belmont with 8 pairs located on territory. One was predated by a Peregrine above Belmont on 12th June.
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common resident and winter visitor
In January, flocks of 70 at Buckshaw, 24 on Croston Moss and 24 in Eyes Lane, Bretherton were recorded on the 3rd. At Eccleston on the 5th separate flocks of 30 and 100 were seen.
Several good sized flocks were noted in February, including 80 at Ulnes Walton (8th), 120 on Croston Moss (14th), 30 at Buckshaw (18th) and 80 at Withnell Fold (28th).
Flocks in March included 43 at Withnell Fold (7th), 50+ at Belmont Reservoir, 50 at Coppull (11th) and 23 on Gale Moss (17th).
By 2nd April, at least four pairs were nesting in the Eccleston area. On the 5th, 12 were on territory at Withnell Fold Flash, and by 1st May four pairs at the site had at least 13 chicks between them. Good numbers of juveniles were noted in a post-breeding flock of around 60 birds near Croston Reed Bed on 22nd May.
21 pairs bred at Belmont Reservoir with at least 7 broods noted later. RSPB survey work located 12 moorland pairs around Belmont in the breeding season, and in mid-May 11 pairs were on an area of burnt moorland above Belmont , less than a month after the fire.
In June, pairs with young were noted at Mawdesley (6th), Heskin (13th), White Coppice (27th) and Rivington (28th).
A post-breeding flock of 24 birds was at Eccleston on 5th July, and one of 160 birds was at Withnell Fold Flash on 8th August. A flock of 80+ was at Belmont Reservoir on 18th August. A flock of around 150 was still at Withnell Fold Flash on 11th September, but had reduced to 50 by 17th October. A flock of 40 was on Croston Moss on 16th October.
November sightings included a flock of 65 at Belmont Reservoir (4th), 50 in fields off Lock Lane, Bretherton on 28th November. December records included 20 at Eccleston (6th), 12 at Whittle (8th), 30 at Eccleston (10th), 3 at Hic Bibi (11th) and 100+ on Croston Moss (12th).
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Scarce breeder and passage migrant
Three flew north over Horrobin embankment at Rivington on 9th January.
One was displaying at Belmont Reservoir in late May, and two were on territory at a regular breeding site above Belmont.
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Rare winter visitor
Singles were recorded at Belmont on 19th and 27th January and again on 4th March. Two were there on 23rd January and 24th February. One was flushed with Common Snipe at Buckshaw on 7th March. One was still at Belmont on the late date of 17th April.
One returned early to Belmont on 24th September. Two were noted at Eccleston on 23rd October. Singles were recorded at Eccleston on 6th and 12th November. In December, birds were noted at Kem Mill, Whittle (8th) and Withnell (19th).
Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Fairly common passage / winter visitor; scarce breeder
January sightings included 10 at Eccleston on the 5th, a singleton at the Street, Rivington on the 10th and 2 on Croston Moss also on the 10th.
Several were flushed at Buckshaw on 7th March.
A good breeding population is still present around Belmont, with 7 ‘pairs’ on territory around the reservoir, with a minimum of a further 14 ‘drummers’ recorded on in-bye fields elsewhere in the Belmont area, plus another 6 ‘pairs’ recorded on surrounding moorland during survey work by the RSPB.
One was at Withnell Fold Flash on 31st July. Four were at Eccleston on 27th August, followed by counts in the same area of 7 on 10th September, 10 on 19th and 12 on the 25th.
October counts in the Eccleston area included 3 on the 2nd, 21 on the 16th, 6 on the 21st and 17 on the 31st. Other October sightings included singles at Heskin (3rd) and Yarrow Valley Park (18th), 3 at Croston Moss (10th), 20+ at Belmont Reservoir (14th) and 3 at Buckshaw (15th). 40+ were on fields at Belmont (30th).
November sightings included 28 at Eccleston (3rd), 20+ Belmont (6th& 13th), 6 in Yarrow Valley Park (14th) and a single on the River Douglas at Red Bridge (28th).
Snipe were then recorded in December at Eccleston on several dates including 5 on the 1st, at Whittle (6th), 2 on Croston Moss (12th) and 5 at Coppull (21st)
Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
Fairly common resident and winter visitor
Records in January included 2 at Eccleston on the 5th, 2 at the Street, Rivington on the 10th, one at Cuerden Valley Park (24th) and 12 flushed by ‘pheasant beaters’ at Belmont (30th)..
A minimum of 4 ‘roding’ males were recorded around Belmont with at least two in the White Coppice / Anglezarke area and two or three at Roddlesworth. At least one pair bred in Duxbury Woods.
First presumed migrant back at Belmont was on 23rd September. In October, birds were seen at Eccleston (23rd) at Mawdesley (24th) and Belmont (30th), where at least 8 were flushed by pheasant beaters. November sightings included birds at Yarrow Valley Park (12th), Cuerden Valley Park (15th) and Eccleston (27th). Numbers at Belmont reduced noticeably after the onset of hard weather in December. This coincided with an increase in records at lower levels in December with birds noted at Eccleston (3rd & 4th), Heskin (5th), 4 at Hic Bibi (11th) and singles at Heath Charnock (26th), Astley Park and Yarrow Valley Park (27th).
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Rare passage migrant and summer visitor
One was on Upper Rivington reservoir on 27th July.
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Regular passage migrant
The annual Spring passage of Whimbrel was well noted. The first was over Rivington Moor on 12th April, followed by 43 at Ulnes Walton (18th), one at Eccleston on 19th April, 2 at Belmont Reservoir (21st), 12 at Heskin (25th), 24 at Withnell Fold (25th), 20 near Croston (27th) and 60 at Eccleston (28th). 41 were noted at Eccleston on 3rd May, reducing to 24 on the next day. Last record was one at Belmont Reservoir on 16th May.
Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Fairly common passage migrant and summer visitor
First back at Belmont was a single on 24th February with three there on 28th. Sixteen had returned to Withnell Fold by 28th February, and increased to 32 by 7th March, reducing to 7 on 5th April as they dispersed to their breeding territories in the surrounding farmland. A flock of 50 birds was at Eccleston on 23rd March, and 30 were there on 2nd April. Birds were also seen along Jolly Tar Lane at Coppull on 11th March. March roost counts at Belmont Reservoir were as follows:-
• 8 (1st)
• 32 (7th)
• 49 (9th)
• 91 (12th)
• 105 (15th)
• 82 (17th)
• 66 (21st)
RSPB survey work located 22 pairs in 12 km² around Belmont during the breeding season. Two pairs with 5 young were at Belmont Reservoir on 12th June. 12 (presumed failed or non-breeders) roosted at the site on 4th May with 54 there on 24th June.
Five were seen circling high over White Coppice, calling repeatedly, on 1st August, possibly preparing to leave the moors for the coast. The last at Belmont was on 7th August, although one flew west on 7th September.
Six were on fields near Eccleston on 29th November and again on 3rd December, followed by 33 on the 13th. A single bird was on the mosslands on 2nd December.
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Fairly common passage migrant and summer visitor; has wintered.
First returning bird in Spring were two very early birds at Ward’s Reservoir on 24th March. Then there was one along the Leeds Liverpool canal at Whittle on 17th April. 15 were in the Belmont area on 30th April. A pair was observed in a courtship display at Lower Rivington Reservoir on 18th May.
One pair bred at Ward’s Reservoir with one young seen, and only three pairs bred at Belmont Reservoir (probably due to low water levels) with only one brood seen.
One on return passage was at Yarrow Valley Park on 17th July. Birds were also noted at both Upper and Lower Rivington Reservoirs on 19th July. The last (2) at Belmont Reservoir were seen on 5th September and one was also on Lower Rivington Reservoir on 9th September.
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Scarce passage migrant
One was at Belmont Reservoir on 14th September.
Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Scarce passage migrant and summer visitor
First back at Belmont Reservoir was on 19th March. One was at Withnell Fold Flash on 5th April, but the dry Spring meant that once again it was unlikely that there would be a breeding attempt.
Only two pairs bred around Belmont Reservoir (probably due to low water leves) with a further two pairs on in-bye fields elsewhere in the Belmont area.. The last at Belmont was a single bird on 17th July.
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Present in good numbers throughout the year. Now breeds in large numbers
200 were at Withnell Fold Flash on 7th March, and 150 were in fields off Jolly Tar Lane, Coppull on 11th March. 6000 were in the Lower Rivington gull roost on 6th March.
Despite Belmont Reservoir being largely drained for engineering works, the first birds returned to the gullery there on 6th february, with 2000 present on 6th March, 8000 on 19th March, increasing to over 12,000 on 4th April.
Initial counts indicated some 6000 breeding pairs, but due to its accessible position, the colony was subjected to heavy Fox predation/disturbance in late April which deeply unsettled the gullery resulting in large numbers of incubating birds deserting. Following subsequent Fox control coupled with the erection of an electric fence in early May, the colony re-settled such that when the gullery was censused over the 15 & 16th May, some 5500 breeding pairs were estimated. The Belmont colony is the largest inland Black-headed Gull colony in Britain (per M Parsons – JNCC seabird colony team).
In the end, productivity was yet again good with an estimated 4000 juveniles fledging. The first young were seen on 15th May, the first fledged juveniles seen on 12th June with most adults/juveniles having vacated the colony by late-July.
Up to 40 birds were regularly on Cuerden Valley Park lake in the winter months, when in excess of 100 birds also often spend the day at Yarrow Valley Park.
Apologies to Steve Martin whose informative chart, showing the numbers of breeding pairs of Black Headed Gulls at Belmont in the years 2001 - 2010, does not reproduce clearly here. The figures used in compiling the chart are as follows:
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
Rare visitor now also breeding
2009: The Belmont colony appears to be the largest inland Mediterranean Gull colony in Britain & Ireland (per M Parsons – JNCC seabird colony team).
2010: The first two birds were back in the Black-headed Gull colony at Belmont Reservoir on 5th March rising to 9 on 21st March despite the reservoir being largely drained for engineering works.
At least 11 pairs were on territory on 24th April with up to 8 birds incubating. However the gullery was subjected to a period of heavy Fox disturbance/predation in late April resulting in the majority of Mediterranean Gulls deserting the site. Following Fox control & the erection of an electric fence in early May, the Black-headed Gulls largely re-settled, but not the Mediterranean Gulls. Only 4 pairs were subsequently confirmed as breeding although a further 3 pairs prospected in late May.
A decision was made not to further disturb the colony, so no Mediterranean Gull nests were monitored or young ringed in 2010, although it is known that one pair fledged two juveniles in early July.
An adult was taken by a Peregrine near the colony on 24/4/10.
Away from Belmont, a first winter bird was in fields off Jolly Tar Lane, Coppull on 11th March. Birds were seen regularly in the gull roost on Lower Rivington Reservoir including 3 adults and a first winter on 22nd March.
Common Gull (Larus canus)
Common winter visitor
Two or three birds were seen regularly in Cuerden Valley Park during the winter months.
An exceptional count of around 1000 were in the gull roost at Lower Rivington Reservoir on 19th February, reducing to 300 on 6th March and 80 on 22nd March.
Lesser Black-Backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
Common in most months; has bred
35 were in the gull roost at Lower Rivington Reservoir on 6th March.
Two nests were located in the gullery at Belmont Reservoir in June. One nest was possibly successful as a large juvenile with an adult in attendance was present on 1st August.
A flock of around 200 birds were at a small quarry at Whittle on 24th June, presumably attracted by a hatch of insects.
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
Common winter visitor and on passage
120 flew west over Belmont on 7th February. 15 were in the gull roost at Lower Rivington Reservoir on 22nd March.
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Scarce winter visitor
A single bird was in the Lower Rivington gull roost on 19th February in what seems to have been a poor year for the species in the area.
Gull Roost (Laridae spp.)
Numbers in the roost on Lower Rivington Reservoir during the winter months varied between 6000 and 7000 birds, of which 80% were usually Black-headed.
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
Rare passage migrant
A juvenile was at Adlington Reservoir on 6th October.
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
Scarce passage migrant; uncommon breeding bird
First returning bird was one at Eccleston on 30th April. The first back at Yarow Valley Park was on May 1st, and by the 4th, 3 birds were present with one of them eventually being chased off by what was presumably last year’s breeding pair, which took up residence once again. Three chicks hatched by 13th June, and were being encouraged to fly by their parents on 4th July. All three chicks were ringed.
Two adult and at least two juvenile birds were present on Upper and Lower Rivington Reservoir throughout August – possibly the family from Yarrow Valley Park.
Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)
Still large numbers around the town centre despite the presence of marauding Peregrines.
Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
Uncommon breeding bird; Amber List.
14 were at Belmont Reservoir on 7th and 14th March.
Six were noted on Croston Moss on 9th September and two or three were at Withnell Fold on 11th September.
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Abundant resident and passage migrant
Very common resident throughout Cuerden Valley Park.
A flock of 500 was at Withnell Fold Flash on 31st July, and at least 200 were still there on 11th September.
Over 1,000 birds were on Mawdesley Moss on 2nd December.
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
A pair was seen mating at Whittle-le Woods on 14th January.
One pair bred in thick ivy climbing vertically up the Primary School wall in Belmont.