It seems hardly credible, but the Ortolan Bunting that turned up this morning (8th May) on the western side of Longham Reservoir South (Dominic Couzens) is actually not even a first for the site! That accolade goes to one seen on 17th April 2011. Its latest appearance was particularly good news for Chris Parnell, the Longham regular who missed the first bird. He caught up with it on the Causeway this afternoon (photo above).
On a good day for migrants, there was also a female Whinchat on the Causeway and west side, along with 2 Wheatears and a couple of Common Sandpipers. A singing Cuckoo could be breeding, and the first Sedge Warbler of the year was singing on territory.
STOP PRESS: Apparently the Ortolan is the first recorded in Britain this year (Birdguides).
7th May: Roger Peart made his first Constant Effort Site ringing visit this morning. He reports: The catch was quite good (12 new birds, 13 retraps), although not up to last year’s first (30 new, 18 retraps) New birds included 5 Reed Warblers, 2 Common Whitethroats and a Chiffchaff. No Blackcaps heard or seen. The retraps included 4 birds from two years ago (1 Blackbird, 1 Robin, 1 Great Tit and 1 Reed Warbler) and 3 Reed Warblers from last year.
Also heard Cuckoo briefly. 1 Roe Deer seen.
There was also a reliable report from Leigh Balmforth of a Great White Egret on Hampreston Fields today. This species hasn’t been recorded at Longham since November 2006, but birds have been known in the area ever since that time.
Chris Parnell had 3 Hobbies flying over, the first of the year.
Lorne Bissell had an excellent wader day, with 1 Whimbrel at 10.15, 1 Redshank and 2 Common Sandpipers. On the wildfowl front there were 2 Shelducks and some families of Mallards and Tufted Ducks.
Chris Parnell had this superb Osprey (first spring record for Longham) flying north today.
A pot-pourri from Alan Pearce included 3 Common Sandpipers, 4 Shelducks and 1 Goldcrest.
The first Reed Warblers of the year (4) and 1 Wheatear (Chris Parnell).
16th April: Quiet, but a noticeable increase in the number of Willow Warblers (at least 10). Also 2 Wheatears.
Robin Trundle had a Cuckoo, 2 Common Sandpipers and 1 Wheatear. Meanwhile, Tom Carley recorded a fine Lesser Redpoll perched on one of the hedges.
The 2 Egyptian Geese were again present, together with 2 Shelducks, 4 Gadwall, 2-3 Common Sandpipers and 4 Goldfinches (Alan Pearce, Lorne Bissell).
2 Egyptian Geese put in an appearance, plus 2 Common Sandpipers (Chris Parnell).
11th April: Dominic Couzens: I had my richest species day of the year (and for some time) today, with 55 species in 2 hours. Best of these were 1 Blue-headed and 1 Yellow Wagtail (and a Grey Wagtail also on the main island), no less than 71 Mediterranean Gulls (counted by George Green, also present), 1 Common Tern, 2 Ravens on the main island on LR South that flushed 4 Snipe and 1 Common Sandpiper; 1 Peregrine, a Treecreeper singing in Samuel’s Wood, 2 Shelduck, 2 late Common Gulls (April records are rare), 1 Lesser Redpoll and at least 6 Willow Warblers.
Earlier in the day Lorne Bissell had the Common Tern (see left), and others included 12 Med Gulls, 1 Swallow and a Black Swan on Hampreston Fields.
By my reckoning, in the 1st 101 days of the year, 94 species have been seen at Longham Lakes.
10th April: Roger Peart had a short ringing session, catching 12 birds: a new Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Song Thrush, plus 7 retraps, a Chiffchaff, 3 Reed Buntings, a Wren and 1 Dunnock. 2 of the Reed Buntings, a male and a female, were ringed as juveniles in autumn 2011, so are local birds. Meanwhile, Lorne Bissell saw the 1st House Martin of the year, plus 20+ Med Gulls, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Common Tern and 5 Willow Warblers.
9th April: 1 Wheatear (Alan Pearce).
7th April: 1 Egyptian Goose and 1 Wheatear (Chris Parnell).
4th April: 1 Little Ringed Plover flew from the Causeway to the island in LR South (Alan Pearce).
3rd April: 4 Snipe were flushed from the main island in LR South, and 2 Egyptian Geese appeared (Alan Pearce).
1st April: Kevin Lane had 4 Greylag Geese on Hampreston Fields, plus 1 Snipe, 1 Redshank, 15+ Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Wheatears and 100+ Redwings.
29th March: Alan Pearce had 10 Mediterranean Gulls, 5 Wheatears and 2 Shelducks, while Chris Parnell added 1 Lesser Redpoll and 1 Redshank.
27th March: The redhead Smew was seen for the last time. There were 3 Shovelers on LR South and 2 Wheatears on the paths (Alan Pearce)
26th March: There were still many Chiffchaffs about (see below). The Smew remained, while there were also 10 Greylag Geese and 2 Roe Deer (Alan Pearce).
25th March: Now 4 Rock Pipits around the Lakes, including the Scandinavian bird (see below). Also 1 Snipe on the island (George Green).
24th March: Really a remarkable day at Longham, probably due to the freezing conditions (this month has been the coldest of the entire winter). For one thing, many Chiffchaffs were feeding right out in the open, on the ground, presumably searching the grass, pebble path and lakeshore for meagre food supplies. At the same time there was a major fall of Meadow Pipits. After 70 yesterday there were at least 100 today, together with 3 Rock Pipits. One of the Rock Pipits was identified as a Water Pipit yesterday, but after much scrutiny and discussion (George Green, Dominic Couzens and Chris Parnell), the heavy streaking on the beige-washed underparts was deemed suitable for the Scandinavian race of Rock Pipit. Also today, 2 Pintail, a Little Ringed Plover and Grey Plover (the latter only the 2nd for Longham) on the main island on LR South, a Smew, a Snipe, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Wheatear, a Swallow and 11 Great Crested Grebes.
23rd March: A large pipit originally identified as Water Pipit, but later as Scandinavian Rock Pipit, turned up today, along with 1 Wheatear, 22 Sand Martins and 70 Meadow Pipits in a single flock. Also a Mallard with 9 young (Chris Parnell).
19th March: The Smew remains, and there was a hint of spring migration with a small influx of Pied Wagtails and 1 male Stonechat (George Green).
14th March: A small arrival of Chiffchaffs was the only thing of note (Chris Parnell).