March 21, 2023
March 21, 2023
2022 was another excellent year for birding at the reservoir.
2022 was another excellent year for birding at thereservoir. The overall total number of species recorded was 147 which is in line with our 10-year average of 146 species. Interestingly, if you look back to the previous 10 years the average was 126. The site is benefiting from a greater frequency of visits, better information sharing and a significant increase in activity by the ringing group. The ringing group had a record year with 13,393 new birds ringed, a phenomenal total for an inland location. This included record numbers of a various species, more detail can be found in the ringing group report here http://stanfordrg.org.uk/srgstats/2022-annrep.pdf
The overall site list moved to 254 species with the additionof two new species, one was expected and the other not so. Cattle Egret was the first new bird, on August 28th. With the increase in numbers in the UK and recent breeding in Northamptonshire this was always a bird that was going to visit Stanford at some point. The second new species came only two weeks later in the form of a Blyth’s Reed Warbler. Members of the ringing group were out early on September 8th and it was an extremely busy first net round with the Blyth’s being one of the first birds to be processed. Through the diligent checking of each warbler, the team instantly knew they were dealing with something different to the regular Reed Warblers that breed at and migrate through the site. After careful analysis it was identified as a Blyth’s Reed and a dislodged feather was also sent to Aberdeen University for DNA testing and this confirmed the original in-hand identification. This was the first ever record for Northants.
With low water levels during the summer months a steady wader passage was noted. The site had over 50 Black-tailed Godwits, the first three on June 15th of the nominate form, limosa. In addition, two Ruff (a scarce bird for the site) were recorded, one of which had a colour flag which was successfully read. The bird was ringed in Norway on August 28thand was present at Stanford on September 3rd and 4th. Other waders during the year included Little Ringed and Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Redshank (with 13 recorded on a single day), Dunlin, Jack Snipe, Common and Green Sandpiper, Snipe, Curlew and Whimbrel. Low water levels also meant we were able to confirm the first ever breeding of Water Rail at the site.
In addition to the Cattle Egret mentioned earlier, Little and Great Egret were recorded on a regular basis. along with the first ever colour ringed Great Egret for Leicestershire and Rutland on September 28th– red ring ‘ABU’; the bird was ringed in Somerset as a chick in May and had been seen in West Yorkshire and Lincolnshire before arriving at Stanford.
There were record numbers of warblers ringed in 2022. An exceptional three Yellow Browed Warblers were recorded at the site, two were ringed and one found on the Leicestershire side of the reservoir on October 10th. Only one Tree Pipit was recorded during 2022 on August 7th.
The gull roost was actively watched resulting in an amazing 13 Mediterranean Gulls over the year. Caspian Gull was also recorded on a regular basis over the winter months. As always, we had a steady passage of terns with Common, Black and Arctic all recorded. One exceptional record of the latter species was a first-summer bird found on June 13th. It is very unusual to have a bird of this age at this time of the year.
Rarer wild fowl were hard to come by although there were some highlights. We had an excellent year for Garganey with three different individuals being seen. The first of these was a drake found on April 19th along with a Mandarin. Six White-fronted Geese, Pink-footed Goose, eight Whooper Swans, several Red-crested Pochard and exceptional numbers of Little Grebe were the other main highlights.
Other notable sightings for 2022 were a singing Quail foundon July 7th (the first since 2014), Rock Pipit found on October 1st (the first since 2020), Corn Bunting on August 12th (the first since 2016) and a Mealy Redpoll on December 22nd.
It was another good year for Marsh Harrier and Osprey with multiple sightings over the year. Other notable birds of prey included Hobby and two Merlin. We can’t finish this summary of the year off without mentioning White-tailed Eagle. We had notification from Tim Mackrill at the Isle of Wight re-introduction project that a satellite tagged bird, G818 had passed over thereservoir on March 28th. Unfortunately, it was not seen by any birders.
Thankfully a second bird, G819 passed over the reservoir on April16th and was picked as it drifted over the dam being mobbed by corvids, Red Kites and Buzzards. Thankfully, it settled in a small area of trees for a while enabling several local birders to connect with this majestic bird. It then roosted over night and was seen again on several occasions on the Northants side of the reservoir the following day before eventually heading southwest. Whilst an introduced bird and therefore not countable on the main list, this still represented one of the birding highlights of the year for those who saw it. Hopefully 2023 will deliver another.