The migrants have been arriving thick and fast over the last week. A Hobby was hunting over the reservoir on the 19th and a Redshank was on the dam on the 21st. Up to 2 Cuckoo were at Bagworth heath and two also at Browns wood. Barn and Tawny Owl were seen. Common Whitethroat and a smart Lesser Whitethroat were also at Browns wood. A Tree Pipit was a new site species and probably a passage bird, although the habitat it frequented was a potential breeding area. Finally, today a pair of Linnet below the dam took me to 105 species for the local patch and all before May.
With some excellent spring weather migrants are now arriving in good numbers. The male Redstart was around until at least Friday, and D.W. found perhaps a different bird at Brown,s wood today. Up to 3 Yellow Wagtails were present with a male Wheatear and a brief Ring Ouzel below the dam was a treat for D.W. Two Common Sandpipers were on the dam and a pair of Shoveler were year ticks on the 16th. A reeling Grasshopper Warbler was back at Bagworth heath where a Cuckoo was also seen.
A smart male Redstart was added to the site year list on Saturday 10th. It was frequenting the same hedge that hosted one two years ago. This hedge was known as Little Owl hedge, but we might have to rename it! The Redstart was still present at 6pm on Sunday. R.M. also had 3 Ravens over the reservoir at 11am. and D.W. had presumably the same birds over Bagworth heath.
No sign of the R.N.Grebe today, that has presumably continued its journey east. An early walk produced three new birds for the site list. A Willow Warbler was bravely singing from a Blackthorn dispite the chill N.W. wind. A single Oyster Catcher did two circuits of the reservoir before heading back, I guess to Brascote, and the first Common Sandpiper of the year was resting on the weir at the Stanton inflow end. The walk to Bagworth heath produced a single Raven that looked massive compared to the Carrion Crow that was mobbing it. A small flock of Lesser Redpoll were also on the heath. The final treat of the day was in the form of a dapper male Yellow Wagtail that was associating with the White Wagtail in the grass fields beside Stoney bank.
It has been several years since I have seen one of the rarer grebes on Thornton, so it was very pleasing to find a Summer plumaged Red-Necked Grebe at about 9.30 this morning. The grebe was frequenting the central area of the reservoir, with a small group of Great Crested Grebes. It was still present at about 1800 when it was closer to Stoney bank, the eastern side of the reservoir. This bird has probably wintered off our coast and is now heading back east towards Central Europe. Earlier this morning a short ringing session produced a male and female Blackcap and one Chiffchaff. The Chiffchaff was a returning bird that I had previously rung last July. It is very satisfying when birds return to a site, an indication that it fits their requirements. The hirundine numbers increased again today and there were one or two more House Martins. The White Wagtail was again in the field off Stoney Bank and a Treecreeper was seen carrying nesting material.
Up to 50 hirundines have been feeding over the res. mainly Swallows and Sand martins, with one House Martin on the 30th. On the 31st D.W. located 17 Barnacle geese that stayed until late in the day. At times they flew around the reservoir and favoured the N.E. direction, but I was not around to see in which direction they eventually departed. Their appearance was enough to get me looking in the new Avifauna. The entry made interesting reading concerning Barnacles and Thornton , where one was shot during the first week of April, 1891 and 7 were present during the last week of March 1981, when there was an influx of wild birds. There had been 31 at Eyebrook and one of these birds had a Svalbard ring. About 5 of the birds seemed to be adults with yellow faces. They were nervous and kept in a tight group. They did approach the car park area , but this may have been due to the feral Barnacle that is associating with the group of hybrid Snow geese. My feeling is that they were genuine wild birds that have probably moved further S.W. this year due to the hard winter. It would have been good if they had moved on to fields and we could have checked for rings. Other recent sightings included a male Blackcap, a White Wagtail, and a Common Tern, all on the 2nd April. The Tern is an early bird being 3 days ahead of the ten year average.