Bird News: December 2022

The first Snipe count of the winter took place on the 4th at Kenn Moor Reserve. There were a dozen Snipe which is about average for the early December count there. The Congresbury Moor fields were fairly dry so only five Snipe (but several Pheasants) there. It was pleasing to see evidence ( lots of pellets) that a Barn Owl is resident in one of the new recycled plastic boxes.

The first winter bird survey covering Congresbury Moor, Gang Wall and a short part of the Strawberry Line turned up a Green Sandpiper on the river and a Chiffchaff on the Strawberry Line. 18 Blackbirds suggested some had arrived from Scandinavia but the count of 40 Redwwings was low and three Fieldfares very poor. A single Song Thrush was the first I had seen for several months.

Kingfisher seen on the Strawberry Line Yatton 15th December 2022. Photo by Mark Savage

The cold weather combined with the winter water levels brought an influx of Little Egrets, with eight by the Little River and another ringed bird on the Yeo. A Kingfisher and two Water Rails were on the Congresbury Moor section of the Strawberry Line. Even better a Little Owl was by the Little River and our member Roland’s conservation area produced a Treecreeper (a real surprise) a daytime Barn Owl and both woodpeckers. Two Little Owls were calling to each other by the Strawberry Line at Congresbury.

Little Owl by Emily Lomas
Great White Egret on Congresbury Moor (15th December 2022). Photo by Mark Savage

The freezing temperatures (13th) brought 19 Teal to the River Yeo at Wemberham and at least seven Green Sandpipers, an unprecedented record. There were 110 Lapwings in flight, a few Snipe, a Redshank, a Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail as well. By the 15th there were reports of three Shoveler on the Yeo, a Great White Egret nearby, and several reports of passing groups of Lapwings. A Red Kite was an unseasonable sight and 20 Little Egrets by the Little River must be a record. Kenn Moor produced 20 each of Teal and Snipe.

Shoveler on the Congresbury Yeo on 17th December 2022 by Mark Savage.
Redshank on the Congresbury Yeo on 15th December 2022. Photo by Mark Savage
Lapwing by Melanie Patch

Parties of Lapwings were seen passing over Congresbury and Kingston Seymour, a few were on a field by Littlewood and 20 were near Land Farm Yatton. More remarkable were two on Hangstones playing fields. The biggest flock on the ground was 100 by the Strawberry Line at Congresbury.  A Water Rail and Kingfisher were seen on New Rhyne, Congresbury Moor, but the star bird there was a male Merlin with prey photographed by Mark Savage. The River Yeo had a Redshank, several Snipe and a Green Sandpiper flew over. A couple of Chiffchaffs were active on the Yatton section of the Strawberry Line.

Merlin with prey. Photo by Mark Savage

The onset of milder weather saw 150 Lapwings heading south and 30 Meadow Pipits by the Hinkley Connect works by the River Yeo. Blackcaps and a Grey Wagtail as well as Redwings visited gardens. At the same time a pair of Tawny Owls were duetting noisily in Kingston Seymour churchyard late on the 21st.

Christmas Day was notable for a flock of a thousand Lapwings in the sky by the motorway and the first local record of a bird perching on one of the new pylons, a Cormorant.

Stonechat by Viv French on 25th November 2022
Close up of Stonechat by Viv French on 25th November 2022

Stonechats, usually in pairs were present at several locations locally.

Thanks to everyone who has sent in sightings and especially to the photographers who have provided pictures during 2022.

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Thank you,