Bird News: February 2023

There was a mixed flock of about 80 Fieldfares and Redwings at the Stowey Reserve and also evidence that Barn Owls have used both the new box and the repositioned box. The adjacent fields produced a pair of Stonechats, a couple of Little Egrets and a Kingfisher. Just outside the YACWAG area a Starling murmuration near Tesco at Clevedon proved a popular attraction. I estimated 12,000 birds on the 5th with a brief appearance by a Sparrowhawk.

Stonechat female – Jon Thobroe
Grey Wagtail bathing in the Little River – photo by Emily Lomas

The water level in the Little River was low enough for a Grey Wagtail to have a bath and there were ten Little Egrets and a Heron in a nearby tree. Song Thrushes (two) were singing and more unusually three Mistle Thrushes were recorded. A Kingfisher was on the Little River with presumably a different bird on Wemberham Rhyne. A singing Chiffchaff was notable.

Kingfisher – Emily Lomas

A male Kestrel was being harassed by a couple of Jackdaws across the path from Cobthorn Reserve on the 7th and two Song Thrushes were in the adjacent field. A Chaffinch was tuning up nearby and later singing more confidently and a couple of days later a pair of Stonechats were seen

Little Egret – photo by Emily Lomas

The fields were remarkably dry for the time of year especially considering the heavy rainfall in December and January. As a result the Snipe counts were low, 15 at ‘Kenn Moor and six at Congresbury Moor although eight Goosanders on the river provided some compensation. The dry pasture and low Rhyne levels suited Little Egrets with good numbers spread over the Moors.

Stonechat male – Jon Thobroe

A Little Owl was heard calling in Kenn and another report was of lots of Fieldfares on recently manured fields in Kingston Seymour, but the quiet weather mid month was also generally quiet for birds. The Kingston Seymour Ravens having has their old nest removed from the pylon started to rebuild but then thought better of it and are constructing a nest in an Oak.

The volunteers finished checking and cleaning the bird boxes in Littlewood but the results were disappointing. Only seven nests, less than half the normal number. A colour ringing project by the BTO has shown that young Blue tits and Great tits from rural nests often move into towns (to garden feeders) in their first winter but then stay to nest in towns themselves. This seems to be de populating rural woodlands and other conservationists have experienced similar declines in woodland birds.

Meadow Pipit – Emily Lomas

A feeding party of 50 Pied Wagtails on Congresbury cricket field was presumably occasioned by a glut of small invertebrates and a Red Kite over Smallway was unusual in February. Even more unusual was a report of what sounds like a Woodcock from the description flushed from a slope on Cadbury Hill. The month ended with a Tawny Owl hooting in Kingston Seymour churchyard.

Thanks to all who submitted records and photographs.

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