Two trips to Upton on Sunday and Tuesday so I thought I'd combine it into one post.
Starting with Sunday 7th March. Early start at the Moors with Phil Andrews to get some birding in before the work party at the Flashes. Walking up to the East Hide from the car park picked up 7 Lesser Redpoll in Alders feeding away, arriving in the East hide at around 8am it was a frosty start but not that much of the pool was frozen only really Amy's and the Broadmeadow Pool. 4 Oystercatcher were quarrelling with each other and a nice pair of Gadwall were on the East Island. 2 Shelduck loitered around in between the islands and a pair of Raven were displaying towards the A38 field their deep cronks sounding out across the pools. Counts of other birds included 11 Great Crested Grebe, 16 Teal, 17 Shoveler, 14 Cormorant, 8 Lapwing, 4 Snipe, 19 Tufted Duck, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Little Grebe and 9 Curlew.
Moving over to the Flashes for the start of the work party managed 3 Avocet before starting work. Walking out across the area in between the 2nd and 3rd Flash it was mainly frozen but around 10 Snipe and 3 Jack Snipe were flushed and 58 Teal flew off. A check of the fox fencing along the back found no obvious holes, so we got on with cutting the grass in preparation for the breeding birds returning. With 21 people at the work party! We soon got all the work done including re-shingling the islands, installing a secondary fox fence and trimming the blackthorn in front of the hide. 2 Oystercatchers came and landed on the deck while we were working, 3 Buzzards displayed and a Kestrel called. Best bird of the day was however found when me Gert and Phil went for a walk over the back and a male Stonechat was spotted by Gert. First of the year for the reserve and a quick few phone calls between us and the guys in the hide to try to get them onto it but it flew off towards the transmitter masts. Due to a few of us having a little competition going with the year list here Dave wasn't to happy that Phil had now taken top spot off him! Luckily the Stonechat reappeared and everyone got onto it.
Moving back to the Moors till dark nothing really extra noted apart from 2 Fieldfare that roosted in the reed bed and then a male Sparrowhawk which then flushed another and promptly caught it just as it was going dark.
All in all 3 year ticks with Gadwall, Avocet and Stonechat taking me to 76 for my Upton year list.
Moving onto today 9th March started out at the Flashes with the usual suspects being around highlights including 3 Avocet, 4 Oystercatcher, 3 Shelduck of which the two males were constantly chasing one another, 1 Peregrine on the masts, 2 Cetti's Warbler sang from the Hen Brook and the male Stonechat making the most of the new fox fence. Counts of other birds included 12 Curlew, 88 Lapwing, 52 Black-headed Gull, 1 Buzzard, 72 Teal, 2 Greylag and 4+ Linnet.
Moving across to the Moors where the Work party were busy working out in front of the east hide re-shingling the islands and tidying things up ready for the breeding season. Bird highlights included 3 Oystercatcher that flew in high from the South and then flew round trying to find somewhere to settle but flew off to the north so possibly not birds from the Flashes so 7 birds across the reserve? The pair of Gadwall remained and the Little Egret flew across the pool and landed in the overhanging trees. 2 Cetti's Warbler sang from the reed beds as well as a Water Rail and a Little Grebe put in a brief appearance right in front of the hide and called several times. Counts of other birds included 13 Great-crested Grebe, 1 Kestrel, 20 Tufted Duck, 17 Pochard, 16 Shoveler, 1 Greylag, 6 Teal, 2 Mute Swan, 1 Shelduck (kicked off the Flashes) 27 Cormorant, 41 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Collared Dove, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Greenfinch, 3 Bullfinch, c17 Reed Bunting, 6 Chaffinch, female Sparrowhawk, 1 Herring Gull and 2 Lesser Black Backed Gulls.
Sorry for the lack of photos but my brother has borrowed the camera for his uni work! If not I could have shown you the excellent work achieved on the flashes and even the stripes Simon managed to get in the grass there!
Also thought I'd add a few websites that could be interesting to anyone if they read this blog.
http://www.xcweather.co.uk/ is a great website for wind and pressure forecasts across Britain, France and Spain so you can keep an eye out for when migrants might arrive etc
http://btoringing.blogspot.com/ Really interesting blog with ringing recoveries from the BTO some quite unbelievable.