As well as being an amazing spot to take a break and relax, The Tranquil Otter is an important site for the Solway Estuary Wetlands Birds Survey. Trevor, our neighbour volunteer, takes an official count each month and provides us with a report of the birdlife on the Lough and in the woods. You might catch a glimpse of him and his westie, Archie.
Wildlife Report May 2019
When in the office, I frequently see and hear the birds on site. It’s great when someone like Trevor, who has the depth of knowledge and experience of recognising birds by their song, provides a report. We hope that you enjoy this update, which is a summary of three visits during May.
Trevor’s report 1st May
“I was delighted to report a rare sighting of two great crested grebes, in front of the bird hide, feeding and engaged in coordinated courtship head movements. Despite my long-held opinion that the Lough doesn’t have the depth or fish population to support Great Crested Grebes, I thought it unlikely there would be courtship if they didn’t intend to stay.”
The Great Crested Grebe made a brief appearance at the Lough in April 2010 and 2013. They must be breeding on the Solway, where there is both depth and fish.
Trevor’s report 16th May
“This morning was my first visit to The Lough for a couple of weeks.
As I passed by the Chappelfield Gate I was welcomed by the sight and sounds of a spotted flycatcher (and found two others, one by Egret lodge & another just beyond the weir, so I am hopeful of another breeding year for them on site).
As I approached the lake view from the lodges I could hear a male reed warbler calling, but despite my clearing some of the growth this last winter I still couldn’t see him, he was somewhere in the bushes growing by the reeds. Later I heard another reed warbler as I came back by the bird hide; again hoping that they will find mates. The lake vegetation is growing well, as are the reedmace. Little grebes are already nesting. I was pleased to see that the pair of great crested grebe (reported on 1st May) are still there, but as they were both out on the water I’m assuming that they haven’t nested – yet!
Whilst looking at the lake (and counting as it’s “WeBS” week) I heard a garden warbler singing. That’s a first for the site! The garden warbler is a great example of a birdwatching term “LBJ” (little brown job) see picture below, almost definable by a complete lack of the colouration, spots, stripes etc. in plumage, beak or legs that help identification in most species.
They are frequently overlooked and their song is very, very similar to that of blackcap. With experience, one can get better at distinguishing them, but I think never perfect. I have been expecting to find one on site for the last three years or so. They are more common in the south but have been in small numbers in Finglandrigg and Watchtree nature reserves. That may be another example of climate change, or maybe just good breeding success lately. They seem to be much more common in the area this year.
I found the garden warbler near the back of the Lough House and then two further round the site; let’s hope it’s the start of a yearly feature.
The mute swan is still on eggs, but they greylag goose pair have some young. I couldn’t hear any woodpecker chicks calling from within their holes, but I’m sure they will be evident soon.
All the remainder of the species were much as expected, here are the details of the count.
- Coot 5
- Cormorant 1
- Great crested grebe 2
- Grey heron 1
- Greylag goose 2-4
- Lesser black-backed gull 1
- Little grebe 6
- Mallard 12
- Moorhen 3
- Mute swan 3 probably 2 nests.
Other species in the woods and on site.
Blackbird, Blackcap (5m, 1f), Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff (7 males singing), Coal tit, Garden warbler (3 singing), Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker (3+), Great tit, House martin, Jackdaw, Jay, Long-tailed tit, Raven (2 oh low), Reed bunting (2 males singing), Robin, Rook, Sand martin, Spotted flycatcher (3 singing), Starling, Swallow, Swift, Willow warbler (5 singing), Wren (5 singing).
Trevor’s report 31st May
“I’ve just about made it to the end of the month!
The Great crested Grebe not seen this week, I presume that they decided it wasn’t right for nesting. One pair of mute swans have one cygnet. The one nest of the great spotted woodpecker has audible young this week. All the singing species are present this week.
We hope you enjoy Wildlife Report May 2019.