The previous Ferruginous Duck post missed out a few year records, so here goes.........
18th Feb - having missed out on Barn Owl completely in 2016, I was pleased to get good views of a quartering bird at the west end of the patch in reasonable light. On the same evening in the roost, a 2nd winter Med Gull appeared.
20th Feb - I missed the first record of Oystercatcher for the year, but caught up with a bird on this date.
Since then, up to three birds have been fairly regular.
25th Feb - having seen nothing in the gull roost, my wait at the car park was rewarded with two Woodcock flying over towards the meadows north of the STW - it was almost dark!
28th Feb - Emmett's fields have been poor for birds this winter, with no sizeable finch or bunting flocks as have been seen in other years. I was pleased therefore, to see three Yellowhammers there on this date.
4th March - Large gull numbers in the roost have been down on previous years and may be a reflection of the winding down of the landfill at Hedgerley. This 1st winter Caspian Gull is my only one this year and came in very late when the light had gone, so excuse the poor record.
6th March - a red letter day, as although not a patch tick, I had only my second record of Brambling and the first one around the lake itself. This female bird was in the south east corner and accompanied a female Chaffinch, so hardly a finch flock!
14th March - my first migrant wader of the Spring in the form of a Redshank
17th March - quickly followed by my first Little Ringed Plovers and Sand Martins
20th March - another great morning on patch! Seeing a drake Garganey in the Spring is always one of the season's highlights, so I was delighted to find this one on the east side of the spit, though thankfully it eventually flew to the much closer near spit - shame it was an overcast day.
Remarkably, as Alan S and I were watching the Garganey, I noticed a Brent Goose coming in to land just off the tip of the near spit. I quickly grabbed some shots as it swam into the middle of the south part of the lake. Then, after just a few minutes on site, it took off, flew north gaining height and then departed west over the STW. We surmised that the sharp shower had brought the bird down and as soon as it stopped, it continued on its way. There has been an amazing run of records of this species on patch. This is the third I have found here since last September, all dark-bellied and all adults (I think this bird is an adult). Alan only ticked the species on patch with last November's bird and he has been coming here for a quarter of a century!
Luckily, the Garganey found the lake to his liking and he stayed for over a week. Strangely, a good hunt around on the 27th and the morning of the 28th failed to find him, but a drake reappeared on the spit on the afternoon of the 28th. Whether this was the same bird that had just found a place to hide for a day and a half, or another drake that came in just for the afternoon of the 28th (and not seen since), I will never know - either scenario sounds plausible.
Some other pictures from the period: Shelduck have been ever present with 1-3 birds hanging out; Grey Wagtails have been a bit thin on the ground so far, so this bird feeding in a puddle was nice to watch; Linnets have found the area of cleared Poplars to the north of the lake to their liking and a small flock can generally be found there; the small population of Ring-necked Parakeets can generally be heard squawking noisily, but this bird was watched feeding on the newly emerging tree buds.