Monday, 18 April 2011

Breeding exodus

Until I did Webs counts I never really appreciated the movement of birds away from their established patch to breeding grounds in the spring. My count covers 8km of the River Tyne from Redheugh Bridge to Newburn Bridge and whilst last month I counted over 500 Black headed Gulls this month I managed none. In the seven years since I took over the count this is the second time this has occured with the count date matching the peak movement period. Redshanks generally numbering around one hundred were down to eleven and Teal from last months splendid 430 to one solitary male with a handful of Mallards.

The mud flats were generally lined with juvenile large gulls giving good practice separating Greater, Herring and Lesser Black Backs of all ages. There were a couple of adult Black backs mooching around with adult Herring Gulls at their breeding colony on Rolls Royce Bearings roof and Lesser Black Backs on this and BAE systems roof. Numbers of this species increase year on year and are approaching fifty birds.

Other birds that return to the patch in spring are Oystercatcher with four yesterday and particularly Shelduck which breed succesfully here around the Costco - Scotswood Bridge area. Last month saw 40 birds present although fewer this month presumably indicating females on nests. The Common Terns have yet to arrive and I couldn't find a Common Sandpiper although I'm sure next month both will be present.

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