The Whitlingham Bird Report 2020 is available now (click here)

For previous years (2012-2019) see the links on the Whitlingham Bird List page.

WHITLINGHAM: Frosty first WeBS count of the year

20th January 2019

The morning of the first WeBS count of the year was a very cold one, necessitating the clearing of ice from both sides of the windscreen before setting off. Upon arrival there had been a hoar frost, with all of the vegetation coated in ice crystals. I allowed myself a few minutes to appreciate the landscape and the frosted umbellifers before continuing on to start my count.

Much of the Little Broad was frozen, but my attention was drawn to the trees in the corner where three Little Egrets had presumably roosted overnight and were chasing each other around in the reeds. A Kingfisher perched up behind the egrets and a male Shoveler circled round looking for some open water to land.

Moving across to the Great Broad it was evident that there had been a large influx of Gadwall due to the cold weather, with nearly 400 present. Gary had done a count the previous day and there had only been 165, so this was a large increase. Seven Goldeneye was a high count for me, although one away from the site high of eight that was equalled this winter. Eight Grey Herons was also notable, particularly as they were all spread out across about 100m of broad edge from the island and just east.

The site still looked nice but was now much busier - I was overtaken by a 'walking for health' group, before passing a Nordic walkers group. Ironically several of the latter did go ahead of me, but only because they apparently couldn't hear the leader whistling and calling them back, which I found mildly amusing as a parallel with the amount of not-particularly-under-control dogs around. Having seen few passerines on my first visit of the year I added a few more today including Siskin, but didn't see any Redpolls or the Brambling seen previously.

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