The pair of Common Terns continued to occupy the raft on Upper Pen Pond for the beginning of July. One of the birds was seen to be sitting – presumably on a nest. Unfortunately, perhaps due to a thunderstorm, the nest was abandoned. Birds were still seen occasionally during the rest of the month, with three on the 25th.
Wildfowl families still fared poorly. The Great Crested Grebes third and probably last nesting attempt failed. A couple of broods of Pochard that had been seen last month disappeared as did a family of Red-crested Pochard. The former species is regarded as a nationally rare breeding bird. Only two young Mandarin Duck from two broods survived until the end of the month on the Pen Ponds, although nine well grown youngsters were discovered on the far smaller Bishop's Pond along with a brood of five Mallard. Despite the good numbers of Tufted Duck on the Pen Ponds there were no families to be seen but a brood of six young were found on Adam's Pond. Only the larger species of Wildfowl did better at surviving the attentions of the seeming myriad of predators. Additional broods of Egyptian Geese were discovered on the Pen Ponds and Beverley Brook making five in total for the Park. Happily a third brood of Mute Swans, comprising three cygnets, returned to Adam's Pond after their sojourn to the Brook. The pen (female) on Upper Pen Pond was seen to be wearing a metal ring on its leg. The number on the ring was read and submitted to The British Trust of Ornithology (BTO) to find out the origins of this bird.
A fully grown juvenile Water Rail was seen early one morning at the edge of the reedbed on Upper Pen Pond probably indicating breeding had taken place. Very few young Coots and Moorhens were to be seen on the Park's ponds. The Swallow's first nesting attempt failed when the young fell out of the nest. The pair returned to their usual home of Holly Lodge to try again.
Surprise visitors were three Crossbills on the 26th. This specialised finch, which has its beak crossed at the tip for extracting seeds from pine cones, has invaded the country from the Continent in large numbers this summer in search of food after a poor crop of pine cones in its breeding areas. The only birds of prey of note were a Red Kite flying west on the 8th and a Hobby hunting dragonflies on the 4th. The elusive Barn Owl made an appearance late one evening. Reed Warblers were surveyed and a minimum of seven territories were counted in the reedbed, an increase from last year. A Common Sandpiper on the 3rd and 4th was an early returning migrant with another on the 26th.
Southerly migration will begin in earnest in August with Warblers, some of which will join the roaming flocks of Tits, Chats, ariel flocks of Swifts, Swallows and Martins and perhaps a large raptor all passing through the Park. Some of these migrants will bear BTO rings and if either trapped (and released, at a coastal Bird Observatory for instance), or found perished, will provide useful information on survival rates, migration routes and even breeding success.
Jan Wilczur, July 2009