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Post Info TOPIC: Sellafield area


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RE: Sellafield area


I completed an inter-tidal survey yesterday along the beach at Sellafield, my last visit to this stretch at the end of the winter birds survey work I've been doing since September, but it ended with a bang biggrin.gif. It was a warm sunny day with a slight N/NW wind. Chiffchaffs were singing from the bushes around my car on arrival, meadow pipits and pied wags were flying overhead in their desperate search for more northerly grounds, reed bunts perched aloft every high bush top and buzzards were eagerly awaiting the first thermals to ease their flights from the various posts and tree tops they were upon.

ON to the dunes Stonechats were singing from the gorse, redpoll were calling in flight overhead and sand martins were pausing to fly catch on the river before the seemingly endless flights north. Off shore both razorbill and guillemot could be seen fairly close in, Goosander and RB Merganser were diving (still the only place I've been to where this is a regular occurance), red throats dived about and a lone black throat close in gave perfect views showing off its white rear flank in good light. Whooper Swans and PF Geese on the move too, with 3 flocks of whooper low over the water.

As well as the birds I saw some porpoise, for the the third time in less than a month at three different sites (Heysham, Kimnel Bay and Sellafield) swimming around with two separate pods of 3 and 3 or 4. All observations were between 8:30 and 14:30 (low to high tide) and yes it was an early start to get their for that time from Prestwich:

Red-throated Diver 5+
Black-throated Diver 1 smile.gif
Little Grebe 1
Grey Heron 1
Mute Swan 2
Whooper Swan 40+
Mallard 40+
Teal 12+
Wigeon 40+
Goldeneye 1
Goosander 4
Red-breasted Merganser 20+
Buzzard 4
Kestrel 1
Curlew 150+
Oystercatcher 500+
Redshank 30+
Grey Plover 1
Sanderling 5
Dunlin 4
Guillemot 20+
Razorbill 10+

Linnet 20+
Redpoll 10+
Stonechat 2
Reed Bunting 10+
Meadow Pipit 50+
Pied Wagtail 15+
Skylark 40+
Yellowhammer 5
Bullfinch 2

All in all a really enjoyable last day on this site. Next month I start some CBC surveys up their on breeding territories within a 500m buffer around the sellafield plant border and a new stretch of beach doing inter-tidal surveys, so bring on more sunshine!? wink.gif

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I completed an inter-tidal survey all day today along the beach at Sellafield, cracking day for it compared to yesterday anyway. It actually felt like Spring was on the way, with a calm breeze, but warmish sunshine biggrin.gif. Think I caught the sun today too, but probably just wind burn heh wink.gif. Lots of birds offshore, with large numbers of Wigeon on the sea, lots of Red-throats and my first auk of the year. All observations were between 9:30 and 16:00 (high to low tide):

Red-throated Diver 15+
Little Grebe 1
Grey Heron 2
Mute Swan 1
Mallard 36 (on river)
Teal 15+
Wigeon 300+
Goldeneye 11
Goosander 6 (on river)
Red-breasted Merganser 14
Buzzard 6
Kestrel 2
Peregrine 1
Merlin 1 (cracking female on post by my car on way back, sat there for 5 minutes watching me while I packed up and got going smile.gif)
Curlew 400+
Oystercatcher 650+
Redshank 70+
Grey Plover 5
Sanderling 90+
Dunlin 10+
Turnstone 120+
Guillemot 1
Linnet 5
Stonechat 2

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Belated report from Wednesday this week. I was completing a walkover survey of the land to the north of Sellafield. From 10am till 16:00 in good light, but very cold with a forsty start. All the snow on the Lake District's mountains appears to have melted away now.

Little Grebe 1
Grey Heron 6
Mute Swan 2
Greylag Goose 12
Pink-footed Goose - 80 (flying north)
Mallard 45+
Teal 20+
Wigeon 8+
Goosander 2
Buzzard 7
Kestrel 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Merlin 1 (female)
Snipe 6
Lapwing 6
Curlew 40+
Oystercatcher 3+
Redshank 3
Skylark 30+
Meadow Pipit 1
Linnet 30+
Reed Bunting 30+
House Sparrow 100+ (all in groups in farm yards and surrounding buildings)

Both Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer were not observed on the site, not sure why, but perhaps it could be due to the snow moving off and them being more widely scattered away from the stubble fields now. Also a massive reduction in the number of Skylark and only 1 Meadow Pipit?

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As the older thread I was using was simply for Cumbria I thought I better start a new thread for a more precise area for the Out-of-County forum's new system. At first glance you may think Sellafield is not a particularly good place to go birding, but the farmland to the north of the plant is remarkable for farmland birds, with Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer and Linnet aplenty. Grey Partrige are found here and there and a healthy amount of Snipe look like they may have areas to breed too. The non-intensive mixture of sheep and cattle grazing and arable farming allows for the old fashioned mixed-use farming environment of old, with some saltmarsh, brooks and woodlands inter-mixed. Add to that a coastline that is not particularly popular with tourists or dog walkers due to the over-looming sellafield nuclear plant and it provides a steady stream of birds that are less disturbed than many of our coastal areas and an abundance of species from farmland to coastal.

I was up yesterday for the only nice day in a windy rainly week biggrin.gif, completing an inter-tidal survey between 09:30 and 15:30 (low to high tide). I saw the following birds of note, mainly on or near to the beach and river system:

Little Grebe 1
Little Egret 1 (first one I've had here)
Grey Heron 12 (dispersed across the saltmarsh - seemed lots)
Mute Swan 2
Mallard 100+
Teal 20+
Wigeon 200+
Goosander 2
Buzzard 3
Kestrel 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Merlin 2
Curlew 100+
Oystercatcher 450+
Redshank 60+
Grey Plover 6
Golden Plover 14
Sanderling 80+
Dunlin 30+
Turnstone 60+
Kingfisher 1
Dipper 2 (1 bird singing all day, was a delight to hear!? smile.gif)
Fieldfare 10+
Linnet 8
Stonechat 2

I've not watched Sanderling at such close quarters for a while, but they really are a spanking bird. Crisp plumage and frantic little runners forever pecking about in the splashes of the tide, the true definition of a shorebird, never being too far from the surf and being restless in their pursuit of satisfying their appetites. I delighted in watching them and forgot how approachable they are in areas that don't have many people about wink.gif.

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