Chasewater Chat - 2008
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messages no.74 & 75
I noticed that the gull we saw on the 13th and later seen by yourself on the 20th and 21st is now being reported on Birdguides and Chasewater as 2nd winter Caspian. Is it confirmed as Caspian now, or do you still think it's likely to be a hybrid?
I am just writing a post about the gull for my blog - I was wondering if you'd be kind enough to let me use one of your photo's for this?
Best wishes, Kay Donaghy
After quite lengthy discussion, most of which I've added to the Comments page, it seems that there is no way of proving the parental background of the gulls without DNA analysis (and that would only give the maternal line). I've decided that its best to simplify the situation by calling birds that are clearly sharing 50/50 features of two different parent species 'hybrid' or 'presumed hybrid'. Birds which are not quite 'classic' ie. 'a bit off' but showing no features outside the known limits of a species, then we will call them that species; in this case Caspian Gull. First generation hybrids should be rather obviously showing mixed parentage but as these hybrids can be fertile there is every chance of 2nd/3rd etc generation hybrids which would look 'off' but probably indistinguishable from pure 'off' birds! When we get a 'classic' we will call it a classic' but most of the recent birds are not quite 'classic' in head or bill shape/size but fall within accepted limits.
All the best and Happy New Year. Graham
Many thanks for the photo and this further information about the gull.
Happy New Year and best wishes, Kay
message no.73
Just like to say I've found the feeding station now over the heaths and took some nice photos of bullfinch and reed bunting. Cheers for that. Have a good Christmas and New Year  :-) Andy
24th Dec - Jan 5th
message no.72
Hi can anyone please help me? I am looking to get a sighting of the short-eared owl; I have tried many times but failed. Could anyone tell me the best time of day and where on Chasewater to see this bird ? Any help would be good thank you, Matt.
Hi Matt, The Short-eared Owl has shown on most evenings during the last 3 weeks and it performed well tonight at dusk. If you stay on the cycle path as it crosses the north shore heath/grassland there is a very good chance of seeing the owl hunting low over the ground. It also likes to perch on the many fence posts or sometimes, when mobbed by crows, it may rise up high for a minute or two. Its best to choose a calm, dry day as they don't like flying in strong winds or rain. On occasions it had been seen flying as early as 13:30 but 16:00 till dark may produce better results. Graham
Thank you Graham for the advice on the Short-eared Owl. I will be keeping an eye out in that area, once again thanks. Also like to mention that on Sunday 4th Jan I have spotted a mink at the feeding station, at around 11:30 am. As the breeding season will be here shortly this is not good news as Mink love eggs. Thought it was worth mentioning. Matt

message no.71
Just like to say how good I think your website is and the feedback I get from you. Really helpful. I have now located the bird feeding station on the map. I shall be taking a walk over there probably tomorrow after work to see what I can photograph. All the best Graham. Cheers Andy.  :-)
message no.70
Hello there. Could you please tell me how to get to the bird feeding station as I can't seem to find it  :-(   cheers. Andy
Hi Andy. Please click on this link to the map which has the feeding station marked near Fly Pool. Graham


13th-22nd December

message no.69


We saw this gull at Stubber's Green this afternoon, just after 1pm (please see attached digiscoped pic). We are not quite sure, but we think it may be a 2nd winter Caspian Gull, but would appreciate the opinions of more experienced gull watchers.
It had slight brown streaking at the back of the neck, pink legs and a beady black eye.
Can you let us know what you think?
Best regards,
Kay Donaghy, David Scott and Ray Scott


The consensus on the Bird Forum seems to be that it is a Herring Gull. Dave Scott


Hi Kay, What must be your bird was back at Stubbers Green and the Chasewater roost this weekend and I've been able to take many photos of it and have good discussion with Paul Jeynes and national gull experts Alan Dean and Dick Newell. We are all in agreement that the gull has some Caspian Gull in it but there is a possibility of it being a Herring x Caspian Gull hybrid, probably from the Polish/East German population. There is more detail now on the website diary.

All the best and well done for finding the bird.  Graham


I’ve looked at the photos and your comments on your website. First, in respect of some of the comments of others, which you report on the website, this is definitely not ‘just’ a Herring Gull. The features you list yourself, plus the pattern of the greater coverts visible in the flight shot show, the ‘black-and-white’ pattern of the tail, and the pattern of streaking confined to the rear of the neck, all show definite cachinnans traits. I think also that the underwing is quite pale and, though a ‘whiter’ underwing would be preferable, I don’t think that the underwing of your bird is outside the range of variation of cachinnans.

So there is definitely ‘cachinnans in there’ but, to me, warning bells are sounded by the rather short primary projection and, in particular, the head and bill-shape. In combination they generate a build which lacks a really convincing cachinnnans profile. While the head-shape and bill-shape certainly hint at cachinnans they do not seem quite right. The head is a little too domed and the bill is too heavy, particularly towards the tip. It has a rather blunt tip and an obvious gonys, producing a slightly swollen end, whereas cachinnans is usually more slender and pointed with little evident gonys. Such a bird could be a variant Caspian (they are variable just as Herring Gulls are [extremely] variable) but there is a need for caution when gulls with features of cachinnans show anomalies when examined more carefully.

Your bird has some of the warning signs of a Herring Gull x Caspian Gull hybrid. See   for an example of such a bird.

I am not saying that the bird is indeed a hybrid but I would think that it is a possibility which needs to be seriously considered. I’ll copy this reply and your photos to Dick Newell (author of the item referenced above) as he may have further comments to make.

Regards,   Alan Dean


Hi Alan and Graham,
I think you have said it all. I would only add that at this age (2CY), underwing colour doesn't mean a whole lot. Not knowing for sure the full range of appearances of pure Caspian Gulls, one needs to be wary of circular reasoning. I would not like to call this a pure Caspian, but if it was, by calling it a hybrid we might be stacking up false reasoning for the next one that turns up with a slightly off bill and short wings. On the other hand, the 4 or 5 birds that I have seen with rings that were traced back to mixed colonies in East Germany or Poland all looked "off", including the bird ringed as a hybrid and another bird that was ringed in a colony of Herring Gulls:
As a result, I believe there is a significant percentage of hybrids about, so critical observation of all of the necessary features is required to make sure you have a bird well inside the goal posts.


Many thanks for this new information. I'm really glad our bird has been seen again and you were able to reach this conclusion. We couldn't conclude it was a Caspian at the time, but it just didn't look like a normal Herring Gull! Kay

8th December

message no.68

On a walk around Chasewater today (Sunday 7th Dec) with my family we were unfortunate enough to encounter two youngsters- one a child the other a youth- on motorbikes racing along the footpaths through the heathland along the north shore. I refused to move off the path to let them by and told them what I thought of their behaviour with the usual response. These people don't care about the law, other people or the wildlife and need to be stopped.
I phoned the police and I would implore anyone else who encounters similar behaviour to do the same. I'm not sure if the police got there in time but the more people that stand up to them the more chance we have of stopping them.
Thank you. S. McGowan


We seemed to be plagued by these bikes at the moment. These, or others, were also around on Saturday and the noise alone completely spoilt what was a beautiful day, along with the disco 'music' blasted out from the ski boats and an uncontrolled dog frightening the Red Deer! Thanks for contacting the police and its always worth reporting incidents to the Rangers' Office near the Innovation Centre.
All the best, Graham Evans

23rd November 2008

message no.67

Hello, 'back again' -  please find 4 No. Video Grabs of Caspian Gull filmed recently @ Stubbers Green boating lake. I presume the gull is a 3rd winter. Regards, Phil

19th November 2008

message no.66

Hi guys
Probably just me going insane but did anyone else notice a Brent Goose out on Chasewater? Unless my eyes are deceiving me I think I spotted one today as I was going round. Also if anyone happens to see the lesser spotted hide clamp on their way round(!)... stupid me went and left it on the walkway on the dam. Once I realised I left it I went straight back but couldn't find it anywhere! I was too preoccupied trying to find the Slav Grebe!
Jo Horton


Thanks for your email regarding the Brent Goose last Wednesday. Its a really good record and I hope it made the day at least not too bad. I've put the word out regarding the hide clamp and we really hope to find it for you. Is it OK to use your photo for our web diary - it would be great to have a copy. We could also put your Blog onto our Links. All the best, Graham Evans
Sunday 28th September
message no.65
I was birding at Chasewater on 22nd September when at 0945 this Honey Buzzard flew south, also the Great Northern Diver was exceptionally close and there were two Common Scoter. On the 24th September I spent an hour searching the Gulls at Stubber's Green where there were two Caspian Gulls (2nd winter and a 4th Winter) and two Yellow-legged Gulls (2nd winter and adult).
All the best and feel free to use the photos.
Andrew Slade
 1st August
message no.64
Just a quick thank you!
While walking around the reservoir today I met Phill Ward on the North shore.  Not only did he give me the details of this excellent website, but spent the time to enlighten a relative novice on some of the wildlife to be seen.
Many thanks, Phill. I hope one day I may contribute some photos which may not look out of place among the great shots you and Graham have taken.
Terry Fellows ( the Kingfisher watcher! )
22nd May 2008
message no.63
Can anyone help on Sunday 18th May down by the pools on Cuckoo Bank we spotted a bird that we couldn't identify from any of our books it was about the size of a robin it had a vivid blue throat & chest a largish head for its size and was hanging on the reeds by the pool unfortunately it flew away to the other pool before we could photograph it.
thanks Helen
16th May 2008
Message no.62

I managed to get this shot of this rather silent male Ring Ouzel.  After flying from the southern pylon area, it momentarily paused on the row of Pines next the track before disappearing.  Fortunately I saw again on a couple of occasions.

More poor quality images on local birding can be seen of my blog Blurred Birding.

 Martyn Yap

4th April 2008
Message Mo.61
Hi All
Although there is a photo of the Great Northern Diver's right wing on the CWG site already, I thought it might be helpful to add this pic too (which I took early this afternoon, Thursday 3 April, off the dam) albeit taken rather hurriedly with a digital Sony Cybershot handheld to a Mighty Midget Opticron Travelscope... and in rather poor light !
Andy Russell



28th March 2008
Message Mo.60


Please could you tell me if there have been any sightings of pine martens in the area. I am fairly certain that I observed one (26/03/08) in my garden. It was during the day and I saw it exploring the rockery at first and then moving into the borders, before wriggling under the fence. People have suggested that it may have been an escaped ferret but this does not match with other images I have found on the net. I am staggered to see one so far south and I would be very grateful to hear your thoughts.
Joan Elkington

17th March 2008

Message Mo.59


Several small flocks of martins (approx. 10-12 per flock), possibly with swallows as well, have passed through during March 17th.  Cold northerly winds all day do not have affected this early appearance.
Pair of gadwall off the sailing club shore.
Ivan Poole
Centre Manager, Chasewater Outdoor Education Centre

6th March 2008

Message Mo.58

Muscovy duck on the swag 5.3.08. Is this normally on the boating pool with the other domestics?  (The boating pool is empty so I wondered if it had wandered off). Nat

4th March 2008

Message Mo.57

We saw a pair of grey wagtails by the sailing club this afternoon (4th March) looking stunning in the sunlight.

On visiting the feeding station we found that a large area is being fenced off so that cattle can graze.  The men doing it said they would put in stiles so I hope they will be in the right places.   I could not find anything about this on the web site?  We saw two male bullfinches, at least two male reed buntings and a pair of willow tits.
Liz Bolton
Hi,  Graham has now made a note on the homepage about the fence; it doesn't look as though there will be a problem.

3rd March 2008

Message Mo.56

Just thought I'd say thanks for the information today as regards the feeding station, yes we did find it thanks, still no luck with the Diver though.
Notes on today include:-
  • Kingfisher by the flooded boardwalk
  • Willow tit, 1 Brambling and 5 bullfinch on feeding station
  • 6 yellowhammers, 1 Mistle Thrush on the farm
Thanks again and thanks for such a wonderful webpage
Denny Haynes

2nd March 2008

Message Mo.55

Please find emailed, videograbs of Iceland Gull from film taken Saturday @ approx 12 noon. The film was taken in strong windy conditions and therefore the images of the bird could have been better if the weather was calm.
Regards, Phil

21st February 2008

Message Mo.54

Hello There

Thought you may be interested that whilst out walking today Wed 20th Feb my friend Paulene and I spotted four Teal nearby the railway station and cafe.

20th February 2008

Message No.53

Hi, anyone interested in the future of Chasewater please take a look at Lichfield District Councils supplementary planning document.
If you wish to make a representation you can do so here;
It is worth taking some time to read through the document as it details LDC's vision for Chasewater
Anyone wishing to make a comment should do so as soon as possible or email us via this comments page if you wish to make your opinion known to the Wildlife Group
Natalie Ward

9th February 2008

Message no.48


I thought you may be interested in this photo I took last Friday at Stubbers Green, Walsall.
I know it is a bit distant but it is a good record of the Iceland gulls visit.
I hope it is of interest,


8th February 2008

Message no.47

i am a birder with an interest in correct ID of hybrid waterfowl and quite some experience in that field...
I strongly suspect that the redcrested pochard from 12.7.2007 is a hybrid between two species (Possibly involving bahama pintail?). I would love to see some more photos or better resolution photos of that one, if possible.
With Best Regards,
Joern Lehmhus

12th February 2008

Message no.50

a reply to message 47

It was great to receive your email regarding the duck at Chasewater in July 2007. You are quite right to point out that it clearly isn't a pure Red-crested Pochard and certainly appears to have some features of Bahama Pintail. The photo of it flapping concerned me at the time since the typical white wing bar of RC Pochard does not show but the pale edge to the secondaries, as in Bahama Pintail does. I think it was a case of passing it off as an obvious escape from captivity and not exercising the necessary care in examining the bird in detail. I don't think we have any better photos of the bird to send you but do you have any ideas about the full parentage, age and sex of the duck?
Graham Evans

14th February 2008

Message no.51

a reply to message 50

I just do not see enough of the bird to be sure, the flapping picture which i now have seen  (missed that before!) indicates indeed Bahama Pintail parentage...but I´d need to know more which i can not see in the fairly small pictures... I´d need higher resolution pictures.
However , if the iris of the bird was red, as it seems, then it should be a male. Given the time of the year and the fact that one of the potentially involved species (RC Pochard) does have an eclipse plumage; it may be an eclipse male...That said, with these photos it is still a guess...
Best regards, Joern


15th February 2008

Message no.52

a reply to message 51

Joern's response to receiving several photographs of the duck in question;

Hi Graham,

thank you!
I still see this as a good possibility for RC Pochard  x Bahama pintail. the speculum would indeed be good for that.
I think the reddish eye colour hints to a male bird; on the other hand I´d have expected at least some red on the bill in a male (even in an eclipse bird)- but on the other hand there are some Mallard x RC Pochard who also show a nearly totally dark bill.
However, even with the more detailed photos i am not able to say more, i am sorry for that....
But if you ´d get a report from a very odd duck from the chasewater area; I´d be interested- it might be this hybrid in breeding plumage....
Best regards, Joern
6th February 2008

Message no.44


Good to see Graham and other familiar faces again after so many years on 4 February and thanks to the intrepid gull-watchers for finding me my first British Caspian Gull (I’m ashamed to admit!). It was the cream (actually I hate cream) on one my best days ever at Chasewater, though the Slavonian Grebe down to 2.5m takes some beating. I’ve only revisited Chasewater three times (during 1993-5) since leaving the Midlands in the late 1980s and was somewhat confused by all the changes to the roads that have been made since then. Despite that, there seem to be improvements in the habitat in some respects, not least the amount of woodland that now clothes big areas of what used to look something like the wastes of Siberia ! Some of that woodland gave welcome shelter from the wind while watching the really good gull roost.

If I can indulge in a little nostalgia, my first visit there was on 27 November 1966. I made quite few trips to look for the then regular Great Grey Shrike, which I finally saw to huge relief and elation on 19 November 1968. But that was only the first of an amazing list of oddities – for which the site is of course well-known. Least Sandpiper and Dotterel in 1971, Red-footed Falcon in 1973 and White-winged Black Tern in 1976 stand out in my list. However, I often recall the tame Snow Bunting that I watched by my feet on 9 February 1969 – that’s because I wrote-off my motor bike on the way home and my note book for that day is covered in blood!

There’s nowhere quite like Chasewater: keep it that way!

 Dave Smallshire

6th February 2008

Message no.45

a reply to message 44

Great to see you Dave, though far too briefly after all these years. I too can recall many memories including one in May 1973 when you waved to me across Fly Bay from the north shore and I waved back from the Sailing Club, went home and then back to college. It was not until a week later when I saw the front page of the Guardian that I found out why you were waving. You were trying to tell me that you were watching a Red-footed Falcon over the heath! It stayed for several days but with no hotlines, birdguides or pagers how was I to know? It was far more fun in the old days!


5th February 2008

Message no.43


Just a query and a bit of info. At Sandbach Flashes (Cheshire) for the last three nights we have had a 2cy Iceland Gull in the roost with a deformed upper mandible,I understand from Sandbach locals whom visited Chasewater in January that you had what was almost certainly this bird there. Would it be possible to confirm this as it would be interesting to chart the movement of this individual as it is very rare the opportunity arises. Thanks.
Andy Firth

6th February 2008

Message no.46

a reply to message 43

Thanks for contacting us Andy. Our odd juvenile (2cy) Iceland Gull roosted most nights from around January 15th - 25th. Paul Jeynes, who saw it most frequently, has said the bird's mandible didn't appear to close properly and may have had wire stuck in it! In some views the mandibles seemed to cross and in others it appeared that there was damage to the upper mandible. Do you have any photos of the bird? Unfortunately, as far as we are aware it was never photographed in good enough light to show any details when it was with us.
Graham Evans

9th February 2008

Message no.49

a reply to message 43


Unfortunately the bird was not photographed but has also been seen at Richmond Bank, Warrington. It did not come into roost last night (8/2/08) so it may have moved again. From the description of the mandible I am almost sure it is the same bird at all three sites. Thanks for the information.

Andy Firth, Crewe

5th February 2008

Message no.42

Please find emailed, 2 No. Videograbs of Nordic Jackdaw & 1 No. Videograb of 2nd Winter Caspian Gull from film taken at Stubbers Green last Sunday 03/02/08.
I also filmed the drake Scaup the sunday before at the 'Swag' - I will provide you with Videograb/grabs soon.
Regards, Phil

4th February 2008

message no.41

Thanks for your help and patience during Saturday's gull roost when I eventually managed to see the 1st winter Caspian gull courtesy of Paul.
White winged gulls are no problem but Herring gull splits are a different matter. Don't know how you all do it. Guess it comes with many hours of practise.
Once again many thanks,
Tony - Kidderminster
27th Jan 2008
message no. 40


A message received with reference to the LDC/CWG field meeting on Saturday 26th, that attracted 80 people;

To all involved
                Thank you for a lovely afternoon. I didn't realise there was so much going on so close to home. The only let down
                to the days fun was on arriving back at the visitors centre was to find all the toilets closed!!!
                Me and my partner had to beat a hasty retreat for home before the gulls came back to roost , Which we were
                told was a spectacular sight .

26th Jan 2008

message no. 39

Feeding station were all the usual plus a reed bunting which I haven’t seen for a while.
 The Slav Grebe was clearly visible in Fly Bay near the inlet from Fly pool.
 On the Swag, the Smew was present with quite a large viewing audience.
 Regards Nigel.
26th Jan 2008
message no. 38
This note is to give a big thank you once again to Paul Jeynes after his brilliant efforts at yesterday's (Friday) gull roost to help me learn more about ID-ing different species ... and did he come up trumps !
Whilst it was great to see two already on my ticked-list pointed out again ... Med. Gull and Caspian ... to also see him find the 2nd winter Yellow-legged and the Juvenile Glaucous Gull for me ... and then to move back to the jetty for still decent views in fading light of the Juvenile Iceland Gull was fantastic 
As he said "plenty of experienced birders don't ever get to see those five in any one roost !"  It was a real privilege - so many thanks again Paul.
Andy Russell
21st Jan 2008

message no. 37

Just wanted to say thanks to Graham for helping us out with the Slav Grebe and Med Gull on Sat. We had a great day at Chasewater and will be back soon. If possible can someone tell us where the feeding station is, we'd like to see it next time?

Kay and Max



18th Jan 2008

Message No 36

17th & 18th Jan
The drake smew feeding very actively and getting tamer, coming from the cover it has been staying near and over to the near shore of the creek.  Slav grebe very close inshore, along with displaying goldeneye and three gooseander.  Unusually, the windy weather has not brought tufted duck into the creek, and only two cormorants.
Will keep you posted if anything significant appears or disappears.
Ivan Poole
Centre Manager, Chasewater Outdoor Education Centre
14th Jan 2008

Message No. 34

2nd winter Iceland gull in tonights roost
Ian p
14th Jan 2008

Message No. 32


Many of us have seen a Slav grebe in fly bay but none Chasewater birders had seen r.n.g. on sunday so is this report reliable?     

Chris Cook

15th Jan 2008

Message No. 33

A reply to message 32

Been again to check for this bird and disappointed to say it is a false report probably misident for the ever present Slav grebe again in Fly bay this am 

Chris Cook

8th Jan 2008

Message No. 31

Yesterday, 7th, lesser redpoll w. side Fly Bay and slav grebe showing really well
cheers Ian P.
p.s. where is feeding station?

16th Jan 2008

Message No 35

A reply to message 31

found feeder station which i never would without directions
boardwalk is flooded but worked round other way
its very good and well hidden
bullfinches willow tits reed buntings
i also was fairly sure there were two marsh tits as well as 2/3 willow
on res
slav grebe on outer fly bay
gndiver but only saw one
drake smew very much in cover inside fly bay
thanks again for directions
cheers ian
6th Jan 2008

Message No. 30

Cuckoo Bank today; 100+ skylarks, 200 fieldfare, 1 mistle thrush, golden plover heard, 2 buzzards in Eights Wood.....Oh, and a quad bike safari.
Nat Ward
P.S. Has anyone been for a stroll in Eights Wood lately? It's fun!
5th Jan 2008

Message No. 29

5th Jan - The chiffchaff was seen by the swag. we walked up to the north end to view the Slav, and as we were walking back past the swag, the 'nice brown' chiffchaff was with the tit flock.

cheers, Nick Smith

5th Jan 2008

Message No. 28


Cuckoo Bank;
Short eared owl in south central wasteland around 2.30 1st Jan also 15 siskin with goldfinch flock in young tree plantation also in middle
Ian P.
4th Jan 2008

Message No. 27

Pics of Iceland Gull, the 2w Y L Gull and a cracking (!) Glauc shot from the 1st Jan roost.

Cheers, Nick Smith

3rd Jan 2008

Message No. 26


Hi everyone,
I thought I'd share some images I took at Chasewater on 3rd Jan. They were all taken on a short walk between the dam wall and the bird feeders. They are some of the 25 species we recorded in just over an hour. Higher resolution images are available on request.
John Spencer


3rd Jan 2008

Message No. 25

As promised to who ever it was I spoke to today at the water here are three shots of the day.

Paul King