Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Guided Walk Sunday 28/06/2015

Despite a wet morning we had a very good turnout for the guided bird walk on Sunday morning. While waiting for people to arrive I watched a Sand Martin visit the nest block on main lake island. This had all the hallmarks of a feeding visit as the bird flew directly to the block, went into one of the holes, and came out again after several seconds. Another bird also left either the same, or neighbouring hole, as the first bird arrived. This would be excellent news if it does turn out that Sand Martins are breeding in the park, we'll be keeping a closer eye on the nesting block other the next few days.

The guided walk started off with a scan of the main lake where we had the usual suspects including Mute Swans, Common Terns, Black Headed Gulls, Coots, Great Crested Grebes, Mallards and Tufted Ducks. The previous weekend we had 3 Oystercatcher chicks on the main lake island but there was no sign this week although on Saturday we did have 3 adults around.

Tufted Duck broods have also started to appear this week but they didn't show for the guided walk. There is one brood on the main lake with ~9 chicks and another on the finger lakes with a single chick.

Along the Spit on the Finger lakes we had singing Chifchaff, Blackcap and calling Treecreepers. A Green Woodpecker was calling regularly, probably a youngster and a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was up on the snag above the Dead Seat, giving good views in the scope. The Grey Heron chicks have fledged in the last couple of weeks and the nests are now empty. Let's hope they return next year.

Reed Warblers were quiet in the Crescent and we struggled to get a view of a single singing bird, along the north side of the main lake, as it kept low down in the reeds. On Saturday we had excellent views of singing Reed Warbler on the south side of the main lake and it even stayed put when the cameras came out!

Singing Reed Warbler
Continuing the guided walk around the Finger lakes we had a singing Garden Warbler on the edge of the Rough and Blackcaps up by the gate. There was another singing Garden Warbler in the Sheep Pen but despite hanging around trying to get a view our reward was just a brief sighting as it flew between patches of scrub.

Down towards the kissing gate on the flower meadow another Reed Warbler could be heard singing along the Navigation Channel. Up on the Sewage Works bridge a Sedge Warbler was seen and the usual brief view of a Kingfisher. Sedge Warblers have been seen feeding young in the reed bed below the bridge, but just the displaying bird over on the edge of the river today.

Next stop was 100 Acre although we did have good views of a Common Whitethroat along the edge of the Sewage Works as we made our way there. Common Terns are very active around 100 Acre island although the chicks seen last week stayed out of sight this weekend.

At the end of 100 Acre the Little Ringed Plovers have chicks. Unfortunately, due to the rain, they were less active than on Saturday with just one seen running about feeding. There were 2 adults sitting and I suspect the other chicks were underneath staying warm and dry. On Saturday we had 3 Adults and at least 4 chicks.

Those were the highlights of the guided walk and the weekend as a whole. Please note that there is no guided bird walk in July so the next one is 30th August starting at 8am outside the visitor centre.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Catch Up

Last month's guided bird walk was well attended as usual and we had a good variety of species although not in the same league as the month before when we accumulated 63 species!

The Volunteers turned out again at the beginning of the month and did a sterling job in clearing the fishing swims around the Finger Lakes.

On the birding front we have had a couple of broods of Gadwalls on the Finger Lakes. The main lake Mute Swans have 3 cygnets and the Oystercatchers on the island had at least 3 young.

On 100 Acre the Common Terns on the island have chicks, we saw 3 this morning. The terns are very aggressive now seeing off all comers and even coming across the water to "shout" at us!

There were at least 4 Little Ringed Plovers on 100 Acre and we had both a Kestrel and Red Kite over there too.

A juvenile Sedge Warbler was seen in the reed bed under the sewage works bridge and a family of Mute Swans were at the mouth of the New Cut with six cygnets. Are these the ones from the lake on Riverside?

Next Sunday (28th June) we have a guided bird walk. This starts at 8am, meeting outside the visitor centre.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Volunteers and Dawn Chorus Walk

On Sunday 3rd of May the Vols were in the park clearing out the Leat Stream between the Leat Pool and the pipe under the footpath. The usual good turnout, despite the heavy rain that greeted us at the start of the task, meant we managed to get the whole section cleared. A job well done by everybody.

That morning I walked around the Finger Lakes with DK and was lucky enough to hear a Cettis Warbler singing as we walked by the Navigation Channel. We both stopped and listened some more and it finally sang again. It sounded like it was over by Cardington Lock so we headed round there and after a long wait were rewarded with a couple of bursts of song over by the weir. It's been a while since we had a Cettis in the park so this was a very welcome addition to the 2015 list.

On bank holiday Monday morning I was down on 100 Acre very early for a photography session with the Little Grebes:

Riding the wave!


Little Grebe
Mallard family

Mute Swan
This weekend it was another early start, on Sunday morning, for the Dawn Chorus guided walk. This year the weather was kind with a light breeze early on and a beautiful sunrise:

Finger Lakes dawn by Chris Smart
Ranger Jane and myself were joined by six bleary eyed souls at 4am to experience the park waking up. We started off down at the Dead Seat by west Fingers where the Jackdaws and Crows in the Corvid roost were already discussing their day and the Robins and Blackbirds were trying to get their points across. These were soon joined by a couple of Garden Warblers which also seem to be early risers. It was nice to listen to them with the complication of Blackcaps which some people find difficult separate on song alone. The Blackcaps seem to be later risers and didn't join the chorus until it was reaching its peak. Song Thrush, Wren, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tits all came on line as the chorus continued, meanwhile some of the early risers stopped singing and headed off for breakfast.

The Corvid chatter was a constant background throughout the chorus. We also had a nearby Treecreeper calling and a bat put in an appearance for while. As the light levels came up 6 Little Egrets left their Finger Lakes roost and a Couple of pairs of Coots went to war as neighbouring Coots often do.

With the peak of the chorus subsiding we moved to the Spit where a Sedge Warbler was just getting warmed up. The Reed Warblers were already well into their stride, burbling away in the Crescent reed bed. A family of Coots mimicked human life with the adults out and about getting breakfast while the kids remained tucked up in the nest.

At the end of the Spit the nesting Mute Swan looked like she may have chicks under her as she was spreading her wings a little to make sure everyone was covered. Hopefully we'll see the family out and about in the next few days. The pair of Grebes have still not settled on a nest site and continue to scout the lakes. A Cuckoo flew to the snag on the Spit but departed straight away so we didn't get great views. We checked out the Crescent reed bed where good numbers of Reed Warblers are now in residence. A Reed Bunting was singing nearby.

Our next stop was on the east side of Fingers to view the Heron nest and we were lucky to have good views of 2 checks on the first nest. The second nest looks to be a none runner as neither adult was on it although one was still standing close by.

We headed off to 100 Acre where we were treated to views of a couple of Lapwing chicks, the first of the year. A male Shoveler was dozing nearby. Red Shanks were active around the big lake along with Common Terns and Swifts. At the far end of the big lake we added Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Kingfisher, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers to the morning list.

A cool breeze was strengthening by this time so we headed back to the park where good numbers of Swifts were active over the main lake and Fingers. After tea and croissants in the Visitor Centre it was time to start the day!

Thanks to all who joined me on the Dawn Chorus walk this year, if you fancy getting to know the parks birds but can't drag yourself out for a 4am start then why not join us for the one of the regular bird walks. The next one is on Sunday 31st May at 9am, meet outside the visitor centre.