Sunday, November 30, 2014

Guilded Walk 30/11/2014

It was guided walk time again today and another good turn out for the final walk before Christmas! With the unrelenting mild weather we are still short on migratory ducks with no Pochards again today although there have been a few around this week. We were lucky to have a couple of Goldeneye on the main lake this morning, the second weekend running that this species has turned up, after a singleton last Saturday. I initially found one this morning and we all had good views before we set off around the main lake. We met DK on the South side who was on the Goldeneye, but now there were 2, a juvenile and an adult female. There were also good numbers of Gadwalls, Tufteds and Wigeons. The latter males looking very fine in their winter breeding plumage.

We had a couple of Kingfishers on the south side with one confiding individual giving good views as it remained perched in a tree close by while we watched the ducks.

A couple of Little Grebes and a few Great Crested Grebes were also seen along with a large gathering of Black-headed Gulls and a handful of Common Gulls. Coot numbers remain reasonably high as does the number of Mute Swans which is in excess of 60.

Cormorant numbers are relatively low but the south side roost is now a regular site during the day with 10 birds there today.

We moved on to the Finger Lakes and from the east side managed to spy a single female Shoveler and at least 3 Little Grebes around the gaps between the lakes.

There was little else of note until we reached 100 Acre. We had several Teal sightings on the large lake. The males are looking very fine now. There were large numbers of Canada Geese and Greylags all grazing along with good numbers of Wigeon. The white Greylag was present again. Unlike yesterday there were no Barnacle Geese. We moved on to the Castle Mill view point where Skylarks were plentiful, taking to the air and even singing in the autumn sunshine. Meadow Pipits were also numerous along with Pied Wagtails. Across towards Castle Mill there were good numbers of Lapwings with a few Golden Plovers interspersed. Gulls were also plentiful with plenty of Black-headeds, a few Common Gulls and the odd Lesser Black-backed and a Herring Gull. A good sized flock of Starlings were also moving across the site feeding. I am unsure where they are roosting now as a visit to the Willington GP roost, the previous evening, found just 27 birds visiting, a long way short of the 4000-5000 of a few weeks ago.

On the way back we had a female Kestrel over Meadow Lane GP and when we got back to the park we cut through the Finger Lakes and had limited views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A Common Buzzard was heard as we searched for the Great Spot and then we finished with excellent views of a male Green Woodpecker on the New Meadow.

Thanks to all who came out today, why not join us on the next walk on Sunday the 28th of December. Meet at 9am outside the Visitor Centre and walk off some of the Christmas excess!

Also of note we had a couple of Otters on the Finger Lakes yesterday morning and a Muntjac in the Rough this morning.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Saturday 8th November

Quite a few Fieldfares around this morning with a flock of 250-300 over 100 Acre/Riverside the largest I've seen so far this year. There were also a lot of Lapwings and Golden Plovers in the area between 100 Acre and Castle Mill with ~300 Lapwings and a similar number of Golden Plovers, the latter circling high over head. There were also good numbers of Geese (Greylag and Canada) grazing between the river and the big lake and ~120 Wigeon with them. A couple of Snipe were seen, but no sign of the Stonechats this week. Of note on 100 Acre were 2 Chiffchaffs and a third along the cycle track by the Sewage works. This last one had an interesting call, not as thin as the usual Chiffchaff call but it looked normal.

Pretty standard stuff in the park although Wigeon numbers were initially down until boosted by some of the birds disturbed by a dog walker on 100 Acre. A few more Cormorants in now but other duck numbers remain static. Still no sign of any Pochards. A few small flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings passed over early on. A single Grey Wagtail was on the canoe slalom and a Kingfisher was seen near the Beach. A single Bullfinch was seen along the Spit and Goldcrests were seen and heard at various locations around the park. The best place to see them seems to be between the gate to the Rough and the Sedgewick Seat.

This week a Blackcap was seen around the car park by TP, the second sighting in a week following on from the one seen by myself and DK in the Rough last Sunday. DK reported having seen a couple of Corn Buntings leaving the Crescent roost one morning in the week.


Monday, November 03, 2014

It's been a while!

I've been a bit remiss in my blogging on here recently, just too much going on at the moment. Anyway let's catch up with what's been going on in the park recently.

It's been a quiet start to the autumn migration with very few good sized flocks of thrushes, or anything else for that matter! Redwings have been evident for the last few weeks in small numbers but Fieldfares didn't show until last week,per DK and we had some passing over this weekend. Wintering ducks are still dominated by the Wigeon with Pochard yet to arrive. A few Shovelers and Teals can be found on Fingers along with the Gadwalls.

Little Grebes were also to be found in good numbers in the park with 20 a couple of weeks ago. This weekend however there were few to be found in the park! Coot numbers are very high at the moment with well in excess of 200 on the main lake this weekend (per DK).

We had a couple of Whooper swans on the main lake one morning a couple of weeks ago (per TP) but they didn't stay long.

Some good news has been the recent Otter sightings on the main lake. Having had a single Otter in the reeds on the north side of the main lake a fortnight before, last weekend I had 2 on the main lake. JA had spotted a disturbance in the reeds on the south side, by the hide, when all of the Coots came scuttling out of the reed bed. A little later I spotted the 2 Otters in the middle of the main lake and they came across to the north side reed bed again and started working their way through the reeds searching for food. Here's a record shot of the 2 in the middle of the lake.   

Otters on the main lake

The last weekend of October saw the most recent guided walk on the Sunday morning which was well attended again. We saw most of the expected species but 100 Acre remains the place to be and the Stonechats are the stars over there at the moment, still there this weekend. Golden Plovers, Lapwings are fairly reliable over there and the 3 goose species Greylag, Canada and Barnacle. A couple of Egyptian Geese were with all of the other geese this weekend, the first time they have been spotted here since much earlier this year. We had a single Snipe this weekend after a blank last weekend, we were getting well into double figures so numbers appear to have dropped this last month.

This weekend just gone we had the monthly volunteer task which was surprisingly well attended given the early rain. We worked in the Rough under the guidance of Bird ringer Ed Green. We try to keep the habitat in this area the same from year to year in line with the aims of the CES ringing scheme which runs through the summer. With the sizable turnout we managed to get a good chunk of the work completed but there will probably be another visit to the Rough in the next couple of months.

While working in the rough we had a visit from Danny Fellman (Ranger and Priory CP bat man!). While doing his regular checks of the bat boxes around the park he had come across a new species for the park, a Barbastelle bat, so a few of us went off to have a look. Danny took a couple of photos below:

Barbastelle Bat in a Kent design bat box. (Photo: Daniel Fellman)

Barbastelle Bat in a Kent design bat box. (Photo: Daniel Fellman)