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)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Guided Walk - 28/09/2014

The warm weather continues and for once, on a guided walk day, it was calm making it a little easier to hear the birds. As usual I got down to the park nice and early and was treated to a beautiful sun rise over the New Meadow.
New Meadow sun rise
As I continued along the main path I spotted 4 Little Egrets heading south over the main lake, most likely having left the roost in the Finger Lakes. There were good numbers of Mute Swans on the main lake with 76 counted and approx 41 Canada Geese. Quite a few Mute Swans were at the Beach making it easy to collect their orange ring numbers to feed back to the BTO.

Here is Orange 500 who, it seems, has lost the territorial battle for the Finger Lakes with Orange 180. Orange 500 is still associating with a ringed (no Orange Darvic) male but they were both on the beach this morning. At one point they headed across towards Fingers but then seemed to think better of it and went back to the beach. Orange 180 and partner remain on Fingers   

Orange 500 on vacation!
A quick check over at the Canoe Slalom got me just a single Grey Wagtail this morning and back at Fingers there were just a few Gadwalls, Single Little Grebe and a Wigeon of note. Along with DK I headed round to the Rough where EG was ringing along with Dave and Vic who were helping out today. They came back from a net round, just after we arrived, with a good haul of birds. It's mostly Blue and Great Tits now with a few Blackcaps  and the odd Chiffchaff and Dunnock. EG's tape of Goldcrest failed to attract any of that species to the nets although, as we were to find out a little later, they weren't far away.

I headed off to the visitor centre to meet everyone arriving for the guided walk, 15 people today! After a very brief introduction we headed straight back to the Rough for a ringing demo. We were lucky to see a variety of birds in hand, mostly Tits again but Blackcap and Chiffchaff were also caught. Star bird was a beautiful Treecreeper which is always a great bird to see up close as they are so hard to see well in the wild. A cracking Robin was a nice way to finish with the ringers and we headed off with big smiles on our faces.

The smiles got even bigger as we came across 4 Goldcrests feeding in the trees about 25 yards from the Rough. They didn't seem at all bothered about EG's tape!

We then headed over to 100 Acre. I had pretty high hopes having had a Stonechat over there yesterday morning and I wasn't disappointed. First off we checked out the big lake where Wigeon are present in good numbers now and we also had a party of Barnacle Geese, seeming regular visitors from Willington GP in recent weeks. Then, as I was going over the details of the eclipse plumage of the male Wigeon, Jean spotted a Kingfisher which was perched in a small Willow on the edge of the island. I got the scope set up on him and he gave a nice display of fishing technique along with front and back views for everybody before departing. A couple of Snipes were seen as they flew from the edge of the lake as we moved up to get a better look at the Barnacle Geese.

We continued round to the section where we had the Stonechat yesterday and I started scanning the fence line for any perched birds. I quickly located a bird towards the end of the fence line and got the scope onto it. This was a Stonechat but it was quickly joined by a Wheatear and then a second. As I started getting people onto the birds I spotted a dog walker heading towards the area and despite waving of arms she was oblivious to the birds she was flushing. Fortunately at first they flushed along the fence line towards us and we identified at least 2 Stonechats and 3 Wheatears before they finally gave up and flew off into the field.

We also had a couple of Little Egrets, a Green Sandpiper and several Meadow Pipits and Skylarks in this very productive section.

Our final treat back in the park was a couple of Common Buzzards on a thermal high over the Finger Lakes, our first raptors of the day although Vic had seen a Kestrel earlier on 100 Acre which went unseen by the rest of us.

Thanks to everyone who came today, the next bird walk is on Sunday 26th October at 9am. Meet outside the visitor centre as usual.