Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sifting the Past - 25th and 26th July

Sifting the Past @ Priory Country Park

Also a change of plan: There is now a volunteer task in August, Jon has a little light meadow management in mind for those of you who would like to come and help out on Sunday 2nd August from 9am to 3pm.  Same as usual, stout shoes, old clothes, packed lunch and we will supply the tea, coffee, water, biscuits, any training, tools, gloves and any other protective gear.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Recent goings on in the park

The last Volunteer session was well attended and thankfully a it was a bit cooler than the previous day. Danny had a big task planned so it was off over to Riverside to put in some new steps on a big slope that has become part of an unofficial path. First we had to load up the truck with all of the tools and half a dozen railway sleepers. Thankfully Danny donned PPE and cut the sleepers in half with a chainsaw, I think we would still be there with panel saws! Despite the rock hard ground we managed to get all 8 steps cut into the slope by the end of the day. A job well done, thanks to everyone.

There is no Sunday Volunteer session next month to the next one will be Sunday September 6th Starting at 9am, meet in the visitor centre.


Last weekend we had a surprise visitor in the form of a Coal Tit. We found it round by the Sedgewick Seat. Not an uncommon bird but not a regular visitor in the park as they prefer coniferous woodland.

This weekend we did even better. I had an early start for some photography and after parking up I had ~200 Starlings over on their way out for a day of foraging, possibly from the Willington GP roost. Time to check that out again. A couple of Oystercatchers were calling from around the mai lake island. DK had a juvenile in flight earlier in the week.

Later as I was prospecting for a photography location I heard what I thought was a Cetti's Warbler along the east side of the Finger Lakes. It was quieter than usual but the distinctive song structure was there. In the end I dismissed it as strange bit of Blackcap sub song as Blackcap started singing nearby but later when myself, DK and JA were in Kramer hide we heard it again, only louder and it was unmistakably a Cetti's.

Over on 100 Acre the Little Ringed Plovers are still around although it is difficult to tell juveniles from adults without a good scope. Another nice surprise was a Green Sandpiper which got up from the edge of the lake before disappearing again. It popped up again a bit later and flew over our heads a couple of times before departing towards Willington GP.

And finally a reminder that there is no Bird Walk this month so the next one is Sunday August 30th starting at 8am outside the visitor centre.

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.