Monday, March 30, 2015

Guided Walk - Sunday 29th March 2015

Less than pleasant weather this weekend with high winds yesterday and rain and wind today. Yesterday we had a Peregrine over 100 Acre again, Ringed Plover on Castle Mill and the first Blackcap of the year in the park. There is also a Heron nesting at the end of the Spit on the Finger Lakes and they have an egg! After last year's failed nesting they are doing better this year, although the nest looks a little on the thin side so the high winds this weekend are not welcome.

On a quick recce with DK first thing this morning we picked up a/the Blackcap again in the long hedge just after the exit from the Finger Lakes. There were 4 Sand Martins over the main lake again and the Oystercatchers were seen flying around the main lake.

By the time everyone had arrived for the guided walk the rain had started and was fairly heavy. The Sand Martins were not to be seen and with little else of note on the main lake we headed for the hedges around the car park hoping for another Blackcap. We didn't find much and headed for the shelter of the Finger Lakes where a couple of Song Thrushes were engaged in dueling songs and a Chiffchaff was singing strongly in the Sheep Pen.

In the lake by the Sedgewick Seat there is quite a bit of frog spawn now, newly appeared since last weekend. As we exited the Finger Lakes I heard the Blackcap again but just the one phrase and then silence as we stood there straining our ears to hear it again.

We continued through the W plantation with Green Woodpeckers calling from Kingsmead and over by the New Cut. We came out of the plantation and cut across to the Navigation Channel where a couple of Long-tailed Tits were working their way through the Willows.

We headed back along the NC, passing the Kramer Hide which is closed off as it is replaced with a new hide. We stopped to check out the Heron nest and I was happy to see one of the birds sitting tight in the wet and windy conditions. I spotted a Kingfisher zipping along the NC but it was too quick for everyone to see it, as is usually the case!

We checked out the Spit where the resident pair of Mute Swans are nesting on west fingers. They were nest building yesterday morning but one of the adults was sitting tight all morning in the poor weather.

A single Great Crested Grebe was back on Fingers after being absent for a couple of days, not sure where its partner is. Seemed like they were soon to be nesting but one has disappeared, unless they have chosen a nest site that is out of sight. There was also a Little Grebe on West Fingers as well as several pairs of Shovelers, some Gadwalls and Tufted Ducks. The other adult Heron was tucked away on one of the Fingers awaiting its turn on the nest.

Next stop was along the Canoe Slalom where we found a couple of Grey Wagtails in residence. They are looking cracking in their summer plumage now.

Back to the main lake, and the lake side path on the south side is now open and we had good views of the Rookery which now boasts 14 nests. There was a single Egyptian Goose on the island and a single female Pochard remains on the main lake. A Common Buzzard flew across the west end of the lake while we checked out the Egyptian Goose.

There was little else of note until a Greenfinch was heard along the path behind the sailing club.

Thanks to all who braved the wet and windy weather to join me on the walk. The next one is Sunday April the 26th starting at 9am. Meet outside the visitor centre as usual.

Here are some images from a photo session on 100 Acre last weekend.


Great Crested Grebe


Mute Swan

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday 14th February 2015

Another Peregrine over 100 Acre this morning. It put up ~1500 Lapwing and ~250 Golden Plovers which was quite a spectacle. There was a single male Goldeneye on the main lake at Priory and we had a fly over Goosander while we were in the main lake hide. A cracking morning!

Record shot of the Goldeneye from this morning at PCP. What a handsome chap!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Guided Walk - Sunday 25th January 2015

Another good turnout for the guided walk this morning despite a chilly start. We had a good selection of winter ducks on the main lake with close views of Pochard which have been few and far between in the park this winter. Other species seen were Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Wigeon and a very nice female Goldeneye which we wouldn't have seen but for a tip off from Chris Smart. This would normally have been the bird of the day but the best was yet to come.

The Finger lakes gave up good views of Gadwalls and Tufted Ducks. We also had super views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming on a dead tree as we watched from the Spit. Chaffinches and Great Tits were calling and singing occasionally as we watched the Woodpecker. A Goldfinch also sang as it sat atop a nearby tree, a liquid sound and very varied.

We walked around the Finger lakes complex on the hunt for Goldcrest but were unable to find any in their usual haunts. A Sparrowhawk was spotted overhead, given away by the alarm calls of Long-tailed Tits in the trees nearby. By the Sedgewick Seat the first few in the group had good, if somewhat brief, views of a pair of Shoveler and the rest watched as they flew over having been spooked by us.

Just as we exited the Finger lakes section I heard some Bullfinch calls but we couldn't locate the birds. This wasn't to matter as a little further on, in the Long Hedge by the W plantation I spotted a stunning male and as we watched another 2 males and a female came into view. A Goldcrest called nearby but we were unable to locate it. A couple of Collared Doves were at the Kissing Gate with at least one "singing".

We headed off towards 100 Acre stopping at the old railway bridge where we had a small group of Teals on the back river and a couple of Little Grebes on the main river just past the mouth of the New Cut.

Having crossed the bridge we moved down onto 100 Acre and at the south end of the big lake we had good views of a small party of Teal, the males looking splendid in the morning sunlight. A couple of Common Gulls were spotted in the midst of a large party of Black-headed Gulls loafing on the water. A small party of Wigeon were grazing on east side of the big lake with a few Canada Geese and it was as we watched these that someone noticed more distant group of Gulls get up. I turned my attention to the Gulls to see what had disturbed them and a cracking juvenile Peregrine came into sight scattering both ducks as well as the gulls in all directions as it zoomed low over the water. We watched it for a few moments before it disappeared behind the island and that was it, gone! A really special moment, only the second time I have seen a Peregrine here. The speed and power of the bird was fantastic to see, probably less so by the Gulls and Ducks!

We moved on and had distant views of a Kestrel, hovering, over the east side of the big lake. Along the east side of the big lake we spotted a couple more Little Grebes and a Snipe on the island. Then we headed for the Castle Mill watch point and had great views of a Redwing perched up on a hawthorn bush. A Skylark took to the air in the field behind. Bird numbers were way down on yesterday in this section but there was a large flock of Greylag Geese, including the white one. The Barnacle Geese were on Castle Mill with a handful of Lapwings. A small group of Golden Plovers flew over but there was no sign of the 2 Redshanks we saw yesterday. We also had good numbers of Meadow Pipits yesterday but they were absent today.

Those were the highlights of the morning although a few of the group had a Fox run across the path in front of them as we got back to the car park, a nice end to a great morning.

The next guided bird walk is Sunday 22nd February, meet outside the visitor centre at 9am.

Earlier, prior to the start of the walk, I had 4 Little Egrets leaving the roost. I also had 45 Corn Buntings and 21 Reed Buntings out of the Crescent Reed bed roost.