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.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

10th and 11th January 2015

A brief update from the weekend:

At the weekend the 8 Red-crested Pochard which had arrived on Friday were still around. I am told the males looked great in the sun on the afternoon of Saturday but it was pretty grim in the main lake hide on Saturday morning and just seeing anything was a challenge at times as rain was blown horizontally through the open windows! It was fun watching the lone wind surfer trying to remount his steed as he headed towards the reeds on the north side :-)

A complete change of weather on Sunday morning was welcome. It dawned bright, cold and relatively still, allowing the song birds to be heard. 4 Little Egrets were seen leaving the roost and 16 Corn Buntings left the Crescent Roost just before sun up. A female Goldeneye was on the Finger Lakes first thing.

After a quick look around early on Sunday I joined Jane to help with the clearance work around the Cardington Mill car park. We did some work on a Monday volunteer session before Christmas so I completed the brushcutting and we coppiced and dead hedged by the ditch. Hopefully this will prove popular with users of that car park especially on the dark mornings and evenings this winter, as it is now much more open.

Coming up we have the next guided bird walk on the 25th starting at 9am outside the visitor centre and the Sunday Volunteers meet the following Sunday, 1st February, between 9am and 3pm. It currently says this is the 8th February on the website but I checked with the rangers today who confirmed it is the 1st.