Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Eve

Another early start but no Otters today. The Crow and Jackdaw roost left between 7:30 and 7:45. 4 Little Egret left from their roost, in front of Kramer hide, during the same period. Approx. 21 Teal flew in to Fingers. The maximum number of Shoveller seen was 5 and a Kingfisher came to the tree to the left of the hide again.

Little Egrets at Roost

10 Moorhen
6 Crow
1 Pheasant

I surprised a Pheasant in the fenced off area when I came around the corner to the gate to the Rough.

West Fingers:
Pair Mute Swans
7 Little Grebe

Great Spotted Woodpecker and a male Bullfinch along the spit.

Main lake hide:
95 Pochard (7f)
11 Tufted Ducks (all males)
42 Shoveller
11 Great Crested Grebe
23 Cormorant
2 pairs Mute Swan

Pochard (m)

Sunday 30th December

A great morning of mammals with Fox on the new meadow first thing as I headed across to Kramer hide, then great action by 2 Otters which rampaged through the reed beds and over the spit in a great game of chase before disappearing into the channel through to east Fingers. A little later a Muntjac appeared on the spit opposite the hide, grazing on the branches at the edge of the water. A pair of Gadwall and at least 3 different Shoveller put in appearances at various times during the morning. A Kingfisher came to the tree, left of the hide, again.


Having left the hide I noticed a large flock of Lapwing high and heading east over Kingsmead (c.100).

West Fingers:
7 Little Grebe
Pair Mute Swans
This ringed Robin was on the path between the dead seat and the steps

Main lake hide:
93 Pochard (9f)
17 Tufted Duck (3f)
12 Great Crested Grebe
21 Cormorant
42 Shoveller
44 Teal over, all bar 15 dropped into Fingers the other continued on north east.

The usual 2 pair of Mute Swan were joined by 5 that flew in from the east. A Kingfisher was calling in the south west corner of the lake.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday 29th December

Arrived early for another Otter stakeout. I was just in time to see the Crow and Jackdaw roost leave, and what a stunning sight. From the car park I looked towards Fingers and the sky was full of swirling black dots. I could not begin to estimate numbers as they were everywhere you looked, making use of the strong winds by tumbling about in the air. To my surprise as I walked across the new meadow towards fingers there were still significant numbers of, mostly Jackdaws, in the trees on the south side of the main lake and in the trees around the dead seat on Fingers. These birds hung around a little longer but left while I was in Kramer hide.

Very quiet at Kramer hide this morning, no appearances from the Otter(s). Just a few ducks, 4 Heron, Little Grebe and a Cormorant. A Kingfisher also put in an appearance.

Around the back of Fingers approaching the Sedgewick seat there were 2 pair of Gadwall.

On west Fingers there were 5 Little Grebe, 5 Teal (2f), 2 Shoveller (1f), a Great Crested Grebe and 6 Canada Geese. Also at least half a dozen Goldfinch over the Dead Seat and femal Bullfinch near the steps.

On east Fingers there were another 2 Little Grebe, a couple of Canadas and the resident Mute Swans.

As I walked around the main lake to the hide had a Kingfisher calling from the east side fishing swims. At the hide:

90 Pochard (7f)
8 Tufted Ducks all Males
50 Shoveller
10 Great Crested Grebe

A Muntjac ran across the path in front of me on Pressmead. 2 Kingfishers flew from the south side of the main lake towards the island. 2 pairs of Mute Swans were at the west side of the lake and 28 Cormorants sun bathed in front of the sailing club.

Friday, December 28, 2007

28th December 2007

On arrival at the park there were 12 Mute Swans on the main lake. By the hedge at the labyrinth there were 4 Redwing on the ground feeding with a group of 10 Blackbirds.

A bit late getting to Kramer hide this morning but was treated to another Otter sighting. As I entered the hide an Otter was swimming away towards the reed beds. It circled the left hand reed bed before disappearing over to the left near the channel through to east Fingers. It may have been joined by a second just before it departed but not 100% sure about that.


Also had good views of a Water Rail which was directly in front of the hide although I didn't see it until it flew across to the large reed bed. At various times it was seen moving between the reed beds before it ended up over to the left where it worked along the reeds feeding before finally disappearing into the cover.

There were at least 7 Herons sheltering from the strong wind and 2 pairs of Gadwall. A number of Shoveller and Teal were also in evidence.

A quick scan of Kingsmead, on leaving Kramer hide, revealed 8 Moorhen as well as a handful of crows and 3 Magpies.

From the spit, on west Fingers

7 Teal (2f)
2 Shoveller (1f)
2 Mute Swans (pair)
2 Gadwall (1f) making 4 in total on the Finger lakes (2m2f)
4 Little Grebe
2 Canada Geese

on east Fingers

1 Little Grebe

Back at the main lake walking along the east end there were 3 Bullfinch and 1 Kingfisher.

At the main lake hide:

86 Pochard (8f)
1 Goosander
10 Tufted Ducks
43 Shoveller
8 Great Crested Grebe
28 Cormorant
1 Kingfisher


Walking along path by the south side fishing swims I noticed the resident pair of Mute Swans were getting ready to mate again which they did and followed it up with the usual mating dance.

Mute Swans mating dance

Further along on the south side 2 Kingfishers flew along the path past me and continued along the south side of the lake. There was another Kingfisher in the south west corner.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

After a washout yesterday the new day dawned cold and clear. The thaw yesterday has cleared all the ice from the lakes. Another new Swan flew in as I arrived but was sent packing later by the resident pair. As I walked along the main path towards Fingers another 2 Swans flew in but decided against staying and continued west over the marina. A Kingfisher flew across the path in front of me heading into west Fingers. Another Kingfisher calling from the beach corner of the main lake.

At Kramer hide a pair of Teal were on the spit opposite the hide and c.4 Shoveller (2f). A Kingfisher flew in from the right and perched in the tree to the left of the hide. A pair of Gadwall passed across the gap to west fingers. A male Sparrowhawk flew into the trees on the end of the spit.

On Kingsmead ther were 7 Moorhen.

After completing my walk around Fingers the total number of Shoveller stands at 10 (5f).

Another 2 Swans flew in did a circuit of the main lake before departing north east. Along the spit a small party of Long Tailed Tits and a couple of male Bullfinch. In the crescent reedbed a squealing Water Rail. The Fingers pair of Mute Swans were on the east side of the spit.

Main lake hide:
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
19 Great Created Grebe
4 Heron
44 Shoveller
76 Pochard (6f)
24 Cormorant
4 male Tufted Ducks

The resident pair of Mute Swans were seen mating:

Along the back river up stream of the boat club moorings a Song Thrush was singing from the trees on the far bank.

81 Lapwing over high to the east of the park.

Another Water Rail heard in the south west corner reed bed.

Back at the car park a pair of Sparrowhawks were displaying high over the visitor centre before moving out over the main lake.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

A bit warmer this morning but the ice had not completely melted from yesterday. At least 23 Mute Swans on the main lake when I arrived. I headed to Kramer hide on the finger lakes to see if any Otters were about. Stopped to check out Kingsmead where there were 12 Moorhens. At the hide the pair of Sparrowhawks were about with the male coming in fast and possibly taking a small bird in the trees along the spit, opposite the hide. The female followed the male in but more slowly and she perched in a tree adjacent to last years nest site. She left shortly after but returned to a perch nearby a little later. A Kingfisher came to the tree to the left of the hide and sat for short while before leaving towards east fingers.

14 Herring Gulls over south.
c.50 Gulls over south mostly LBB but some Herring.
38 Greylag Geese over east

As I left the hide 13 Mute Swan over, following the river downstream. At the gate to the Rough I heard a Treecreeper calling and located it in the tree on the opposite side of the path. 3 more Mute Swans passed overhead in an easterly direction. Despite the ice releasing its grip west Fingers was still devoid of any life bar the odd Moorhen.

Back at the main path by the steps a quick scan of the main lake revealed that there were still 19 Mute Swans so the 13/3 may not have been from the main lake group as I had thought. 5 of the swans were first year birds. At the crescent a Kingfisher could be seen along the spit just past the last fishing swim on east fingers.

Back at the main lake heading down the path past the beach and the fishing swims there were a couple of male Bullfinches in the trees, a Great Spotted Woodpecker slightly further along and a Kingfisher crossed the path in front of me (right to left). Rounding the bend at the south east corner there was a pair of Bullfinch and a Kingfisher.

At the main lake hide:

Only 8 Mute Swans left.
68 Pochard (14f)
9 Tufted Ducks (1f)
4 Great Crested Grebe
6 Teal
c.50 Shoveller
c.70 Mallard around the hide.
25 Cormorant

Tufted Duck (m)
Pochard (m)
No sign of any Little Egrets today, just a Heron in the south west corner.
A/the Goosander was with another group of Mallards in the north west corner giving good close views. The Mallards numbered 33 but included the many hybrids that seem to like that corner of the lake.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Guided walk- 23/12/2007

A few hardy souls braved the cold this morning for the guided walk. Despite the cold the birds did not disappoint. While waiting for the walk to start a Little Egret was spotted, on the south side of the main lake, in one of the fishing swims. A scan of the lake revealed few breaks in the ice but where there was open water there were birds, mostly small groups of Shoveller. We headed off down the main path towards the finger lakes checking the main lake as we went. There were a mix of wildfowl in the open water in front of the hide and there were two pairs of Mute Swans with the hide pair still holding territory and the other pair in the north west corner. The latter pair left, north, later during the walk.

We cut down the spit and found the Fingers Swans on east fingers keeping a small area of water clear of ice which a pair of Mallard and a pair of Gadwall were utilising. The Gadwall flew as we arrived, as did a Green Woodpecker that was further along the spit. There was little else about, west fingers was devoid of bird life and the crescent was very quiet.

We continued around Fingers and to prove how cold it had been overnight some areas of the navigation channel were iced over.

We stopped at Kramer hide but again there was nothing about so we moved on. On Kingsmead there were a number of crows and magpies feeding among the cattle and a cormorant in one of the trees by the back river.

Heading round the back Errol spotted a couple of Jays in the long hedge and they worked their way along that hedge towards the sheep pen as we walked on passed the Sedgewick seat and around to the dead seat. A Robin followed us as we headed towards the steps. It passed us and sat in a tree a few yards in front of us. Errol roughed up the ground nearby and after we all walked passed the Robin dropped on to the newly scuffed up ground in search of brunch.

Back on the main path we stopped to check out a LBJ in the reeds when I spotted some movement and Water Rail appeared just the other side of the reed bed, out on the ice. This normally shy bird was very obliging as it moved along the ice giving great views but things got better as it decided to climb the willow nearby allowing me to get this shot:

Water Rail

After the Water Rail had disappeared back into the reed bed we continued around the main lake but as we passed the beach the Water Rail betrayed itself again with a squeal. Further along while looking for Bullfinches a call caught our attention as a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker betrayed its presence, however we were unable to get a view of it.

At the hide much of the wildfowl was together in a small area of open water. Counts were as follows:

77 Pochard
11 Tufted
c.50Shoveler (spread around the lake)
12 Teal
1 Goosander.

Pochard (f)

Pochard (m)

4 Pochard fly in to join the others

On Pressmead a group of 8 Siskin flew into the Alders by the Leat and as we crossed the Leat and returned to the main lake the Goosander had moved along the south side of the lake to greet us. As we continued passed the south side fishing swims 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers called from the trees to our left and we watched as they flew from tree to tree squabbling.

At the southwest corner I spied a Little Egret perched in the branches overhanging the water. Then a second flew in to join it and the Heron that was perched a little further along. They didn't hang around for long though and departed as we rounded the corner. A number of Blackbirds were feeding on the, rapidly diminishing, berries at the back of the sailing club as Greenfinches and Chaffinches flitted between the trees by the marina.

Another great morning had by all despite the chilly weather. Join us for the next one on January 20th at 9am.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday 22nd December

Another cold start with a thin covering of ice over most of the Finger lake complex. On arrival there were 11 Mute Swans on the main lake being pursued by the resident pair. The 11 eventually left, heading towards the sewerage farm, later in the morning.

Walked around the crescent on the way to Kramer hide and had a Water Rail squealing in the reed bed. The Fingers Swans were together in the small section of open water at the north end of east fingers.

Very quiet at Kramer hide this morning, just a small party of about 7 Long Tailed Tits in the trees directly in front of the hide. The male Sparrow hawk passed overhead and a pair of Shoveller were feeding at the back of the reed beds.

Continuing around Fingers another pair of shoveller were flushed from under the overhanging tree directly opposite the Sedgewick seat.

From the spit a single male Gadwall was with a group of Mallards on the far side of east fingers along with a couple of Canada Geese. There were also a pair of Bullfinch along the spit. As I walked around the crescent again 32 Canada Geese dropped into east Fingers, crashing through the ice.

From the beach on the main lake there were 11 Great Crested Grebes in that corner of the lake.

Main lake hide:
Kingfishers calling from either side of the hide.
2 Male Tufted Ducks
1 Redhead Goosander
42 Pochard (5f)
1 Little Egret in the first fishing swim after the closed section.
Approx 45 Shoveller although could be more as many tucked in tight to the island.
17 Cormorant

Heading down to the south west corner noticed the Little Egret on the move and it ended up in the south east corner. Caught up with the Goosander again by the disabled access fishing swim in the south west corner.

In the north west corner there were 4 Tufted Ducks (1f) but it is possible that 2 of the males were the 2 from the hide as they had flown off before I left the hide and I didn't see where they went.

Back at the car park 2 more Mute Swans flew over and dropped into the main lake on the far side of the island, attracting the attention of the resident pair who immediately set off in pursuit of the new comers. I doubt they hung around for long!

It's a guided walk tomorrow morning at 9am so why not join us for a pre Christmas stroll.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday 16th December

Another cold morning although with no wind early on it didn't seem as cold as yesterday. The wind was increasing through the morning though and was biting by the time I left. I took the main path route around to Kramer and it was almost a rerun of yesterday morning with the Little Egret on the north side of the main lake and Kingfisher(s) being flushed from the north side trees. The Little Egret was flushed by dog walkers but flew back to the north side a little further along the path. It flew off again as I got close and this time flew high to the North. I had flushed a Kingfisher prior to seeing the Little Egret, and did so again when I got adjacent to the steps. Probably the same bird. There were 3 Tufted Ducks circling the main lake and a quick count of the Shoveller numbered 21.

As I passed east fingers there were 3 Little and a Great Crested Grebe on the lake. Arriving at Kramer hide I noticed a ripple on the water and, on entering the hide, watched an Otter diving in the channel between the left reed bed and the smaller reed bed. That was the last I saw of it for about 20 minutes then 2 Moorhens flew up from 2 of the reed beds and perched in the trees. As I watched I noticed a stream of bubbles and a/the Otter appeared at the surface in almost the same place I had originally seen it. It dived again and came back up over on the left hand side before diving again and disappearing. Between the Otter sightings a couple of male Teal came through the gap from west fingers. One of the Teal had a dispute with a Moorhen.

After the Otter disappeared a female Shoveller and a pair of Gadwall were seen through the gap on west Fingers. 8 Shoveller circled overhead before dropping into west Fingers and small group of Teal flew across the gap. 2 Little Grebe appeared at the back of the left hand reed bed. A Muntjac walked around the reed bed in front, right, of the hide. A large Pike leaped clear of the water in front of the hide and another/same was seen again a little later as lunged after some poor unsuspecting prey. DK dropped in and while chatting a Sparrowhawk and a Magpie had a dispute in the dead tree by the channel through to east Fingers. As I was about to leave the hide a 3rd Little Grebe had joined the other 2.

As I headed up towards the Sedgewick seat there was a single female Shoveller tucked in around the back. Several Teal were heard calling.

From the dead seat there was a Great Crested Grebe which flew around to west Fingers but had disappeared, possibly to the main lake, by the time I got around to the spit. From the end of the spit there were 5 Little Grebe. A male Shoveller flew in to join a female, a pair of Gadwall, a male Teal, a pair of Mute Swans and a Grey Heron. 2 male Bullfinch by the life belt along the spit. Also had 2 more Kingfisher sightings along the main path between the steps and the spit.

Heading around the main lake another male Bullfinch was in the trees by the beach fishing swims and another Kingfisher. At the south east corner a ripple at the edge of the water caught my attention and it turned out to be a Mink. It kept tight to the bank as it headed in the direction of the hide.

At the main lake hide:

34 Pochard (5f)
6 Tufted (1f)
24 Cormorant
2 Canada Geese, a Little Egret and a Grey Heron on the shore in the closed section.
A pair of Mute Swans by the hide were driven off by the other pair which includes no. 500.
3 Teal flew low across the lake from the south west and dropped into the Finger lakes.

Didn't spot the red head Smew reported by DK and others :-(

Walked along the back river where a Cormorant was fishing up stream from the boat club moorings. 11 Canada Geese were grazing on the Fenlake side, and 2 others flew up stream.

Back by the main lake there was a Reed Bunting in the south west corner.

There were 30+ Great Crested Grebe on the main lake. Back at the car park 5 Mute Swans flew over and looked like they might drop in to the main lake but eventually gained more height and looked as if they continued on east.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sat 15 Dec

A brisk walk around the main lake - summary of what was seen.
22 Cormorant, GCG (n/c), Tufted 12, Shoveler 15, Pochard 18, Water Rail (main hide), 2 Kingfisher, L.Egret looking for somewhere to land on south side but decided it wasn't a good idea to stand in the teeth of a stiff & cold E wind. Pressmead - 10 Siskin in the alders. Several Bullfinces "sighing". Also seen - a white "duck" in the distance, in front of the main hide; wasn't there when I got there. The Smew??? (found by DK next morning)

Saturday 15th December

Despite the lack of a visible frost on the ground, a very cold morning with a biting breeze. On arrival headed down the main path alongside the main lake. Flushed 2 Kingfishers and a Little Egret from the north side of the lake. The Little Egret departed east after doing a couple of fly pasts. 6 Tufted Ducks were circling high over the main lake. I continued around to Kramer hide in the hope of seeing Otters, a Great Crested Grebe was on east Fingers as I passed. On arrival at the hide it was very quiet with just a couple of Moorhen the only signs of life. I settled in and waited for some action. A little later a pair of Gadwall and a couple of Shoveller appeared through the gap to west Fingers. The Gadwall came through the gap and hung around in front of the hide for most of the time I was there. Another Great Crested Grebe was seen, through the gap, on west Fingers. A Little Grebe came through the channel from east Fingers and was seen over the back behind the reed beds. 50 Lapwing flew over heading south. A male Sparrowhawk flew in and perched in the trees above last years nest. 10 Teal flew over and dropped in to west Fingers. A male Teal swam into view from the right of the hide. A scan of the far edge of the lake revealed a Muntjac. It was given away by it's reflection in the water as it was hidden by tree. DK dropped by the hide and said he had put up the 10 Teal from round by the Sedgewick seat.

With no sign of any Otter action I departed the hide and continued around the Finger lakes. There were 35 Canada Geese on Kingsmead and 3 Cormorants in one of the trees by the back river.

A single Redwing was in the newly coppiced sheep pen. Three Gadwall and 2 Shoveller were seen on west Fingers from the dead seat. I continued around to the main path and headed down to the spit. From here it was clear that there were 2 Great Crested Grebe on the Finger lakes, one either side of the spit. A Kingfisher was flushed from the trees as I walked around the Crescent.

At the beach I counted 35 Great Crested Grebe in that corner of the main lake. There were 12 Mute Swans but 8 were chased off by one of the resident pairs. There were 2 male Bullfinch in the trees by the beach end fishing swims.

Resident Mute Swan (Ring No. 500)

One of the departing Mute Swans

At the main lake hide there were 18 Pochard, 12 Tufted Ducks, 20 Shoveller and 22 Cormorant.
At the south west corner of the lake another 4 Great Crested Grebe were seen. 2 Fieldfare flew over east as I reached the car park.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12th Dec

Wednesday mid morning stroll. Cold and bright, no wind.
Main lake first: 22 Cormorant, 38 GCG, 19 Pochard, 12 Teal, 9 Wigeon, 17 Shoveler, 1 W.Rail, Tufted, 2 Swans.
Fingers next: 18 Moorhen, 9 L.Grebe, 2 Gadwall, 2 W.Rail, 2 Swans.
General - 2 L.Redpoll, Siskin, Reed Bunt, Snipe (KM), 5 prs Bullfinch (Cons zone + Leat), c.20 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrush, 4 Goldfinch, sev. Gt.Spots, Kingfisher, 6 Heron scattered around, poss. Greenshank heard calling over by sewage farm.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday 10th December

Very windy today. Stopped off at Kramer hide in the hope of Otters again but no joy this morning. There were 3 Gadwall (2m1f) and 4 Grey Heron. A Cormorant was seen fishing, in front of the hide, a couple of times during the wait for Otters. A Kingfisher also did a couple of fly pasts, stopping off in the tree to the left of the hide for a moment, didn't hang around for his photo though!

Nothing on east Fingers but 7 Little Grebe, the resident pair of Swans and another Heron on west Fingers.

Very tough conditions for counting on the main lake with waves big enough to hide a duck! Rough counts returned 30+ Great Crested Grebe, 20+ Shoveller and Cormorant, 3 male Tufted Ducks and 13 Pochard (10m3f). Didn't see the Goosander today and also no sign of the Wigeon or Little Egret. There were 4 Mute Swans of which the pair near the hide seem to be holding territory in that area.

Got up to 9 Heron in total around the park. Much less Kingfisher activity today although I can't blame them, I would rather have been in doors!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday 9th December

Another early start to beat the rain but also in the hope of seeing Otters again. Headed across the fields past the labyrinth to Fingers. Flushed a couple of Teal from the bank side reeds as I passed the Sedgewick seat.

On reaching Kramer hide there were a pair of Gadwall out in front of the hide, they were joined by another male. A single Mute Swan flew over the hide heading towards the sewerage farm. At around the same time as I sighted the Otters yesterday a single animal swam, left to right, in front of the hide. No hanging around today though as it just disappeared into the reeds by the channel through to east Fingers. A female Shoveller flew in. A couple of Heron were in the usual roosting place. A Cormorant came into the Kramer lake and caught a fish before departing. A flock of 14 Long Tailed Tits worked the area around the hide then flew to the trees in the middle island in front of the hide. With no sign of the Otter coming back I left the hide and headed down past east Fingers, round the crescent and onto the spit where I flushed a Kingfisher which flew across West fingers, down the second finger.

The resident Mute Swans were feeding on West Fingers at the main path end. As I walked down the spit a Cormorant flew from west Fingers. 3 male Bullfinch were working the trees along the spit. Only 5 Little Grebe today, all on west Fingers.

I headed back up the spit and around the main lake. A Little Egret was in the south east corner and 2 Kingfishers flew from the south east corner to the north side. Another male Bullfinch was in the trees near the beach end fishing swims. As I walked past the beach fishing swims 3 Herons were flushed from separate fishing swims.

At the hide there were 13 Pochard (3f), 3 male Tufted Ducks and a pair of Wigeon. Also 23 Shoveller, 5 Mute Swans (2 pair and a youngster). 26 Canada Geese flew over north. There were 4 Goosander again today split 3 and 1 although they all came together later. There were a lot of Mallard around the hide and a quick count totalled 62 including some hybrids. A single Coot came out of the reed bed to the right of the hide. 3 Canada Geese were on the lake. Great Crested Grebe numbered 33 and there were 27 Cormorant. A speed boat on the lake put up most of the Shoveller and the Wigeon. As I left the hide the hybrid Canada/Greylag Goose flew in.

Little Egret

A couple of Goosander images
At the Leat Pool a Kingfisher was calling and another male Bullfinch was in the trees nearby.

When I reached the south west corner another? Kingfisher was calling and a Heron was in one of the usual spots. Another well timed visit as the rain started just as I was leaving.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday 8th December

An early start hoping to beat the rain this morning. Headed along the main path towards fingers and spotted a fox watching me from the hedge line close to the labyrinth. A little further along the path a Kingfisher called from lillypads and another called from the fishing swims at the beach end of the main lake. Cut down the spit and had 6 Fieldfare over south east. Four Little Grebe on West Fingers along with the resident pair of Mute Swans. 2 Canada Geese flew in to West Fingers but were immediately turfed off by the swans. 2 Shoveller were also on West Fingers down a couple of the fingers. The female flew off towards the main lake leaving a lone young/eclipse male.

Continued around Fingers and spotted 2 more Little Grebe on East Fingers. Arrived in Kramer hide to find at least 2 Otters playing in the right most channel. Watched them for approx 15 minutes as they continued to chase around, porpoising and scaring all the wildfowl including a pair of Shoveller. A Magpie kept dive bombing the Otters at any opportunity. The Otters finally disappeared over to the left side. Looked like they headed onto either east or west Fingers but i did not catch up with them again.

Didn't see any wildfowl around the back of Fingers but when I got to the dead seat there were 3 Shoveller (1m) and a pair of Gadwall on west fingers. Also a single Cormorant on west fingers.

Back on the main path, heading off around the main lake, I flushed 3 Goosander from the edge of the reed bed. They headed out into the lake before flying towards the southwest side of the lake. Flushed a Kingfisher from the south east corner, it headed west along the edge of the lake. A few moments later 2 Kingfishers flew back past me towards the beach end fishing swims. As I reached the main lake hide I disturbed a Kingfisher that was sitting on the handrail of the feeding platform which may, or may not, have been a third individual.

From the hide there were 9 male Pochard, 3 male Tufted Ducks and 22 Shoveller. A Sparrowhawk flew low across the lake from the north side to the south east corner. Only mid 20's for the Great Crested Grebe count. A single Little Egret flew from one of the fishing swims on the south side and finally ended up in the south west corner. 2 of the Mute Swans flew off.

A male Sparrowhawk flew across the path in front of me as I reached the fishing swims on the south west side of the lake and it was here that I caught up with the 3 Goosander again. A Kingfisher flew west in front of the fishing swims and a Water Rail was heard squealing in the reed beds. A quick count of the Cormorants returned 16 with a small party fishing together. A single Mute Swan flew in and headed up to the sailing club end.

I continued along the path around the south west corner and had 11 Siskin over heading into the marina and as I stopped to scan the lake for anything I had missed some Teal calls caught my attention and I looked up to see a flock of 46 fly across the lake from the south west corner heading towards fingers where it looked like they all dropped in.

Despite the rain having started early during my loop around the main lake, what a great morning!

Friday 7th

Midday stroll around Fingers. 10 Herons sheltering from the wind in various places around this lake. 8 Dabchicks attended by 4 Moorhen (two groups), 3 Teal, 5 Shoveler (& another dozen on main lake), no sign of the Gadwall. Many Blackbirds (immigrants?) around the northern edges and a pair of Bullfinch. Goldfinch seemed lower in numbers, unless they were feeding elsewhere. Main lake had 4 Pochard and 4 Goosander; GCG numbers dropping (no count). Checked the Black-headeds feeding groups for Med. but no joy.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sun Dec 2

Lunch-time walk after the rain around Fingers. 9 Mutes (inc. 1 cygne) on main lake, 2 (pair) on Fingers & 5 overhead. L.Egret out of the wind on SE side with c.25 B/H Gulls. Min. 5 Shoveler huddled along middle section. Lake covered in white horses except in lee of far bank.
Fingers - 3 Dabchick, 2 Teal, 2 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler. Conservation area - a number of Blackbirds, small flock of Goldfinches, 3 Gt.Spots, Bullfinch, ?Blackcap (on gizz - shot off before I could get a good look) and 3 fem. Siskins that eventually landed just 8 feet away from us opposite the Rough gate!
Kingsmead - 100+ Rook & 120+ Jackdaws. 2 of the 'daws had very grey heads and another was a light shade of grey all over (except for a few pale brown feathers in wing and tail) and had very pale, almost white, trailing edges to the wings. It looked fantastic in flight. Never seen it before.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Saturday 1st December

Very windy and quite cold with the windchill. On arrival there were 2 Little Egret in the South East corner of the main lake. I headed down to the Finger lakes and along the spit. There were 2 Shoveller on Lillypads and a further 11 flying around the park. Also on Lillypads there were 5 Little Grebe, 3 Teal (2m) along one of the fingers and the new resident pair of Mute Swans. There were 2 Herons here also.

From the crescent looking across East fingers there were 2 Little Grebe by the spit but by the time I had walked around the east side there were 5. Not sure if some of those had come from the other side of the spit so at least 7 total and possibly 10. There was a possible Water Rail crossing the channel between East Fingers and Kramer lake but it was seen from the crescent in silhouette so not 100% certain, looked to have a long beak though.

At Kramer hide there were 5 more Shoveller (3m2f) although these were probably some of the earlier 11 as the last sight I had of them was dropping in to the area of Kramer hide. There were also 3 Gadwall (2m1f) and the resident Mute Swans had also moved through to this section. There were also 3 Herons, 2 in the usual tree and one on the end of the spit.

Around the back of the finger lakes there were 2 female Shoveller, 1 male Teal and 3 Gadwall (2m1f). There were more Teal calling but I couldn't see them, very vocal though.

There were several Goldfinch in the Rough, chattering away, not sure of numbers though but at least half a dozen, probably more. As I headed towards the steps 2 Herons flew over, one getting some serious attention from a BH Gull.

Heading along the main path a couple of guys said there were 3 Mergansers in the beach corner of the main lake. These turned out to be 3 red head Goosander which were feeding along the edge of the reed bed. Heading past the fishing swims on the east side of the main lake I spooked a Kingfisher which flew low across the water.

A poor quality image of one of the goosanders

At the main lake hide there were 4 Pochard (3m1f). Only counted 34 Great Crested Grebe today but the lake was rough and the Grebe were well spread across the lake making the count difficult. Cormorants numbered 25.

Along the river by the boat club moorings 19 Canada Geese were heading downstream and upstream there were a further 31 Canadas and 2 Mute Swans, an adult and a cygnet.
I headed back towards the main lake and heard a Kingfisher calling from the south west corner. The female Mute Swan with the 2 cygnets seems to have found a new partner and both were preening at the sailing club end of the lake. The 2 cygnets flew in, having had a bit of flight training, and headed over to join the 2 adults.

No sign of the Little Egrets when I left the park.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thurs 29th

A sunny day and the warmest part spent in the Rough with a couple of nets!
3 Gt.Spots flew over singly in the same direction late morning. A Sky Lark sang as it passed. A calling Chiff set off a (male) Blackcap that "tick"ed away for quite some time behind the long hedge. It (or another) was back an hour later. On "lilypads", a second Moorhen has learnt the 'dodge' of sticking to the Little Grebes, as they dive for their dinner, and finishing the 'scraps'. The widowed swan took off from the main lake with two offspring, heading for safer pastures to the east. The orphaned one swam strongly around the Fingers, trying to evade (successfully) the new, dominant male that wants everybody off!
In late morning, a pair of Wigeon seemed settled. A female Shoveler swam leisurely along a reedy finger but got the fright of its life when a Moorhen called as it passed within inches! There were probably about about half a dozen Shoveler feeding on lilypads all day. A Pied Wagtail flew into the air and "chiswick"ed. About 15:10, there was a lot of noise (sort of wiffelling) from the water; on investigation it turned out to be 13 Teal coming in for the night in dribs and drabs and greeting each other.
Back in the Rough, 4 Lesser Redpolls passed over, then 5 (at least) Siskins came to feed in the alder. [When I was leaving, 6 flew over the centre, calling]. A Goldcrest called for a short while. Finch wise, not a lot else; about 10 Goldfinches, in pairs or singly, spent most of the day here, feeding leisurely and unconcerned at my presence. Probably 16 Chaffinches but only 3 or 4 Greenfinches. As the light began to fade, A smart, male Reed Bunting in wp called and fed on bramble and nettle seeds a few feet from me.
The days tally - 8 Blackbirds, 4 of which were continentals and 2 might have been. Biggest bird = a young male with a wing of 140 and rufous edges to its under tail coverts, weight 118 gms.
PS. The Little Egret left when the BTCV group started their task by the main hide.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday 26th November

An overcast start to the day but very still so not as cold as I expected. A single Little Egret in the SE corner of the main lake this morning and at least 4 Herons spread around the main lake.
The Mute Swans that came in yesterday had moved on leaving only the lone female with two of her cygnets on the main lake. The other cygnet was on east fingers practising his flying but soon attracted the attentions of the new resident pair and he was chased off the lake, seeking sanctuary in one of the fishing swims on the east side of east fingers. It tried to get back in the water a little later only to be chased off again, finally finding sanctuary on lillypads tucked away down one of the fingers.

On arrival at the park there were 19 Shoveller, 8 Pochard and 2 Tufted ducks. A later count revealed a third Tufted duck.

Had a Kingfisher fly across the main path from the main lake to fingers as I walked down to the beach.

Headed down to the crescent to find a pair of Wigeon on east fingers and 5 Little Grebe. A Water Rail squealed in the crescent reed bed. Just a Moorhen and a pair of Mallard on Lillypads. As I headed back out onto the main path, down to the beach again, another/same Kingfisher flew across the path in front of me. It had a small fish in its beak and was being chased by a couple of BH Gulls.

Spoke to Tony P who was trying to locate possible Chiffchaff in the South east corner of east fingers. Sadly what ever it was went quiet when he got close to the original call location. While we were chatting a Single Siskin flew over and dropped into the Alders on the far side of the flood channel. It sounded like there were more Siskins already there but we were unable to spot them. Saw Tony again later and he said he had a single Siskin in the trees by the Crescent reed bed.

At Kramer hide there were two Herons and a pair of Shoveller. Further round Fingers heading towards the Sedgewick seat there were 9 Gadwall tucked away round the back.
A male Great Spot was calling from the sheep pen. At the dead seat I counted 5 Shoveller, 3 Little grebe and a Heron. I am pretty certain that the 5 Shoveller were from the 19 on the main lake as a later count of those on the main lake revealed only 14. Difficult to say whether the pair from Kramer were 2 of the 5. Also fairly certain that the 3 Little Grebe were 3 of the 5 from East fingers as there had been a group of 3 near the channel between east and west fingers.
From the main lake hide there were 32 Cormorant and 47 Great Crested Grebe. Also had a Kingfisher fly straight down my binoculars, well almost!

Headed along the back river up past the boat club moorings where, just up stream there were 20 Canada Geese and 2 Mute Swans (an adult and a cygnet).

During the morning had 1, 2, 7 and 30 Fieldfare over south.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Guided walk 25th Nov

A small party braved the cold wind. 2 Little Egrets and 9 Mute Swan on the main lake to begin with and to end with. Fingers held 9 Little Grebe, 2 male Tufted, 2 Shoveler (that flew off to join the other 15 on the main lake), just 1 pair of Gadwall and two new (unringed) Mute Swans that didn't seem interested in the three, still grey, cygnets. Deposed Mum, we presume, had hopped over to the main lake. 9 Fieldfare flew over NW. No Chiff or Water Rail heard, just Robins, Chaffinch & tits.
Round the main lake we failed to locate one of the Egrets - it had moved before we got there. From the hide, 28 Cormorant, over 50 GC Grebe, 1 male Pochard, the 2 Tufted & 17 Shoveler (+1 female Pintail -DB). Plenty of Common & Black-headed Gulls, some of the latter starting to get their black heads! [Looks like a faint collar] 2 Kingfisher flew along the middle (closed) section and perched. The "experts" could pick them out easily, but it took some time for the "beginners" to find them because of the cryptic colouration against the leaves and branches. This is always difficult at a distance. [We all had 8x binos, so it wasn't a case of better optics]
Along the Leat, a Green and a Gt.Spotted Woodpecker were picked up on call. On to the Kramer hide where there were 4 Herons to be joined by a 5th. The Crows were 'playing on the wind' when they were not feeding on Kingsmead. A single Redwing, 3 more Fieldfare & a pair of Bullfinch before reaching the "dead seat" where we managed to catch up with the 7 Teal that we had been hearing as we walked along the "Long Hedge". The Treecreeper eluded us.
The next walk - Sunday 23rd December, 09:00 at VC.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday 24th November

A number of Fieldfare over in flocks of 4,8,16,18,26(27EN) and 54(61EN). A single Little Egret in the South West corner moved to the south east corner before heading off towards Cardington. 13 Shoveller on the main lake with 2 on Fingers although 1 of those flew in and may have come from the 13. Only managed a count of 36 Great Crested Grebe on the main lake although they were wide spread and mobile making it difficult. Cormorant numbered 33. 2 male Tufted ducks also on the main lake.

On Fingers there were 11 Gadwall, 3 Teal and 7 Little Grebe. Also a Treecreeper on a Willow at the edge of the Rough.

A Kingfisher flew from the Willow on the edge of the main lake by the steps. Another was calling near the main lake hide and another in the South West corner.

Also a Greylag over and a LBB Gull on the main lake.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fri 23rd

Quick check on numbers - Cormorant 22, GCG 64, L.Grebe 11, Gadwall 8, Shoveler 8+, Water Rail 1, Siskin 1. Lots of thrush movement between berry bushes and wet grass.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day after the Slav

Mid-morning walk. Fingers first. (Male) Mute Swan dead under the branches on first spit; rest of family OK with juvs starting to get some white feathers. 7 Gadwall (5m,2f), 4-5 L.Grebe, 3 Shoveler (1m,2f) & Heron. On the spit, Blackbirds, Fieldfare, pr of Bullfinch & female LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER. Water Rail calling in reeds. Overhead the odd calling Mipit & Sky Lark going east!
Counted 55 GCG on main lake, 25 Cormorants, got close to a L.Egret hiding in the trees near the hide, Siskin heard twice, a pair of Grey Wags flew over (the slalom was open), more Shoveler in the middle section (mostly males), 3 more Herons and a good-sized flock of LTT in the poplars.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

18th November

On arrival a flock of 31 Fieldfare flew south over the car park. I headed down to the main lake and a quick scan of the south west corner for Little Egrets drew a blank. Walked along the main path towards Fingers and discovered the Little Egrets were on site but this time in the South East corner of the main lake, under the overhanging trees between the last fishing swim and the hide. I headed down the spit at Fingers to find 4 Shoveller, 5 Little Grebe and the swan family in lillypads, notable fewer wildfowl than yesterday. There was nothing at all on east fingers. Back on the main path at the Beach another flock of c.45 Fieldfare flew over south and a small charm of 12 Goldfinch flew from the crescent to the navigation channel.

Met DK while heading down to Kramer hide and he said the Little Egrets had been in the South West corner when he arrived.

Kramer hide was completely dead so I headed around Fingers to find 4 Gadwall (3m) skulking around the back. A extra Shoveller flew off when I got to the dead seat, making 5 in total. A single Redwing was in the rough.

Headed around the main lake. Counted 61 Great Crested Grebes and 29 Cormorants. The Little Egrets were absent from the South East Corner but when I got back to the visitor centre I noticed one of the three was back in the South West corner. It flew off at about 10:30, disappearing behind the island and I didn't see where it went.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

17th November extras

Bunged up with a cold so just did Fingers after DJB. DK had 12 Siskins & 2 Goosander fly-overs. Clocked the 3 L.Egrets & watched 2 fly off east (to Cardington/Cople?). For me - good views of 3 Goldcrest, ca.8 Bullfinch, Treecreeper, fem. Gt.Spot, & W.Rail. The waterbirds had (nearly) all disappeared under the trees, I think. Not as many Golfinch as earlier in the week, but Blackbirds seemed up to me. Song Thrushes very vocal. The walk round (anti-clockwise) was undisturbed except for all the birds singing or calling. Pleasant, if chilly. Didn't feel up to ringing, even though it promised to be good. Never mind.

17th November

Arrived at the park at around 08:30 and did a scan of the main lake. A kingfishers call caught my attention and further scans picked it up skimming low above the lake from the Beefeater corner to the island where it perched for a while. Another quick scan and to my surprise 3 Little Egrets were in the South West corner of the main lake with a couple of Herons. They remained until 10:00 when two left but the third was still there when i left just after 10:30.

I headed off down to Fingers and along the spit. A couple of Shoveller were in Lillypads swimming from the reedbeds to the far end where they joined up with a another 3 Shoveller. A solitary male Teal was under the overhanging trees near the dead seat.

At the north end of the spit another Shoveller flushed from close to the bank of East Fingers. Also on East Fingers were a pair of Gadwall, which flew off and a Tufted Duck, 4 Little Grebe were in the south east corner.

On the return along the spit another pair of Shoveller flew into Lillypads. Little of note in the Crescent so I headed round to Kramer hide where, as usual, there seemed to be little about but a scan with the bins located a female Gadwall and a couple of Little Grebe on the south side. Two male Teal flew in and commenced their strange bleating calls.

Leaving the hide I continued around the back of Fingers past the Sedgewick seat locating a further 3 male Teal and two pairs of Shoveller. The Rough was very quiet with only a few Goldfinch making themselves known. A Kingfisher flew to a perch in the trees by the dead seat.

Leaving Fingers I did a circuit of the main lake. At the hide there were two Pochard and another Kingfisher was heard. By the time I reached the south west corner only 1 of the Little Egrets remained. I did a quick count of the Great Crested Grebes when I got back to the visitor centre and got to 53 but there were almost certainly more skulking behind the island.

And to finish off another Kingfisher flew low across the water to the Beefeater corner of the lake. A very good, if cold, morning. Why not join us next weekend (Sunday) when Errol will be leading another guided walk around the park. Meet, 9am, at the visitor centre.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

15th Nov

Beautiful sunshine after a frost. I made it 48 GCG on the main lake today. About a dozen Pochard and 6 Tufteds, too; didn't count the Shoveler. Five species of gull at one point. 12 Fieldfare lifted off W late am. On Fingers 9 L.Grebe (+1 on m/l), Shoveler, 14+ Moorhen & a pair of Wigeon. Water Rail in the crescent. Other birds included - Chiff, Bullfinch, 3 Gt.Spot., a few Redwings, plenty of Blackbirds, small parties of Goldies, a male Sparr & 3 Song Thrushes. The berries are disappearing fast except along Priory Wall.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mon 12th Nov

A glorious, if cold, day. Little Egret sitting in willow in full view on fingers until midday (when it flew off), its blue bill very visible. 2 Water Rails squealling in the crescent, too. Several Bullfinch pairs very apparent today in the bush/tree tops in conservation area. Again, a large flock of 30+ Goldfinches, picking up a few Siskins each time there was a "dread". 24 Cormorants busy fishing the main lake - unlike the Herons that seemed to be off-duty and enjoying the sunshine.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Windy walk

Sun 11th - a late walk around the park with the dogs. Main lake held - 15 Greylags, 24 Cormorant, 29+ GC Grebe and a fair few Common Gulls (they look real good). Fingers had - several Shoveler, 2+ Teal, 4 L Grebe, and 6 Herons sheltering from the wind. Leaning on the Rough gate, a flock of c.30 Goldfinch got up & at least 2 Siskin with them. The Labyrinth is nearly finished - just need to put the path surfaces down. At least 8 H.Sparrows round the Centre.

A rather blustery day!

A windy start with cloud to start with but clearing. The park was fairly quiet birdwise the most activity being around the rough with a number of small birds including Bullfinch and Goldfinch.

On Fingers:
Shoveller 3m2f
Tufted Duck 1m
Teal 2m
Little Grebe 9
Heron 4 (2 others on the main lake and 1 on Kingsmead)
also a number of Mallards, some Moorhens and the Swan family.

On the main lake there were good numbers of Cormorant, GC Grebe and Canada Geese. A single Greylag Goose was with the Canadas.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

8th Nov

Midday stroll to Fingers before the rain and wind set in. A (the same?) Chiff in the crescent, 2 Coot, 6 Gadwall, 4 Shoveller (might have been some on main lake but didn't go that way), the Swan family, 12 Canadas (oink, oink), 7 Little Grebes, and a Bullfinch. Just about to get in the car at the centre when a Little Egret flew east towards the bottom of the Cut (13:15).
PS. Caught a Chiff in my garden and 2 COLDOs today.
PPS. Didn't go to see the Snob at Rookery.

Friday, November 02, 2007

2nd Nov

Fri - another lovely day. Fieldfare very vocal in the hawthorn bushes today - I think there must have been an overnight invasion! Vis-miggers saw lots of "thrushes" very high in the sky going SW at dawn, too. This years Wood Pigeon passage is looking the strongest its been for many years. Still a few Sky Larks on the move. Very few Mipits.
20/21 Cormorant & 30+ GCG on main lake. Fingers had Kingfisher, 3m Teal, 2m + 4f Shoveler, 2m + 1f Gadwall, & 2 LGrebe. There were 11 Herons on site (2 on main lake) including 4 yearlings. The middle section (south-west side of main lake) has now been closed off for the winter.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

After Halloween

Thurs - mainly sunny but the wind got up. Tried to catch a rarity - but none about! Lol! Did manage 26 but half were retraps. Best birds - ad.male Gt.Spot, a Redwing, 2 young male Bullfinch, but the rest mostly tits. Would have had more Blackbirds but the wind combined with slack netting, holes in netting and feisty birds kept it down to just 2. Nearly made it 3, but the bird shat a humungous wadge all over my glasses and I lost it. After I regained vision and wiped my cheek clean, noticed that it was all over my cap, bins & gilet! Must have had a Halloween curry last night!!!!

For the third day running, had a Harlequin ladybird.
Light Sky Lark passage - stopped by 10:30.
Some Redpolls "buzzing" about, too.
Early pm - Chiff & Blackcap.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Wed - a grey morning, at least. On the main lake - 20 Cormorant & 35 GCGrebe; Jon Bish had some Wigeon early. On Fingers - 12 Shoveler, 10 Teal (brilliant!), 5 Gadwall, 4 LGrebe, 2 Heron. Elsewhere - Siskin f/over, 4 Les.Redpoll, 30+ Goldfinch all in one flock, plenty of Blackbirds, Redwings and Chaffinches. Squirrels having a go at the peanut feeders - not for much longer (getting the humane traps out). Gets expensive @ £16 each feeder; nuts currently £22/sack.

Mid-week ringing session

Tues - a middle of the day catching session in bright sunshine produced the following: Dunnock (1), Blackbird 1 - a particularly small imm. female, Redwing 1 - another adult (so far 45% have been this autumn), CHIFF 1 adult male, presumably here for the winter now, a mixture of young & old, male & female tits - Blue Tit 6 (4), Great Tit 4 (7) - two of the latter were first ringed in 2003, Greenfinch 2, Goldfinch 3 - all adult females, & LESSER REDPOLL 1 1st winter male.
Danny (new ranger) saw a Blackcap (didn't say what sex)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Guided Walk - 28/10/2007

A most enjoyable guided walk despite the blustery and damp conditions. As Errol has already reported there is already a good variety of wildfowl in the park. The 14 Shoveller on the mainlake were spooked, when the sailing started, and flew towards Willington along with a number of Cormorants.

A large number of Starlings (50 ish) were seen overhead from the Rough heading towards the canoe slalom.

It's been a while since I last visited the park since when the path between the visitor centre and the Sailing club driveway has been resurfaced and the path by the beach has been finished. The "Labyrinth" is also well underway.

Guided walk

Sun 28th - damp was the word and the word was law by 10:45.
A grey day started with 2 Mipits moved on by a dog. 14 Shoveler (2 more on Fingers) & the male Pochard on the main lake. 2 Herons hiding from the stiff SW wind, too. A family group of 5 Magpie by the new "Labyrinth" project. In the Rough, many finches, Redwing, Fieldfare & Blackbird busy eating hawthorn berries and the fem. Blackcap on the blackberries. Overhead, a flock of 30+ Starlings heading south. Treecreeper was heard but not seen by the Fingers, and decent views of Bullfinch, Redwing, 5 Little Grebe, a pair of Gadwall, 7 Teal (which fled!) & 2 more Herons. Just the 1 Coot, though. No sign of the Chiff near the crescent. Round at the Kramer hide, another 5 Herons sheltering from the breeze (makes 9 in all) and just 2 Moorhen. Where have they all gone? A number of Crows tumbling in the wind over Kingsmead seemed to be enjoying themselves. Finally, a collection of tits along the New Cut plus a Kingfisher which just managed to keep ahead of us. And a well timed walk ended as the rain intensified enough to give every thing a good wetting. Next G/W = 25th Nov at 9:00.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Winter draw(er)s on!

Wed 24th
Lone male Pochard on main lake. Winter cometh.
Thurs 25th
A Little Egret remained on the roost tree in Fingers "all day" along with a Grey Heron.
With the nets up for 4 hours middle of the day, a mixture of 25 common birds. A female Blackcap (possibly the one spotted by DK last Thurs) was the highlight. Not to be frowned upon were 4 Bullfinch and 2 continental looking Blackbirds, the ones with the small white crescents all over their chests. A second Treecreeper for the month, too.
Fri 26th
Mid morning visit produced a few more signs of late autumn. On the main lake - 14 Cormorant & 33 Gt. Crested Grebe, also 14 of 20 Shoveler. There was a good mix of gulls with 4 species present. On Fingers, 6 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, 3 Teal and at least 18 Moorhen, 15 of which were in front of the Kramer hide. 2 Little Grebe were being elusive. 2 Goldcrest on the spit & 2 elsewhere.
Sat 27th
Cormorant numbers move up to 17, grebes down to 30. (Don't rely on these counts)
A very vocal Chiff on the crescent was the first for a week or so. It seemed to be intent on staying a while. Another, less vocal and more mobile, was at the foot of the slalom and moved off towards Cardington Mill.
Sun 28th
Will it rain, will it rain? Guided walk on or off?

Friday, October 19, 2007

`Fri 19th

A cold (2 degC) and misty morning with the river in flood. 13 GCG fishing at the north end of the lake where there wasn't any "rising steam" but moved down towards the beach as the mist subsided. Wigeon and Gadwall stayed in "the steam". Small parties of Jackdaw moving west, too late to be our roosting birds which leave at sun-up or earlier. At least half a dozen Fieldfare this morning, chacking in the hawthorns. Just 2 Shoveler on "lilypads, which was dark and dismal as the sun hadn't reached it yet. However, in the shallow, reedy end there were 4 Little Grebe. A lone Siskin flew about calling before it settled along the main path. The first Sky Larks began moving west at 9am. A Chiff was calling from the main lake side of the "rough", and a family party of Bullfinch was feeding in the willows, etc between the beach and the Kramer hide. A Mistle Thrush passed over north.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

17/18th Oct

Wed - a short wander in the late morning after family duties produced a noisy Water Rail in the crescent that liked the sound of its own voice. Fresh in, I shouldn't wonder! Not much else; 16 Cormorant, 13 GCGs, 6 Shoveler and some Bullfinches was about it. Weather was lovely.
Thur - decided to put a couple of nets up from noon 'til teatime. Hereabouts. a singing Chiff was pleasing, plenty of Goldfinch still (at least 20), some Redwings busy blogging. Totals - Gt.Tit 5 (+4), Blue Tit 1 (1), Wren (1), Robin 1, Greenfinch 3, Redwing 2, Blackbird 2, Treecreeper 1.
DK had a Blackcap 18th and says that the Egrets are coming in every night at present. There was a R-C Pochard on the main lake early this morning, too.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

14th Oct

A quick skirmish in the rough, with a few nets saw the following taken down (in my note book!!). Wren 1(1),Blackbird 1(2), Redwing 3, Goldcrest (1), Lotti 1(1), Bluti 3, Greti 5(1), Chaffinch 3 (all F), Greenfinch 3, Goldfinch 1.
Other birds about were - small parties of Fieldfare, mainly early on, a steady stream of ones and two (one plus a wingman) of Sky Larks going SW, 8 Greylags W as the fog lifted, a male Bullfinch, several Siskins flew over calling when I couldn't see them (tree cover), a male Sparrohawk paid us several visits and a party of five Jackdaws. Anglers on the spit precluded a "duck count", but party of 13 Starlings over instead.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thurs 11th Oct

Went ringing to cheer myself up after a short illness. Cut it into two, am & pm. New birds ringed (retraps in brackets) were - Dunnock 4 (1 from Aug '04), Gt. Tit 5, yes, FIVE, Bullfinch (1, a male from '05), Redwing 3 (all in the morning), Blackbird 3 (1), Chaffinch 2, Robin 2, Greenfinch 2, Song Thrush 1 youngster, Blue Tit (1, an old lady from '04) and ... a young female Blackcap in the morning, and ... a young male Chiff in late afternoon; both were in a good, healthy condition. The Chiff shot into the nearest "tree" and preened away for ten minutes in the warm sunshine, watching me, watching it, etc.....
We've now ringed over 600 new birds in the park this year.

Meanwhile, on Fingers, I counted 19 Moorhen, a couple of Wigeon, 3 Dabchicks and TWO Coot. I also thought I saw a Reed Warbler on the other side (north) of "lilypads". Nothing by the Kramer hide except the Swan family and 3 Herons sitting in the "moorhen tree". In the morning, a party of 13 Siskins over plus a few Mipits and a steady trickle of Sky Larks. In the afternoon, 2 Grey Wags over, a Brambling and, later on, the 5-600 Jackdaws - although the display was not as good as the other night.

Monday, October 01, 2007

w/e 6th October

Monday 1st - 12 Swallows in a hurry south, followed by 4 House Martins about 09:30. On Fingers - 18 Shoveler, 2 Wigeon (again), 1 Tufted, 3 of the 9 Gadwall visible and 3 Dabchicks. Some Sky Lark activity but not as much as yesterday. Tony P had 4 Chiffs and a Whitethroat.

Tuesday 2nd - grey and damp; only the one swallow seen, but light passage of Sky Lark (largest party = 3) and couple of blogging Mipits. Treecreeper in the "rough" and the Whitethroat was in the "long hedge". 2x (?) parties of 28 Redwing rushing around, plus a few spares, but only caught the one. Best bird was an adult male goldcrest (see pix).

Also trapped, a Lotti ringed in Sept. 2003. 6 young Blackbirds were ringed, all fresh in, and a large-winged, male Chiff with a particularly loud call. A small party of Blue Tits were all female (mostly this years). 32 birds in all from half-seven to half-three.
On the Fingers, the same mix of species as yesterday - with the exception of the Coot, which has put in another appearance. I had 11 Shoveler overhead following a disturbance and there were 7 on 'Lilypads' a little later.

Weds. 3rd - rained as I arrived so might have missed any hirundines. Fingers held 9 Gadwall this morning, 11 Shoveler, 3 L.Grebe and 3 Wigeon - and 1 Coot. I had three Chiffs and some Bullfinches walking the main lake; also 11 GC Grebe & 9 "black death". Robins seemed to be occupying the whole site with their calls and songs. There's been a Common Sand about lately, I hear.
Thurs 4th - a brighter day. A steady if light passage of Sky Lark (2-3/hr) SW; not much else during the morning. Put a net in a new position and caught the intended Kingfisher (young female). Dk reported 8 Chiffs but they all seem to have s****d off overnight as the weather was clear with light winds.
Friday 5th - had a couple of nets up around Fingers but not much doing; certainly no chiffs! Coot numbers have doubled (to 2 - lol). From the 'spit', I counted 20 Moorhens on "lilypads" with the Shovelers, Wigeons, L.Grebes & Grey Herons; sounds peculiar when you put an 'S' on the end!
Going back for a "roost netting session" later today, so ............. Roost, my a***. 1 Blackie & 1 Redwing. 23 other birds including 6 Greenfinch, 4 chaffinch & 2 goldfinch. Oooh, and a second Goldcrest of the autumn. This week, I have ringed 11 new Dunnocks at PCP, which is really unusual. Perhaps they really do migrate, even if this is not very far by others standards. The corvids put on a real display tonight - it went on for a very long time (over 20 mins).
At 18:15, we went to see if the egrets were about, and lo and behold one flew in on cue. 20 minutes later, another flew in, quickly followed by a third.
Sat. 6th - sorry about this, but I've decided to go and catch some Coal & Marsh Tits in the girl-friends back garden in Norfolk. Back soon. [Marsh turned out to be a WILLOW !!]

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Last day of September

Layla 1994-2007

Walkies this am around Fingers produced: 8 Heron, 3 Dabchick, 1 Tufted, 2 Wigeon, 9 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 3 Teal, 8 Mute Swans with 4 cygnets. Up above - 2 House Martins, sunning Great Spots., a vocal Chiff, 3 Bullfinch, 3 Song Thrushes, many Robins inter-acting & several Sky Larks. The Moorhens that had a late brood of 5 seem to have gotten at least 4 to fully grown.

1st autumn Redwing

Went back at 3pm and set the nets up. We were hoping for lots of Redwing and Blackbirds. Ha ha. Actual total wasn't bad, as follows (retraps in brackets) - wren (1), dunnock 5 - all youngsters (supposed to have been a passage movement), blackbird 1(2), Redwing 2, Reed Warbler 1 fat imm., Blackcap 1 even fatter imm. female, Lotti 3(3), blu tit 6(1) - the most we've caught all year, gt. tit 1, CHAFFINCH 10, greenfinch 6, goldfinch 5. Also caught 6 greenfinch & 8 goldfinch in the garden soon after first light.
Lots of Jackdaws piled in to roost and chacked away for a good twenty minutes. Not many crows in there tonight unless they came in from a different (non-visible) direction. A very large corvid with a slow wing-beat went east (towards Sandy) - was it a Raven.

Tonight's sunset (It got better -

- but we were too busy!)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Vismig & things

Friday 28th - put the nets up for a couple of hours; all new birds - chaffinch, 3 goldfinch (1 ad in moult), 2 dunnock, a lovely, classic adult robin with some spots on the coverts, very young reed warbler (no fat), male blackcap (some fat) eager to go, female blue tit, & whitethroat (some fat), which was the first for some time.
Overhead - 2 house martins back and forth, 2 sky lark south-west, 3 sparrowhawk - 2 wheeling together before drifting off north, 12 fieldfare west at first light, 2 redwing (blogging), 5 swallow north, 3 mipits SW, 22 goldfinch (blogging & feeding on thistles) 2 redpoll south, and a large/heavy broad-winged BOP showing white flying upstream (towards Oasis) just before 9 o'clock - possibly an OSPREY.
Other birds - good early view of 2 great spots, 5 chaffinch, blue tit & male bullfinch all together in top of an elder "tree". At least 3 chiffs around the rough, but more seemed to appear just before the rain (about half hour before it started at 11:00)

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Wed 26th - wandered round Fingers and got 7 singing/calling Chiffs widely spaced. 3 of 6 Gadwall seen, also the 3 cygnets by the old dipping platform. 2 Shoveler hiding in the reeds. Lots of young Moorhens, a few not quite independent. Green W/pecker calling. Mipit over
Thur 27th - same again mid am. Missed the 170+ Redwings SW @ 8:30/8:50 but 2 seen later. 5 Herons hiding in the Fingers. This time, only one Chiff. DK also had 2 C.Terns, a Swallow & a House Martin & 9 (nine) Gadwall and a few Shoveler. I think the Kingfishers have emigrated - or lost their tongues!
Weather cold and bright with a stiff NE'ly. Park very empty by the look of it

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sat 22 Sept

Immature male Chiffchaff 22-09-07, PCP
This week has seen a little more movement of birds, e.g. Jay (fri), L.Grebes (DK), Mipit (daily), up to 4 Smarties (some days), Swallow (sat). Cormorants have jumped up to 14.
Ringing on Sat ended with 32 birds after 4 hours, including 6 Chiffs, 1 Willow, 5 Blackcaps & 4 Reeds. Other birds included Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Bullfinch (2) and an adult (in heavy moult) Goldfinch.

Female Willow Warbler 22-09-07, PCP

One of the Blackcaps, a female, was very grey/washed out colour - see pic below.

Female Blackcap 22-09-07, PCP

Sunday, September 09, 2007

w/e Sunday 9th Sept

Several brief sessions meant that I clocked up 83 birds of 17 species this week. That's very similar to the totals for "the Obs" nets at Gibraltar Point last week! Highlights were 3 new Robins, 7 Blackbirds, 2 more Snog Thrushes, 8 Reed Warblers, a Garden, 11 Blackcaps, 8 Chiffs (inc 2 r/t), some TITS (thought they were all dead), and 2 new/young Bullfinches.
Sight records included 4 Gadwall, a Shoveler, a Teal, a female Sparr, 1 Greylag, 12 Barnacles over, 2 Common Terns up until Sunday (at least), the odd Swallow most days, a Green Sand (Sat), Willies early in the week and plenty of Chiffs throughout. Still a good number of young Reed Warblers toing and froing, as were the Kingfishers but a good deal noisier.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sat 25th August

Another CES today, the last of the 12 main visits.
A reasonable week for the park (we don't have the luxury of a large reedbed and low willow scrub like Willington & Mark Thomas) with 40 birds caught. The tally was - Wren 3, Dunnock 3, Robin 3, Blackbird 2, Reed Warbler 5, Lesser Whitethroat 4, Common Whitethroat 1, Garden Warbler 4, Blackcap 5, Chiff 3, Willow 3, Long-tailed Tit 1, Blue Tit 3.
The adult sylvia warblers all had good amounts of fat on them, ready for their migration. The youngsters were starting to lay down some fat but very little so far - and there were some still in full juvenile plumage (i.e. not started PJ moult) and no fat.

Elsewhere, the grebes are still doing fine, with one, the largest, being ignored for long periods. Another brood of Moorhens in the crescent (no numbers) and broods of 2 and 5 on 'lilypads'. Green Sand calling overhead, most days this week, 10 Swallows on Thurs., many Reed Warblers along the main path feeding in the willows opposite, the Greenshanks were still around mid-week, a lot of Willow Ws going through (and noisy, some even singing), and a party of 33-35 Goldfinch south as well as 2 family partys feeding in the rough.

PS. Next day (2 hours pm while scrub bashing) - Blackcap 2, Garden Warbler 2, Goldfinch 1 juv, Greenfinch 4. Also 6 "chinky" Swallows over 4pm & c.30 House Martins a few minutes later

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Saturday 18th August

Walked around the park this morning, starting with the finger lakes. Down by the steps it was alive with finches and tits, particularly Goldfinches. Had a chat with Errol who was ringing in the rough. Had a read of his first draft Priory CP ringing report which makes very interesting reading, look forward to seeing the published version.

Round by the Sedgewick seat the Moorhen family, that I first saw last week, were still about with all 3 youngsters still alive and well.

Stopped at Kramer hide where highlights were Common Whitethroat, Green Woodpecker and a pair of Bullfinch.

The canoe slalom was in use today so no Grey Wagtails this week. Further round on the back river at the bedford boat club moorings a Kingfisher flew upstream with a fish in its beak.

Back on the south side of the main lake, at the corner to turn up to the sailing club, there were at least 2 Chiffchaffs calling and moving through the trees.

Nothing out of the ordinary on the rest of the walk.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

18th August - another CES

Had a tickle early on Thursday at the crescent - apart from 6 Reed Warblers, 3 Lottis, a Wren, a Willow Warbler, a Robin and a Blackie, trapped the above Spot Fly, ... which DK had spotted the previous weekend? Reed Warbler total so far is 55, which beats the previous high. Also about, were a Hobby, a Lesser Whitethroat, two Shoveler, a Green Sand and a couple of Greenshank.

The best CES session so far this year in that we caught 43 juveniles and 9 adults of 12 spp. It rained as we put up the nets and for the next 2 hours, not heavy but enough to get wet. This didn't stop the birds and we spent most of the time clearing the nets. Processing took place in the drier interludes! The weather improved later. Three Swallows, six Swifts and plenty of House Martins up above and both woodpeckers travelling back and forth over the site.

Caught our third hybrid Phyllosc. of the year; like the others, it was more Chiff in shape and tone but with Willow upperparts, legs and wing formula. We have been getting these ever since the steep decline in Willow Warblers back in the late 1990s, but not every year. None have ever been retrapped - does this say something, like infertility, maybe?

Today's tally was 13 Blackcaps, 10 Goldfinch, 8 Greenfinch, 6 Blackbird, 4 Wren, 2 Chiff, 2 Willies, 2 Garden Warblers (their peak has passed), and single Robin, Chaffinch, Dunnock & Bullfinch. So far this year, we have ringed 57 Blackcaps; we hope to reach 75 at least. (The highest ever was 107 back in 1994).

The lower pic. shows the Phyllosc hybrid with the rounded Chiff-shaped wing with only the five outermost primaries emarginated. [It also has Willow secondaries, not obvious here]

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday 12th August

A bit quieter today with the Warblers less evident than yesterday. The weather was a lot different with heavy cloud cover to start with although that began to break up by mid morning. Saw Tony P. on the way down to the finger lakes and he told me there was a Female Shoveler on Fingers. I soon located it as I walked along the spit and then I noticed 2 more, all on the west side of the spit.

Along the spit a Great Spotted Woodpecker posed on a dead branch, possibly the same one as yesterday.

Again the Great Crested Grebe chicks were very noisy and the Adult and chick in lilly pads were close enough to photograph.

Came across 2 new Moorhen families around the Finger lakes, one with 3 chicks at the Sedgewick seat and one with 2 chicks at the bend in the path nearest the steps. The Grey Wagtails in the Canoe Slalom numbered 6 today but they flew to the trees before I could determine how many adults and juveniles.

Nothing else out of the ordinary to report.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday 11th August

After several weeks of short visits, or no visit at all I finally got time for a decent visit. I headed off down the main path towards the finger lakes, an adult and juvenile Sedge Warbler were vocal and showed briefly in the reeds by the main lake. Reed Warblers were also very visible, flitting back and forth between the reeds and the trees. After a brief chat with Dave Kramer I continued around the crescent and down the spit. The Mute Swan family were together in lillypads, still 3 cygnets. The Great Crested Grebe youngsters were very noisy as usual, the remaining three are split 2 and 1 between the 2 adults. A Red Eared Terrapin was hauled out sunning itself in the regular spot on west fingers and I flushed a Kingfisher from it's perch as stopped at the last fishing swim on the west side. As I returned back along the spit a Great Spotted Woodpecker called and I located it in one of the trees about half way along the spit.

After photographing the GSW I continued around the finger lakes towards the rough in the hope of spotting the Turtle Doves but no luck this week. However a male Blackbird was feeding on some Elderberries and I couldn't resist a few shots of him surrounded by berries with a beautiful blue sky as the background.

Further round towards the Sedgewick seat two GSW were located in one of the large trees, one adult and one juvenile denoted by the red crown. Further round I stopped at Kramer hide where little was moving but patience paid off when a Green Woodpecker flew to the dead tree in front of the hide where it posed for it's picture. Green Woodpeckers were numerous today judging by the number of calls I heard, as were GSW.

I continued along the navigation channel in the hope of seeing a few dragonflies and damselflies but although there were a few about they weren't as numerous as I expected given the hot sunny conditions. There were even fewer butterflies about!

At the canoe slalom there were 4 Grey Wagtails feeding of which 2 looked like juveniles the other 2 being adults. A Song Thrush was singing along the back river and another at the canoe slalom sluice would have made a good photo had it hung around a little longer.

I headed to the main lake hide and stopped for a while, watching the Common Terns patrolling above the lake and large Carp patrolling below, fins and tails breaking the surface every now and then.
A Grey Heron flew towards the hide and dropped into the water to show just how shallow the lake is in places!

And a Coot cruised by.

From the hide I headed back to the river and walked up to the Leat Pool. A family of Mute Swans, with 8 well grown cygnets is the largest I have seen this year. They seem to have had a very poor year. I spotted a dragonfly continually patrolling the same area so I attempted som photo's of which this was the best.

My best guess is that this is a Southern Hawker but if you know better let me know.

Little else of note as I continued back round the main lake to the visitor centre, although the path along the back of the sailing club has been resurfaced and looks good, for now. Hope it lasts.