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.