Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday 24th May

With the forecast bad for Sunday and Monday I thought I would make the most of Saturday as the weather was bright and dry, if somewhat blustery. There are still good numbers of Mute Swans on the main lake (c.23) but just 6 Common Terns. I counted 24 Canada Geese from the north side of the main lake and the family party were over by the sailing club, not sure how many goslings are left as I couldn't see them very clearly. A Common Sandpiper flew across the main lake, calling, before I lost sight of it in the north west corner, opposite the Beefeater. The Common Whitethroat was still singing on the island. A Mallard with 12 ducklings was on the north side of the main lake as I headed along the path towards the Finger lakes. Common Whitethroat and Willow Warbler were singing near the Labyrinth.

Along the main path down by fingers there was neither sight nor sound of the Reed Warblers in the main lake reed bed. A Chiffchaff was singing in the Crescent and the usual C. Whitethroat was singing on the south east corner of the Finger lakes. On east Fingers the Great Crested Grebe family are still going strong with at least one of the youngsters getting about by itself on occasion. The chicks are already getting a bit large to both be on the same adults back, but they manage it somehow! Also on east Fingers there were a couple of Coot and Grey Heron. Unlike their main lake cousins the crescent reed bed Reed Warblers were very vocal as normal. A Reed Bunting was also singing in the Crescent.

Along the spit both Garden Warbler and Blackcap were singing. On west Fingers there were 3 Herons, Cormorant, Gadwall (m), Coot and Mute Swan. Reed Warblers were singing in the reed bed closest to the Dead Seat. The Rough was very quiet with just Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler and Song Thrush. Up by the Rough gate a family party of Blue Tits were seemingly all around in the trees opposite and a Blackcap was singing down by the dipping platform. Another Blackcap was singing at the north end of the Rough. Along the path between the Rough and the Sedgewick seat yet another Blackcap was singing and a family party of Great Tits were out and about in the coppiced plantation. A Chiffchaff was singing in the Willows just past the Sedgewick seat.

Little of note in the Woodland Walk, just a couple of Blackcaps singing down by the steps and Garden Warbler by the Kissing Gate. Crossing the old railway bridge I noticed the male Tufted Duck was still about on the river by the STW. There were Reed Warblers singing in the most of the reed beds by the STW. A Cuckoo was calling from Riverside. On 100 Acre there were a pair of Lapwing with 3 chicks. The chicks looked very mobile and the parent seemed uninterested on first glance but soon sprung into action when a Crow showed up, dive bombing it in an attempt to drive it off. c.10 House Martins joined the Lapwings by the water to collect mud for nests, making several trips between 100 Acre and Riverside. There was also a Ringed Plover, couldn't tell if LRP due to distance but could easily make out the black bands on the head and chest. A Blackcap was ticking by the STW entrance.

As I continued along the cycle track towards Meadow Lane a party of 4 Lesser Black Backed Gulls drifted over south followed, shortly after, by a Common Buzzard. At Meadow Lane Gravel Pit there was a Great Crested Grebe, Redshank and a couple of Black Headed Gulls. They were joined later by a couple of Common Terns. In the field on the opposite side of the cycle path there were 4 Lapwing.

Back at the railway bridge there was a Cormorant in the river by the STW and a couple more at the mouth of the Cut. As I followed the path along the navigation channel a Cuckoo called from Kingsmead but this could have been the same bird from Riverside which had been calling regularly and seemed to be getting closer while I was back on the cycle path. The Sedge Warbler was in it's usual place by the navigation channel, just before the trees behind Kramer hide. A Common Whitethroat was singing on the east side of Fingers by the navigation channel.

At the Beach there was a Mallard with 5 ducklings and another with 6 (the all-sorts family!). Round by the main lake hide a Reed Warbler was singing in the reed bed to the left of the hide. A Kingfisher departed as I arrived at the Leat Pool. I cut through to the river to check out Fenlake and was followed by a Hornet, my first of the year. There were several singing Sedge Warblers on the south side of the river and a couple of Mute Swans on Fenlake. A Common Whitethroat was singing on the south side of the River and a Great Spotted Woodpecker called from the north side.

At the south west corner of the main lake a Blackcap was singing and a Cuckoo called and flew from the same area, across the lake, towards Fingers where it disappeared into the trees. There were a couple of lone ducklings by the south west corner reed bed, couldn't see any others or adults about. At least one Great Crested Grebe on the main lake and another female Mallard with 9 ducklings in the north west corner. Hirundines were thin on the ground again with Swifts most numerous and just odd Martins and Swallows showing occasionally. Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat were singing around the car park.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More boxing, etc. 21/05

Early start. Just a quick tickle in the Fingers. 6 Reed Warblers (1 from 2006), a pair of Dunnocks, a pair of Bullfinch, a "teenage" lady Blackcap, a "mother" Robin, 1 Greenfinch and, best of all, a Sedge!

Back again with the "tools" - plus a ladder - at tea-time.
"Andy Cap" - sure is at 66!

Ten to go! We got five of them done; the others have to wait for the occupants to grow up!
We should have taken some caterpillars or meal worms with us! We took some rings for the next lot! Mum already had some jewellry.

We now know that there are/were 8 pairs of Blue Tits & 12 of Great Tits in the boxes. The earliest broods (mainly Great Tits) are just about to or have fledged already.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday morning

A quick bike round the park on a very crisp morning. Quite a hard frost in the sheltered areas! Highlight was the Lapwings over Fenlake, you can't beat the sound of them calling early in the morning! The extrovert Reed Warbler, see Sundays report, was out on his reed warming up as I went past. A couple more Lapwings over 100 Acre, one seeing off a Crow.

Behind Aspects the Mute Swan has left the nest, just a rat sat there munching on something as I cycled past! No sign of the Swan family though! A couple of Canada Goose broods along the embankment (5 and 3 I think) which managed to avoid the egg oilers this year.

Monday, May 19, 2008

CES 2nd visit (19/05)

05:30 bloody parky (3deg C). Not an inspiring session with just the 20 birds, 9 of which were retraps. They're all grist to the mill!

Early break - went for a stroll and found the 5 Canada goslings ... with this darling, little sixth one, that must be at least one week younger!

Mother swan sat very tight when I had a peep ... she was fully aware of me!

As we were watching the 'planes go over, Ed spotted a large bird, high in the sky. It was a Peregrine heading towards Cople (07:15). Two male Gadwall were aerially chasing a female over our heads for some time. We were also entertained by a pair of Cuckoos before Ed hurried off to work at 08:30. Popping out to the 'new meadow', I was rewarded with a Stock Dove about 09:00.

Todays totals (new/retraps) are:-

Song Thrush 1/- (male, hatched '06),

Blackbird 1/- (male),

Wren -/1,

Dunnock 1/2,

Robin 4/- (all recently fledged juveniles),

Reed Warbler 2/- (both young males in sub-optimal habitat),

Whitethroat 1/- (young female),

Garden Warbler 1/-,

Blackcap -/2 (probably a pair since they were caught adjacent to a known nest),

Chiff -/2 (both originally caught at the beginning of April),

Blue Tit -/1 ( a well sh***ed out 2CY male, 50% bald but a very good weight) &

Chaffinch 1/-.

On two occasions, I was greeted by a very young face appearing at my feet. In the photo below, he/she was unsure whether to cross the rack or no; I was lucky to get any pic at all.

PS. Orange 454 is a 2001 hatchling (local), ringed in 2002.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Guided Walk - 18/05/2008

A much brighter morning this morning, although still quite cool first thing. I got down the park early and did a quick recce before the guided walk started, bagging Shoveller (pair), Gadwall (m), Oystercatcher, Swallow, Cuckoo, House Martin (2) and Willow Warbler before arriving back at the VC.


Willow Warbler

7 of us set off at 08:30 and were joined by another 8 at 09:00 (don't ask!). The 08:30 group were treated to Oystercatcher over the main lake and EN got excited at the sight of a flyover Feral Pigeon! The Reed Warblers along the main path reed bed were singing well with one chap showing exceptionally well, gaining quite a fan club in the process.

Reed Warbler
The two groups joined up at the Steps and we headed into the conservation zone where Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff were all singing. We had fun explaining the differences between the Blackcap and GW to the newbies. The Mute Swan was still on the nest on West Fingers. No Turtle Dove this weekend but Swifts showed well above the Rough. A Common Whitethroat was singing in the coppiced area next to the Sheep Pen and further along the path a Blackcap showed well in the Willows. No sign of the Treecreepers by the Sedgewick Seat and the nest is definitely toast. I hope it was just predated but I don't like the look of the trail through the nettles, to the base of the tree.
Next stop was the new Woodland Walk where Blackcaps were singing and a very fine Speckled Wood butterfly basked in the dappled sunlight. Exiting the woods we crossed to the navigation channel but no sign of Sedge Warbler yet, however, old faithful was in position further up the navigation channel giving his full repertoire despite not showing particularly well. Despite that a few of us glimpsed him. Little of note at Kramer hide with just a pair of Coot. The "arborial" Terrapin was a no show today.
At the north end of the east Fingers we stopped to view the Great Crested Grebes, who were out with their youngsters again today. It's tough getting a look at the young at the moment, as they are tucked in on the adults back, but if you wait for feeding time that's your best chance. A couple of Sand Martins passed over and headed across Kingsmead accompanied by a couple of Swifts. At the south east corner of Fingers a Common Whitethroat put in an appearance, with a bit of coaxing!
We headed back along the main path towards the VC and the Reed Warbler was still showing really well and singing his heart out. A request for a Willow Warbler was put in so we headed to the hedges at the VC and around the car park where I had the 2 earlier. We stood in the meadow, just before the path to the car park, listening to various Warblers singing all around. Suddenly a LBJ flew to the top of a nearby tree. Visual ID was either Chiff or Willow Warbler but it's song cleared up the ID and we had our Willow Warbler. Cutting through to the car park we had more good views of a Common Whitethroat and a beautiful male Greenfinch put in an appearance.
Another good guided walk with everyone getting great views of birds they don't see very often and hopefully learning a thing or 2 while doing so. Hopefully we'll see a few familiar faces, over the nest few weeks, trying to distinguish Reed from Sedge and Garden Warbler from Blackcap. Good luck!
P.S. Plenty of Mute Swans (c.22) on the main lake again including 454. Most of these birds are first year birds excepting 454 but hopefully EN can provide its history. Seemed to be very few Common Terns about this morning with just 4 counted early on.