Sunday, March 20, 2011

Guided Walk - 20th March 2011

The ducks are getting harder to come by as the winter migrants depart for their breeding grounds. While I waited for the people to arrive for the guided walk I spotted a single Pochard on the main lake, there were a few gulls, mostly Black-headed but with one or two Common Gulls in the mix. A single Greylag Goose was on the island along with a number of pairs of Canada Geese, squabbling over the best nest sites.

Two male Reed Buntings were singing from the edge of the main lake in front of the Visitor Centre, three House Sparrows joined them in a nearby Bramble.

Two participants for the guided walk joined me and we headed across the meadow towards the Rough and immediately picked out the 2 note song of the Chiffchaff. Arriving at the gate to the Rough the Chiffchaff was singing from the top of the Willows opposite. It was very mobile moving through the Willows towards the Steps. We followed, stopping at the Dead Seat to scan west Fingers where a party of Tufted Ducks were feeding. A Green Woodpecker called from the Willows and I managed to get the scope on it to enjoy some cracking views.

Continuing towards the Steps we caught up with the Chiffy which was joined by various Tits and a party of Goldfinch. We continued to the main path and down to the Spit. Along the Spit, first up were a couple of Long-tailed Tits followed by Wren and Blackbird. About half way along the Spit a thin high pitched call alerted me to the presence of a Treecreeper and we had brief views as it worked quickly through the trees back towards the Crescent.

Towards the end of the Spit a sudden burst of song indicated the presence of a Cettis Warbler but despite scanning the nearby tree we could not locate this master skulker. Jean spotted something flying deeper into cover the other side of the fence and a little later another burst of song came from that area.

Back to the wildfowl on west Fingers we had excellent scope views of Tufted Ducks and a pair of Gadwall. Also present was a single male Teal sleeping on the bank by the fallen tree. A Mink was also spotted swimming across the lake and attracting the attention of the Coots and a pair of Great-crested Grebes which saw it off onto the bank of the fenced off section of the Spit.

Across the Spit a scan of east Fingers and we were onto a pair of Red-crested Pochard gaining excellent scope views. Then it was off around the Crescent and down the east side of Fingers for further views of the RCP before stopping off at Kramer hide. A pair of Canada Geese were on guard in fron of the hide then a Little Grebe was spotted, resplendent in it's summer plumage. Then a female Teal was spotted in the gap in the reed bed opposite the hide. Shortly after her partner came out of the cover and both spent some time feeding giving us great views. A second Little Grebe was spotted over by the left hand reed bed looking slightly duller than the first. A riple under the Willow to the left of the hide and suddenly a Mink (same one?) was out on the bank and staring back at us as we watched, before it disappeared into cover.

Leaving the hide we continued along the Navigation Channel. A scan of the Woodpigeons on Kingsmead failed to realise a Stock Dove. Little else of note on Kingsmead so we continued on to the Sewerage Treatment Works to check out 100 Acre. Not much on the first pool but several groups of Greylag and Canada Geese grazing around the big lake. Through the scope we had distant views of Wigeon on the big lake so we continued along the cycle track to get closer. A single Redwing was spotted in the hedgerow along the side of the track.

At Meadow Lane GP we turned off left and cut across to the big lake where we did get better views of the Wigeon many of which were grazing in the long grass, just their heads giving them away. An Oystercatcher flew in and as we watched it in the scope a Lapwing was also spotted close by, more were tucked away in the long grass.

As we headed back to the cycle track several of the Lapwing got up and we were treated some calling and tumbling display flight. At Meadow Lane GP a Coot was spotted on nest.

Back along the cycle track we stopped to check for Redshank which I had heard calling earlier and sure enough there was one preening on the edge of the big lake and then it started working the edge of the lake. As we watched a Meadow Pipit called and flew overhead.

Back to the park and we cut through the Woodland Walk, which was quiet, and then across the New Meadow. At the back of the Rough the Chiffchaff could still be heard singing strongly. Back at the car park and a group of 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were circling overhead.

Some great views of less often seen species this morning plus, of course, all the regulars now singing strongly. Next month the ducks will be even harder to come by but the spring migrants should be more in evidence so join us on Sunday April 17th for the next guided walk.
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