Saturday, December 10, 2011

This week

Sunday 4th: 51 Cormorants and 9 Little Egrets came to roost.
Monday 5th: 50 Gadwalls. Six Little Egrets (roost), ten Corn Buntings (roost); 1 Common Buzzard; 17 Pied Wagtails over southwest to roost somewhere
Tuesday 6th: Stonechat on Fenlake. Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming; eight Little Egrets (roost) only 3 Corn Buntings at roost.
Wednesday 7th: 45 Cormorants and 11 Little Egrets at roost (site best).
Thursday 8th: 80 Lapwings for 'dawn display'; two Treecreepers together on 'the crescent'.
Friday 9th: female Blackcap; 40 Blackbirds.

Thanks to DK for this.

Saturday 10th December

After a cold night the morning was bright and cold with a covering of frost on the grass and some ice on the main lake. I could hear the Gadwall on the main lake before I got to it. There weren't as many as there have been in recent weeks and no sign of any Wigeon. Tufted Ducks and a few Pochard were also present. Down at the Finger lakes the west lake was iced over with just a small pocket of open water at the north end where some Gadwall were hiding. DK joined JA and myself along the Spit. There was no sign of the Little Grebes on the east lake but a Greylag and 14 Canada Geese were getting some grief from the resident Mute Swans. From the Crescent we watched a party of Goldfinch in the Alders but there were no Siskins or Redpoll with them.

DK continued his usual circuit while JA and myself headed along the Navigation Channel. At Kramer hide we had a couple of Shoveler and a Water Rail called. Up at the STW bridge there wasn't much happening on 100 Acre. We had a party of 30+ Goldfinch and a pair of Reed Buntings as well as the usual Geese, Swans and Gulls. On the way back across the bridge we spotted 4 Greenfinch in the Willows along the Cut.

Along the Woodland Walk we had at least one Treecreeper. In the Long Hedge, just before the entry into Fingers, we came across a flock of Long-tailed Tits and closer inspection turned up a Goldcrest. We cut around past the Sedgewick Seat and the Rough and at the Dead Seat we spied 3 Teal on west Fingers.

There was little else of note until we headed up the west side of the main lake where a Sparrowhawk dived into the hedge but came up empty, better luck next time.

In the afternoon I joined the volunteers at Mowsbury Hill Fort for a bit of scrub clearance. This site is one of many now managed by the Priory Rangers. Bullfinch and Redwing were seen/heard during the session.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

4th December - Volunteer Task

I arrived at the park just after 7 this morning. The wind was biting cold but the bird life warmed me up :-)

A quick walk down the main path, scanning the main lake as I went, revealed a couple of male Pochard with a single female. There were also Gadwall and Tufted Ducks present but it was too dark to determine numbers. A Wigeon was also present, given away by its whistling call. A probable Water Rail flew from the north side reed bed to the island. The Jackdaw roost got up at about 7:20am and swirled around over the main lake. I estimate around 1500 birds, possibly more, present this morning. As they swirled around small groups kept breaking away and leaving for the feeding grounds, other broke off and then re-joined. Sometimes they settled back in the roost trees on the south side before getting up again. This continued for quite some time and a flock of Lapwing (~65) came in from the north east and joined the party, swirling over the main lake. This also continued on for quite a while with the Lapwing gradually gaining more and more height before departing back the way they came.

Four Greylag Geese also came over from the north east, heading south. At Fingers 2 Little Egrets were still on roost in the usual trees at the north end of the Spit. I could see very little on west Fingers but the distinctive quack gave them away. I walked down the Spit and turned down the slope to the Crescent and spotted a dark bird flying from the Spit towards the Crescent, across east Fingers, the binoculars showed the silhouette of a Water Rail. I hurried across the bridge, into position on the Crescent path, just in time to see the Water Rail dash across the path and into the reed bed. No sign of any Corn Buntings leaving the reed bed but I may have been a little early. Back on the main path and a Kingfisher was calling from the south east corner of the main lake. I headed back along the main path, towards the VC. Only one of the Little Egrets was left and that departed as I watched, flying to the south east corner of the main lake and stopping there for a while. It's amazing how difficult these white birds are to see at distance, albeit in low light, you would thing they would stand out more, but to the naked eye you could easily have missed them in the trees.

At least 2 Green Woodpeckers were heard around Fingers.

Next stop was the Visitor Centre to get ready for the days volunteer task and the BBQ kindly put on by the Rangers. We did some coppicing and scrub clearance in the W plantation, opening up the glades on either side of the path through the wood. The guys working by the path did a great job dead hedging the edge of the path so no excuses for straying off the marked route for that section.

Highlight of the day for me, other than the BBQ, was a singing Mistle Thrush, initially heard over towards Kingsmead, it came closer and was finally seen flying over us towards the Sheep Pen, rattling as it went. It sang again from the Sheep Pen area. Also a Great-spotted Woodpecker kept it's eye on us most of the day.

Thanks to the Rangers and volunteer Alan for providing the food for the BBQ, and thanks to all the volunteers this year for the hard work put in all around the park.

Next task is Sunday the 8th January starting at 9am and finishing around 3pm. If you fancy joining us but can't do the whole day, feel free to come down for a morning or afternoon. Even just an hour or two is appreciated by all, just let the Rangers know before hand so they can let you know where will be working.

Contact details can be found here.