Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Week

What a difference a year makes. This time last year we had a lot of snow, temperatures below freezing day and night and ice covering all of the lakes excepting a small area kept open, on the main lake, by the Swans. This week we have temperatures into double figures during the day and not even a night time frost!

I spent Wednesday and Thursday coppicing in the park with Nicky. We cut back the trees nearest the path between the Rough and the main lake and further along past the Steps. Before we started on Thursday I went round to Kramer hide before first light and found 10 Little Egrets still at roost. The last one left at just after 8am and headed north after initially going south.

I arrived early again this (Saturday) morning and was in time to see the Jackdaws leave the roost in good numbers. A Kingfisher was seen in the north east corner of the main lake. There was even a synchronised departure as groups around Fingers and on Kings Mead left at the same time as myself and JA walked along the Navigation Channel. Despite arriving at Kramer hide before 8am all the Little Egrets were gone, just a few white feathers to show they had been there.

We walked back around to the Crescent and met up with DK along the Spit. There was little to see on Fingers, just a pair of Gadwall on the east lake and a pair of Shoveler and 3 Teal on the west lake. A party of Lapwing (~40) passed over south as we headed along the main path to the Steps. It was very quiet along by the Rough but as we turned to head down to the Sedgewick seat I spotted a Goldcrest in the Elders. 3 Teal flew up from Fingers as we continued alongside the Sheep Pen. Passed the Sedgewick Seat JA spotted a Great-spotted Woodpecker in the Sheep Pen and as we looked at that a Green Woodpecker flew from the big Willows behind the seat.

We continued our circuit and stopped to checkout Kings Mead where there was a small group of Canada Geese and a single Greylag Goose (we'd had 3 Greylags over north east earlier). Back at Kramer hide and it was still very quiet, none of the expected Shoveler or Teal, but a Water Rail was a morning highlight.

Continuing back along the navigation channel I spotted some birds in the top of the plantation behind the beach and with the aid of the scope these were identified as Fieldfare (40+). Along the canoe slalom we unexpectedly picked up a Grey Wagtail, despite 2 dogs running up and down the slalom course. We also had 20 Redwing in the Willows over by the Barns hotel.

Next stop was the main lake hide for a wildfowl count. 30+ Pochard, 20+ Tufted Ducks, 22 Cormorants, 3 Wigeon and 9 Great Crested Grebes was the result. There was also a good number of Coots and Gulls including 9 Common Gulls, the rest being Black-headed Gulls. We had a mixed party of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls over earlier.

We checked Fenlake for the Stonechat but is was a no show again, we did have a number of Snipe and 80+ Lapwing. Little else then until we reached the north west corner where a Goldcrest was calling from the pines.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day Guided Walk

This morning was bright and breezy but the bird life didn't disappoint, with the highlight being 2 Northern Pintail on the main lake. We headed off down the west side of the main lake which was very quiet, but at the fishing swim a pair of Wigeon were close in the bank, giving us good views through the scope. Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Coot and Common Gull were also seen. Parties of 40 and 25 Lapwing passed over south. Several other smaller groups were seen during the morning.

As we moved off I heard a Reed Bunting calling and located it in the tree by the reed bed, the scope revealed a rather drab male. We continued around the corner and while watching a couple of Moorhen under the Willows a Kingfisher flew across the corner of the lake.

We had very good views of another Gadwall close in along the south side and a little further along we stopped to have a look at the Pochard but I spotted 2 Pintail on the edge of the group of ducks so we had a good look at those before checking out the Pochard.

We had a brief stop to look over at Fenlake but were unable to spot anything other than Lapwing, which were feeding across the far side of the meadow. On Saturday we had seen the Stonechat perched up on the fence but it failed to show today.

At the main lake hide we added a couple more species of Gull with a single Lesser Black-backed Gull and three Herring Gulls (1 first winter). Pochard were a little closer giving reasonable views but the Pintail had gone along with some of the Wigeon and Tufted Ducks. These had probably been put up by the sailing club members who had arrived.

Black-headed Gull, Cormorant and Great-crested Grebe completed the main lake list so we headed off towards Fingers. A party of Log-tailed Tits were noisy but elusive along the navigation channel. At Kramer hide Shoveler and Teal showed well, as did a Grey Heron in the fallen Willow. On Kingsmead a small party of Canada Geese were present but the 2 Greylags, which I had seen earlier, had departed. Half a dozen Cormorants were roosting in the usual trees on the far side of Kingsmead.

Just before the Sedgewick Seat we had a Treecreeper in one of the Willows and a Green Woodpecker flew  into the large Willows behind the seat before departing across the Sheep Pen. At the Dead Seat we came across the remains of a Sparrowhawk's dinner, on the picnic table. A lot of feathers, a leg and the beak identified the victim as a Bullfinch. A party of Goldfinch were chattering as we walked down along side the Rough.

From the Steps we headed back along the main path and cut across the New Meadow to the car park and the Visitor Centre where we finished of the walk with good views of Dunnock, Chaffinch, Bullfinch and Greenfinch in the staff car park.

Many thanks to those that joined me on the walk this morning, hope you all enjoyed it. Next one is Sunday the 29th January at 9am. Meet by the Visitor Centre.

This mornings full list, including those seen by me before the walk started:

Black-headed Gull
Mute Swan
Tufted Duck
Canada Goose
Greylag Goose
Song Thrush
Green Woodpecker
Great-spotted Woodpecker
Wood Pigeon
Carrion Crow
Blue Tit
Water Rail (west Fingers)
Teal (at least 4, 2 pairs)
Shoveler (at least 4, 1 pair and 2 other males)
Great Tit
Kingfisher (east Fingers and main lake, south west corner)
Grey Heron
Long-tailed Tit
Wigeon (at least 7)
Lapwing (40, 25, +)
Reed Bunting
Pintail (2 males)
Herring Gull (2 adults, 1 first winter)
Lesser Black-backed Gull
House Sparrow
Collared Dove

41 Species, not bad given we didn't manage a raptor or a Fieldfare this morning, the Pintail were a bonus.