Saturday, April 07, 2012

Good Friday, not so bad Saturday!

Met up with DK at the park on a cold Good Friday morning (-1°C). Willow Warblers are fresh in this week and it didn't take long for me to get my first of the year down by the Rough. They are not all singing strongly yet but you are almost certain to find one around Fingers. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs are also pretty abundant in the park although the peak counts of last week have declined a little showing that some of the birds were just passing through. 6 Gadwalls and a couple of Teal were on west Fingers.

Having already seen TP once we met up again by the Woodland Walk, he'd already been up at the STW Bridge and had seen a Sedge Warbler, the first of the year. I headed up there with DK and it wasn't long before we heard the song and tracked the bird down to the west side of the river, north of the bridge on Riverside. We crossed the New Cut and went down to the river to get a little closer. Again we soon picked up the song but the bird was staying down in the bottom of the reeds and was hard to see but our patience was rewarded as DK spotted the bird move and then we had decent views for a few minutes.

There were also 40+ Sand Martins further along the river and we noticed that many of them were perching up on the overhead lines so we walked over to see if we could get some shots. Unfortunately most of them were facing away from the rising sun so lighting wasn't ideal but I managed to get this shot as one flew in to perch up. From the other side of the river a little later, DK spotted a single House Martin in the mix.

Sand Martin
Back up at the STW bridge there was another Teal on the back river. We cut down the track to the east side of the river and followed the trail along the river. We failed to locate any more Sedge Warblers but there were plenty more Chiffies and Blackcaps all along the west side of the river. A party of 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls spent over an hour, at least, circling over the island on the 100 Acre big lake.

Lesser Black-Backed Gull
We failed to find the hoped for Wheatear as we covered most of 100 Acre but Redshanks were heard and seen around the big lake and DK picked up a Ringed Plover as it passed over. A Snipe was also seen over the big lake and it came to rest back on the island. A Reed Bunting gave good views along the east side of the big lake.
Reed Bunting
Cutting back across the 100 Acre to the main path I spotted a Common Buzzard over the STW and it obliged by flying directly over our heads.
Common Buzzard
I looked down for a moment and next minute there were a further 2 Buzzards overhead with some lovely interaction between the three and even one of the LBB Gulls got in on the act.
Common Buzzards and LBB Gull

Common Buzzards
Back in the park we had 2 Jays and a further 4 Common Buzzards (2,1 and 1). We also had a possible second Sedge Warbler, I picked it up on a snatch of song near Wolk Holm as we stood at the south side of the main lake. This proved to be a very frustrating bird as it continuously started to sing, just 2 or 3 phrases, but never got into it's stride. We tracked it down to a thick piece of scrub and despite hanging around for half an hour we never did see the bird so it remain a mystery. We did get a Kingfisher while we waited and as we crossed the Cardington Spillway and turned into Press Mead a Goldcrest flitted across in front of us and showed well in a nearby Willow.

Numbers for the morning as follows (thanks to DK):

100 Acre
Mute Swan 7
Canada Goose 15
Teal 2
Pochard 1
Pheasant 1
Great Crested Grebe 2
Little Egret 1
Kestrel 1
Coot 3
Lapwing 2
Redshank 3
Common Gull 4
Stock Dove 1
Green Woodpecker 2
Skylark 14
House Martin 1
Pied Wagtail (yarrellii) 1
Dunnock 2
Blackbird 2
Song Thrush 1
Chiffchaff 2
Blue Tit 1
Jackdaw 1
Starling 9
Reed Bunting 5
Greylag Goose 13
Gadwall 3
Mallard 4
Tufted Duck 26
Little Grebe 7
Cormorant 4
Buzzard 3
Moorhen 1
Ringed Plover 1
Snipe 3
Black-headed Gull 35
Lesser Black-backed Gull 8
Woodpigeon 5
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Sand Martin 38
Meadow Pipit 2
Wren 1
Robin 1
Fieldfare 7
Blackcap 2
Willow Warbler 1
Magpie 2
Carrion Crow 16
Greenfinch 1

Total number of species 49
Priory Country Park
Mute Swan 8
Canada Goose 19
Teal 3
Tufted Duck 2
Cormorant 3
Grey Heron 2
Moorhen 2
Oystercatcher 1
Common Gull 1
Herring Gull 1
Stock Dove 2
Collared Dove 3
Green Woodpecker 1
Meadow Pipit 1
Dunnock 9
Blackbird 13
Sedge Warbler 1
Chiffchaff 19
Goldcrest 1
Blue Tit 9
Treecreeper 1
Magpie 7
Rook 6
Starling 2
Greenfinch 1
Bullfinch 2
Greylag Goose 2
Gadwall 5
Mallard 47
Great Crested Grebe 14
Little Egret 1
Buzzard 7
Coot 24
Black-headed Gull 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull 8
Feral Pigeon 5
Woodpigeon 19
Kingfisher 2
Sand Martin 38
Wren 8
Robin 8
Song Thrush 4
Blackcap 20
Willow Warbler 3
Long-tailed Tit 3
Great Tit 7
Jay 2
Jackdaw 1
Carrion Crow 8
Chaffinch 13
Goldfinch 2
Reed Bunting 1

Total number of species 52

Saturday dawned overcast and drizzly but surprisingly no Hirundines over the main lake first thing. ONce again I joined DK by the main lake and Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff were all heard/seen by the time we met up with EG, who was ringing in the Crescent. JA joined us shortly after. There were 2 Little Egrets on the fallen Willow at the north end of west Fingers, 4 Gadwalls were also present. Heading back to the Steps, along the main path, and DK spotted a Herring Gull accompanied by 2 Kittiwakes over the main lake. I managed to get a shot of one of the Kittiwakes as both departed north east shortly after. Great spot by DK.

Kittiwake
Around the back of Fingers there was a pair of Teal by the Sedgewick Seat. Up at the STW bridge we could not find any Sedge Warblers today but there were ~40 Sand Martins over the big lake on 100 Acre. JA spotted a Swallow over 100 Acre which I relocated as it flew up river and past us over the bridge. There were 2 Oystercatchers on 100 Acre. A walk up to Meadow Lane GP added a few Skylarks, 4 Fieldfares, 5 Redwings and a single Lapwing in the crop field.

Back in the park, DK had a message from EG, that 4 Sand Martins had passed over. Just as we reached EG back at the Crescent, at least another 10 passed over north.

That was it as far as note worthy birds was concerned. Continuing around the main lake we had several more Chiffies, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers. A stop a the mystery bird location from yesterday failed to add anything to the mystery but the Goldcrest flitted across in front of us again as we rounded the same corner into Press Mead. The Priory Rookery remains at 3 nests although there were 8 birds today and the thin nest at the back was being added to.

Two great mornings to kick off the Easter bank holiday weekend and up to 88 species for the year so far.
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