Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday 26th May

Did a recce of 100 Acre this morning in preparation for tomorrows guided walk. I always think this is one of the best areas of the park, especially in the spring.Sadly today we didn't find the variety of waders I was hoping for, just the odd Lapwing but the Warblers along the river were great and we had a couple of bonus species. First up we had a Kestrel on the telegraph pole as we started out along the river. Sedge and Reed Warblers were regulars along river but we also had a Willow Warbler in the trees on Riverside. Haven't had one of those in the park for a couple of weeks or more. A little further along a Mistle Thrush was singing, also on Riverside. Chiffchaffs were regularly heard as we headed further down stream. There were a number of Lapwing on the cleared land next to the new Waitrose, this area looks perfect for Lapwings at the moment but a layer of Tarmac in the near future will put an end to that. A couple of Black-headed Gulls were checking out the same area and we had 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls over as we watched the Lapwings. Sky Larks were singing overhead and Little Grebes were also heard on the big lake.

We skirted along the ditch and turned back along the crop field where a couple of calls betrayed a Yellow Wagtail which was on one of the new tree collars, along the edge of the field. It flew as we approached and dropped into the crops. Shortly after a second was seen over the field and this also dropped in further over towards the cycle path. A Sky Lark lifted from the gravel area, next to the field, singing strongly and a couple of Linnets flew in. As we cut across to the east side of the big lake a female Sparrowhawk flew low across the field. A few minutes later it flew back across towards Riverside and put up a large flock of Starlings, taking one in the process.

On the big lake, Little Grebes were heard again and there 10+ Tufted Ducks. A pair of Greylag Geese had a single large downy gosling with them. No sign of the expected Redshank. Most of the Starlings were in hiding in the hedge line along the east side of the lake by this time. There was little else of note on 100 Acre so we headed back into the park and were just in time to see a Red Kite fly over Fingers and turn down the east side of the lake. A phone call to DK and he picked it up over the south side of the main lake. A good end to the morning.

There were good numbers of damselflies around the park and on 100 Acre this morning, plenty of Banded Demoiselles, both males and females, Common Blues and a very nice Blue-tailed damselfly. Not as many butterflies about as I had expected given the favourable conditions.

The guided walk begins outside the Visitor Centre at 9am in the morning (Sunday 27th).

I had a quick look up at Mowsbury Hillfort nature reserve after I left the park and added Lesser Whitethroat and Stock Dove to the bird list for the site. The Lesser Whitethroat was initially heard in the hedgerow between the golf course and the crop fields on the north side of the reserve but it made its way up the north side scrub before it was lost to sight and went quiet. A pleasing find none the less.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Saturday 19th May

The damp overcast conditions this morning seemed to suit the Hirundines and Swifts. My early count was around 250 but more Swifts arrived throughout the morning. The highlight of the morning was the 3 Common Sandpipers that JA and myself flushed along the north side of the main lake. They settled up near the Visitor Centre where DK flushed them when he arrived. They flew around the back of the island where they were lost.

The rest of the morning was pretty much as expected although Dunnocks seem to be singing again after a quiet period. The Great Crested Grebe nest, on Fingers, was unoccupied and both adults were seen to dive so no youngsters on either of their backs. Maybe they'll have a another go soon. We had 3 Grey Wagtails at the STW bridge. Sedge Warblers were very quiet at the bridge with very little singing.

Back at the car park a Lesser Whitethroat sang from the scrub between the car park and the Beefeater, the first for a couple of weeks.

Next Sunday (27th) is the next guided walk. Meet at the Visitor Centre at 9am.

In the afternoon I joined the Friends Group at Mowsbury Hillfort NR for a guided walk. Ed Burnett led the walk and concentrated on the plants and trees around the site which was very interesting. I also spotted a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest hole and watched both adults visit several times. The youngsters could be heard calling in the hole. A Common Buzzard circled overhead while we watched the Woodpeckers.

On Sunday morning I carried out my monthly survey of the birds in Putnoe Wood. A couple more Great Spotted Woodpecker holes were found here and one had a youngster peering out from the hole, almost ready to fledge. Surprise of the morning was a Common Whitethroat which was found in the middle of the Wood, off the main path. I thought I might one or two of these on the edge of the golf course but wasn't expecting one in the middle of the Wood. Garden Warblers were recorded for the first time this year.

Another busy weekend!