Sunday, May 27, 2012

Guided Walk - Sunday 27th May

It was a cracking  morning in the park with the weather playing ball this month after the wash out that was last months walk. Yesterday's plan of attack came to fruition and we headed over to 100 Acre for a walk around. We had only just left the Visitor Centre, cutting through from the car park to the New Meadow when a Cuckoo was heard. We hurried through to the meadow in the hope of getting a look and were just in time to see it fly off, being pursued by a small bird. It sounded quite distant the next time it called, but when I played the bubbling call of the female Cuckoo for the group the male returned and sat in a tree not far from us, calling. We had great views in the scope until it finally headed off across to the New Cut.

Cutting across the meadow we stopped a couple of times for singing Common Whitethroats, getting good views of both birds and song flight from one of them. One of the group spotted a Common Buzzard high overhead and we watched it as it drifted west. 2 Egyptian Geese flew over from the north east and looked as if they dropped into the main lake which was hidden behind trees.

From the Meadow we cut across to the cycle track where we stopped to listen to 2 Blackcaps singing either side of the track. Then up to the STW bridge for Sedge Warblers but only Reed Warblers were singing so it was onwards to 100 Acre, starting along the river. A Kingfisher was heard just up stream from the bridge but it did not show for us. A pair of Gadwall were on the river. Heading downstream there were a number of Reed Warblers and then another Whitethroat. Finally we came across a Sedge Warbler singing strongly along the edge of the small lake. We watched for a while and were treated to a couple of song flights and some good views before we moved on.

The Hemlock is growing very strongly this year, already over head height. It is providing good cover for Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers. A Willow Warbler was singing across the river on Riverside but remained unseen.

We continued down stream to the point where we could look back across the river to the new Waitrose car park. As yesterday several Lapwings were present here and it looked like one may have been sitting on eggs. It was initially seen standing with head down as if moving the eggs, before settling back down. A couple of Black-headed Gulls were scouting the area. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard on the other side of the river.

A few yards further down stream a Garden Warbler was singing in a small clump of trees by the river with Blackcap singing in the small plantation in the middle of the field. The Garden Warbler gave brief views and sang reasonably while the Blackcap did its best to drown it out from the plantation.

We turned away from the river following the ditch line where another Sedge Warbler was singing. I began telling the group that this was a good place for Buzzards when one appeared out over the gravel workings at Castle Mill. It flew low across workings towards the bypass before dropping out of sight. 8 Greylag Geese flew over, heading for the big lake.

We continued along the trail towards the crop field stopping off to have a quick look over the gravel works where they are draining the water. There was a Ringed plover here but it moved off before I could get the scope on it to verify but one of the group spotted a couple of Partridge in the area and these were identified as Red-legged. Moving up to the crop field a small party of Linnets were in the area, moving and feeding. We had poor views of these before we headed back long the edge of the crops towards the big lake. A couple of Sky Larks flew up from the gravel area, next to the crops, singing strongly as they headed upwards. A Lapwing flew up and gave its characteristic "peewit" call. Four Linnets passed overhead and then circled around settling on the gravel. They remained hard to see properly although another Sky Lark was spotted as I scanned the area with the scope. The Buzzard was spotted again, over towards the river, with a Crow in close attendance. Yellow Wagtail calls were heard in the crops but they stayed put and remained unseen today. A handful of Swallows and a couple of House Martins were zipping about.

On the east side of the big lake a number of Tufted Ducks were present again. Little Grebes were heard regularly during the morning but remained unseen. No sign of any Redshank again. The flock of Starlings was present again but no sign of the Sparrowhawk or Kestrel today. The 2 Greylag Geese with the big downy gosling were present on the big lake again.

It was getting late by now so we cut back across to the cycle track and headed back down the track, across the bridge, and down towards the car park.Birds were still singing strongly along the New Cut with Dunnock, Blackcap and Chiffchaff all leading the way. A Great Tit was feeding in the long grass close to the track. All the usual suspects were seen and/or heard during the morning so a it was a pretty successful walk, if a little warm by the end. Can't complain though after the soaking we got last month.

The next bird walk is Sunday, June 24th but note the earlier start time of 8am.