Sunday, March 31, 2013

Guided Walk - Easter Sunday

Lovely weather for the guided walk today, clear blue sky although a bit chilly in the wind. My pre walk recce was a bit of a mammal fest with an Otter on west Fingers, well spotted by DK and a Fox on the new meadow as I cut across to pick up the group at the visitor centre. We also had a Chiffchaff singing by the Steps, my first in the park this year. Just shows how far behind this year compared to last when, on the equivalent weekend counts of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were into double figures! Still no Blackcaps this year, in fact I haven't had one anywhere yet this year.

Anyway back to the guided walk and another good turnout despite the clocks going forward an hour. We started with a scan of the lake in front of the visitor centre. Common and Black-headed Gulls were noted as were Tufted Duck and Pochard. A Meadow Pipit flew over as we scanned the ducks.

We walked down to the Finger Lakes where a Water Rail was heard squealing near the entrance to the Spit. Along the Spit a male Gadwall was spotted on west Fingers and I also spotted a Kingfisher perched up in the Willows at the end of one of the fingers. Some of the group got to see it before it flew but we were to have better luck later on. A Little Egret was still roosting on the fallen tree in west Fingers.

As we headed back up the Spit a Buzzard was spotted above the Rough but was lost to sight as it drifted towards the main lake. I heard snatches of Chiffchaff song so we hurried around to the Steps and stood listening for the Chiffchaff. We were rewarded with brief snippets of song and then a couple of Buzzards on a Thermal directly overhead.

We cut through to the Dead Seat and the Chiffchaff was finally tracked down given good views in the top of one of the Willows opposite the Rough. It even stayed put long enough to get the scope set up for all to see.

A couple of Bullfinch flushed into the Sheep Pen as we moved up past the gate to the Rough and we were luck enough to spot the male as flew and perched in one of the trees on the far side of the Sheep Pen. A cracking sight against the white blossom of a flowering Cherry.

Continuing down past the Sedgewick Seat and the resident pair of Canada Geese. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over the Long Hedge. A brief view and the only Woodpecker we had all day, strange given the number of Green Woodpeckers that are about at the moment. The Buzzards were spotted again, this time with a third as they headed out over Kings Mead.

We moved on to the STW bridge where a male Teal was spotted on the back river and then good numbers of Wigeon on 100 Acre, seen in the scope through a considerable heat haze!

Back in the park and the Cormorant roost on Kings Mead provided a nice comparison of plumage with one bird in full breeding plumage, another non breeding adult bird and a juvenile with the pale breast.

Next stop was Kramer hide where I was hoping for the Sparrowhawk to be showing by the nest again. Sadly it wasn't to be but instead we were treated to great view of a pair of Kingfishers over by the fallen Willow. They were showing interest in the root ball with one disappearing, albeit briefly, into a hole in the ball. Looks promising for a nest.

Next stop was the main lake and the hunt for the male Goldeneye that has been around for a few days. It was hanging out with the Tufted Ducks on the south side. We found it using the scope from the east side fishing swims but had better views having moved around to the south side, where the lake side path is now open following the closure over winter. We also had good views of the "rookery" which seemed to be populated by Carrion Crows today. Yesterdays hopeful signs with 3 pairs of Rooks on station may have been a bit premature.

Finally along the west side of the main lake we had good views of a pair of Green Finches, behind the sailing club.

The next guided bird walk is on Sunday 28th April at 9am, meet outside the visitor centre. Hopefully a few more summer migrants will be in by then, that assumes it warms up a bit by then, I wont hold my breath!
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