Sunday, May 26, 2013

Guided Walk - Sunday 26th May

A good turn out for the guided walk and a beautiful morning for it. I scanned the main lake island while waiting for everyone to arrive. Upto 5 pairs of Common Terns now appear to be nesting on the island, the first time since the 1980's. An Oystercatcher was also present along with 2 pairs of Black-headed Gulls. One of the pairs of Gulls was seen to mate and one of the birds was moving sticks about as if nest building. There are also good numbers of Tufted Ducks around the island with a count of nineteen records yesterday morning. The Canada Geese now seem to have given up with there nests but 15 goslings have avoided the egg oiling along with another 3 on the Finger Lakes. Another good sign is the Sand Martin activity around the artificial nest block. Birds were seen entering and leaving several of the holes in the block, will they actually nest this year?

I received a call from EG who was ringing in the Rough so this was the first port of call for the group. We arrived to find EG and VI processing a pair of Bullfinches, a really great opportunity to see these beautiful birds up close. The ringers were having a slow day so we moved on after the Bullfinches were released and headed for 100 Acre. On route we had several Blackcaps singing and a Greenfinch at the Kissing Gate. Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler were both spotted on the island reed bed under the STW bridge. A Kestrel was spotted over 100 Acre and a possible Hobby was high over the STW with a party of Hirundines and Swifts. It was impossible to tell for sure as it was right in line with the sun, only appearing briefly on the edge and then it was not possible to see any colour. Shape and size were good for Hobby though.

Male Blackcap with ring by the New Cut
We headed along the river side track on 100 Acre and straight away picked up a singing Garden Warbler on the other side of the river near the mouth of the New Cut. The Kestrel showed well directly above us as we listened to the Garden Warbler. There weren't as many Reed Warblers or Sedge Warblers as I had expected but after great views of a Goldfinch on the Teasels we finally found a Sedge Warbler that was showing and singing in a patch of Hemlock. It did a couple of song flights and then a Common Whitethroat showed briefly nearby before dropping into the centre of another patch of Hemlock.

Sedge Warbler
The sun and warmth also brought out the Banded Demoiselles and a few other small Damselflies that will remain unidentified. There were also quite a few Butterflies about, Whites in the main but several Small Tortoise Shells and the occasional Peacock.

A family of Greylag Geese with 4 goslings was spotted swimming upstream and I saw them again later at the mouth of the Navigation Channel.
Greylag family
Further on we saw a family of Mute Swans with a couple of the young riding on the back of one of the adults.

Mute Swan family courtesy of Ray Piercy
On the far side of the river on the land next to the Waitrose car park there were several Lapwing, some possibly sitting on eggs. A Common Buzzard got up over 100 Acre showing well as it climbed on a thermal. We saw another or same bird again later.

A Lapwing passes overhead
In the same area a pair of Redshanks showed briefly and I thought they also flew over to waste land next to Waitrose but when I went back later I found them in the same area and they were dropping into the reeds by the edge of the river.



Moving on we spotted a couple of Little Egrets on the wader scrape and as we rounded the end of the scrape they flew along with a third that we hadn't seen. Two more were in the big gulley on the Castle Mill side of the fence. Skylarks were singing all around at various times and as we turned to head back along the north edge of the arable field I heard a Linnet call but was unable to locate it. As we moved off I heard it again and this time spotted it as it flew over towards the waste ground on the east side of the field.

A call from the edge of the field alerted us to the presence of a pair of Yellow Wagtails which showed really well to within 5 yards.
Female Yellow Wagtail  courtesy of Ray Piercy

Male Yellow Wagtail  courtesy of Ray Piercy
Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me and when I went back later both birds were by the wader scrape and I was unable to get as close.

Male Yellow Wagtail

Female Yellow Wagtail
A little further along we had great views of a pair of Skylarks along the edge of the field at similar distance. Another brief showing by a Common Whitethroat as we made our way back along the edge of the big lake. An Oystercatcher on the island. There was also a pair of Great Crested Grebes, 2 male Gadwalls and several Tufted Ducks. I heard a Little Grebe whinny but couldn't see where it was. Several Lesser Black-backed Gulls were cruising about the area all morning. At least one Canada Goose is still sitting on its nest on the island and a pair of Coots were feeding their 2 youngsters at the south end of the island. When I returned later I spotted another pair of Coots with 2 smaller youngsters on one of the pools on the island.

It was getting late by this time so we headed back to the park along the New Cut but failed to find a Kingfisher. We did get a singing Common Whitethroat behind the visitor centre when we got back to the car park.

By this time it was 12:30pm, sorry all for making you late for your lunch, but we had a great morning with plenty of species ticked off the list. The next bird walk is Sunday June 30th starting at 8am (yes that is 8am), hope to see you there. Meet outside the visitor centre.