Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Guided Bird Walk - 23/02/2014

I visited the park early this morning hoping to catch the Little Egrets still at roost. I was rewarded for the early start with 11 Little Egrets on the west side of the Spit although I could only see 8 initially as they left an extra 3 came out of the cover. A great way to start the day. It was considerably darker this morning than yesterday and the Egrets didn't leave until around 06:50. The previous morning, although I was in the park by this time, the Egrets had already left which shows the difference in light levels between a cloudy morning and a clear morning!

It was already quite windy early on but by 9am, the start of the guided walk, it seemed that someone had turned the wind machine up a couple of notches and I almost had to shout to be heard above the roar! I was joined by 13 people this morning and after a quick look at the Gulls on the main lake (Black-headed, Common and Herring) we moved off down the main path and then down the Spit where we found a bit of shelter and it was possible to hear a few birds singing!

First was a Wren, one of the smallest birds but with a huge voice. After a couple of weeks away Mute Swan Orange 500 is back on territory with her partner and a single remaining youngster from last years brood. She is trying to persuade the youngster it is time to leave but it hasn't quite got the idea yet. I wonder if it will have any feathers left by the time it realises!

At the end of the Spit we scanned west Fingers but there was nothing about other than a single Moorhen. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling from over near the Rough. Back along the Spit a couple of Great Tits were were moving through and a Water Rail was heard in the Crescent reed bed.

We moved along the east side of Fingers and stopped off at Kramer hide where a Little Grebe was showing well, we had brief views of a male Shoveler and a pair of Teal showed well in the scope.

Next stop was the Kissing Gate where a couple of Greenfinch were heard but remained unseen, then it was onto 100 Acre.

We scanned the big lake and found a small mixed group of ducks including Gadwalls, Tufted Ducks and Teals with a Little Grebe in the background. There was also a Great Crested Grebe nearby but then a Kestrel was spotted and our focus switched to that. It showed really well sitting up on a nearby bush before flying to the ground and finishing off a meal. We moved off and so did the Kestrel, hovering over the island in search of her next meal.

Meadow Lane GP held a small group of ducks including a pair of Pochards which looked great in the scope. Further down the east side of the big lake on 100 Acre we came across the bulk of the Wigeon grazing on the grass on the far side of the bay. Wigeon look fantastic any time but through the scope the males were stunning. Despite doing our best not to spook them they eventually took flight and landed on the lake quite a bit further away. While scanning a group of gulls I spotted an Oystercatcher nearby but while moving to a better view point it must have flown and we could not relocate it.

There were a lot of Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits about feeding around the standing flood water next to the crop fields and as we moved across to there a number of Skylarks took to the air. On the crop field there was a good size flock of Barnacle Geese, some of the feral flock that usually spend their time at Willington and/or Roxton GP's. There was also a group of large Gulls but unfortunately as we got in to position to view them through the scope they and the Geese took to the air. There were at least 2 Great Black-backed Gulls in the flock but sadly they didn't settle back down but instead dispersed so we weren't able to see what else was in the mix.

We moved to the viewpoint across to Castle Mill where several hundred Lapwings were on the ground. A small group of Golden Plovers flew in as we scanned for other waders. The Shelduck that has been around here recently was absent but as I went to check one of the the other pools I flushed a Green Sandpiper.

We were unable to find any Snipe but another scan of the gulls by the big lake revealed a couple of Lesser Black-backs. Then it was back to the park with a few more bits and pieces on the way before reaching the Visitor Centre and the end of the walk.

Thanks to all who joined me, hope to see you again next month, Sunday 30th March, meet at the visitor centre at 9am.