Monday, June 30, 2014

Guided Walk - Sunday 29/06/2014

A great turn out for the first of the summer guided bird walks. Through June, July and August we start at 8am instead of 9am but far from putting people off we had a group of 17!

We started off with a scan of the main lake. The highlight here was a small party of Sand Martins over the south west corner. Canada and Greylag Geese were present, the former in large numbers now they have left their nests. We only have 16 goslings on the main lake so the egg oiling this year seems to have done the trick. Great Crested Grebes are also increasing in numbers as are Coots, returning after the breeding season. At least one pair of the Grebes did stay and breed and have 2 youngsters, still time for more to come out of hiding.

Down to the Finger lakes we found singing Reed Warblers in the reed beds, but while enjoying those and a couple of singing Greenfinches we were treated to the sound of a purring Turtle Dove in the Crescent. What a cracker! There was also a singing Reed Bunting in the Crescent. A few Mallards are beginning to congregate on the Finger lakes, the males looking quite untidy now as the go into eclipse during their moult. This is when they take on the appearance of females losing all their fine colours as worn feathers are replaced. Look out for the yellow bills of the males in eclipse to differentiate them from the dark/orange bills of the females and this years juvenile birds.

In with the Mallards was a single Gadwall, denoted by the white wing flash which was showing well. It can be quite tricky to see this especially at this time of year with all the ducks in various stages of moult.

A single Grey Heron, Coots and Moorhens were also present here and Common Terns were passing over on there short journeys between the main lake and 100 Acre.

Our attempts to get the Terns to nest on the main lake island have been unsuccessful this year. I think the huge amount of foliage that has shot up this year has put them off although successful breeding of both Oystercatcher and Redshank on the island this year is great news. The introduction of the Tern raft and maybe some more efforts to control the weed growth on the island next year should hopefully get the Terns back again after their breeding attempts last year.

Along the Navigation Channel we got distracted by Damselflies and Butterflies although we did get good views of a pair of Common Whitethroats in the nettles. Common Blues and Banded Demoiselles were in abundance and we also had good views of Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Large Skipper butterflies. There were also a lot of 7 Spot Ladybirds both adults and various stages of development.

Small Tortoiseshell
We moved on to 100 Acre, taking the path alongside the river to avoid the worst of the nettles which are taking over the other tracks. A Reed Bunting was singing on the far side of the sewage works pool and after a while I managed to locate it and get good scope views for everyone. A singing Sedge Warbler was next, perched up on one of the many Hemlock seed heads. We watched for a while and were treated to a song flight to finish the show. Another Common Whitethroat was in the next clump of Hemlock before we came to the end of the trail, it having become very overgrown.

We stopped here for a while to scan the big lake. A Hobby was briefly on view but only a few of us saw it as it flew across 100 Acre and crossed the river and went out of sight behind the trees. Oystercatcher, Little Egret, Lapwing, House Martin and Sand Martin were all seen. Common Terns were busy over the island keeping their chicks fed.

Common Tern with fish
Leaving 100 Acre we cut back through the park on the way back to the visitor and bagged a few more insects on the way including some lovely Ringlet butterflies and a stunning female Common Darter dragonfly. One of the White butterflies flew past but I didn't get a good enough view to say whether it was a Small or Large White.

We finished off with a few Swifts over the Rough and New Meadow before arriving back at the VC just as the rain started. A pretty good morning and we just about avoided the rain.

The next guided bird walk is on Sunday 27th July, meet at 8am outside the visitor centre.