Monday, May 11, 2015

Volunteers and Dawn Chorus Walk

On Sunday 3rd of May the Vols were in the park clearing out the Leat Stream between the Leat Pool and the pipe under the footpath. The usual good turnout, despite the heavy rain that greeted us at the start of the task, meant we managed to get the whole section cleared. A job well done by everybody.

That morning I walked around the Finger Lakes with DK and was lucky enough to hear a Cettis Warbler singing as we walked by the Navigation Channel. We both stopped and listened some more and it finally sang again. It sounded like it was over by Cardington Lock so we headed round there and after a long wait were rewarded with a couple of bursts of song over by the weir. It's been a while since we had a Cettis in the park so this was a very welcome addition to the 2015 list.

On bank holiday Monday morning I was down on 100 Acre very early for a photography session with the Little Grebes:

Riding the wave!


Little Grebe
Mallard family

Mute Swan
This weekend it was another early start, on Sunday morning, for the Dawn Chorus guided walk. This year the weather was kind with a light breeze early on and a beautiful sunrise:

Finger Lakes dawn by Chris Smart
Ranger Jane and myself were joined by six bleary eyed souls at 4am to experience the park waking up. We started off down at the Dead Seat by west Fingers where the Jackdaws and Crows in the Corvid roost were already discussing their day and the Robins and Blackbirds were trying to get their points across. These were soon joined by a couple of Garden Warblers which also seem to be early risers. It was nice to listen to them with the complication of Blackcaps which some people find difficult separate on song alone. The Blackcaps seem to be later risers and didn't join the chorus until it was reaching its peak. Song Thrush, Wren, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tits all came on line as the chorus continued, meanwhile some of the early risers stopped singing and headed off for breakfast.

The Corvid chatter was a constant background throughout the chorus. We also had a nearby Treecreeper calling and a bat put in an appearance for while. As the light levels came up 6 Little Egrets left their Finger Lakes roost and a Couple of pairs of Coots went to war as neighbouring Coots often do.

With the peak of the chorus subsiding we moved to the Spit where a Sedge Warbler was just getting warmed up. The Reed Warblers were already well into their stride, burbling away in the Crescent reed bed. A family of Coots mimicked human life with the adults out and about getting breakfast while the kids remained tucked up in the nest.

At the end of the Spit the nesting Mute Swan looked like she may have chicks under her as she was spreading her wings a little to make sure everyone was covered. Hopefully we'll see the family out and about in the next few days. The pair of Grebes have still not settled on a nest site and continue to scout the lakes. A Cuckoo flew to the snag on the Spit but departed straight away so we didn't get great views. We checked out the Crescent reed bed where good numbers of Reed Warblers are now in residence. A Reed Bunting was singing nearby.

Our next stop was on the east side of Fingers to view the Heron nest and we were lucky to have good views of 2 checks on the first nest. The second nest looks to be a none runner as neither adult was on it although one was still standing close by.

We headed off to 100 Acre where we were treated to views of a couple of Lapwing chicks, the first of the year. A male Shoveler was dozing nearby. Red Shanks were active around the big lake along with Common Terns and Swifts. At the far end of the big lake we added Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Kingfisher, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers to the morning list.

A cool breeze was strengthening by this time so we headed back to the park where good numbers of Swifts were active over the main lake and Fingers. After tea and croissants in the Visitor Centre it was time to start the day!

Thanks to all who joined me on the Dawn Chorus walk this year, if you fancy getting to know the parks birds but can't drag yourself out for a 4am start then why not join us for the one of the regular bird walks. The next one is on Sunday 31st May at 9am, meet outside the visitor centre.
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