Sunday, April 26, 2015

Guided Bird Walk - Sunday 26th April 2015

Another good turnout for the guided walk this morning and the birds got in on the act as we notched up a long list with a number of year firsts. We started off along the edge of the car park and had Dunnock, Blackcap and Garden Warbler all singing in close proximity with a Song Thrush joining in a little further away. Blackcaps a numerous in the park at the moment and provide a constant back ground song almost anywhere you care to stop at the moment.

Across the meadow a Common Whitethroat was singing at the back of the play area. A single phrase from a Willow Warbler was also heard nearby. I was guilty of overlooking one of our common birds when a number of the group asked what was producing a particular song. I just could not pick up on what they were hearing. When I finally locked on to the bird it was a Blue Tit singing. Sometimes it is very easy to focus on the "more exciting" migrants and overlook our resident birds but they are every bit as beautiful.

A Robin was singing as we moved into the Finger Lakes complex, another beautiful if somewhat melancholy sound. A short distance on by the gate to the Rough another Blackcap was singing and down by the Dead Seat a GardenWarbler and a White throat could be heard in the Rough. On west Fingers a Shoveler and several Tufted Ducks were seen along with the nesting Mute Swan. A Sparrowhawk passed over the lake heading south.

We headed around to the Spit stopping on the way to watch the Swallows and Sand Martins over the main lake and listen to a Sedge Warbler in a Willow on the north shore.

Along the Spit we had excellent views of the Shoveler, Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes and Coots with young. Chiffchaff was seen and a Treecreeper was heard. Another Sedge Warbler was singing strongly along here and when we moved down into the Crescent another was singing with the Reed Warblers in the reed bed. This gave us an excellent opportunity to compare these 2 songsters which many struggle to separate but the more manic Sedge Warbler is quite easy to identify compared to the rhythmic Reed Warbler. Of course if you get to look at the 2 they are quite different visually with the Sedge Warbler sporting a bold off-white eye stripe and sparrow like markings on the back and wings, compared with the much planer brown and buff colouration of the Reed Warbler.

While listening to these 2 a Cuckoo called, the first in the park this year. It seemed quite close and then moved further off so we moved back up onto the Spit in the hope of seeing it. At first it seemed like we were going to be unlucky but then I spotted it overhead and we managed to track it into the Willows over by the Dead Seat. It was tricky to see at first but then 2 Cuckoos flew up out of the Willows squabbling with each other and we watched as they flew around before disappearing out of sight.

Our next stop was along the east side of the Finger Lakes for a look at the 2 Grey Heron nests. A second pair joined the first pair in the last couple of weeks but the best news is that the first pair now have a chick. We did not get to see the chick today but yesterday, along with DK and JA, I had brief views as the adults changed over on the nest. This is the first recorded breeding success for Grey Herons in the park and hopefully the beginnings of a new heronry. A Muntjac was on the other side of the gap to the Spit.

A few yards further on by the newly replaced Finger Lakes hide a Willow Warbler was singing strongly giving everyone an opportunity to hear one of my favourite songs of the spring and summer.

A handful of Cormorants were in the roost on Kings Mead, normal at this time of year when the breeding birds are off in their colonies. A Green Woodpecker was spotted hopping about on Kings Mead, mostly just its red capped head popping up above the top of the grass every now and again.

A brief stop on the Flower Meadow to check out some passing Terns was interrupted by the scream of a Swift, another first for the year in the park. We watched them perform their acrobatics for a while until they moved off north east. The Terns were just Commons but with DK earlier in the morning he spotted 3 Arctics passing over north east.

Up at the Sewage Works bridge we had good views of a singing Sedge Warbler on the reed bed under the bridge before we moved on to 100 Acre.

A Little Grebe on the big lake was our first stop on 100 Acre. Sand Martins, Swallows and Swifts were all zipping about over the lake. On the island a pair of Oystercatchers showed well. Blackcap and Whitethroat were singing in the bushes behind us. We stopped at the corner of the bay on the big lake and had Redshanks and Lapwings. Another first this year, for me at least, was a Common Sandpiper which flew across from the island to the shore on the opposite side of the bay, where it busily bobbed its way past four preening Tufted Ducks.

Another Sedge Warbler was singing from the scrub nearby. A Teal was spotted across the bay on the shore of the lake and a Shoveler was nearby on the lake.

100 Acre is a joy on a fine day with a backing track of Skylarks and a large variety of other birds providing the accompaniment.

We moved on to Castle Mill end of 100 Acre where a Shelduck was standing on the shore. A scan of the shoreline revealed 5 smart Dunlins working the edge of the lake at the near end. A scan of the meadow revealed a female Wheatear, quite distant but confiding for scope views. Skylarks were flitting about and good numbers of Swallows were over the far end of the lake. As moved along the fence line a Male Wheatear was spotted just a few yards in front of us. This put on a great performance with our group standing just a few yards away. We moved on and relocated both the Wheatears and then a Yellow Wagtail appeared, another first for the year for me, and this gradually increased to 5 by the time we headed back. A scan of the Swallows revealed a real mix of Hirundines with both Sand and House Martins in the mix. A couple of Meadow Pipits flew up and settled on the gravel pile and several Linnets joined the Yellow Wagtails on the edge of the lake, including a fine male. A couple of the Swallows settled on the gate a few yards away from the group which provided excellent views of these fantastic little birds.

With that we called it a day and headed back to the visitor centre in the park. A very successful morning.

Some recent photo's:

Sedge Warbler at the Sewage Works Bridge last weekend.

Female Wheatear on 100 Acre yesterday.

Male Wheatear on 100 Acre yesterday.