Sunday, April 24, 2016

Guided Walk - 24/04/2016

The rain/sleet cleared through early on so we were treated to a few glimpses of the sun for today's guided walk although the wind had a bit of bite to it.

We started off by the main lake looking through the hirundines that were skimming over the water. They were mostly Sand Martins with a handful of Swallows and the occasional House Martin. A pair of Egyptian Geese have been nesting on the main lake island and have come off the island this weekend with 3 goslings from their six eggs. We also had another 4 Egyptian Geese flying around the main lake this morning. Before we moved on a Lesser Whitethroat was heard singing in the plantation between the Premier Inn and the car park.

Pair of Egyptian Geese with 3 goslings
Moving on to the Finger Lakes we had a Blackcap along the Spit and a single Reed Warbler singing in the Crescent reed bed. On West Fingers the Great Crested Grebe is finally sitting tight on the nest they were busily building last Sunday. Last week batch of 4 Coot chicks is down to 2 and another pair have 4 chicks. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard over towards the Sheep Pen.

Next stop was the Dead Seat where views were obtained of the Grey Heron which has been sitting on the nest for a while now. The other 2 Heron nests have been occupied at various times but mostly by birds just standing around.

At the gate to the Rough, Sedge and Garden Warblers could be heard in the Rough and we had good views of a couple of Chiffchaffs just the other side of the gate. Blackcaps were singing all around us which made it difficult to hear the other birds. We continued down past the Sedgewick Seat and cut through to the New Meadow to check out a Snake's head fritillary which I had spotted earlier in the morning. It's the first one I have ever seen in the park.

We cut back through to the flower meadow and I heard a Willow Warbler singing in the A Section so we cut through to the Navigation Channel pausing to listen to the Willow Warbler, unseen above our heads. While listening a Bullfinch called but despite circling the plantation we did not see either the Willow Warbler or the Bullfinch.

Across the Flower Meadow, now with a good quantity of Cowslips showing we reached the Kissing Gate where a Song Thrush was singing strongly. At the Sewage Works Bridge we stopped to listen to the Sedge Warblers singing in the Reed bed on either side of the bridge. We were also treated to several bursts of song from a Cetti's Warbler at the end of the New Cut. As usual it remained hidden but you can't miss that energetic burst of song!

As we looked for a Sedge Warbler in the reeds a Kingfisher flew upstream under the bridge. Then came one of the stars of the morning as a Peregrine flew over and then circled higher and higher above us before drifting off across the park.

We moved on to 100 Acre but there was little of note on the west side of the big lake. We did pick out a single Little Egret before moving over to the east side of the lake where we had a Common Sandpiper and a couple more Coot families. Little Grebes were seen and were calling regularly. A Common Whitethroat was singing from the hedge between the big lake and Meadow Lane GP. 

At the end of the Meadow Lane Hedge line we looked across the big lake and found a single Greenshank and a Redshank. There was a second Little Egret on the near shore. A couple of Wigeon still remain but will likely move on any day. Our final stop of the day was on the flooded gravel section just before Castle Mill and here we were treated to great views of Redshanks and Oystercatchers. Pied, White and Yellow Wagtails flitted about near the waters edge and a male Wheatear joined them. 

Record shot of a Yellow Wagtail seen on Saturday morning.
A single Swallow flew low over the grass on the opposite side of the water. Several Common Terns rested on the shore. Several Skylarks were heard and we finally spotted one as it climbed high above us singing it's heart out.

With that it was time to turn for home but we were not finished yet as we added Common Buzzard over the old settling lagoons on 100 Acre. We had great views of a Red Kite as it flew, from over the sewage works, low over our heads and then circled low just the other side of the hedge over 100 Acre.

Back at the mouth of the New Cut we heard a Treecreeper and had brief views as it flew across the sewage works bridge. And that really was it as we all headed back to the car park taking in a few more singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs along the New Cut as we went.

The next regular guided bird walk is on Sunday 29th May starting at 9am outside the visitor centre. Before then we have the Dawn Chorus walk on Sunday May 15th which starts at 4am and the first guided bat walk of the year on Friday the 20th May starting at 9pm. Please note you must book for the bat walk, for contact details click here.