Sunday, July 31, 2016

Guided Walk - 31st July 2016

It's been quiet around the park as is normally the case in the summer months. This weekend however has seen a real sign that the autumn migration is underway with Willow Warblers back in the park along with plenty of other warblers.

On Saturday I did my usual walk around with DK and as well as the Willow Warblers we had a couple of Lesser Whitethroats and a family party of Garden Warblers in the Rough.

This morning the number of Chiffchaffs was quite noticeable with birds calling from most trees along the main path and plenty more around the Finger Lakes. Before the guided walk got underway at 8am I had a quick look around Fingers with DK and we stopped in at the Rough to see how EG was doing with CES ringing session in the Rough. The ringing session had got off to a reasonable start with a few birds logged by the time we arrived and EG agreed to let me know how if they caught any birds to show the group on the guided walk. I headed off to collect the group and noted several more calling Chiffchaffs as I crossed the Meadow.

A small group of 11 joined me for the guided walk and after a quick briefing we headed off down the main path stopping off half way down to check out the birds on the main lake. About 8 Sand Martins were flitting about over the east end of the island and about 20 Swifts were busy feeding up overhead. Swifts are already starting to head south as are many other summer migrants. Chris Smart reported a Great Crested Grebe with a chick on the main lake earlier this week and Val spotted them over in the south west corner but even the scope couldn't do justice to the humbug coloured chick. Those who remained to the end had great views of the stripey headed chick when we looped around the south side of the main lake at the end of the morning.

Next stop was the Rough where EG had a Dunnock and a Wren to show us which was a little disappointing although there was more to come later. The group were also shown how the birds are captured for ringing.

We moved on heading down to the flower meadow and had a Great Spotted Woodpecker fly over us calling as it went. We didn't manage to spot the Lesser Whitethroat which DK had earlier in the Sheep Pen. We looped round to check out the Heron nest on Fingers. Somehow the Heron managed raise 3 chicks to a good size before we spotted them a few weeks ago. We had originally thought all three original nests had failed this year but not so. We think one of the pairs may have had a second attempt and were successful, hidden by the thick foliage of the Willow they were nesting in.

At this point the bird walk turned into butterfly walk as plenty of butterflies were out sunning themselves. Comma, Gatekeeper, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and one of the Whites were seen but the best was a Painted Lady, the first I have seen in the park for a while. A large hoverfly species also proved popular with the photographers in the group. Having just checked I now know it was Volucella pellucens. Common Blue damselflies were also numerous in the nettles.

Gatekeeper on Bramble

Red Admiral on Burdock
We headed up to the Sewage Works Bridge before a call from EG had us all heading back to the Rough where he had a bumper catch of birds. There were a handful of Chiffchaffs, a couple of stunning Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler and several Blackcaps. The star birds for the group were the tiny Goldcrest and a beautiful Treecreeper. Another net round added Robin and Blackbird to the species list. Most of the these birds were juveniles, exceptions being the Blackcaps which seem to have had a poor breeding season around here as the number of juveniles ringed has been well down so far. Thanks to EG and DH for another great ringing demo.

With time getting on some of the group departed and the remainder joined me for a loop around the main lake where, as well as the GC Grebe chick we added Holly Blue to our butterfly species list.

Thanks to everyone who ventured out with me today. The next guided bird walk is August 28th starting at 9am outside the visitor centre, or cafe as I should now call it!

And finally........

Some really sad news last weekend when an Otter was found drowned in an illegal Crayfish trap. The Environment Agency and Police have been informed.
Please note that you must have a license to trap Crayfish which you can get from the Environment agency. To get this your traps must comply with the EA specifications which would make them "Otter safe". Equally importantly you must have the landowners permission to trap so that would be the council for any of the waters in and around the park. For more details see EA web page about trapping Crayfish. I know of at least 7 traps that have been removed from waters in and around the park in recent months so this is a growing problem. If you see anything you think might be a trap please report it to the Police or the Rangers so we can get it removed before anything else gets killed.