Friday, 28 October 2011

College Lake :: 28 October 2011

Normally the sight of redwing and fieldfare spell the arrival of winter but today we had views of both and the weather was far from winter, it was truly glorious! We were visiting College Lake near Tring, which was once a chalk quarry. This was our first visit to College Lake - the reserve is run by the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust. It has a brand new visitor centre boasting a large hide overlooking the whole area; importantly it also has a café.

Arriving for an early lunch we sat in the sun at picnic tables reviewing the reserve map. We decided on a clockwise walk - somehow it always seems right! The reserve was easy to negotiate and was well provided for in numbers of hides. From high vantage points we were able to see kestrel and great crested grebe. Around the wooded area we were lucky enough to encounter the great spotted woodpecker.

Overall, a nice spot and beautiful walk on a glorious afternoon but a bit short of observable bird-life. The species count for our visit totalled 29, including: great tit, blue tit, mute swan, canada goose, coot, mallard, black headed gull, wigeon, kestrel, tufted duck, moorhen, blackbird, rook, fieldfare, College Lakecormorant, carrion crow, magpie, lesser black backed gull, great crested grebe, long tailed tit, woodpigeon, great spotted woodpecker, robin, buzzard, redwing, chaffinch, dunnock, greenfinch and green woodpecker.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Brandon Marshes :: 26 October 2011

What a jay day! On arrival at the reserve there was a substantial increase in the numbers of people there ... apparently a lot to do with the kids club which had just finished. JayLunch therefore had to wait and we decided to do a quick loop round the woodland and golf course before heading back for a sandwich. As with the rest of the afternoon we were luck enough to have constant companionship of jays: in flight; in trees and on the ground next to East Marsh Pool.

A flock (circ. 20) of what appeared at first to be linnet landed in the tops of some nearby trees. On later inspection of photos taken they turned out to be redpoll - a first for this autumn.

The species count for the day totalled 41, including: greenfinch, great tit, blue tit, robin, woodpigeon, feral pigeon, kestrel, carrion crow, gadwall, magpie, pheasant, raven, jay, wren, mallard, black headed gull, coot, shoveler, teal, tufted duck, moorhen, common gull, lapwing, cormorant, dunnock, nuthatch, long tailed tit, chaffinch, starling, redpoll, coal tit, bullfinch, great spotted woodpecker, grey heron, mute swan, pochard, snipe, canada goose, buzzard, blackbird and marsh tit.

Monday, 24 October 2011

RSPB Middleton Lakes :: 24 October 2011

First day of the School Half Term holidays and off we went to RSPB Middleton Lakes. A dry day but on arrival it was obvious that the wind was stronger than when we had left home. Talking to the volunteers at the POD, we were informed that it was quiet on the reserve Linnet flockdue to the elements. Undeterred, we set off down the Woodland Walk and onto the lakes. Step-by-step we came across groups of birds which edged up our species count for the day. It wasn't until we made the turn for home though that a large flock of linnet (circ. 200) raised the heart beat, alongside a pair of little egret on the wing. The flock also contained a number of goldfinches.

Other small birds flew around the edges of the display: a few meadow pipit; reed bunting. Nice to see some activity despite the wind. There was some late excitement from the kids when we passed the feeder near the heronry boardwalk. The arrival and departure of a great spotted woodpecker was a nice finish to the visit.

The species count for the day was 39, including: woodpigeon, carrion crow, rook, blue tit, great tit, greenfinch, house sparrow, robin, dunnock, buzzard, raven, canada goose, coot, mallard, wigeon, mute swan, tufted duck, lapwing, shoveler, magpie, teal, moorhen, gadwall, cormorant, great crested grebe, lesser black backed gull, linnet, meadow pipit, goldfinch, reed bunting, grey heron, little egret, black headed gull, starling, chaffinch, pheasant, fieldfare, wren and great spotted woodpecker.

Onto the "Wing Wah" Chinese Restaurant for dinner - I think we have eaten too much!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Brandon Marshes :: 15 October 2011

A beautiful afternoon so off we headed to Brandon Marshes. A prompt start after music lessons meant we started with lunch in the Badger Tearoom - Nuthatchwe got a first hand indication of the turning weather with repeated views of a nuthatch. We haven't seen this bird on our numerous summer visits but food supplies around the reserve must be changing.

Out into the reserve and immediately we saw the buzzards soaring along the edge of the reserve adjoining the golf course. They were soon joined by a very active kestrel. It was then quiet until we sat down in the hides and saw some of the returning ducks, especially the shoveler and wigeon. With very reduced water levels there was little around, even at the Carlton Hide, the highlight being the green sandpiper.

The species list for this visit totalled 35 including: magpie, woodpiegeon, nuthatch, blue tit, great tit, coal tit, chaffinch, greenfinch, feral pigeon, dunnock, bullfinch, robin, willow tit, buzzard, black headed gull, kestrel, cormorant, lapwing, snipe, gadwall, mute swan, teal, tufted duck, mallard, grey heron, coot, shoveler, carrion crow, wigeon, moorhen, starling, blackbird, pheasant, green sandpiper and blackcap.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Napton Reservoir & Draycote Water :: 14 October 2011

Having been off travelling with work for most of the last four weeks I thought I would finish early and have a look to see if I could see the black necked grebe in residence at Napton Reservoir, after all it was a beautiful afternoon. Although I got to see it, the grebe stayed at some distance during my visit. If I get time I might top off again to see if I can get a record shot of it.

SpoonbillLooking on Birdguides I noted that a spoonbill had dropped into Draycote Water and so I popped in there too and was luck enough to find it just a mile or so from the carpark, showing well.

The species count for the visit was 36, including: coot, moorhen, wigeon, black headed gull, tufted duck, mallard, great crested grebe, little grebe, black necked grebe, mute swan, buzzard, kestrel, spoonbill, canada goose, teal, lesser black backed gull, wren, house sparrow, blackbird, woodpigeon, carrion crow, raven, rook, robin, great black backed gull, blue tit, cormorant, great tit, lapwing, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, grey wagtail, goosander, peregrine, sparrowhawk and wheatear.