Monday, 19 April 2021

RSPB Middleton Lakes :: 18 April 2021

On the way home from dropping my youngest back at University, I took the opportunity for a short visit to RSPB Middleton Lakes. As I had anticipated the car park was full but for one place, which I took. There is a visitor reception centre where a couple of volunteers were talking to new arrivals and I wandered over to see if there was anything of note around the reserve. 2m1f lesser spotted woodpecker have been regulars here and indeed I was informed they'd been listening to drumming throughout the day and as recent as half an hour before. Given the number of visitors, many of whom were not birders but families with children, I suspected that I'd have little chance of seeing them today - that proved to be a correct deduction.

However, the lady did mention that three cattle egret had been seen in previous days but that she'd heard that they may have moved on. Also that a bittern had been heard calling from the reeds around Fisher's Mill Pool. I set out ever hopeful.

At the feeding station there were the usual variety of tits, a couple of mallard and a family of coot - very cute little chicks. These were joined by four large brown rats making the most of dropped seeds. Unfortunately the path passed the heronry is closed and so the spectacle of large numbers of heron in the trees was hidden from view, although heron could be seen entering and leaving the area.

As I neared the bridge to cross the canal I found a nuthatch feeding in a tree, searching in the crevices for grubs. There was a family playing in a tree nearby but the nuthatch didn't seem to be worried by them, at least until they started to move off at which point it relocated into a tree. Someone had left a few seeds on a handrail on a small wooden bridge and I watched the nuthatch land there and took a couple of shots. Quite confiding but not a patch on the bird we had at Linky Down last week.


Rather than crossing the bridge to the wetland I turned and looked through the hedge into the field with sheep in - there were the three catlle egret. I made my way down the bridgeway and stopped at a clearing where I might be able to get a photo. As might be expected, the birds were at some distance and the heat haze was causing havoc with a decent capture. I suppose at that distance it was only ever going to be a record shot.

Cattle egret
Cattle egret

I doubled back and across the bridge to find a wall of noise coming from the scrapes on Fisher's Mill Pond. There were large numbers of black-headed gulls calling and squabbling. I'm surprised anyone had been able to pick out a booming bittern over that racket. I continued round but didn't see anything of note and on talking to guys coming the other way it didn't sound like there was much to add. I decided to stand in the car park and hope for the LSWs as the site had quietened down but no such luck.

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