7 January 2018 – Dinton Pastures Country Park by Thelma Caine
Six members joined our first walk of the year on a chilly, bright and breezy morning. A singing Mistle Thrush greeted us on arrival and a flock of Fieldfares and several Redwings were seen early on. We had a very enjoyable walk, starting at Black Swan Lake where we had good views of wildfowl including Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goldeneye, several Great Crested Grebes, Mute Swan, Cormorants, Canada & Egyptian Geese, Coot, Moorhen and lots of Gulls. Overhead a Buzzard soared into view, closely followed by the first of several Red Kites and further along, a Grey Heron rose from the reeds. At White Swan Lake there were good numbers of Gadwall and Wigeon and a Sparrowhawk flashed by overhead. We had heard that there were two drake Ferruginous Ducks around and a helpful local birder advised that they were close by at Middle Marsh. Sure enough we quickly located them and had super views of the two birds which were swimming and diving in the company of Tufted Ducks. As well as the dark chestnut head, their gleaming white eyes were a distinctive feature. Apparently they are colour-ringed and originated from Germany where captive bred birds are being re-introduced at Lake Steinhude, near Hamburg. [http://berksbirds.co.uk/archive/2017/11/dintonferruginousducks.asp] We had lunch at Sandford Lake watching more duck including a flock of Shovelers, their colours superb in the sunlight. Overhead a large flock of Lapwings wheeled in the sky, probably disturbed by a bird of prey, and on one of the islands, four Snipe were sheltering in the vegetation. After lunch our path followed through woodland where we found a small flock of mixed Goldfinches and Siskins feeding on Alders, their yellow plumage gleaming in the sun. At Lavells’ Lake there was much activity around the bird feeders, with Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Robin, Dunnock, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, female Reed Bunting, Moorhen and a female Pheasant all vying for a share of the food. Out on the lake there were Teal along with other ducks, more Snipe and Lapwing, the quick flash of a Kingfisher which flew past the hide and more sightings of Buzzards and Red Kites overhead. It was a great start to the New Year with 52 species seen.