17 February 2018 – Barnes WWT by Jonathan Hannam
On a bright sunny day, eleven members joined the leader on a morning’s stroll around the London Wetland Centre. We started off on the southern route, looking for the Siskins that had been reported to be there. From the Dulverton hide, we enjoyed good view of Pintail, Great Crested Grebe, and a female Goldeneye and more distant views of Common Snipe. We heard but did not see a Cetti’s Warbler and found the Siskins in the alders by the feeders. However, we were soon drawn away by reports of Bittern visible from the WWF hide. A single bird was patrolling along the water’s edge and gave us excellent views. Proceeding to the Peacock hide, we saw distant Stonechats and a view of a second Bittern, along with Wigeon and Teal. Scanning the wader scrape, we were fortunate to spot a single Jack Snipe.
After a short break for a coffee at the cafe, we headed out along the northern route, but nothing new of note was added, though we did have closer views of the Stonechat. Altogether, 53 species were seen by the group.
4 February 2018 – Blashford Lakes by Peter Knox
The Day of the Finches
Paul and I left Surbiton on a sunny morning and headed south. On route we had three Red Kite circling over us as we drove around Winchester.
Arriving on site in good time we met up with Rebecca initially and then Mike and John. A Lesser Scaup had been reported the day before and early on this day from the Lapwing hide and so we made our way to this hide. As you would expect the hide was quite full but we managed to find some space. The bird had not been seen since the report earlier that morning so we scanned the lake without success. We did find a Green Sandpiper, plenty of Goosander both male and female, two Black-Necked Grebes and Paul pickup two Snipe.
After a good search we moved on to the Goosander hide from here we could see plenty of Pintail both male and female and a couple of Common Buzzards.
Now we moved over to the Woodland hide for a wonderful display of small birds. Here we had great views of Brambling male and female, Siskin of both genders, a single male Redpoll and a couple of Goldcrests just outside the windows of the hide. This is just a sample of the wide range species and spectacle we were given by the birds from this hide. Just after leaving the hide, Paul put us on to a Sparrowhawk flying over.
We now moved on to the Ivy South hide from which saw large number of duck including Wigeon, Common Pochard but only a single Teal.
Next stop was the Ivy North hide which seemed very quiet at first. Then a Little Egret flew south across the lake and then two flew north followed by a Great White Egret which landed in a tree on the other side of the lake in full view which was very nice.
We headed to the centre to use the pop up cafe before heading for the Tern hide. On arriving at the hide it was jammed packed and so did not spend to long here before heading for Backwater arboretum.
On arrival we set ourselves up in the usual spot and waited. Not having to wait to long for the Hawfinches to arrive. They gave plenty of good views and in one case we had four birds at the top of a tree. There were also a pair of Bullfinches and two Treecreepers. We stayed until the light started to fade before we decided to leave collecting 79 species for the day list and having once again some wonderful views of the birds.
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.