At 8.30am as I drove south towards Rugby, the temperature was -2'C but the sun was shining brightly - a promising start, I thought. However, passing through Rugby on the way south to Dunchurch and Draycote Water the mist began to creep up and it wasn't until much later in the day that it left us. For the whole of the morning you couldn't see more than 30-40 yards across the water - dismal! To cap it all the paths were quite slippery.
Eleven of us ( Graham, Nev, Julie, Angie, John, Wendy, Neil, Marion, Fred, Linda and Madeleine) had ventured out and were determined to enjoy the first club walk of the year. We headed off to the left of the car park to the rear of the sailing club past the playground and up to the top of the small hill where you can normally get a super view of the reservoir - fog! We had spotted a few birds near the playground including a single redwing amongst the blackbirds and chaffinches and a pair of bullfinches accompanied by goldfinches on the right by a s...
Apart from the pleasant weather, Sunday 17th did not start well. We found that we couldn’t access the Welford Road end of Stanford Reservoir. Consequently, we all headed round to the dam end, but not before Ken had seen a great egret at the pool on the other side of the road.
In the car park at the dam waiting for some latecomers to catch up we were treated to the sight of a chiff chaff singing it’s heart out, a grey wagtail, a small group of long-tailed tits, a buzzard and a first winter glaucous gull flew overhead. On the water, mute swans, coots, tufted ducks, great crested grebes, gadwalls and Canada geese were to be seen plus some moorhens on the far bank.
Finally eighteen members and friends gathered and began to walk down the eastern side of the reservoir. Although there was plenty to see on the reservoir Angie spotted a flock of tree sparrows on a hedge to our right on the other side of a small field before the gate. Another good spot were two pink-footed geese in a...
It was a bright morning; the start of the mini heat wave for February. Eight of us started from the centre at Egleton but there was little of note listed on the board of recent sightings that we wouldn't see elsewhere so we moved onto the North Arm by Tim's Cottage. Having said that we did see a group of rooks in the trees by the centre. The aim of the day was to see all 5 grebes.
From the road we had good views of little grebe, goldeneye, mallards, wigeon, Canada and greylag geese, but as we walked further along the road past Tim's cottage the variety of birds increased - 100+ lapwings on the bar with cormorants, drying their wings, and waders on the far bank including dunlins, oystercatchers and redshanks. A red kite appeared overhead and we were to have several clear sightings throughout the morning. In front of us a pair of great crested grebe had begun their intricate courtship dance, when a young peregrine falcon dramatically flew across our line of sight scattering the lapwings...
Thirteen of us met at Thornton Reservoir on Sunday 20th January 2019. It was a cold, dull day with little wind. Our walk around the reservoir was uneventful apart from the sighting of a male Carolina or Wood duck. A beautiful bird with well marked plumage, demonstrating its relationship to the Mandarin duck. It's not as common as the Mandarin duck with less than 20 breeding pairs in this country; most are escapees.
Like the Mandarin, the Wood duck favours nesting in trees and as it's name suggests prefers an environment with plenty of foliage. Despite the quietness of the day 40 species were seen or heard, however no raptors appeared and the only wader was the lapwing.
Today eight of us visited the Hall, which is a gem for birding. The garden is set on higher ground looking out over the flood plain of the meandering River Soar which spills into small lakes, some used for fishing. There are views over the surrounding countryside on three sides of the garden with a wide variety of habitats - fields and meadows, tree-lined river, lakes with reed beds, hedgerows, landscaped gardens, mixed woodland, old buildings. This was the venue for our cancelled walk three weeks ago, when it snowed. What brought us here today was the sighting of three swallows yesterday, increasing to six by the end of the day, coupled with a possible view of boxing hares. The swallows nest in the horses' stables in old red brick barns. Last year, we were told that the swallows arrived on 3rd April, so surprisingly just a few days late this year. Joy had calculated that there must have been over 120 fledgling swallows last year from these barns alone.
On Sunday 18th February, before the Siberian weather arrived, nine of us (Nev, Graham, Dave M., Vicky, Ellen, Terry, Alma, Bev and Madeleine) visited the nature reserve at the northern end of Watermead Country Park in Syston.
It was a cold enough day then, but with lovely, bright sunshine. We did see over 40 different birds, however it felt quiet. We had to search for the unexpected like the lone Siskin; the Treecreeper and Cetti's warbler which we could hear but not see, the latter proving totally elusive; the Water rail scurrying out of the stream to disappear into the brambles and the distant goosanders. However, there were excellent views to be had of a female green woodpecker and a goldcrest behaving as if it was a flycatcher darting out from an ivy-clad tree stump to snatch insects enjoying the sunbeams.
On Sunday 14th January a group of eight (Nev, Graham, Lee, Wendy, Terry, Alma, Bev and Madeleine) braved the cold weather to visit this reserve in the Nene Valley, Northamptonshire. There are a variety of wetland sites as well as grasslands and young woodlands, consequently a wide variety of waterfowl and many other birds arrive with the changing seasons. We were particularly looking for the great egret which had been reported here.
Three of us were lucky enough to see the bird from the Pioneer hide almost as soon as we arrived as it flew leisurely from one end of the lake to the other disappearing out of sight at the back of a reed bed. After a few minutes the other members began to arrive, but the great egret had gone.
However, very soon many other waterfowl began to attract our attention - adult mute swans with juveniles in tow and a wide variety of ducks, but no waders. A peregrine falcon eased its way overhead into a tree on the far side of the lake.
I'm looking out the window at the depressing, damp, greyness of today and remembering last Sunday's Walk at Rutland Water. In contrast, it was a cold, sunny, crisp day. The drive across Leicestershire's rolling countryside was a pleasure. This day's walk was ably led by Nev and Graham. Angie and John, Bev, Wendy, Terry and yours truly all made the journey. We met in the car park at Egleton surrounded by fieldfare before we set off for the North Arm. Many birds were on the water - mute swans, tufted ducks, shoveler, mallard, wigeon, greater crested and little grebes etc. but in amongst them were a pair of pintails, beautifully marked, showing off their dabbling talents. On the far bank two waders were spotted. After much deliberation it was decided that they must be green sandpiper rather than common or wood sandpiper due to the lack of a white gap in the plumage on the shoulder with a very definite horizontal line separating the belly from the wing and breast. Egyptian gees...
What a day we had on Sunday! The extra drive and time proved to be well worth it.
Ten of us set off at 07.30am in three cars for Coombes Valley RSPB Reserve, two from Sapcote and one from north Leicestershire.
I had forgotten how beautiful that part of England is, especially in the sunshine with its rolling hills and dry stone walls.
As previously described, this site is an absolute little gem.
We were met by Murray, who described what we were likely to find and where - pied and spotted flycatchers, redstarts displaying and many warblers including willow and garden. The site is set in a lovely valley, organised into zones to accommodate all users. Nearest to the small centre are accessible areas with families in mind. Lots of activities to encourage children to explore the environment. But for those who would like more peace and quiet to observe the birds you don't have to go very far to the zones beyond.
Down into the wooded valley we walked passing hedgero...