Thursday, 24 May 2012

Nodding Off - Not!

Cuckoo (c) 2012 Richard Whateley

Today was our final visit to a recently opened urban site.  Previous blog summaries of the same site can be read here:
 Bullfinch (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
There were fewer birds on the playing fields, but the Reed Warblers were still chuntering near the fishing ponds.  The best bird down the 1st alley was a male Bullfinch, which Richard found & which showed well.  There were the usual Whitethroats, Reed Buntings and Sedge Warblers round the scrubby areas.  However, a Grasshopper Warbler sang briefly in the pm from a new area near where it is hoped Lapwings may breed.  It was so hot in the morning Maggie pointed out that many of the Carrion Crows were sat with their beaks open in an attempt to lose heat.  2 Kestrels soared in the morning, whilst a Sparrowhawk was heard calling in the afternoon.  
Carrion Crow - Cooling Down
 Collared Dove
 The morning group were enthralled by a male Cuckoo which did virtually a complete circuit of the reserve before finally taking up residence in various trees to the north of the site.  The Cuckoo was silent in the afternoon, but instead a female Cuckoo came in low from the area of the Pumping Station and plunged into deep Hawthorn cover.  I was surprised to discover that the Cuckoo was a lifer for 4 am participants – I’m not sure if anyone else saw the female Cuckoo in the afternoon.
Sedge Warbler
Grass Snake - tongue out
There was an extremely brief view of a Kingfisher near the pumping station as it flew over the lock.  The best bird round here was a Great Spotted Woodpecker during both sessions.  In the pm I couldn’t find a Kingfisher, but saw a Grass Snake swim the complete width of the drain before disappearing near the far bank.  On the way back from the pumping station I could hear a distant Yellowhammer, but none of us could track this down on a hedge or in the copse.  The Cuckoo continued to call during the morning from this area.  The final birds of the afternoon were a family party of Long-tailed Tits, whilst a more outré sight was that of a rescued Barn Owl perched on a handler’s arm around the fishing ponds.  
 Long-tailed Tits
 Barn Owl
Reed Warbler (c) 2012 Phil Todd

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