All pictures (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
Thursday morning was our final visit to an urban nature reserve. Everyone but the lady from Castle Howard seemed to find it OK, but she probably isn’t used to real urban driving! The car park was quieter in the gentle drizzle, but we did see a few Linnets, a House Sparrow and low-flying Swifts and House Martins. I left my camera at home because my previous one ‘died’ in heavy rain, and downpours were forecast. Richard was braver, so I’m completely reliant on him to illustrate this blog. On the playing field there were 2 Lesser-Black Backed Gulls for the first time, and the Starlings, Rooks, Carrion Crows, Magpies and Jackdaws were still present. A male Bullfinch flew from left to right just at the beginning of the walk but it couldn’t be relocated. There were actually more birds singing on the walk up the hill in today’s bad weather than the 2 gorgeous days we visited last week.
For the second Thursday am running we heard a Cuckoo, but this time despite several apparently close encounters we failed to see it. The Warblers were harder to see this time, though we did have an early Chiffchaff near the beginning and then a definite Willow Warbler at the end. The Lesser Whitethroat had gone silent again, and we only heard a couple of Whitethroats this time. A Chiffchaff was heard, but it was harder to locate this time. There were a few Blackcaps singing from deep cover on the path parallel to the Poplar Avenue, but apart from one brief flyover, again these remained concealed from sight.
We waited for a time on the bridge but there were fewer things to see round here too. 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew from a young Ash tree on the bank & headed into the reserve towards some large Willow trees. The adult soon flew off, but a fledgling remained for several minutes. I don’t think everyone managed to lock onto it in time, but those that did were able to watch trying to peck at the bark for and climb the tree. People were discussing this sighting when Phil G spotted something swimming across the drain. Everyone spun round and got a great view of a Water Vole. It was then busy for a few minutes on our side of the bank, because we could see the ripples spreading out from our side, but the vegetation screened it from any further views.
Immature Great Spotted Woodpecker
We popped into the reserve again, but took a different circular path, which took us past a Willow Warbler and the den area, which was recently featured in the local press. There were fewer butterflies and other insects to see because of the drizzle, but we were climbing the steps out of the reserve when the Cuckoo stared calling again nearby. Unfortunately, a Search & Rescue helicopter then flew low over us, and we weren’t able to track it down. The final sight of the morning was provided by a Greenfinch, which at first twittered & wheezed in the car park before embarking on its slow-motion butterfly courtship flight. A nice way to bring these urban visits to an end.