West End: 24 Great Crested Grebe – no obvious signs of nesting yet; 17 Grey Heron – many of the young from the heronry have now fledged, they can be easily identified from the adults and can be seen around the reserve; 2 Mute Swan; 1 Buzzard which is usually mobbed by the 2 pairs of Common Terns on the rafts. 15 Swallow, 1 Moorhen, 1 Coot. A Blackcap is regularly singing in the Car Park and a Song Thrush is still singing loudly. Jackdaws are often flying over as a couple of pairs are nesting in the reserve.
Whillets: Alastair who is one of our official transect butterfly and dragonfly recorders reported the following from the meadows – 2 Dingy Skipper Butterfly, 1 Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonfly, 1 Red-eyed Damselfly and a Silver Ground Carpet Moth.
At the Dam End: 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Whitethroat, 4 Pied Wagtail, 2 Swallow, 8 House Martin. (No waders on The Dam).
At just after 9:15 on a cloudy, dry and not unpleasant morning Phil Holland and myself led a dozen plus members into the study area, ably assisted by Shaun and Alan. We pointed out the various woodland plants as we ambled along the woodland path which included the less common Adderstongue Fern & Common Spotted Orchids, though unfortunately these were not yet in flower. We gave information on the woodland management we have been carrying out. Phil pointed out and explained the bird nest boxes we have, giving a chance for some to see inside a couple of boxes – Mandarin nest with eggs, plus Blue Tit nest with egg & young, also a Jackdaw box with young. This was much appreciated by those present.
Bird song was evident with Blackcap and Song Thrush amongst others. Treecreeper and Nuthatch were seen, and young Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard from high in a natural nest hole. We wandered nearly to Pintail Bank before returning back to the Car Park. A plant with a very variegated white leaf was noticed and its identification at the time was uncertain. After checking reference books we can confirm it is the variegated form of the woodland plant Yellow Archangel, this is the subspecies argentatum which apparently is becoming a common garden escape plant into woodlands.
Back at the Car Park a short break was taken. A few birds were seen on the water including Common Terns and the white plumage Grey Heron. Also seen was a rather distant sunbathing Terrapin, and a Garden Warbler was heard.
Just after 11AM the group went over to Whillet’s meadows. We started at Whillet’s Pool and reed-bed and heard the reed warblers. The corrugated sheets were checked with a Slow Worm being seen before viewing the otter holt location, where a Great Tit nest with young was seen.
We pointed out more flowers as we wandered the meadow path leading to Meadow Pond, including the first of the flowering Yellow Rattle and some flowering Ragged Robin plants.
We met our dragonfly man Peter Erridge at the pond. Azure and Large Red Damselflies were pointed out and we had fleeting views of Beautiful Demoiselle damselflies.
Whirlygigs and Pond Skaters were seen on the water. A caterpillar found at the pond was a Drinker moth, a grassland species. At the pond at least two Whitethroats were heard and were showing occasionally.
Leaving the pond we checked more corrugated sheets with Grass Snake and Slow Worm again being seen. A walk into the back meadow gave views of some Stock Dove chicks, and our new caged young Black Poplar trees were seen. Walking as far as the end of the butterfly transect, we were now on the river bank nearly back as far as Whillet’s Pool reed-bed.
The walk back through the three meadows produced another caterpillar this time on nettles, which was the butterfly Small Tortoiseshell. This caterpillar would have been produced from earlier flying overwintering adults that would have been laying their eggs back in April.
The group then strolled back to the car park shortly before 1PM, and all agreed it was a very enjoyable worthwhile walk and something we should do again.
Whillets: Alastair who is one of our official transect butterfly and dragonfly recorders reported the following from the meadows – 4 Burnet Companion Moth, 1 Mother Shipton Moth (both day flying moths) and 1 Dingy Skipper Butterfly.
At the Dam End: We started the BTO WeBS survey at 8 am at the dam wall which produced 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 each of Grey & Pied Wagtails and 10 Canada Geese including a family with 4 young (see photo below). On the water were: 2 Mute Swans, 2 Coot, 4 Moorhens, 2 male Tufted Ducks, 1 Mandarin, 32 GC Grebe, 1 Grey Heron and 20 Mallard. In the air were: 6 Swifts, 2 Swallows, 4 House Martins and a Buzzard being mobbed by a Crow. By the lagoon were 2 more Mallard and nice views of singing Garden Warbler. In the nearby bushes were: several Blackcaps, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush and a male Bullfinch. A walk around the paddock added: a singing Skylark, a Green Woodpecker, several Goldfinch and a flyover Little Egret. Finally a Goldcrest was seen in the car park.
At the West End: Starting around 10 am we added: 25 GC Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, 1 Herring Gull, 2 Moorhen and 11 Mallard plus one pair with 4 ducklings. 2 pairs of Common Terns were on the rafts. Only 22 Grey Heron could be seen but these included a white-plumaged individual. On Pintail Bank were: 4 Cormorant, 7 Canada Geese and 1 Lapwing. 2 Buzzard and 2 Stock Dove were flying. A terrapin was sunning on a potential grebe nest near the water’s edge. Later 2 Kingfishers were seen. By lunch time the sailing boats had pushed most of the GC Grebes into the undisturbed nature reserve and a high count of 55 was taken.
At Whillets: From late morning: a Reed Warbler was seen and a pair of Canada Geese are nesting at the pool. The survey includes the restricted area meadows, which added: several Whitethroat, a male Reed Bunting, 5 LT Tit, Garden Warbler, Blackcap & Chiffchaff. A quick look under the corrugated metal sheets in the meadows revealed: 4 Slow Worms, 2 Grass Snakes and a Toad. A Beautiful Demoiselle damselfly was seen flying.
Dam end: On dam wall 2 Common Sandpiper and 2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Swift, 4 House Martin, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Jay
Whillet’s: 4 Reed Warbler, 2 Mandarin, 1 Buzzard.
West End: A mid morning visit gave the following highlights. A lone male Pochard, 2 Egyptian Geese on Pintail Point, Pair of Mandarin with six ducklings.
West End: A late afternoon visit gave nice views of the White plumage Grey Heron standing with several Cormorants on Martins Island plus a Little Egret was on Pintail bank. The Heronry is still very active although some nests are becoming vacant as young start to fledge and any unsuccessful nesting pairs decide to abandon. A Kingfisher was seen flying carrying a small fish. A Buzzard was being mobbed by Terns. A pair of Swallows were feeding close on an increasing swarm of mosquitoes hovering just above the water surface, whilst a duet from Song Thrush and Blackcap was coming from the Car Park.
Whillet’s Meadows: Whilst working in the meadows a Barn Owl was seen, a Sedge Warbler heard singing behind Whillet’s Pool + Reed Bunting, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Garden Warbler also heard within meadows, also noted were 2 Slow Worms, 2 Grass Snakes, 1 Common Newt, 2 Cinnabar Moth, 2 Drinker Moth caterpillars.
West End: 2 pairs of Common Tern, one pair seen carrying out bonding display and food passing whilst on the nesting raft – A good sign this pair will attempt to nest on the rafts.