Leaders: Chris Stone(WVBS) and Richard Spowage (Pensthorpe)
Reporter: Ray Gribble
Bird List: David Laurie
After a night of heavy rain 19 WVBS members were pleased to note the rain had stopped when they met at 5.30a.m. at Pensthorpe where they were greeted by Richard Spowage, the Reserve Manager. Despite remaining murky as we assembled in the car park we were regaled by the ubiquitous Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Woodpigeon and Chaffinch with both Chiffchaff and Stock Dove adding voice.
Moving on towards the Wetland hide a singing Blackcap led to a discussion about the subtle difference between its song and that of Garden Warbler – the former more strident, the latter mellower. Before entering the hide a Cuckoo was both heard and seen.
From the hide Ian Brittain found, perhaps the best bird of the morning, a second year Little Gull which gave excellent views both in the air and on the ground. A Marsh Harrier was also spotted. Richard informed us that last year 3 pair of Lapwing had nested in front of the hide but with the Marsh Harriers present none had stayed this year: A warden’s classic dilemma.
At Old Squaw Lake a Reed Warbler was singing and the 2 small islands were occupied by several pairs of Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Common Terns. Heading on towards the woodland a Marsh Tit was spotted on a post while Willow & Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting were seen and heard at the small pool alongside the old rail track. The woodland was relatively quiet, possibly due to the birds being at the incubating stage of breeding and also the dull weather. Blue and Great Tit were the only birds on the feeders and Pheasant below them.
A Garden Warbler was singing near where the track crosses the river giving members the chance to note the difference to Blackcap.
We were fortunate to see the CES ringing team return with a few birds and Mark Boyd, the trainer in charge of the group, was kind enough to show us Sedge & Reed Warbler in the hand and the obvious differences but also explain the subtle difference that enable them to be aged as adult or juvenile.
We did not enter the Scrape hides but walked along the hedgerow to the old sandpit which is now managed for mining bees. If I remember correctly Richard said 12 species use this sun trap some nesting in the vertical face and others in the floor.
From here we scanned the Scrape where new birds included Avocet and Little Ringed Plover. While watching a single burst of “a little bit of bread and no cheese” was heard from a Yellowhammer before heading towards the café for breakfast, and what an excellent full
English breakfast it was.
A huge thank you to Richard and the Pensthorpe Team for hosting us and to Chris Stone for leading us.
In total we recorded 61 species of birds plus Common Toad and Slow-worm (under corrugated sheets), Roe Deer, Reeve’s Muntjac Deer and Grey Squirrel.
The full list of birds recorded:
Lesser Black- backed Gull
Little Ringed Plover
Great Crested Grebe
Please feel free to read through our reports from our monthly outdoor meetings.