Leader: David Gibbons
Reporter: David Laurie
Bird List: Seamus O’Dowd
Twelve members made this trip which started in brilliant style.
When we arrived David G had found a singing Nightingale in the
scrub alongside the road approaching the visitor centre and
it continued to give us its song and to show really well, often perching
on a branch in clear view.
You could really appreciate its warm brown back and tail, pale breast and
prominent dark eye. It was the best view of a Nightingale I've ever had
and the first for several of us. Judging by song there were two or
three Nightingales in this area, accompanied by the first of the numerous Chiffchaffs we encountered during the day.
When we finally moved on, we went past the visitor centre to the viewing platform where Sedge Warblers were singing. At the double decker hide there were Teal, Tufted Duck, Oystercatcher and Cormorant along with nesting Canada Geese and Coots. A pair of Greylag Geese already had a brood of half a dozen goslings, while overhead a passing Marsh Harrier was seen carrying prey, so very likely it was breeding too.
Ash Carr gave us good views of female Blackcap, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit and a Nuthatch but there was no sign of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that has been reported here recently.
Heading towards Steggall's Hide past Plover Pool we heard and saw Cetti's Warblers as well as a Chiffchaff with a feather in its bill disappearing into low-growing vegetation by the path: Another nesting bird to add to the list. Steggall's hide gave us more ducks and geese,
including fighting Egyptians, plus an excellent view of a Great Crested Grebe nesting right in front of the hide. There was also a brief glimpse of a Sedge Warbler.
Returning towards the visitor centre we had a close view of a singing Wren and a sunny spell roused some butterflies with Peacock, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood seen. We turned north to take the path to Fullers Mill Hide where there was a Little Egret while at Bess's Hide there were a couple of pairs of Little Grebes, lots of Black-headed Gulls and two Hobbies overhead hawking insects.
Lunch back at the visitor centre was accompanied by a shift in the weather as light but persistent rain set in. Undeterred, we restored ourselves and set out on the Blue Trail to Paul's Hide and Bernard's Hide. At the former were more ducks, geese, Lapwings and a Little Ringed Plover on one of the islands. Also, a single Swallow, the only hirundine of the day.
After an unsuccessful search of the trees for a loudly singing Song Thrush we returned to the car park and at this point the others departed. This was my first visit to Lackford Lakes so after a restorative coffee and an excellent slice of carrot cake at the visitor centre an easing of the rain prompted me to explore some more of this beautiful reserve. I took the Red Trail around Sayer's Breck, an area of low cropped grass thanks to numerous Rabbits and sheep and while not as attractive as the rest of the site the contrasting habitat did give me some additional species - Goldfinch, Stock Dove, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Linnet, Greenfinch (at Lackford Village) and Starling. I passed what looked like good areas for Willow Warbler and Whitethroat but didn't see any sign of either.
It was a really good day, much enjoyed by all, and our thanks go to David G for organising and leading the trip and to Seamus for the bird list:-
Great Crested Grebe
Please feel free to read through our reports from our monthly outdoor meetings.