Thursday 12 November 2015

Cotswold Water Park re-re visited

Two morning walks at Cotswold Water Park (CWP) this week.

Day one
The better of the two days according to the forecast, so we had a decent walk looking at a variety of habitats.

At our first lake of the day we were lucky enough to see a CWP speciality, red crested pochard. Also nearby were northern pochard to allow a comparison of the two.

Almost the first thing we saw was a couple of lesser redpoll feeding on the track ahead of us - a great start!

As we reached our next lake we were met by a herd of mute swan, over 50 of them feeding on the weed. The weather has been so mild and dry that the pondweed has grown longer than normal, coupled with relativity low water levels, the mute swan  are taking advantage of being able to reach the weed in a big way.

There was also a nice selection of gulls species present including common, lesser black-backed, herring and black-headed. We also picked up a cormorant having a rest on some rocks and a few wigeon loitering near coot, ready to pinch any weed the coot bring to the surface.

A little further up the lake there was another flock of birds, this time of great crested grebes, about 45 of them, mostly sleeping but a great chance to look at various stages of plumage and behaviour.

As we worked our way on down the lake, we saw a number of bullfinch, fieldfare, redwing and long-tailed tit working their way along the hedgerows. We also heard a single chiffchaff calling, most likely one arriving for the winter rather than one still heading south. We also picked up a hunting sparrowhawk thanks to the long-tailed tits and their siren like alarm calls.

We picked up a few more wetland species on the lakes as well with moorhen, mallard, tufted duck and red-necked grebe all being seen well.

We reached the hide for a well deserved sit down and had great views of a number of the species we had already seen as well as adding little egret, grey heron and gadwall to our lists.

On the way back we saw a lot of the same species, but managed to see a red-necked grebe next to a great crested grebe which gave us a great chance to compare the two species.

Great crested at the back, red-necked at the front

Finally we saw a skylark battling into a headwind as we reached the car park.

A very enjoyable day! (NA)

Day two
With a less than favourable weather forecast, we decided to go to a site with a few more hides.

There were again plenty of fieldfare and redwing around the area. From the hide we had great views of a kingfisher, sat on a tree branch. It seemed to be his favourite perch as he would leave and return, staying there for several minutes.

Kingfisher (taken at another site in Wilts)

Other birds seen whilst here included cormorant, grey heron and bullfinch.

The weather was looking a little brighter, so we had a walk around the lakes, we managed to see a cracking male lesser redpoll with a lovely pink breast.

We also saw our second sparrowhawk in two days again thanks to those ever helpful long-tailed tits.

All in all a very enjoyable couple of days. (NA)

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