Wednesday 30 December 2015

Cotswold Water Park - 29th December 2015

Luckily we booked great weather for this trip, we did a circular walk at the Western end of the Cotswold Water Park. We soon picked up some movement in the tops of the alder trees by the car park, this turned out to be about ten siskin busily feeding on the tiny alder cones. A great start!
We headed towards the lakes and we were soon watching about 90 red-crested pochard feeding and displaying on the first lake. Just as we were heading off we spotted a pale bird diving at the back of the lake that turned out to be a male goosander whom we watched diving for several minutes. We were also lucky enough to see tufted duck, coot, mute swan and cormorant here.
As we wandered on along the river Thames we saw a few redwing, fieldfare and long-tailed tit busily feeding in and on the hedgerow bushes as well as a very showy female great spotted woodpecker. The next bird was a real stunner – at least four bullfinch sitting at the top of a bush in the sun feeding on buds, one of the best views I’ve had of this relatively secretive bird.

Female bullfinch

We concentrated on a couple of lakes next, checking the duck and saw good numbers of wigeon, gadwall and goosander as well as a fair few goldeneye displaying.

We worked our way through the woodland and soon reached some more lakes where we had our first common pochard, great crested grebe and mallard. We also picked up a surprisingly well hidden grey heron hidden in a tree. The next birds found were a couple of little grebe feeding along a lake edge.

Grey heron - not being very stealthy...

As we worked our way back towards the car park we saw more redwing feeding as well as a pair of Mistle thrush hunting for invertebrates on the grassland. The next sighting was of bits of a signal crayfish left on the bank by a mammal, most likely an otter.

All in all a very productive trip! (NA)

Saturday 12 December 2015

Wet Water Park

Yesterday another trip to The Cotswold Water Park and today it lived upto its name.

WIth the forcast looking ok we set out finding Red crested pochard on the first lake with a couple of tufted duck mixed in also a lone pochard.

Moving along the path a couple of goldcrest showed well with several great and blue tits in toe.

This is when the rain moved in with several prolonged spell of heavy rain, soaked but still undetered we carried on picking up a couple of very confiding chiffchaffs chasing each other around a small bush on the lakes edge.

At the next lake three male goosander were found through the gloom as we look out over the lake.

Next we headed for the shelter of the hides and with patient were rewarded with fantastic views of a kingfisher fishing from both high and low branches, after about ten minutes and about four attempts he final caught a small fish and flew off out of sight.

Next stop the cafe for a hot drink and a bacon butty!

The afternoon had started to brighten up so off again to check some of the larger lakes, we soon added several duck species to the list with Shoverler, gadwall, mallard and wigeon all being seen at close range.

Moving to an area of overgrown vegetation we saw a small flock of birds moving along the top of the seeding plants and with closer inspection turned out to be a charm of goldfinches also mixed in we picked out half a dozen redpoll which moved closer to us giving some superb views of this tiny bird.

At our final stop we enjoyed a fantastic sunset watching the rooks and jackdaws flying noisily in to roost for the evening.

Other birds of note include both great spotted and green woodpeckers, redwing, fieldfare, little grebe, bullfinch, three little egrets and a sparrowhawk dashed across the lake.

Just goes to show don't let the rain put you off nature still goes about its business. DT

Thursday 10 December 2015

Bright and not so breezy at CWP

The forecast suggested it was going to be a sunny and windy day for yesterday's trip to the Cotswold Water Park. Fortunately there was a lot of the former and very little of the latter.

We started off in near still conditions and were soon watching three female goosander at the far end of the first lake. Some farm machinery started up and it spooked the birds, who flew to our end of the lake giving great views in the morning sun. The birds were hunting as a group, diving in formation. A cormorant gatecrashed the party by landing right in the middle of the three birds - much to their disgust!

A look around the trees where we were produced a flock of at least 20 siskin feeding in the alders and coming down to the ground to drink from puddles only a few metres from us - brilliant! Amongst the trees thrushes were busily feeding with redwing, blackbird and song thrush seen.

On the next lake we checked we were greeted by the sight of 59 red crested pochard initially feeding and then displaying in a cauldron of bubbling water and frantic calling. A site pretty much unique to the Cotswold Water Park in the UK. A few tufted duck and a pair of goosander, including a splendid male were also feeding on the lake.

male goosander

We were lucky enough to see a number of smaller birds working through the hedgerows on the next section, these included robin, dunnock, bullfinch, chaffinch, goldfinch and a group of long-tailed tit.

Perhaps the highlight of the walk was found whilst watching a pair of goldeneye. I saw a movement in the bottom of the hedge we were stood near, it was a weasel looking out of a hole in the bank! He disappeared down the hole, then reappeared and repeated this a couple of times. He then built up enough courage to run towards us a few feet, fear got the best of him and he returned to the sanctuary of the hole. A few seconds later he was out again to rush forward and grab a dead field vole and rush off along the hedgerow base. Presumably we surprised him as we arrived. A special sight indeed!

As we continued along our route, we added coot, moorhen, gadwall, wigeonmute swan and great crested grebe to our list. We also spent some time picking through the gulls with black-headed, common and lesser black-backed being seen.

We then headed through a stretch of woodland where we picked up treecreeper and great spotted woodpecker. The treecreeper especially putting on a great show of tree climbing acrobatics!

We were soon out into the open again, where we saw a grey heron and a very vocal green sandpiper. At our next lake we found a nice flock of pochard feeding with tufted duck. There were also a couple of little grebe fishing along the edge of one of the islands and we saw the first mallard of the day dabbling along the edge of the same island. On a stretch of grassland we had great views of a fieldfare, mistle thrush and a green woodpecker busily hunting for their respective food.


Our next interesting find were the remains of a signal crawfish that had been the lunch for an otter.

Along the edge of the next lake we finally saw a wren, a species that had proved elusive. We also found a few chiffchaff hunting through the hedgerow bramble and ivy. We picked up our last duck species of the day - a flock of teal. Further sightings of bullfinch, redwing and song thrush took us to lunchtime.

After lunch we concentrated on one site where we were lucky enough to see a two kingfisher, one of which had a feeding post a few metres from us. We saw him catch two fish in about 30 minutes. We also had views of kestrel and buzzard here. A great day out! (NA)