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)

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