Wednesday 11 May 2016

May visit to the Cotswold Water Park

We started our morning walk at the wets end of CWP West and were soon listening to and seeing a male blackcap as well as listening to a male willow warbler weeping away in the bushes. Next on the warbler list was a chiffchaff singing, quickly followed by the first of many garden warbler. Other species encountered at this early stage included blue tit, great tit, blackbird, robin and wren.

male blackcap

We reached our first lake and saw a pair of tufted duck busily feeding, indeed so busily it proved very difficult to get a good view of them in the telescope! A mute swan, a male mallard and a pair of coot were also seen.

As we carried on along the side of the lake we had perhaps the best view I had ever had of a garden warbler – what a stunning chap he was with his beautiful song! Next came a pair of long-tailed tits busily collecting food for their chicks. Common tern and black-headed gull were flying overhead regularly, as were swallow, house martin and our first swift of the year.

As we crossed the Thames we were blasted by a male cetti’s warbler singing from the nearby bushes, as well as a male song thrush.

Looking over the next lake we saw many common tern and black-headed gull on the rafts put out for them to breed. The same mix of waterbirds were present, plus some pairs of great crested grebe. We continued to compare garden warbler and blackcap along the river and tried in vain to see a couple of goldcrest that were singing. A kingfisher put in an all too brief appearance as it shot along the river Thames.

A great spotted woodpecker was the next bird heard and a stock dove flew out of a tree as we passed underneath, as we reached the next crossing point of the river Thanes we saw a number of sand martin busily catching insects near their nestholes. A better view of a pair of tufted duck was finally obtained at the same site.

We crossed the river and had great views of a pair of great crested grebe and a number of cormorant sat in nearby trees.We carried on and were soon listening to more garden warbler and blackcap! A pair of gadwall were found feeding on the next lake where we saw various bits of signal crayfish, courtesy of the local otters.

Next we reached a large area of scrub, which despite being the middle of the day was still fairly busy with warblers. Star of the show was a nightingale, who put on a brief show followed by some calls and growls! Other warbler present included chiffchaff, willow warbler, whitethroat and sedge warbler.

singing male whitethroat

After lunch, with the forecast not looking too great we headed to Lower Moor Wiltshire WT reserve where we sheltered for an hour or so from the rain. At this time we saw a fine male bullfinch and several male reed bunting. In between hides we had amazing views of two treecreeper, one in particular that was sat still for a minute or so – brilliant!

Having decided to risk the weather, we headed onto Clattinger Farm Wiltshire WT reserves where we spent a very pleasant 90 minutes wandering from field to field soaking up the colours and numbers of plants. Highlights included snake’s-head fritillary, cowslip, green-winged orchid, adder’s-tongue fern and primrose.

Green-winged orchid

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