Sunday, 16 June 2013

Out and about this week

Took a week off from work and have been out and about with the other half. First up it was the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reserve at Welney. The primary quarry was Water Vole. The reserve are offering Guided Water Vole Walks during June (Click here for details). We didn't have to wait for the walk as we spotted a Water Vole in the pond between the car park and the visitor centre on our way in! 

We had a quick look around before the guided walk started, spotting a nice group of Black-tailed Godwits early on.
Black-tailed Godwits
House Martins were busy nest building around the main observatory and there were Avocet and Redshank chicks to be seen with parent birds in attendance. Plenty of other birds about including Cuckoo and displaying Snipe.

It was soon time for the Guided walk and Sam and Tony took us around with Sam pointing out the various Water Vole signs. The following picture shows the characteristic cut lengths of reed that Water Voles leave. They are approx 8 - 10 cm in length and have a 45 degree angled cut at the end. 

After a bit of a wait we spotted the star of the show along one of the ditches:

Water Vole
We did get better views briefly and at one point there were 3 Water Voles feeding in the reeds on the opposite side of the ditch. We could see the reeds moving about where they were and the sound of them munching!

On the way out of the reserve we spotted the Water Vole in the pond again and had super views as it went about its business. Well worth a visit if you have some free time and I recommend the guided walks we learnt a lot and will hopefully be in a position to spot the signs if Water Voles venture back to my local patch.

Water Vole
Water Vole
Water Vole
Water Vole
Moorhen Chick
Tuesday we popped over to Paxton Pits for the afternoon. We did the Heron trail which we found a little disappointing although in fairness there were plenty of birds about and we did manage a single singing Nightingale. There was quite a bit of noise around the site from the various bits of work going on plus the regular passing trains and the lorries heading into the gravel works. They seem to have a great volunteer programme going over there as there were several groups working around the park as well as the helpful vols in the visitor centre. We'll have to give it another try.

Wednesday was another day trip, this time to Lakenheath Fen. We joined another guided walk with David, reserve information officer, and volunteer Darren. In rather windy conditions they did well to show us some of the sites stars including Marsh Harrier and Hobby but we failed to connect with a Golden Oriole which we had hoped for. The Oriole numbers have been dropping over recent years so it wasn't too surprising, especially given the very windy conditions. We did get most of the other expected species including a Cetti's Warbler which is always good. 

Marsh Harrier
Thursday afternoon headed over to Tring for a look around the Natural History Museum which is always a good way to spend an hour or so. I love the bird and mammal collections.

Friday was another day out, this time to Rutland Water. Osprey was the prime target but we bagged a few other species including a surprise Little Gull.

Egyptian Goose and youngsters
Little Egret
The new artificial Sand Martin nest block, an impressive structure!
Female Osprey having a break from nest duties
Female Osprey
Reed Bunting
Sedge Warbler
The Osprey views were somewhat distant as is to be expected as you can't get too close to the nest but nice to see them all the same and the volunteers were very helpful with the scopes set up on the nest and, new this year, an iPad in the hide showing the nest action live!

All in all a good week despite the changeable weather, back to the grind next week but I'll probably be tuning into the Rutland Ospreys nest cam for a wildlife fix every now and again!