Today we had another of our spring Tuesday morning walks led by Malcolm & Sally. Although cloudy the day was warm and dry, and 18 of us met in the car park of this favoured reserve. With many habitats in a small area there is always the chance of turning up the odd suprise or two.
We initially walked along the side of the main pool utilising the hides as we went. Near the car park Malcolm and Alan heard garden warbler and we were all charged with keeping our ears tuned for their song. At the first viewpoint we could make out coot and lapwing on nests, canada, greylag and brent geese were also present, along with tufted duck, moorhen, mute swan and mallard. We scanned with binoculars and telescopes for the little ringed plover which had been reported over the last few weeks, and after much diligent scanning we eventually saw several of these lovely birds, there were also ringed plover and it was good to be able to compare the difference between the two – the eye-ring on the little ringed eventually showing well as we managed to hone our vantage points. Great crested grebe were also nesting, and egyptian geese had two young (we later found out that they originally had 9 goslings but 7 have been predated).
In the woods blue tit, great tit and long-tailed tit were active along with blackbird, wren and blackcap. A female great-spotted woodpecker posed high up in a dead tree (only moments after Sally had said there should be one in that very spot!). Nearing the Kingfisher Hide we watched blue tit using one of the nest boxes. Last year we met the person doing the Nest Box surveys and he advised that they had only ever found blue tits using the nest boxes over the last few years and given the numbers around today, we could well believe it. Malcolm thought he could hear the garden warbler again, and we all stood quietly trying to discern the call amongst the other birdsong around us. Eventually we spotted one high up in a nearby tree, and although not easy to spot, several people had good views before the bird disappeared from view. Meanwhile inside the hide reed warblers were giving great views as they were feeding among the seedheads of the reeds. Along this part of our walk we saw green-veined white butterfly and orange tip, along with azure damselfly.
Retracing our steps we walked along the main track with the large pool on our right and here we saw blood vein moth, blue-tailed damselfly and banded demoiselle damselfly. Along this part of our walk we saw more blue tit and great tit, with robin, wren and blackbird and had more views of the water birds. There were large patches of nettles along the side of the path and some of the leaves had been rolled up. On inspection Malcolm was able to show us the caterpillar of the mother of pearl moth, these caterpillars feed on nettles and make a safe haven by “sewing” the leaf into a tube.
By this time we were well over time and it was decided to return to the reserve centre for lunch.
After a leisurely lunch a few of us moved on to Knole Park where we had a short walk where we saw crow, jay, green woodpecker, chaffinch, jackdaw, kestrel and heard pheasant and stock dove. We also saw one singing male willow warbler and heard several more. There were also at least a dozen fallow deer.
Thanks to all who attended and especially Malcolm and Sally for leading.