Today 20 people joined Malcolm for another of his Tuesday morning walks. This time the venue was the marshes at Northward Hill RSPB Reserve.
As we met in the car park Malcolm and Sally were showing us a Drinker moth which had emerged from its cocoon overnight. Howard had a moth field guide and we were able to identify this as a female – larger and paler than the male.
We stopped at the screen near the feeding station and there were blue tit, great tit, chaffinch and goldfinch feeding on the seeds and peanuts. A family of greater spotted woodpeckers were squabbling and we heard a green woodpecker calling. On the pools in front of the viewpoint there were two pairs of mute swan, one with three cygnets, tufted duck with 6 young, many coots, mallards, a great crested grebe, and little grebe. As we moved towards the marshes a wren was scolding. Chaffinch, grey heron and wood pigeons flew past.
Along the ditches there were two little egret feeding, and a little grebe with juvenile sheltered in the waters edge of reeds nearby. A female marsh harrier flew over from the wood towards the marshes, with primary feathers missing and looking rather worn. Later a smarter male flew past low over the reeds.
As we watched the little grebe and chick, a bearded tit whizzed by allowing only a few lucky folk a view, but we could hear their distinctive “pinging” further out. A marsh frog sat on an old nest and distracted us for a short while, but the call of a sedge warbler moved us on yet again. Eventually more of the group got fleeting views of the bearded tit as three of them hopped from one part of reed bed to another.
In a field at least 84 greylag geese were feeding among the stubble left after harvest. A family of magpie sat in a tree watchful as we progressed across the field and keen to keep their distance. Two reed bunting were spotted by those at the front of the group but they chose not to hang around for the rest of us to catch sight of them. We did see sedge warbler however, the first glimpse was of a couple of juveniles moving about in the reeds and practicing their flying from one side of a ditch to another. Their colours were bright but the eye stripe still diagnostic – just a little too far for my camera, but several of the group got good shots.
Moorhen, linnet and turtle dove finished off our days bird list.
We do, however need to add a few non-avian notable sightings including, scarce emerald damselfly, cinnabar moth caterpillars feeding on ragwort, gatekeeper, large white butterfly, wall brown, marbled white, meadow brown, common blue, small skipper, small white, green veined white.
In addition Malcolm took us out to the Duck Decoy – an area which was landscaped in the 1700’s specifically to catch ducks by funnelling them down nets set into the deep rills the ducks were then encouraged down the tunnels by man and dog towards the traps set at the end of each of the ditches.
Thanks to Malcolm (ably assisted by Sally as always) for another enjoyable, entertaining and informative walk.