21 September 2008

Willington - once again!

If Willington Gravel Pits was a members club then I guess I'd be looking at taking out life membership - I've been birding there yet again this morning.

My birding morning started at a little after 7:00AM when I opened the back door to find the hanging bird-feeders covered with House Sparrows, three Wood Pigeon on the ground feeder, a couple of Dunnock foraging amongst the bedding plants and five Blackbirds chasing around as they argued over just who had feeding rights within our garden. The Collard Doves on the garage roof seemed happy to just soak up the early morning sun.

By 8:15AM I was at Willington and walking down the lane towards the main reserve. The lane is only about ¾ mile long but this morning it took me almost an hour to walk to the end. The birds were once again rather thin on the ground but that didn't really matter - I was happy to just spend the time out in the fresh air!

Autumn colour in the lane.

Birds seen on the walk included Dunnock, Robin, numerous Blackbirds, a single Song Thrush, two singing Chiffchaff, a male Blackcap and a pair of Bullfinch. From the first viewing platform I added Mute Swan, Mallard, Coot, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Reed Bunting to my list. I was also pleased to see that the water level at the pits had dropped another foot or so since last weekend. There is still very little in the way of wader habitat though.

The view from platform 1.

When I reached the end of the lane, and platform three, I pitched camp and settled down to see what, if anything, would turn up out on the water - the birds were few and far between. I did manage to locate a total of six Great Crested Grebe, three Cormorant, three Grey Heron and six Teal but that was about all.

The view from platform 3.

A little later in the morning three Water Rail were heard calling, 14 Wigeon dropped onto Gull Pit, two Pintail appeared and a single Shoveler put in a brief appearance. A single Meadow Pipit also flew south - does that class as visible migration at this time of year? Twelve Goldfinch and a flock of Linnet were also seen in flight.

At just after 10:00AM I thought that my birding for the morning was finished when a work party turned up to clear willow scrub, and other unwanted vegetation, from the waters edge and islands just in front of where I was stood. In the end, their disturbance actually helped liven things up a little. Over the next couple of hours they flushed a total of 141 Common Snipe from a 200yd section of cover, the highest count I've ever recorded at any one time. A flock of around 400 Lapwing flew through and 14 Swallows spent a while feeding over the main area of water.

The smoke from the three fires that the work party had started finally got the better of me at around mid-day and I decided to head for home. I'd located just 40 species and added no new birds to my "10-Mile List" but that didn't bother me - I was happy to have been able to get out and about once again without getting wet! I did smell a little "char grilled" though from all the smoke!

Clearance work gets under way.

1 comment:

  1. It's too bad the workers interupted such a wonderful day. I do need to get out more often. I was thrilled to have the Tufted Titmouse pay us a call this morning. I did manage an up close and nearly personal encounter with a humming bird yesterday evening when he thought the bright orange scoop in my hand was a feeder. He hovered right in front of me. I told him his food was at the house and he flew away. Eventually he made it to the feeder.