Thirty-seven members and friends took the eagerly awaited trip to Whisby Nature Park in Lincolnshire. The journey was uneventful but we did manage to spot up to six Red Grouse as we passed over the Langsett Moors on the A628.
Arriving at the car park many of us headed to the visitor centre where we picked up maps and had a quick look over Thorpe Lake. This was the first visit for the society in over ten years so most people were not familiar with the site. A couple of islands on the lake held breeding Black-headed Gull
and in amongst the colony were two very smart adult Mediterranean Gulls. Also present were Mute Swan, Great-crested Grebe, Gadwall and Tufted Duck.
Adjacent to the lake we found a very confiding Garden Warbler who took to singing continually from the top of a small tree. Excellent views of this usually skulking species.
|Garden Warbler (Holly Page)|
Most of the party then headed directly to the rear of Coot Lake where we had been told by the reserve wardens that we would find our number one target species. Here in shrubs and small tree’s bordering a relatively busy path we found a singing male Nightingale. Again, we were fortunate that this famously skulking species was happy to sing out on exposed branches in the under-canopy. Usually at around head height level this stunning little bird gave splendid views to the majority of the coach party. Whilst it could be difficult to pin-point exactly where the beautiful sound was coming from once its movements gave it away it could be watched singing, its whole- body reverberating with the effort. Caught in good light the warm red brown of the back, rump and tail stood out against the greens of the background. Definitely the highlight of the day and arguably the highlight of our many field trips in the last few years.
|Nightingale (Alan & Glo)|
Many people spent a considerable amount of time watching the bird and the those with cameras strived to catch that magic shot. The warden had informed us there were only three birds present at the moment. A male that only sang at night, a female and the daytime singing male we watched. In the surrounding area we also picked up Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, with a pair of Goldcrest also observed. A pair of Buzzard circled overhead.
Continuing onto the rest of the reserve we crossed over the railway and enjoyed some more open habitat. Here we found many singing Whitethroat with the occasional singing Reed Bunting. Overhead we had a pair of Buzzard and we could hear Bullfinch calling from the hedgerows.
|Reed Bunting (Alan & Glo)|
From the bird hide over-looking the large Willow Lake we watched Great Crested Grebe displaying, a Kingfisher flashed past and Mike and Nigel spotted a Grass Snake swimming in the water. Looking out towards the distant, but still impressive, Lincoln Cathedral we recorded Swifts and a pair of Sparrowhawk. Hobby was also noted.
Walking on to Teal Lake we picked up the distinctive call of Lesser Whitethroat close to the A46 underpass. The bird was seen briefly but we soon got distracted by a pair of Hobby chasing flying insect over the adjacent woodland.
|Hobby (Alan & Glo)|
On Teal Lake we quickly picked up on a handful of Common Tern but an added bonus was a breeding plumage Little Gull, the bird showing a faint pink flush on its breast. Also present were Lapwing, Redshank, Shoveler and Cormorant.
A pair of Shelduck were seen flying over and Reed Warbler could be heard singing from the reedbeds around Grebe Lake. It had been a good day and with most of the party relating their own Nightingale experiences we boarded the coach and headed back to Stockport.
|Willow Warbler (Alan & Glo)|