Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Saturday, 23rd February 2013: Cotswold Water Park (Leader: Elizabeth Allen)

New quarry workings and diversions obstructed our planned 5-mile walk, so the 15 RSPB and Bath Nats members, who gathered on this very cold day, took an alternative route.
Within minutes of setting off, we saw 5 Smew (2 male and 3 female) and a pair of Red-crested Pochard on the lake at Lower Mill. Then in the hope of hearing early spring birdsong, we set off along the Thames Path following the river, here little more than a stream.
Although we did hear Green Woodpecker calling frequently, the birds were generally very quiet. As day was very cold perhaps the small birds were otherwise engaged, feeding or conserving energy. A Goldcrest was spotted by Godfrey Evans’ young niece, feeding along grasses twined in the fencing here. We found a reasonable selection of ducks on many of the lakes that we passed, including innumerable Tufted Duck, and Wigeon, Goosander, Mallard, Pochard and displaying Goldeneye. We were surprised to see more Smew (up to 10 for the day) as we walked on. There were also Canada and Greylag Geese, Cormorants drying in the trees, Herons and a Buzzard. Hazels showing male and female flowers were evident, and I caught sight of one patch of early Coltsfoot.

We moved on to Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s site at Lower Moor Farm for lunch.  A visit to the three hides here revealed very little apart from a pair of Goosander showing well. But on Mallard Lake between 40 and 50 Red-crested Pochard made a great sighting for the end of the trip.


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