Wednesday, 29 July 2020

RSPB Langford Lowfields Reserve, Newark

Wednesday 29 July

RSPB Langford Lowfields - waters on Phase III
A pleasant start to the day with broken cloud, sunshine and just  hint of a cool breeze for my first visit to RSPB Langford Lowfields Reserve just north-east of Newark in Nottinghamshire.  Even better as a straight drive up the A1 from Stamford meant the reserve could be reached in under 45 minutes.  This is very much a reserve under development utilising the sand and gravel pits currently being worked by Tarmac.  The smaller Phase 1 is presently open to the public but much of the bird life was to be found on pools and lagoons of Phases 2 and 3 which, although not being commercially worked, are still out of bounds and closed to visitors.  However, bird life can be viewed from the neighbouring path.  When the commercial side finally departs, the area will be returned to nature with the suggestion that it might be developed to hold the largest reedbed in the Midlands.

RSPB Langford Lowfields
Very easy to find and accessible with a provided car park.  Fortunately I had printed off a map of the site last night so having noted the Collared Dove and many Wood Pigeons as I entered the reserve I was all set for a clock-wise tour of the site, a final total of just on five miles (8 kilometres).  Once under way a distant Kestrel and then a couple of Carrion Crows passing overhead.  A Chaffinch was calling and sighted followed by a very large charm of feeding Goldfinches, including many juveniles.  Stopping a this point to view a scrape with reeded edges, a trio of Little Egret and a handful of mallards were noted.  Once underway again on the surfaced path a couple of Magpies and another family of Carrion Crows along with more Wood Pigeons.

Female Blackbird Turdus merula
The second reason for carrying a map of the site is for when one gets lost!  I knew something had gone wrong when instead of finding the turn on the right to take me to Phase 1 I reached a country lane signposted towards Newark on my right and the nearby level crossing to my left.  Retracing my steps back alongside The Fleet we eventually found the very narrow path heading towards Slough Dyke.  Then followed an uncomfortable walk through the recently cut bramble and stinging nettles overlooking the many pools and scrapes that are currently lying in Phase 3.  However, our little diversion did lead to a close view a most handsome male Yellowhammer so the extra 800 metres or so most worthwhile.

RSPB Langford Lowfields
Lots of birds to be seen including very many Greylag and Canada Geese along with a good number of Mute Swans.  Just the one Little Grebe but many Great Crested Grebes in some of these deep waters.  Ducks were mainly Mallard but I did come across the occasional small flock of Tufted Duck.  Also present was a good number of heron and a score or more of Little Grebe.  A little dip through a wooded valley produced a Robin and then we were at the last of the large pools where, in addition to very many Greylag Geese and Mallards we found the gulls and a number of Common Terns.  Mainly Black-headed but also a half-dozen Great Black-backed and a single Yellow-legged Gull.  Whilst watching the Kestrel come to land on a distant fence we also found a single Oystercatcher on one of the small islands in the lagoon.  To their left a trio of Cormorants were drying their wings.

Distant record shot of Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Then out of the nettles and up on to the high bank for the remainder of the walk towards Phase 1.  Almost immediately a couple of Blackbirds followed by a Common Whitethroat.  A handful of House Sparrows were seen

RSPB Langford Lowfields- from the southern end of Phase I
Over the style and walk along the southern end of Phase 1 and this part of the reserve looked beautiful.  The island below me held both a single Lapwing and a Moorhen and, in addition to the three or four Black-headed Gulls, a constant stream of Common Terns.  A mixed flock of ducks at the back included a pair of Common Pochard and from the furthermost viewpoint on top of a small incline I was able to see a number of Heron and Little Egrets along with a pair of Gadwall on the water.  Reed Warblers were moving around in the reeds below me and my final sighting of the day was a trio of Reed Buntings which had flown form the reeds below me to a bush behind me.  It might even be that another trio of distant small brown birds flying towards the island below might have been Bullfinches given that I particularly noticed the white rumps.

A very sleepy Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
A most enjoyable morning's walk of about five miles which produced 35 species, most of which were seen on the flooded lagoons and scrapes of, presumably, Phases 2 and 3.

One of very many Little Egrets Egretta garzetta
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Robin, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Magpie, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting.

RSPB Langford Lowfields - towards the north of  Phase I

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