Saturday 16 April
Following my early morning short visit to Stockbridge Down I was all ready to set off along the canalside paths and into the Fishlake Meadows reserve by 9.45. Hardly through the gate and across the bridge before being welcomed by the first Robin of the morning as a few of the very many Wood Pigeons to crash about the trees judging by their noisy wing beats. Again, as I started my slow walk down the footpath the regular loud and penetrating calls of many Cetti's Warblers.
|Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti|
First the unmistakeable call then the sight of my first Cuckoo of the year as it perched near the top of the bare trees off to my left. Wonderful sight.
|Male Cuckoo Cuculus canorus|
As I left I stopped to watch the busy Blackcaps feeding in the small trees alongside the path with more Robins and Cetti's Warblers. First Blue then Great Tits put in an appearance to the accompanying calls of the many Chiffchaffs. On the narrow canal to my right a pair of hybrid-type Mallards, which back in the sixties were referred to as "Cayuga Ducks." However, not one hundred metres further on I came across a true pair of Mallards.
Next up the first Blackbird as it flew across the canal and into the gardens beyond. Then one, two and another pair of Reed Buntings; the males looking particularly handsome with their completed face moult. And looking up I was able to watch the circling Red Kite as it quartered the reed beds of the reserve.
|Red Kite Milvus milvus|
At this point a pair of Jays moved along the edge of the reeds and into the trees whilst a Wren popped up in front of me as it passed from one bramble bush to the next. A little further away and in a clearing in the reeds a pair of Greylag Geese were feeding whilst, immediately behind them ,a Roe Deer was bust grazing. Back to the canal where a couple of moulting Mute Swans drifted by a noisy Carrion Crow passed overhead.
|Feeding Greylag Geese Anser anser with Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus behind|
Passing through the gate on my left I stopped to check the handful of Greylag Geese on my right and a cock Pheasant and then on through the second gate to take the path through the reeds towards the observation screens.
No problem here identifying the many calling Reed Warblers on both sides of the path. A second cock Pheasant was also present in the field to my right on the other side of the stream and then on the the first screen. Then, the distinctive call and brief sighting of a nearby Sedge Warbler. As I approached I was in time to see the Great White Egret take flight and away to the adjacent water leaving this view completely free of any water bird life. A minute or so later I was able to check the larger water from the second viewing screen and here was the Great White Egret at the back. Nearer to me more Greylag Geese along with both Gadwall and Teal.
|Great White Egret Egretta alba|
Making my way back along the path I came across a single Coot on the small stream and once back on the main path towards the exit much time spent looking for the newly-arrived Whitethroats. First a pair of Long-tailed Tits and then, finally, my first Whitethroat of the year as a very active male explored its new territory between path and reeds. Also in the area a second calling Sedge Warbler. A Magpie was seen in the horse field across the canal then two more at the edge of the reeds. Then, still with many calling Chiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers, a look across the reeds to the old, are trees for a final look at the calling male Cuckoo.
|Cuckoo Cuculus canorus|
Once back at the car the short couple of hundred metres drive to stop on Fishlake Meadow road to check the southern end of the main lake from the viewing point below the bank. Not many birds on show other than a few Tufted Duck, a pair of Canada Geese and a number of resting gulls. Obviously not Black-headed Gulls so time to use the scope and confirm a mixture of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls. However, one small white "blob" partly concealed by a dead tree was a Common Tern and even better views when it took to the air and commenced fishing right in front of me. Indeed, not one but two individuals and to prove me wrong, even a Black-headed Gull appeared. Finally, at the very back of the water a pair of both Shoveler and Pochard.
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Great White Egret, Red Kite, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Reed Bunting.