Tuesday 7 August 2018

Lound & Idle Valley Nature Reserve

Monday 6 August

I had a wonderful day making a first visit to the Lound and Idle Valley Nature Reserve just north of Retford in Nottinghamshire accompanied by my good birding friend from, relatively, nearby Worksop, Chris Bell.  Great having Chris with as not only does he know the local birds but is very familiar with the site.  meeting at the Visitors Centre after the eighty minute journey up from Stamford we had a cup of coffee whilst taking a look at the adjacent Belmoor Lake which provided plenty of geese in the form of Greylag and Canada along with a single Egyptian Goose.  Ducks were mainly Mallard with a few Tufted and also a good supply of gulls, mainly Black-headed but also some Lesser Black-backed and the occasional Herring Gull.  Add on Lapwings, Coots and a few Mute Swans, not to mention the Magpie that welcomed us to the site, and we were off to a good start.

View across Neatholme Fen at Idle Valley Reserve
With much ground management being undertaken by volunteers we took the car and made our way through Lound to the northern end of the reserve, recording Kestrel, Rook, Barn Swallow and House Martin on the way.  Then as we drove down Chain Bride Lane to park up for a coupe of hours or more (more likely three hours minimum)  we added Chaffinch, House Sparrow and Dunnock.  Once all the equipment to hand we locked the car and headed down the leafy avenue of Hawthorn Lane, the clue being in the name!  Wind Surf Pool provided our first Common Terns of the morning along with more Lapwings and Mallards plus Coots, a couple of Grey Herons and a Cormorant.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Common Tern Sterna hirundo and juvenile Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Given that the whole reserve is a mass of pools, scrapes and lakes this very much set the pattern for our visit.  Everywhere we went we were to record hundreds of Mallards and Lapwing along with Black-headed Gulls and each, individual water providing the opportunity to, perhaps, find  something new.  Meanwhile, the avenue itself was not without an interesting array of passerines.  Both Blue and Great Tit were heard along with a "ticking" Robin.  Forget the numerous Wood Pigeons it was the Long-tailed Tit that "jumped" across the road above us and the sight of the first Willow Warbler that really drew our attention.  A Garden Warbler was a very lovely addition and ere long we had also recorded the first of the resident Blackcap.

Just caught the distant Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
So, a left turn along Cross Lane past the Water Ski Pit, nothing to see here, brought us to the screen overlooking Neatholme Fen.  Now we could set up scope and have camera ready as there was a good selection of birds on the water including, as well as the usual, Mute Swan, Little Egret and a Green Sandpiper.  A distant Buzzard could be seen circling above and on the water the appearance of Great Crested Grebes complete with young.  Common Terns were about as well as Moorhen and never mind the calling Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove we had our first hearing of a Turtle Dove.  Eventually we could identify two calling birds and finally we were able to track one of them (or was it a third individual?) as I caught sight of it on a power line off to the right before it moved to the far side of the water and eventually disappeared off into Linghust Wood.

View across Neatholme Scrape at Idle Valley Reserve

Once on our way again we next stopped at the screen overlooking Neatholme Pit and hear we found a large flock of Tufted Duck as well as scores of Lapwing and more Little Egret and Grey Heron.  The neighbouring Neatholme Scrape then produced a good number of Gadwall along with Little Grebe and the occasional Common Pochard.  More Mute Swans and even a pair of Egyptian Geese.  A handful of Carrion Crow were either feeding on the ground or resting in bushes and even a Rock Dove flew over, the fist seen all day.

Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus
Time to continue on down to Cross Lane and on reaching the junction we first saw a Grey Heron in flight, having just listened to the calling Reed Warblers, when a "strange-looking" Kestrel flew slowly across the track.  That was no Kestrel but our much sought after first sighting of a Hobby.  What a sight!  The short path back to Hawthorne Lane produced Chiffchaff before we finally got back to the car and time for a drink and snack.

Having taken a quick look at Chainbridge Scrape (East) where we found at least eight Grey Herons along with more Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Little Egret, Great Crested Grebe and scores of Lapwing, we crossed the River Idle and parked up to take a closer look at the distant Tiln North water.  Biggest attraction here was not the score or more of both Greylag and Canada Geese but the huge flock of Rooks along with about a score of Carrion Crow.  A male Reed Bunting posed nicely on top of a bramble bush and then a single Yellow Wagtail flitted over the grass and disappeared into the vegetation.

Resting Carrion Crow Corvus corone corone

Our final journey was to take the track alongside the River Idle to the area known as "Willow Woods."  Passing Conversation Lake we noticed the pair of Little Grebe with their two youngsters and a handful of Mute Swan on the river itself.  Then, once on site, we walked along the narrow path with bushes, shrubs and the occasional tree on each side and this proved very productive as we added another Whitethroat and Garden Warbler along with both Blackcap and a rather lovely Lesser Whitethroat.  What a way to finish!  But just time to take a closer look at Chainbridge Pit and the resting Greylag Geese whilst the local warden dashed around trying to find her missing thirty-eight little black sheep!  Of Dutch origin, I wonder if her native name was "Bo-peep?"

A few of the very many Greylag Geese Anser anser
Time to head back to the main road and on to Worksop to deliver Chris back to his home having first partaking of a meal and a pint at his local.  But not before we added a Blackbird and Common Starling driving back along Chain Bridge Lane and so taking our tally for the day up to 51 species.  On reflection, looking back on the day we may have been at the "Idle Valley" reserve but all that walking certainly made us anything but idle!

Mute Swan Cygnus olor on Neatholme fen

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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