14 June 2018

On an extremely wild, warm and windy morning nine of us set off to Staveley Nature Reserve. Unfortunately due to the gale force winds it was not ideal for birdwatching as the noise of the wind made identifying the bird song extremely difficult and the birds were invisible as they were sensibly sheltering from the wind. However we battled on and the botanists amongst us (nearly all of us!) had a field day with beautiful hay meadows full of colour and various species of Orchid, notably Common-spotted and Bee.

Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting. Photo: Marg Smith

Walking along the path to our first hide we had great sightings of Common Tern which were nesting on rafts built especially for them. Their aerial displays in the strong wind were a delight to watch. Reed Buntings were numerous, precariously swaying on the reeds.

In the hide we observed Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot (with chicks), Cormorant, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Black-headed Gull, and Canada Goose. A line of Greylag goslings made a comical sight as did four Lapwing chicks running everywhere with their parents in hot pursuit! A Little Ringed Plover was spotted on the water’s edge, as was a Pied Wagtail.

After lunch we walked back through the woods to the second hide. Along the way we stopped to watch numerous damselflies darting amongst the flowers. After much debate we narrowed them down to either an Azure Damselfly or a Common Blue. They were blue!! We also saw a Large Red Damselfly on a leaf (its real name). The butterfly count began to mount as the sun started to appear. We saw several Speckled Wood, a Little Skipper and a beautiful Brimstone. As we entered the woodland Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Wren were singing.
The second hide was very disappointing. We usually see a variety of birds on the feeders and the Water Rail emerging from the reeds but apart from a Pheasant there was nothing. Not even the Otter which we had seen on another visit!

At this point we decided to call it a day, but on the way back to the cars there was a sudden influx of birds with brilliant viewings. First was a Sedge Warbler singing away in a tree near the path, then a Chiffchaff right next to the path, followed by a Willow Tit (a first at Staveley for us) and lastly a female Blackcap flittering about in the undergrowth.
One of our members thought she saw a Longtailed Tit, and Willow Warbler and Skylark were heard. Carrion Crows, Jackdaws and Woodpigeons were seen battling through the wind, as were Swallow, Swift and House Martin. In the cars going home our only raptors were seen, namely a Red Kite and a Buzzard.
Despite the wind a great day was had by all, but the Botanists went home the happiest bunnies!! A surprising 32 species were recorded.

Marg Smith