© Andrew Moon

Ten of us met at the causeway on a cloudy but warm day. We hoped the sun would break through the clouds. A slightly disappointing start as there were not a lot of flowers in bloom excepting the hemp agrimony and buddleia, but the walk turned into a real team event with the sighting of a large dragonfly flying near and then landing on the buddleia near the pumping station. With the aid of a good zoom lens on Cliff Buckton’s camera a female southern hawker was identified after eliminating it as a possible emperor.

Following a somewhat damp week Sunday 26th was a dry, warm day, perfect for the walk to look at the wild flowers around the Reserve. A small, group met on the causeway. I talked briefly about the type of plants to expect to see growing on unimproved neutral soil.

Nine of us this year gathered on the causeway at half past eight for a walk round the lake. The weather was warm and sunny; perfect for our task. Cool April had slowing leaf growth making seeing the birds a bit easier than in some years. We saw most of the expected birds plus good views of a spotted flycatcher. Most unusual. There were a few swallows and even fewer swifts very high up but still no martins. Oddly no woodpeckers this year or house sparrows.

A bright day this year but with a stiffish cool breeze. The birds consequently tended to be hunkered down with their backs to us. The chicks we did see seemed to be pretty well developed. For the last three years the Grey Herons had decided to nest out of sight of the causeway and so Anna and I set up telescopes at the former binocular resting post area along the canal side path about half way between Shoveler and Kingfisher hides. From there some half dozen heron and about ten or so Little Egret nests could be seen across the lake. (There were about a dozen of each last year.)

Cool damp and grey this year but at least it did not rain on us. There were far fewer birds than in most years.  The party numbered 10. Our tour of the lake took about two and half hours reflecting the intense interest in the birds and some of the party being pretty new to birding.

The weather was kind; clear skies and unseasonably warm (like the rest of the winter up to now). Consequently, we feared that the overwintering birds would be few in number as they are likely to stay given the clement weather. And so the seven of us set off; a mixed crew from expert to novice. We saw all the species we heard and ended with a tally of 38 species (3 down on last year; no little owl, kingfisher or smew in particular). So better than we feared.