Monday, April 25, 2016

Summer Leys NR

I decided to begin the new birding week with a visit to summer Leys NR in Northamptonshire. Strangely enough only a 35 mile drive from the marina but a reserve I've never visited before!

Summer Leys NR, Northamptonshire
I arrived shortly after 9 O'clock and having just missed a heavy downpour I decided to begin my visit in the comfort of the Pioneer Hide. On approach the noise from the Black-headed Gull population told me straight away that this was a nesting colony and so it turned out! Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin low over the pools but it wasn't long before I picked up a Wood Sandpiper over on the wader scrape. A couple of Whimbrel next, which were across on the grassland over towards the disused railway line. Two year ticks already, followed almost immediately by a third, when a Greenshank was noted asleep, once again on the far side. At least a half dozen Common Tern, single Oystercatcher, two Redshank and three Little-ringed Plover before moving on. My fourth year first happened almost immediately upon leaving the hide, when four Swift flew overhead, a great start to my visit.

Sedge Warbler - Very few photos opportunities during my visit!
Moving on I took an anticlockwise route heading off towards the Paul Britten Hide. The thick hedgerow along the paths provide good habitat and by the time I'd arrived at the hide for a coffee, which offers an elevated view of the reserve, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Greenfinch had all been noted in song. From the hide a better view of the Wood Sandpiper but before I could get the customary record shot it took flight, almost a display flight actually, calling and dipping as it flew off! In fact I noted it several times more during the morning.

After leaving the hide I was extremely lucky as I emerged almost adjacent to a field which, according to a new report, had a Whinchat showing. Scanning the field in question, which I believe was on Mary's Lane, it wasn't long before I had decent scope views of the bird. Which was flying from posts onto higher fencing which overlooked a further pool, a fifth year tick! While here a ploughed area of the field held three stunning Yellowhammer, almost like canaries in the stark contrast of the dark soil. A little further on I paused for a time at the feeders and while here scoped the pools, recording a couple of late stayers, with both Wigeon and drake Goldeneye.

The remainder of the 2 mile circuit yielded of note: Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, (2) Buzzard, (2) Green Woodpecker, (3) Sedge Warbler, (2) Cetti's Warbler and several more Swift and Common Tern. An excellent reserve and one which I will certainly visit more often!