Check out the following blog from our Conservation Officer, Carl Cornish detailing his guided walk from this weekend - our first of 2012....
On Sunday, I stepped in to help lead a guided walk at Langford Lowfields because Paul Bennett, the warden, was ill. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon and as I stood by the entrance gate to meet the cars a brimstone butterfly was flying up and down the grass verge. Forty-one people came on the walk and as they were gathered in the quarry at the start of the walk, a female sparrowhawk circled overhead. At the silt lagoons we heard the first migrant – a chiffchaff singing its simple but distinctive song from the wood. Willow catkins were attracting queen bumblebees and a peacock butterfly flew past. A couple of great spotted woodpeckers flew from the wood into willows around the silt lagoons and then one gave a flight pass as we stood looking out across Phase 2, allowing everyone to see its characteristic bounding flight. Reed buntings were on show throughout the day and the first one encountered was a smart male perched up in willow. A pair of shelducks on the silt lagoons was the first of several seen throughout the afternoon.
Scanning across Phase 2 revealed a good selection of birds including mute swans, displaying lapwings wheeling and tumbling in the sky, tufted ducks, mallards, coots, a smart male teal and a great crested grebe in its breeding plumage finery. As we stood overlooking Phase 2, a skylark was singing overhead, a real joyous celebration of a sunny day. We then walked out onto Phase 2 to have a closer look and to see the newly created sand martin bank (see previous blogs). We had closer views of the wildfowl already seen and saw some new species for the day – two female pochards, two pairs of wigeons, a few pairs of teal, a pair of gadwall and a pair of shoveler. The male shoveler posed well in my telescope and its head was a magnificent iridescent purple in the sunlight. Members of the group found three little egrets, two roe deer that ran along the riverbank, and the rarest bird of the day, a black-tailed godwit. This is a wader with a long bill (for further details see http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/b/blacktailedgodwit/index.aspx ) and it was still in winter plumage. It is a scarce passage migrant each year in Nottinghamshire and is usually seen each year at Langford – this was the first record for 2012. It gave good views through the telescope as it stood on an island.
The other excellent bird found by a group member was sand martin – two flew in and started flying over the newly created sand martin bank, just on cue after I had explained about the bank!
Reed buntings, pied wagtails, meadow pipits, skylarks and linnets were feeding on the tracks and areas of open ground were spotted yellow with the flowers of colt’s-foot. On Phase 1 we saw some more wading birds - a pair of oystercatchers, some displaying lapwings and a green sandpiper obligingly fed at the end of an island allowing good telescope views. Cowslips were out in flower on the banks of Phase 1 and a Cetti’s warbler gave a couple of bursts of its short, explosive song from the reedbed on silt lagoon 6. Walking around silt lagoon 6, four snipe flew up from a patch of boggy ground. Up to three buzzards had been soaring over the reserve throughout the afternoon. It was a very enjoyable walk in good company and pleasing to see so much wildlife.
It was a fantastic walk and very popular! Great job Carl. I know we were there to see birds but the deer stole the show for me. Hope Paul feels better soon