Middleton Lakes March 25th 2018

Thirty-three WGBG members remembered to put their clocks forward to leave at 7.30am to travel to Middleton Lakes, near Tamworth. It was a cloudy morning with patchy heavy mist.

Two Pied Wagtails and a Black Headed Gull were spotted at the M6 services. Leaving the car park, we were delighted to see a Roe Deer, but clearly frightened by the traffic.

Middleton Lakes RSPB reserve is a 160 hectares nature reserve formally opened in 2011. The area has wetlands, meadows, and woodlands in the heart of the river Tame valley. On arrival, the sun had burnt off the mists and the rest of the day remained warm and sunny, a good start to British Summer time.

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A Buzzard soared overhead as we made our way to the feeders. Here we watched Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting enjoying the seed feeders, while a Mallard and two rats picked at the fallen husks. Grey Herons making their huge nests were seen high in the trees in the distance and some flew overhead. Suddenly to our surprise a Woodcock flew over, then two Cormorants and a flock of Redwings.

Walking along the Woodland trail sharp eyes spotted the Greater Spotted Woodpecker high up in a tree, then Stock Dove. Song Thrush was heard then seen later, a Chiffchaff also heard, then seen later in the day. Soon a raucous kaah, kaah was heard , the Rooks busy building their untidy nests into a Rookery. A flurry of panicked Rooks flew up, a Sparrowhawk spooked them.

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Moving on to The Wetland Trail, Pheasant, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, male and female Chaffinch, Canada Geese and Carrion Crows along with two Jackdaws were noted, as well as Greylag Geese. On the Jubilee ponds north and south were a large number of Teal, the smallest common European duck, Wigeon, Shoveler, a pair of Great Crested Grebe displaying beautifully with the sun shining on their head ruff. Nesting on the island were many Black-headed Gulls, noisy as usual. Also on the ponds were Tufted duck, Shelduck, Mute Swans, Coot and Moorhen. A sure sign Spring/ Summer had arrived Cetti’s Warbler was heard, and later seen perching then dropping down into the shrubbery.




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Further along, Black-tailed Godwit probing in the mud were identified with difficulty then the Green-winged Teal, a sub species from North America. This little duck fast asleep had attracted many birders along to see it. The handsome Avocet was present here too, some resting, others sweeping their bills to detect shrimps or worms. A single Lapwing dropped down to feed in the mud.

At lunchtime overlooking the Dosthill reserve we heard Cetti’s Warbler, a Robin came searching for fallen crumbs and a beautiful Brimstone butterfly fluttered past.
Further on we were pleased to spot a male Goldeneye with his pied plumage and white head patch. Finally arriving at The Lookout we were rewarded to see the elusive and well camouflaged Snipe and two Little Egrets alongside more ducks and waders.

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A Buzzard soared on the thermals.

Wandering back along the Woodland trial a very tame Pheasant showed off his plumage. Dunnock, Blackbird, Wren, Goldcrest and Song Thrush were spotted to finish off a rewarding day.

Other sightings by members – Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Fieldfare, Treecreeper, Green Woodpecker, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Curlew, Dunlin, Gadwall, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Goosander, Red Kite, and Ringed Plover. A Kingfisher was also seen flying fast and low over the water. A very satisfying field trip total of 67 species.

Some thirsty members retired later in the afternoon for refreshments at Middleton Hall, a grade II listed building. The Courtyard offers a café, shops, crafts and antiques.

Photos by Robert D
JENNY I

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