Sunday 21 April 2013

Wood Warbler in Warwickshire

The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is now a bit of an elusive enigma in my part of the World. They used to be heard on a regular basis and occasionally glimpsed down at Alvecote Pools but now they are very hard to come by indeed. As such I decided to start the day down the road at Ladywalk Nature Reserve, one of the few places where this species clings on locally.

Along the main track down to the reserve the air was thick with warbler song. A Common Whitethroat was heard near the entrance and Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap were very much in evidence. Whilst carefully searching the mature willows for woodpecker activity I heard a sound that you are very lucky to encounter in Warwickshire. It was the shivering trill of a Wood Warbler! This is a species that had eluded my County list until as recently as April 2008 when I connected with the bird that Dave Hutton found at Seeswood Pool near Nuneaton (see photograph below). To finally find one of my own in my home County was long overdue, especially considering I have located several in Staffordshire including two on the wrong side of Alvecote Pools.

Wood Warbler - Seeswood Pool, Warwickshire - April 2008
Photo by Dave Hutton

Eventually after a frustrating wait, I managed to enjoy the odd decent view of this stunning new arrival from sub-Saharan Africa, as it actively fed around a clump of silver birches. I quickly communicated the news to local birders, a few of which managed to see it throughout the day if they were lucky. Unfortunately the bird was highly mobile and extremely elusive. To add to the frustration it only gave a weak rendition of it's sub-song very occasionally. Pinning the bird down was made all the more difficult by several Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers passing through the area.  

Wood Warbler - Ladywalk NR, Warwickshire - April 2013
Photo by Bob Duckhouse

I then made my way around to the hides where a male Greater Scaup was found with a small group of Tufted Duck. Other species of note included a pair of Goosander, a Little Egret, a Little Ringed Plover, 2 Oystercatcher, 3 Common Redshank and a Common Sandpiper. A Cetti's Warbler was also heard in song occasionally. Around the feeding station a pair of Lesser Redpoll was nice to see amongst the good numbers of Reed Bunting.    

A snoozing Greater Scaup (male) - Ladywalk NR, Warwickshire
Photo by Adam Archer
Little Egret - Ladywalk NR, Warwickshire
Photo by Adam Archer

During the early part of the evening I decided to nip down to Alvecote Pools for a quick mooch around. Initially not a great deal was happening other then a nice mixed flock of hirundines - 26 Swallow, 15 House Martin and 2 Sand Martin. Patience is the name of the game with any inland patch though and I eventually received some reward. Firstly a single Little Ringed Plover dropped in on Mill Pool followed shortly afterwards by 7 Yellow Wagtail, all handsome males. Then, just as I was heading back to the car a large raptor loomed slowly towards me, an Osprey. The bird glided low over Mill Pool before slowing down and surveying the water beneath it. It hovered over the north side of the lake for a while. In my mind I urged it to snatch a fish but the Osprey had other ideas. It continued it's migration in a north westerly direction.  Yet another great day of birding in North Warwickshire.

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