Saturday 17 May 2014

It's Hotting Up at Middleton Lakes RSPB

With the clear windless skies and the temperature hitting the 25 degrees centigrade mark, it was never going to be a great day for fresh migrants at Middleton Lakes RSPB today. Not surprisingly the only waders present were the usual potential breeding species like Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Redshank.

It was however a great morning for singing warblers with plenty of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler in evidence. There was also the odd Willow Warbler, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Cetti's Warbler marking out their territories.

With it being pretty quiet and the heat haze disrupting the views, Dave and I turned our attention to looking for insects instead. A few stunning, fresh Small Copper butterflies had emerged and could be spotted along the dusty tracks around the main pools. Better still though were our first Banded Demoiselles of the year. There must have been at least forty individuals zipping around the vegetation alongside the River Tame.   

Banded Demoiselle (male) - Middleton Lakes RSPB, Staffordshire
Photo by Adam Archer

The highlight of the morning though was a showy male Yellow Wagtail singing along the ditch that skirts the wheat field to the west of Jubilee Wetlands. It would fly off occasionally in order to mark out its patch, however it would eventually return to its favourite singing posts near the track. This handsome fellow was often too engrossed in belting out its tune to be bothered by a few birders loitering around admiring it.

'Bird Hogger' Dave Hutton gets in the way of my perfect shot again!

Western Yellow Wagtail (male) of the race flavissima.
Formerly known as 'British Yellow Wagtail'
Photo by Adam Archer

Western Yellow Wagtail (male) of the race flavissima.
Now known in Europe as 'Yellow-crowned Wagtail'
Photo by Adam Archer

During the slow stroll back to the car park a Cuckoo was heard calling from the direction of Dosthill Nature Reserve. My first Hobby of the year was also spotted as a pair of birds hawked for insects above the canal near Fisher's Mill Pit. It was time to grab a bite to eat and continue in our quest to find some more interesting insects later this afternoon.

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