Trip reports

College Lake Reserve and Watlington Hill

Little ringed plover wading in shallow water

Saturday, 28 April 2018

College Lake is a reserve last visited in 2013 and in the intervening years it has developed, the visitor centre and cafe making both a very welcoming and inviting place to visit and along with the development of the site itself, it most definitely is worth another visit.

Sadly, the weather was not kind to us, so a lot of speed walking to get from A to B in the time allotted was undertaken and between the members of the group, one side of the main lake was covered. Looking out on to the lake from the visitor centre, we stayed on the left hand side.

College Lake would therefore certainly warrant another visit in a couple of years' time, only then, hoping for more warmer and drier conditions. However we did see 45 different species of birds, common tern, black headed and lesser black backed gull, red legged partridge, pheasant, blue and great tit, nuthatch, goldfinch, yellow and pied wagtail, willow and reed warbler, blackcap, white throat, reed bunting, wood pigeon, magpie, crow, wren, blackbird, yellow hammer, swallow, sand and house martin, mute swan, Canada and greylag geese, great crested grebe, mallard, gadwall, teal, tufted duck, coot, moorhen, lapwing, oystercatcher, little ringed plover (pictured), common sandpiper, redshank, black tailed godwit, robin, dunnock and song thrush. Our bird guide here and at Watlington Hill was Neil Greenaway with additional help from Sedley Underdown, Alan Harris and Steven Teale.

Our day could have safely have been called "a day of two halves" divided no less by a rather lovely pub lunch at The Chequers in the village of Watlington.

Once happily fed and watered we headed to Watlington Hill and there were blessed to witness an aerial display of red kites above our heads that filled our hearts with joy and amazement.

The kites dived and swooped, swirled and circled us with such majesty, grace and elegance, looking down on us mere mortals, no doubt used to the sight of these two legged beings with eye extensions in various forms, focused on their incredible beauty and agility. In addition to the red kites, buzzard, kestrel and sparrowhawk were also seen. A fabulous way to end our day and enjoyed by all 26 members who came on the trip.