Trip reports

Roding Valley Meadows walk on 13th Oct 2018

Roding Valley Meadows walk on 13th Oct 2018
Thanks to Jeff Humm for this Migrant Hawker image

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Thanks to Rich for this write up:

A pleasant autumn morning greeted us and we began with the new circular nature walk opposite the Grange Farm centre. A pair of Mistle Thrushes was our first spot in a nearby field, larger and standing with a more upright stance and a paler back than its smaller cousin the Song Thrush.

Scanning the field further several Pied Wagtails were busy scurrying around picking flies from the ground, while nearby a flock of Long-tailed Tits with some Blue and Great Tits mixed in moved from tree to tree busily hunting insects. Long-tailed Tits are highly sociable birds with flocks often containing the same family members and it's worth always double checking these groups as they can sometimes be accompanied by other feeding species such as crests and warblers too.

We saw and heard several Jays too in this area, this attractive member of the crow family which for most of the year remains rather elusive in our woodlands but will be more obvious in the autumn and winter as it searches for food which mainly includes acorns.

We joined the main reserve which is a mixture of meadows, woodland, river and lakes. A very obliging Great Spotted Woodpecker clung onto the side of a dead tree and kept quite still giving our group good views through the scope.
We walked on entering one of the meadows, a Buzzard soared a little way above us and because it was a bright day gave us really nice clear views of its plumage and markings from underneath. A flock of Redwings flew away nearby giving many of us our first views of this returning winter thrush for the season.

We moved on and watched as two small birds flew past us, Debbie managed to pick them up first on her binoculars and identified them as a pair of Bullfinches! This finch once common in our countryside are unfortunately seen less frequently in recent years, so we were all thrilled to see these plump little birds on one our local patches albeit a fleeting glimpse! Another small bird was spotted perched in a nearby small tree but it was not showing very well and kept very still. We eventually identified it as a male Blackcap and we wondered if in fact the bird was exhausted or if it was sick.

We then made our way to a small woodland glade which appeared to be rather quiet at first and as we scanned through the trees, a Ringed-necked Parakeet (or to give it its new name, Rose-ringed Parakeet...) poked its head out of an old woodpecker hole before flying off screeching and breaking the silence. These exotic looking birds will use these holes not only for nesting but also at this time of year for roosting in too.

A little further on, a Speckled Wood butterfly fluttered in front of us before settling on some nettles allowing us to see its mixture of cream and black spots on its wings. These small butterflies favour woodland edges and will often perch on a spot that is touched by sunlight.

For the end of the walk, we walked around one of the large lakes on this site, where we saw several Migrant Hawker dragonflies busily hunting around the edge. This species which is commonly seen at this time of year was weaving in and out of the reeds until one of them eventually settled to rest allowing a great photo.

Further round we came across a European Hornet's nest, this large member of the wasp family is a lot less aggressive than the Common Wasp and is in fact an important pollinator and pest controller. We watched the coming and going of these insects who were probably stocking up on food before hibernating for the winter months.
On the lake itself, several Little Egrets and a Heron stood quietly on one of the small islands in the middle while a lone Cormorant and a pair of Great Crested Grebes fished.

Total number of bird species seen: 37

[For more photos of what was seen, please go to our Facebook page at
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