Trip reports

King George V Reservoir Walk on 10th Feb 2019

King George V Reservoir Walk on 10th Feb 2019
Scaup ŠIvor Hewstone

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Thanks to Rich for write up:

It was typical weather for some winter reservoir birdwatching - overcast, cold and very blustery! Rafts of Coot and Tufted Duck were the first wildfowl immediately obvious, their numbers swelled by birds from northern Europe from where they are escaping colder climes. We also noted a small group of male Pochard, these birds would probably also be wintering here from northern Europe or even perhaps from as far as central Russia! No females were present, they tend to generally migrate further south and spend the winter in France.

A group of Little Grebe in their drab winter plumage hunted for food, diving frequently. Winter is a good time to witness gatherings of these small grebes as they will often leave the smaller lakes and rivers to congregate on larger waters. We also spotted the larger Great Crested Grebe, several birds interestingly already starting to show their spring plumages.

The next 'winter duck' we saw was a pair of Goldeneye, the male looking black and white from afar, but when viewed through the scopes, we could make out the green head and the more drab brown female but both having that standout yellow eye!
Another speciality for this time of year that we were also hoping to catch up with here was the Scaup and we were not disappointed. It was not was easy picking out the bird amongst the similar looking Tufted Duck especially with the bleak conditions but we eventually found a handsome male with its grey back and overall a stockier looking bird compared to the Tufted Ducks.

Our attention moved away from the reservoir as we looked towards Lippitts Hill and the forest beyond. A pair of Buzzards hunted sometimes hovering in one spot as they tried to spot some prey below. Another raptor caught our eye, a female Kestrel also hovered with much faster wing beats than the Buzzard before settling in a nearby tree allowing great views for our group.

Back to the reservoir and a Little Egret flew low over the water and was suddenly blown closer to us by a gust of wind. Cormorants lined up and sat on the dividing strip that separates the south from the north basin, seemingly waiting out the bad weather as none appeared to be in a hurry to enter the water and fish. We decided to make our way back now as it seemed the wind was getting stronger making conditions rather tricky for spotting birds but we did manage one last great bird of the morning. We picked up more Goldeneye, this time a larger flock further out in the middle of the water and amongst them was a male Smew with its lovely white plumage and black mask. Curiously Smew are normally seen on their own or in very small groups and tend not to mix with other species of duck except Goldeneye. The flock all took off together and eventually disappeared, a nice ending to our walk!

Total number of different bird species seen: 28

If you click on the link below (, it should take you to the Facebook post for this walk where you can see additional photos.