Trip reports

Mid-week Walk at Thorpe Park - by Peter Hambrook

Mid-week Walk at Thorpe Park - by Peter Hambrook
Cormorant by Peter Hambrook

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Weather: Bright and sunny after heavy overnight rain. 7C - A very good turn-out had some 15 of us enjoying a beautiful morning at this friendly site - after some initial complications caused by the closure of our usual entrance and parking area due to the barn being dismantled ready for rebuilding. A note on the web site, a few redirection notices and Steve acting as parking superintendent sorted the problem and we were ready for the off only slightly after the scheduled start time.

I was aware that bird numbers were at a record low due to the mild weather, and so it proved, but we managed to see a good selection, starting with a flock of black-headed gulls and a common gull on the island by the farm, plus a pair of shovelers, a lapwing and a pied wagtail. In the same area were coots, moorhens and quite a few cormorants and Diane spotted a snipe in flight which landed close by but proved impossible to re-locate. Visible out on the lake were a small group of wigeon and a few Canada geese, while three greylags were on the grassy bank. After the overnight rain the marshy areas near the farm were almost under water and held nothing out of the ordinary.

Moving on to the road along the lake side we came across a small raft of mainly male pochard and another containing mainly male tufted ducks, while further out could be seen a distant little grebe and several great crested grebes. At this point we were given a flypast by one of the local kingfishers which then landed in a tree giving distant scope views enjoyed by all for several minutes. Behind us in the trees some managed to see a goldcrest and a great spotted woodpecker, while a green woodpecker flew across the lake, but in general there were few small birds around.

Having reached the bridge for the public footpath we were able to look across to St. Anne's Lake and here there were a lot of lapwings on the floating walkways, further gulls and a few pairs of gadwall. We also found a pair of goldeneye, which some managed to get onto before they paddled rapidly out of view.
That was about it for the morning, with just a flyover immature herring gull, a pair of ring-necked parakeets, a chaffinch and a dunnock to add to the morning's rather disappointing score. However we were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed a pleasant stroll in the sunshine, although I got caught in a heavy shower as I put the car away on arriving home.

I was talking to David Hill, our contact at Thorpe Park who walked around with us, and he agreed that the wildfowl numbers were at an unprecedented low for what would normally be expected in mid-winter. We could only think that this was down to another very mild winter with no long cold spells to drive the birds across the Channel from Europe in search of unfrozen waters. Hopefully (for us at least) next winter will see a return to more normal winter weather.

Peter Hambrook