Trip reports

Mid-week Walk at Staines Reservoirs 23rd August 2016

Mid-week Walk at Staines Reservoirs 23rd August 2016
Peter Hambrook

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Weather: Hot and sunny with a gentle (and much appreciated) cooling southerly breeze. 27C
Not ideal weather for migration as, with perfect conditions, the birds could just keep on going but there were a few treats in store for our small but select band. Two dragonflies that were patrolling the car park were tentatively identified as migrant hawkers by their colour. Reaching the top of the ramp, first up were two common sandpipers on the shoreline nearby, which soon moved on. As expected, more obvious were the hundreds of coots and tufted ducks that assemble here, with a supporting cast of great crested grebes and mallards. Reaching the main causeway we immediately became aware of about a hundred cormorants on the eastern shore of the north basin and these provided quite a spectacle when they flew out onto the water shortly afterwards. Along the path were several family groups of pied wagtails and the resident flock of about seven linnets and these moved ahead of us as we walked, before eventually flying out over the water to reassemble behind us.

About halfway across we disturbed a group of six shovelers in eclipse plumage which flew out to land on the water. Most of the prizes today proved to be on the large raft used by breeding common terns and black-headed gulls. Depending on the wind direction this can be difficult to view as it is no longer level and often is tilted away from the path making viewing anything on it nearly impossible but we managed a good view for most of the time before the wind shifted and hid the deck area from view again. There were a few young black-headed gulls and common terns still being fed by their parents but also a wader that was a bit puzzling. It was sitting down and appeared to be a young lapwing but eventually got up and started walking about and Angela then correctly pointed out that it was a turnstone, possibly a young bird. Not something you would expect here. Another wader then appeared which was identified as a ringed plover, again possibly a young bird. However, as the raft was some distance away, this could have been the little ringed plover which had been reported here.

Watching the terns fishing on the south basin I became aware of one with different head markings and darker wings and this eventually landed on the raft. I had my suspicions but had forgotten to bring a field guide with me, so it was only when I got home that I was able to confirm that it was a juvenile black tern. After careful scanning of the banks a group of distant lapwing was identified, along with an equally distant grey heron. That was about it for the morning, although we had another brief view of a common sandpiper as we walked back to the car park, where we became very aware how warm the day had become as we descended the ramp and lost the cooling breeze.
Peter Hambrook