Trip reports

Mid Week Walk to Moor Green Lakes

Mid Week Walk to Moor Green Lakes
Peter Hambrook

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Weather: Cold and gloomy, but calm, with occasional light rain 7C
Some eleven of us made this walk on a rather uninviting day but at least the threatened fog didn't materialise. The feeders in the car park were very busy with a steady stream of blue, great and long-tailed tits, a nuthatch and a great spotted woodpecker, while a wood or yellow-necked mouse scurried around under a waste bin. We were intent on something rather less common however, and it wasn't long before Ron and Steve had found a hawfinch in bushes around the horse paddock that is adjacent to the car park. Fortunately it stayed long enough for everyone to see it and was joined by a second briefly, albeit rather distantly at the top of a tree. These had been around for a few weeks, so we were lucky that they had stayed for our walk. The paddock was missing the usual redwings and fieldfares, so we had to make do with a song thrush and a blackbird, with a mistle thrush in a distant tree.

The two hawfinches eventually flew off, so we moved on to the first of the lakes, Colebrook North (CLN on the Berks Birds web site). Considering it was mid-winter, this was somewhat short on numbers of wildfowl, but there was a good spread of species, with mallard, pochard, gadwall, wigeon, tufted duck, four little grebes, great crested grebes and Canada geese present on the water, while some 70 lapwings were on the fenced-off island and a little egret stalked the margins. A reed bunting showed briefly in the reeds and a pair of stonechats and three roe deer could be seen through the trees on the New Workings. The feeders near to the first hide offered nothing new so we moved on to view Colebrook Lake South (CLS), which had nothing new to offer except a couple of mute swans and a passing cormorant.

We turned left on reaching the River Blackwater to walk along the southern edge of the reserve. A few goldcrests, a wren, a treecreeper and a sizeable group of long-tailed tits kept us entertained along the river as we headed towards Grove Lake, which held several shovelers and two male and a female mandarin. Then, as we neared the island, the first pair of goosanders was seen. To the south of the river, several ivy-covered trees were proving a lure to several redwings, a possible fieldfare and several blackbirds, which were eating the ivy berries. As we passed the island we had a better view of the lake and two further pairs of goosander were seen, making three pairs in all. The final lake, Horseshoe, is rather difficult to see through the trees but appeared to hold the same mix of ducks plus black-headed gulls and a herring gull. The fields to the north, sometimes good for geese, were bare of birds on this occasion.

Retracing our steps along the river, we briefly had good views of two male goosanders near the screen before they spotted us and swam off. Despite searching, we were unable to find any of the regular siskins and redpolls feeding in the alders, so instead headed for the New Workings. This area is quieter than the main reserve, despite having several large pools but it does offer some open views to the north and we soon spotted a red kite and two buzzards, while a kestrel sat atop a dead tree. It looks as if gravel extraction may have finished here now as the bridge no longer has a conveyer belt running beneath it and large lorries were transporting mud onto the site rather than away from it. Time will tell. A scan of the newest of the lakes only revealed more lounging gulls and a couple of teal, so we headed back towards the cars.

The final stretch to the car park gave us a chaffinch on the feeders, four jays and a group of goldfinches, before Steve picked out a single snipe lurking with some mallards on the island. Finally, to round off a successful visit, a pair of goosander had arrived on the far reaches of the lake, a couple more teal were found close to the shore and the paddock finally yielded a redwing - but no more sightings of the hawfinches.
Peter Hambrook