Trip reports

Mid-week walk at Staines Reservoir

Mid-week walk at Staines Reservoir
Peter Hambrook

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Weather: Fine with hazy sunshine and a light northerly breeze. 19C
Due to the closure of the small car park last year we had to spread out around the local roads but all made it to the start on time. It was a beautiful day with short sleeves just about possible on the causeway - something of a rare event here. Unfortunately it was rather too fine, as migrants had no reason to stop, so pickings were not as good as had been hoped. First up was a single common sandpiper fairly close to the start of the causeway, along with a pair of shovelers and loads of pied wagtails, which seem to have had a good breeding year here. On reaching the top of the causeway Ron soon picked up one of the resident black-necked grebes which, unusually, was fairly close by and we were able to admire its, admittedly somewhat faded, breeding plumage. On the bank of the north basin a couple of foxes were showing interest in something on the ground. These were probably this year's youngsters as you usually see adult foxes as singles.
The main players today were the usual hordes of coots, together with healthy numbers of tufted ducks and black-headed gulls, while an Armada of some 70 great crested grebes was unusual. Just one house martin was seen distantly, as were small numbers of swallows, all hunting low over the water. As we got close to the far end of the causeway we found a couple of little grebes, a juvenile shelduck and a few gadwall, cormorants, Canada geese and mallards, while a distant gull flying past proved to be a lesser black-backed. Just as we were about to retrace our steps Ron made the unexpected discovery of a distant female goldeneye - well ahead of their usual arrival in late autumn. Heading back to the cars we managed to add a goldfinch, a grey heron and a small group of linnets but altogether rather slim pickings for the time of year.
Just before starting this write-up I checked the Surrey Bird Club sightings page for today (31 August) and was slightly peeved to find that Staines Reservoir had a red-necked phalarope, 32 black terns, three little gulls, a greenshank, a yellow wagtail, two little ringed plovers and five common sandpipers! What a difference a day makes during migration periods ...............
Peter Hambrook