Trip reports

Mid-week Walk at Thorpe Park 12th December 2018

Mid-week Walk at Thorpe Park 12th December 2018

Monday, 24 December 2018

Weather. Overcast with a slight, but cold, breeze.
The Manor Lake area of Thorpe Park is separated from the main leisure park and it is not open to the general public, so we are fortunate to be able to visit it. Ten members and Len from the Guildford group met inside the farm gates on a cold overcast morning.

Before we set off we noted blue, and great, tits flitting in and out of the now bare trees around the farm buildings and a few blackbirds and robins. As we walked towards the lake we noted that it had many fewer waterfowl on it compared to previous years, so perhaps the recent mild weather over northern Europe has meant than many birds have not yet arrived here. The lake did offer mute swan, great crested grebe, tufted duck, many coots and moorhen.

Moving on towards the small bridge, we noticed movement on the pond in front of the reeds. On closer inspection this proved to be a little grebe that spent more time under water than on the surface and so it took a while for us all to get good views. Further on we saw our only raptor of the day, a red kite.

A small flock of Canada geese and a larger flock of greylag geese then flew into the lake. We examined the greylags in some detail but could not identify anything more interesting amongst them. We also saw a solitary cormorant and a black-headed gull before Nigel spotted the highlight of the day, two drake goldeneyes in their very smart, new plumage. We all got very good views of them even though they were some distance away.

Further along the path is a spot where it is possible to view the water-skiing lake. There was a greater variety of ducks here, including wigeon, mallard and gadwall and more gulls, common and great black-backed and several lapwings. By now it was starting to get a little warmer and we could hear small birds in the trees but the only additions to our list was long-tailed tit as a small flock flew across the path. Towards the end of the lake we added pochard and, on a small pond, grey heron.

On our way back we did not see anything new, even after further inspection of the geese. Back at the farm we went to see the barn where owls have nested in the past. On the way there we saw magpies, crows, jackdaws, wood pigeons, goldfinches and a single greenfinch. Inside the barn Ron found a fresh pellet and feathers (see picture) which shows that barn owls are using it at the moment. Later inspection revealed that the pellet contained three mouse-sized skulls and lots of small bones and fur.

All in all a pleasant, if not very productive, walk on a chilly December morning.

STEVE WILLIAMS