Trip reports

Mid-week Walk at Dorney/Jubilee River on Wednesday 16th October 2019

Mid-week Walk at Dorney/Jubilee River on Wednesday 16th October 2019
Grey wagtail on the weir. (David Panchaud)

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Weather: Overcast with sunny spells.
Driving to Dorney in the rain did not augur well for this walk. However at just before ten the rain stopped and five of us set off along the Jubilee River. This is a relief channel which is used by the Environment Agency to divert flows from the Thames and reduce the risk of flooding in Maidenhead and Windsor. When it was constructed the surrounding area was established for wildlife and in the last few years the vegetation along the banks and on the islands has become very well established.

As we walked down to the first bridge we saw great crested, and little, grebe, cormorant, coot, moorhen, mute swan, black-headed gull and some very smart gadwall in their new plumage. Overhead we spotted the first of several red kites and some thrushes, songthrush and fieldfare. A kingfisher considerately flew through the field of view of Peter's telescope and at the bridge others saw it on some wooden railings. We stopped on the bridge and tried unsuccessfully to locate a noisy cetti's warbler but did identify a pair of reed buntings in the shrubs.

Having crossed the bridge we took the path straight ahead to the field where we saw woodpigeon and stock dove. We then doubled back up the path towards the open ground. Here we had lots of fleeting glimpses of small birds including blue, great and long tailed, tits. On the open ground we saw a female stonechat, a grey wagtail, a skylark and a swallow. We decided to go to the top of the hill to see what was visible on the wastewater treatment work's lagoons. The answer was nothing, because the vegetation has grown and the lagoons are no longer visible. We were, though, rewarded for our effort by very good views of a red kite, two passing snipe and a distant buzzard. As we made our way back to the second bridge we saw another song thrush and some redwings.

Continuing our walk towards the weir we saw teal, shoveler and tufted ducks on the water and a kestrel and a sparrow hawk above us. As we approached the weir we noticed a flock of cormorants flying up-stream and an unusual mixed flock of black-headed gulls and lapwings. At the weir there were more, mostly adult, black-headed gulls. In addition there were adult herring and lesser black-backed and several juvenile/first winter birds. This prompted a discussion of how to distinguish between herring and lesser black-backed juveniles. Even with photographic evidence and a copy of Collins Bird Guide definitive identification has not been possible but it is probable that they were herring gulls.

We continued our walk to the Roundmoor ditch which flows from the Jubilee River along the side of Dorney Common. In the past the pond to the left of the ditch has provided good views of waders but now visibility is greatly restricted due to the growth of shrubs. From one of the two remaining viewing spots we saw four little grebes, and some mallards. On the common side of the ditch the recent rainfall had produced a large shallow pond which was much appreciated by good numbers of black-headed gulls, teal, wigeon and lapwings and two little egrets. Closer inspection revealed two green sandpipers, four snipe, a pied wagtail and two golden plovers. In the past we have seen large numbers of golden plovers around the now obscured pond and this was our first sighting here for a few years. We watched the birds around the pond for some time before making our way back to the car park and on the way we added robin and goldfinch to our list.

Thank you for those who came on the walk. We were very fortunate with the weather and had a productive morning with almost 50 species seen, my highlight being the golden plovers.

Steve Williams