Trip reports

Mid-week Walk at Moor Green Lakes on Tuesday 10 December 2019

Mid-week Walk at Moor Green Lakes on Tuesday 10 December 2019
Goosanders at Colebrook Lake South, Moor Green Lakes (Dave Panchaud)

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Weather. Overcast, wet and windy.
Moor Green Lakes are restored sand and gravel pits which are now an interesting nature reserve managed by the Moor Green Lakes Group. There is a range of habitats including lakes, woodland, and the River Blackwater passes through it. The site is often highlighted on the Berkshire birds website as interesting species may be seen there. On this walk we were hoping to see winter finches, e.g. siskin and redpoll, in the trees by the river and goosander on the lakes.

The weather forecast for the morning had not been good; wet and windy. Eight members and two local visitors met in the car park as the rain began in earnest. Before setting off we checked the feeders and saw a variety of tits and a chaffinch. In the paddock next to the car park there were blackbirds, song thrushes and redwings along with several species of corvid and a pied wagtail.

The first lake is Colebrook Lake North and there we saw a variety of waterfowl including: mallard, coot, pochard, teal, gadwall, tufted duck and three male and three female goosander. Ron then picked out a female goldeneye which seemed keen to avoid detection by spending most of the time underwater. On the island, which is often occupied by lapwings, there was only a cormorant and a black-headed gull. From the path we spotted several snipe and a greenfinch. When we crossed the path to view the newer lakes we could see only a solitary moorhen.

The rain eased off a little as we reached Colebrook Lake South and from the screen we added wigeon, shoveler, little grebe and little egret to our list for the day and saw a further eight goosander. Upon reaching the River Blackwater we turned left towards Grove Lake. A flock of goldfinches flew into the top of a tree but no amount of scrutiny by us could produce a single redpoll or siskin. A grey wagtail and a small flock of long-tailed tits did catch our attention in the trees along the river.

Grove Lake was quiet and the only new birds were great crested grebe and mute swan, but we did spot a few more goosander. As the weather had not improved much we decided to retrace our steps back upstream. On the way we saw a grey heron over the lake, a goldcrest in the shrubs and a pair of Egyptian geese flying noisily overhead but no sign of any winter finches. Rather than returning directly to the cars we walked a few hundred meters along the Blackwater to view one of the newer lakes. There were black-headed gulls and tufted ducks on the lake and our only new sighting was a pair of jays.

As we made our way back to the cars a skein of Canada geese flew overhead, a red kite made an appearance and from the viewpoint over Colebrook Lake South we got very good views of seven goosander. Closer to the car park a kestrel hovered overhead and another flock of small birds flew into a tree above us. Again they were mostly goldfinches but this time Alan spotted a siskin amongst them and we all managed to see it. Our final addition was a great spotted woodpecker in the trees by the car park.

Thanks to all those who braved the elements for this walk. My count for the day was 45, not bad in the conditions and we did see around 20 goosanders and one siskin.

Steve Williams