Trip reports

Sunday August 11th Trip to Venus Pool Leader Helen griffiths

Sunday August 11th Trip to Venus Pool Leader Helen griffiths

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Twelve of us spent a pleasant morning at our local SOS reserve, Venus Pool. We didn't spot any rarities although some had been seen passing through earlier in the week. In total the group saw about 31 species of bird including waders such as common sandpiper, redshank, grey heron and lapwing plus late chick hiding in the grass on an island. Water birds seen included greylag goose, Canada goose, mute swan, mallard, wigeon (with broken wing), wood duck, tufted duck, great-crested grebe, little grebe, coot and moorhen. Cormorant, black-headed gull, carrion crow, magpie, wood pigeon, pied wagtail, blackbird and swallow were also spotted by members near the lake. Raptors seen included a peregrine falcon and two sparrow hawks at the same time (one appeared to be a juvenile calling for food from its parent). The feeding station was not a scene of hectic activity but blue tits and great tits were seen, also a juvenile robin, nuthatch and chaffinch. Two great spotted woodpeckers visited the peanuts on separate occasions (a female and juvenile).
Having sat in the hides overlooking the pool and feeding station we then had a stroll around the field. The hedgerows were virtually devoid of the usual birds but the display of flowering lesser knapweed, lucerne, horseshoe vetch and chicory were very colourful. The butterflies also appreciated them as we saw many flitting from flower to flower. Species included meadow brown, gatekeeper, small white, small tortoiseshell, painted lady and peacock. Down the path to the hide on the far side of Venus Pool a solitary common blue butterfly was spotted in the long grass. Various damselflies and hornets were also spotted during our visit.
The highlight of the morning for me was watching a heron catching his Sunday lunch right in front of the hide. He started off with appetisers; some small unidentified water creatures which disappeared in rapid succession straight down the hatch. He then moved on to the main course; an extremely large fish which he had managed to spear with his bill. He walked to the bank carrying his prize which he then off-loaded and proceeded to wash in the shallows. The trick then was to eat it in one go! He got it in head first with a quick flick of his head but he had to keep taking sips of water to aid swallowing. Having got it in his crop so he could close his beak it then took him a few minutes to actually swallow the fish so the bulge in his neck disappeared! At that point I went home for my lunch and I suspect the heron spent a lazy afternoon standing motionless quietly digesting his large meal.