Field Event Reports

6th January: Radley lakes birwatching walk

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Leaders: David Guyoncourt and Graham Bateman ( ANS)

A group of 11 members met at the top of Barton Lane at 10.30am for the traditional ANS New Year walk and birdwatching session. While somewhat overcast and a chill in the air, the sky lightened as a relief from the dullness of previous days. The route of the walk was geared to explore some of the areas around the Radley Lakes complex that were less visited or even restricted. The walk started beside Longmead Lake, then proceeded east along the Sustrans track, turning right to look at Orchard Lake, an old gravel excavation - the walk to this was the muddiest. We then entered the restricted area of the ash-filled Pit H/I, which is managed by Earth Trust on behalf of NPower.Initially we walked along the bund surrounding the pit, but then cut into the ‘Pit’ and walked along the grassy rides that had been cut through the shrubby vegetation that had invaded the ash. This brought us to the lake that occupied the east end of H/I. On leaving H/I we crossed to another pit (locally known as ‘Plover Pit’), where we surveyed the partly flooded site and could see some of the area where the soil had been deliberately disturbed to create a habitat more suitable for soil insects. The walk then took us back along the old railway track to the Sustrans where we turned right alongside Bullfield Lake and to the main Thrupp Lake. At this point some had to leave the walk while the remainder walked the whole circuit of Thrupp Lake, back down the Sustrans to the cars arriving 1sh.

Now to the birds. In reality, apart from the lakes, bird life was quite thin on the ground. A group of ‘Tufties’ were on Longmead, but nothing else apart from the ubiquitous Coot and Heron. A Buzzard was perched in one of the trees beside the Sustrans track and a Jay and Bullfinch were seen on the bund of H/I. Four Snipe were flushed from the short vegetation bordering the H/I lake. This species was one of our targets and the management of the area by cutting back the vegetation for this species clearly works. No birds were seen on 'Plover Pit', a known site for Lapwing nesting. The real highlight came as the group walked along the old rail track. Those at the front flushed a Woodcock, while those at the rear could only say “where”!

The lakes produced little unusual. Orchard and the H/I Lakes had small flocks of Gadwall, while there was no activity on Bullfield. There was plenty of life on Thrupp Lake: Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, noisy Blackheaded and Herring Gulls and Cormorant. Small groups of Pochard and Teal were also seen. Strangely there were no Widgeon, which had been present in the weeks before. Also absent from the hedgerows were winter thrushes (Redwing and Fieldfare), although a Song Thrush was noted on the way back to the cars.

Throughout the walk the knowledge of David Guyoncourt on the history, present management, future plans and ecology of the areas visited added an extra valued dimension to our walk.

An earlier check on the bird feeders at the east end of Barton Fields yielded the usual ‘tits’ and finches, and pleasingly Reed Buntings are using them daily.

Report: Graham Bateman

Birds Seen:
Red Kite, Buzzard, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow, Green Woodpecker, Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Herring Gull, Blackheaded Gull, Snipe, Woodcock, Pheasant, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Longtailed Tit, Wren, Bullfinch, Goldfinch. (32 species)
Birds on/below Barton fields Feeders:
Great Tit, Blue Tit, Longtailed Tit, Robin, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Wren, Pheasant.
Graham Bateman, David Guyoncourt, Richard Lewington, Ian Smith, John Morris, Janet and Martin Buckland, Sally Gillard, Elaeanor Dangerfield, Sally Ainsle, Lesley Bosley.