Monday, 1 February 2010

Soar Valley update..... Its a Smew day!

Female Red-head Smew at Watermead CP(Birstall).

With the whole week off from work it was down the Soar Valley again and a few more species tick off on the year list.
First stop was Cossington South GPs and the surrounding farmland and sightings I saw included a couple of flushed Grey Partridge, and then a mobile Grey Wagtail. Then the phone rang and John Hague let me know that Mick Braker had found a redhead Smew on the Key Lakes at Birstall (Watermead CP). So off I went to twitch the Smew.
Reaching the Key Lakes I spotted the Redhead Smew on the only un-frozen part of the Lakes. Get In!! So another good bird for the Soar Valley list.
Meeting up with John in the nearby car park we spoke about the long-staying Black Redstart in the new housing estate just off the A6 and decided to include on the Soar Valley challenge. So after John had taken a few shots of the Redhead Smew and the Goosanders on the Key Lakes we met up again on the housing estate and it wasn't long before the corking male Black Redstart came into view!
As this bird was very confiding John got some good shots as it feed around the small gardens and nearby houses.
Via the local McD's for a quick spot of Lunch and the Daily Express newspaper crusade for Princess Diana, it was back to checking Watermead CP North.
Scanning the half frozen "Pec pit" opposite the Hope and Anchor pub, good numbers of ducks were recorded and quality in this group included two more Redhead Smews and a pair of Red-crested Pochards! Get In!!
I must admit but Smews are probably my favourite duck so to see three on my local patch is always an added bonus.
The final port of call of the day was Cossington village and the nearby Cossington Meadows. Checking out the churchyard we noted a couple more species for the Soar Valley list in the form of Goldcrest and Tawny Owl. Then moving onto the nature reserve I ticked off Shelduck which was feeding on the Tern Pool and a little bit surprising the Owls were out early hunting around the Swan Meadow, with at least three Barn Owls and Short-eared Owls counted before dusk.
So an excellent day out in the Soar Valley and the magic number of 100 species on the list very much on the horizon!
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