A beautiful spring morning attracted eighteen members to the Newark Priory car park to the sound of the first of a dozen chiffchaffs that we were to encounter. The meadow opposite held numerous jackdaws and woodpigeons, a few greylag geese and a cock pheasant. The lake gave our first view of blackcaps both male and female and their song stayed with us through the morning. The water was quiet apart from numerous coots, a few swans and two great crested grebes though we were later to find small numbers of mallards, tufted ducks, Canada geese and black-headed gulls. We proceeded clockwise around the lake hearing many vocal wrens, robins and great tits and eventually the song of skylarks. A great spotted woodpecker engaged our interest for a time and we then started noticing orange-tip and speckled wood butterflies. The hidden pool was quiet apart from a single, beautifully plumaged little grebe. Leaving the lake we headed for Papercourt Farm accompanied by the yaffle of a green woodpecker. There were a few stock doves on the farm and a kestrel perched in view. Past the lock we ventured onto the edge of the water meadows and were rewarded by excellent views of reed buntings and linnets. After careful scanning a sedge warbler was picked out atop a bramble but patience was required before a whitethroat finally showed it self. The return walk along the river was similarly fruitful. Another sedge warbler was heard singing before perching in view while a whitethroat appeared next to it. Then unusually a handsome Cetti’s warbler joined them while a stonechat completed the quartet. Final sightings of a mistle thrush and a grey heron were the icing on the cake. It was a most enjoyable morning with an excellent list that totalled 48 species.
A gloomy but mercifully dry afternoon greeted the fourteen members who assembled at the Newark Priory car park. The meadow opposite held a mixed flock of redwings, fieldfares and starlings that boded well for the walk. Across the road scanning disclosed a few stock doves among the woodpigeons while three flightly mistle thrushes skittered around. The lake initially offered views of coots, swans, gadwall and a close-in great crested grebe. Further around a few common gulls swam among the numerous black-headed gulls while a couple of wigeon and a few pochard could be picked out among the many tufted ducks and gadwall. During the walk to Papercourt Lock a red kite and a buzzard were seen at a distance and the first bird seen on the Water Meadow was a kestrel perched on a pylon. The tow path offered only a nuthatch and a robin while a few mallards swam in the Navigation. Patience near the Tannery Bridge was rewarded with a small flock of linnets and a few meadow pipits perching on a nearby shrub. Sadly a barn owl did not appear but some consolation came as a mini-murmuration of several hundred starling swirled over Papercourt Marshes for some minutes before settling to roost. Late sightings on the return walk along the river were a little egret and Egyptian goose. It was a productive afternoon with 36 species identified.
An impressive attendance as thirty members were fortunate to have a mainly sunny if breezy afternoon for an afternoon walk.
A tit flock by the car park comprised blue, great & long tail tits. The field opposite held mainly rooks & jackdaws and the first of several pairs of Egyptian geese, not the hoped-for winter thrushes. A small flock of redwings was foraging in the next field & on closer inspection included some handsome fieldfares. A few more redwings were seen later on.
Sailing was in full swing on the lake, so bird numbers were limited. There were coots in abundance with a single moorhen, black-headed gulls, and a few great crested grebes, with ducks represented by mallard and one male gadwall. Raptors for the afternoon were two circling common buzzards, a red kite and a perched kestrel. For the finale, viewing from vantage points along the canal path (avoiding the waterlogged meadows) most people had good sightings of two barn owls quartering in the water meadows.
38 species were identified.