Papercourt 18 January 2024

A bright but very cold afternoon greeted the eighteen members who gathered at an unusual rendezvous, the Tannery Works. The walk proceeded in an anti-clockwise direction towards Papercourt Marsh. A few species were found in the meadow at the bend in the lane; two Egyptian Geese were accompanied by a couple of Redwings and a Fieldfare while a Jay flew across. Blue Tits, Robins, Goldfinches and a Blackbird were also identified. A quiet period then followed with just a few Dunnocks for company. The Yacht Club end of Papercourt Lake was also unproductive no doubt because of an extensive covering of ice but it soon became clear that the birds were concentrated at the far end. A large flock of gulls quickly came into view, perhaps 300 Black-headed with a sprinkling of Common plus the odd Herring and Lesser-black Backed. A closer view revealed good numbers of Coots, Gadwall and Tufted Ducks accompanied by Mute Swans, Mallards, four Great Crested Grebes and eventually some elusive Pochards. A Grey Wagtail also flew across the water while on the other side of the road a perched Buzzard was viewed distantly. Close to Papercourt Farm Lapwings were spotted in a boggy area with a few attendant winter thrushes but scanning revealed that a couple of Teal and no less than 13 Snipe were also present. A Little Egret crossed the path close to the lock while at the bridge a Kingfisher streaked over the river and perched on the bank to the delight of all. Along the towpath two noisy Ring-necked Parakeets made their presence felt, two Red Kites circled a meadow and a Kestrel was glimpsed over the Water Meadow. By the Tannery bridge the sun finally set and a vigil began. Only the Kestrel and a roosting flock of Starlings were active and the majority of the group opted to depart. The three optimists remaining were eventually rewarded with the appearance of a Barn Owl quartering both sides of the meadow and approaching close before disappearing over the river. A most enjoyable walk ended with a species list of forty.

Papercourt Water Meadows 5 January 2023

Nineteen stoutly booted members gathered at Pyrford Lock car park which was so covered by a layer of mud that it boded ill for the underfoot conditions on the afternoon walk. The meadow opposite held mainly jackdaws accompanied by two surprising rooks with a couple of Egyptian geese on the far side. Robins and great/blue tits flitted around while some of the group were able to glimpse a noisy nuthatch. Then a few restless redwings flew by. Moving across the road, several fieldfares could be viewed atop a distant oak in the company of some goldfinches and starlings similarly perched. A buzzard drifted by and three parakeets screeched past. The meadow opposite the lake was disappointing with only a blackbird and two song thrushes briefly in view. The lake itself initially offered numerous coots and black-headed gulls but soon a few great crested grebes and cormorants were sighted. A wren and a solitary long-tailed tit were perched in the waterside trees. Further around two common gulls, a grey heron, some mute swans and five pochards were on the water. The path leading to the farm was quiet though a few redwings and fieldfares caught the eye as one splashed in a small pool. A bucket high in an oak caused considerable puzzlement but a couple of members were pleased to have ticked an item on their bucket lists! At the lock a sparrowhawk gave a speedy flypast. Sightings across the water meadows were limited, a distant red kite and a call from a green woodpecker being the highlights. The hoped for barn owl did not appear discouraged no doubt by the chilly wind. So it was back in the dusk along the muddy river bank to the car park. An most enjoyable walk delivered a species list of forty.

Papercourt 14 April 2022

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.

Papercourt 6 January 2022

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.

Papercourt Water Meadows

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.