Paxton Pits May 2017

Paxton Pits – May 2017

After a fairly long journey 10 of us met up at the Paxton pits visitor centre at around 0945hrs. There were some interesting exhibits in the centre including genuine fossilised bones of mammoths that had been found in the pits. We had a quick look in the pond to see if we could see any newts but only newt shaped bits of weed were seen!

We then set off on a leisurely walk around the large, old flooded gravel pits which form the main part of the reserve. The weather was extremely warm after a cold few weeks and we were hopeful of seeing and hearing plenty of birds as well as spotting the odd flower and insect. The first viewing area gave us a wide view of one of the lakes and we could see a substantial number (maybe 50 in total) of Cormorants perching or sitting on nests across the lake. Some of the trees were white with the guano from the Cormorants. The next hide revealed 4 floating platforms which had been colonised by Common Terns. Many of the Terns were wheeling around and sweeping down to the water's surface and we concluded that they were feeding on emerging Stone flies. A Kingfisher flew at great speed from right to left but a few of us were lucky enough to see it.

Some of the group were able to see and hear a Blackcap Warbler and a Garden Warbler in quick succession. Although the species are easy to identify by sight, one from the other, the songs are very similar and I am sad to report that none of us are any the wiser as to the difference in song! The next bird that we heard was the real prize. Although a bit distant the song of a Nightingale was heard from a thicket. Sadly, this species is becoming scarcer so it was a real treat to hear it. A Cuckoo was heard and even seen briefly.

Also along the way we spotted interesting insects and flowers which are listed below.

Lunch was taken (once everyone found their way there!) at the nearby Eaton Oak.

Birds seen (36 species): Cormorant, Magpie, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Grey Lag Goose, Mallard, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Common Tern, Blackbird, Robin, Collared Dove, Great Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Crested Grebe, Herring Gull, Rook, Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Whitethroat, Cuckoo, Hobby, Reed Bunting, Swift, Black Headed Gull, Sedge Warbler, Oyster catcher and Sand or House Martin.

Birds heard only (8 species ): Wren, Green Woodpecker, ChiffChaff, Willow Warbler, Nightingale, Reed Warbler, Water Rail and Yellowhammer.

Insects seen: Small White butterfly, Green Veined White butterflyOrang tip butterfly, Cardinal Beetle.

Flowers seen: Wood Avens, Wild Strawberry, Cowslip, Bluebell.

Animals seen: Rabbit and Grey Squirrel.

Dave Shearing