With the easing of lockdown coinciding with the start of Spring, it only seemed right to let my camera see the light of day again and I had a lucky feeling I might see something different today. Although I’ve been keeping my birding skills up to scratch with regular walks around my local patch, Earlswood Lakes in Warwickshire, I’ve not used my camera in anger for some time, bar a few shots from the office window of the garden birds.
I’d been enticed down to the lakes this morning by an early report of a Wheatear in the adjacent horse paddocks, the first sighting of this species for the year, but coming on the back of a flurry of migrants through in the past week or so, with the first House Martin on March 29th, Swallow March 28th, Sand Martins March 24th and Little-ringed Plover on March 18th.
The lakes are undergoing some serious maintenance over the coming months, so water levels have been lowered, which is not great timing for some species, like the Great-crested Grebes for example which will struggle to find a suitable nest site this year. We’ve still got a lot of birds left from the large over wintering group, with at least four pairs practising their wonderful courtship dance, so maybe they no better than me?
Exposed mud at this time of year will certainly draw in some migrants and we’ve had Avocets, Dunlin, Redshank, Teal, Gadwall and a Shelduck through recently, all of which are normally a rare sighting when water levels are at their normal depth, so its certainly created a buzz among the local birders as to what we might see next.
After tracking down this mornings Wheatear, I was met at the lakes by the usual suspects, Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Mallards, Tufted Ducks, Canada and Greylag Geese, and the sunny morning was certainly encouraging the smaller birds into song.
Nuthatch were particularly showy and vocal, with one singing close enough for me to get a few nice images of surely one of our most handsome birds.
The morning was to get even better though, with the sudden appearance of an Osprey over the damn and drifting west across Engine pool. I’d somehow managed to spot it before the local gulls did, who soon caused the bird to change tac and head north, but not before I got a couple of record shots.
The bird flew just close enough to see it had a blue ring on its leg, but no chance of reading it sadly, it would have been nice to have known its origins but good to have them back and to see one so locally.
One species that is an occasional visitor to the lakes, but could actually stay and breed this year due to the lower water levels is the Oystercatcher. The larger expanse of shoreline and exposed muscles have encouraged them to hang around, with up to eight birds across the three lakes counted. Terrys Pool now has a large pebble island which looks perfect for them to stay and nest.
I’m hoping to get my holidays up and running again with a Devon trip planned for May, but for the meantime, its nice to be able to see a nice range of birds so close to home.