Trip Report: Abberton Reservoir – 8 March 2020

With recent stormy weekends, it was good just to get out, and, although breezy, at least there was no rain. Our group gathered at 10:30am, with a number of regulars (thanks for your support), a few new faces (welcome! hope to see you again) and even a couple of youngsters.

The feeders yielded – well normal feeder birds!! – blue tit, great tit and goldfinch. Not rarities but a nice splash of colour to get us started. Underneath, several pheasants, moorhens and mallards scrabbled to pick up any dropped seed.

It may not have been raining but underfoot was muddy in places, so we kept it simple and made our way to the 3 hides on the gravel paths. (Last weekend, these paths were streams). We settled in to Hide Bay hide where there had been reports of black necked grebe the day before. Despite a lot of scanning, it remained elusive but we had a good variety of duck – gadwall, teal, tufty, pochard, the odd shoveler and goldeneye.

John found the highlight of the trip – a peregrine perched in a tree. While it was on the far side of the water, we managed to get good views through the scopes. Not far away, a kestrel hovered and then perched up on a pylon, again giving good views through the scope.

We walked round to Island Hide, stopping briefly to look over the water. By now the sun was out and we could really feel the warmth on our backs while watching an obliging reed bunting perched on the top of some tall vegetation. Island Hide offered good views of Egyptian goose, great crested grebe and an elusive raptor which disappeared behind the pumping station and refused to come out, despite us waiting. A crow and rook that obligingly stood next to each other gave us the opportunity to clearly show the difference, especially to our youngest guests.

As we made our way to Gwen’s hide, a couple of skylarks treated us to good views on the ground and in low flight. Indeed, their song seemed to accompany us around the reserve, clearly audible from great height and despite the wind. I’m always amazed at how well it carries from such a small bird. Their song always cheers me up, and makes me think of summer (maybe a tad optimistic yet I admit!) A small flock of wigeon and a couple of goosander were our last finds of the day from Gwen’s hide, although there were still good views to be had of goldeneye, and a couple of Egyptian geese on the shore. Our total count was 35 seen and 1 heard (green woodpecker); not an especially high tally for Abberton but still a good number. Waders in particular were notable by their absence. Perhaps with all the rain, the water in Hide Bay was just a bit too deep. Here is our full list:-

Gt Crested Grebe
Mute Swan
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Egyptian Goose
Com Pochard
Tufted Duck
Marsh Harrier
Common Buzzard
Peregrine Falcon
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Wood Pigeon
Green Woodpecker (heard)
Pied Wagtail
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Carrion Crow
Reed Bunting