Friday, 21 March 2014

Orgreave Lakes

I decided that after my lecture today I would go to Orgreave Lakes to see what all the fuss was about. Orgreave, for anyone who does not know won the inland patchwork challenge last year and has been described as one of the best new nature reserves, though it is in fact a development site, so I dunno how long its going to remain  like this.
Its convenient to get to, only one 40 min bus journey and then your there, hence why I had enough time after lectures. The weather was fluctuating but for the whole time I was there it held out and was a rather nice day. As soon as I arrived I spotted my first year-tick of the day-Skylark, singing up very high, hence it took a few moments to locate but I managed it.
I followed the path round the two lakes and found more and more skylarks and meadow pipits too, all in good numbers. The real birds I wanted to see were ringed plover and so I was checking all the shorelines. There were Cormorants, mallards, gulls, coots, moorhens, Canada geese and mute swans, as well as Gadwall. I made my way round to the second lake following a small group of Mipits and managed to track down some skylarks that were less flighty
The second lake was bigger but still had a good variety of wildfowl on offer, including tufted duck and goosander. There was quite a big goosander flock and they drifted in quite close so I was able to get a record shot.
I followed the path but it lingered nearer the river now rather than the ponds, there was less here, but still stuff to be had. The highlight was a pair of teal, as well as gadwall and mallards.
I reached the point at which the lakes stopped but the site carried on, and as I had never been before I decided to carry on going up the river. I did not get very far, but on that bit of the walk I spotted lapwings on the far fields and there were a lot off bumble-bees next to the path. But the highlight of this part of the walk as that 3 hirundines flew over me. They were not swallows and seemed quite dark so I reckon house martin, though only sand martins were recorded from the site today. Either way its my first Hirundines of the year so that was very exciting.
I then turned back and continued walking around the lakes. I continued to scout the shores and eventually got lucky when I spotted a small brown bird feeding on the water edge. I got closer and was please to find that it was a ringed plover, no less than the bird I had wanted. However, there was a twist in the tail because as I approached I began to realise that this was not actually a ringed plover but a little ringed plover, a species I am very unfamiliar with. I only realised what it was a few mins before it took off. They had not been recorded at the site yet this year, so I wondered if I was the one that had found the first, but when I got home I found that somebody had been earlier and found them first. I say them because they spotted 2, whereas I only found the one.
-Little Ringed Plover
I continued on the way round and added to my list oystercatcher, wigeon and actual ringed plover. I found a pair of ringed plovers on the far side of the first lake, so that was nice, actually finding the birds I had wanted to see. This time there was no doubt, the orange on the bill was unmistakable through the bins. They were quite flighty and there was a dog running around so I was unable to get particularly close. But either way I managed a record shot.
-Ringed Plover
I decided to wander back so that I was not late for football, and I had seen the site and wandered round. I was well impressed, even as I was leaving I spotted another teal on the river which was quite close, or at least close enough for me to get a record shot.
-Common Teal
I was almost out when I decided to check out a marshy area for jack snipe. I found none but did flush a female reed  bunting which was nice, another species for the day. But that was not the highlight, as I also found my first identifiable butterfly of the year; small tortoiseshell. I realise now though that I had the wrong lens on as I had been photographing birds, and so was unable to get a great shot of it, either way I still managed a shot to record this, my second butterfly of the year.
-Small Tortoiseshell
And that was that. I was pretty impressed with the site and will defiantly be coming back multiple times due to the ease of getting there. And I had recorded 4 year ticks for the day, bringing me to the bumper score of 88!

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