Friday, 20 June 2014

Orgreave Lakes

Today was a day that I had intended to spend in the flat saying farewell to the last guys still around, but at 12.00 I decided that since it was such a nice day, birdwatching seemed like the only really sensible option, so off I popped to Orgreave, possibly for the last time this semester.
I arrived on site in glorious weather. I really wanted hobby today, a species I have only seen once before. I therefore spent a lot of time with eyes to the sky. My first bird was a large soaring bird that turned out to be a very large gull, so presumably Greater Black-Backed. There were also numerous swifts, again skimming the water and other hirundines in smaller numbers, though I got exception views of Sand Martin as they flew over the causeway between the lakes.
The first thing I stopped for a photo of was not a bird, but a dragonfly. When I spotted it landed I identified it as a Black-Tailed Skimmer, but then there was another, a juvenile too. I was pleased to have found these two, my first of the year, but was unable to get very close.
-Black-Tailed Skimmers
I positioned myself on the western side of the causeway to set up and see what dropped in. There were not many people about, but those that were seemed hell bent of ignoring all the signs that said 'please don't walk here, nesting birds' so that there was turned very mobile.
That being Little Ringed Plover, Redshank and Pied Wagtails. The LRP I was unable to re-located for photos, as I think it headed up the bank where I had seen one before. There was also one on the island in the center of the small lake as well, which I was able to track down. I spent some time watching the swifts, but was unable to find any hobbys among them.
The real highlight from this position was a small family of Great-Crested Grebes on the lake. There was an adult and 2 chicks, the adult was feeding the chicks and they were quite close to the bank so I was able to get some good views.
I decided to move off, but in hindsight chose a terrible time as a couple with a dog had decided to walk along the side of the lake rather than on a path. I was very tempted to make some sarcastic comment, but the confrontational side of me is very small so I unfortunately I kept quiet.
On the bird front there was a Redshank calling from the mound, where it was calling from last time too, so they probably have a nest in there. 
On the waterside, when I finally overtook the morons, I found a pair of ringed plover chicks, they were well grown so obviously managed to survive the perils of the site. I was able to approach them, as they did not seem to mind me watching from the bank. What they did mind was the dog, but since they were grown they had no issue in moving off and flew away to a different part of the lake.
-Juvenile Ringed Plovers
I continued round having finally got rid of the morons, but did not have many additions. Those that I had included Stock Dove and Grey Heron. 
I decided to head off after a bit. I kept my eyes on the sky and spotted a small speck in the distance, which was moving erratically and seemed to have a pale colour, but it kept moving away and when I say in the distance I mean really far away. I thought hobby, but I guess its another that just got away.
But it convinced me to stick around to see if it would come to hunt the swifts that had gathered in great numbers above. Despite my vigil and constant swift checking I was unable to find it among the birds around.
But I did find another year tick in the form of Brown Hawker which seems extremely early to me for this species. As usual with hawker dragonflies I was unable to get a photo as it started to hunt the pathway. But either way I was pleased to have found it, my first proper large dragonfly of the year.

Species List:
Orgreave Lakes: Starling, Dunnock, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Black-Headed Gull, Blackbird, Mallard, Mute Swan, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Tufted Duck, Coot, Great-Crested Grebe, Meadow Pipit, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Common Redshank, Reed Bunting, Stock Dove, Skylark, House Martin, Little-Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Sand Martin, Willow Warbler, Swallow, Canada Goose, Graylag Goose, Swift, Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Large White, Common Blue Damselfly, Black-Tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker 

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