Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Sunday trip to Croxley Common Moor and Stockers Lake

I left the house around 6:45 on my bike to Stockers Lake, the day started well with an improvement in the weather since yesterdays thunderstorm.  Soon after leaving and passing the front entrance to the RSSKL 3 Bullfinches flew past me in the hedge.  By the small green (at the end of Rockcliffe Ave) there were 2 Song Thrushes feeding in the grass and 2 Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff were singing.  My route was mainly canal based and near the Cassiobury Park section of the canal I saw 1 Grey Wagtail, and heard a Kingfisher uttering its shrill one syllable note on the other side of the canal out of sight.  Unfortunately, half way to my destination I got a puncture which prevented me doing the full route I had hoped to to, however I did stop of to scan the horse  paddock by the A412 roundabout for any Wagtails, unsurprisingly there weren't any but 16 Jackdaws were in the field and 1 Bullfinch and 1 Chiffchaff were (calling) nearby.  Most of the trip along the canal yielded dozens of singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs with even more at the lakes and the moor.  I also encountered several Grey Herons and 2 Ring-necked Parakeets flew over.  Once I arrived at Croxley Common Moor there were Common Whitethroats calling in every corner of the moor(at least 50+ singing and spread out through the moor), 3 Blackcaps were having a dispute over territory along the edge of the river and a Muntjac Deer was browsing the vegetation on the canal side of the bank.  The highlight of the day was definitely here as I heard my first Cuckoo of the year near the railway.  In the distance I could also make out the reeling song of a Grasshopper Warbler near the electricity pylons, I made my way over but the singing stopped and finding it amongst the vegetation became almost impossible so after an hour or two of searching I moved on.  Dozens of Reed Buntings were also perched in the hedges around the moor, the males being most prominent and vocal.

male Reed Bunting

In addition, 1 Swallow flew briefly over and the river attracted 2 Common Terns.  Due to the bike puncture I made my way by foot to Batchworth Lake, 2ad. 1juv. Great Crested Grebes were on the water with the young riding on the back of an adult.  Further on at Bury Lake there were a lingering pair of Goldeneye and 3♂ Red-crested Pochard.  The furthest point of my trip to Stockers Lake revealed even more as I saw 1 Sedge Warbler and heard many more along the bank, 1 Red Kite flew low over my head and at least 3 Reed Warblers (my first seen this year) were chasing each other through the sedge.

Reed Warbler

Red Kite

Common Tern

male Great Spotted Woodpecker

male Red-crested Pochard

Another Swallow flew high over the lake (probably pressing on with its interrupted northward migration after yesterdays thunderstorm).  Two species of Woodpecker were also about including 1♂ Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Green Woodpecker calling from the wood by the Colne Valley Trail.  Back at Croxley Common Moor 1 Red Kite and 1♀ Kestrel flew over.  Unfortunately I didn't manage to see the Grasshopper Warbler but hearing its song is probably the most interesting characteristic, despite this it was a good days birding, only next time I have to bring a puncture repair kit.

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