Dinton Pastures Country Park Field Trip 27th October 2015

Today was a more relaxing, half day visit to a local site, where we got to see lots of old favourite’s with a chance to hone our visual and audio ID skills.

Our first sighting on Black Swan Lake was a gaggle of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis); a familiar face to most of us.

We have all been working hard to better our gull ID skills, so were pleased to have a chance with these Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), which annoyingly do not have a black head at this time of year! The black spot on the face is a giveaway, and we also learned today the white leading edge of their wings is also distinctive:

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We were treated to very close views of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) with their cygnets, distinguishable by their orange bill and black face:

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And a little while later we spotted a few Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) , adults and juveniles, on a pontoon at the far end of Black Swan Lake. Distinguishable from the Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) by their pink legs. Lesser black-backed gulls have yellow legs!

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On Lavell’s Lake and Lea Farm gravel pit we were treated to sightings of Egyptian Geese (Alopochen aegyptiacus), Teal (Anas crecca), Shovelers (Anas clypeata), Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) and Snipe (Gallinago gallinago):

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We were also lucky to see a female Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), Wigeon (Anas penelope), Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula), lots of Gadwalls (Anas strepera) – which many of us were surprised were so big when seen out of the water!

Having knee injuries I made my way back to have my lunch at the café while the rest of the group ventured around Sandford Lake and Herons Water before making their way back.

I got lucky, the one spare table, was on in a secluded spot, away from the noisy children. Not more than a few minutes had passed when I heard the sound of my favourite garden bird; Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus). I counted between 15-20 flitting around the trees above me and in the hedgerow, singing all the while. Having bad knees paid off! A great end to a field trip!

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