Weather forecast loked fabulous for today’s birding and Manor Farm in Old Wolverton just looked to be a perfect place to wander. It was a frosty and misty morning but as the Sun rose the fog lifted offering perfect visibility for the gravel pads. Bird sounds in the mist at dawn is truly magical and this time of the year, when birds start to arrive from wintering grounds, it is quite hard to isolate a single bird song. Rather than being in surveying mode it would have better just sitting down and enjoying the spectacular dawn choirs.
By the floodplain we heard display songs of Northern Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover and Common Redshank spread perfectly in the mist. Some Green Sandpipers and Common Snipes were also feeding on the muddy pebble pads, increasing the diversity of waders.
As soon as the fog lifted we watched the acrobatic display of Northern Lapwing and the patroling flight of the Little Ringed Plover with its characteristic call.
Just before we reached the hide where we planned to have a breakfast, I spotted a flying Little Owl which briefly landed on a tree nearby. I rarely come across this local breeder so it was a pleasure seeing it. From the hide there was limited visibility to the sky but we watched feeding Eurasian Wigeons, lapwings and a redshank landing in front of the hide.
The most obvious change in the birdlife of this popular birdwatching area since my last visit from March, is the arrival of breeding birds. The number of singing Eurasian Wrens, Blackcaps, European Robins, Song Thrushes and Common Reed Buntings was a clear sign of the beginning of the breeding season. I saw the first Willow Warbler of the year along the river.
Just behind the Aqueduct another Little Owl was flushed by the growing number of walkers. When it landed next to the canal an Eurasian Magpie disturbed it and flushed again into the woods. Further along the river a beautiful pair of Grey Wagtails provided excellent views in wall to wall sunshine.
In the afternoon I took a visit to the nearby Blue Lagoon Nature Reserve where more Willow Warblers were singing. Over the new landfill area 14 Red Kites, a Common Buzzard, 2 Common Ravens and an European Kestrel were soaring with Lesser Black-backed Gulls. At Knot Hole pond I saw the first Common Redstart of the year.