Three of us set off for Warwickshire at 0700 experiencing some traffic around Birmingham arriving at around 0900. Road closures played a part in some congestion, we arrived on site and aimed for our first target of the day . A long-staying (16 days) and highly vocal Melodious Warbler was well worth seeking out, this bird had been discovered by a local birder along a nearby bridleway. Following the directions we passed a small wood with Great spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest and Coal Tits showing and calling. Approaching the compost plant perimeter fence the warbler was in full flow and audible from some distance.
A very enjoyable hour was spent in this songster’s company, it gave us excellent views and the full repertoire. It was concealed for periods but with patience came out into the open every so often. The MW would engage any bird that appeared in the sallow with, whether this was territorial or it was just so pumped up and sang at anything I couldn’t be sure. It was difficult to walk away and leave such a great little bird. Sand Martins, Pied Wagtail, Green Woodpecker and Kestrel were also noted here.
Melodious Warbler, Marsh Lane, Warks.
A brief stop at the Truck services across the road allowed us to use the facilities, the staff were very friendly, a coffee and egg roll certainly pepped me up. We had to purchase a permit and collect the gate key to access the private Marsh Lane NR, a nearby golf course (1.5 mile) is where the fishing lodge is located that issues the paperwork. Permits were £4.00 per person but the biggest surprise was the £50.00 deposit for the key. Back at the site (entrance at truck services) a couple of gates were negotiated and we parked on the old road. The car park was unusable as Little-ringed Plovers were nesting. Avoiding the breeding site of these birds we skirted around to the first hide and spent a while scoping and studying the birds that were gathered.
A very busy Black-headed Gull colony was highly productive, at least 90 juveniles had fledged. Common Terns were present with more Sand Martins and Swifts, Gadwall were dabbling out on the lake, this included a brood of 9 well grown young. Great Crested and Little Grebes were also seen, the latter on the nest. Our third grebe species was a stunning breeding plumaged Black-necked Grebe, good views through the scope for all. Some scruffy Tufted Ducks and Mallard were in moult and a pair of Teal were seen.
The most interesting birds to watch at this busy site were the nesting Little ringed Plovers and territorial Ringed Plovers. Lots of display, ‘broken wing’ feigning to attract bumbling Black-headed Gulls away from nest sites by LRP’s and mate displays from the RP’s. Simply great little birds to watch. A few pairs of Redshank, A flock of post-breeding Lapwing and noisy Oystercatchers all added to the busy scene.
Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers
Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe
Further exploration of the hides (6-7 on site) produced an ever increasing list of birds but more importantly, good views. Linnet, singing Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, more Common Terns on nests and Black-headed Gulls with 110+ more juveniles were all seen. Sedge Warbler was singing from typha in front of one hide, a trio of Cormorant sat in the dead trees. The skies darkened as some weather loomed, fortunately we were dry in one of the well placed hides. After the rain shower a smart full hooded, second summer Mediterranean Gull dropped in to bathe. A nice bird to end on. Back at the car before leaving a Willow Warbler sang.
This reserve is worth a visit despite the long-winded way of accessing it. The hides are well positioned and there is plenty to see even without a couple of star birds for the day. After returning the key and claiming the deposit we returned to Gloucestershire by 3.15pm and concluded the birding day.