Saturday 01 March – Middleton Lakes

 The early frost gave way to warm sunshine as eleven members met at this RSPB reserve in the Lower Tame Valley on the Staffordshire/Warwickshire border which has been made from 400 acres of old gravel workings. The heronry had 18 pairs guarding nests and seven pairs sitting on nests and was very visible from the boardwalk. Further along the Woodland trail many rooks were filling the woods with noise although few nests were seen-had they been damaged in the storms? The woodland was alive with songs and calls and the feeders attracted many birds-Great, Blue and Long tailed Tit, Blackbird, Robin, Nuthatch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch, Wren, Dunnock, Song Thrush and Reed Bunting. Three Treecreepers were spotted at one time going from tree to tree. Several Goldcrests were seen and heard, Redwings flew to the top of the trees and a flock of Linnets were noted. Several Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen and heard and at one time three were drumming simultaneously. Green Woodpecker was also heard. We walked the three kilometre Wetland Trail which looked out over lakes and reedbeds (old quarry pits) sandwiched between the canal and river. Birds were numerous. Ducks included Mallard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal, Goldeneye, Shelduck, Gadwall, Pochard and a female Wigeon. There were Canada and Greylag Geese. Also seen were Little Egret, Coot, Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Great Crested and Little Grebe, Lapwing and Goosander. A Kingfisher flashed down the river and two Chiffchaffs hopped about in the bushes on the river bank. There appeared to be a breeding colony of noisy Black-headed Gulls. A female Stonechat gave good views from the top of some dry stems. The only birds of prey were several Buzzards. Thanks to Ed for leading this trip on such a sunny day in this super reserve which is a new venue for the club.