Sunday 03 August – Langford Lakes and Normanton Down, Wilts

 It was a warm and sunny day following the heavy rain on Saturday. The main target was Stone Curlew. As these are best seen in the afternoon we took the chance to visit Langford Lakes first. The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has created an attractive and accessible reserve. The reserve is being extended beyond the lakes to include some additional wetland and water meadow. Having said that, the species list was not extensive on the day. Great Crested Grebes were there in number; one pair with a second brood, the first having been eaten by a pike. A pond in the extended reserve had five Gadwalls. Coots and Canada Geese were present in large numbers along with a couple of Herons, three Little Egrets, Tufted Duck, Cormorant and Moorhen. Kingfishers were well evident. We saw three different birds, possibly four, with a fifth calling. Green Woodpecker and Blackcap were heard in the car park with a Buzzard overhead. Damselflies, dragonflies and butterflies were everywhere and were worth the visit in themselves.Normanton Down is not far from Stonehenge in a landscape rich with barrows and ancient monuments. The Stone Curlews can be found on bare ground. The farmer leaves patches in the fields especially for them. So, we were looking for a well camouflaged brown bird in a brown, bare field about half a mile away with heat haze adding an extra challenge. What could be simpler? Well, almost anything as it turned out. Stone Curlew were not to be seen in spite of some realistic, bird-like earth clods fooling the unwary. However, a Red Kite overhead and a Little Owl sitting stoically in the eaves of a barn were some compensation. Brown Hare, many Common Blue butterfly and a Clouded Yellow were also a delight to behold. Thanks to Roger for organising the trip. Other species: Starling, Pied Wagtail, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Rook, Magpie, Raven, Robin, Mallard, Mute Swan, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit. Alastair Fraser