Tuesday, 19 May 2009
A Patchy Start
Tentatively headed out this evening into the newly adopted patch. The area is too big to cover in one visit, so I will sort out a few strategic routes to follow. For the sake of reference, I'll call this Route 1. Ingenious eh? I have walked around some of this area in the past, but not for a very long while so it felt like it was all new to me. Start at the yellow dot, which is where the footpath from the Winchester Avenue industrial estate by the Blaby bypass goes under the railway line. From there, head north to the canal (4) then follow the tow-path west. Follow the tow-path around to the north to Gee's Lock (10), then follow the path east through fields (11) and then behind houses to join Cork Lane (12). From there, head back south over the canal and back to the start point. This route took me an hour and 20 minutes to walk at a leisurely pace with a couple of brief stops. It could be walked in an hour easily, and a more concerted effort with a bit a wait/watch could easily make it two hours or more. 18:45 - 20:05, mild, breezy, mainly o'cast with occ. sun Immediately after joining the route, the field to the west (1) is marshy with sedge and typhus reeds. It is pretty much hidden away by the hedgerow, but looks really good to me. Singing Lesser Whitethroat and Reed Bunting here - a great start! The fields to the east (2) are rough grazing horse paddocks.Mistle Thrush in here and Blackcap singing. The path crosses over the River Sence (3) - Kingfisher flying through calling loudly was another nice new patch tick. After joining the canal tow path, the bit I do remember is that there was a Long-eared Owl roost near the old brickworks (5) - that area is now a housing estate (so the arial map is out of date!). A Sparrowhawk over the new houses was being harassed by Swallows. Further along the tow-path, looking to the south there are a few very rough and scrubby fields with various bits of abandoned machinery and vehicles (6) - might be interesting later in the year. Another Sparrowhawk over here (or maybe the same one again), this time being mobbed by Pied Wagtails. The field just north of the canal (7) has cattle - and Canada Geese (first time for decades that I've been pleased to see one, the feeling soon faded). The area west of the canal after the bend (8) heads down to Jubilee Park, but there is some really interesting habitat that way with deeply undulating grassland with a lot of scrub. Green Woodpecker along there. As the canal heads north, the bank side vegetation becomes more interesting looking (9) - female Great Spotted Woodpecker along there feeding noisy young in a nest hole. From Gee's Lock (singing Chiffchaff) heading east and then south back over the canal is the least interesting bit of the route, but saves retracing the whole outward leg. Ominous! 34 species recorded, and given the time of the day and less than ideal conditions, I thought that was a not bad start: Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Sparrowhawk, Moorhen, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting 20:20 - 20:40 I then nipped over to the Grove Park in the hope of seeing LRPs - there were three pairs in the area, but sadly this was a pair of Mallards, a pair of Wood Pigeons and a pair of Pied Wagtails. No LRPs seen, which either means they are good at sitting still unhidden, or they aren't there this year. Only further visits will tell I guess. Even more depressingly, the big field opposite the pool that often holds big flocks of Lapwing and stuff in winter is being flattened and tarmac-ed to make a park-and-ride shuttle service. Bollocks. On and around the pool, I added Whitethroat, Coot, Tufted Duck (a pair) and two flyover Herring Gulls to the patch list.