A week ago this was a dried up watercourse...
In an effort to put some miles in before a charity walk in a couple of weeks I spent a large chunk of the day at the site doing circuits of the perimeter walk and the birds didn't disappoint.
It was a ten wader species day, only the second I can remember since recording at this site when the gravel extraction first started. Along with the usual suspects in Little Ringed Plovers, Common Redshank, Oystercatchers, Common Snipe, Common and Green Sandpiper and Lapwing (now at least two families with chicks) a group of four small waders circled the pools then dropped in. Dismissing them as further LRP's it wasn't until I caught up with Simon Nicholls sheltering under some trees during the first of many downpours, that he confirmed they were in fact three 'tundrae' Ringed Plovers and a single Dunlin, now all happily picking about on the north shore. Simon had also just had three Whimbrel through the site, a first for Manor Farm (see Simon's full report below).
Away from the 'waderfest' there was plenty else to see too, three Northern Wheatear, two males and female, were atop the soil bunds along the Ouse by Thrupp Bridge, also in this area a handful of Meadow Pipits. Further along the river on the north bank of the main body of water the Wagtail flock gradually built during the day amongst the tree protectors and at least half a dozen Yellow Wagtails and a single White Wagtail were seen amongst the throng of Pieds.
Still a varied collection of wildfowl on site, a newly arrived pair of Shoveler being the highlight. A handful of Tufted Duck, and pairs of Teal and Gadwall, and of course resident Mallard were also seen. At least two nesting pairs of Cananda Geese have set up residence around the opposing spit area whilst two pairs of Mute Swan also fought on and off for control of the inlet. On the subject of Mutes the large flock that numbered well over twenty a month ago that was grazing on winter wheat by the railway line is now down to single figures as couples pair off, so it seems it was just the avian equivalent of a singles club all along.
Other birds of note, three 'Commic' Terns along the canal with further birds seen over Cosgrove Lake up to five Common Buzzards and four Little Egrets in the margins.
As for the site itself well the recent rain has shown much improvement, especially in topping up existing and creating new pools. The Ouse shows the biggest change though, and a conservative estimate levels are up at least a couple of feet on a week ago and the flash water of the two heavy downpours took it up six inches or more over the afternoon. Even Front and Back Brook which had dried up in parts over the winter, in fact for probably well over a year had fast water flowing right along Front Brook and out to the Ouse itself at the viaduct. The picture above shows, the difference, just two weeks ago I walked along that dried watercourse, now in parts that would be up to my waist.
Simon H's report via NBBR
Standard fare at first , with Lapwings everywhere and at least 5 Young , 1 Little Egret , minimum of 8 LRP, Pair of Shoveler , 2 Oystercatcher , 1 Redshank and 1 Snipe.
1 GREEN SANDPIPER flew off high west @ 10.45( but returned @ 12.00) But then it got interesting
I was on the phone to Rob at 11.20 when. Flock of 4 small waders flew in , 3 RINGED PLOVERS (Tundrae) and a DUNLIN , I later found them on the north shoreline.
As I was walking back up the slope at approx 11.45 I glanced up and saw 2 large waders heading south west , took me a while to realise that the 2 'Curlews' were in fact WHIMBRELS , This was just ahead of a massive rain shower , so I took cover under the trees just as 3 COMMIC TERNS headed north up the canal , I then started scanning the main water again and a 3rd WHIMBREL headed in from the east , and turned North West slightly heading out over the Caravan Park
Chris G the. Joined me , unfortunately too late for the Whimbrels , but we were able to scope 2 YELLOW WAGTAILS and a single WHITE WAGTAIL on the northern shore
A great day