Sightings at Pensthorpe – 1st May 2024

Here’s the latest update from WVBS following their visit to Pensthorpe on 1st May 2024

Arriving slightly ahead of Paul I was greeted by a single Red-legged Partridge wandering around the carpark. A calm warmish day with 6mph ESE winds and a temperature of 12 degrees.   On arrival, Paul informed me that it had been a misty morning in the area so we were very fortunate that at the start of the survey the mist had cleared and the sun had decided to break through.

A bit of a slow start unfortunately as the hedge along the carpark that leads to Farmland Hide was totally devoid of birds.  In fact, apart from a distant a Song Thrush ‘repeating’ we were struggling to find anything beyond the usual Corvids, Greylag Geese and Wood Pigeons.

Heading towards the entrance gate two Swallows flew overhead, and on entering the reserve, a member of staff told us that she had heard a Cuckoo calling – things were looking up!  As we headed to Farmland Hide we heard Reed Warbler and saw Greylag with a young family.  A stunning Pintail with no visible rings was seen very close by, but, despite the lack of rings, we suspected it was very much part of the ‘collection’.   At this point we heard Cuckoo calling from the direction of the Wetland (Fen) hide so decided to divert to there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t locate the Cuckoo and with the water levels still high it was generally very quiet, however, we were delighted to see two Common Terns.   The weather had improved significantly by this time and was akin to an early summer’s day. Red Kites were riding the thermals and a female Marsh harrier flew by.  Paul spotted a passing Sparrowhawk and a single Lapwing occupied the Scrape with six sleeping Teal.  No sign of any Common Snipe unfortunately but we did see two grey Heron and further three Marsh Harriers (x2 female, x1 male).

We returned to an extremely quiet Farmland Hide.  Again, the hedge from this perspective was devoid of birds and the best we could manage was two Stock Doves and another distant Marsh Harrier.  Leaving the Farmland Hide we worked our way through the picnic area where we saw the infamous ‘Cackling Goose’.  Of course, it was no such thing but actually a ringed (blue darvic C94) Barnacle/ Canada Goose hybrid! By this time the temperature had risen again and we decided to head to the café for refreshments.  It was plenty warm enough to sit outside and we were accompanied in the seating area by House Sparrows. A female Mallard appeared with her male entourage and pecked at our trousers aggressively in the vain attempt that we might just give up our sausage rolls – no chance they were too delicious!

After refreshments we moved on to Moon water where we saw Great Black-back, Herring and Common Gulls plus a further Pintail. Moving on to the Wader Scrape Hides the temperature was now a balmy 18 degrees! Despite the temperature rising the bird count didn’t.  Water levels were high and apart from numerous Black-Headed Gulls we only managed Reed Warbler, nesting Coot (x2) and Pochard (x2).  A Kestrel was seen ‘hovering’ and two Red Kite were joined by a single Marsh Harrier.

At Meakin’s Mere we heard Garden Warbler and x4 Mediterranean Gulls flew over.  Another distant Cuckoo calling which, sadly, we couldn’t locate. Onto Woodland Hide which, as was the themes of the day, was extremely quiet.  All we managed to see was Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit.  A Moorhen with a ‘limp’ waddled through – perhaps it had an altercation with a hungry Mallard looking for a sausage roll- just a theory!  Moving on again, at the reedbed near to the Woodland Hide we heard Reed Warbler.   Our final stop was Old Squaw where we saw Black-Headed Gull, Tufted Duck and (thankfully well behaved) Mallard.  Peter, a ‘Guide in the Hide’ volunteer arrived and informed us that he had seen Common Sandpiper earlier in the day.

Overall, plenty of Blackcaps around the reserve but we didn’t see (or hear) any Whitethroats or Sedge Warblers at all.   All in all, a distinctly ‘quiet’ day bird wise but in very good company – thanks Paul!

Report Howard Cooper, Bird Count Paul Adams.



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