On Sunday 21st December 2008, Peter Hutchins of the RSPB Basingstoke Local Group led a walk around the pond for seven members of the group, on their last outdoor meeting of the year.
The walk had two aspects, the Pond (this post) and the Woodland (a future post).
The report by Peter Hutchins of the morning’s events is as follows:
Boathouse Corner provided our first view of the open water, a Water Rail calling from the seclusion of scrub and reeds on the water’s edge. The Black-headed Gull were joined on the water by two Lesser Black-backed Gull, whilst resident wildfowl included a few pairs of Canada Geese, a single island-hugging Greylag, four winter-plumaged Great Crested Grebe and a drake Shoveler, distant and brief as it swum out in and out of reeds on the southern side. Grey Heron were seen in flight, an adult showing particularly well as it headed low over the water westwards.
Hemelite Bay, in the north-western corner, played host to a Kingfisher that allowed all to see it before heading back out over the pond, past further Canada Geese, Mallard and Moorhen. A singing Siskin also put on a show; though being hidden behind a tree trunk only the extremities could be seen before it too moved on.
We headed south to the main viewing, and definitely feeding, platform by Chestnut Grove. Here Mute Swan, Mallard, Moorhen and the only Coot on the pond, fed close to hand, the Greylag remained ensconced on its island refuge, Great Crested Grebe dived further out and the gulls and Cormorants completed the bird jigsaw still further in the distance.
Heading to the southern side of the pond and looking back northwards, over Fugelmere Bay, added an adult Herring Gull distantly consorting with its smaller relatives, then two adult Common Gulls joined in the stream of larids to and from the ponds surface. A Great Crested Grebe loitered close to the safety of reeds and overhead both silhouetted Jackdaw and Greenfinch were more easily picked out by their utterances. A brief fish breaching several times was thought to be a carp – well by me anyway!
Picture: Great Crested Grebe
We headed towards Sandy Bay, where Mallard were busy about Fir Tree Island and, further back still, Cormorant were scattered like used and blackened candles on the icing of Cormorant Island. Far distant were two Grey Heron, both hunched morosely in trees. The now slightly choppier water still held just gulls, the four species all being seen again, and the wildfowl formerly noted. The clouding had broken a little but we were soon to be back under cover and missed any benefits this may have brought.
Finishing off back at Boathouse Corner, viewing out over the pond found a brisker, more chilling wind, moving in from the west, seemingly having drifted in more wildfowl and gulls to this corner. Though the local family leaving as we arrived were more likely to have had an effect on the birds, with perhaps a crumb or two having been cast for the resident birds? These included a pair of Canada Geese, perhaps not so resident but now taken for granted after many years of introduced status.
Two Grey Heron moved off across our field of view and the Greylag was seen to have at last vacated its island, thrashing about in the shallow margins as it bathed. A Sparrowhawk drifting high to the west passed in front of clouds that had once again split just briefly to allow the sun to hint at what might have been.
This report is an edited version (kindly provided by Michelle Salter) of the complete version that appears in the RSPB Basingstoke Local Group January 2009 Newsletter.
Picture credits: Swan (Michelle Salter) and Great Crested Grebe.