The weather about Tern, but we could not find one!

College lake on a sunny day
College lake on a sunny day

It has been some time since I did a blog post, so here is one to cover the weekend. Friday was quiet I had noodles for tea while Helen was out for an early meal at the pub. We found the comedy series “2012” on Netflix so watched a couple of episodes, then retired to bed early to make the most of Saturday.

Saturday morning we were up early Helen, had a few things to do, so I busied my self in the garden. We now have a big flower pot with mixed herbs in it. I actually excavated our composter and spread some of it about on the veg patch I created a couple of years ago. I have onions and garlic growing which I planted before Christmas and they seem to be coming on well. The gap between the onion rows seemed wide enough to get another crop in between, so I put in three rows of different lettuce and a row a radish seeds. I have some seeds which have started to sprout, in a plastic tray divided into one inch square plugs, I need to wait before transferring them to the veg patch.

Dancersend Nature Reserve
Dancersend Nature Reserve

I put some dough ingredients into the bread maker, before picking up Helen, the plan to have a walk around College Lake. The weather was gorgeous, the sun was shining and it was pretty warm. Having not been out bird watching for a while it was a real treat to see some of the spring birds. On the trees were the usual tits, but Helen spotted a Willow Warbler, and could then hear a Chiffchaff. In the scrape viewable from the octagon hide, we saw Snipe, Little Ringed Plover, and Redshank as well as the usual ducks, geese and swans. Next stop was to be Tesco for some Pizza ingredient, remember I put on the bread dough before i went to pick up Helen.

Suitably stocked up with pizza toppings we headed to Wilstone reservoir, I had heard reports of Arctic Terns passing through. We parked up and climbed the bank, but there was no sign of any of the bird we might expect. No Martins, Swallows, or Terns not even a common Tern, so we jumped back in the car and headed home, to find the dough had not risen very well probably something to do with the out of date yeast. As it turns out the dough did rise when in the oven but not as good as it could have been, but the pizzas were divine.

Spring and Autumn on one branch
Spring and Autumn on one branch

Sunday started with a trip to church for Helen and a lazy start for me watching the London Marathon on the TV. Before Helen got back I decided I would have a go a making some bread by hand. I chose a wholemeal recipe and added some walnuts and seeds to the mix. I used some yeast that was almost out of date (there is a pattern emerging here) which needed mixing with sugar and warm water to make it work. I mixed everything in a bowl and then kneaded it for about 10 minutes before putting the dough in a bowl to rise. Helen got back and we decided so make the most of the weather by having a walk round Dancersend Nature reserve. We left the dough to rise.

The reserve was pretty quiet considering that this the the first real warm weather we have had fro some time. Spring was here for sure, leaves were emerging from the tree branches and wild flowers where staring to bloom. We spent about an hour and half strolling around the perimeter of the reserve, highlights included Chiffchaff (heard by Helen), Nuthatch, Buzzard and a couple of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers trying to attract the attentions of a female. We headed back to the house and I finished off the bread, knocking it back, kneading then covered it in seeds and left it to rise before scoring it and chucking it in the oven.

I then mowed the lawn and did some weeding in the flower beds, I have plans that this year I am going to make and effort with the veg patch and the rest of the garden, whether it lasts all summer remains to be seen!

Home alone

College Lake from Octagon hide
College Lake from Octagon hide

Helen is away with the girls this weekend, in Birmingham. Had Pizza for Tea on Friday, went to bed and got up early on Saturday full of plans. Ended up tinkering around the house, until early afternoon, when I dragged myself out for a walk around College lake nature reserve. The sun was shining but there was still a chill in the wind. Took a quick look from the new and nearest hide, saw ringed plover, redshank and red crested pochard. I then headed out a a fair swift pace around the rest of the reserve, and soon found I was getting quite hot from the exertion. I stopped off at the octagonal hide and saw a few more redshank.

On the path I came across a a Burying Beetle which was moving very fast see the video.

After that excitement I went to Tesco for some supplies then headed home has the rest of last nights dough in another Pizza, watched a French film called “Tell No One” which has the same directory and many actors from the file “Little White Lies” it was a brilliant murder/mystery/thriller.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/YtWup5fk7-4?hd=1&w=500]

College Lake again

Shady Horsetail
Shady Horsetail

Decided a local trip was in order, so we invited Helen’s folks for a walk round College Lake. The weather was really sunny and hot, we got there at about 11ish so not the best time of day to see birds. The usual suspects were on the water and island adjacent to the entrance. We walked on round the side twards the far end.

In the wooded are just pas the sand martin nest area I spotted an unusual plant that looked very primitive as plants go. It was a long stalk (6 inches) with with 4 regular buds on evenly spaced up the stem, topped off with a blobby bit. It turned out to be a Shady Horsetail (Equisetum pratense).

We were soon down to the field where the shrubs are planted. I scanned the fences ofor birds and spotted what I thought mightbe a Cuckoo. IIt was distamt so I got a bit closer and was more convinced. When it flew closer onto another post there was not doubt, later on on we all heard it call one time. In the filed near the cuckoo were 4 Whetear.

We finished off the walk with Ice Cream for some and a soft drink for others.

College Lake

A frog
A frog

Such a nice day on Sunday I decided to take a trip round College lake with the Father in-law. We arrived at about 13:00 and parked up, BBOWT do not charge an entrance fee but suggest a £2 parking donation. The new visitors centre is very airy, there is an exhibition and a cafe area. The cafe area used to be on the north side of the site in a wooden building, but now you have to enter the site via the new one.

I must add that I have never really been a fan of college lake, I am not sure why maybe because the hides were very distant from the birds. The walk round was to change my opinion, there are now some new hides and well as some of the old ones. The water area close to the centre has been left to flood after they had done some earthworks, and the new hides are well placed to take advantage of the new waterscape.

We headed off toward the Bulbourne side first, it was the middle of the day so there was not much birding action to be seen, but we did spot a hovering Kestrel. Down over the opposite end to the center we came across a toad crossing the path, then went into the newly planted area which is a sort meadow area, there were some shrubs that were covered in the lady birds, lucking the indigenous species. When you turn back towards the center there are a couple of old bits of machinery reminding you that the site was once a chalk quarry.

From the new hide on the bund we saw the Ruff that they had told us about at the visitors centre. I will certainly return, later on the the year.