Great Reed Warbler, Straw's Bridge Ponds, Ilkeston, Derbyshire, May 2010 (David Hutton)
HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS TOUR 13-17 MAY 2010
THURSDAY 13 MAY
That time of year again and the second of my 2010 tours to Northern Scotland. As usual I was joined by Lincolnshire father and son team David and Matthew Roberts, as well as Colin Oram from Piddington. Mike Robinson was to be picked up on route in North Lancashire and the other two (Mike *** and Chris Morgan) were to be met at Stirling Services in Central Scotland. It was to be a four-day trip and we departed Little Chalfont at 1540 hours as there were rarities to see on route……
We picked up Colin Oram at his house in Piddington village, virtually on the Oxon/Bucks border. Close to his house was a female RED KITE sat precariously on her nest in a tall Poplar.
STRAW’S BRIDGE PONDS, ILKESTON (DERBYSHIRE)
Utilising the daylight hours available, we diverted just off of the northbound M1 near Derby for a FIRST FOR THE COUNTY – a singing male GREAT REED WARBLER that had been discovered a few days earlier. We arrived in good time and after parking the van up, walked the 250 yards or so to the location. Skirting the first pond visible from the car park, we crossed under the railway viaduct and then turned left to the next pool. There was a small patch of reedbed in the NW corner and it was here that the bird had taken up territory. There was a small crowd on site including both Alan and Geoff Clewes.
After an anxious wait, and with the bird only making brief snatches of song, it finally appeared briefly at the bottom of the reedmace at 1850 hours. Over the next ten or so minutes, it then became quite active and eventually gave very good views as it bleated out its loud, penetrating song from low down. It was a large warbler, with a pale-ish brown complexion, a striking supercilium and a bright red gape.
In addition to the Great Reed Warbler, species also noted at Straw’s Bridge Ponds included Mute Swan, Atlantic Canada Goose, Tufted Duck, Coot, Song Thrush, Moorhen, Blue Tit, Common Swift, Blackcap and Willow Warbler.
Just before 2000 hours, we continued our journey northwards, linking up with the M61 around Manchester and eventually the M6. For a change, we actually got to Mike’s castle in Beetham, Milnthorpe, before midnight……