Coombs Valley & Westport Lake Report – 18 May 2011

A damp morning at RSPB Coombs Valley led to a warbler morning. But the foliage in full leaf meant that it was time to put our hearing to best use. With one of the wardens to help us it wasn’t quite as difficult as feared, and Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Whitethroat were all identified by sound. The opportunity was taken to compare Blackcap and Garden Warbler, and the scratchy notes of the Whitethroat were, I hope, committed to memory.

The song of the Song Thrush was also heard and the bird glimpsed high in a tree. The usual woodland birds such as Pheasant and Blackbird were recorded, and several Stock Doves were seen above the canopy, while individuals saw Long-tailed Tit and Jay. The pick of the birds was one of Coombs Valley’s specialities, and we spent time watching a Pied Flycatcher around its nestbox.

Onwards then to Westport Lake, where a dive into the cafe was made to avoid the drizzle that greeted us. Welcome teas and coffees were drunk and the weather brightened. We walked around the lake noting water birds and filling in the gaps in our morning list. Great Crested Grebe and Tufted Duck were on the water, while a single Swift scythed overhead. Garden Warbler was identified following our morning warbler workshop, and a family of Mistle Thrushes were picked out in the tree tops.

The weather, the early full-leafed foliage and timing restricted our list to just 33, but a pleasant day was spent exploring two birding sites close to Stoke.