Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A serenade and a surprise ending

With sunny weather forecast  for yesterday I decided to visit Marston Vale in Bedfordshire or to give it it`s proper name The Marston Vale Forest Centre and Millennium Country Park.

Most of the lakes in this area are reclaimed pits left over from clay extraction for the brickworks for which this part of Bedfordshire is most famous. The brickworks now though have all but disappeared.

All thats left of the Brickwork Industry in Bedforshire

Scanning the car park trees drew a blank so I walked over to the steps (made from recycled railway sleepers) that lead to a small area of reeds, where in the summer it`s good for Dragonfly watching. There is also a feeding station located here which was being visited by Great, Blue and Long-Tailed Tits and Reed Buntings, on the ground underneath were Blackbirds, Chaffinches and a Robin relentlessly chasing off a poor old Dunnock. 

I stood here watching the comings and goings for about three quarters of an hour. At the same time as also watching a male Great Spotted Woodpecker as he slowly made his way from tree to tree closer and closer to the feeders, finally flying off when a couple of people came by with 4 German Shepherds (dogs, not........!).

I now moved on to the large Stewartby Lake. After a lot of rain over the last few days the paths to the lake were wet and muddy with large areas of standing water. Not a lot to see on the lake either, a large raft of Gulls, a few Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot and a couple of pairs of Mute Swans.

I decided not to walk all the way around the lake and made my meandering way back to the Visitor Centre. There were a surprising amount of people around for a Monday morning mostly dog walkers and joggers all trying to recover from the excesses of the weekend, I suspect. And In the sunshine lots of the trees and bushes were looking colourful as they start to “wake up” after the Winter.

There is a bench along this part of the walk were I decided to sit for a while and just take in the sunshine and my surroundings and right on cue a Robin started to serenade me from his perch in a small tree just across the pathway. What an enjoyable three or so minutes just sitting in the sunshine listening to a beautiful performance that I`d like to think was put on just for me!!

After purchasing my ‘permit’ (£2.50) I set off to walk around the ‘Wetlands Trail’ (a new hard surface path had been laid since my last visit). Up until reaching the first hide, apart from a couple of rabbits running for cover, there was little wildlife to see. One thing that did stand out was a small area of reeds glowing brightly in the sunshine as they swayed in the breeze.  From the hide, which overlooks a lake called ‘The Pillinge’ I noted Cormorants and Lapwings on a small island, the ever present Gulls, Little and Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swans, Tufted Ducks and Coot.
The second hide overlooking a small lagoon and reed beds revealed nothing apart from the normal `Swans, Tufties and Coots.
On my way around the lake and back to the Visitor Centre I passed by a large area of reed beds again swaying gently in the breeze but by now the clouds had increased and there was little sun to make them glow.

 And then my highlight of the day Four Goldfinches settled and started to feed in, what I think, is an Alder tree and accompanying them a single Lesser Redpoll (a year tick for me!) I did however managed to get a couple of photos (in poor light) clicked off before they where gone. 

All in all a pleasant few hours.


holdingmoments said...

I enjoyed that Trevor. Not been there for a while, and that's whetted my appetite :)
Lovely shot of the Lesser Redpoll, and the serenading Robin.

The Herald said...

Thanks Keith, I enjoyed the day out but was a bit disappointed that I didn`t see much out of the ordinary.But in hindsight I didn`t venture too far away from the beaten track. Maybe next time I`ll explore a bit more.

Linda said...

These are all beautiful, Trevor, but that last image is wonderful.

The Herald said...

Thank you Linda. Yeh,a lucky shot really, the light had gone and it settled in a tree no more than 10yards from were I was standing. :)