Mini-Orchard Beginnings

 If you’ve visited the reserve in the last couple of weeks and have strolled round to Riverwalk Hide, no doubt you’ll have noticed some newly planted trees. These are the beginnings of Ladywalk’s orchard.

 Inspired by other sites in the county, we would like to collect together varieties of orchard fruit that have their origins in Warwickshire. Granted, Warwickshire has never had a rich orchard history as say Worcestershire has, but we would like to keep these varities alive. So by planting an orchard at Ladywalk we hope to; help maintain variety diversity, provide another valuable habitat and food source on the reserve and perhaps even try some of the fruit for ourselves!

 In spring the trees will be excellent for pollinating insects and generally good for a host of invertebrates year round. It’s well known Bullfinches will enjoy snacking on the buds. Redstarts and other migrants may pop in and as the trees mature they will be valuable to species such as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and even nesting sites for Little Owls. Of course the fruit will be attractive too. One of the chose apple varieties fruits early in August whilst the other will hopefully hold onto it’s fruit into the New Year providing a good place to see Fieldfares and Redwings on the reserve.

 So far we have planted six trees in two rows of three. The trees have been staked and we’ve done our best to deter the host of creatures that would like to munch on the tasty, young buds by protecting them with a sheath AND a wire fence, but we’ll see. The soil is incredibly fertile and moist so they should get off to a good start. Concerns were raised over the flooding risk but the site was carefully. It does not waterlog like other areas of the reserve and if flooding should occur it rarely lasts longer than a day.

 As for the varieties, we have chosen two ‘Wyken Pippin’ apples, two ‘Warwickshire Drooper’ plums and two native crab apple trees. The apples are grafted onto an M25 rootstock which controls the ultimate size of the tree. M25 is very vigorous and will produce a full-sized orchard tree of up to 4.5m in height and 6m in spread with lots of wildlife value and that traditional orchard feel. The plums are grafted onto a St. Julian A rooststock producing a tree roughly the same height but perhaps less breadth. The crab apples have been planted in the middle of the orchard so that they aid pollination between the different apple varieties and improve fruit set. A few additional crab apples have also been planted around Rudd Pool by an already mature apple tree to provide another fruiting area in years to come.

 Plans are to extend the rows of the orchard to include two of a rare Warwickshire apple variety called ‘Hunt’s Early’ which I couldn’t find to buy ‘ready-made’ so instead had to preorder to be grafted which will take 18 months! I’ve also heard reports of another Warwickshire apple called ‘Shakespeare’ but couldn’t find any details on it. If anybody has any information on this variety (or any others from Warwickshire) we’d love to hear about it and include the variety in the orchard.

 The varieties are listed below. Suppliers used were Walcot Organic Nursery in Pershore, Worcestershire and Keepers Nursery in Maidstone, Kent. Both have provided excellent service and very healthy trees.

Apple – Wyken Pippin

Origins: The pips of an eaten apple from Holland were planted at Wyken Manor near Coventry in the early 1700’s. The variety is an ancestors of Laxton’s Superb.

Description: Flat, round apples with smooth green skin with fine russet dots. Sometimes with some red flush. Juicy sweet and richly flavoured.

Picking time: Mid October

Season of Use:  Can store until January.

Apple – Hunt’s Early

Origins: Warwickshire, 1884. Was commercially grown in Kent.

Description: A sharp, early season apple. Flushed red.

Picking Time: August

Season of Use: Doesn’t keep, use in August.

Plum – Warwickshire Drooper

Origins: Grown commercially in orchards in Warwickshire and believed to be first known as Magnum though there is some uncertainty as many varieties had the word Magnum in. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that it became known as the Warwickshire Drooper.

Description: A small, yellow plum with reddish speckles. A good multi purpose, good for cooking or leave longer on the tree for a sweet dessert plum. The tree’s branches arch downwards hence the name.

Picking Time: Early September.

Excerpt from Forgotten Fruits by Christopher Stocks:

 “It might sound more like an unfortunate condition than a type of fruit, but this gloriously titled plum is actually named after the way it’s branches droop from the tree, almost giving it the look of a weeping willow. Odd growth habits aside, it’s rather handsome yellow, egg-shaped fruits are excellent for cooking and preserving, and at their best they make a decent dessert plum. It was once a popular variety, widely planted in the Midlands and sent to the London markets, but today it is rather rare, and well worth cultivating. In it’s county of origin the fruit was sometimes fermented to make an alcoholic drink know as Plum Jerkum, which was reputed to ‘leave the head clear while paralysing the legs’ and whose exciting effects surely deserve to be rediscovered.”

 For those interested in planting local fruit varieties no matter where they live, I’ve found  the above mentioned title and the The Apple Source Book by Sue Clifford to both be very useful. Planting trees is always a good thing to do but planting local fruit trees will reap many benefits.


October WeBS Count

  Though the miserable weather did make hiking around Ladywalk pretty unpleasant the flooding has really shifted the birds on to the pools. The new scrapes at B pools look superb with good numbers of duck close up to Bittern Hide and nearly 100 Black-headed Gulls enjoying the floodwaters. The long-staying and content juvenile Garganey remains in New Bay along with the female Pintail and a few Snipe.

  Please be aware that the footpaths between Bittern & B Hides are under water at the moment though passable with wellies. As we waded through, up went about 50 Mallards and a few Teal who were quite happily dabbling amongst the weeds. Pete did the stretch from the outfall to the main gates at Ladywalk counting 10 Chiffs and a couple of Blackcaps. Other passerines were hard to come by, just a few Redwings over, 3 Willow Tits together along Riverwalk (maybe a family party) and a dozen or so Meadow Pipits on the meadows behind the bund on the Whitacre Heath side.

Species List;

Mute Swan (41), Canada Goose (43), Mallard (350), Gadwall (128), Shoveler (78), Wigeon (70), Pintail (1), Teal (105), Garganey (1), Tufted Duck (43), Goosander (3), Little Grebe (18), Great Crested Grebe (1), Cormorant (41), Little Egret (1), Grey Heron (4), Water Rail (3), Moorhen (50), Coot (192), Snipe (3), Black-headed Gull (111), Lesser Black-backed Gull (8), Kingfisher (1).

Autumn 2018 All-Dayer

  Records were broken at the weekend as Ladywalk secured it’s highest autumn total for an all-dayer with a neat 90 species. The team of 6 started pre-dawn as usual and started brightly, kicking off with Tawny and Barn Owls in the gloom. At the north end Pete picked up a distant Marsh Harrier, having been seen earlier at Middleton. Simultaneously, Steve Cawthray picked up a Great White Egret over on Eon Meadows and a good tick in the form of a Snipe whilst a single juvenile Black-tailed Godwit graced Main Pool and was the anomaly in an otherwise migrant wader free day. Overhead passage was a bit thin on the ground, just a handful of Meadow Pipits with 1 Yellow Wag early on but they were accompanied by a number of Grey Wagtails heading south. On the ground things were disappointingly quiet in the cool, blustery conditions. It took an age to find warblers, we finished with just a single Garden and 2 Reed Warblers whilst we failed to find the usual Lesser Whitethroat.

  Breakfast baps and an excess of chocolate doughnuts were enjoyed out in the reeds and we totted up our mornings work – 75 species – perhaps 5-10 species down on the norm at this point, so plenty of gaps to fill. As the rain came down though and the waders refused to fall from the sky, it wasn’t looking good.

  Fortunately, we had a fantastic period after breakfast, mopping up expected species and picking up a few more surprises. Sam and Kev were dedicated in their stakeout for the humble House Sparrow, they picked up a Hobby over B pools and a late Swift bombed through. The Garganey that must be here every day lately was pinned down at the unlikely site of Rudd Pool snoozing with his Gadwall rather than Teal mates and Pete & Steve moved further afield to Whitacre Pool and the waterworks spooking 2 Redstarts along the hedgerows.

  The morning team finished early afternoon with 90 species (we thought it was 88 at the time) leaving Richard Walker to fly the flag late in the day and do his best to find something from a list of no-shows but it wasn’t to be. Species missed that we would expect were Mistle Thrush and Lesser Whitethroat, Red-legged Partridge, Skylark, maybe LSW. Wader-wise anything would have done, we’re not fussy – Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Greenshank- but it didn’t matter. It does show the potential though, that the dream 100 day is possible even at Ladywalk if it all goes your way, though more likely in the spring for us. Bring on May.

  Thanks go to the team; Pete, Steve, Sam, Kev, Mark, Richard and Ben and thanks to the organisers. A pleasure as always to be part of the West Midland All-Dayer.

Species List (WeBS Counts in Brackets)

Mute Swan (18), Greylag Goose, Canada Goose (5), Mallard (162), Gadwall (61), Shoveler (12), Wigeon (7), Teal (73), Garganey (1), Tufted Duck (9), Goosander (6), Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe (9), Great Crested Grebe (5), Cormorant (13), Little Egret (3), Great White Egret (1), Grey Heron (4), Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Water Rail (2), Moorhen (34), Coot (55), Lapwing (1), Black-tailed Godwit (1), Snipe (2), Black-headed Gull (24), Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, Swift, Kingfisher (3), Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail (4 thru north – 1,2,1), Grey Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart (2), Song Thrush, Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer.

Total: 90 species

July Mothfest!

  A fantastic mothing morning at the reserve today. We were on site at 5am to trawl through the clouds of insect life in the traps. Rafts of micros and LBJ’s were interspersed with a gorgeous collection of photogenic specimens. Pretty highlights included multiples of Large Emerald, Bordered Beauty, White Satin Moth, Drinker, Buff Arches and Early Thorn. Rarer finds included the reedbed-dwelling Silky Wainscot (I can’t find any other Ladywalk records yet), our first Double Lobed in a couple of years at the reserve, Blackneck (another potential first) lured in from it’s foodplant – Tufted Vetch – that’s covering the marsh at the moment and most satisfyingly, a single Angle-striped Sallow (scarce in Warwickshire) after our 3 records last year. There was one we weren’t sure about, in the pics below, any ideas? Comments welcome.

  Early summer mornings in the woods are special at the moment. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at the Marsh Helleborines yet, there are still plenty in full flower in the clearing behind Hide B. Have a sit down amongst the orchids and bees and watch out for the resident Marsh & Willow Tits and maybe even Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.


Marsh Helleborine glade

 Species List

Early Thorn 6, Vapourer, Riband Wave 11, Poplar Grey 2, Common Footman 7+, Dingy Footman 9+, Buff Footman 3, White Satin Moth 2, Clouded Border 56+, Common Wave 1, Common White Wave 5, Small Fan-footed Wave 1, Buff-tip 6, Pebble Hook-tip 20, Brimstone 3, Scalloped Oak 2, Peppered Moth 1, Dunbar 17, Poplar Hawkmoth 5, Silver Y 3, Rivulet 1, Mother-of-Pearl 23+, Dingy Shears 36, Single-dotted Wave 5, Flame Carpet 1, July Highflyer 23, Large Yellow Underwing 10, Lesser Yellow Underwing 1, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 1, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 1, Bordered Beauty 2, Double Square Spot 29+, Swallow-tailed Moth 1, Snout 2, Fanfoot 1, Cabbage Moth 1, Dot Moth 3, Bird Cherry/Willow Ermines beyond number, Clay 3, Ingrailed Clay 1, Light Emerald 2, Large Emerald 2, Rustic 24+, Common Rustic 6, Smoky Wainscot 24, Silky Wainscot 1, Double Lobed 1, Crassa unitella 2, Brown China-mark 1, Dark Arches 2, Light Arches 3, Diamond-back Moth 2, Straw Dot 1, Small Magpie 3, Anania coronata 1,  Pale Prominent 1, Coxcomb Prominent 1, Pebble Prominent 1, Blackneck 1, Drinker 1, Buff Arches 2, Sandy Carpet 2, Large Twin-spot Carpet 4, Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet 1, Marbled Minor agg. 6, Common Plume 1, Willow Beauty 2, Engrailed 1, Spectacle 1, Flame Shoulder 1, V Pug 1, Ochreous Pug 1, Double-striped Pug 1, Bright-line Brown-eye 4, Angle-striped Sallow 1, Setaceous Hebrew Character 1, Beautiful Hook-tip 1, Mottled Rustic 1, Short-cloaked 1, Ruddy Streak 1, Large Fruit-tree Tortrix 1, Argyresthia brockeella 2, Eudonia sp 30+, Hypsopygia glaucinalis 1, Dingy Shell 2, Marbled White Spot 1.

459 moths counted of 87 species but many, many micros sp. and numbers going unrecorded!


A Night of Prominents

 A really striking collection of May moths were waiting for us at Ladywalk this morning. Prominents were a prominent feature – Swallow and Lesser Swallow (compare below), Pebble and – my favourite – the ridiculous looking Pale Prominent.

 The male Pale Tussock was a nice surprise with it’s incredible furry legs, whilst the White-pinion Spotted and Common Lutestring were both unrecorded last year on the reserve and seem at least uncommon from the amount of past records.

Species List

Red Green Carpet 1, Lesser Swallow Prominent 5, Swallow Prominent 1, Pug sp. 3 (too worn), Muslin Moth 2, Pebble Prominent 5, Pale Prominent 3, Pale Tussock 1, Waved Umber 1, Flame Carpet 2, White-pinion Spotted 1, Clouded Drab 3, Ruddy Streak 1, Clouded Border 1, Lunar Marbled Brown 1, Small Quaker 1, Hebrew Character 1, Common Lutestring 1.

34 moths of 19 species.

pale tussock

May All Dayer 2018

 Highlights of an otherwise slow day were a stunning male Redstart around Whitacre Pool and a Yellow Wagtail on Bittern Hide Flashes. More surprisingly was a very late Redwing, tseeping over the car park at 4am! As always it’s nice to gather 10 species of warbler on the reserve and to clear up on the diffcult resident species.

 I think a Ladywalk total of 93 species on a day like yesterday was impressive. It’s a comparatively small reserve with less contributors than other sites taking part in the all dayer. The reserve though is species rich and diverse in it’s habitats, making it a really good day out and not just for birds…

 The place was dripping with butterflies. Multiples of Brimstone, Large White, Green-veined White, Orange-tip, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma and Speckled Wood were all seen, though particularly large numbers of Orange-tip were flitting over the swathes of flowering Garlic Mustard. The first Odonata of the season were noted too, a male and female Banded Demoiselle basking in the sun along the entrance track to the reserve.

Species List

Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Swift, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

93 species

Ladywalk Trail Cam Review (Jan-March)

Dates 1/1/18 to 29/3/18                                                      Area    No.2

           Species          Notes Rec sightings
Badgers Numbers and in good condition       14
Foxes Numbers and in good condition       17
Muntjac deer Numbers and in good condition       59
Grey squirrel Numbers and in good condition       95
Rabbit Numbers and in good condition       27
Brown Rat Numbers and in good condition       29
Wood mice Numbers and in good condition       47
Otter Numbers and in good condition

There seems to be 3-4 on multiple visits

Bank vole Was being eaten by kestrel at time         1
Polecat Good condition         2

  In area No.2 we have used 3 trail cams that have be moved on a weekly basis giving an overall reading of the area. 2 trail cams have monitored the area were possible otter sightings may be made and we are using 1 trail cam to monitor the badger sett (not included in survey results).

 The weather conditions over this time have ranged from rain, standing snow to damp and the temperature has fallen to below freezing for extended periods.


 Foxes and badgers are both unregularly visiting this part of the reserve. The farther you go to the south end of the reserve towards the river Tame the less is seen of them. This lack of numbers may be due to the females being underground with young and the males staying close to their breeding females in both cases at this time of year leaving only the dog fox’s and male badgers at large. There seems to be very little foraging activity by them both in this area, just the occasional visitor. We will see if this is a seasonal thing over the year with spot testing of the previously sampled areas.

 The muntjacs continue to graze the site being seen regularly. Any of the young deer we have observed with the females in our past surveying have now become self-sufficient and have left their mothers grazing and wondering by themselves. They are unmistakably young ones. There is still plenty of green foliage on the site for them to eat despite the muntjacs ability to survive on dead leaves if it needs to. The cold temperatures have had no effect on them what so ever come rain, ice or snow.


A lone muntjac deer braving the weather and minus temperatures on an early February morning to graze on the grass land to the side of the A hide.

 There are Grey Squirrels in numbers throughout the area as we expected and a healthy population of Rabbits in the wooded and grassy areas of the reserve and both can be seen out feeding throughout the year.

 The Wood Mice live in the grassy areas as well as the wooded areas and are in abundant numbers across the surveyed areas up to now. As you move towards the river Tame there is an increasing number of Brown Rats living in the banks and undergrowth. They are active mainly at dawn and dusk but can be seen throughout the day if you are lucky.

 We have had 2 Polecats sightings on separate occasions over the last three weeks of testing. A species making a comeback.  We must investigate further over the next few months to see if this is a visitor or occupant of Ladywalk.

 An unexpected bonus whilst we have been observing this area for the otters was a Water Rail that uses the inlet pipe constantly to access the River Tame.

The Otters at LadywalkFeb 2018

 The Otters have been the stars of the last few months for us and this is what we have learned. There are 3 possibly 4 otters entering the reserve on a regular basis through the inlet pipe from the river Tame to the trench leading to the Rudd pool before moving off across the reserve. Only one otter exits this way so we hope to pick up the trail of the others at another point in the future.

 This area is where we have seen the otters scenting, scratching and rolling and is defined by the large pile of loose grass and spraint that the otters have left. It was noticeable each and every time an otter passed by this area, it smelt and scented this point so must be significant scenting post for them. There is a distinct fixed run worn in the grass on the route that the otters are taking along the grass bank by the trench and looks to have been used for some time.

 Otter tracks can be found along the banks of the river and in the wet mud. Unusually in this case showing the webbing photographed on the soft sand by the new inlet. Generally just the pads and claws imprint. They leave 80mm wide strides and when running 300mm – 600mm wide prints.


Otter footprint

  The otter spraint is irregular sometimes short and rounded pile of droppings. Segments with flattened masses containing fish bones and scales. It is most often found on the banks of streams ponds on logs or rocks in the water. It may when fresh look a greenish colour. This marks the otters range defending its territory and helping neighbours keep in social contact with one another.

  Otter behaviour. We have watched this pair of otters involved in vigorous chasing and play fighting, rolling and sliding on and over each other. This went on for quite some time and was very vocal with high pitched squeaks rather than the whickering chatter it makes when threatening. We observed this behaviour over a number of evenings. This is thought to be part of the courtship display. This takes place with the pair staying together for about a week. They can mate on land or in the water. Otters carry their young for 61-63 days but can prolong it for over 9 months and have a litter up to 4 pups. They can mate all year around but mainly in the spring and otters mate for life.

  We will continue to monitor the otters.  Overtime we will attempt to find more tracks and trails of the otters across the reserve to gather more information on their movements and habits possibly with young in the months to come with luck.

The Badger Sett  January – March 2018

  There are three distinct setts with many entrances and spoil heaps covering a large area. We will only follow the one sett. We know it is decades old and Is very active by the presence of fresh spoil heaps as well as discarded bedding in the area. There are many individuals of different sizes in this family group using the sett and at this point we have no idea how many. We are and will continue to watching their comings and goings, and looking for identifying features among them. This can be done by comparing size, their white patches vary in size and shape and tail width and lengths as well as scars. We have seen a range of behaviours from scenting, greetings, grooming each other as well as badger politics with posturing, disagreements and disputes.

 There is continuous activity across the sett with all local members checking out the activities of their neighbours and inspecting the many sett entrances. Badgers live in complex social groups, which average about five adults. There is usually a slight preponderance of females because of the higher mortality of males in fights and on roads. Only some females breed. Those that do not are generally smaller and more likely to carry scars on their rumps from fights. Cubs of subordinate sows may be killed soon after birth by dominant sows and left outside the sett. During fights badgers often bite each other’s rumps, tearing off chunks of skin and flesh. Males fight in spring and late summer, when they are mating; females throughout the year.

 It was great to see badger tracks in the snow with clear outlines of pads and claws. Badgers front feet usually have longer claws than its back foot and the stride varies on the pace the badger is moving as well as its size.

 Latrines (dung pits) can as I understand it vary in size, but they are generally around 15cm across and up to 15cm deep as we have found. They will slowly be filled with dung over a period, until almost full, whereupon a new one will be dug nearby. The faeces may also contain evidence as to the badgers diet. Black and slimy, implies a worm-rich diet. However, there may also be evidence of cereal, grains, seeds or even insect casings. It would seem that at this time of year our badgers mainly feast on worms. Badgers will also use their musk and urine spread across their range to mark their territory; so neighbouring clans know where the boundaries lie. This may not apply with more than one sett in such a confined area were boundaries can’t be used effectively.

 Regularly used badger tracks through woodland and fields can be recognised by the height of the plants and growth above the tracks. These may have been used for generations and can be found in many areas of the Ladywalk site.

  The badgers are extremely sociable with males grooming each other outside the entrance to the sett and scenting by bum rubbing to mix there unique blended scent to distinguish themselves as part of their family group. Outsiders are driven off by fighting and rump biting especially during early spring. This takes place from February which is also when most of the young are born.  Females may move their cubs to new nests if disturbed by amorous males. This can be seen from holes with fresh spoil heaps in march.

 Sows normally lactate for at least 12 weeks, sometimes considerably longer if food is hard to come by for cubs as they learn to forage. Cubs are usually fully weaned at around 15 weeks. Juveniles often play around the sett particularly leap frog and king of the castle.

 The staple food of badgers is usually earthworms which generally make up around 80% of their diet. They can eat several hundred worms each night, but being omnivorous they will eat almost anything, from flesh and fruit to bulbs and bird eggs. They also eat slugs and insects and have a keen sense of smell and sharp claws that can root up grubs from under the soil surface. Fruit also features on the menu, including apples, pears, plums and elderberries – you can often find elder bushes growing near to the setts. They will eat nuts, seeds and acorns along with crops like wheat and sweetcorn.

 With the end of one season starts the next and for us the prospect of the start of surveying area 3 over the future months as well as any unexpected subjects of interest that may crop up along the way.

 We will continue to monitor the Otters.  Overtime we will attempt to find more tracks and trails of the otters across the reserve to gather more information on their movements and habits possibly with young in the months to come with luck.

 We intend to continue monitor the badger sett over the next year and possibly on from there to watch their social behaviours and see if the HS2 development has impact on the sett and to what level. We will keep you up to date with what we find as we go along.

Crane for Ladywalk & April Mothing

 Fantastic news and a nice reward for some on the maintenance day was a Common Crane! Seen flying low over reserve at 15:40 by Pete Sofley, it came in from the southwest and over the pools calling. Pete lost it through the trees but A&A Brooks had it from Riverwalk Hide heading north up the valley towards RSPB Middleton Lakes. It was noted flying over there not long after by the wardens:

Oh heck a ⭐️ Crane ⭐️ has just flown north over the silt pond, was high but if anyone is on site, especially around North Pit they should see it!!!”

 So an excellent record for the reserve but not the first. Back in the year 2000, Steve Cawthray was in the right place at the right time. “A party of six was seen flying over Ladywalk towards dusk on October 19th calling loudly SLC. They appeared to land in meadows to the south along the nearby River Blythe, but could not be located the following morning”.  Taken from the WMBC Report from 2000, that record was just the 2nd for modern Warwickshire at the time.

 With many eyes on the reserve, spring really seemed to kick off with 3 Yellow Wagtails, House Martin and Sedge Warbler – all firsts for the year – as well as another Tree Pipit and a visit from a Great White Egret.

 As the birds are now breeding, maintenance was scaled down to avoid disturbance. There is always plenty to do though and 60-70 bags(!) of rubbish were picked up along the river circuit after the flooding. A depressing job but a satisfying result.

 The moth season began on Sunday night at long last. Waiting for a night that wasn’t freezing and/or chucking it down meant we’ve been waiting quite a while. The recorded temperature was a reasonable 4.6C and resulted in 43 moths of 7 species. Nice to see the subtle variations from one moth to the next in the Engrailed pictures below.

Diurnea fagella 1, Clouded Drab 7, Early Thorn 1, Engrailed 2, Common Quaker 12, Twin-Spot Quaker 3, Hebrew Character 17.

March WeBS

  Due to circumstances I had to complete the count on the Saturday this month. I avoided most of the snow but didn’t escape the fierce and bitter easterly wind that was whipping across the reserve. Any sensible bird was huddled down in a sheltered corner, with many birds on the river again. I think a lot was hiding from me yesterday, deep in the willows. I was hoping for a displaced wader or gull but not to be. Waterfowl highlights included a female Pintail on Main Pool and the Oystercatcher pair were seen mating, let’s hope they are succesful this year.

  I was glad to catch up with my first Sand Martin of the year over Main Pool, though I did feel sorry for it as it battled into a easterly blizzard. He must be kicking himself for being so impatient. Elsewhere 2-3 Chifchaffs were singing during the brief sunny spells and a Willow Tit was around the newly coppiced area. Unsurprisingly quiet.

Species List

Mute Swan 10, Canada Goose 17, Shelduck 5, Mallard 67, Gadwall 42, Shoveler 66, Wigeon 50, Pintail 1, Teal 125, Tufted Duck 71, Pochard 3, Goosander 7, Little Grebe 11, Great Crested Grebe 2, Cormorant 39, Grey Heron 1, Moorhen 18, Coot 41, Oystercatcher 2, Black-headed Gull 45, Lesser Black-backed Gull 4.

Ladywalk Breeding Report 2017

 Fifteen visits were made, across the whole reserve in the period between 6 April and 18 August, each visit approx. 5-6 hours in duration. As was the case last year I split the reserve into 12 transects and my methodology was again to list all birds in each transect by sound or sight on each visit. The reporting details that follow are largely from my notes, plus information from other sources such as ringing records from Dave Clifton, information from Pete Sofley (reserve warden) and Twitter. I am sure that there are other peoples records that can enhance this report. If so please forward it to me via

The transects are as follows –
Transect 1 – from car park to the double gates
Transect 2 – from double gates to Sainsbury Hide.
Transect 3 – at Sainsbury Hide
Transect 4 – from Sainsbury Hide to Rudd Hide *
Transect 5 – at Rudd Hide
Transect 6 – from Rudd Hide to Riverbank Hide*
Transect 7 – at Riverbank Hide
Transect 8 – from Riverbank Hide to Bittern Hide*
Transect 9 – at Bittern hide
Transect 10 – from Bittern Hide to B Hide*
Transect 11 – at B Hide
Transect 12 – from B Hide to Lock Up inc. the wood & fishing pools*
*Or vice versa

Visits were normally between approx. 8am and early afternoon and were dated –
6 April          16 June
14 April        22 June
21 April        29 June
27 April        6 July
11 May          20 July
18 May          3 August
22 May          18 August
1 June


  The summer of 2017 did not have the heavy rain and flooding that blighted the 2016 breeding season. April’s weather was mostly dry and sunny with about half the average rainfall for the month. May remained mostly dry and sunny although the rainfall was about average. The dry sunny and warm weather continued well into June with temperatures reaching 30 degrees on several days. There were few wet days and we received about average rainfall. July saw about average rainfall with the first half of the month warm and sunny, with a cooler and wetter second half of the month. August’s weather was variable with average rainfall. There were some periods of hot weather, notably between 25th and 28th but there were often drizzly and overcast conditions.

Summary for the 2017 Breeding Season

Little Grebe appear to have done better in 2017. Pairs were present on both Main and B Pools in April and May. An adult and young bird were seen on Main Pool on 3 August and this or another immature was seen on the 26th. B Pool held 1+2 and a pair +2 also on 3rd August so this date yielded three broods across the reserve.
Again the Fishing Pools seemed the safest breeding environment for this species with an unrecorded group of young birds seen on 11 May and three minute young birds seen on 22 June. A brood were seen here on 7 July and 1+2, presumably from another pair, or second brood seen on 3 August.

Great Crested Grebe pairs were both on Main and B Pools in April and May and there was a nest very prominent on Main Pool, below Riverbank Hide which produced three young birds. However on my visit on 1 June there was a crow consuming one of the young, the crow having stolen the juvenile from an offending lesser black backed gull. Within minutes the same or another gull then took another juvenile, but the remaining youngster survived and was seen on subsequent visits. A pair also nested on B Pool, producing one youngster that was seen on several occasions in June.

Great-crested Grebe

Great-crested Grebe (Pete Lichfield)

Cormorants nested in the same location as last year and during my visits I counted between 16 and 20 nests. I suspect there were 17 nests, which may be a little less than in 2016, and by 18 May many held nestlings that eventually found their way to the main pool.

Little Egret was occasionally seen on the reserve but no sign of them breeding here, compared with RSPB Middleton, and they did not associate with the breeding cormorants.

Grey Heron As the summer progressed juveniles were seen on the reserve from one or two local heronries.

Mute Swan On 1 June there was a pair and six cygnets on Main Pool although I had not seen a nest on the reserve. This family were seen on various pools but appeared to lose a cygnet within a few weeks, and this pair + five remain on the reserve as of December 2017.

Canada Goose A successful breeder but nests were not easy to locate. On 21 April there were two nests seen at Main Pool whilst on 18 May there were 126 birds on the meadow including one family, and broods of five and nine goslings on the adjacent pool. Also on this date there was a brood of eight on the river island. On 11 May there was a bird on its nest at Main Pool when there were broods of eleven and seven on the river.

Shelduck None were seen on the reserve after April, when there were one or two pairs with both pairs in conflict with each other on 14 April.

Gadwall appear to have been more successful this year particularly at B Pools. However the first brood was a pair with three young on the river on 27 April. Previously several pairs had been seen on the river, but at B Pools there were 12 pairs on 22 May, with two broods reported on 16 June, and on 22 June there was a brood of nine with the female acting aggressively to a crow. By the end of June, through July and August, birds with broods were regular at B Pools with a report of one having 15 ducklings.
Pete Sofley has reported that there were 12 broods across the reserve producing 100+ ducklings.

Teal Small numbers remained on the Reserve during April, but no sign of breeding.

Mallard Many broods seen with the first being a 1+7 on the river on 27 April Broods across the reserve were as follows-
8 May – female + 8 and 2+6 West Bay; pr + 10 Main Pool
11 May – pair + 3 and female +3 on the river and the above pr with 10 ducklings at Main Pool seen again. 2+9 little ones on the river and elsewhere on the river, 1+5
18 May – 1+8 (Main Pool) and female +9 (river); 1+7 on river; two more broods totaling seven also on the river, 1+5 at B Pools.
22 May – 1+8, 2+3 and 1+10 smaller ones, all on Main Pool and there was a female +8 on the river, prob. the family I saw there on 18th. 1+5 (river)
1 June – a brood at West Bay, and 1+9 and 1+7 at Main Pool; female and 5 five large ones on the river. 1+8 in front of B Hide
16 June- 4 large ducklings on river, 1+7 (Main Pool) and 1+5 (river). The latter has lost two ducklings since 11 May but this number of ducklings remained when I saw them twice subsequently. Also on this date was a large brood at B Pools and two other broods totaling 11 ducklings on the pool as well as 1+7 at the fishing pools
22 June – 1 +4 and another brood (Rudd) and 1+6, 1+5 as well as some older ducklings all on the river. There was a brood of seven ducklings in front of B Hide
29 June – 1+4 (as above, Rudd); 1+8 small ones on the river; 1+2 Fishing Pools
6 July – 1+7 large ones on the river
7 July – 1+7 fishing pools and these seen again here a month later
20 July – family of five at Rudd, 1+5 (river); 12+7 medium sized ducklings at B Pool
18 August – 1+5.
This is an exhaustive list and mirrors a more successful breeding season than last year. Many broods were seen on the river and it is possible that there has been some double counting.

Shoveler were present on the Main Pool in April. They were reported to have bred in the small pools off B Pool and 5/6 ducklings were reported on 9 June and I saw two juveniles on B Pool on 6 July.

Tufted Duck Pairs were regular across the reserve throughout the spring and summer and first breed reported (Twitter) on 22 July. I first saw ducklings on 3 August (female+4, Main Pool) and another brood of seven quite small ducklings on 18 August.

Goosander Adults noted normally on the river, and there were reports of one duckling on 21 April, a brood of seven from 22 May and reference to a third brood, of nine, on 6 June.

Sparrowhawk Only seen occasionally and no evidence that it has bred on the reserve since 2015.

Buzzard Regularly seen on or over the reserve. There was a large nest in a birch behind the lock up and this may have belonged to this species.

Kestrel Unlike 2016 this was rarely seen during my visits and no evidence of breeding.

Peregrine Falcon Calls from young bird(s) regularly in the car park area and they were often on the pylon nearby. I am informed that three fledged from a nest on a nearby warehouse.

Hobby Birds were present on the reserve between August and late September and probably bred locally.

Pheasant This bird appeared less numerous on the reserve this year but unlike last year there was clear evidence of breeding. On 22 June I came across a female feigning injury with a chick nearby on the track at Transect 2. Also a working party had 1+7 below A Hide.

Water Rail Although I saw little evidence of birds on the reserve during spring / summer there were positive reports about this species’ breeding status. Two adults with two/three juveniles were reported at north pool sluice and juveniles seen with adults below Riverwalk and B Hides. It is possible that there were at least three / four breeding pairs.


Water Rail (Pete Lichfield)

Moorhen First family of the year were again on keyhole scrape where there was one juvenile on 18 May which was seen subsequently. Birds were regular on Main and B Pools with 1+3 small ones at the former and at least one small brood (two) seen on several occasions at B Pool. This could have been less successful than last year.

Coot There were two nests at Keyhole Scrape in April and a young bird seen on 11 May
At Rudd Pool – 14 April 1+1 on nest
27 April 3 young left a nest
11 May – Unoccupied nest
18 May 1+1
1 June One on nest in reeds
On 22 June 1+4 small young, a large juvenile and an adult with nest material
29 June – 2+2, a large immature and another nest being constructed
7 July – 2+1
26 July – 2+2 big ones, a large juvenile and further nest building
3 August a young bird on the nest
At Main Pool – 22 May – two nests West Bay
1 June – now four nests
29 June 2+2 small ones
Juvenile seen on river on 6 July
B Pools – – 21 April – nest on raft opposite B Hide
27 April above nest and 1+2
11 May – two broods (2,4) inc. from raft nest
18 May – above 1+4 again seen
22 May – three broods totaling 8 imms.
18 June 1+1
22 June – two large juveniles but only one seen 29th
6 July – two broods of three & four
3 August – about three broods of about eight imms.
Fishing Pools – immature seen on 29 June

Oystercatcher A pair were present at the main pool in April and were seen at a nest on one of the islands on 27 April and 11 May but by 18 May this had been predated. This is at least the third consecutive year when they have been unsuccessful. The birds remained into June including on the 16th when one vociferously mobbed an osprey high over the reserve.

Little Ringed Plover Occasionally seen on the reserve but did not breed there. On 16 June B Pool held four birds inc. three juveniles that had been raised elsewhere. Twitter reports that on 17 July there were four juveniles that had originated from elsewhere.

Lapwing Up to four seen from Riverbank Hide in April / May and one probably on a nest on both on 21 April and 22 May. There is no evidence that these nests were successful, predated, quite possibly by foxes.
Two pairs also recorded at Main Pool on 1 June and by late June / early July up to 50 birds were present – obviously from elsewhere.

Black-headed Gull Up to about 20 birds, including juveniles from elsewhere.
Present in the breeding season and may breed in the future.

Common Tern There appeared to be less of a presence this year but reports of a pair displaying over the main pool may lead to optimism about future breeding and there is a plan to position tern rafts.

Stock Dove These remain regularly across the reserve especially in the line of poplars by the fishing pools. Dave Clifton, ringer, reported that eight nests were in nestboxes across the reserve, but at least three nests failed. (see list below).

Nest Date Comments
1 29/3/2017 2 newly hatched young
13/4/2017 Predated – squirrel
2 29/3/2017 2 warm eggs
13/4/2017 Predated – squirrel
3 29/3/2017 2 eggs
13/4/2017 cold eggs
4 23/5/2017 1 large chick
5 23/5/2017 1 large chick
6 23/5/2017 2 warm eggs
7 23/5/2017 2 large chicks
8 23/5/2017 2 large chicks

Feral Pigeons are also regular on the reserve and a pair nested later in the season in a box near the lock up.

Wood Pigeon Constantly on the reserve, where it is sure to have bred in several locations.

Cuckoo Up to three birds seen or heard on the reserve in April, May and early June, including a female on 11 & 18 May and 1 June. A juvenile reported on 7 August via Twitter.

Tawny Owl Nestboxes were again not used this year and there appears to be no clear information about this species breeding on the reserve. Young birds possibly heard on 29 June between Bittern and Riverbank Hides

Kingfisher Regularly seen or heard along the river. On 27 May one was on the riverbank between Riverbank and Bittern Hides, near to the sand martins’ nests and there were also two heard here on 6 July. They are likely to have nested here and it is possible that one or two pairs nested on or near the reserve, with a report on Twitter of a brood on 9 June.

Green Woodpecker Did not seem to be as numerous at great spotted woodpecker and during April and May the most regular location was in the area of the Fishing Pools, particularly in the poplars there. Young birds heard in a nest in one of those trees on 18 May may have been this species. There may have been a second pair elsewhere.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Regularly seen on most visits to the reserve, including three by the car park on 6 April. Young birds, prob. of this species, were heard from a nest on track towards lock up on several occasions in May, inc. a juvenile nearby. Also young heard in a nest in the poplars at the top end of the reserve. They were also regular on the two bird hide feeders, inc. a juvenile on 3 August by B Hide.
It is likely there were more nests than those listed above – at least four nests?

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Not encountered by me but there were reports of a pair in the breeding season, inc. carrying food so likely to have nested on or near the reserve.

Swallow Regular over the reserve and on 20 July young birds over Main Pool probably originated from nests at the stables adjacent to the reserve.

House Martin Small nos. of this species over but did not breed at the reserve.

Sand Martin Present on the reserve from approx. 6 April and 30 seen on 14th. More often in the B Pools area and they appear to have nested in the bank between Riverbank and Bittern Hide, where they were seen to gather nest material. They also appeared to nest by the island in the river by transect Two. Difficult to ascertain nesting success as it was not possible to count the holes but unlike in 2016 there were no problems of serious flooding. It is hoped that the nest sites did not become too overgrown.

Grey Wagtail In April, May and June birds were occasionally seen by the river. On 3 & 18 August two juveniles seen by the fishing pools, these were prob. the two young birds reported by the river on 30 April.

Pied Wagtail recorded as a breeder last year but seen less regularly in 2017. Seen by the river most often, and in front of Riverbank Hide on 18 May, plus by B Hide on 6 April and 16 June. An adult with a young bird was photographed near the car park on 1 June.

Wren Numerous with singing birds all over the reserve. Numbers appear about the same as last year when I estimated 24-30 pairs on the reserve. The most birds seen / heard was 36 on 1 June. A family seen at transect 1 on 6 July and 2+2 seen in same area on 3 August. Other families seen transect 8 on 18 May, T12 on 22 May and in the same area a family group of at least three birds on 29 June. 15 were ringed / caught on the reserve.

Dunnock Pairs were often seen together and I estimate at least ten pairs across the reserve on the basis of sightings and song. A family party was seen on 20 July from Hide A and on 18 August two juveniles were seen at T8.

Robin Maximum of 19 birds seen / heard was on 18 May which is an increase over 2016. Juvenile birds were seen at various locations on the reserve on six occasions in June, July and August.

Blackbird Highest number recorded across the transects was 16 on 18 May so this could be the approximate number of pairs. No nests were found although one was seen with food on transect 6 on 22 June.

Song Thrush regular but not in large nos. on the reserve. On 29 June there was the exceptional number of 18 on the reserve but up to seven being encountered across the reserve more typical, suggesting approx.. five breeding pairs. Seen or heard most often in the tall poplars and a pair probably bred between Riverbank & Bittern Hides.

Cetti’s Warbler A good indication of the number of birds on the reserve is that five birds were ringed this year, but in addition there were 15 retraps. Two of these were from 2016, one from 2013 and there was a 2015 bird ringed at Tring, Herts. Maximum encountered on a day was six on 14 April, although one was over the river. They were seen or heard most often at B Hide but encountered at times in all the reedbeds. The ringing report suspected that at least two pairs bred, in or close to the marsh ringing site as three young birds were ringed. At least one pair nested near B Hide as evidenced by a report on Twitter by SLC on 29 May.


Cetti’s Warbler (Pete Lichfield)

Grasshopper Warbler Birds were noted as reeling on the reserve in early and late spring, and again in July which suggested a second brood. It is therefore thought likely that this species bred on the reserve.

Sedge Warbler Ringing information is again possibly of more use in determining true numbers and 19 were ringed this year, with 5 retraps. Regular in the area around Bittern Hide, with a pair seen together on 1 June. Also, like Cetti’s they were regular in front of B Hide with sightings, or heard, on seven dates, inc. at least three on 10 May. Highest count of birds seen / heard across the transects was eight on 18 May.

Reed Warbler 73 birds were ringed, of which 39 were new ringings. Of the 34 retraps/recoveries one remarkably had been originally ringed at Ladywalk in 2006, and there were another 16 retraps originally ringed between 2011 and 2016. It was impossible to record this number through my survey, the most I recorded on a visit was five on 18 May. Quite regular from Rudd Hide and like sedge and Cettis regular at B Hide where one was seen with nesting material on 27 April.

Lesser Whitethroat Not recorded on my visits this year.

Common Whitethroat Highest number in a day was seven on 11 May, a lower number than last year on the same date and they did not appear to be as regular in 2017. They were most common between Riverbank & Bittern Hides, with six in that area on 29 June. Also on this date a family was sighted between Riverbank & Rudd Hides. This species normally give the presence of families away by their alarm calls but there seemed little evidence of this in 2017. Estimate of 5-7 nesting pairs.

Garden Warbler seemed to be loyal and prominent in specific areas of the reserve. For example one was heard regularly over the river between the car park and reserve gate (but not on the reserve) and very likely to have bred by the wooden bridge behind B Hide. A pair were there on 27 April, seen / heard regularly and were still there on 20 July. On 18 May two pairs were seen on T6, with one of the birds holding nesting material and this was the date that most birds were recorded on the reserve – ten. Elsewhere (transect 12) two birds and an immature were seen on 3 August. It appears that about four pairs bred on the reserve.

Blackcap Again this was the most numerous summer visitor with 21 birds seen or heard on 1 June, and the high number was reflected by 17 birds being ringed. From my observations strongholds inc. beside the track between the car park and reserve gate eg six birds and two pairs on 27 April, a juvenile on 29 June and a family on 6 July. They were often in good numbers along the river, a male was seen with food on 1 June between Rudd & Riverbank Hides where they were consistently found. In the same area there was a female and juvenile on 20 July. 15-20 pairs across the reserve again this year?

Chiffchaff Second most numerous summer migrant with 12 birds recorded across the reserve on 21 April, but some of these may have been passing through. 11 on 6 July may have been birds going in the opposite direction. There were 6 birds ringed / retrapped on the reserve. There seemed to be quite strong evidence of successful breeding with families seen on 22 May (T1) and a likely juvenile in the same area on 6 July. A pair prob. nested beside the path to Riverbank Hide and a family was seen twice in this area in August, which may have been a second brood. A family of four was seen in T12 on 6 July and during this month and August there seemed to be a number of chiff-chaffs making contact calls. 6-10 pairs across the reserve?

Willow Warbler Not as common on the reserve as 10-20 years ago and a maximum of ten birds seen / heard during the peak breeding season (11 May) across the reserve. This number may reflect the breeding numbers, rather than the 12 encountered on 18 August when there appears to have been an influx, as evidenced by contact calls between Riverbank and B Hides and a mixed flock inc. this species with chiff-chaffs and tits.

Goldcrest Heard on several occasions, and no evidence of breeding. Interesting that one was ringed this year.

Long-tailed Tit Undoubtedly bred on the reserve as evidenced by family groups regularly seen in many areas. There was an agitated bird behind Riverbank Hide on 21 April, which suggests breeding there and they were often present in this area. Nine birds ringed or retrapped.
Five-seven breeding pairs?

Marsh and Willow Tit There is information that both species bred, and have remained on the reserve into winter, using the feeders. Willow Tit seen in good habitat on 18 May and a pair in same location four days later and another probably in same location on 16 June. One of each species ringed.

Willow Tit

Willow Tit (Pete Lichfield)

Coal Tit Seen most regularly in the birches between the lock-up and A Hide and one seen gathering nest material at the latter location on 6 April. Another location where quite regular was in the vicinity of B Hide such as a pair on the feeders. On 14 April. As there was not a great distance between these two areas and I never encountered more than two birds on a visit it is possible that the reserve only held one breeding pair.

Blue Tit 24 broods (164 pulli) ringed from nestboxes (average 6.8 per nest), with a total of 209 birds ringed / caught inc. retraps. My records inc. birds seen at nestboxes, nos. of family parties and juveniles across the reserve, inc. at the feeders. The most unusual nest site was in the roof of Rudd Hide which produced one brood in the nest for much of May. Ringing records for this species are as follows –

Nest Date Comments
1 13/5/2017 9 ringed
2 13/5/2017 8 ringed
3 13/5/2017 7 ringed
4 13/5/2017 6 ringed
5 13/5/2017 10 ringed
6 13/5/2017 10 ringed
7 13/5/2017 7 ringed
8 13/5/2017 8 ringed
9 13/5/2017 7 ringed
10 13/5/2017 6 ringed
11 16/5/2017 5 ringed
12 20/5/2017 7 ringed
13 20/5/2017 5 ringed
14 20/5/2017 7 ringed

15 20/5/2017 6 ringed
16 20/5/2017 6 ringed
17 20/5/2017 7 ringed
18 20/5/2017 7 ringed
19 20/5/2017 6 ringed
20 20/5/2017 8 ringed
21 20/5/2017 9 ringed
22 20/5/2017 4 ringed
23 24/5/2017 3 ringed
24 24/5/2017 6 ringed
1 6 dead half grown
2 Abandoned 7 eggs
3 8 dead half grown
4 Woodpecker attack at egg stage
5 8 too large – 13/5/17
6 Abandoned 8 eggs
7 Predated at egg stage

Great Tit 21 broods (111 pulli) ringed from nestboxes (average 5.3 per nest), with a total of 142 birds ringed / caught inc. retraps. Similar to above, my records inc. birds seen at nestboxes, nos. of family parties and juveniles across the reserve, inc. at the feeders. No evidence of nest sites other than nestboxes. Ringing records for this species are as follows –

Nest Date Comments
1 13/5/2017 5 ringed
2 13/5/2017 4 ringed
3 13/5/2017 5 ringed
4 13/5/2017 9 ringed
5 13/5/2017 6 ringed
6 13/5/2017 8 ringed
7 13/5/2017 6 ringed
8 13/5/2017 3 ringed
9 13/5/2017 6 ringed
10 13/5/2017 5 ringed
11 13/5/2017 6 ringed
12 13/5/2017 5 ringed
13 13/5/2017 5 ringed
14 13/5/2017 7 ringed
15 13/5/2017 6 ringed
16 13/5/2017 5 ringed
Nest Date Comments
17 13/5/2017 5 ringed
18 16/5/2017 6 ringed
19 20/5/2017 7 ringed
20 24/5/2017 1 ringed
21 24/5/2017 1 ringed
1 Predated 5 half grown
2 5 dead three quarters grown
3 Predated 5 quarter grown
4 Fledged 13/5/17
5 5 dead quarter grown
6 Woodpecker attack 3 dead half grown
7 3 dead full grown
8 7 too large 13/5/17

Nuthatch Regular on the reserve, partic. at the feeders at B Hide where recorded on eight visits. One or two pairs bred. On 16 June I saw a probable juvenile at T2 and SLC reported two, nearby, by reserve gate earlier in the month. Not far away is Transect 12 where I saw a brood of at least four on 6 July.

Treecreeper Encountered more this year than in 2016 – bred in the area of the main gate as in song on 27 April, one or two seen on 22 June and a juvenile on 6 July. Heard on at least three visits in the copse between Rudd and Riverbank Hides and a juvenile seen here on 22 June. Two birds in the copse behind B Hide and heard in this area or along the poplars four times in June – August. One heard in Transect 12 on 16 June, where a juvenile seen on 29 June. Two were together inc. at least one juvenile on 3 August and two were in a mixed flock here on 18 August.
The reserve has many areas of woodland that are suitable for this species and with the additional information that there was also a presence between Riverbank and Bittern Hides it is quite possible that three or four pairs bred.

Jay I saw less evidence of this species across the reserve in 2017 but it is possible that at least two pairs bred. Most commonly seen from or near Sainsbury Hide with two juveniles on 29 June and I am likely to have seen two, possibly the same birds, the following week between Riverbank and Bittern Hides. An immature at T12 seen on at least one occasion and with SLC reporting seven on the reserve on 3 August there was undoubtedly a breeding presence, perhaps two pairs.

Magpie Probably bred at transects 1 & 12 where there are the biggest trees. At the former singletons or pairs seen on five occasions, before a family seen on 6 July, whilst at T12 there was a young bird with an adult on 16 June. There were other sightings elsewhere including on the feeders. Possibly two pairs bred?

Jackdaw Small numbers regularly seen esp. on the grass opposite Riverbank Hide with 15 recorded here on 16 June. No evidence that they actually bred on the reserve.

Carrion Crow Singles or pairs seen across the reserve and an occupied nest above the track on 14 April. One or two pairs prob. bred on reserve.

Raven In 2016 a pair nested on a pylon in meadows the other side of railway / access road to fishing club but I received no information about breeding this year.

Starling Pete Sofley reported two starlings’ nests by 11 May in the willows near to the ringing area (T8).

Chaffinch Not very common on the main reserve but regular at feeders at A&B Hides. Birds were present during the breeding season, with five the maximum. I saw no evidence of breeding but it is possible that two or three pairs bred.

Greenfinch There appeared to be more of this species around the feeders during the breeding season and into the winter. Hide A feeders held most birds, inc. pairs, on most visits, with courtship seen on 11 May. On 20 July a juvenile was seen and on 3 August there were six juveniles in a party of ten, and on the 18th there were three juveniles. On the basis of this one or two pairs may have bred on the reserve.

Goldfinch Pair at the car park feeders on 14 April and small numbers of birds seen or heard throughout the season across the reserve. I saw no evidence of breeding this year but it is possible that one or two pairs may have bred on the reserve.

Linnet As last year, birds most numerous in the area between Riverbank & Bittern Hides, although this year they were more noticeable on the reserve side of the river. No more than four (two pairs) were recorded and a juvenile was seen between the two aforementioned hides on 6 July. It is likely that one or two pairs nested on the reserve and probably a similar no. over the river.

Bullfinch This species seen in most areas of the reserve especially where there is more woodland. Transect one, where regularly seen and heard, held two males and a female on 6 April and a pair the following week. Birds were regular at the Riverbank feeders and likely to have bred nearby, between the latter hide and Rudd, where on 20 July at least three, prob. five were seen together, clearly a family party. On the following visit several birds inc. a juvenile were present. Three / four pairs nested again this year?

Reed Bunting A maximum of six birds encountered on 11 May and numbers recorded were lower than in 2016 although well scattered. The reedbeds between Riverbank and Bittern Hides was most regular with birds heard or seen on nine visits inc. two birds and a juvenile on 20 June. Perhaps there were approx. 6 breeding birds?


Duck breeding was more successful than 2016 with increased nos. of Gadwall and Tufted Duck ducklings and Ladywalk could be the only location in Warwickshire at which shoveler successfully bred. The big gap appears to be the lack of waders breeding and predation seems to be the reason for this. It is possible that Lapwings attempted to nest and Oystercatchers nested on an island but that nest was predated. Whether Crows, Lesser Black-backed Gulls or foxes take the eggs we do not know although a fox scouring the islands on the day of the May bird count did not augur well. We are not sure whether the deeper channels that have been dug around some of the pools and islands will deter them. It is possible that we will have to consider some fencing but that is not easily implemented and could be expensive.

As for smaller birds Wrens are doing well as are Robins. Whilst I am using only two years’ records, Whitethroats and Reed Buntings seemed to be less numerous, but Blackcaps continue to do well. It is pleasing that there has been a continued presence of Willow Tits, and Coal Tit and Nuthatch both appear to have done well on the reserve. Finally there is little more pleasing than the Song Thrush in song and their numbers appear static.

Richard J King
March 2018