Walk report: 23 December 2021 Testwood Lakes with Geoff Nuckley

Testwood Lakes © Glynis Payne

On a murky and “mizzley” morning, a small group gathered for the final field meeting of 2021.

There was limited avian activity on the walk to the hides and identification was hampered by the dull conditions, but Magpie, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch and Jackdaws were noted. Even though it was only just past the shortest day, some early signs of spring were already apparent through the woodland with lots of Alder and Hazel catkins forming as well as the black buds of a lone Ash tree.

Hazel catkins and spider's web © Glynis Payne

The group had to split up owing to Covid restrictions in the hides but we all had fine views of a Great White Egret and Grey Heron, peaceful at first but later having an “argy-bargy” before settling again further apart. 

Great White Egret © Glynis Payne

Grey Heron © Glynis Payne

Active feeders were Mallard, Shoveler and Tufted Duck in the water, Coot on the grass bank between the lakes and Lapwing on the mud. Several Cormorant were resting on the island in the farthest lake where a solitary Great Crested Grebe was also seen.  A “mystery” diving duck was the subject of much discussion - mostly about what it was not!  Pochard was our initial thinking. Fortunately, Glynis managed to get a good photo despite the misty drizzle and Richard Coomber later confirmed that it was indeed a Pochard – an immature drake.

Tufted Duck - adult and immature drakes © Glynis Payne

Pochard - immature drake © Glynis Payne

Leaving the hides for the walk back, a Goldcrest was immediately seen, and another was found further on. Brian, who was ahead of the group, flushed a pair of Pheasants but was not quick enough to bag one for his Christmas dinner! We stopped briefly to look for any activity in the pond in the woodland and were startled when a solitary Roe Deer erupted from the undergrowth alongside us and quickly disappeared into the vegetation on the other side of the path.

Round house, Testwood Lakes © Glynis Payne

Candlesnuff Fungus © Glynis Payne

Puffballs and Oak Curtain Crust had been seen through the woodland and returning towards the car park, a last treat was a fine display of Candle Snuff fungi on tree stumps by the path. GN