A trip back to see my parents on Sunday handily allowed me to pay a visit to Upton Warren nature reserve which is owned and maintained by the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. This reserve is a real haven for waders and waterfowl and during cold spells has given me by far the best sightings of Water Rail that I have ever had. If you cast your mind back,I last visited in January when it was so cold that every inch of water was frozen and a layer of ice coated almost every surface. This time however the weather was the exact opposite with glorious sunshine and oppressive humidity.
The hide next to the car park delivered the goods with numerous Reed Warblers darting in and out of the reeds at close quarters. Unfortunately they always managed to land just out of sight, or if they did happen to perch out in the open it was only for the briefest of time. As a result I came away photoless. Also showing well was a group of Reed Buntings. Heading over to the main lakes we were treated to a family group of Long Tailed Tits flitting through the trees as well as a pair of Blackcaps. Spring was very much in full flow out on the water, with juvenile Oystercathers, Great Crested Grebes, Canada Geese, Mute Swans, Common Terns, Black Headed Gulls, Mallards, Coots and Moorhens.
It was a nice to surprise to see the Oystercatchers particular considering they are about as far away from the sea as its possible to get in the UK. It’s also worth noting the colour variation in the Mallards that were present at this site. Mallards frequently interbreed with escaped domestic ducks often resulting in mutated plumage, and it would appear that every variation decided to turn up here for a bit of a show. There were white ones, black ones and everything inbetween leading to a degree of confusion for some birders who momentarily thought they were looking at something much rarer.
Next we headed over to the flashes for what turned out to be the highlight of the day. If there is one bird I would never have expected to see in the Midlands a few years ago, it would be the Avocet. But blow me if I didn’t find myself looking at eight Avocet feeding away happily. I can still remember having to travel over to Norfolk to see these magnificent birds, and now here they are in the heart of the country. But that was not the end of the delights to be found. Mixed in with the Avocets were around seven Green Sandpiper, another lifer for me, as well as five Little Ringed Plovers with two very recent hatchlings. It was great fun watching the adults fight off gulls and even a Canada Goose at one point, and reminded me a lot of Springwatch. This time however it seemed that everyone was being good and I am happy to report that were no fatalities.
Away from the birds we found a couple of Woodland Ringlet butterflies, another first for me.
If you do get a chance to visit this site I highly recommend it as the variety and quality of the birds on show is amazing. As well as some of the species that I mentioned here, there are frequent sightings of Bittern and vagrant waders crop up all the time.