Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Wednesday 25th April

I has been apparent to me and everyone who listens to my rants that Shustoke Reservoir is a shadow of its former self. It has been a great disappointment for me as I regard it as my favourite and still local patch. Quite why it has become a bit of a birding desert is probably more complex than I can comprehend, also I think it is a combination of factors plus some that I haven’t thought of.

Disturbance is probably a key factor with the Reservoir becoming increasingly popular for recreational use, especially dog walkers. The problem is caused in the main by the circular route being against the skyline, plus when the water level is high there is little distance between the walkers and the birds. Also when dogs run loose they invariably run along the edge or even enter the water. Over the last ten or so years the numbers of waders each year has decreased alarmingly. Also the shoreline has little in the way of open areas as Willow and a variety of shrubs have become well established, especially the once favoured south shore which is the only area with no public access.

The Sailing Club activity has always been a factor and little has changed there, apart from the organised removal of pond weed in the summer. I think this removal has had a detrimental effect on the aquatic life. For me this may well be the reason that most Terns, Gulls, wildfowl and waders no longer use the Reservoir as a staging post on migration. In addition Wildfowl numbers over the last few winters have been nothing short of disastrous from a birding perspective. Even the hirundines and Swifts that used to gather in huge numbers in the Spring and Autumn have largely bypassed the Reservoir.

An average visit in the past would normally result in between 50-60 species in the last couple of years I have been lucky to register over 40 species in an average three hour trip.

I would value any ideas or thought that anyone has, plus if anyone has the ear of Severn Trent or indeed the Sailing Club I would be happy for my thoughts or any others to be passed on.

Since my return from India I have made a couple of visits with the latest being today (Wednesday). It was poor again, the sky is usually full of hirundines etc at this time of year, today I saw 1 Sand Martin, 4 Swift, 4 Swallow. No Gulls, no Terns and just two Common Sandpiper which where clinging onto the only patch of shore line in the South-east corner, but a dog put them up and I didn’t see them again!

There were three singing Blackcap, two singing Chiffchaff and a single displaying Skylark. Also I saw my first Mallard ducklings of the year. There was also a Nuthatch calling so hopefully they have bred. I again searched for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but I haven’t seen them since they deserted a couple of years back through the attention of photographers.

On my way home I stopped again at Little Packington where the Ring Ouzel was showing really well and is now into its fifth day.

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