Monday, I had a famous day off work, so I set off to local 2, Willen Lake. If there were to be Sedge Warblers to be had, this was going to be the place. Last year, Reed and Sedge Warblers seemed to have exclusive rights on the lake.
I needed to get there early, because Willen is a hive of activity on a Holiday Monday. I think half the population of Milton Keynes descend on its shores; thankfully mainly the south part. I was heading north.
I made my way to the hide, passing the reed beds and bushes along the way, and sure enough, I heard his animated chattering voice taunting me. I stopped for a while, but he was being the master of disguise again. Couldn’t spot him anywhere. I carried on, and reached the hide.
A couple of Oystercatchers over by the island with some Lapwing and Canada Geese. Teal swimming around, pair of Gadwall, a Snipe hiding in the reeds and……...........
Sedge Warbler off to the right, in the bushes chattering away. Then the Cetti’s barked back. Sounds like a challenge. Come and find us!
Another birdwatcher sat down near me, and began scanning the island. 'Pink Footed Goose', he whispered. ‘With the Greylag.’
Sure enough, there it was. I’d missed it earlier.
‘Thanks’, I said. First time I’ve seen one of those.
We chatted for a while, noting a Little Egret flying into the tree with the nesting Herons. A pair of Great Crested Grebes were mating on their scruffy looking nest, floating just in front of the hide, and then the Cetti’s shouted again.
I left the man, and went in search of my quarry. Just down from the hide, is a break in the bushes, and for a short few weeks before nature takes hold, it’s just about manageable to get through. I crept along, listening with straining ears. I could hear the Sedge Warbler, just past where I’d walked. I stopped, and scanned the bushes. Then the Cetti’s, in front. This was getting ridiculous. Two of them, getting me at it. I caught sight of something fly along the bushes; a Reed Bunting. I took a picture anyway.
The two Warblers seemed to be taking it in turns to call, I was going one way, then the other. I spent over an hour in those bushes, up and down. A fleeting glimpse of the Cetti’s was all I was eventually allowed; too fleeting for a picture. But I did manage a slightly out of focus shot of the Sedge Warbler, when he decided to show himself for a moment.
I stayed a while longer, being teased by this pair, and then wandered back to the hide to see if anything else had turned up.
I settled down, and began scanning the distant island. A couple of people popped in and out, and then another chap sat down, and got his scope set up. We chatted for a while, and he told me had been coming here for 32 years. So much had changed over the years he said, and not all for the better. Then, ‘look, a Little Ringed Plover’, he cried. ‘I can see its golden eye.’
I looked, straining my eyes through the binoculars. I couldn’t see anything.
‘Between the two Canada Geese, on the mud.’
I still looked, couldn’t see……..‘ah, yea, got it. That’s small! It looks like a stone on a beach.’
‘Have a look through the scope.’ he said.
I could see it so much clearer now. (Mental note to self, get a scope!)
‘Wow! Another first for me.’ I mumbled.
We chatted for a while longer, and he told me about all the birds that used to come here over the years, before it became the sprawling concrete mass MK is now. A really nice bloke, a mine of information; and then sadly he had to leave. I left shortly after, and made my way back to the car. I noticed a few Bluebells out in flower, and managed a quick shot.
Five hours had flown by, but I’d managed to see the bird I’d come to see.
And a couple of others.