A Grey Day at Willen Lake

Mute Swan - Willen Lake
Mute Swan - Willen Lake
As you may recall one of the top 5 birding locations in Milton Keynes is Willen lake (well according to my post), and while it has not been producing like it used to, a combination of more people, more water sports on the south lake, less monitoring and a sodding great road through the middle, it does sometimes turn up the odd good local bird, and it was a long staying (around a week so far) Slavonian Grebe that I went there to see and attempt to photograph.

Willen Lake

Arriving in the car-park beside the hotel, I was ready for my long search, only it wasn't one, the Slavonian Grebe was feeding in the shallow water just beyond the pontoon floating a few yards out from the hotel! Allowing me a few photos before heading off into the middle of the lake I couldn't believe my luck, I don't think I have ever found a target bird so quickly! In terms of other local birds I was very pleased to have a Grey Wagtail land almost at my feet (very briefly) and managed to note a few winter ducks, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and a lone Goldeneye, some distance off. And when a Kingfisher flew past my nose I knew it was a good day.

Slavonian Grebe (No crop) - Willen Lake
Slavonian Grebe (No crop) - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Photographed as soon as I got to lake.
Cormorant on Pontoon - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Cormorant on Pontoon - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes



I decided rather than give up on the Slav grebe I would skirt around Willen towards the bandstand, in the direction the kingfisher had flown, and I am so glad I did, not only did I have more views of the kingfisher, but I heard Great-spotted Woodpecker and had amazingly close views of the grebe again (although only managing one photo of it at it's closest I think you will agree it is a cracker!).

Slavonian Grebe (slight crop but much closer than above) - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Slavonian Grebe (slight crop but bird was much closer than above) - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

Great-Crested Grebe - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Great-Crested Grebe - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

Black-Headed Gull (in flight) - South Lake, Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Black-Headed Gull (in flight) - South Lake, Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Grey Heron (flight) - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Grey Heron (flight) - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

North Lake


After the grebe sailed off into the distance again I decided to take in the North lake, the nature reserve side of Willen, and no sooner did I have sight of the lake when a Cetti's Warbler burst into song amongst the reeds, an amazing song and so, so loud. 

Heading around to the hide (where I managed to warm my freezing hands) I was pleased to see a small party of Eurasian Teal in amongst the low reeds right in front of the hide, and along with the local Black-Headed Gulls and the resident (escaped or feral) Black Swan I was kept amused photographing a few birds I seldom get close to on the patch. I should note here also that there is an injured Cormorant on the North lake, who appears to have a seriously damaged right wing.

Black-Headed Gull (Flight) - Willen Lake North, Milton Keynes
Black-Headed Gull (Flight) - Willen Lake North, Milton Keynes

Black-Headed Gull on post - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Black-Headed Gull on post - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

Coot Run - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Coot Run - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

Eurasian Teal - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Eurasian Teal - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes


Peace Pagoda


I wandered off around to my pickup, passing the peace pagoda looking stunning surrounded in the autumnal trees, and cursed not having a smaller lens to capture it's beauty, but I was pleased to hear a number of Water Rail and see quite a good number of Common Gull and a couple of Reed Buntings.

Reed Bunting - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Reed Bunting - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

Hospice End


While awaiting my lift (thanks mum) I managed to spend a little time capturing photos and video of the lakes duck population (I'll upload the videos when I can) managing to see and shoot Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall and Shoveler all in one small area.

Northern Shoveler - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Northern Shoveler - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

Northern Shoveler - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Northern Shoveler - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

Gadwall - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Gadwall - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

Wigeon - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
Wigeon - Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

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