A Long Family Walk

A Long Family Walk - Harlequin Ladybird - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
A Long Family Walk

With the boys over this weekend it was an ideal time for a long family walk, and Sunday was our chosen day. However in order to sweeten the pot, we first made a quick pit stop at Wolverton House (a local pub) for their all you can eat breakfast.

This really set us up for the day ahead and so after eating our fill (actually not all that much really) we (Myself, Zoe, Granny, Owen, Toby and Bo) headed out through the side entrance of the pub, and straight onto the path down to the Mill buildings.

A Long Family Walk

It wasn’t long before the birding action got underway and the first of a really good number of migrants were seen. These were a small flock of Yellow Wagtails (between 4 and 6), which flew up from the cattle field between the pub and mill, and scattered all over, This is presumable a family party moving together.

Just around the corner (the site of all the action on Friday) there was still at least one Spotted Flycatcher hanging about. And just  for good measure a distant Red Kite could be seen slowly circling in the thermals. A little further along the river the Swallows and House Martins were putting on a great show; feeding on the multitude of newly hatched flies over the river, along with a couple of Reed Buntings.

Hawkers and Darters

As our walk continued along the river, the number of Migrant Hawkers filling the air, with their staggeringly fast zipping flights, began to build, and soon they were joined by similar numbers of Common Darter. Although the latter preferred to warm up on the path for most of the time, disturbed only by our oncoming footsteps.

In the Odonata world they were joined later by a few Common Blue Damselflies and one or two Brown Hawkers (a species I really need to photograph well for my dragonflies of Milton Keynes page).

One of many Common Darters - Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes
One of many Common Darters – Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes

Manor Farm

After losing two members to fatigue and illness (Granny and Owen were both feeling poorly so we sent them home before continuing under the cattle creep) we entered the Manor Farm side of the canal.

While taking Bo for a sneaky toilet break, Zoe was unfortunate enough to dive into a patch of stinging nettles! She was saving Bo, who slipped in front of her, it would have been much worse if she hadn’t as Bo would have gone head first in!

Doc leaves and drama over we continued our walk around the reserve. Locating a few interesting birds. We spotted one of the Garganey, as well as good numbers of others; 2 Sparrowhawk;Little Egrets; large numbers of Lapwing; as well as the usual water based birds, including 2 adult Mute Swan with 6 cygnets.

Small Tortoiseshell - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Small Tortoiseshell – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes


Small Tortoiseshell - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Small Tortoiseshell – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes


It was on this stretch of the walk that we discovered two things: Firstly that Toby is excellent at getting close to butterflies (he sneaked up within inches of a Small Tortoiseshell only for it to be frightened off by a passing dog, grrr); and secondly that he is really getting into his wildlife.

He was fascinated by the grasshoppers we found, and was enthusing about the magical birds flying all around us. So much so that he decided to stay for the remained of the week so we could go on more nature walks together. He went to bed with a copy of the Collins Bird guide as company, something I used to do.

It made me quite proud really.

Meadow Grasshopper - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Meadow Grasshopper – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes


Meadow Grasshopper - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Another Meadow Grasshopper – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes


Meadow Grasshopper - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Meadow Grasshopper – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes

A Mad Dash

Just as we were approaching the end of the manor farm section, ready to head home along the canal. I received a text from Simon to alert me to the fact that there was a redstart and a wnichat the other side of the canal; near the old lock.

After a little convincing Toby and I left Zoe and Bo to pick blackberries (and join us in a bit) to go see these two birds. On arriving in the area we instantly saw the Common Redstart (another male but not as stunning as Friday’s bird) on a dead tree beside the path, before flying off to bushes a little further away.

Spotting another local birder (and the finder) Martin, we stopped for a chat. He informed us the winchat hadn’t been seen for a while but told us what else was there. Soon we were looking at Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, as well as Chiffchaff and Bullfinch and a small party of Long-tailed Tit.

Then suddenly I spotted the Winchat high in a bush (almost exactly where Martin had said it had been). It then proceeded to give us wonderful views, as did the Redstart again (who was seeing off pretty much any bird that came near it’s preferred perches). Martin even showed myself, Toby and Bo (who had recently arrived) the Winchat through his scope, so many thanks.

Roesel's Bush Cricket - Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes
Roesel’s Bush Cricket – Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes


Female Common Blue Damselfly - Manor Farm, Milton Keynes
Female Common Blue Damselfly – Manor Farm, Milton Keynes

We headed home from here across the fields. Only seeing a large flock of Mistle Thrushes on the way, must ave been in double figures. Before arriving home tired from our long family walk, but very pleased with what we had seem.

Toby’s Photos

While we were out I let Toby have a play with my camera. Here are the photos that he took. This is his first time with the camera.

A Mute Swan along the river - Toby's First photo!!
A Mute Swan along the river – Toby’s First photo!!


A small bug - Toby's first try at Macro!
A small bug – Toby’s first try at Macro!

I will now be setting up my old camera for him to use on our walks! Just hope he doesn’t get too good!!

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