The Start of Spring

The Start of Spring - Robin in the shade
The Start of Spring

Blue skies stretched out across the Ouse Valley, a picture of azure punctured by the occasional fluffy white cloud. While the sky looked like mid summer a cold wind still whipped across the floodplains of the Ouse, and in the shadows a light frost could be found. Today was every bit the start of spring, cold but bright, awaiting the arrival of summers migrants but residents in full song. A perfect day for a walk around the Flood plain Forest Nature Reserve.

Blue Skies over the Ouse Valley
Blue Skies over the Ouse Valley

The Start of Spring

Having been stuck inside a building with no windows over the weekend, I was pretty oblivious to the weather, reaching the River Ouse today I realised just how much rain must have fallen. The muddy brown waters were lapping at the banks, a sustained burst of rain over the next day or two and the water will be flooding onto the paths.

Iron Trunk Aqueduct with High Water
Iron Trunk Aqueduct with High Water

Further signs of the weekends weather could be seen on the increased water levels in the Floodplain, sitting in the Aqueduct hide, the view from front windows was of much more water than in previous visits, the Coot swimming close by the hide front, where usually there is mud was proof of this.

While distantly a Common Buzzard rode the thermals and several gulls floated on the wing, there were very few other birds visible in the waters from this hide. Sadly this could easily have been due to the inconsiderate dog walker (well runner with a dog) who clearly decided that her run was more important than following the signs and keeping her dog on a lead, and in fact paid no heed as it ran under the farm hide into the water at one point!

Common Coot in Front of Aqueduct Hide
Common Coot in Front of Aqueduct Hide

 

Views over the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve from the Aqueduct Hide
Views over the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve from the Aqueduct Hide

Farm Hide

After allowing a good ten minutes before I started to head towards the farm hide (time for me to calm and the birds to relax again), I soon settled down in the hide again, a little shelter from the wind, to scan through the margins. Shoveler and Teal clung in tight to the edges while Wigeon and Mallard swam more openly. The Coot and Moorhen actively chased one another out of their territories while above me Lapwings were beginning their spring mating displays. Not quite the full blown space-invader like flights but actively seeking each other out in mid air none the less.

On leaving the hide, to my delight, not 1 but 2 Red Kite drifted silently over my head. Both offering me wonderful views of these once rare birds. It still, to this day, delights me to see a large raptor in the skies over Milton Keynes; a hearkening back to my early bird watching years when to see a large raptor was a real thrill. Buzzards were very much of the West and North and red Kites were a scarce bird found only in Wales.

Red Kite moving in
Red Kite moving in

 

Searching for Carrion? Red Kite
Searching for Carrion? Red Kite

 

Red Kite over the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve, Milton Keynes
Red Kite over the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve, Milton Keynes

 

Black headed gull with hood coming on
Black headed gull with hood coming on

Stilt Pits

On heading over to the stilt pits I was thrilled to see 3 more Red Kite slowly gathering height above the rail way tracks. 5 different birds over the patch is a new experience for me. Later seeing three more Buzzards, one low and drifting over the hide; and 2 high in the clouds; made 9 large raptors in one day!

The most exciting moment of the day however was as 4 Oystercatchers flew through chasing each other, vocal, high pitched piping excitement as they flew around the reserve, 2 eventually landing on the stilt pits while the other two disappeared off down river.

Buzzard Soaring
Buzzard Soaring

River Walk

Carrying on my walk I headed back along the still swollen river, the high water running the colour of milky coffee as it picked up pace, and mud, on it’s rush through Milton Keynes.

Back Brook in Flood
Back Brook in Flood

 

River Ouse Running High
River Ouse Running High

 

Muddy River running through fallen trees
Muddy River running through fallen trees

The bright sunshine continued to make the walk pleasant, and it wasn’t just me feeling that spring had finally sprung. As I returned to the aqueduct a Chiffchaff (presumably an over wintering bird) was in full song; while a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed from deep in the trees.

A fine end to my walk as I slowly made the rest of the way home. Happy that the start of spring really was here now.

Other Photos

Carrion Crow
Carrion Crow

 

Same crow, different pose
Same crow, different pose

 

More Corvid action - Magpie
More Corvid action – Magpie

 

Moorhen in bright light
Moorhen in bright light

 

Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail

 

Another shot of the Grey Wagtail
Another shot of the Grey Wagtail

 

Wood pigeon in the blossom
Wood pigeon in the blossom

 

Iron Trunk Aqueduct
Iron Trunk Aqueduct

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