Sunday, 7 June 2015

Middleton Lakes: Staffordshire's first avocet chicks growing well

The first pair of avocets to breed at Middleton Lakes RSPB nature reserve (just south of Tamworth) are doing very nicely so far.  A second pair are still incubating a clutch of eggs.  Inland nesting avocets are nothing new, but they indicate the quality of shallow lagoon habitat now established here. Watching the adults and chicks feeding with their distinctive scything motion, it is hard not to think that a new colony will establish here very successfully. 
one of the parent avocets
avocet chick feeding
two of the four chicks
The reserve was alive with activity today, the noisy colonies of black-headed gulls scattered across the lakes have chicks of all ages - some small and fluffy, others already taking their first tentative flights.  Common terns were taking food to chicks hidden amongst the gull colony.  A brood of little ringed plover chicks wandered around one of the pool edges, enjoying the early summer sunshine. Lapwing, redshank and oystercatcher have also raised chicks this year, but I only managed to spot one lapwing fledgling. Two common sandpipers I had assumed to be late migrants surprised us by mating.  They are right on the edge of their (largely upland) breeding range here, surely they won't stay to breed?

Plenty of gorgeous banded demoiselles damselflies were on the wing around the River Tame and the various back-waters that link the river to the lagoons, a single red-eyed damselfly among them.  A few butterflies too, including an orange-tip.  Our total of bird species for the day edged towards the seventy mark - other highlights included cuckoo, kingfisher, shelduck with seven ducklings and a couple of dunlin.
orange hawkbit

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