Saturday, 11 February 2017

Upton Warren

I was in the UK for family reasons earlier in the week. However I managed to find time for a morning's birding at Upton Warren nature reserve.

It was a cold and misty day which is quite typical of early February in the UK but quite a shock to the system for someone who spends most of his year in West Africa.

This reserve has two main water bodies:  Moors Pool which is deep water and The Flashes which are shallow. There is also a boating lake between and some adjacent woodland.

I spent most of my time at Moors Pool. I had no time left for The Flashes.

tufted duck

Ducks were to be expected. The most numerous one was northern shoveller closely followed by tufted duck. Two common teal and a gadwell were also present. I have seen all of these species in both Saudi Arabia and Oman and both shoveller and teal in Mauritania. It seems strange to observe them in a quite different climate.

Other smaller water fowl were European coot and common moorhen.

common shelduck

There were larger water fowl there too. Three common shelduck, five greylag goose and several Canada goose were seen. Though the greylag goose disappeared early presumable to feed in local fields.

Canada goose

The largest birds of all were two mute swan.

mute swan

The most numerous bird of all was northern lapwing. I suspect the flock was over 150 birds. I last time saw this species was in Riyadh!

some of the northern lapwing

I have seen many species of lapwing but this one is still the favourite.

a few lapwing

The waders were a seemingly odd combination. The oddest to me was a single oystercatcher but I am told there are regular at this inland site during migration.


Twelve curlew were the second "wader" species. I am told these may be fairly local birds. Birds which breed in the Welsh moorlands are apparently just as likely as more distant migrants.

a sleeping curlew

The third wader was common snipe.There were at least eight on site while I was there.

common snipe

There were over 50 black-headed gull and five herring gull at the lake.

black-headed gull

A single little egret patiently stayed in place all the time I was there.

little egret

A grey heron looked more relaxed than those seen in the Middle East and North Africa probably because it isn't shot at in the UK.

grey heron

Great cormorant were seen at both the Moors Pool and the large boating lake. Indeed though the boating lake isn't in the reserve it proved to be the only location that I saw great crested grebe.

great crested grebe

Birders don't normally go to the reserve for woodland birds but the leafless trees and bushes made sightings easier and very attractive to people like me who rarely visit the UK.

European robin

Passerines seen included plenty of blackbird, as well as great tit, European robin, long-tailed tit, wren, bullfinch and dunnock. Wood pigeon were everywhere.


A redwing in a near-by field was the last addition to my day list.


In total I saw 33 species in the session. It was pleasant change from Sahel birding.

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