No wardens about so it was a good job I had made a note of the code to get in the new hide, but more about that later.
The feeders just past the Car Park were very quiet, ie nothing as we went past, most disappointing (people with noisy children and dogs about!) We saw and heard very little on the way to the reserve, just a Robin and a Great Tit that was it! We stopped for our first coffee at the platform off the path to the reserve, but apart from Mallard and Coot there was nothing much about apart from loads of splendid dragonflies:
Then a couple of Butterflies:
Once over the canal and out onto the reserve it perked up a bit; Mallard, Swan, Little Egret, Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Shoveler, some Gadwall. We decided to walk around anti clockwise and headed over to the old screen (looking decidedly tatty now) As we walked on we were slightly disappointed as to how high the grass and reeds were as being both fairly short we couldn't see a thing over the lakes, so headed over to the river which was deserted.
We then headed down to the first new screen (some sign post would be nice as there are 2 tracks we took the second and ended up in the roped off area adjacent to the screen) The screen gives good views and will be good a bit later in the winter I think. So onward, we went for Coffee number 2 at the picnic bench by the river view. All we added at this point was a Blue Tit! Was hoping for the Kingfisher that we saw here last time, but no luck.
So down to the hide, we let ourselves in and were immediately surprised by the size of it, you could have a party in there! The views are good and I think in the spring it will be excellent. So what about birds, well in addition to what we had already seen, we added Grey Heron, Cormorant, Greylag and Canada Geese, Great Crested Grebe, Shelduck, Wigeon and a Pintail (I think). We scanned for waders but couldn't find one! I did see one fly across but it landed behind some scrub never to be seen again! So as we were pushed for time (aren't we always) we carried on and were immediately rewarded with an obliging Wheatear:
These photo's bring me to another gripe about the revamped Middleton, the new fences, shocking if you'll pardon the pun. They are just plain unsightly and they are everywhere, not bird watcher friendly at all. I will go as strong to say as we hate them, surely there's a better option.
We headed back for a final stop at the screen overlooking the Jubilee Wetlands, again we searched for waders but with no luck, we had been hoping for Ruff, Sandpipers (especially Curlew Sandies) but despite being patient we couldn't find any. All we added were 10 Pheasants!
So in summary we still feel that Middleton is very much a work in progress with lots of promise. We will see, probably pop over again in November.
Some record shots:
Some record shots: