On Wednesday 18 November, Ken and Sarah White led a walk round the lake at Hosehill Local Nature Reserve, Theale. It was a mild and sunny but very windy morning, following gales the previous evening. With telescopes set up, it was possible to see from their grey crowns that the Grey Herons on the opposite bank were juveniles. Many Wigeons were feeding on floating vegetation and one of the males still had some of the rusty red eclipse plumage. Gadwalls were quite numerous and Ken pointed out the yellow stripe on the side of a relatively small bill which helped in the identification of the females. A number of Teal were roosting on the opposite bank. The wind had piled some of the water weed into dense floating mats and a few Shovelers were swimming to and fro with heads down, feeding in the weed. Sarah pulled several different kinds of weed from the water’s edge, which she identified as Elodea canadensis and E. nuttallii. A tall and slender umbellifer at the edge of the path was identified as Stone Parsley. A party of 13 Long-tailed Tits flew through the bankside Willows.
Continuing through the woods, a wasps’ nest was spotted in a bird box. Further round the lake, there was a good viewing point for closer inspection of the Cormorants. The adults had black bellies, while the younger birds had paler bellies. Through the telescope, it was possible to pick out their green eyes. Two male Pochards were spotted towards the western end of the lake. Ken told the group about an ongoing ringing study of Black-headed Gulls. The birds present were inspected carefully, but none with colour rings were seen. He reported that the CR-birding website http://www.cr-birding.org/ is a good place to report colour-ringed birds and find their life history. Other birds seen or heard during the walk included Buzzard, Red Kite, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Coot, Moorhen, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Bullfinch, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. The dry seed heads of Water-plantain were growing out of the water in a pond which had been cleared at the western end of the reserve. The walk was followed by lunch at the Fox and Hounds, where the party were pleased to be offered a 15% reduction on the price of the food on presentation of a membership card from the RSPB or the local Wildlife Trust.
Pictures by Laurie Haseler