Wilstone Reservoir

For the first time in ages, I went bird watching this morning. I visited Wilstone Reservoir, one of the Tring Reservoirs on the Bucks/Herts border. Rather than just go to the solitary bird hide there and then back the same way, I did a complete walk around the reservoir, a distance of a couple of miles or so I should think.

From the car park, I walked along the top of the embankment next to the reservoir. I spotted a Pied Wagtail, and glimpsed a similarly shaped and sized bird that I guessed was another type of Wagtail. I saw a couple of Little Egret, and as I reached the corner of the reservoir I saw a Buzzard soaring overhead.  In the corner I turned left, following the path through the edge of a small tree belt beside the reservoir. I then turned left at a path junction, to reach the hide.

There was another bird watcher here, who was very helpful. He pointed out a Ruff some way away close to a reed bed on the edge of the reservoir, a small group of Golden Plover and a Dunlin – I don’t think I’d seen any of these birds here before. I also spotted a couple of Common Sandpipers, which again I’d not seen here before. I got a slightly closer view of the Little Egrets from the hide, and spotted a Grey Heron close to them. Unfortunately the water level in the reservoir was very low, so all the birds were some distance from the hide and I didn’t get any decent photographs.

After 30-40 minutes I left the hide. Returning to the path junction, I turned left to continue my circuit of the reservoir. It’s not possible to follow the exact edge of the reservoir all the way, and the next section of my short walk was along a pleasant and well-marked field path. This passed through a couple of meadows, and then went round two sides of a large field of stubble. It then followed two edges of a similar but much smaller field, to reach¬† the Wendover arm of the Grand Union Canal. There were information boards about the plans to eventually restore the long-disused canal.

After following the canal a short distance, I took a footpath going left. This soon turned right, along the edge of a small wood, and came to another path junction where I turned left once more. I was soon walking on top of another embankment of the reservoir, on the opposite side from the hide.

When I reached the next corner, the car park was only a short distance away to my left. But as I turned the corner I got distracted by a bird – again, it looked like a Wagtail but not the usual Pied Wagtail. It kept flitting along the shore of the reservoir, but eventually I got a good enough view to see that it was a Grey Wagtail. In fact I soon saw there was a pair of them. Unfortunately, they never stayed still long enough for me to get a photograph (I’d lugged my camera, complete with 1.7x converter, and tripod all round the reservoir) .

I called in at College Lake on the way back home, but only stayed for 10 minutes or so – there didn’t seem to be much in the way of birds there at all, and the skies now looked as if rain was imminent.

I enjoyed going bird watching again, and the short walk round the reservoir was very pleasant – I’d only done it once or twice before, and I don’t think I’ve ever before walked it in the direction I did today. Autumn has definitely arrived, as it was a cool 6C when I left home about 9.30am, though it warmed up to about 12C when I finished my circuit of the reservoir. Many trees have already started to change colour.

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