above: Ruddy Shelduck at Langford Lakes © Phillip Delve

Leader Phillip Delve

Langford Lakes Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Reserve lies on the River Wylye flood plain, some 12 miles north west of Salisbury. Relieved to arrive in fine weather, following several very stormy days, 12 of us met at the reserve car park. As much of the reserve and surrounding fields were flooded we just kept to the main track between Long, Brockbank and Round Lakes. Small birds along the track included Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Siskin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Great Spotted Woodpecker. John Garret also managed to see a Cetti’s Warbler which had been calling from deep cover.

At the east end of the reserve is Great Meadow, historically a sluice-controlled flood meadow, now enhanced with two ponds. A large flock of Canada Geese were grazing here and in willow trees behind the meadow, a few Fieldfare and Redwings.

Following strong winds over the previous few days, a WWT work party was repairing the willow fences around East Clyffe Pond. In spite of the disruption, we spent some time in the hide there.

Little Egrets © Phillp Delve

Gadwall at Langford Lakes © Phillip Delve

Gadwall at Langford Lakes © Phillip Delve

I found a snipe in the reedy edge and set up my telescope so everyone could see in turn. On the pond were a few Gadwall, Mallard, Coot and Moorhen; but many other ducks were hidden in the reed beds to the east of the hide. Then flying low, quartering the reeds, flew a female Marsh Harrier. While some in the hide were distracted by Red Kites and Buzzards above the skyline, the Harrier put up a large mixed flock of Teal and Wigeon from the reed bed. A single snipe flew ahead and towards us in the hide. While this was in progress a kingfisher perched briefly on a post mid distance. As we left the hide, a flock of 60 Lapwings flew overhead.

Water birds seen as we retraced our steps along the main track: On Brockbank Lake, Mute Swans, Cormorants and three Little Egrets. On Long Lake; Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard and Tufted Ducks as well as Canada Geese and Mute Swans. Over lunch, both Cafe and nearby hide provided views the length of Long Lake. It was from here that I was pleased to find the resident Ruddy Shelduck (pictured at top of the page). This non-native bird, has been here over several years, but is often elusive.

Due to flooding we were unable to walk all the footpath to Hanging Langford along the river Wylye from the reserve as originally planned. However after lunch, we relocated by car to “The Upper” in Hanging Langford, to walk the dry section of the path. As well as seeing the river in spate, those present had good views of Nuthatch and Marsh Tit to round off a good day out.

Phillip Delve

River Wylye in spate

River Wylye in spate © Phillip Delve