Some wildlife highlights to look out for this November
Just a few days ago a family group of 6 whooper swans put in a brief appearance at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve. The visit by these elegant swans, which are rare visitors to central England, caused some excitement among MK bird watchers. Although they did not stick around, it is hoped that these were the first of many interesting wildfowl which may visit us over the coming months.
Willen Lake North is still one of the best sites in Milton Keynes to see a variety of winter ducks from October onwards. As well as the familiar mallard, look out for gadwall, teal, shoveler, tufted ducks, goosander and pochard. The male wigeon are very handsome ducks and can be identified by their high-pitched whistling calls as much as from their colourful plumage. The view from the bird watching hide at Willen Lake, which has recently been cleared by Parks Trust volunteers, offers sightings of all these species. From the hide you may see great crested grebes and little grebes (which seem numerous this autumn) as they bob and dive in the water. Have a close look in the cut reeds and vegetation where you may see Teal (with their vivid green wing flash) and perhaps snipe hiding away. Cold, frosty mornings are particularly good for seeing these secretive birds so wrap up warm and bring your binoculars. With luck, you will also be treated to a view of a kingfisher as it streaks across the water or perhaps settles on the wooden posts just in front of the hide.
But perhaps the wildlife highlight at Willen Lake this time of year is the starling roost. Numbers vary drastically from year to year but on cold, sunny evenings hundreds – or hopefully many thousands – of starlings will swarm over the lake and island before coming down to roost in the reed beds. A good place to watch is from in front of the Peace Pagoda from around 3.45pm until dark. If you have never seen a starling ‘murmuration’ before, make a date as it can be an impressive spectacle.
Thank you to our volunteer Ann Strutton for the image