A group of hardy Birders, joined by members of Andover U3A, braved wind, rain and peak groundwater levels to visit the Swindon Lagoons Nature Reserve in February. This recently established Reserve on the site of the old Thames Water sewage works on the River Ray is managed by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and is not open to the public. The visit was led by the WWT warden who first explained the unique history of the 15 lagoons on the 23 hectare site and then guided us to the two viewing hides.
There were plenty of waterfowl including teal, widgeon, gadwall and little grebe. Herons peered down from four nests high in the trees and cormorants, kites, egrets and gulls swooped above. Taking advantage of a break in the rain we then walked through the extensive reed beds which hosted buntings and warblers. The warden regaled us with the spring-time antics of the large cuckoo population and also described the Trust’s participation in research into microplastics entering the food chain – he has to collect and label the faeces from the mice, vole and shrew populations! As the sun came out we walked through the grassed areas which are home to many grass snakes and slow worms, under the watchful eye of a photogenic peregrine falcon perched high up on an electricity pylon.
Taking lunch at The Three Trees Café in Chiselden, all agreed that this was a most interesting, and unusual, outing.