The Dorney Wetlands site is based on the Jubilee River, a flood relief scheme only completed in 2002. The varied habitat makes it an ideal site for a field trip and it appears to be under-watched. We started on the northern, less busy side of the river. Our first wildlife sightings were butterflies (two varieties of blue, peacock, red admiral and brimstone all seen during the trip). Warbler alley was relatively quiet but we picked up sedge warbler from its song deep within a reedbed. A cuckoo called sporadically but was not seen.

Things picked up when we reached the first bridge. A reed bunting was singing from a small tree in full view and a Cetti's warbler was calling in a shrub just behind it - after a while this bird flew across so we had fleeting views. From the same spot, looking down onto a backwater, there was a great crested grebe on its nest being attended to by its mate. A common whitethroat appeared briefly. Further away, one or two greylags joined the more numerous Canada geese. A red kite flew lazily by and we were able to identify the first of several common terns hunting on the main river. A grey heron was seen on the far side.

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting (K. White)

We moved on towards the second bridge on the same side of the river, serenaded by a skylark. A blackcap was singing in the hedgerow but remained out of sight. Crossing to the other side we headed down to the weir, spotting a pair of buzzards en route; several lapwings flew over the river but quickly disappeared towards the sewage works on the far side. At the weir, there was a variety of birds sitting on floats or in the water - common terns, herring gulls, black-headed gulls and less black-backed gulls. No grey wagtails here (although we did see a pied later in the trip).

We headed up the bridleway, seeing a kestrel as we climbed the path and then more red kites drifting past. We finally saw a blackcap zipping between the trees but had more luck with a chiffchaff that could be seen singing in full view. We made a tour of the short boardwalk, adding reed warbler to the list.

Hirundines were in short supply with just a small number of swifts, a couple of swallows and the odd house martin identified. Nevertheless overall it was a successful trip with over 45 species of bird identified as well as several insects, including mayflies, demoiselles and a swollen-thighed beetle.

Common Terns
Common Terns (A. Rines)