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So today, I saw a reed bunting at my local park, New Hall Valley. It’s not the first reed bunting i’ve ever seen, but it was the first one I spotted on my local patch.

So naturally, I tweeted about it and immediately realised how confusing this sentence could be (and how common it might be for birdwatchers!):

This could mean: “I saw my first reed bunting, and it was at New Hall Valley”. Or, it could mean: “It was the first time i’ve seen a reed bunting at New Hall Valley”. It was the latter.

Anyway, the reed bunting was singing loudly, and to be sure it was a reed bunting, I consulted the RSPB bird identifier website to hear the audio. Obviously a little disgruntled (or excited) by the sound of another reed bunting in the vicinity, it flew directly at me, and over my head to a nearby bush. I hope he sticks around! 

My very first reed bunting was spotted at RSPB Middleton Lakes a couple of years ago, not surprisingly amongst the reeds! To many people, it could just be another little brown bird, (similar in size and colouring as a sparrow – even the RSPB can get confused after too many cups of tea on a Friday afternoon!), but it’s the distinctive black cap that sets it apart.

More recently at Middleton, I am seeing them becoming much braver at the bird feeders, and just last week I saw a flock of about 15 of them feeding on the ground down one of the lanes just before dusk.

Here’s a couple of photos I managed to take…


Reed bunting


On Wednesday we took advantage of the beautiful evening sunshine with a walk around the RSPB nature reserve at Middleton Lakes.

We often visit the nature reserve to see the heronry, the active bird feeders, the lapwing conservation area, the friendly robins and the rest of the beautiful woodland and walks. It’s so fantastic that we have such a great reserve just ten minutes from our house.

On this occasion, we were lucky to add two new birds to our life list…

Firstly, a bird that we heard before we saw… the cuckoo. As we were walking along the woodland path, I heard it’s distinctive call. When we arrived at the viewing area over the silt lake, I could tell what direction the call was coming from, and sure enough I saw it at the top of a tree through the binoculars. It reminded me of a cross between a pigeon and a bird of prey, like a sparrowhawk.

The second bird was in the reeds beside the lake. It was a bird that I didn’t recognise and was very distinctive with it’s black head, white collar and brown body. A quick check on the RSPB bird identifier told us it was a reed bunting. I often struggle with identifying warblers and buntings, but now that I know what the reed bunting looks like, I don’t think it’s one i’ll forget.

Reed Bunting (image credit: Tony Hisgett, Birmingham, UK)

Reed Bunting (image credit: Tony Hisgett, Birmingham, UK)

Another highlight of the walk (and a common feature of our trips to Middleton), was the super-friendly robin. Despite being fiercely territorial birds, there are a lot of them at Middleton, and they know where to find the feed from the visitors. We took along some meal worms to tempt them a little closer… and it worked.

So this happened this evening 🙂 #rspb #rspbmiddleton #middletonlakes @rspb_love_nature

A video posted by Eleanor Lovell (@ellielovell) on

When we returned home from our walk, we discovered from Springwatch Unsprung that the robin had won the vote as Britain’s National Bird. Fitting given our earlier encounter.

Today I added a new bird to our list of garden visitors – the Jay. And not just one, but two.

In our old flat, we would regularly see Jays in the tall Beech tree outside the window. But our visitor today was exploring the garden footpath and even jumped up on to the bird feeder to see what was available.

Jay (Luc Viatour /

Jay (Luc Viatour /

That takes the current species count up to 23:

  1. Robin
  2. Wren
  3. Dunnock
  4. House Sparrow
  5. Blue Tit
  6. Great Tit
  7. Coal Tit
  8. Long-tailed Tit
  9. Blackbird
  10. Starling
  11. Goldfinch
  12. Chaffinch
  13. Greenfinch
  14. Blackcap
  15. Chiffchaff
  16. Willow Warbler
  17. Bullfinch
  18. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  19. Magpie
  20. Wood Pigeon
  21. Jackdaw
  22. Sparrowhawk
  23. Jay