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Trip Report - 2003

Carsington Water
8 January

Despite the snow and bitterly cold north-easterly wind about 55 species were seen, including: fieldfare, redwing, redpoll, siskin, willow tit, tree sparrow, goldeneye, raven, barnacle goose. The star birds, however, were the red-crested pochard, which were finally located in the marina.

Clumber Park
25 January

WoodlarkOver 50 species were encountered but there was nothing greatly exciting on the lake or in the woods. This changed on Cabinhill, after the ford, for in the field, which was being ploughed, were several foraging woodlark and they gave some of the best views ever of this lark.

Fairburn Ings
22 February

GoldeneyeThe day started off cool and misty, but was soon replaced with glorious sunshine. The wildfowl were well represented and among the 20 or so species were goldeneye, goosander, smew, and a solitary bar-headed goose. There was also a large mixed flock of siskin, redpoll and goldcrest foraging in the trees. Number of species totalled 56.

Old Moor Wetlands
19 March

Golden PloverOld Moor Wetlands has quite literally risen from the ashes and the diversity of avifauna that it attracts goes from strength to strength. Tree sparrows and yellowhammers are doing well, particularly as winter feeding is now concentrating more on finches and buntings. Thousands of golden plover and lapwing added to the spectacle, though a fleeting glimpse of kingfisher, and summer arrivals of chiffchaff and sand martin were perhaps as memorable. Nearly 60 species were recorded.

Derwent Dale
29 March

Long-eared OwlThe mists of this warm spring day gave way to sunshine. The usual coffee break by Howden Dam was accompanied by the spectacular appearance of a Goshawk, otherwise the birds were disobliging.

A detour to Shillito Wood provided good views of a roosting long-eared owl.

Potteric Carr
17 April

SwallowA good day's birding in glorious sunshine provided many with their first good sightings of some summer migrants: chiffchaff, willow warbler, blackcap, whitethroat, sand martin, and swallow.

Just under 50 species were recorded, but nobody was disappointed, though the lesser scaup proved elusive.

Clumber Park
26 April

StonechatWho in their right mind would be at Clumber Park at 7-o'clock in the morning? Anyone that wanted to record 77 species, though the day was not just about quantity, but quality and included: redpoll, treecreeper, yellowhammer, tree pipit, buzzard, yellow wagtail, whinchat, grey partridge, woodlark, crossbill, mandarin, garden warbler, and stonechat. We also had spectacular views of a Green Woodpecker by the side of Lake Arm.

Blacktoft Sands
8 May

Marsh HarrierMarsh Harrier was among the 60 species that were recorded, as was avocet, which are probably the two species one expects to see at Blacktoft, and a drake garganey added to the day's enjoyment. A good selection of other waders were also present, including: dunlin, ringed plover, little ringed plover, black-tailed godwit, oystercatcher, curlew, and redshank.

A discussion with the warden revealed how Ruddy Duck vandalise some of the other birds' nests, such as Pochard and Little Grebe. Despite this, public opinion is generally against the culling of the Ruddy Duck.

Bempton Cliffs
28 June

Bridled GuillemotThe din and stench of thousands of birds is surprisingly tolerable when faced by the awesome spectacle of a seabird colony. The list of observed seabirds comprised: herring gull, kittiwake, razorbill, gannet, guillemot, puffin, fulmar, shag, great black-backed gull, and cormorant. A "bridled" guillemot, a variant with a white eye-ring and stripe, proved to be an attraction.

The return journey included a visit to Blacktoft, and this added extended views of a magnificent singing grasshopper warbler. Other stars among the supporting cast were: barn owl, spoonbill, green sandpiper, spotted redshank, and corn bunting (at Crowle), bringing the day's list to 72 species.

Clumber Park
22 July (Evening)

Egyptian GooseThe sunny evening was brought alive by a couple of dazzling kingfishers, which were fishing and squabbling opposite the boat dock. Prior to this, a pair of Egyptian geese and a barnacle goose had added variety to the expected sightings (42 species in total). The evening, however, was about observing nightjars.

The plantation towards Thoresby again provided sightings of "churring" nightjars, albeit not as clear as last year, but two woodcocks and an unidentified owl managed to steal the nightjars' glory and despite the tormenting mosquitoes.

Blacktoft Sands
26 July

Curlew SandpiperSadly, a day more likely to be remembered for the millions of annoying, irritating flies than the 40 species seen, which included: avocet, curlew sandpiper, kingfisher, marsh harrier, yellow wagtail, buzzard, and barn owl.

Old Moor Wetlands
20 August

Black-tailed GodwitThere were not as many species as in the spring, but another great day was assured with several green sandpiper, common sandpiper, snipe, kingfisher, and garganey. The black-tailed godwit were feeding immediately in front of the Wath Ings hide and provided a superb photo-shoot opportunity.

The enduring memory will be of the little grebe that escaped from the juvenile grey heron that had seized it for its lunch.

The day's total was about 45 species.

Titchwell Marsh
13 September

Wood SandpiperThis reserve can be expected to produce 70-80 species in a day, and this trip was no different, except that not a single bearded tit was seen or heard. The waders included grey plover, curlew, lapwing, dunlin, curlew sandpiper, ringed plover, avocet, ruff, little egret, oystercatcher, grey heron, spotted redshank, greenshank, redshank, sanderling, turnstone, knot, golden plover, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, and, of course, Sammy the black-winged stilt. The wader that stole the show, however, was a wood sandpiper that was feeding just in front of the hides. Excellent views of a water rail, eider, and common scoter were also had. There was even a common buzzard out at sea!

Spurn Point
11 October

KnotA glorious sunny day with a south-westerly breeze ensured that we were not going to be frozen to the marrow, but would there be any birds? At the Kilnsea car park we were greeted by Stonechat and Swallow, not a bad start. A stroll to the pools, passed the Golden Plover in the fields, provided good views of three Scaup, Pintail, Kingfisher and several other waterfowl. Common Buzzard and Kestrel were hunting over the fields and banks. As we left the hide a Merlin rose from the scrape where a couple of Redshanks had been lurking. The low tide meant most waders were beyond sight, though we managed to find Sanderling, Knot, Dunlin, and Grey Plover. The Sea Buckthorn on the spit is normally heaving with warblers and thrushes, but not this year - a Fieldfare and a few Stonechats, Linnets, Blue Tits and Great Tits. In the Heligoland trap, near the Vessel Traffic Services centre, we caught up with a pair of Bramblings. The day's total was 56, rather poor for Spurn, but still a great day out!

Old Moor Wetlands
14 October

KestrelThe buildings are being redeveloped so the visitors centre and other facilities are currently housed on temporary accommodation. This together with fence building activities around the reserve was clearly disturbing the birds, though the day's total of 51 species did not reflect this. Highlights included a Merlin chasing a flock of Starlings, a Kestrel that spent more time on the ground than in the air, and a Weasel wrestling with a Water Vole, the latter managed to escape and the former was chased off by a Moorhen. Those among the group remembering to visit Broomhill Flash were rewarded with a Pectoral Sandpiper.

Blacktoft Sands
11 November 2003

WaxwingA very dank and murky day was not helped by the very low water levels. Many Teal were present, several Mallard, but only 3 Shovelers and a single Shelduck to complete the total complement of ducks. The wader count was also poor, comprising a single one-legged Dunlin, and a few Lapwing, Snipe, and Redshank. Our perseverance was rewarded with 2 sightings of Kingfishers, splendid views of a Barn Owl hunting over the river directly in front of the hide, a ringtail female Hen Harrier, and a single Waxwing in trees by the car park. The final total of 41 species was quite respectable considering the dearth of water birds.

Carsington Water
11 December 2003

Male PintailDespite the dismal and wet start to the day, 6 intrepid club members met at Sheepwash hide where it was still raining heavily at 10:30. The weather improved throughout the day and a dry afternoon meant that the group were able to identify over 60 species. The highlights of the day were a certain sighting of a Long-tailed Duck from Paul Stanley Hide, a very probable Ring-billed Gull from Sheepwash hide and an almost certain peregrine falcon on the walk back from the visitor centre to the Sheepwash car park late in the day. Sadly, none of the bird feeders contained any seed, so no tree sparrows were seen all day. It seems they are no longer in use because of the number of rats they attract. There were however large numbers of ducks including Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck and a splendid male Pintail in addition to the Long-tailed Duck. Seventeen Snipe were recorded and a flock of around 30 Barnacle Geese flew in mid afternoon.

Martin Mere
18 January 2004

Ferruginous DuckThis field trip was postponed owing to repeated poor weekend weather. Deep in the dense fog of the western Pennines the day's birding prospects were looking equally gloomy. The weather changed around Burscough, staying bright and dry until we departed. Hundreds of Whooper Swans, Pintail, and Pochard were seen from the swan link, but the highlight was a single Ferruginous Duck. At the Millers Bridge hide a Red-breasted Goose was spotted among Barnacle Geese and Pink-footed Geese, though the reported White-fronted Geese remained elusive. A couple of Bewick's Swans were seen from a distance. The afternoon feeding frenzy was a sight to behold, though a brief glimpse of what was probably the 1st winter Scaup was unconfirmed. The day's total was about 54 birds, but the Ferruginous Duck and Red-breasted Goose will be the enduring memories.


Photographs are courtesy of David Morris and David Gains.