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Trip Report - 2008

Potteric Carr
12 February

The weather was perfect for today's trip, warm in the sun and no wind. On our arrival at 10:00 we decided to go straight to Piper Marsh hide where Bitterns had been regularly reported. We weren't disappointed and one was showing reasonably well when we arrived there. Another did a flypast in front of the hide before we moved on. There was also a Kingfisher excavating a nest hole. We knew the day couldn't get better! We struggled to find any waders and only managed a to find Lapwing and Snipe with a fleeting glimpse of a couple of Oystercatchers. The Huxter Well marsh area is still being developed and it is now feasible to walk around the perimeter - if only there was time. Three more hides are planned in that area. A good day was spent with 48 species recorded although we failed to find the Dunlin or Ringed Plovers which had been seen by others.

Carr Vale
18 April

Seven of us braved the icy easterly wind and were well rewarded for the effort. The feeders yielded great views of Bullfinch, Willow Tit, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. Thirty or more Swallows were joined by a few House Martins and Sand Martins over the water but failed to convince us summer was coming soon. Waders were represented by 3 Redshanks, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, several Lapwings and a pair of Oystercatchers. Other highlights included a Kingfisher and a roosting Little Owl. The mound was surprisingly warm and sheltered from the wind, unlike our usual lunch spot where we spotted a Sparrowhawk. As we passed the sewage works on our way back at least 13 Pied Wagtails were counted. Despite the cold wind, we managed a respectable count of 49 species with the added bonus of not getting wet!

Goyt Valley
12 May

Four members made the trip to the Goyt valley in glorious, hot and sunny weather. The birds were vociferous but very tricky to see. Our experts helped us identify Pied Flycatcher, Common Sandpiper, Tree Pipit and Redstart from their calls. We did manage to see one or two Redstarts but missed seeing the others. The hoped-for Wood Warblers were absent - or very quiet! After a couple of hours we decided to head back to the car and try our luck at Swallow Moss - to see if the Black Grouse were still there. On our way to the car we had a probable Peregrine, possibly two. We recorded 29 species in the valley. We spent an hour or so over lunch at Swallow Moss where we discovered that the Black Grouse have been missing for several years. We heard that Hobby and Grasshopper Warbler were quite active, but found neither. There were, however, lots of Redpolls about and a very loud Whitethroat and had a great view of another Peregrine. We returned to the valley via Hartington and Long Dale, where we had excellent views of a Little Owl from the car.

Whisby Pits
23 May

Rather cool but at least dry weather was enjoyed by 7 members. Disappointingly, only a couple of members caught snatches of Nightingale song - evidently, this was because they had paired up early and the males had fallen silent. Plenty of other warblers were present including a magnificent Garden Warbler and several singing Lesser Whitethroats, as well as Whitethroat, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. A pair of Little Ringed Plovers had a nest and a lone Greenshank was actively feeding. All in all, about 57 species were seen or heard. Some great views of a Four-spotted Chaser and other dragonflies, as well as butterflies also made the day very enjoyable.

Blacktoft Sands
2 August

Although overcast and breezy, it remained dry and relatively free of harvest flies! Astonishingly, there were no Avocets - evidently, Black-headed Gulls predated the few nests that there were at the beginning of the breeding season. Nearly a dozen species of wader were present, comprising: 3 Little Stints, 3 Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper and numerous Snipes, Lapwings, Dunlins, Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Ruff. Several Marsh Harriers were also present, together with a Barn Owl in a nest box. A Water Rail was also very obliging, stretching and sunbathing at the edge of the reed beds. All in all, 49 species.

Potteric Carr
11 August

Four members enjoyed a visit to Potteric Carr - a popular change from the published location of Old Moor. We started at Piper Marsh hide where we struggled to identify a couple of non-descript Garganey before moving on to the new hide on Huxter Well Marsh. We spent quite a while there and soon spotted a juvenile Black-necked Grebe. It took a while longer to find the more attractive but inattentive parent some distance away! The peaceful scene was disrupted by a high speed peregrine tearing past the hide below our eye level, spreading the residents far and wide. Other birds in the Huxter Well Marsh area included 4 Greenshanks, 3 broods of Little Grebe (3,3 and 5) with doting parents and a Little Egret. A distant Buzzard was the only other raptor recorded. Later in the day we saw a Green Woodpecker in flight from decoy hide. The reserve gets better and better - 48 species were recorded.

Gibraltar Point
30 August

Arctic SkuaA glorious day was made all the better with a fantastic 65 species: no mega-rarities but plenty of special birds. A slow flying Peregrine was a fantastic sight, giving plenty of time to see this magnificent raptor; the birds on the beach weren't as impressed though! Offshore, near the sand banks, an Arctic Skua was harassing a Common Tern for its fish. Here are some of the other highlights: Grey Plover, Kingfisher, Lesser Whitethroat, Marsh Harrier, Pintail, Reed Warbler, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Sandwich Tern.

Blacktoft Sands
2 September

A sunny day was spent at Blacktoft where the waders didn't disappoint. There were Snipe everywhere - over 100 at least - with a handful of both Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. There were hundreds of Redshank and at least 10 Spotted Redshank. The usual large flock of Lapwings with about 50 Ruffs, 4 Avocets and 25 Black-tailed Godwits completed the total of 9 wader species. We failed to see any Dunlin or Curlew, but both had been reported on the reserve. We are getting a little too used to seeing Barn Owl and Marsh Harrier here, but no-one was complaining! We also had very good views of a Water Rail in the 42 species recorded.

Spurn Point
12 October

WheatearAn unseasonably sunny and warm day that was rather poor for birds and best summed up by one member as there being "more bird watchers than birds". Nonetheless, a couple of the birds were quite special: a Redstart in the hedgerow alongside Beacon Lane and a hungry Wheatear by the dunes. The total for the day was 52 species.

Fairburn Ings
15 October

The day started on a low note with rather dull weather and the first bird hide being "replaced this week so not accessible". There seemed to be few birds around but the final species count was a surprisingly good 59. Highlights of the day included a couple of Kingfishers briefly at the cut hide, and memorable views of Black Swans. A pair with a cygnets swam by before lunch and a few minutes later we had another fly by. None of us had seen these birds as juveniles or flying. The wings look pure white when in flight. There were flocks of Redpoll and Siskin around, a few Redwing and a pair of Pintails towards the end of the day from Lin Dyke hide.

Leighton Moss
1 November

There was a slight breeze but otherwise the weather was sunny and quite mild. Starting at the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides, there were good numbers of water birds, including Pintails, Shovelers, Little Egrets, Greenshank and Red-breasted Merganser but no godwits or Ruff. A Kingfisher was seen very briefly by some as it perched in front of the hide. For a change, we wondered down to the coast and, although there was little to see on the sea, the huge flocks of Oystercatchers was most impressive! On the main reserve, we didn't bother with the two furthest hides, but managed to see Snipe, Buzzard and several wildfowl. All in all, a quiet day for birds, although we did see 56 species.

Potteric Carr
28 November

Water RailThe day dawned clear and cold without any wind. We started with 4 Meadow Pipits from the car park before going directly to the Piper Marsh hide where a Bittern soon appeared - but not for long! We spent quite a while at the tower hide on Huxter Well Marsh where we saw the usual wildfowl and gulls, but surprisingly only a couple of geese. The 8 species of duck included Pintail, but no Wigeon. Snipe, Golden Plover and Lapwing were the only waders present. There were a couple of Skylarks feeding on one of the islands. Later, severe disturbance was caused by a passing Merlin. We had excellent views of Water Rail at the feeders and some of us were lucky enough to see a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the same area to finish an excellent day. A total of 59 species were recorded.

Carsington Water
14 December

Seven members spent an excellent day at Carsington with bright and clear weather with no wind. A male Scaup was eventually discerned masquerading as a Pochard from the Paul Stanley Hide. Whilst there, we also saw two Kingfishers and a Buzzard. As usual for this time of year there were large numbers of wildfowl, which included a few displaying Goldeneye in superb breeding plumage. Over 300 Lapwings were around with almost 50 Little Grebes and 6 Redshanks. Other highlights included a couple of Willow Tits, several Bullfinches and towards the end of the day we had excellent views of a Great Northern Diver off Stones Island. In total, 48 species.

Martin Mere
21 December

Eight members made the journey to Martin Mere to witness the wildfowl spectacle of Whooper Swans, Pintails, Wigeons, Pink-footed Geese, etc., but also in hope of seeing some other great birds. Among the 52 species eventually seen (or heard), the more extraordinary ones were Buzzard, Water Rail, Ruddy Shelduck (both feral, one a Shelduck x Ruddy Shelduck hybrid), Barnacle Geese as well as one Red-breasted Goose and Tree Sparrow. There was one Bewick's Swan present.