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Trip Report - 2014

Carsington Water
25th February 2014

Ten members made the trip (something of a record in recent years!) and we started at the Sheepwash car park, visiting the two hides in that area before lunch. It was a cool and windy start but the wind seemed to gradually drop during the day and we dodged the heaviest shower during a lengthy lunch stop. The Miners Arms was full when we arrived soon after 12:00 and it was well after 2:00 before we were replete! The water was quiet from the hides and it seems many of the wintering wildfowl have left early this year. We had good views of several Goldeneyes with a couple of Reed Buntings and a Willow Tit on the feeders. On the walk to the Visitor Centre, there were Bullfinches and more Willow Tits, together with the leucistic Coal Tit which was seen there last December. From the heated hide there were a dozen Snipe and a large flock of Lapwings, together with the usual Tree Sparrows on the feeders. The four members who made it to the far side of Stones Island were rewarded with a brief glimpse of a Great Northern Diver which flew low over the water beyond the small island off the headland. In total 54 species were recorded.

Derwent Dale
30th March 2014

With promising weather 11 of us set off and walked along the eastern side of Derwent as far as the Howden Wall. At that point we were lucky to see two Goshawk; a single female flying due east above tree tops and almost immediately a single male heading north westerly over the reservoir. Some evidence of the male display antics but very little before it disappeared over on far side. Overall count for the morning was 25 including some regulars on the feeders at Fairholmes Visitor Centre: Mallard, Wren, Pheasant, Kestrel, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Raven, Blue Tit, Robin, Pied Wagtail, Canada Goose, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Mandarin, Coal Tit, Goshawk, Great Tit, Goosander, Song Thrush, Teal, Mistle Thrush, Buzzard, Curlew. The weather stayed clear but cool, a little overcast but very light wind.

Carr Vale
17th April 2014

A select group of only 3 made the trip to Carr Vale on a cool but bright day. It seems we were a week or two early for some of the warblers as Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler and Reed Warbler were all absent. There were however good numbers of Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs but only a single Sedge Warbler – heard but not seen. Highlights included decent views of Yellow Wagtail a pair of displaying Great Crested Grebes. There were a few surprises such as 2 Pink-footed Geese feeding in nearby fields with a massive crowd of around 200 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, over 90% of which were juveniles. As we were leaving, we spotted a tiny Goldfinch nest with a sitting parent at the top of a tall but very thin tree – swaying dramatically in the breeze! Notable absentees included Willow Tit, House Martin, Magpie and Little Grebe so the species list was a very poor 45. We normally record well over 50 and often over 60 on this trip.

Whisby Pits
10th May 2014

Four of us made the trip to Whisby Pits today, despite the poor weather forecast, and were rewarded with a clear blue sky and a slight breeze on our arrival. Our main target of Nightingale was soon heard and by the time we left we had heard 6 singing birds and all but one of the party had seen one of them. As always, they were very elusive. Blackcap was the most common warbler but Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler and Whitethroat were all well represented. The hoards of Black-headed Gulls seemed to have evicted the Common Terns from their usual nest sites, but we eventually found good numbers on the other side of the A46. We had plenty of time to get over there as Network Rail have now prevented access to a great swathe of the reserve by closing both the bridge and the level crossing, apparently for the rest of this year. It was interesting to see the development on that side where we found Little Ringed Plover and Lapwing. The artificial Sand Martin bank was not being used but we saw a few around together with Swallow, Swift and House Martin. We heard only one Reed Warbler and also only one Sedge Warbler. Among the many Black-headed Gulls there was a Mediterranean Gull. Despite missing access to the areas where several of the more difficult birds can normally be found, we managed to record 47 species before the rain showers (of which we only had one all morning) finally turned up in earnest around two o’clock.

Anglesey
17th-18th May 2014

Eleven of us met at SOUTH STACK on Sunday morning. The weather was fine but it was getting quite windy by the time we left after lunch. There were huge numbers of Guillemots on the cliffs and lots of Herring gulls. Numbers of Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Puffins seemed very low although there were a fair few Razorbills. A pair of Peregrines were nesting and the male gave us some fantastic views. In the surrounding heath we had excellent views of Stonechats feeding young together with good numbers of Whitethroats and Linnets. There were at least two pairs of Choughs showing us their flying skills.

On Saturday afternoon we went to CEMLYN BAY to visit the tern colony. The strong wind screaming across the shingle bar made it hard to keep binoculars steady, let alone a telescope. There were hundreds of nesting Sandwich Terns and Black-headed Gulls but much smaller numbers of Arctic and Common Tern. After considerable effort we eventually managed to find one of the 12 Mediterranean Gull nests! After a while lying below the wind on the shingle, we set off for a short walk across farmland and then back along the shore. This provided quite a lot of Pied Wagtails and at least five White Wagtails too. On the shore we had excellent views of Dunlin and Ringed Plover which were extremely confiding. On the lagoon behind the shingle were some Red-Breasted Mergansers.

On Sunday morning we met at NEWBOROUGH FOREST and walked along the shore to LLANDDWYNN ISLAND. There was little to be seen before the island as there were dozens of kite-surfers thrashing up and down near the shore. On the island we had Stonechat feeding young once again and more Whitethroat. There was a Ringed Plover nesting near one of the paths and we had excellent views of breeding Shag in a small colony on an island off the point. We also picked up Rock Pipit on the rocks near the lighthouse. After lunch taken sheltering from the wind overlooking the Shag colony, we returned to the mainland where we weren’t surprised to find that the island had indeed become an island. Our intrepid leader together with a few others paddled across but most were content to lie in the sun and wait the tide’s release.

In the afternoon, some of us retired to the northern part of the forest towards MALLTRAETH in the hope of seeing red squirrel. After an hour wandering with no sightings, we eventually found one high in a tree in the car park before we left. A Wood Warbler was singing near the car park and we eventually managed to see it towards the end of our forest walk. The birds in the forest weren’t easy to spot but there were good numbers of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest singing.

At the end of the weekend we had recorded 74 species.

Bempton Cliffs
12th June 2014

A grand total of TWO made the trip to Bempton Cliffs on a fantastic hot and sunny day with little wind. The conditions were perfect to spend a couple of hours there. We arrived just after 10:00 to find there were lots of folk already there. The Gannet colony goes from strength to strength with competition for nest sites causing them to spread far and wide along the cliffs. There were the usual numbers of Guillemots, Razorbills and Kittiwakes but there seemed to be huge numbers on the sea as well as on the cliffs this year. Fulmar numbers seemed low and we only recorded 10 Puffins. After eating our packed lunches, we set off for Filey Brigg.

We spent less than two hours there. The Sand Martin colony is still active but there seemed to be only a few nests this year. At the end of the Brigg we eventually found the two Long-tailed Ducks which had been reported. We also found a couple of Turnstones, a Ringed Plover and an Oystercatcher. The tide was on its way in so we returned along the top of the cliffs where we had Whitethroat, Linnet, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler singing.

On hour way home we popped in to North Cave Wetlands where we visited a couple of the hides. It was pleasing to see two pairs of Avocets with at least 3 well-developed youngsters between them. There were a couple of broods of Shelduck (one of 13 ducklings!) and a pair of Shovelers with at least five. The Black-headed Gulls have had another very good breeding year – there were hundreds of youngsters with many already fledged.

Attenborough Nature Centre
21st June 2014

Four members spent an excellent day in hot and sunny weather on this, our first club visit to this reserve on the outskirts of Nottingham. There were still many warblers in song, and we had Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler – sequenced in descending order of numbers heard/seen -from 18 Blackcaps down to a single reeling Grasshopper Warbler. Target birds such as Red-crested Pochard and Egyptian Goose were seen within the first 5 minutes. We enjoyed watching a recently fledged family of Kestrels with at least 3 young from the main hide. We also watched an enterprising fox from the same hide. It must have caught a very well developed Black-headed Gull chick on one of the larger islands. It then proceeded to swim back to the mainland carrying its prey over a distance of at least 250 yards! We couldn’t help but feel that it deserved it for the effort made! There were Common Terns still breeding and huge numbers of Canada and Greylag Geese. We recorded a total of 64 species – and reckoned we fully deserved out tea and cakes at the cafe before our trip home. This may have been our first trip here, but it certainly shouldn’t be our last.

North Cave
3rd July 2014

Only four of us managed this trip on what turned out to be a warm but overcast day. It started well with a Hobby spotted soon after entering the first hide. Other raptors included several sightings of what was probably the same Kestrel, and at least 3 Buzzards. Once again the Black-headed Gulls seem to have had a bumper breeding season with over 400 juveniles attended by even more adults. Wildfowl have also done well with broods of Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Shoveler and and Greylag Goose evident. Also on the pools were broods of Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Coot and Moorhen together with Common Tern and Oystercatcher chicks being fed. While having lunch on benches at the back of the reserve, two of us managed to hear and then get excellent views of a Corn Bunting – a target bird for our visits here. Waders were represented by a few Redshanks, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and at least 5 Avocets together with a good number of Lapwings. Other highlights included a Kingfisher early in the day and then an adult Mediterranean Gull spotted from the last hide. The lack of sunshine meant that the usual butterflies and dragonflies were few and far between but a total of 58 bird species were recorded.

Norfolk Weekend
20th-21st September 2014

Six members made the trip to the north Norfolk Coast for our second weekend trip of the year.

Together with three guests we convened at RSPB Titchwell at 9:00 on Saturday morning, where the early arrivals were greeted by a very loud Cetti's Warbler in the car park. Later some of us had excellent views of Cetti's and we recorded at least 4 during the day. Before reaching any hides, we heard the Bearded Tits' "pinging" call and a few of us had excellent views. The reserve seemed to be relatively unscathed by the storm surge of Autumn 2013 although the mussel beds on the beach seemed to have been hard hit. We had good views of Water Rail from the first hide, where we also recorded Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper with the regular waders. Both Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits were recorded and some of us had excellent views of one of each, next to each other, from the path to the coast. In such circumstances, they look so different! In total we recorded 17 wader species. We also had excellent views of a Spoonbill which flew back and forth over the reserve at least twice! In total we recorded 67 species during our visit.

On Sunday we reconvened at Cley Marshes. We had a reasonable morning there before splitting up for the rest of the day. It was a little too windy for our liking and we had one or two heavy showers before lunch. There were around 200 Black-tailed Godwits present but far fewer wader species than at Titchwell. The most common duck present was Wigeon, of which over 500 were seen. Some of us walked the perimeter of the reserve and were rewarded by seeing a few Great Skuas, Sandwich Terns, a Great-crested Grebe and several Gannets flying east along the coast. Huge volumes of shingle have been thrown up by last year's storms, but it is not all bad news. The N.W.T. have fenced off large shingle areas between the sea and the reserve which will provide a much needed protected area for ground nesting birds with a liking for shingle. In total we recorded 43 species before the wind got the better of us!

Old Moor Wetlands
15th October 2014

Four of us made the delayed trip to Old Moor. The recent wind and rain had eased and despite overcast skies and some drizzle, we enjoyed a good session. The reserve was quiet, with few visitors but there were good numbers of birds. Several waders were present including Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Redshank, Spotted Redshank and Dunlin with large flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover. In the garden was a Willow Tit, and as we started our visit, five Redwing flew over. From the first hide we watched two skeins of Pink-footed Geese totalling around 300 birds flying east. Other highlights included a Kingfisher in the 55 species recorded. Before returning home we popped in to Broomhill Flash for an hour where we recorded 28 species including a very lonely Ruddy Duck. We also had good views of a perched Sparrowhawk and an early wintering Goldeneye.

Pugney's Country Park
11th November 2014

Five of us were at Pugney’s Country Park, near Wakefield, this morning and the weather was much better than expected. The forecast strong wind was more like a strong breeze and it was a good deal brighter too. We spent the first couple of hours at Pugney’s, visiting the hide and walking around the main lake. We then crossed the main road and walked around the lakes by the river at Calder Wetlands. There were very few small birds around with only a few Goldfinches, Starlings, Blackbirds and a couple of Long-tailed Tits noted. A Kingfisher flashed by at the wetlands but was missed by most of us. Wildfowl were well represented with Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Pochard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Mallard all present. There were several female Goldeneye at Pugney’s and at least one drake at the wetlands. We were surprised to see 6 Pink-footed Geese come in to the lake at Pugney’s. Before retiring for lunch at the nearby Swan and Cygnet, we managed to record 37 species.

Martin Mere
21st December 2014

Seven of us made the trip and were rewarded with far better weather than forecast. It was relatively warm for a change with no rain at all and only strong rather than gale force winds. The highlight, of course, was to see the wildfowl and swans at such close range. Over 1000 Whooper Swans have been recorded as usual and there were the usual huge numbers of Shelduck, Mallard, Pintail, Wigeon and Teal. The Pink-footed Geese must have been further away than usual as there were hardly any to be seen in the surrounding fields and only a few came to be fed at 3PM. A Bar-headed goose was snoozing on one of the islands when we arrived and showed well at the feeding session. It was a little windy to find many of the smaller birds but there were good numbers of Greenfinch and Goldfinch at the feeding station with Reed Buntings and the usual tit species. The Tree Sparrows were also to be found in the usual spot. A single Redwing in the car park when we arrived, a Marsh Harrier and a Peregrine, together with a female Mandarin at the feeding session helped us to record a total of 51 species.