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Trip Report - 2019

Linacre Reservoir
8th January 2019

Five members enjoyed a morning walk around Linacre reservoirs in surprisingly fine weather with clear skies and little wind. Only 28 bird species were recorded but there were good numbers of those that were there. All four of the common tits were well-represented and Nuthatches seemed to be everywhere. Three Treecreepers were spotted. The reservoirs had lots of Black-headed Gulls, Mallards, Tufted Ducks and Moorhens with only a few Mandarin and Coot and single Little Grebe and Cormorant. Both Great Spotted and Green woodpecker were present but finches were noticeably absent with only a single Chaffinch seen.

Rother Valley
13th February 2019

Six of us attended Rother Valley Country Park where the weather was warmer than might be expected for mid-February. A mix up about where to meet meant we ended up in two parties. A walk around the nature lakes area was a good start to the day, although it was the muddiest part too. As expected there were plenty of wildfowl and around 20 Cormorant loafing about there. Several displaying male Goldeneye were present together with small numbers of Pochard, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Gadwall, Shoveler and Teal. We were delighted to find a female Smew on the smallest of the 3 pools. We then walked around the main lake where there were larger numbers of Coot, Tufted Duck, Wigeon Canada Goose, Great Crested Grebe and Mute Swan. Raptors present were Kestrel, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. The smaller birds were few but included several Bullfinch and Goldfinch but not a single Chaffinch. Even so, by the time we retired for a lunch time snack at the cafe, we had recorded 45 species.

Langsett
20th March 2019

Nine members convened at the Langsett Barn car park and enjoyed a good walk in excellent weather. We started over the dam wall where a pair of Oystercatchers were sleeping by a drake Mallard. Once over the dam, we walked through woodland over to the south bank of the reservoir. Many of the birds were in full song including Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Blackbird and a few Goldcrest too. A single Brambling, a male almost in breeding plumage, was a good spot. The reservoir held a Great Crested Grebe, unusual for this site, together with the usual Canada Geese, Mallard and a pair of Greylag Geese. Once on the moorland, the Meadow Pipits were numerous and were demonstrating their parachute display flight. Red Grouse were everywhere but Skylark were absent. On the river at the north west corner was a Dipper. By the time we were back at the cars we had recorded 38 species, including a small flock of Crossbills, which flew over heralding their presence with their chipping calls. All of us retired for a well-earned lunch at the Polka Dot cafe.

Old Moor Wetlands
11th April 2019

Six members started the day in the hide at Broomhill Flash before moving on to Old Moor. The work outlined by Old Moor manager Graham Figg at our last winter meeting was very visible with bulldozers and mechanical diggers at work at Wombwell Ings and on the meadows purchased by the Garganey Trust. It didn't seem to bother the birds at Broomhill unduly and we recorded 30 species there. There is now a small island in front of the hide. Those early enough saw a pair of Red-legged Partridge with the usual residents at this time of year. The weather was bright and sunny and the icy easterly wind seemed to disappear during the day. The main lagoon at Old Moor was heaving with Black-headed Gulls which were also spread widely around other parts of the reserve and a count of over 2000 was estimated. Waders were represented by several Lapwings, a few Redshank and singles of both Snipe and Green Sandpiper. The garden feeders were very quiet but the Tree Sparrow Farm feeders were better with Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Dunnock, Brambling and the usual tit species all present. Wildfowl were still well represented with 7 duck species still resident. The Sand Martin wall was not yet in use but one distant hirundine may have been a possible. An excellent day was had by all with the highlights occurring at the last hide visited where a booming Bittern strolled out into view before flying off to another part of the reedbed and a single Avocet dropped in. PLUS a few of us heard a Cuckoo calling. A total of 57 species were recorded at Old Moor making our total for the day 59.

Camphill Gliding Club
16th May 2019

Nine members were up and about at dawn and convened in the club car park at 5:00AM. The small wood there held a few singing birds before we started our walk. The lack of trees on the field itself meant that the chorus was quite limited but the extremely fine morning and the spectacular views from the field perimeter track made up for that. There were a pair of Lapwing and Curlew on the field, both likely to raise young and we were surrounded by Skylarks which gave us some excellent photographic opportunities. The woodland at the far side of the field gave us our best birdsong, which included a nearby singing Cuckoo together with several warblers including Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. Redstart and Goldcrest were also recorded. We were surprised to find a family of Ravens, very clearly unhappy about our presence near their nest site. We finished the morning with a first class breakfast in the club dining room after a very enjoyable morning walk.

Somerset Weekend
18th-19th May 2019

Saturday Seven members and a guest met at Ham Wall RSPB reserve in fine weather and spent the morning there. The highlights were the excellent sightings of Bittern together with a certain 3 booming males, and the many views of Great Egrets - we recorded at least 10 during the morning. Warblers were in fine song with Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Reed Warbler recorded in good numbers. Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler and Whitethroat were somewhat less common. Raptors were represented by Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Red Kite. Wildfowl present included good numbers of Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Pochard with a pair of Wigeon and a single Greylag Goose also recorded. By the end of our visit, we had recorded 46 species. After a short break for lunch we the crossed over the road to Shapwick Heath NNR where we spent the afternoon. Unlike on our last visit there, we failed to find any Cattle Egrets this time around. Cuckoos were in fine voice here as they had been at Ham Wall too. The highlight of the afternoon was undoubtedly the frequent sightings of Hobby hunting dragonflies over the reed beds - there must have been at least 3. A Red Kite was seen once more together with a number of Buzzard and at least a further 3 Marsh Harriers. Once again we had grand views of Bitterns making quite lengthy flights. We added Shoveler to our wildfowl tally and by the end of the day our bird total had reached 50.

Sunday Eight members and our guest convened at 9:30 at Steart Marshes, a relatively new reserve created and managed by the WWT. The reserve lies next to the river Parrett and covers an area of peninsular along the Severn Estuary to the south of the river. The sea defences have been breached to allow salt water onto the reserve, developing a salt marsh at high tides. Wader scrapes have been created and there is also a freshwater area. There were around 80 Avocet with at least 6 young. Our group split up for much of the day and some of us left early. Those who stayed longer (and walked further!) recorded 52 species. The reserve has an interesting mix of habitats including some farmland with grazing cattle and hedgerows as well as the marsh, reed beds and estuarine mud. Around 200 Shelduck were on the reserve. Warblers included Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Cetti's Warbler in good numbers with a few Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff too. Waders were represented by Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher in addition to the Avocet. This reserve is probably best visited before and during a high tide but seems to hold much of interest at any state of the tide.

Wyming Brook and Redmires Reservoirs
13th June 2019

Only four members ignored the weather forecast and convened at Wyming Brook for 9:00. Luckily, the weather stayed dry for almost the whole walk. There was a heavy drizzle shower soon after we set off around the reservoirs. Blackcaps were singing throughout the woodland and there were lots of Willow Warblers singing on the moorland. On the tops were Curlew and Lapwings, the latter with young. Around the reservoirs were both Pied and Grey Wagtails, both with recently fledged young. Canada Geese and Greylag Geese were on the top reservoir with small goslings and there were a few Mallard families too. The Little Ringed Plovers were tricky to find but they too had at least one youngster. Despite failing to find common birds such as Blue Tit and Dunnock, we still recorded 47 species, reflecting the varied habitat we'd visited before we got back to the cars around 1:00.

Bretton Clough
17th July 2019

As our usual June evening walk down Bretton Clough was cancelled because of the bad weather, we decided to try again for our July field trip. Seven of us convened by the Barrel Inn in fine and warm weather. A couple of Yellowhammers were spotted briefly soon after we set off together with a few Linnets. As expected the birds were largely very quiet and we struggled to identify several as they were glimpsed bouncing around in the trees. The usual June birds normally spotted from their songs were well hidden so we failed to find Tree Pipit, Redstart or any of the chats. Strangely, on a morning where several paragliders were enjoying the thermals, not a single raptor seemed to be around. Even so, by the time we were back at the car, we had recorded 27 species including a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Jubilee plantation and a Curlew on Sir William Hill. As ever at this time of year there were quite a few butterflies in flight mainly ringlets and meadow browns. In addition, we also saw 3 dark green fritillaries, some small heaths and an unidentified skipper. Four of us enjoyed a really good lunch in the pub before setting off for home.

Monks Dale & Chee Dale
15th August 2019

Our walk up Monks Dale and back down Chee Dale was planned for the wettest day of the week (as ever) and was postponed for a day in the hope of better luck then. Sadly, only 2 of the original 7 members could manage the re-arranged day so there were only 4 of us at Millersdale Station for the start time. We were somewhat taken aback to arrive when it was raining a little and dismayed when it got really heavy. After a slight delay, the rain stopped and never returned. One of our number (who shall remain nameless) proposed a route down into Monks Dale on the promise that he knew of a good route back up and onto the Limestone Way. We had planned to avoid the dale bottom because of the fear of wet and slippery limestone. Our fears were fully justified and after failing to find the proposed route we were back at our start point after a little more than an hour of sliding around. On a brighter note, we did manage to find Common Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher in Monks Dale on our way down. After a swift re-think (and a coffee) we decided to walk along to Litton Mill and back. We set off along the road in Millersdale in sunshine and climbed up to the Monsal Trail for our return. We saw few birds with only a Dipper on the river being noteworthy. We recorded a meagre 16 birds but eventually enjoyed a decent walk in the warm sunshine!

Cleveland Weekend
14th-15th September 2019

The weather for this weekend looked set fair and all 11 members making this trip arrived on time at the Seal Sands car park. The repair work after the 2013 storm surge is now complete and a new screen has been erected at the car park overlooking Cowpen Bewley marsh. That area is developing well for birds and there were lots to be seen. We then made our way to the screen overlooking the bridge at Greatham Creek and along the repaired river bank to the hide overlooking Seal Sands. There were plenty of waders to be found including Dunlin, Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover and Knot. No seals were basking by the bridge as the tide was out but a good number were seen from the Seal Sands hide, although quite distant. We then moved on to park near North Gare where we had our picnic lunch in the sand dunes. Here we added Sandwich Tern, Common Gull and Feral Pigeon to our day list before moving on to Hartlepool Headland as high tide approached. By then the wind, which had been increasing all day, was very strong but we were still able to add Gannet, Turnstone, Eider Duck, Guillemot, Wheatear and House Martin to our list. Sadly, there was no sign of any Purple Sandpipers. St. Hilda's Church was open and most of us took the opportunity to have a look inside this interesting site. For this evening, the whole group was staying at Hartlepool Marina so it was very convenient for us to dine together at Portals Place where we enjoyed a good meal within walking distance of our accommodation. It's a pity it was such a noisy place making conversation a little tricky!

On Sunday we convened at RSPB Saltholme. Sadly, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. It was still windy and quite cloudy with rain forecast for the afternoon. The main lake at the visitor centre was being drained to allow work to be done. The intention is to create more islands for the colony of breeding Common Terns to grow further. Luckily the diggers weren't going to start until the following Monday so the lake normally used by ducks, geese and swans had several waders taking advantage of the large expanse of mud that was exposed. Here Ruff and Greenshank were added to the weekend's wader list with a couple of Common Terns still fishing the residual pools. The group stayed largely together all morning visiting the three hides before having lunch in and around the visitor centre. Highlights on this morning included a distant, perched Merlin (initially misidentified as a Peregrine by yours truly), Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese. The forecast rain arrived soon after lunch and most of the group set off for home leaving only four to brave the weather. We decided not to make the long trek to the pools on the Haverton Hill side of the reserve and instead drove over to the hide overlooking Dormans Pool. Highlights there included Water Rail, Black Swan and Red-crested Pochard. The rain cleared away during the afternoon and we recorded 55 species today before having well-deserved coffee and scones and setting off for home around 4:00. All in all, despite the strong wind throughout, the weekend went pretty well with a total of 70 species being recorded.

Carsington Water
23rd October 2019

Ten of us met up at Sheepwash car park as planned but the weather wasn't great. There was quite a lot of mist so visibility was very limited. Nevertheless, we spent a good session at the Paul Stanley hide where we struggled to see more than 100 yards across the water. The feeders were very busy and we recorded 5 tit species before leaving for Sheepwash hide, including the site speciality of Willow Tit. Despite the mist, we did spot a male Goldeneye on the reservoir, which turned out to be the only one of the day. The mist cleared very slightly at Sheepwash where there were a few more birds in and around the water including a Snipe. By the time we reached the Lane End hide the mist had cleared considerably and was clearing with the slight breeze. By the time we reached the visitor centre we'd recorded lots of the wildfowl we expected. There were good numbers of Mallard, Tufted Duck, and Pochard but much lower numbers of Teal and Gadwall and only two Wigeon. As ever there were plenty of Canada Geese but only 3 Greylags. The mist was developing once more as we approached Stones Island in our search for the Slavonian Grebe which had been at the site for a few weeks. That proved much easier than expected but it was feeding on small fish so was diving and moving around quite a bit. During the afternoon the mist cleared once again and it was bright and sunny on our return to the Sheepwash car park. Before leaving we paid a visit to the Sheepwash Hide again where the number of Cormorants had increased to 28 and the gull roost was building. Most were Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed but there were also several Common Gulls and a few Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls too. Other highlights during our visit included Treecreeper, Jay and Kingfisher. The final bird count for the visit was 54.

Ladybower
13th November 2019

Eight members and a couple of guests met at Ashopton Viaduct at 9:00 on a bright and dry morning for a change. After the unprecedented rain over the last few weeks it was very welcome! We walked clockwise around the reservoir, which unsurprisingly was full, and recorded 32 species before getting back to the cars. Soon after the start we found 3 Bullfinches, always a welcome addition to any list. There were flocks of both Goldfinches and Siskins on the west bank and we disturbed a large number of Mandarins. There were as many as 80 on the reservoir by the time we'd finished. With the Siskin flock was another flock of at least 30 Long-tailed tits. After a coffee stop at Fairholmes, we continued under the dam wall where the cascade was quite impressive. The feeders by the car park were busy with lots of Chaffinches and tits. On the east bank we found several Fieldfares and a few Redwings as well as many Blackbirds, 2 Mistle Thrushes and a single Song Thrush. With the Chaffinches were a number of Bramblings, about 6 by the time we'd finished. Other highlights included good views of Goldcrest, Jay and Nuthatch. We were back at the cars soon after 1:00 without being bothered by any significant rain or getting very muddy!

Chesterfield Canal
11th December 2019

Nine members and one guest met near Tapton Lock on the Chesterfield Canal in bright sunshine and little wind. We enjoyed a gentle stroll as far as the Hollingwood Hub approaching Staveley, where most enjoyed a coffee at the cafe. As we left the lock area, a Grey Wagtail was busy on the slipway but didn't stay around long. There were lots of Blackbirds but only a single Song Thrush and several Redwing on the outward leg. Three Mistle Thrushes were spotted on an adjacent field on the return journey. Other highlights included good views of a few pairs of Bullfinch and several flocks of Goldfinch. Unusual sightings included a Herring Gull and a Common Buzzard. On our return to the cars near Tapton Lock we had recorded 30 species, albeit including a domestic Mallard and several Feral Pigeons as 2 of them!