Trip Reports - 2003
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.
Over 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.
The 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
Old Moor Wetlands
Old 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
The 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.
A 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.
Who 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.
Marsh 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.
The 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.
22 July (Evening)
The 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.
Sadly, 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
There 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.
This 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!
A 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
The 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.
11 November 2003
A 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.
11 December 2003
Despite 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.
18 January 2004
This 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.