Field Trips: Past & Future
The field trip reports below are for 2018 only. To see reports for previous years, select the year from the following list:
For information on forthcoming field trips, click here.
Field Trips: 2018
Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve – 30th September – Report by Sue Brealey
A group of three people turned up about 10 o’clock, at this reserve situated between Coventry & Rugby, resulting from a sand and gravel extraction site, which is still working to some degree. The weather was dry, a bit overcast, with the beginning of a cold wind.
On the way to the pools, some Mallard were noted and Carrion Crow, but then the oak tree branches were noted to be moving and then a Jay was seen collecting acorns. Really good views were seen. Walking on the group walked towards the Wright Hide overlooking the East Marsh Pool. It was noted that everything was rather quite, and this was confirmed by a local who suggested this opinion. Once at the hide, quite a few Black headed Gulls were noted, together with a Herring Gull, several Cormorants, Moorhen, Coot, several Gadwall & Teal. There were also over 100 Lapwing, which kept flying up when disturbed. Having decided that there were no more species to see, the group moved onto the Jon Baldwin Hide overlooking the same pool, but there were no more species to see. However the Lapwings kept flying up in alarm, and then a Sparrowhawk flew over the pool explaining the disturbances. A Magpie flew across as well. As things quietened down again the group moved to the East Marsh Hide. From this angle of the pool, showed a Grey Heron and some Shoveler, but no other species in sight. So the group moved across to the Teal Pool Hide. As this was looked over another couple came in and commented on the lack of water. This pool had completely dried out due to the drought conditions of the summer, so none of the expected waders were present. Rather disappointed the group moved further on and walked to the Carlton Pool overlooking another large pool, but as with the Teal Pool was dried out with various plants growing in the vacant space, although there was an area of water with lily pads towards the rear of the area. However, the group decided to have lunch checking the area in hope of something. And something was what happened. The water at the rear began to bubble up quite a bit, and then quite suddenly something moved towards the lily pads and then the group realised it was an Otter. It swam about and then went into the reeds. The encounter was only a few seconds but definitely the highlight of the day. The group walked back towards the reception centre, trying our luck at the Mick Taylor Hide overlooking the River Pool, but the water levels here were extremely low with no other species noted. At the reception centre a few other birds were added to the list at the feeding station such as Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, and Blackbird.
At this point the group decided to start on their ways home. A disappointing total of 22 species had been seen, but the highlight of the Otter made up for it.
Queenshead (near Oswestry) – 10th June – Report by Sue Brealey
On a nice sunny day a group assembled at the car park opposite the Queenshead pub, in order to walk down the Montgomery Canal towards Maesbury on a half day trip, led with thanks, by Allan Dawes.
This walk had been undertaken the previous year, when Allan took the group round what was left of a reserve near Aston Locks. The area is of importance with SSI Status mainly for aquatic plants, and it was about to be brought back to a better state as part of the restoration of the canal. This year the group found that a great deal of work had been carried out, but access was not allowed for safety’s sake. But it was obvious that further work still needed to be carried out and although concentrating on plants, birds usually follow, so this could become a really good area to visit in the future.
So on the walk along the towpath various birds were seen and heard. Amongst those seen included Whitethroat, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Tits, and Carrion Crow. Amongst the reed beds Sedge Warbler & Reed Warbler were seen & heard. The Sedge Warbler was seen to be feeding amongst the reeds then returning across the canal to what was obviously the nest with young. Then a bird standing with rather an erect stance was perched at the top of a tree, and on closer inspection this proved to be a Spotted Flycatcher, a really good spot. A Jay flew by, as well as Long tailed Tits.
The group walked past the Aston Lock complex, and then reversed the direction slowly returning back towards Queenshead. Along the way further birds were seen so that in the end about 24 birds were seen. This had been a pleasant morning’s walk and again thanks to Allan for leading the group.
RSPB Ynys Hir – 20th May – Report by Sue Brealey
A group of eleven people arrived at Ynys Hir for hopefully a good day’s birding. The weather was a bit chilly to begin with, but warmed up a touch during the day and there was no rain.
The morning was taken up with going round the Saltmarsh Trial. From the reception centre, the group walked towards the Marian Mawr Hide, passing through the woodland where the sightings were difficult due to the trees being in leaf. However, the place sang with bird song. Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, and Wren were among those heard and then a Pied Flycatcher was seen. Also Blackbird, Great Tit, Robin were seen. Moving further on and across the railway bridge, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen at the top of a tree, and Chaffinch were noted. Once at the Marian Mawr hide, the area viewed from its height including the Dyfi estuary. A large number of Black headed Gulls were noted, plus Herring Gulls, Canada Geese, a Lapwing, Mallard and Cormorant. A Dunnock was seen in the trees, and Sedge Warbler was seen by a few in the reeds. Out on the Estuary Great Black backed Gull, Little Egret, Redshank, Shelduck were seen. For the first time during this season, and because the heronry has been abandoned, the group were able to visit the Doman Las hide. The members had been cautioned however to be rather quiet in the hide, and when we arrived we saw why. An Oystercatcher was looking after her nest on a wall just in front of the hide. It was lovely to see this bird so close. The hide overlooks the bend in the river Dyfi and on it some Goosander were noted. In the distance Red Kite were seen as well as Buzzard. After this hide the group went on to the Saltings Hide. During the walk, Sedge Warbler were seen and definitely heard. Once at the hide, the lagoon was inspected and amongst the other species seen included Redshank and Little Ringed Plover. The group then walked back up the hill in order to cross the Railway Bridge and return to the centre for a well-earned lunch.
After lunch the group convened and walked through the woodland to the Ynys-Hir Hide, with views over the canopy towards the estuary. During the walk, Wood Warbler, Robin, Redstart were amongst those heard if not actually seen. From the hide Jay and another Great spotted Woodpecker were seen. Afterwards, the group walked down towards the boardwalk which eventually brought the group to the Ynys Feurig Hide. However there were not any new species of note seen. On the walk back to the reception centre, Skylark were seen singing high in the sky, Carrion Crow, and Jackdaw were noted, and near the end of the walk, some members heard a Grasshopper Warbler.
All in all a good time was had by all with up to 54 species seen or heard. A good result.
Bury Ditches – 8th April – Report by Sue Brealey
On a cold day, a group of about eleven people arrived at Bury Ditches for a half day walk at this South Shropshire site, being led, with thanks, by Dave Pearce.
A walk up to the hill to the Hill Fort, found the group hearing a number of birds singing away. Amongst those heard were Willow Warbler, Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Crossbill, Marsh Tit, and Yellowhammer. With patience some good if distant views were seen of Crossbill, which looked in really good condition. Further up the hill, the group were able to see several Yellowhammer, flying between trees. Blackbird and Bullfinch were seen. Once we arrived at the top of the fort, the views were spectacular. A bird landed in a tree and was identified as a Meadow Pipit. Then another bird started to sing and it was realised to be a Tree Pipit, which then took flight before parachuting down to ground. A scan started over the surrounding countryside, mainly for Goshawk. Some Buzzards, Raven & Crows were noted. Then over towards the forests by Clunton Coppice, a very far sighting was made of a Goshawk, but it was through a scope, and difficult to identify. While scanning continued over some fields, more Buzzards were seen on the ground, with a Pheasant as well. But then one of the ‘Buzzards’ flew up and it proved to be a Red Kite. This flew around which was enjoyed by all. After further scanning, the group slowly walked down following the Druid’s Walk. Along the way a Coal tit was noted and a Goldcrest heard, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew past. A Mistle Thrush was noted but difficult to see due to the habitat.
Having seen or heard such a wide variety of birds, the walk back to the car park was enjoyed by all. Approximately 27 birds were seen.
Moore Nature Reserve – 25th March – Report by Sue Brealey
A group of eleven members arrived at the car park at Moore. The weather was chilly but clear and all including two new to the usual group looked forward to seeing what was around. For a start a Green Woodpecker was heard.
The group moved up the hill opposite the car park leading to a small clearing and the Sedge Hide. Along the way Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Robin, a small group of Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit & Blue Tit were noted. The view from the hide over Lapwing Lake, initially looked rather quite, but then Canada Goose was noted, some Coot, a Little Grebe were seen. A Wren was singing vigorously in the open in a small birch tree. From the clearing outside Buzzard were seen flying up the thermals, and then a Sparrowhawk flew past going rather fast. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew past as well. The group walked through the clearing towards the Raptor Watch Platform. However there were no birds seen from this point, but on the next section walking to the main walk through the reserve, a Goldcrest was seen, and then a Song Thrush was noted on the ground, and appeared to be gathering nesting material. Chiffchaff were heard singing and then one was seen at the top of a tree. After these sights, the group gathered at the Forestry Commission Hide, in fact a screen, overlooking a rather scrubby area. A jay flew by and a few Carrion Crows were about. A walk put towards the other side of the Lapwing Lake brought the group up to the Canal Bed Hide/Screen. All was rather quiet. Further progress brought everyone to the Feeding Station. Here Great Tits, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Dunnock, were seen, plus brief views of a Nuthatch and a Brambling. Then we slowly returned to the car park where lunch was eaten.
After lunch the group started off to wonder the other side of the reserve/. The walk took us to the Grebe Hide looking over the Birchwood Pool. Here Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall were seen together with Great Crested Grebe. Cormorant were seen as well. Then some Linnets were seen flying in the trees behind the hide. A walk brought the group round to the Birch Strip Hide, and a quick look added some Goldeneye, who were showing display behaviour, a Grey Heron with Greylag geese flying over. A further walk was taken to the Fox Hide, where a Lapwing was seen plus a group of Black headed Gull & Common Gull, a Moorhen, some Teal, & Wigeon. Some of the party went up to the Eastern Reedbed, but nothing else of any note was seen.
Having returned to the car park, everyone was agreed that the day had been good with about 42 birds having been seen.
Rutland Water – 18th February – Report by Brian Lyon
Twenty-four Intrepid birders set off from Shirehall to Rutland Water NR for what promised to be an interesting day with Smew being the target bird for many. Arriving at approximately 10 am the first stop was to the Visitor Centre to get up to date news regarding the reserve. We quickly established that 5 Smew had been reported in the vicinity of the Plover hide, there were also reports of Scaup and Black Necked Grebe as well as possible Divers and White Wing Gulls. The party split into smaller groups with most of the groups heading towards the reported Smew, several species were seen on the walk to the first objective with Grey Wagtail, Song Thrush and Redwing making themselves known. The hedgerows on the way to the hide were intriguing with stops being required every few steps to check another sighting, with Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Dunnock being sighted as well as some of the more common Tit species. The resident Barnacle Goose flock were evident throughout the day as well as various Gulls flying over, mainly BHG.
Upon reaching the Plover hide there were a great many birds to look at with Wigeon, Coot, Pochard and Tufted Duck immediately obvious however, it was not long before 2 female Smew were sighted. Good views were achieved by all but where were the males. More time was spent searching the water with Egyptian Goose, Oystercatcher and GBBG’s being observed. The main party decided to walk to some of the other hides and find a place for lunch. Among the birds observed from the other hides were, Goldeneye, Shelduck, Shoveler and Pintail, lunch was had and we moved on to reports that Drake Smew had been observed from the Sandpiper hide. On arrival 3 Goosanders were seen as well as a solitary Redshank but no sign of the Drake Smew, a quick walk to the Dunlin hide produced a Green Woodpecker and a fly through by a Great White Egret before the Drake Smew were observed. There were a total of 7 birds eventually sighted with 3 Drakes, fantastic views of these birds were obtained by all before it was time to move on.
The walk back to the visitor centre where we could access the hides at the other part of the NR produced Red Kite and Bullfinch before a stop at the Feeder station outside the visitor centre. This station was a delight with various birds observed including, Redpoll, Siskin and Brambling as well as some of the more common birds. We then set off to our next target locations with Snipe and Mallard hides being the main aim due to the time for the coach departure rapidly approaching. These hides produced views of Teal, Curlew and Stonechat among other birds and the site of a Sparrowhawk sitting on a gate was a nice surprise. Other birds reported by other members included, little Egret, Water rail and Little Grebe. After a final attempt to wash the mud off our boots we made our way towards the coach when one of the Reserve staff ran out shouting that a Barn Owl had just flown past the Centre, despite lots of eyes, the bird was not observed by any of our party, although a strangely marked Sparrowhawk was seen
Overall an excellent day at Rutland Water NR with 58 species seen in total. More time or better planning by the birders would be needed to see all the Hides, the NR is well worth the £4 entry fee and a big thanks to Sue Brealey for organising the trip.
Colemere – 7th January – Report by Sue Brealey
On a very cold day, but dry, a small group of four, including a new member, started to arrive at Colemere for a half day walk. While waiting in the car park, Blackbird, Blue Tit Chaffinch, Great Tit, & Redwing were noted scurrying around the area, also a Kestrel hovering nearby. Once the group arrived after amount of time to see if anyone else would arrive, the walk was started to going round the lake anti-clockwise.
After going through the first gate, the group started to scan the lake. Along with the usual Canada Geese, Mallard, Coot and Black headed Gull, there were what was at first thought to be Tufted Duck, but on closer inspection the small group proved to a male with 2 female Goldeneye, looking really good in the light. The marshy area to the right, did not appear to show any other birds, and the group continued towards the wood. This appeared to be rather quite, possibly a result of the low temperatures and dog walkers. However, a Great spotted Woodpecker was spotted as well as Woodpigeon. A check of the nearby fields found nothing of note except for Carrion Crow and Jackdaw. The walk carried on through the wood, and then climbed up towards the canal, and the Yell Bridge. Again the woods were very quiet again, but going down towards the lake again a Robin was seen feeding on the ground. Further along a Song Thrush was seen. After going past the Little Mill, and in a bay, a large group of Goosander were seen, and then a group of Cormorant were seen fishing. A Grey Heron was seen on the far side of the lake.
Unfortunately for the rest of the walk proved that the number of birds around was really low. So after having enjoyed a nice walk, the group finished it and then went back home to our homes. A total of about 21.