Upton Warren Nature Reserve – 23rd June 2019 – Report by Sue Brealey
A small group of 4 arrived at the Moors Car Park, on a day which was dry, but cloudy with a forecast of possible rain. While waiting to see if anybody else would come, a Cetti’s Warbler started singing, and then was seen a few times flying between various shrubs. The group moved off towards Moors Pools, walking along the road which gave access to a few private residences. Along the way, Chiffchaff was heard, a Blackbird flew by, as well as Collared Dove & Woodpigeon. A Common Tern flew over, as well as a Magpie. When looking towards the North Moors Pool on the left, it looked like there was a hide, not seen before. A little later, a new path was seen and then a new hide was approached. It was found to overlook the reed beds of the North Moors Pool, which appeared to be rather quiet, but a few really good views were had of Reed Bunting on various bushes & reed tops, and also Reed Warblers were seen flying between the reed beds. The hide was definitely new and a welcome addition to this reserve. After staying there a goodly time, the group started of towards the elevated hide overlooking Amy’s Marsh. From this hide Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, and Teal as well as Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, and a few Mute Swan were seen. A good number of Black headed Gull were present on nests, and with juveniles looking for food from their parents. Other birds seen included Green Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Great crested Grebe, Grey Heron and Moorhen. A Lesser Black backed Gull was noted. Having exhausted the species present, the group walked back towards the car park but for the first time the route was a new one which circled around the North Moors Pond. Along the way, Blue Tit, Great Tit & Dunnock were seen.
Once back at the car park, the decision was made to drive around to the sailing club in order to visit the Flashes. Before leaving, a Buzzard was seeing over flying the reserve. Having parked, the walk was made to go towards the elevated hide overlooking the Second Flash. While looking out to see what species were around lunch was consumed. Several Avocet were noted, included a few juveniles, and an Oystercatcher was seen on a nest. Coot, Cormorant and Shelduck, and Swallows flew over were seen. But as could be predicted the vast number of birds proved to be more Black headed Gull with their young. It was concluded quite quickly that it was a quiet day, and as the weather appeared to be closing in it was decided to conclude the day, after seeing about 33 Species.
Weekend in Suffolk & Norfolk – 30th May to 2nd June 2019 – Report by Sue Brealey
On the first day (Thursday, 30th May 2019) of the weekend Field Trip to Norfolk & Suffolk, a group of 16 members arrived at Lackford Lakes Nature Reserve run by Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Whilst this reserve was visited last October, it was interesting to return during a different season. On arrival some members had heard that a Nightingale was present so once everyone had arrived, the group walked off towards the area where it was hoped to find this illusive bird, and this proved to be just before arriving at the Double Decker hide. On the way, Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, & Garden Warbler were heard while Swift, Blackbird, Magpie, & Robin were seen. On getting nearer the hide, the Nightingale started to sing but only its initial phrase, and was certainly not seen deciding to keep to the deep scrub. Once in the hide that overlooked ‘The Shallows’, members had really good sightings of Kingfisher while it flew between different perches, as well as Cormorant, Coot, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Shelduck, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Shoveler, Mallard, and then a Marsh Harrier flew over. A move was made to Bernard’s Hide and while lunch was eaten, Black headed Gulls were seen, with one chasing a Common Tern, then a Hobby was seen in flight, Great crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Greylag Goose, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow & Moorhen. The group then having seen no further birds from Paul’s Hide, walked back to the Reception Centre, and there had a small break, where there watched the feeding station where Greenfinch, Marsh Tit, Goldfinch, Siskin, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, & Dunnock. After this the group started to walk back into the reserve towards Bess’s hide, going through Ash Carr, and along the way Cuckoo was heard and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was noted, a group of Long tailed Tit went past, a Wren was heard. Once at Bess’s hide which overlooked the ‘Long Reach’, there were not that many birds about but Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, and Swallow were added to the list and Reed Warbler was heard. A quick visit to Fuller’s Mill hide, proved to be a damp squib. Some of the group went onto the eastern part of the reserve towards Steggall’s hide, and saw Treecreeper. The group then started for the onward journey after having had a good day with about 51 species seen.
The group now travelled onto Lowestoft where everyone was staying at the Premier Inn. A meal at the attached pub proved very good and everyone went off to bed looking forward to the next day.
On Friday, 31st May 2019, the group travelled to RSPB Minsmere, a 45 minute journey. The weather started out at 12°C, with clear blue skies, feeling warm but rather windy. By 2.30 the weather became more cloudy and therefore feeling much cooler. Having registered in, the group started out at this premier site, going out along the north wall towards the sea. Nearer the Visitor’s Centre, Sand Martins were flying in & out of their nest site. Further on Chiffchaff & Whitethroat were heard, and Magpie, Woodpigeon, Black headed Gulls were seen. Once walking between the large reed beds, Reed Warbler & Sedge Warbler were heard, but not seen due to the wind which encouraged them to keep well down into the reeds. The group stayed in place in the hope of seeing Bearded Tit, but these were not seen or heard, although several Reed Bunting were noted with small flocks of Linnet flying overhead. After this the group started to spilt up, but some walked on to the East hide, overlooking the East Scrape, and it was here that a great many birds were added to the day list including Avocet, Wigeon, Barnacle Goose, Gadwall, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Lapwing, Lesser Black backed Gull, at least 3 Little Tern, several Mediterranean Gull, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Sandwich Tern, Redshank, some Kittiwakes plus a great many Black headed Gull. Having seen as much as possible, the North hide was visited. Along the way, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Whitethroat was heard. At the hide, overlooking the West Scrape, Canada Goose were seen, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Dunlin, Moorhen, a group of Black tailed Godwit and then unexpectantly a pair of Bar headed Geese were seen with three chicks, guarding them from Carrion Crows. While having lunch near the Visitor’s Centre, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit were added to the list, and a Cuckoo was heard.
Afterwards a walk brought some of the group to the Bittern Hide. With the reeds blowing in the wind, there were wonderful views of Marsh Harriers flying around, diving into the reeds. One member saw a couple of Harriers dropping down continually into the reeds and kept watching the reeds to find out what had caused the behaviour and were rewarded with a Bittern rising slowly up and then flying off. Great crested Grebes were noted, and House Martin and Swallow flew over. Some of the group walked to the Island Mere hide, and along the way Green Woodpecker was noted. Around closing time of the Visitor’s Centre, the group gathered to go towards Dunwich Heath. On the way, a series of cars were noted, and after investigation, the group were able to get really good views of a pair of Stone Curlew with a couple of chicks in a field within ¼ mile of the reserve. The habitat was excellent for these rare birds with a number of Rabbits around to keep it in good condition. After this the group went up to Dunwich Heath, and on arrival walked down the lane that leads into the heathland. Good views of Stonechat were made but it appeared to be very quiet. After a while very brief views were made of Dartford Warbler & Nightjar by a couple of the group, but not everyone. Having had a good day, seeing about 60 species the group retired to the local pub at Dunwich for a good meal, and then returned to Lowestoft for a good sleep as well.
On Saturday, 1st June 2019, the group drove for another 45 minutes, but this time north arriving at Hickling Broad, a reserve run by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT). The weather on arrival had sunny blue skies with a temperature of 13°C. On arrival, the group split up to walk around the reserve during the morning in their own way. A few of the group walked from the Visitor’s Centre through a woodland to the reedbed area and to Secker’s hide. Blackcap were heard in the woodland and Blackbird, Great Spotted Woodpecker were noted. After coming out of the Woodland, butterflies were seen flying around and everyone was delighted to realise they were Swallowtails. For some it was the first time these had been seen and they proved just as lovely as they had hoped. From the Secker’s hide, Cetti’s Warbler was heard, Coot, Gadwall, Egyptian Goose, Mallard were noted. Having seen the birds here the group moved towards the Cadbury hide, where a Water Rail was heard in the reeds, and Reed Bunting were noted. Reed Warblers were heard but proved skulky. Once at this hide which proved to overlook a scrape, a Grey Heron, a Great White Egret and Little Egret were on view. Teal, Wigeon, and Cormorant were seen. At one point a Bittern immerged from the reeds and flew across the scrape over towards the broad river. House Martin & Swallow flew around as well. Marsh Harrier was seen, and a Kingfisher darted by. One of the party saw a Hooded Crow, which was unexpected. After this while going towards the Visitors Centre, the characteristic call of the Common Crane could be heard, and after a good look around they were eventually seen. A great spot. Once at the centre, lunch was consumed and afterwards everyone started the walk towards the Water Trail departure point. From here everyone embarked onto two boats, The Swallow & the Little Tern, 12 in one and the other four in a second boat, for a pre-booked boat trip around the Broad. This boat trip took the boats separately to various areas of the broads, which included 2 further hides not accessible any other way. One of the boats slowly made their way around the broads where pleasure boats and yachts were sailing, seeing Great crested Grebe, Common Tern, Grey Heron, Mute Swan with cygnets, on the way to the first visit. This was to a 60 foot tower hide. Having climbed to the top, the views were spectacular. It showed the extent of the reed beds, not only owned by NWT, but also by the National Trust and other owners. Although there appeared not to be many birds about a Buzzard flew over. Once everyone had returned to the boat, it moved off towards the next hide. On the way, the boat passed a large flock of Mute Swans, numbering over 30. When the boat arrived at the first hide it proved to be an enclosed scrape which would never be visible from the river. Here there were various waders such as about at least 20 Black tailed Godwits and a couple of Avocets together with Shelduck and various other ducks. After about 20 minutes looking over the scrape, everyone moved back to the boat and onward to the next hide. This entailed travelling down a narrow break in the reeds where Reed Warblers could be heard, and then the boat arrived at the second hide. Here to the far left side of a scrape Greenshank and Ringed Plover were noted as well as Dunlin. Then from the reeds at the far side of the scrape a Chinese Water Deer emerged and walked along the edge of the reeds before disappearing back to the reeds. This was a first sighting for many in the group. At one point the second boat found a Swallowtail Butterfly lying on the water. This was carefully rescued and then left on a tissue in order to dry out. This proved successful, and eventually the butterfly started to flutter its wings prior to flying off. This boat also had a mishap in that the screws of the engine got stuck, as the water levels at the time were somewhat low, but in the end after a 2½ hour trip everyone returned to the departure point having had a really good time seeing the Broads from such an angle. After this the group started off towards the Bittern hide, where there was a group of 7 Little Egrets, but not much else. A walk back to the Visitor Centre provided the only actual sighting of a Reed Warbler singing away. Having had a good day, seeing about 46 species the group journeyed back towards Lowestoft, stopping at a pub on the way for the evening meal, and so to bed!
On Sunday, 2nd June 2019, the group having packed up and left the hotel, travelled to RSPB Lakenheath Fen. Arriving around 11am, the group moved from the Visitor Centre, walking along the East Wood trial. Along the way, Blackcap and Whitethroat were heard, Blackbird, were seen, plus a Kestrel hovering near the railway line. In a small wet area, Lapwing & Oystercatcher were noted. After about a 15 minute walk, the group came to the New Fen Viewpoint. The group sat here to view what birds may come along. A Hobby was seen flying over the distant fen along the line of the wooded area behind. Tufted Duck, Great crested Grebe, Mallard, Coot, and Moorhen, moved around the Fen going in & out of the reeds. A Marsh Harrier was noted flying around the river, and then a Bittern was seen flying, coming up out the reeds, and going along the tree line before veering off. Reed Warbler were heard in the reeds and flying quickly between reed beds. Greylag Goose swam across the fen, and Black backed Gull were seen. After about a couple of hours, and with the long journey home ahead the group started back towards the Visitor Centre. From here the group dispersed for the journey home.
Everyone appeared to have enjoyed the weekend away, especially the boat trip at Hickling Broad. With nearly 90 species seen, it was hoped that the next weekend away would be just as successful.
The Wirral – 7th April 2019 – Report by Sue Brealey
A group of 7 members arrived at Leasowes Lighthouse on the north Wirral coastline well on time to start this field trip. The tide was well out so there were not that many birds in the vicinity. However, amongst those birds seen included Black headed Gull, Herring Gull, and Great Black backed Gull, quite a few Curlew, Oystercatchers flying by and Turnstone near the sea wall. Then using the scopes to scan, right out near the shoreline, a Peregrine was seen, sitting on the sand, not doing too much at all and it was concluded that it must be digesting a meal. The group started to walk along towards the rocks to the left of the car park, but on arrival the rocks were bare except for some Redshank. A couple of Little Egret were noted. Then turning to inspect the local fields, the group saw a flock of Linnet, and searched around for a reported number of Wheatear. Eventually a group of about 6 were seen, and their behaviour indicated that they had not long arrived on migration. It was very satisfying to see these lovely birds. Other birds seen were Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, and Blackbird. A further walk along the paths produced Wren, Chaffinch, Robin, and Song Thrush.
Having seen as much as was thought possible, the group then moved down to RSPB Burtonmere, arriving at about 1.30, and had their lunch while watching the birds from the main hide. The weather was found to be cool, with little wind, cloudy and with distant mist which caused the light to be rather flat. The temperature was about 8°C. The lagoon was full of breeding Black headed Gulls, but amongst them a couple of Mediterranean Gulls were noted together with Herring Gull. Other birds seen included Avocet, Black tailed Godwit, Canada Goose, Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall, Greylag Goose, Lapwing, and Oystercatcher. Starting to walk towards Inner Marsh, a stop at the feeding station did not find many birds, but amongst those seen were Blackbird, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, and Dunnock. Continuing the walk, Chiffchaff & Blackcap were heard singing, and then the group came to the screen overlooking various areas of the Reedbed. Cetti’s Warbler was heard. Bearded Tit had been seen there and therefore it was worth waiting to see what would come out of the reeds. The distinctive sound of their sound was heard while Little Grebe were noted, and a few lucky people had a very brief view as one quickly flew in and out of the reed. Satisfying. A bit further on the group visited the Marsh Covert Hide, again hoping for a Bearded Tit, but instead a Buzzard was seen flying over the reserve. From the right hand side of the hide, a fair flock of Black tailed Godwit was noted in breeding plumage, and then a Redshank, so hunkered down in the rising wind, it was quite difficult to confirm identification. From the left side of the hide, more given over to reed bed, a few more Little Grebe came into view. At this point the group split up, some going towards Inner Marsh Hide, while others stayed in the hope of another Bearded Tit, to no avail. As time was moving on the group departed having had a good day.
RSPB Dearne Valley–Old Moor – 24th March 2019 – Report by Sue Brealey
A group of 23 turned up at The Shirehall for the coach trip which had been arranged to go to this large reserve located between Barnsley & Rotherham, which is bordered on the northern border by the Dearne River, which subsequently runs into the River Don and latterly the River Ouse & the Humber. The weather was clear, with some white clouds, sunny but with quite a sharp winds at times gusting up to 15 mph. The temperatures were between 6 & 9⁰C. After a good journey, the coach arrived at about 10.15 in time for a good day’s birding.
As ever the group split up, dividing their time between the two main spears of the reserve, the Reedbed Trail & the Green Lane Trail together with the feeding stations around the Reception Centre. A coffee was enjoyed by some to begin with at the Feeding Station Hide next door to the Reception Centre, and here there were good views of Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, a few Tree Sparrows, and plenty of Bullfinches in excellent condition. At one point there were 2 males and 4 females on the bird table. After this a walk towards the reed beds seemed a good bet. A short walk along the Reedbed Trail was taken, coming upon the Bittern Hide, which overlooks a lagoon towards the reed beds. A telescope scan was taken to see what could be seen which included plentiful Black headed Gulls, but besides these Canada Goose, Coot, Cormorant, Gadwall, Greylag Goose, Jackdaw, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, and Wigeon. After this the walk continued along the trail stopping briefly at the Bittern ‘Bus Stop’, and then along to the Reed Screen. Before arriving there the distinctive pinging sound of Bearded Tits were heard, but the high winds precluded seeing these lovely birds which resolutely stayed in the depths of the reeds. Not much was seen from the screen so a visit to the Reed Hide. From this hide, further Moorhens, were seen alongside a few Little Grebes, a couple of which appeared to be quite aggressive in their behaviour, probably males fighting over a female. From this hide one member of the group saw 3 bittern, 2 making a very brief appearance and one which flew a few metres. A return to the reception centre area for a lunch break.
Next a walk was taken on the Green Lane Trial, stopping first at the Family Hide, overlooking the mere with plenty of islands to scan over. The majority of birds were Black headed Gulls, and these were searched for a Mediterranean Gull which had been seen but in fact nobody actually saw one. However, amongst other birds seen from here were Herring Gulls, Lesser Black backed Gulls, Lapwing, Starling, Mute Swan, Pheasant, and Shelduck. A further walk brought the Field Pool West Hide, but this rather small hide was full, so a decision was made to go to the furthest Wath Ings Hide. From here a Black necked Grebe was seen on the far side of the pool viewed from the hide. Other birds seen included Great crested Grebe, Little Egret, a pair of Goosander, and some Pochard. A walk to the Field Pool East Hide overlooking the Wath Ings did not produce any new birds, but then a visit to the Wader Scrape Hide, produced Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Oystercatcher, and Pied Wagtail. As time was matching on, a return to the reception centre area produced a Brambling and Dunnock at the feeding areas.
By this time, it was coming up to 4 o’clock and the start to return home. It appeared that all participants had enjoyed their visit. It was mentioned that other birds seen were Blackbird, Blackcap, & Buzzard were seen, so a total of approximately 50 species were seen.
North Wales Coast – 20th January 2019 – Report by Sue Brealey
A group of 6 people braved the journey to Llanfairfechan, through very foggy conditions, wondering if it would be a matter of maybe turning straight back for home. However, having arrived at the sea promenade the skies had cleared, and given time, although cold at about 4⁰C, Puffin Island was clearly visible, the seas a bit choppy and at one point the sun came out. It made for a good sea watch. The high tide had arrived about 5 or 10 minutes before arrival so the sea was up to the sea defences.
One of the first birds spotted was a Red breasted Merganser (female) who was diving for food quite close to the shore. Looking out to sea, there were plenty of Black headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, and then some Eider were spotted as well as Common Scoter. There were also plenty of Great crested Grebes, along with a few Red throated Divers. As the seas retreated, it encouraged waders to start flying by in moderate numbers including Ringed Plover, Turnstones and Dunlin. The Turnstones landed close to the group of a bit of shingle, and later the Dunlin & Ringed Plover were noted along the coastline. Then a very large flock of Wigeon flew past going towards Anglesey. At the Pond near the promenade, Mute Swan, Mallard and Jackdaw were noted. A couple of Curlew flew past. A search of the river flowing down to sea did not produce the hoped for Dipper.
As it was felt that the sea watch was not going to give up any other species, the group moved onto Morfa Madryn. After the walk across the railway, the group stopped near the first of the lagoons, which by this time had emptied quite a bit as the tide retreated. Here a rather smart Grey Wagtail was noted, as well as Little Egret, and some Goosander feeding in the lagoon. However at the entrance there were flocks of Oystercatcher on a shingle area, with plenty of Redshank feeding as well as a couple of Greenshank. Curlew were seen on the mudflats, with more oystercatcher. The group arrived at the first hide, where their picnics were consumed, while enjoying the birds who were feeding on the mudflats. A visit to another hide, produced the flock of Wigeon, which had been seen previously, but now were out feeding on the fields near the hide. A couple of Little Grebe were added to the list, along with a flock of Lapwing, and a Shelduck. A scan of the fields behind the hide added a Buzzard and some Starling to the list. Returning to the car, Magpie were seen.
At this point the group moved on to RSPB Conwy. On walking from the reception centre/shop, House Sparrows were noted in the bushes, and later Blue Tit & Robin were noted. Having had a well-earned hot coffee at the café the group moved out to the Taf-y-fan hide, which overlooks both lagoons. From here Mallard, Gadwall, in good numbers were seen as well as Coot & Moorhen. On one island a Grey Heron was seen, and it very rarely moved at all! About five Black tailed Godwit were seen, as well as a Goldeneye, a few Teal and some Snipe. There was a large flock of Lapwing, as well as one Great crested Grebe and little Grebe, Mute Swan, Redshank, Shoveler Oystercatcher, Tufted Duck and Wigeon. After leaving the hide, one of the party briefly saw a Great Tit, Cetti’s Warbler and Goldcrest. The rest of the group stayed in the area in the hope of seeing the Cetti’s and Goldcrest, but although a very brief view of the Goldcrest was seen these birds preferred to stay low in the bushes as the weather was starting to get colder as dusk was approaching. A short visit to the Cameddau Hide didn’t add much else to the list, but the view over the Welsh Hills, some with smatterings of snow on their tops was very restful. As the group returned towards the reception for the drive home, large numbers of Starlings started to group up for a murmuration. However the weather was starting to spot with rain, and although there were plenty of Starling, maybe an estimation of 20,000, they had a tendency to drop into the reed beds very quickly, so the display was not of the best, but thoroughly enjoyed by all who watched it. It was definitely a lovely ending to the day which had started off so inauspiciously. Approximately 43 species were seen.
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