Field Trip Reports 2019

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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