Field Trip Reports 2023

Field Trip Meeting to RSPB Burton Mere – Sunday, 19th March 2023 – report by Sue Brealey

A group of 8 members arrived at Burton Mere, on a day which initially looked rather drab, threatening rain, but proved to be clear, a bit windy with temperatures averaging 8˚C.

On arrival one member mentioned that they had heard and fleetingly saw a Mistle Thrush. The group started the visit in the reception centre, and this proved useful. Birds identified included lots of Black headed Gulls, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Canada Goose, Avocet, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Shoveler, Tufted Duck. There were some Black tailed Godwit feeding in the shallows, but then of an island a great number of these birds were seen roosting together, up to 60+. Also, amongst them, and not seen by all group a single Ruff was noted. Then on the same island amongst the Black headed Gulls a couple of Mediterranean Gulls were seen in full summer plumage, which was welcomed by all. A group of about 35 Avocet were seen roosting together. Looking further afield, a Great White Egret was noted, and observing from a post sat a Buzzard. Also perched on some reed immediately in front of the centre was a male Stonechat, which came & went a few times.

The group then started to walk out towards the new Border Hide. At the feeding station close to the centre, Blue Tit and Great Tit were noted including a Grey Squirrel catching the seed which was dropped. It was noted that the foundations of a new café were in place, so there was some disruption of the path in the area, but not too much. A stop at the screen overlooking reed bed, there was seen a little Grebe, and a Water Rail was heard squealing in its usual manner. On the other side of the path a Cetti’s Warbler was heard quite close, and a Chiffchaff was heard making its ‘chiff’ sound but not quite getting to the ‘chaff’. The start to spring not quite there yet!! It was decided not to visit the Marsh Covet Hide, so going forward there was a stop at the Bridge Screen overlooking Bridge Pool. Just before arriving there, it was noted that there were a group of about 7 Grey Heron perched in a large tree, probably part of the Heronry noted at the reserve. On Bridge Pool, Gadwall, Carrion Crow, Coot, Moorhen were noted, plus Greylag Goose, Redshank, and Shelduck. A Stock Dove called overhead. Then on the bank on the far side of the pool, a large group of about 30 Grey Heron were seen roosting. Certainly, the largest group seen by the writer, which was really interesting.

A further walk brough the group to the Border Hide. Along the way, Dunnock, Robin, and Woodpigeon were noted. Once at the hide, the group decided it was time for a lunchbreak. Whilst having their picnic, birds seen included Black headed Gulls, Wigeon, a couple of Avocet usually feeding but occasionally mating. Another group of roosting Black tailed Godwit were seen, some of whom were well into gaining their summer plumage, and then amongst them it noted that there were a group of at least 14 Knot, an unusual sighting for the reserve. A Little Egret was seen on a bank to the right of the hide and a couple swans, thought to be Mute ones, but their heads were down so difficult to confirm. Then a Marsh Harrier was seen quartering over the reed bed, and a little later another, a female was seen perched on the top of reeds, quite near the Reception Centre. Then a male Marsh Harrier was noted flying about then dropping into the reeds, and it was concluded that these could be a pair preparing for the coming season. A Magpie and some Jackdaws were seen.

It was decided to then walk back to the Marsh Covet Hide. On the way, some of the party saw Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Wren, and a group of Long tailed Tits . At the hide, a birder mentioned that there were Spotted Redshank about. A search was made & a couple were seen quite close to a couple of roosting Common Redshank so comparison was not difficult, but what was nice to see was that one of them was showing signs of changing to summer plumage, in that areas of black plumage could be seen on its breast area. This was a great find for all. Also, from this hide the pair of Marsh Harrier seen earlier were noted to flying about as well.

After a quick stop at the Reception Centre, it was decided to start on the journey home, and having seen 48 species for the day, it was concluded to have been a good visit. A further visit in September should give a different sense of the reserve.

Field Trip Meeting to WWT Slimbridge – Sunday, 29th January 2023 – report by Sue Brealey

This trip was rescheduled after having to cancel the meeting in December 2022 due to extreme cold weather, which proved wise as there were several incidents which would have caused long delays. However, on this date, when all were gathered to get on the coach, the coach did not arrive. It proved that due to typo, there was an error. However, the group decided to go to Slimbridge anyway, by car, sharing as many members as possible.

The group arrived at the appointed time, and after the non-members had paid for their entry, the group dispersed around the reserve to enjoy their day. After a coffee, the writer went to the Willow hide with its feeding station and found Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Robin, Woodpigeon together with a couple of Grey Squirrel. It was a disappointed that Water Rail were not present, although Moorhen was seen. After this she went to the South Lake Hide, where there were several new species to be added to the list. There were plenty of Black backed Gull, a few Herring Gull and a couple of Lesser Black backed Gull. Carrion Crow, Cormorant, Greylag Goose, Shoveler, Teal, were added to the list. While enjoying some lunch, A flock of Lapwing ascended into the sky. While checking them out a Curlew was observed flying amongst them. Mute Swan was noted together with Coot, Magpie, Feral Pigeon. After some time, a short journey found the writer at the Peng Observatory where she stayed enjoying watching and learning from the behaviour of the birds on the lake. This included Berwick Swans scrambling under water in order to find some food, but showing frustration as Pochard and Tufted Duck, dived to eat these finds first. Other birds seen included, Jackdaws and Rooks. A couple of Crane flew across the lake, a lovely sight to be seen. Later on flocks of Lapwing were noted to fly up obviously as a result of being disturbed by a raptor, unseen, and then a large flock of Golden Plover rose up as well. Amongst the waterfowl were Mallard, Pintail, looking really smart, Shelduck, and a single Scaup was seen. The Observatory eventually filled up prior to the feeding time towards sunset, and this daily event was enjoyed by all.

Other members of the group spread across the rest of the reserve, and they kindly sent lists of the birds they had observed. These included the following: – Widgeon, a female Ruddy Shelduck, a dark bellied Brent Goose, amongst a few Greylag Geese, Barnacle Goose with a Ross’s Goose, White fronted Goose, both Lesser and Greenland, Snipe, Redshank, Dunlin, a Peregrine resting on a log in river sand, Collared Dove, Starling, Raven, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Gadwall, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Goldfinch, Pink footed Goose, Goldeneye, Eider Duck, Avocet, Black tailed Godwit, Common Gull, Grey Heron, Wren, Stonechat, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Linnet, Grey Wagtail. A few of these species may have been part of the captive population, as it can be difficult to know if these are wild. As a result, amongst the group approximately 57, a really good species list.

After the feeding the group gradually collected in the car park, and prepared for the journey home, and it would seem that the group enjoyed their day.

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Page updated: 21/03/2023