Conwy, Tuesday 24 September 2013
Thirteen members gathered at Conwy RSPB Reserve at 10.00 a.m. in brilliant sunshine for our first mid-week meeting of the season.
The water levels were low on parts of the reserve but a new screen overlooking the far pool gave excellent views. A single Bar-tailed Godwit was spotted amongst the numerous Black-tailed Godwits and Curlews, with Red- breasted Mergansers amongst the ducks.
After lunch we moved on to LLanfairfechan in thick sea mist. Down at Morfa Madryn we spotted an unseasonable Dipper and large flocks of Oystercatcher, Dunlin and Ringed Plover down on the foggy tide line. From the hides we also had Snipe, Greenshank and many Little Egrets. In total we saw 43 species.
Marshside/Mere Sands, 13 October 2013
Eight people came to the outdoor meeting but it was a very quiet affair due to the lack of any substantial water. Pink footed Geese were in abundance and a few ducks, Black Tailed Godwits and a couple of Little Egrets but generally very quiet until we went past Banks Marsh where a Great White Egret flew by. Mere Sands nature reserve was also very quiet with only a few duck species seen along with the Canada Geese. Afterwards several of us went for a walk around Martin Mere on the walk around the perimeter. It was really good with good numbers of Geese and Whooper Swans. Also a female Peregrine was on the ground eating its kill.
Deeside Naturalist Reserve, Connah`s Quay, 22 October 2013
Twelve members from visited the reserve, meeting at 10 am. With a speed restriction of 5 mph. on all reserve roads it enable us to watch over the fields as we travelled to the west hide. Waders feeding over the sand banks were too far away for identification, more interest in the wetland meadow at the back of the hide with distant views of the Peregrine perched on a pylon and a small party of mixed Linnets and Twite. Moving on towards the field study centre we stopped at the two hides overlooking the bunded -pools. Here a good number of Redshank and Black tailed Godwits were seen with a single Greenshank. On arriving at the centre we used the viewing screen adjacent to the building, two of us briefly watched 3 Eider ducks (1 male &2 females) drop into a pool only to take off again and fly down the R. Dee. After lunch we returned to the west hide to watch the high water wader roost gather. Large numbers of Oystercatchers with Curlew, Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank and Dunlin. A total of 34 species recorded during the visit.
Moore Nature Reserve, Tuesday 12 November 2013
Eleven members visited the Reserve, situated between the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey, in fine weather.
In total we recorded 36 birds, with nuthatch, willow tit and siskin being highlights at the feeding station.
On Birchwood pool there were hundreds of gulls but no white winged amongst them. However, we did see a record 10 little grebes together, with a good range of ducks. We missed out on lesser spotted woodpecker!
Leighton Moss, Sunday 18 November 2013
Nine MCOS members met on a damp overcast morning. Moving off to the public and lower hides the group paused to view the grit trays on the causeway where bearded tit have been seen, alas not on this occasion. From the public hide the group were treated to views of Otter hunting in open water close to the reed beds. While most of the group moved on to the lower hide one lucky member of the group, who remained in the public hide, had good views of Bittern. From Lillian’s hide a female long tailed duck and Marsh harrier were showing well. On the way to the Grisedale and Tim Jackson hides, Marsh Tit and King Fisher were seen. From the Grisedale hide a Marsh Harrier was seen hunting over the reed beds.
As you would expect good numbers of duck were seen from all of the hides.
Moving on to the Allen and Eric Morecambe Hides good numbers of Black Tailed Godwits and Lapwings were present together with redshank and a single Ruff. King Fisher and a pair of Whooper Swans were also present. On the way back to the car park the group were treated to an Ariel display from a large flock of Starlings, a fitting end to an enjoyable day. The bird list for the day totalled 53 species.
Burton Mere Wetlands, Sunday 8 December 2013
Seven people participated in this field trip. Starting at the RSPB reserve where we saw wintering thrushes, a Stonechat, Peregrine, Merlin, Dunlin and a Little Stint plus a good number of wintering duck. Also present were Pink-footed geese , 5 Barnacle geese and Greylags.
Afterwards we moved to Denhall lane where we looked over the marsh and had lunch. A couple of Whooper Swans went down well with the coffee. Then on to the Harp pub not for a drink but to see some Ring tailed Hen harriers. A Kestrel and a Merlin were also seen.
Finally to the baths car park at Parkgate where we had good views of the Great White Egret and numerous Little egrets plus more Hen Harriers and another Merlin.
Marbury Country Park & Christmas Lunch, Tuesday 17 December 2013.
Most of the group met at 10.00 a.m. in MCP on a cold but fine morning.
There was a good variety of birds on the Mere, including 20 great-crested grebe, goldeneye, shoveler and wigeon together with curlew and lapwing. The woodland birds included siskin, nuthatch and treecreeper. Altogether a total of 35 species.
We then went to the Cock O‘ Budworth for Christmas lunch, enjoyed by 29 members.
Mere Sands & Martin Mere, Tuesday 21 January 2014
A group of 8 met at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust Reserve, before moving on to Martin Mere for lunch.
The combination of woodland, open water and grazing marsh produced an excellent total of 56 species.
Highlights at Mere Sands were kingfisher, goosander, grey wagtail, tree creeper, nuthatch and great spotted woodpecker.
Martin Mere had over 1000 pink-footed geese, whooper swans and lapwings. 9 species of duck occupied the lake, with single ruff, snipe, black-tailed godwit and oystercatcher around the pool.
The feeders attracted reed bunting and tree sparrow and a single marsh harrier hunted the marsh.
After a cold cloudy day, heavy rain arrived just as we left the reserve.
Mid-Wales, 24 to 26 January 2014
Nineteen members enjoyed a weekend’s birding in Mid-Wales. We stayed at the Marine Hotel in Aberystwyth and were looked after very well with excellent food and service.
We met on Friday morning at the Arch carpark near Devil’s Bridge and a short walk through the forest there was largely devoid of birds but moving down to Hafod carpark on the edge of Cwm Ystwyth, we came across our first Red Kites. We took another short walk down in to the valley where we picked up some common woodland birds plus Common Buzzard and our only winter thrush of the trip, a single Redwing. After lunch we drove down to Cors Caron where we hoped to see wintering Hen Harriers but steady drizzly rain put paid to that. However highlights here included Lesser Redpoll, Willow Tit, Goosander and Little Egret.
After breakfast on the Saturday morning we drove north to the village of Borth and spent a little time sea-watching but strong winds again hampered the birding and the highlights were two small parties of Common Scoter plus a single Red-Throated Diver. Moving on to Ynyslas there were a few more birds, with the highlights being Brent Geese, Grey Plover and undoubtedly the bird of the weekend when Paul found an over-wintering Whimbrel on the saltmarsh – a remarkable find for January. In the afternoon we visited the Kite feeding station at Bwlch Nant yr Arian nr Ponterwyd. However just prior to the meat being dispersed for the birds, the sky darkened followed by thunder, lightning and torrential rain – the Kites certainly didn’t want to feed in the rain and we retired, some to the warmth of the visitor centre and others back to the hotel in Aberystwyth. While having a warming brew, the weather cleared a little and the Kites did start coming down. On returning to Aberystwyth a few of us took a walk along a very blustery promenade and picked up Purple Sandpipers and watched the spectacle of thousands of starlings coming in to roost under the Pier.
We woke up to heavy rain again on Sunday but travelled up to Ynyshir RSPB reserve in hope of better weather. The feeders there were full of birds including Greenfinch, Siskin, Redpoll and Great Spotted Woodpecker. The weather did improve and it only rained when we were under cover in hides and highlights included Kingfisher, distant Peregrine and White-Fronted Goose. A stop at Bala Lake on the way home produced a single Great Northern Diver.
We ended up with 78 species over the weekend but it must be the first Mid-Cheshire weekend trip without either Coot or Moorhen. Despite the inclement weather at times, we ended up with a list of good birds and everyone enjoyed their weekend’s birding.
North Wales 16 February 2014
Six members made the trip to the North Wales coast. Meeting at Llanfairfechan front we were soon watching Red-Throated and Great Northern Divers, Common Scoter and flypast Brent Geese but after 30 mins we decided to move down to Aberogwen and the North Wales Wildlife Trust Spinnies reserve. Highlights here included Goosander, Little Egret, lots of Goldeneye and hundreds of waders, mostly Curlew and Redshank plus a Water Rail under the feeders at the road-side hide.
Returning to Llanfairfechan for high tide and lunch we had an excellent sighting of a Great Northern Diver close inshore plus Black Guillemot out on the sea and Dipper and Grey Wagtail in the river running through the town. Four Buzzards and a pair of Raven flew over the mountain behind the town.
Moving on to the RSPB reserve at Conwy, the highlights here were a drake and two female Scaup plus Snipe, Black Tailed Godwit and various other wildfowl. A short stop at Rhos on Sea yielded further Red Throated Diver, Guillemot, Shag and Turnstone but no sign of any Purple Sandpipers.
We ended the day at Pensarn scanning through the vast flock of Common Scoter but we could not find any of the Surf Scoter reported earlier in the day. Richard found a single Slavonian Grebe. A total of 62 species was seen during the day.
Pennington Flash,18 February 2014
Fifteen members met on a fine morning with light winds. Our usual tour of the hides and viewpoints gave us a good list of both woodland and wetland birds – 43 species in all.
Highlights were bullfinch, reed bunting, long tailed tits, nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker and willow tit on the feeders together with a surprise flock of 12 stock doves.
The flashes held over a dozen goosanders and displaying great crested grebes as well as a good selection of duck with snipe, oystercatcher and lapwing.
Moore Nature Reserve, 16 March 2014
Seven members made the short trip to Moore Nature Reserve nr Warrington. The trip was led by one of the members, Don Weedon. Two members saw a Grey Partridge on the approach road to the reserve. Meeting at the Lapwing Lane carpark we walked down towards the feeding station seeing a number of woodland birds including Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Jay and a newly arrived Chiffchaff plus numerous Common Buzzard sightings. We spent some time looking for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker to no avail even though a female had been seen before our arrival. Great Spotted Woodpeckers seemed to be everywhere, drumming and calling and Green Woodpeckers were heard a few times.
The feeding station had an array of small birds including Long-Tailed Tits and Reed Bunting. We then took a walk down to Upper Moss Farm where a Peregrine disturbed a mixed flock of Lapwings and Curlew. A single Yellowhammer was singing near the feeders but there was no sign of any Tree Sparrows and there were Linnet, Stock Dove and Kestrel around the fields. At the hide overlooking the river were a few Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal and an assortment of gulls.
After lunch we again walked down Lapwing Lane, had another search for the Lesser Spotted but again with no luck and walked along the canal path towards Birchwood Pool and beyond. Other wildfowl seen during the day were Tufted Duck, Pochard, Shoveler and Gadwall and further highlights were Mistle and Song Thrush plus a few Redwings.
A total of 52 species was seen during the trip.
Don Weedon/Ray Evans
Burton Mere Wetlands & The Dee Estuary, 18 March 2014
A record group of 20 members met at the RSPB Reserve. Early rain gave way to strong winds.
The morning was spent on the reserve and after lunch some of the party visited Parkgate and Thurstaston CP to bring our list to 43 species.
Highlights at BMW were the many avocets together with duck and waders, plus a first spring chiff-chaff.
Parkgate had one wind- blown hen harrier plus close up views of fieldfare, redwing and over a hundred starling in the horse paddock.
The feeders at Thurstaston added coal tit, greenfinch and bullfinch but strong winds made bird watching difficult down on the beach.
Aber Falls. 15 April 2014
Seventeen members met at the Forestry Commission car park at 10.00 a.m. in warm and sunny weather. We walked up the wooded valley alongside the river to the impressive waterfall, at 108 feet the highest in Wales.
Chiffchaff were common, together with a few newly arrived willow warblers with swallow, raven, buzzard and kestrel overhead. Several grey wagtails were along the river but no dippers. Only two redstarts were seen, suggesting that the main migration was not yet underway. However, a ring ouzel near the waterfall was a bonus.
After lunch, we drove to Aber Ogwen and the Spinnies, the Welsh Wildlife Trust reserve. The tide was ebbing but we still had a good selection of birds, including over 50 redshank from the hide. There were goosander on the river and goldeneye and little egrets in the bay.
Altogether we logged 47 species and enjoyed a great days birding in North Wales.
Cannock Chase, 27 April 2014
Nine members made the trip to Cannock Chase. We visited three different areas of the Chase and saw just under 40 species during the day. The weather stayed kind to us all day and the rain forecast for the afternoon did not materialise.
Meeting at the Cadet Huts carpark we took a walk on the heathland there and highlights included numerous Tree Pipits with their song display, at least 3 Cuckoos, a party of 6 Woodlark giving excellent telescope views, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Redstart, Green Woodpecker, Raven and Crossbill.
Moving to Seven Springs for lunch, we had good views of Siskin and Blackcap near the carpark and excellent views again of a singing Wood Warbler in the woodland nearby together with Nuthatch and Jay.
Our final destination was Freda’s Grave where the highlights were Stonechat and 3 hunting Hobby.
Loggerheads and Cilcain, North Wales, 6 May 2014
A select group of 8 met at the car park in bright mainly sunny weather. Our circular walk gave views of the river followed by panoramic views of the Clwyd hills.
Our birds included great spotted woodpecker, grey wagtail, dipper, buzzard and raven. We lunched only yards away from the dipper’s territory.
On to Cilcain, we parked at the Water Works and walked up the valley, past the reservoirs onto the slopes of Moel Famau. Here we had our first cuckoo with newly arrived swifts overhead. We had close views of willow warblers joining the numerous chiff chaffs.
A treecreeper visited its nest site in an old oak tree with a handsome male redstart sing in the branches overhead.
Norfolk, 15 - 18 May 2014
Twenty one members enjoyed a weekend’s birding in Norfolk. We stayed at The Burleigh in Hunstanton and were well looked after.
We met on Thursday morning at Paxton Pits NR in Cambridgeshire and highlights here included Nightingale, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Kingfisher and distant views of Hobby. We had our lunch there and then carried on to Hunstanton. After checking in at the hotel we had a short stop at Choseley drying barns near Titchwell where highlights included Dotterel, Turtle Dove, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, Yellow Wagtail and Grey Partridge. We then visited a site in North Norfolk for Montagu’s Harrier. Sadly there was no Harrier but we did see Red Kite and both species of Partridge. After eating an evening meal, we reconvened at Dersingham Bog where we had excellent views of Woodcock and Cuckoo and heard both Grasshopper Warbler and Nightjar.
A pre-breakfast walk for a few on the Friday morning to Thornham Harbour produced Spoonbill, Little Egret, Brent Goose, Little Tern and a variety of waders including summer-plumaged Grey Plover and Whimbrel. After a hearty breakfast the whole group travelled up to the Brecks and our first port of call was Lynford Arboretum where the highlights were Crossbill, Spotted Flycatcher and singing Firecrest. Lunch was taken at Weeting Heath (Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve) where they have breeding Stone Curlew and the remainder of the afternoon was spent at Lakenheath RSPB reserve. Highlights here included Cetti’s Warbler, Bearded Tit, Garganey, Red Kite, a long flight view of a Bittern and numerous sightings of Cuckoo, Marsh Harrier and Hobby. We returned to Hunstanton and after an evening meal a few of us re-convened at Dersingham to have a second chance for the Nightjar. We were successful with perched and flight views of Nightjar plus Tree Pipit and brief flight views of Grasshopper Warbler.
After our success the previous morning, a few more turned up for the pre-breakfast walk when we returned to Thornham Harbour. The birds were very similar to the previous day but with the added bonus of a hunting Barn Owl and two Common Scoter. After another excellent breakfast we travelled the brief distance down the coast to Titchwell RSPB reserve. Highlights included Red-crested Pochard and again a variety of waders including Avocet, both species of Godwit, Knot, Little Ringed Plover and Turnstone and more Common Scoter, Little and Sandwich Tern together with Eider down by the beach. After lunch we visited Kelling Heath where we saw Yellowhammer, Linnet, Woodlark and Sparrowhawk plus lovely views of a steam train on the North Norfolk line much to the delight of Stephen. On the way back we called at Cley, a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve, which was very quiet bird-wise but we did see Bearded Tit again and Common Sandpiper. We got back to Hunstanton a little later and by the time we’d eaten it was too late for any further birding.
There was no organised pre-breakfast walk on the Sunday and after another great breakfast we said our goodbyes to the hotel and travelled to Sculthorpe Moor (Hawk & Owl Trust reserve) where we spent the morning. Highlights here included Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Bullfinch and a very young, newly fledged Tawny Owl chick trying to look inconspicuous alongside the woodland boardwalk. After lunching a few of us returned to Lynford Arboretum on the way home to have a second look for the Two-Barred Crossbill which had been reported again over the weekend. Sadly we were unsuccessful, but we did have views of Crossbill and Siskin in a water puddle together with Grey Wagtail, our final species for the weekend
We ended up with 124 species over the weekend. The weather was glorious all weekend and everyone enjoyed their weekend’s birding.
Conwy Valley, 8 June 2014
Eight members made the trip to the Conwy Valley. Meeting at Conwy RSPB we then drove down the valley beyond Llanrwst to Hafod Wood a deciduous woodland belonging to the National Trust on the north side of the river. We saw a variety of woodland birds including Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Redstart, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Greater Spotted Woodpecker.
After spending a few hours at the wood we called in at Caerhun churchyard on the south side of the valley but there was a church service on and we decided to drive back to Conwy RSPB where we had lunch and then spent a couple of hours going round the reserve. The reserve was quiet but the highlights included Bullfinch, drake Scaup, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard.
Non–avian highlights included a Tree Bumblebee, which has only recently spread in to the UK, plus a number of Bee Orchids alongside one of the paths.
We then returned to Caerhun churchyard mid-afternoon and the highlights there were Hawfinch with Little Egret and Red-Breasted Merganser on the river.
A total of 51 species was seen during the day.