Conwy, Tuesday, 22nd September 2015
Despite traffic problems and some heavy showers, 12 members gathered at RSPB Conwy for our first mid-week meeting.
After mid-morning coffee, we moved on to the reserve. Water levels were very low at the Visitor Centre but much better at the East end of the reserve.
The tide was low, which reflected in the low count of the common waders, with Black-tailed Godwits the most numerous. Many of the ducks were in eclipse plumage, giving us a few problems. A female Wheatear on the estuary was the only migrant.
After lunch, 7 members moved on to the Spinnies at Aberogwen.
Both hides gave good views of Kingfisher, the bird of the day.
Other highlights were a family of 5 Little Grebe, 50 Mute Swans and a single Merganser.
Total 40 species
Harold & Valerie Fielding
Connahs Quay, Tuesday, 13th October 2015
Thirteen members gathered at the Power Station gate at 10.00 a.m. for a visit arranged by Andy Ankers, a member of the Deeside Naturalists. The weather was bright but with a cold wind.
The elevated 2 storey hide at the end of the reserve gave excellent views as the incoming tide pushed the waders and duck closer, including shelduck, bartailed godwit, redshank, oystercatcher curlew, heron and little egret.
As high tide approached, we moved to the visitors centre, via several small hides giving excellent views of greenshank with the redshanks. The Centre was closed but we had excellent views of a kingfisher perched at the edge of a fresh water pool in front of the viewing screens.
A ‘non-birding’ event was a large barge taking parts of the A380 Airbus to the up river Factory.
After lunch, 9 members moved on to BMW RSPB Reserve. Here we added snipe, marsh harrier, golden plover and pink footed geese (the first of the Autumn). We also had a water rail from the visitors centre with a second kingfisher of the day, giving a total of 46 species.
Anglesey, 18th October 2015
Only 3 members turned up for the first weekend trip of the new season to Anglesey. En-route to Cemlyn, we picked up a Hooded Crow on roadside wires at Llanfachraeth. We started at Cemlyn where the highlights included Gannet, Shag, Little Egret, Red-Throated Diver, Guillemot, Common Buzzard, Stonechat, Rock Pipit, Golden Plover and Greenshank.
We moved on to Breakwater Country Park for lunch followed by a circular walk and highlights here included Raven, Chough, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel plus a female Blackcap – our only migrant warbler of the day.
We stopped at a roadside field near Ty Croes to check through a big flock of feral Greylag Geese but sadly there was nothing more exciting amongst them.
We moved to Malltraeth estuary and the Cob Pool where highlights included Little Grebe, Wigeon and Pintail.
Our final port of call was a feeding station at Llyn Parc Mawr between Malltraeth and Newborough and birds here included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper and Jay plus a Red Squirrel. The sightings of Jay gave us all 8 of the UK crow family in one day – no mean feat. Number of species for the day - 56
Moore Nature Reserve, 17th November 2015
Despite the foul weather forecast, 11 of us met at the car park.
With storm ‘Abigail’ to the North and storm ‘Barney’ to the South, we were lucky to have a dry mornings birding.
As we followed the clockwise path around the hides, lagoons and the feeding station, plenty of woodland birds maintained our interest. Our first redwings fed on the hawthorn with song thrush, mistle thrush, bullfinch, goldcrest and a large flock of goldfinch nearby.
A sparrow hawk flew over the Raptor Watch Point, with ketrel on the power line.
Plenty of ducks and gulls on Birchwood Pool were joined by great-crested and little grebes. Despite a search we had no ‘white winged gulls’.
Our last sighting was a robin and blackbird just as the forecast rain arrived, bringing our total to 35 species.
Harold & Valerie Fielding
Leighton Moss, 22nd November 2015
Due to severe weather warnings the scheduled visit to Leighton Moss was postponed until Sunday 22nd November.
Five members of the society met on a cold bright morning. Advice on the RSPB web page was to 'bring your wellies'. It soon became very clear why this advice had been given! After walking a couple of hundred metres along the causeway we were standing in 4"-6" of water while hoping to see Bearded Tit at the grit trays. None were seen but soon after, while walking down towards the Public hide, a group of approx 8-10 Bearded Tit were seen at a distance of no more than 5mts. These were fantastic views and considered to be probably the best seen by members present.
There were surprisingly few birds to be seen from the Public Hide but a single otter hunting fish lifted spirits. A Marsh Harrier and two Sparrowhawks were seen at distance.
On the way to the Public hide Marsh Tit were seen at the feeding station and once in the hide two Otters were seen swimming at speed against the far reed beds. There were better numbers of ducks and waders here.
Moving on to the Tim Jackson Hide the paths were extensively flooded but accessible with care. From this hide there were fairly large amounts of ducks present and remarkably a large dog otter appeared, out of the water and in front of the hide.
From the Grisedale Hide large numbers of Teal were present. At least two Marsh Harriers were hunting in the area which made the Teal very flighty. Of interest, after leaving the Grisedale Hide a Stoat was seen running along the path and due to the high water levels it had to swim a section of the flooded path.
After lunch the group moved on to the Eric Morecambe Hide where two kingfishers gave excellent views. Good numbers of waders were also present, including two Greenshank. A Red Breasted Merganser was also present albeit briefly. Moving on to the Allen Hide good numbers of Ducks were seen along with a few Geese. Of interest one of the Greylag geese had a red neck ring which suggests it was a wild migrating bird rather than a feral resident.
After leaving the reserve the group stopped off at the nearby Warton Crag. This is a well know site for Peregrine Falcon and a male Peregrine was soon found, roosting at an old nest site and showing very well. This ended a very enjoyable day.
List of birds seen:
Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Redwing, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Robin, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Reed Bunting, Grey Heron, Mallard, Bearded Tit, Marsh Harrier, Pinkfoot Goose, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Gold Finch, Siskin, Marsh Tit, Teal, Greylag Goose, Gadwell, Shoveller, Pied Wagtail, Cormorant, Coot, Wigeon, Long Tailed Tit, Starling, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Redshank, Kingfisher, Little Egret, Curlew, Lapwing, Shelduck, Red Breasted Merganser, Sparrow Hawk, Pintail, Greenshank, Great Crested Grebe, Fieldfare, Peregrine Falcon.
Marshside Southport, 6th December 2015
Seven members turned out despite the weeks rain. The sun never really appeared despite the promise of a sunny day and the weather turned cold.
Most of the fields were flooded and this suited the ducks and geese. From the RSPB hides good views were obtained of Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon and Pinkfooted geese and a Ross's goose. The latter is presumed an escape though it has wintered for a couple of years. A large flock of Black tailed Godwits and Golden Plovers were present but no Snipe possibly to the amount of water. A distant view of a Brown Hare was obtained.
Afterwards we viewed Crossens Marsh on the seaward side of the road where we saw Peregrine, Merlin and a Sparrowhawk with an occasional Greenfinch and small flock of Goldfinch.
After lunch we drove to Hesketh Out Marsh which is a new area for the society. Here we had stunning views of a day flying Barn Owl , Female Hen Harrier , a couple of Buzzards and a Peregrine.
Then back to the Marine lake where we viewed many Coot and good numbers of Little Grebe.
Total number of species 40.
Mere Sands and Martin Mere Reserves, 12th January 2016
Only 8 Members met at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust at Rufford. The reserve is well sheltered woodland with several lakes viewed from 5 hides. Goosander headed the duck count with teal, golden eye, shoveler, gadwall, tufted duck, shelduck and great crested grebe. The woodlands gave us tree sparrow, nuthatch, bullfinch, redpoll, jay, goldfinch with redwing and fieldfare in the adjacent field.
Moving on to Martin Mere, we inspected the new hides which overlook the Swan Lake. Many whooper swans and pink footed geese flew in to join the 3.00 p.m. feed. Over a hundred shelduck joined the feeding frenzy, packed together on the bank below the hide.
We also had buzzard, marsh harrier, barn owl, tawny owl and short-eared owl, giving a total of 50 birds.
Harold & Valerie Fielding
North Wales, 24th January 2016
Seventeen members enjoyed the first trip of 2016 to North Wales. We all met at Llanfairfechan promenade. Highlights here included distant views of Great Northern Diver, Common Scoter, Goosander plus Dipper and Grey Wagtail in the stream.
After a couple of hours we travelled to the Spinnies nature reserve at Aberogwen. Highlights here included displaying Goldeneye, Wigeon, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Greenshank and Kingfisher. We were unable to access all the reserve because a bird identification course run by North Wales Wildlife Trust was taking place.
We then proceeded to Old Colwyn to view the Scoter flock in the bay. However it was extremely windy and it was difficult to keep our telescopes upright. We only managed Common Scoter before we decided to call it a day.
We drove back to Conwy RSPB reserve, had our lunch and then highlights on the reserve included a Firecrest for a couple of members, plus Siskin, Shoveler, Treecreeper, Lesser Redpoll and Greenfinch.
We moved on to Rhos on Sea, which was a little sheltered from the wind and found Purple Sandpiper, Rock Pipit along the shoreline plus Red-Throated Diver, Razorbill and Shag offshore. We were unable to find the Black Redstart, which had been seen along the promenade earlier in the day.
Our final destination was Pensarn when we had a brief search for Snow Bunting along the shoreline but with no luck.
We managed 64 species on a cold, very blustery day.
Fylde Coast and Marton Mere, 21st February 2016
Six members turned up at Rossall Point to what we thought would be a very wet and windy day. Although windy we had no rain. On the spit here we found 200+ Sanderlings and 50+ Ringed Plovers with a flock of Linnets and Greenfinches on the grass nearby. A Skylark sang on the golf course. The staff at the observation building opened up an hour early specially for us maybe feeling sorry for us.
Then on to Marton Mere where we found two Long Eared Owls. We walked around the mere and eventually had excellent views of an adult Iceland Gull bathing after spending the day on the tip. From the same hide a Goldcrest flitted around the entrance where we also heard a Cetti's warbler singing and a brief moment of a bittern booming. Apparently there are two wintering. Ducks on the mere included Shovellers and Goldeneyes with a lone Great Crested Grebe.
The feeding station here had good numbers of Long-tailed Tits, Great tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and a Pheasant.
Pennington Flash, 16th February 2016
A good turnout of 13 members on a bright morning but a cold wind. The Country Park was busy with half-term families but no budding ‘birders’ amongst them.
Our first stop was the Bunting Hide, with lots of well-stocked feeders to attract the birds and see them close up. The Willow Tit proved elusive but we had excellent sightings of Water Rails, voted the best views ever by several members. Bullfinch, Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits with Reed Buntings, Stock Doves and Greenfinch completed our viewing.
As we visited other hides, we added water birds to our growing list. Male and female Goosander, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Teal and Goldeneye. With high water levels we only had a few waders – Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit and a single Snipe.
Our final count was 54 against a total of only 41 on our last visit there in January 2015.
Valerie & Harold Fielding
Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB Reserve, 15th March 2016
On a bright Spring morning 14 members met at the Visitors Centre. Our list quickly grew, including 40 Avocets, Black-tailed godwits, Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher. Ducks included Shelduck, Gadwall, Shoveler and Tufted.
Other species around the Centre were a Water Rail and a S
toat. Elsewhere on the Reserve we had Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron(eating frogs), Hen Harrier and Sparrow Hawk.
On the way to Burton Point, we had Linnet, Redwing, & Fieldfare.
Our last observation was an unexpected Red Kite which flew over the Reserve, bringing our total to 52 species.
Harold & Valerie Fielding
Norfolk, 17 - 20th March 2016
Twenty 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 the Wildfowl & Wetlands reserve at Welney. Unfortunately access to the majority of the reserve was flooded but the main observatory was open and Lady Fen’s marsh was also viewable from the visitor centre. Highlights here included Whooper Swan, Marsh Harrier, Little Egret and distant views of a Merlin. We had our lunch there and then carried on to the RSPB reserve at Snettisham on the Wash. After a long walk down to the shoreline, the tide was a long way out but we managed to see a few hundred Avocet, plus Knot and Bar-Tailed Godwit. Further sightings included Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Red Kite, Little Grebe while a lucky few saw a party of Sand Martins. The next port of call was Roydon Common, a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve where the highlights were Kestrel, Jay, Stonechat and a single ringtail Hen Harrier which came in to roost. A lucky few of us picked up Golden Pheasant at the Wolferton Triangle on our way to the hotel in Hunstanton.
A pre-breakfast trip to Wolferton on the Friday morning failed to find the Golden Pheasant from the night before but a short journey to Flitcham Abbey Farm reserve gave us Barn & Little Owl, both Grey and Red-Legged Partridge, Egyptian Goose, Stock Dove, Brambling and Tree Sparrow. 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 Marsh Tit, Raven, Hawfinch, Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Firecrest. We then moved to Grime’s Graves where we had excellent views of the wintering Great Grey Shrike. Lunch was taken at Santon Downham where we were unsuccessful in our search for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but found a number of Redwing in a horse paddock plus Grey Wagtail and Mandarin on the river. The remainder of the day was spent at Lakenheath RSPB reserve. Highlights here included Lesser Redpoll, Bearded Tit, Marsh Harrier, Great White Egret and Common Crane. We then returned to Hunstanton for our evening meal.
After our success the previous morning, our pre-breakfast walk took us to Choseley Drying Barns where the highlights were Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting and then on to Thornham Harbour where highlights included Barn Owl, Brent Goose, Sanderling, Grey Plover and Red Breasted Merganser. After another excellent breakfast we travelled along the coast to Blakeney Harbour where a group of Lapland Bunting have spent the winter. We then moved on to Kelling Heath where we had excellent views of Dartford warbler plus lovely views of the ‘The Hook Continental’ steam loco on the North Norfolk line much to the delight of Stephen. On our return down the coast we called at Holkham where the highlights included Peregrine, Pink Footed and White Fronted Goose plus Lapwing and Golden Plover. We then had a brief stop at Titchwell RSPB reserve where we saw Water Rail, Water Pipit, Rock Pipit, Red Crested Pochard, Avocet and Grey Plover.
There was no organised pre-breakfast walk on the Sunday but one carload ventured back to Wolferton and were rewarded with a sighting of Golden Pheasant. After our final breakfast, we said our goodbyes to the hotel and travelled the short distance back to Titchwell and spent the morning there. We walked down to the beach and highlights included Bearded Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Common Scoter, Slavonian Grebe, Red Kite, Hen Harrier plus further views of Water Rail, Water Pipit and Red Crested Pochard. After lunch we made the short trip to Choseley again and had further views of Yellowhammer, Grey and Red Legged Partridge. Our final stop of the weekend was the harbour at Brancaster Staithe where the only new bird was a Common Gull.
We ended up with 125 species over the weekend. The weather was cold but mostly dry with a few drizzly showers on the Saturday and everyone enjoyed their weekend’s birding.
All photos in this report are thanks to and the copyright of Simon Smith.
Coombes Valley RSPB and Tittesworth Reservoir, 24th April 2016
Six MCOS members met at Coombes Valley RSPB. On entering the reserve we were greeted by the song of a Willow Warbler and the call of a Green Woodpecker. Walking down towards the stream crossing, singing Blackcap were showing well. Moving into the woodland walk, bird numbers were disappointing until we arrived at the area where the pond is located. Here we saw a stunning male Redstart and a female Pied Flycatcher which were the highlight birds for the sight. While completing the walking back to the carpark a good mix of birds were seen including Tree Creeper, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Chiffchaff.
After lunch the group moved on to Tittesworth Reservoir. Due to the weather turning fairly nasty, with frequent heavy rain showers, the group headed for the hides. From the West hide nesting Oyster Catcher were seen on the island and two pairs of Goosader were present on the pool. Moving on to the East hide, where a feeding station is situated, Reed Bunting, Coal Tit and, the bird of the day, Willow Tit were coming to the feeders. On the pool Great Crested Grebe and two common sandpipers were seen. Total number of species for the day was 46.
Speyside, 5- 8th May 2016
Seventeen members enjoyed a weekend’s b
irding in Norfolk. We stayed at Carrmoor Guesthouse in Carrbridge and were extremely well looked after.
We met on Thursday morning at Loch of the Lowes NR, a Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve north of Perth and highlights here included nesting Osprey, Common Buzzard, Lesser Redpoll and Yellowhammer. We had our lunch there and then carried on to Carrbridge and after checking in at the hotel followed by a cup of tea, we drove to Loch Garten RSPB reserve where we walked the Loch Mallachie trail. Highlights included Sparrowhawk, Goldeneye, Siskin and Treecreeper. We then all convened at the guesthouse to have a sumptuous evening meal. After eating, a small group drove down to the end of Station Road in Carrbridge where we had excellent views of Woodcock, Golden Plover, Long Eared Owl and a few Mountain Hares.
A pre-breakfast trip for a few on the Friday morning, again to Station Road, produced Black Grouse, Greylag Goose, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Gull, Jay and Common Sandpiper together with both Mountain and Brown Hare and Roe Deer. After a very hearty breakfast the whole group travelled up to a loch on the moorland north of Carrbridge. Highlights here included Red Grouse, Red Kite, Wheatear, Black-throated and Red-throated Diver and Osprey. We then proceeded to the coast at Burghead where we saw Gannet, Eider, Long-Tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Great Northern Diver, Sandwich Tern, Brent Goose and Rock Pipit. We moved on to Lossiemouth to bird the estuary and the harbour where the highlights included Sanderling, Goosander, Pink Footed Goose, another Osprey and a White-Billed Diver. Bizarrely there was also a young lady playing a keyboard in the sea. We then moved on RSPB Roseisle where we had yet another Osprey which caught a fish in the sea and a Great Northern Diver. All the four Diver species in one day were all in summer plumage. Our day ended at the lower station at Cairngorm where the highlight was a singing male Ring Ouzel plus a few of the resident herd on Reindeer.
A few turned up again for the pre-breakfast walk on Saturday when we decide to go Anagach Woods at Grantown where the highlights were Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin and Scottish Crossbill. After yet another excellent breakfast the group travelled to the Findhorn Valley where sightings included Snipe, Red-Legged Partridge, Common Sandpiper, Dipper, Peregrine, Raven plus fantastic views of a pair of Golden Eagle. We also had feral Mountain Goats and Red Deer. A short journey over the top of the moor took us to Loch Ruthven RSPB reserve where we had our lunch and a short walk yielded Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Red-Breasted Merganser, Stonechat and Tree Pipit. We then returned to the Speyside area and went to Uath Lochans in Glen Feshie. There was a dearth of birds here and the only ones we saw were Sand and House Martin, Swallow and Willow Warbler. Our final port of call for the day was to Insh Church where there is another Osprey nesting site and other sightings included Goldeneye, Pied Flycatcher, Treecreeper and a heardonly Wood Warbler.
The pre-breakfast walk on the Sunday took us to Loch Garten RSPB reserve where the only decent bird that we saw was Great Spotted Woodpecker and a stop at a roadside pool outside Boat of Garten gave us Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Redshank and Little Grebe. After another great breakfast we said our goodbyes to Christine & Michael at the hotel and travelled to Cairngorm and were lucky that the funicular railway was running to the summit. The railway was shut for a fortnight for essential maintenance but because of a lot of snow there were hundreds of skiers and snowboarders so they decided to open for the weekend. Standing in about 6-8 inches of snow surrounded by hundreds of people made it impossible to find Ptarmigan but our luck was in when 3 were spotted from the railway on our descent. We called at two other sites, Allt Mor in Glen Morlich and Loch en Eilein where the highlight was a male Redstart.
It was good to have Mike (Hems) with us for the two middle days. We ended up with 105 species for the weekend but try as we might we couldn’t find a Crested Tit anywhere. The weather stayed dry most of the time and although sometimes quite cold, everyone enjoyed their weekend’s birding.
All photos in this report are thanks to and the copyright of Simon Smith.
RSPB Bempton & Wykeham, 12th June 2016
Thirteen members enjoyed the trip to the East Coast. We arrived at RSPB Bempton Cliffs to be greeted by drizzly rain and foggy conditions. The rain soon stopped but the fog persisted all morning. Luckily the birds are so close on the cliffs that we were able to record Gannet, Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot and Puffin in quite large numbers. Other highlights included lots of Tree Sparrows, Skylark, Whitethroat and Reed Bunting.
It was impossible to see any birds out to sea, and after lunch we decided to move inland with the hope of getting away from the fog. We travelled to Wykeham Raptor Viewpoint in Wykeham Forest off the A170 between Scarborough and Pickering.
The viewpoint lived up to its name and after less than an hour a distant Honey Buzzard was seen but a little while later a second bird was seen well displaying and wing-clapping along the valley. Other raptors seen were Common Buzzard, Peregrine and Goshawk and other highlights included flyover Crossbill, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest.
We then walked down from the car park towards Wykeham Nurseries to look for Turtle Dove. Unfortunately we didn’t find any but highlights there included Bullfinch, Red-legged Partridge, Sparrowhawk and Mistle Thrush.
The rain started falling again and we left for home, and to cap the day our car had a day flying Barn Owl just south of Thornton-Le-Dale.
We managed 39 species on a day of very mixed weather.