RSPB Conwy, 17th September 2019

Eight members turned out for a sunny day at the RSPB Conwy reserve. This is always a rewarding reserve with plenty of hides and viewpoints around the water areas. The sight of 17 Little Egrets on the side of one of the islands was a highlight. Many thanks to Ian Bunker for generously letting us view birds through his telescope. We also spotted Curlew, Little Grebe, lots of Redshank and Dunlin, Gadwall, Cormorant and Black tailed Godwit. The tide was coming in and pushed the Curlew and Oystercatchers onto the reserve. Lovely views across the estuary of the Conway valley hills and the castle. Super day out. 36 species in total.

Stephen Williams

Anglesey, 13th  October 2019

The first weekend trip of the new 2019/2020 season on saw six members make the trip to Anglesey. We met at Cemlyn Bay but the weather was atrocious with very heavy rain. A small flock of Golden Plover was flying around the field adjacent to the carpark. A decision was taken to move to Holyhead Harbour where we did some birding under one of the shelters out of the rain and highlights here included Linnet, Stonechat, Razorbill and Shag. There aren’t many reserves on Anglesey with hides so another decision was taken to move back to the mainland to Llanfairfechan where we took our lunch first and then went under the shelter on the front. Unfortunately, another birding group from the Wirral had the same idea so it was a little crowded under this shelter.

Highlights here included a small flock of Eider, parties of Common Scoter, Gannet, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Diver, Wigeon, Turnstone, Ringed Plover with Dipper and Grey Wagtail on the river. Although the rain was easing it was still fairly heavy and we moved to the luxury of hides at RSPB Conwy. Here we saw Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Common Snipe and Little Egret. The sun started breaking out mid afternoon and we decided to drive up to the Great Orme to look for a Yellow-browed Warbler that was reported earlier. We didn’t see the Yellow-browed because although dry by now there was a strong gusty wind on the top. We did see Stonechat, Raven and Chough.

The weather did not spoil our day’s birding but did change our itinerary for the day but we still ended up with a total of 51 species.

Ray Evans

Brockholes Nature Reserve, 22nd October 2019

Fourteen members met at Brockholes Nature reserve run by Lancashire Wildlife trust just off junction 31 of the M6. It was a new venue for all of us. We walked round the perimeter of the reserve starting with a path along the banks of the River Ribble which had been in flood the previous week. Well done to Heather Luk for spotting 2 Kingfishers on the opposite bank giving her the accolade of birder of the day! We got great views of the Kingfishers as they hung around for a while. At the far end of the reserve we went through the mature woodland of Bolton Wood and then along the lakes left from quarrying. But we did get good views of a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel. Plenty of waterfowl on the lakes, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Cormorant and Great Crested Grebe. There was motorway noise at this spot. Also the hides were rather spartan - old metal containers. But the cafe and toilets on the floating village were appreciated and it was a worthwhile visit. 27 species in total.

Stephen Williams


RSPB Marshside, 9th November 2019


Nine members turned up on a very cold frosty morning. A quick look around before heading for the main hide gave us a Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and flocks of Pink Footed Geese. The water on the lake from the main hide was too high for many waders and these were forced to the back and side of the water. These included large numbers of Black Tailed Godwits with a few Bar Tailed Godwits. Many Pink Footed Geese with some Canada Geese. A Little Grebe on the water with some Lapwings in the background. All the ducks were present with good numbers of Wigeon, Shoveler and Pintails . Afterwards we left the hide where we crossed the road to view any raptors or waders on the marsh. We saw a male Hen Harrier along with several Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard. Little Egrets were in the channels. Looking towards the beach we could see flocks of Knot wheeling similar to Starling murmurations.  Fieldfares and Redwings flew over whilst watching these birds.


We then checked the water adjacent to the main hide. Here we found the female Greater Scaup.


Now lunch then off to the pier to see the large flock (100+) of Twite. We had good views and here we also had a solitary Knot.


Then on to Mere Sands Wood reserve where we saw Goosanders and had good views of Goldcrests.


In total we had 46 species.


Paul Kenyon


LWT Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve and WWT Martin Mere, 19th November 2019

Fourteen members arrived at Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve, near Rufford run by Lancashire Wildlife Trust on a cold morning but dry. We found that the renovations to the Visitor Centre had overrun, and a pile driver started thumping away! So we decided to walk away from the building noise around the outskirts of the mature woodland and were rewarded by views of Treecreeper and Nuthatch. There were comfortable hides to look over the lakes and we got the usual tally of waterfowl including a female Goosander. Sadly, no Kingfisher, but it had been seen earlier by some keen photographers who had staked it out.  On to Martin Mere Wetland Centre and we needed bowls of hot soup to warm up! We headed for the hides and masses of waterfowl were seen, Pintail, Greylag, Wigeon and Pochard. We returned to the Discovery Hide for the 3pm feeding and it was mayhem as they devoured a whole barrowload of food! Amazing sight with great close views of Ruff. This was a fitting end to our day out. Thanks to Simon Smith for the great photos. Total species count was 41

Long-tailed Tit
Grey Heron
Whooper Swan
Images courtesy and copyright of Simon Smith.

Stephen Williams
RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, 15th December 2019

Ten MCOS members met at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands.

Large numbers of wild fowl were present including Canada, Greylag and Pink-footed Geese, Pintail, Shoveler, Gadwell, Shelduck, Wigeon, Tufted, Mallard and Teal Ducks. Waders included; Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Oyster Catcher and Curlew. Herons; Great White Egret, Little Egret and Grey. Raptors; Marsh Harrier, Sparrow Hawk, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Other birds of note were; Siskin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redwing, Raven and Nuthatch.

After lunch the group moved on to Denhall Quay. Large numbers of wildfowl were seen in flight with Great and Little Egret also present. A Male Hen Harrier gave some superb views as it hunted on the marsh in front of the group. Gulls included: Great Black-backed, Herring, Common and Black-headed.

With rain moving in the group then moved on to Parkgate.

With the weather improving a Short-eared Owl showed well and gave a super photo opportunity as it sat on a log at fairly close distance. Another Male Hen Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon were also seen. With the light fading the group called it a day.

55 species were seen.  The bird of the day was a Male Hen Harrier.

Graham Haspey

N Wales Coast, 12th January 2020

Twelve members enjoyed the first trip of 2020, to North Wales. We all met at Llanfairfechan promenade and highlights here included Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Red Throated Diver, Common Scoter, Eider, Brent Goose, Turnstone and Fulmar.

After a few hours we moved to the RSPB reserve at Conwy. We saw Goldeneye, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pochard, Redshank, Snipe, Siskin and Bullfinch but the undoubted highlight here was stunning views of a Firecrest (maybe 2).

We had our lunch when we returned to the cars and then moved on to Rhos on Sea. In a walk along the promenade we saw Rock Pipit and Shag and eventually after a bit of a search a single Purple Sandpiper which was enjoyed by many other walkers along the prom.

Our last port of call was Horton’s Nose at the harbour in Rhyl and after walking down to the beach we eventually came across the 2 Snow Bunting which also gave excellent views in the telescopes..

We managed 64 species during the day.

Images Copyright of Paul Bennington.

R Evans

RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands and Parkgate,  17th Jan 2020

Twenty two members turned out for a cloudy but dry day at the RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands reserve. This is always a good reserve with a comfortable and warm visitor centre where those who don't want to walk round the reserve can stay and still get good birds. We immediately got a Great White Egret paddling close by with a Little Egret adjacent to see the differences. Lots of usual waterfowl and a Marsh Harrier hunting on the Marsh. Other members got a Hen Harrier. On the way to the first hide we were lucky to get a fleeting glimpse of a Water Rail before it vanished into the reeds. After our sandwiches, half the party drove to Parkgate baths for views over the Dee estuary. Ian Bunker found a Merlin at distance. Later we saw a Hen Harrier being attacked by a Merlin which drove it off, brave bird! Lots of Pink Footed geese resting on the grass. We walked further on towards the golf course, before turning back and getting some close Redwing on the deck. Paul and Joe stayed on and bagged four Short-eared Owls with close views making them birders of the day! Total species count was 44.

Stephen Williams

Worlds End’ Minera – 15th March 2020

Five MCOS members met at ‘Worlds End’ Minera. The Black Grouse Leks were in full swing with good numbers of male birds giving closeup displays. Moving on across the moor Red Grouse were seen at close quarters. Other birds of note were Stonechat and Siskin.

The group moved on to Clocaenog Forest and surrounding area. From the forest picnic area, Crossbill were seen briefly, also of note, Nuthatch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Raven and Common Buzzard. 

From Craig Bron Banog, a distant Goshawk was seen in flight together with numerous Common Buzzards. A family group of two adults and three young Crossbills were seen close by. 

Moving on to Brenig Reservoir large numbers of Siskins, Chaffinch and Goldfinch plus a single Redpoll, in super condition, were seen from the feeding station.

A search of a nearby clearfell failed to locate the Great Grey Shrike which has been present in the area recently.

A total of 39 species were seen during the day.

Graham Haspey.

S.W. Scotland -29th February - 1st March 2020

Fifteen members enjoyed a wild, wet and windy weekend’s birding in S.W. Scotland. We stayed at The Bruce Hotel in Newton Stewart and were very well looked after yet again – this was our 4th stay.

We met just before Friday lunchtime at RSPB Mersehead on the Solway in fairly persistent rain, and highlights here included hundreds of Barnacle Geese, Wigeon, Shoveler and a small flock of Linnet. We had our lunch drying out in the visitor centre where the feeders had Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer and Siskin.  We then travelled the short distance back east along the coast to Southerness where the wind was so strong it was difficult to stand up and the tide was so high we couldn’t see any waders but highlights included Little Egret and Common Scoter. The birding was curtailed early for the day and we left for Newton Stewart to check in to our hotel to dry out all our wet weather gear. We enjoyed an excellent evening meal.

After a sumptuous Scottish breakfast on the Saturday we drove to Wigtown and in benign weather we had a short walk along the marshes and highlights included Pink-Footed and Barnacle Geese, Little Egret, Goldcrest and a fine Merlin. The bad weather was forecast for the afternoon and we decided to move early towards Stranraer to bird a few different points around Loch Ryan. Highlights at Cairnryan included Red-throated Diver, Black Guillemot, Guillemot, Eider, Shag and Fulmar. Moving nearer to Stranraer and a lunch stop we saw Scaup, Wigeon and Goldeneye. Our final destination at Loch Ryan was the Wig and by this time there was a strong gale force wind again making birding nigh impossible. We saw a flock of Brent Geese but little else. A short roadside stop at Glenside gave us two Long Tailed Ducks and a single Slavonian Grebe. The final destination for the day was West Freugh where the weather had now turned very wet as well as windy and birding was confined to the cars. We saw a herd of Whooper Swans in that general area. Birding was curtailed early again and we made our way back to the hotel and had another excellent meal.

After another filling breakfast and checking out on the Sunday morning, we set off east towards RSPB Ken-Dee Marshes. The weather on the Sunday was windy but mercifully not raining. On the minor road down to Ken-Dee we saw Red Kite. A walk at the reserve yielded a few woodland birds including Willow Tit, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper together with Raven and Red Squirrel. En route to Carlingwark Loch a small group of White-fronted Geese were in a roadside field in a mixed flock of Greylag and Canada Geese A lunch stop at Carlingwark Loch in Castle Douglas gave us views of Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Goosander.  We then proceeded to Caerlaverock WWT reserve on the Solway. Highlights here included Whooper Swan, Yellowhammer, hundreds of Barnacle Goose, Black Tailed Godwit and Knot and we finished the day with a Red Legged Partridge on a roadside near the reserve.

We ended up with a list of 91 species, and despite the horrendous weather everyone enjoyed an excellent weekend with good company, good beer, good food and some good birds.

Ray Evans

Short-eared Owl (digiscoped by Paul Bebbington )
Purple Sandpiper
Snow Bunting
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