Fieldtrip to Leighton Moss and Sizergh Castle – 18th November 2012.

Nuthatch (c) Martyn Jones
It was a cold start to the morning with fields by the side of the motorway being white with frost as we travelled to the grounds of Sizergh Castle for our first stop.  Some of our members were already there when we arrived and soon pointed out a group of trees where they had seen Treecreeper.

As we watched this area we could see a number of small birds flying up and down from the ground where they were feeding and saw Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Coal Tit and other members of the Tit family.

Hawfinch (c) David Shallcross

Someone from the other group shouted they had just seen a Waxwing so we all moved across to join them. We checked the area where they had pointed out where there was a large Holly bush with lots of berries but no signs of the Waxwings.

Not long after this another bird higher up, near the top of a large Hornbeam Tree was spotted and when checked through the telescope was found to be a Hawfinch, the bird we had been hoping for.

Eventually three birds were near each other feeding on the Hornbeam seeds and although once again the light wasn’t at its best and with looking towards the sky you couldn’t clearly see all their colours, I think we had a better view than last year when we saw one bird in this same area.

Waxwing (c) Martyn Jones
On now to Leighton Moss and we had only just stepped out of the cars on the car park when a bird flew into one of the trees. After a closer look we could see this again was a single Waxwing which I think most of us managed to see. To the best of my knowledge I think this bird is an LOS first for our site visits.

As we walked to the public causeway we passed a small group of Long Tailed Tits moving their way through the bushes and from the public hide we could see several species of duck such as Goldeneye, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard and Teal, a few Cormorant were on a small island and while we watched all this a Marsh Harrier flew low across the reed beds until it dropped out of sight which put to flight a number of the ducks. Greylag were seen from “Lillian’s hide” and some of our members that arrived before we did said they had seen Bittern, Kingfisher, Snipe, Buzzard, Bullfinch and Treecreeper.

Pintail (c) David Shallcross
From here we went on to the coastal hides and as we walked towards them from the car park we found a patch of Candlesnuff fungi growing on some moss covered logs.

Once in the hides we saw Heron, Little Egret, Lapwing, Redshank, had heard Curlew, saw Pied Wagtail and to add to our duck list some Pintail and a Red Breasted Merganser that was having a little trouble with a fish it had caught as it tried to turn it the right way round so it could swallow it.
Eventually it managed to do this and one more fish ended up as dinner.

On our way home we made one last stop near Warton Crag and at first there wasn’t much to see. After a while, suddenly dozens of Jackdaws began to fly into the nearby trees, a little after this the birds started flying round and a few at a time headed for the rock face. The air was now filled with the characteristic Jackdaw sounds but over all this we heard the loud “cronk” of a Raven and managed to pick it out and eventually saw it land on a rocky ledge. 

Peregrine Falcon (c) Martyn Jones
Not long after this a Peregrine Falcon appeared over the top of the crag but did not stay long as it was being mobbed by Jackdaws.

More and more of the Jackdaws had now flown to various crevices in the rock and as they settled themselves down for the night it was also now time we headed for home.

Thanks to Al for organising the trip and as always to Joan and Jim for my lift.

Jeff Hurst

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