2011-12 Fieldtrip Reports

Wirral Peninsular – 15th January 2012

Our first stop was at Leasowe near the old Lighthouse, built in 1763 to help long gone ships but now no longer used as a lighthouse. We could see hundreds of birds along the water’s edge. However, our problem was the water’s edge was way out in the distance across the sand as it was low tide. Looking across the sand nearer to us and near the pools of water left behind by the tide we saw four species of gulls and a good selection of waders such as Redshank, Curlew, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Lapwing a few Ringed Plover and one Grey Plover.

Another item of interest was seeing a Crow carrying something in its beak it flew out a little way over the beach, gained some height then dropped what it was holding onto the sand. It then flew down to collect it again. It seemed to have learned the trick of dropping something from a height to break it open so it could eat what was inside but its direction was a little off as the nearby concrete prom would have been far more useful for this purpose.

On to West Kirby to check on the Marine Lake where again there were a number of gulls but we also saw Red Breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and an immature Shag that was swimming along the water’s edge and didn’t seem bothered by all the people walking by.

The saltmarsh at Burton was next and somehow we must have been in a sheltered spot as it was quite pleasant standing in the fresh air while we ate our dinners. Even though we were eating our sandwiches we were still watching for any birds such as Heron or a small group of Teal, Crows and Rooks were flying to and from the saltmarsh, someone saw a Stock Dove and in a field on the other side of the road we saw the odd Blackbird, Song Thrush, a flock of Redwings and David managed to get a photograph of a Fieldfare in a nearby tree.

Our last stop was at Burton Mere Wetlands, the new area opened near Inner Marsh Farm. While walking through the wooded area we

saw Nuthatch, a great Spotted Woodpecker at the very top of one of the trees, Coal Tit, Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush among others. On and near the water were Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Shelduck, Heron, Little Egret, Black- tailed Godwit, Redshank, a few Dunlin and someone saw a Merlin.

Also in the wooded area I saw a patch where a number of Green Alkanet plants were growing and one or two of them already had some of their brilliant blue flowers open which is much earlier than usual.

Thanks to Eddie for standing in to lead the trip and to Joan and Jim for my lift.

Jeff Hurst


Dorset - Winter Trip February 2012

We set off at 7.00am Eddie and Joe picked me up and off we went; the roads at home were busy as expected but the M6 wasn’t too bad and even at Birmingham it still moved without stopping. We followed Phil’s map and instructions and got to Slimbridge in Gloucestershire at 10am. Most of the group had arrived so we headed out for the hides. There are lots of hides and we saw some good birds including Bewick’s Swans; 55 was our count for the day, at 2.15pm we headed for Weymouth, Eddie put the Sat Nav on with the post code of the hotel in and it took us there perfectly except for a new road that has just been opened and the poor Sat Nav thought we had gone off road as she had us in a field! She wasn’t worried though as Joe kept up a constant conversation with her following the map as we followed her instruction.

The rooms were warm and clean, the shower was hot and wonderfully powerful. And the gentlemen in the party found the bar ok, although they said the cost of a pint was exorbitant!

Friday saw us heading to Radipole Lake, it’s a huge area of wetland and reeds, and is right in the centre of the town, it was rather strange to be watching geese swimming past and just over their heads Matalan and B&Q were advertising their wares. Didn’t seem to worry the birds though. After spending time there we went to Lodmore which is a similar place but

18not surrounded by shops, here we heard Water Rail and saw a Marsh Harrier as well as the usual ducks and some waders, telescopes are needed at both these sites.

Then the famous Chesil Beach, what a place, isn’t nature wonderful was a thought that came to mind for producing this spectacular place, on the lagoons there were Brent Geese quite close up, but it was surprising quiet according to the people who had birded there before. I climbed up Chesil Beach and enjoyed asitatthetop;itwasabitmistythoughsoI couldn’t see the end of it. On our way to Portland Bill Eddie stopped while I viewed the beach from up there, it was even more impressive than at ground level.

Portland Bill and here we watched Guillemots flying past, Purple Sandpipers fed and scurried round the rocks as well as Turnstones, Meadow Pipits flew around but the Stonechat evaded us. On the way back to the hotel we stopped off in a housing estate which boasted a ruined castle and here we sea watched which got us a pair of Slavonian Grebes.

Saturday was Arne Nature Reserve run by the RSPB it’s a wonderful place in February what must it be like in spring and summer? We stopped along the lane to the reserve to watch Fieldfare and Redwings and one Yellowhammer and lots of small birds. In a hide that overlooks Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island we saw Spoonbill’s and some of the group saw Avocets, who would have thought years ago that we could see those two species in Great Britain. The Sika Deer roamed the sea washed turf and although aware of us in the hide didn’t worry too much, these are an introduced species, not like the birds that came of their own choice. The rain came on late in the afternoon we had gone up on the moors but couldn’t see much.

Sunday and it’s home time, it comes round much too quickly. We went to Westhay Moor through Somerset, that is a great place to visit, although a bit bland in its late winter bareness, but we had a Green Woodpecker fly by, and saw Siskin and Redpoll and a nice walk to stretch our legs before the long journey home. Our count for the 4 days was 104 species.

Thank you Phil and Jackie another excellent winter trip under our belts and already I am thinking “where will it be next year”?

Joan Disley


North Wales – 26th February 2012

Our first stop was at the RSPB reserve at Conway but we didn’t see as many birds as we had hoped for. The water levels were well down on normal and according to an old gentleman that lived near the reserve they hadn’t had much rain for a while.

As we reached the car park, what better way to start the morning than listening to a Song Thrush singing. At the start of the track from here we saw a few birds in some bushes but who would have thought that one day we would be saying we were pleased to see they were House Sparrows, not long after we had some good views of Goldfinch and Dunnock coming to some feeders, Reed Bunting was also seen and we heard Greenfinch a few times as we walked round. On the various areas of water we saw Teal, Shelduck, Tufted Duck, a distant Red-breasted Merganser, Heron but the only waders we had were Oystercatcher and Curlew.

Then to move on to our next stop “The Spinnies” at Tal-y-Bont, a small reserve by the side of the Menai Straits. Out on the water of the straits in front of us were groups of Wigeon, Greylag Geese, some Goldeneye, Red- breasted Merganser, Shelduck and a single male Eider Duck. In some fields just behind us was a group of mostly Black-headed Gulls but mixed in with these was the odd Common Gull and we could just make out an Iceland Gull looking very white compared to the other gulls. In another field a little further over still there were a mixed group of geese. At first they looked to be Canada Geese and Greylag but in with them was a Bean Goose. Some of our members managed to see it but we were unlucky when we looked for it as some of the birds had settled down with their beads tucked back out of sight, so we couldn’t pick anything out that looked different from the others. A Buzzard was also seen over the trees in the distance.

A short walk from here took us to “The Spinnies” reserve where we watched Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch coming to the feeders and some of our members saw Great Spotted Woodpecker. On a pool in the reserve we saw heron, 4 Little Egrets and watched one of these catching a number of small fish, there were 3 Little Grebes and somehow Brian managed to spot a water Rail moving along the edge of the far bank under the branches of an overhanging tree.

As we walked round the reserve signs of spring were all around us with the leaves of various plants now starting to grow and some of the Lesser Celandine having their flowers wide open. Some time earlier at the Conway Reserve we could see the bright yellow flowers on the Gorse and noticed the male catkins on both Alder and Hazel were now a few inches long.

On to Llandudno where we made a quick visit on top of the Great Orme to look for Choughs. A few members saw two birds flying away from a field below us but after that everything we checked was a Jackdaw. The wind up here was strong and cold so we didn’t linger long but decided to have one last stop off at Rhos-on- Sea on our way home in case there were any Purple Sandpipers to see.

We were unlucky with this bird but on a breakwater made of large chunks of stone we could see a number of Oystercatchers, the odd Turnstone and another Eider Duck. There were also a group of Wigeon on the water in front of us. A little further along we stopped again as we spotted some more birds on the pebble covered beach and again they were mostly Oystercatchers, a few Redshank and Great Black-backed Gulls, one of these eating a flat fish it had managed to catch.

With thoughts of eating food and tea time in mind we decided we should now head for home after a good day out. Thanks to Albert for organising the trip and to Joan and Jim for my lift.

Jeff Hurst