Trip reports

Northward Hill 15th October 2016

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The sun was shining with a blue sky. However the cloud built up as the morning progressed but luckily the rain held off until the walk ended. A mistle thrush perched on a tree as I entered the reserve and there were plenty of birds to be seen and heard in the car park but only two people turned up today. A kingfisher flew past me in front of my car and made a direct flight along the access track. Several house sparrows, blue tits and dunnocks were also around the car park and a greenfinch perched on one of the bare branches of a tree while a flock of goldfinch flew around calling and a couple of pied wagtails were on one of the farm building's roof. A green woodpecker was also seen in the car parking area on my arrival and later heard "yaffling" as well.
At least four or five jays with their direct flight were seen as we made our way to the marshland viewpoint and a small group of calling jackdaw were perched on a bare tree. A song thrush also perched on a nearby tree and a couple of skylark called as they flew over our heads. The second woodpecker seen was a great spotted woodpecker-its red wing bars showed well in flight. A couple of loud calling Cetti's warblers were also heard.
At the viewpoint the small reservoir and pools had a flock of 30+ lapwings which were intermittently spooked from the water into their floppy flight manoeuvres. A grey heron stood sentry and ducks were confined to a few eclipse shoveler, 15+ teal, gadwall and pochard. On the grass there were quite a few rook feeding, their bare grey bills clearly seen whilst gulls were limited to black headed and a single lesser black backed gull. Geese were confined to Canada and greylag goose and a couple of little grebe were also seen diving. A marsh harrier drifted across the grazing marsh and a kestrel with its long tail also flew over. Around six black tailed godwits with their very long bills were also in the pools of water and a single snipe was skulking along the edge of the reeds.
As we climbed our way up to the high viewpoint around five swallows flew purposely over us- no doubt on their migration.The views from all the viewpoints themselves are worth coming to the reserve for. A buzzard came out of the woodland and we were lucky to see it drift below us in the thermals giving a view of its upper wing patterns. I was given a couple of walnuts picked from a tree by one of the attendees—something to eat at Christmas!!
On our way down a stonechat briefly perched on a small shrub and on our way to the lower viewpoint we found a couple of field mice hiding under the corrugated iron sheets placed near the paths whilst ants carrying their white eggs were also seen under the sheets. A small tortoishell was seen in the sunshine.
Forty seven species were seen today. Numbers were not high but a spread of small birds, ducks and birds of prey were seen. Highlights included the kingfisher, the marsh harrier, buzzard and the two field mice.

George Kalli