Trip reports

Not quite Middleton Lakes - 24/11/12

Not quite Middleton Lakes - 24/11/12
Teal - Dennis Atherton

Saturday, 24 November 2012

This trip was intended to take us to Middleton Lakes, a relatively new RSPB reserve in the Tame valley near Tamworth. However, the torrential rain in the days leading up to the trip led to the reserve being flooded with barely any access beyond the car park. No-one likes birdwatching while up to their knees in water so an alternative was required.

The North West Birdwatching festival was being held at Martin Mere so we decided to make that our destination.

We arrived at 8.30 and decided to do a few of the hides first thing. The first bird on the list was goldcrest. A small party of these lovely little birds were in the trees just beyond the gate between the collections and the reserve. From Ron Barker hide we found plenty of the expected birds - large numbers of pink-footed geese, lapwings, teal, wigeon, barnacle geese and whooper swans. Two buzzards were seen sat on fence posts and a kestrel was perched in a tree. Someone in the hide (not with our group) then said he had located a green-winged teal, a relatively regular American migrant, distinguishable by its vertical white stripes either side of the breast. After much effort, everyone in the group got onto the bird and we were all happy.

Onto Hale Hide where we added a pair of peregrines, one looking exceptionally pale on its head.
After a pit stop in the café for bacon butties (or in some cases, full English or beans on toast), we did the tour of the stands at the festival, purchasing books, camera accessories and, for one lucky person, a new pair of binoculars.

The rest of the hides were then visited, adding brambling, coal tit, ruff, a lesser black backed gull eating the remains of an unfortunate pink-footed goose, tufted duck, pochard and sparrowhawk. The last sighting of the day was probably the most special - a stunning male hen harrier put in a brief appearance over the fields before dropping down.

With the light failing we called an end to the day with 51 species seen.