Trip reports

Old Moor - 22/02/15

Old Moor - 22/02/15
Smew - Dennis Atherton

Sunday, 22 February 2015

We first stopped in at Pugney's Country Park on the outskirts of Wakefield. A drake smew had been reported recently and we were hoping to catch up with it. We headed off round the main boating lake, scanning the water for this small, white winter visitor. Plenty of other duck species were present - tufted duck, pochard and goldeneye - but no sign of the smew. It seemed our luck was in though as we bumped into a local who said the bird was sometimes seen on the river. He showed us the way and as soon as we got onto the riverbank a kingfisher whizzed part at top speed. As we scanned up the river we soon found our target bird, mixing with a couple of tufted duck. We had a few minutes to admire him before he flew off downriver. We were then informed that a yellow-legged gull was on the main lake so we walked back to the car park and soon had our scopes on the bird which was an added bonus.

Our second stop was at the RSPB reserve of Old Moor. A quick look at the feeders in the wildlife garden added stock dove and bullfinch to the usual list of garden birds. We moved onto the viewing screen near the children's play area and were able to spend a while watching a relatively (for the species!) confiding redwing feeding on the fallen seed below a feeder. Dozens of tree sparrows were perched up in the hedge along with 4 or 5 yellowhammer.

A tour round the hides picked up a Mediterranean gull, linnets, goosander and wigeon. A green woodpecker was spotted perched in a tree and we also spotted a single lesser redpoll.

After a quick stop in the café for a hot chocolate we had our lunch back at the cars. Our original plan had been to go to Potteric Carr near Doncaster. However, we were aware that the worsening weather forecast was promising snow and we were unlikely to see too many species there that we hadn't seen already.

We decided to try and find a rarity which had been reported near Normanton before heading home early. This particular rarity had been spotted for several days in a flooded field near the West Yorkshire Police HQ - a quick scan of the shoreline and we found an American wigeon!

This was a great way to end what had been a freezing cold day. We'd picked up some really good species, total for the day was 64 species.