Trip reports

Local Trip to River Lee Country Park, 2nd March 2019

Local Trip to River Lee Country Park, 2nd March 2019
Cattle Egret on Hall Marsh Scrape digiscoped by Graeme Hutchinson (2/3/19)

Saturday, 2 March 2019

What a difference a year makes. When we ran this trip on the 3rd March last year the country was in the grip of the "Beast from the East". The lakes were frozen and there was snow on the ground. This year there was more than a whiff of spring in the air - a pleasant day with sunshine as the day went on.

Between the station and Friday Lake we saw redwings and goldfinches and were serenaded by robins, wrens and tits. After searching in vain at the lake for smew we moved to Hall Marsh Scrape and a real surprise; two cattle egrets. We were able to examine them in detail from both the Teal and Snipe hides. One was showing a dusting of saffron colouring, early signs of breeding plumage.

A peregrine perched high on a pylon as we moved to the Flood Relief Channel and found a red-head goosander. A kingfisher flew past and the sharper eyed among us saw one disappear into a hole in the opposite bank of the channel, and then two of them perched by the entrance. Two red kites circled high overhead.

We had lunch at the Bittern Information Point, where the trees have had a major haircut. No sign of the water rail or bittern, but an obliging great crested grebe swam around right in front of the hide for us.

As we walked on to Holyfield Weir, Canada and greylag geese across the channel were examined for white-fronts, but to no avail. However, we had good views of male and female goldeneye en route to the Grebe Hide, which lived up to its name. Courting great crested grebes were practising their synchronised swimming and diving.

On the way back to the station we added chiffchaff and goldcrest to the list. A great spotted woodpecker was drumming loudly in the electricity substation.

In all we saw 55 species. Thanks are due to all who came along for making it such an enjoyable day.

Graeme Hutchinson