Trip reports

Midweek outing to Holmethorpe Wednesday 21st October 2015

Friday, 23 October 2015

Ian welcomed the chance to thoroughly test the waterproofing of his rain gear, which passed the test. However, his monocular gave up resistance after half an hour of continuous cleaning, with the best view provided by wetting the glass at both ends, and looking around the running drips.
We started on the back path around Mercers Lake. Peering through the trees at the lake edge, we were rewarded with the sight and constant high pitched calls of a juvenile Great Crested Grebe, still with peppermint head.
We then passed the lakes on The Moors opposite Watercolour estate. Here we saw another juvenile grebe with its parents, this time with crest starting to develop. The parents began a courtship dance (do they mate in October?), but they were split up by their offspring (no sex with the children around, please!) The lakes offered a variety of gulls and ducks, including good numbers of Gadwall, a few Wigeon and a Shoveler. A brief flyover of LBJs across the path by the stream past the lakes foretold of the masses of Goldfinches that we saw shortly afterwards on the teasels by the railway line. The resident Kestrel made an appearance over The Moors, although not even the Kestrel attempted to hunt in these conditions!
We passed an orchard, and spoke to the gardener/tree surgeon who looks after it. He explained to us how the owners leave all the fruit, but need to keep the orchard tidy in case it gets overgrown, so they hire him from West Sussex to look after it for them. The apples are left to drop and waste, and we were not allowed to scrump lest we be poisoned - apparently you can never be sure of these things. His explanation mirrored the murkiness of the weather around us!
The lane towards the cricket pitch offered up the local tits and hedgerow birds, and a fox going about on its way, then across the heath (aka 'Nutfield Marsh') and back to near our start. Another decision point - head back for a break and a coffee, or onward, and the ladies chose onward. After all, who wants to sit around with wet clothes? By then the torrent had morphed into a deceptive light drizzle, thwarting regular attempts to lower hoods. The hedgerows by the fields towards Spynes Mere offered up a variety of passerines, including Yellowhammer. Once in Spyness reserve a flitting LBJ obligingly morphed into a cute little Goldcrest. The pit itself was rewarding, with the endearing flight of the Lapwings a welcome sight. Both Mercers West and Spynes Mere afforded an abundance of Little Grebe. And almost finally we saw a puzzling brown blob standing at an awkward angle (i.e. for us) in a distant tree. We all saw something slightly different, even after exchanging binoculars. Process of elimination proved this to be a Fieldfare.
Overall, with the tenacity of Sue and Jenny, notwithstanding the conditions, we completed the round and made a respectable haul of 38 (plus grey squirrel, fox, rabbits). The 'quick look' at the site had lasted until 16:00, and that was without lunch!