Trip reports

Group Outing

Group Outing
Tessa Harrison

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Gartmorn Dam

The weather forecast was for thunderstorms in the afternoon, but the morning was dry although cloudy, so eleven of us set off watching the sky. We saw mute swans, Canada geese, black- headed gulls, mallard, coot, a pied wagtail, a single rook, a grey heron in flight and blue and great tits before leaving the parking area and loch side. Walking along the loch towards the sunken garden we added swifts, a herring gull, house martins, a group of tufted ducks, a great-crested grebe and a female mallard with five chicks. Wrens were everywhere to be heard but harder to spot, but we did manage to see one in the woodland, along with a robin, chaffinches and three lesser black-backed gulls on the water. Walking upwards away from the loch, through woodland we heard and saw willow warblers and then three buzzards.

Skylarks were singing above the sown fields but were difficult to see in the sky until they parachuted towards the ground and Dave spotted a peregrine in flight. Looking into the gorse and scrub we saw two linnets and a yellowhammer posed beautifully for us on a post, his yellow plumage glowing in the brief sunlight. Our second raptor, a kestrel was spotted and the warm damp air brought out swallows over the fields and loch. More linnets were seen gleaning seeds in a farmyard and a magpie, tree creeper and two mistle thrushes were seen in the more mature trees.

After lunch we walked along a farm lane and were rewarded with both tree and house sparrows on the farm buildings as well as swallows swooping over the corn fields. The hedgerows yielded goldfinch and an elusive whitethroat, which we also heard singing. We heard, but could not see, a garden warbler. Walking again on the lakeside path we saw and listened to the song of a pair of blackcaps, watched a great tit family with their young begging for food, and saw a flock of starlings above a farm building wheeling in the sky. A dunnock skulked in the hedgerow and two young robins hopped in front of us on the path. Finally Hugh spotted a jay amongst a flock of less interesting corvids. As we approached the cars the rain started and it was pelting down by the time we were setting off. All-in-all, a well timed visit.