Trip reports

Conder Green and Glasson Dock Visit

Adult whooper swans feeding in fields

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Four members met at Conder Green on the 15th December for what proved to be an enjoyable five hours of birdwatching in good company. The tide, that day one of 9.7 metres, had yet to rise as we started our walk. Crossing the River Conder as we headed towards Glasson we enjoyed views of mallard,mute swan, and wigeon. One of our party identified a small wader that was feeding in the muddy channel of the Conder - it was a common sandpiper. As we neared Glasson Dock, a mixed flock of passerines flew in front of us and settled in a hedge nearby. As we came closer we were able to see that they were a party comprised largely of goldfinch with a few greenfinch and with more careful observation a few stubby-billed birds with a pinkish tinge to their plumage - they were twite. Nearby a lone fieldfare was gorging itself on hawthorn berries; we enjoyed an excellent close-up view of this bird. Out on the estuary a red breasted merganser was diving and feeding, as binoculars and telescopes were trained on this bird it was very much a case of "now you see it, now you don't!" As we were about to enter Glasson village, a party of pink-footed geese flew overhead, whilst on Glasson marina a handsome goldeneye was seen.
After crossing the lock gates we made our way up Tithebarn Hill from where we were able to survey the estuary as the tide started to cover the saltmarsh as it rose rapidly. A very large flock of wading birds was visible out to sea flying above the rooftops of Sunderland Point. We estimated that there must have been around 2,500 birds in this flock that were made up largely of knot. The saltmarsh before us was quickly being submerged and was flushing out in our direction bar-tailed godwit, wigeon, turnstone and little egret. Likewise, in a field above the waterline were a mixed party of redwing and fieldfare.
As we started to make our way back to Conder Green, from the top of School Lane we spotted a party of swans. The birds were almost a mile away grazing on the farmland near Thurnham, and with the aid of a telescope one could just about make them out to be a party of whooper and mute swans. We stopped briefly at Jeremy Lane in anticipation of seeing more swans and perhaps even a brown hare.Alas neither species were to be seen on this occasion, however it was nice to get views of many golden plover and lapwing that were feeding on the fields behind us. Back on the old railway track, we were pleased to end our walk with good sightings of reed bunting,song thrush and greenfinch.along with a hunting sparrowhawk that shot in front of us.

Michael Gardner