Trip reports

Outon Marshes and Fisher Row

Outon Marshes and Fisher Row
JANE BOND

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

In time honoured tradition, waterproof coats and warm clothing were essential for our March fieldtrip to Oulton Marshes on Wednesday 25th. Despite the hail storm at 9am, twelve members and two guests assembled to brave the biting northerly wind and threat of heavy rain showers. Footpath closures along the river wall meant that our walk would be mostly linear down Fisher Row to the river, around the Tea Gardens and back again.
As we headed down the hill beside the churchyard finches could be heard singing in the ivy all around. A chiffchaff sang behind us on Queens Highway and as we proceeded down Fisher Row at a leisurely pace, chiffchaffs called and sang all the way. 'Chiff-chiff-chaff' from up high, 'chiff-chaff-chiff' from down low; the noisy warblers were determined not to be seen. No doubt they were sensibly sheltering from the wind. In fact all the birds were vocal but pretty elusive and it took some time to lay eyes upon even a blue tit.
Once we were across the railway line it seemed just a touch warmer as chiffchaffs still serenaded us with their call. As we took time to stand and scan across the marsh, 'chiff chaff chiff' came the call beside us. It teased us again and again first from the right and then from the left before finally it popped into view and we all managed to lay eyes on the small green warbler. In the distance a marsh harrier passed over the marsh between the herring gulls and jackdaws.
As we rounded the corner to walk along the river the wind stung at our cheeks and bit our fingertips. Nearby a green woodpecker was yaffling away. Reed bunting took to the sky, alarmed as we walked by and a pair of greylag geese gave us a low fly-past . From the Tea Garden moorings we heard skylarks singing across the river. One of our guests, Alan Ward, located the yaffling woodpecker to a tree trunk in the Tea Gardens. Oystercatcher and wigeon could just about be seen on the marshes near the viewing platform and shovelers were spied on the water.
As we entered the Tea Garden track we came across some twitchers, set upon glimpsing the elusive dusky warbler that had been present for the past week. It had been seen in the willows near the pond behind the Tea Gardens two hours previously but it did not want to appear for us. We retraced our steps along Fisher Row and back to the car park having seen nothing new but enjoying the sound of spring as chiffchaffs chiffed and chaffed us all the way back again. Thank you to everyone who turned out: a jolly band were we!

35 species were seen and heard in order of appearance:
Starling, robin, jackdaw, woodpigeon, blackbird, magpie, greenfinch, chaffinch, great tit, herring gull, collared dove, blue tit, grey heron, rook, carrion crow, little egret, lesser black-backed gull, dunnock, long-tailed tit, chiffchaff, marsh harrier, wren, stock dove, mallard, reed bunting, greylag goose, skylark, mute swan, pheasant, goldfinch, oystercatcher, wigeon, green woodpecker, shoveler, coot.