Trip reports

Normanston Park to Oulton Broad Saturday Feb 6th 2016

Normanston Park to Oulton Broad Saturday Feb 6th 2016
Phil Jackson

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Seventeen of us, including one junior member and two guests, met in the car park by Leathes Ham on a blustery but dry Saturday morning. The route from here to Oulton Broad and back is one the Group has done a number of times, often as the post-Christmas walk.
The number of wildfowl on Leathes Ham was lower than some years, no doubt due to the mild conditions that have prevailed through this winter. However, this is one of the best places locally to see pintail at this time of the year and there were several pairs just a few metres from our viewpoint. Apart from the ubiquitous mallard, there were a few 'tufties', one or two shovelers and a good number of gadwall. A few larger gulls were having a bathe, but most of the gulls were black-headed, one or two of which were starting to get their eponymous plumage.
We followed the path through the scrub bordering Leathes Ham to the footbridge that crosses the railway line. This is a good vantage point for viewing Lake Lothing, especially downstream towards ASDA. We were hoping to see the great northern diver that has been present since early December. A distant bird could have been it but we could not be sure. Several little grebes were noted along with some redshank.
Continuing along the shore of Lake Lothing, we saw the long-staying guillemot on the water and were afforded excellent views of this auk species in its winter plumage. Nearby, on a brick wall, one of the group pointed out a fern species, Ceterach officinarum, known as Rusty-back. It likes alkaline conditions, in this case the mortar, and is relatively rare in this part of the country. Because of this, the site is a CWS (County Wildlife Site). The fern gets its name from the brown underside of the leaves, which is where its spores develop. A bit further on, some were in the right place at the right time to see a kingfisher.
Before reaching Oulton Broad, we stopped at Mutford Lock Basin. Here were several more redshank and a solitary oystercatcher. The usual feral pigeons were underneath the road bridge. Oulton Broad was extremely quiet bird wise. A few gulls were bathing including one or two great black-backs. A common gull was noted on the quay near the Wherry Hotel. A pair of Egyptian and three greylags were the only geese.
We retraced our steps to Leathes Ham - wind assisted so it didn't take long! The wind had increased in strength but it did remain dry, if rather chilly. Altogether 37 bird species were seen, but of course not by everyone. Thanks to all for supporting this trip.
Species seen were: mute swan, greylag goose, Egyptian goose, wigeon, gadwall, teal, mallard, pintail, shoveler, tufted duck, little grebe, cormorant, grey heron, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, redshank, black-headed gull, common gull, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, great black-backed gull, guillemot, feral pigeon/rock dove, woodpigeon, kingfisher, pied wagtail, dunnock, blackbird, blue tit, great tit, magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow, starling, chaffinch and greenfinch.


Phil Jackson