Trip reports

Field Trip - RSPB Saltholme Marsh

Male snipe singing in the rain

Sunday, 24 September 2017

September is always a funny time of year when birding can be difficult and a little unpredictable. It is a time of comings and goings. Our summer bird visitors are gone or at least should be as a Swallow was sighted during the day. A steady stream of our winter visitors such as geese and winter thrushes should start turning up gradually over the coming months.

The weather on arrival at the reserve was mild, sunny and pleasant. Sightings started at the main viewing area which overlooks the vastness of the entire reserve. On the main lake, plenty of Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Wigeon and a few Little Grebe were joined by both Mute and Black Swan. In the surrounding trees and bushes, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Tree Sparrow and plenty of Magpies were joined by small foraging parties of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits.

Heading onto the reserve, the first call was to seek out the elusive Water Rail which had been reported by locals to be showing well at the Wildlife Watchpoint hide, not far from the main centre. The reed beds here had been recently manicured, leaving open channels between the swathes of reed. The unmistakable squeal of the Water Rail was intermittent but, at last, it made a dash across the channel, revealing its distinctive white tail as it dived for cover. Three or four rails were probably present as there was plenty more squealing going on in and around the reed beds behind the centre.

Following the Wilderness Trail, which was quite boggy in places, we turned up Curlews and Lapwings in small pockets along the trail plus a flock of Linnet. Making our way to Haverton Hole Pool and towards Saltholme Pools Hide, we caught a few more species along the way including Yellow Wagtail, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit. A patch of Shaggy Ink Cap fungus in various states of decay was a surprise sighting.

Down at the hide the numbers of birds were better with Little Egret, Gadwall, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Pochard and Tufted Duck showing here. On the fringes of the pool were plenty of waders; Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits were all probing around and a Little Stint was pointed out to us by a friendly local birder. Seen grazing in the distance were Pinkfoot, Greylag, Canada and Barnacle Geese.
Birds of prey seen that day were Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and a Merlin.

Plenty of rabbits and their holes were seen. Also seen were good numbers of Ruddy Darter dragonflies. Butterflies included Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood plus an impressive count of 25 Red Admiral feeding on pink Sedum near the Visitor Centre.

36 attended
62 bird species seen