Trip reports

Field Trip - Far Ings Nature Reserve

Adult bittern wading in reedbed at Lee Valley Country Park

Sunday, 9 February 2020

We're not easily put off! Despite the arrival of storm Ciara, a hardy 19 souls gathered in the wind and rain to set off on the 90 minute journey to Far Ings, a Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve in former clay pits on the south bank of the Humber.

On arrival, we all dashed to the visitor centre to avoid a soaking and to enjoy a hot drink while watching the feeders just outside; where dunnock, robin, chaffinch, reed bunting and long-tailed, coal, blue and great tits were all braving the wind and rain.

Before long, the rain began to clear and the skies brightened allowing us to set off into the still very strong winds. The adjacent Humber Bridge was open only to cars which we could see crawling carefully along but, after a while, all traffic stopped - the first time the bridge had been completely closed due to poor weather in its 38 year history!

Along the banks of the Humber we saw several wigeon on the side of the mud flats and both herring and lesser black-backed gulls seemed to be enjoying the windy conditions. Later, a single curlew was spotted battling its way upstream into the wind.

Most of us headed as soon as we could for one of the four hides overlooking lakes and pools at the western end of the reserve. Two common snipe were spotted at the edge of the scrapes; hiding at the edge of some cut back reeds. Even so close by, they were not all that easy to spot because of their excellent camouflage.

On the various lakes were a variety of waterfowl: mute swan, coot, moorhen, tufted duck, shoveler, wigeon, teal, gadwall, cormorant and mallard. A single shelduck was present on Target Lake but the most productive hides were those overlooking Ness Pit, from which good views of great crested and little grebes and both male and female goldeneye were obtained. Some lucky people were fortunate enough to catch sight of a bittern venturing out into a channel that had been cut between reed beds.

Other species seen elsewhere around the reserve included grey heron, greylag goose, kestrel, common gull, stonechat, goldfinch, bullfinch, and both tree and house sparrows.

As lunchtime approached, the rain recommenced in sheets - moving sideways as much as downwards - and we all headed back to the visitor centre where we had previously agreed to meet at 1pm. With the rain and strong wind continuing, it was decided to head back early and to appreciate the fact that we had caught a two-hour 'window' of decent weather during the morning.

Bird species: 46
Attendees: 19