News archive

December 2012

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Never at dull moment at Martin Mere !!

Never at dull moment at Martin Mere !!

The trip to Martin Mere is always very popular and for good reason, it never disappoints. It was a beautiful calm sunny day with the weak sunlight giving the birds a lovely glow. The main pool was packed to the gills with Teal, Pintail, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard and Shoveller plus several thousand Whooper Swans. Our task for the day was to try to find the 2 Bewick Swans that had been seen at the reserve over the last few days but despite our best efforts they eluded us. The noise of the geese calling as they flew over our heads to land in the fields on the other side of the dyke was ever present as wave after wave of Pink Footed and Greylag Geese arrived. Wader variety was limited but made up for in numbers with plenty of Lapwing, Redshank and Ruff - the latter providing such a variety of plumages to tax even the most experienced birders! Around the feeders were Tree Sparrow; Green and Chaffinch; Blue, Great and long-tailed Tit; Reed Bunting and at least 2 Brambling. Birds of prey were numerous with 4 Peregrine (on two occasions the adults were seen to pass food in mid-air to a young); Buzzards galore; 1 fleeting view of a male Hen Harrier; Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Highlight of the day, the chicken and leek pie in the cafe ..... only joking .... was a lovely Woodcock watched from the Janet Kier hide. It thought that if it stood still we couldn't see it and so good was it's camouflaged plumage that it almost succeeded. We watched the bird roosting in amongst the grass close to a tree and it stayed still from 10.30am to 3.30pm!. The plumage was spectacular making the bird blend in to the background and was only given away by its large eye! For most of the time we wondered who was actually watching who !!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Ahoy there !

Ahoy there !

We set off on a bright but cold morning for a trip around Puffin Island off Anglesey. As we set off, we could clearly see the snow capped mountains of North Wales - what a backdrop to a wonderful day out. Even before we had left the Menai Straits we had notched up Black Guillemot; Great Crested Grebe; up to 30 Brent Geese; Red-Breasted Merganser and enough Shags to keep us happy for a lifetime ! The waters around the island were quite choppy (.... at least the sea sickness tablets seem to be working...) but with Andy's skill we were able to get close to a group of seals basking on a small shingle beach. Many hundreds of Guillemot and a few Razorbill flew around, some resting on a ledge on the cliff of the island. A Raven caused quite a stir and was chased by the local gulls. A pair of Chough messed about on the cliff face giving us all a chance to see the diagnostic red bill and legs. Resting on the rocks close to the sea were a small number of Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper. By now the sun had gone in and the cold wind had increased so we decided to head back into the Strait to see if we could find anything we'd missed on the way out. A Peregrine flashed by so quickly that only a few people managed to see it. Once in the Strait the waters calmed and we almost immediately saw a Great Northern Diver. This bird was very wary of the boat, not allowing us to get anywhere near it, but a short time later we came across a more obliging bird which seemed happy to pose for us, allowing some excellent photographs to be taken. We thought our day was complete but we then stumbled across a female Common Scoter and had poor flight views of a male Goosander. A positively fabulous day was rounded off when we stopped off at Conwy RSPB reserve on our way home and got views of the Firecrest that has set up home there!