Pennington Flash 10.03.15

Clear and bright with plenty of warm sunshine On what was forecast to be the best day of the week weather-wise, the Team returned to Pennington Flash, a favourite haunt, anticipating a good morning’s birding. And it seemed that we were not to be disappointed; in quick succession Goldeneye, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Goosander, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and others had been identified across the wide expanse of the Flash, and even before we had moved away from the  car park we had seen almost half as many species as during the whole of last week’s expedition! Temporarily splitting into two sub-groups, better to fit into Kingfisher Hide and the nearby Bunting Hide, we enjoyed good views both of Reed Buntings, Gadwall, a selection of other water fowl, and also of a number of woodland birds, with Bullfinch, especially, now coming into their full breeding plumage and showing particularly well on such a bright morning. Although the Water Rail, that had been sighted a few minutes earlier by a member of Team Friday whom we chanced upon, did not put in a repeat appearance for the main group, our patient photographers, who at this point got detached from the rest of the Team, were rewarded with some excellent views of this shy bird (see below). However, in partial compensation, a few of us were lucky enough to catch a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher that sped across the water. Following our now familiar clockwise path round the park, Horrocks Hide gave good views of plenty of birds resting and feeding on the Spit, including a small group of Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Cormorant and a solitary Redshank, preening itself just a few metres in front of us. Despite the sunshine over the Flash, however, the chill still penetrated  through the open windows of this north-facing hide, and after only a few minutes we were glad to move outside again and warm ourselves in the sun, watching a good number of Reed Bunting feed on the cleared ground at the back of the Hide. At the Edmondson Hide Shoveler and half a dozen Grey Heron were clearly visible, but from this point on, we had to work harder to get views of the birds: the scrape in front of Ramsdale Hide was almost completely empty of bird-life; and a Song Thrush, clearly audible to all in the trees ahead, simply refused to show itself. Undaunted, however, the Team pressed on to be greeted by a Skylark soaring over the meadow at the side of the canal, and then, as we retraced our steps from the rise overlooking the Flash, by the clear and unmistakable song of a Cetti’s Warbler which seemed to be moving to and fro amongst the reed bed, but, as is usual for this bird, without showing itself. On the long trek back towards the car park, the scarcity of woodland birds amongst the trees and undergrowth on either side of the path was disappointing, and somewhat puzzling given the obvious feeding opportunities provided, and we might have ended the morning a little despondent, despite an already lengthy day list, had not the visit to Teal Hide treated us to the remarkable spectacle of fifteen or so pair of Goosander.  Most of these elegant birds were resting on the central island directly in front of the hide, but one female was repeatedly, and almost fretfully, ducking her head under the water, seemingly in an attempt to get her feathers into best shape, rather than to feed! On the final push towards the car park, we were distracted from our ornithological endeavours for a moment by the sight of thirty or so frogs in a shallow pool at the side of the path, busily and determinedly mating, and making a not insignificant noise whilst they were about it! This sight, together with the apparent ‘pairing’ of many of the waterfowl and the bright plumage of the birds which had been noted throughout the morning, reminded us on such a warm and pleasant morning that Spring cannot be far off. Indeed, the weather was so tempting that several members stayed behind and, after al fresco lunches, helped to push the total count of species over the magic half-century figure by seeking out a few more woodland birds and a hard-to-see Garganey!

Bird List for Pennington Flash (BP)

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Great- Crested Grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Grey Heron
  5. Mute Swan
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Gadwall
  9. Teal
  10. Mallard
  11. Garganey
  12. Shoveler
  13. Pochard
  14. Tufted Duck
  15. Goldeneye
  16. Goosander
  17. Buzzard
  18. Kestrel
  19. Water Rail
  20. Moorhen
  21. Coot
  22. Oystercatcher
  23. Lapwing
  24. Snipe
  25. Redshank
  26. Herring Gull
  27. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  28. Black-headed Gull
  29. Stock Dove
  30. Wood Pigeon
  31. Kingfisher
  32. Skylark
  33. Pied Wagtail
  34. Wren
  35. Dunnock
  36. Blackbird
  37. Redwing
  38. Robin
  39. Long-tailed Tit
  40. Willow Tit
  41. Great Tit
  42. Blue Tit
  43. Nuthatch
  44. Treecreeper
  45. Jay
  46. Magpie
  47. Carrion Crow
  48. House Sparrow
  49. Chaffinch
  50. Greenfinch
  51. Bullfinch
  52. Reed Bunting

Some superb photos this week from Heather and John!

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