Pennington Flash 12.01.16

Sunny intervals, patchy cloud, a little rain, a bit of everything …

Undaunted by the not very favourable weather forecast, and keen to get back to birding after the festive break, a larger group of the Team than usual met at Pennington just after 10am. After the usual briefing, listened to attentively by a new avian member of the group (4BFullSizeRender.jpgH1 aka Cygnus olor), and a quick scan of the main flash noting goldeneye, tufted duck, gadwall and teal, we set off on our familiar circuit of the site.
The soft (if not water-logged) ground beyond the children’s play area was attracting a variety of birds; mistle thrushes, red wings and even a green woodpecker that were probing for food. Bunting Hide, too, with its well-stocked feeders, was drawing in a good number of smaller birds including nuthatch, bullfinch, reed bunting and willow tit, all beginning to look smart in their fresh plummage. However, for those lucky enough to see it(!), the highlight here was the appearance of a water rail which for once seemed more than happy to show itself in full view for the group to admire.

At Teal Hide the level of the water was much higher than on our last visit, hardly surprising, of course, given the amount of rain that we have had over the last couple of months, but we had good views of several male goosanders and a couple of females, all of which appeared to be taking things very easy, and, at the edge of the reeds across the water, of a pair of resting shoveler.

Continuing our circuit, we climbed up on to the towpath of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, from whence we gained views of a bright rainbow against blackening sky to the north and of a flock of some two hundred or so lapwing circling round in their disorderly manner against a blue sky to the west. Blue sky soon gave way to heavy cloud and the first few spots of rain encouraged us towards our last two objectives; Ramsdale and Horrocks Hides.

By this time our large group had strung itself out somewhat, but the back-markers were called towards Ramsdale Hide where the first arrivals had been lucky enough to see a kingfisher fly across in front of the hide. Fortunately, this brightly coloured bird decided to take station on a branch hanging over the edge of the water, only some twenty or so yards in front of the hide, and on this occasion every member of the group had ample opportunity to feast their eyes on a sight calculated to raise anyone’s spirits FullSizeRender 2on an increasingly overcast morning. We were even treated to a fishing display by this obliging bird before it flew a little further off, but still in full view for all to enjoy.

Finally tearing ourselves away, we made for Horrocks hide, but with little of the spit above water, there was not much to see, apart from a number of cormorants and some of the lapwings that had been seen earlier and that had come into land, jostling for what was an unusually restricted space thanks to the high water level. Although the rain had blown over by now, a cold wind funnelling into the hide meant that we did not linger long. Before heading back to the car park, however, we paused to see the almost frenetic activity of a good number of reed buntings and chaffinches which were flying onto the new feeders near the path, more or less oblivious to our presence, but responsive in a flash to repeated calls from one of their number, in alarm to a threat that we failed to identify.

As some of us left the car park, after a satisfying morning’s birding, it appeared that 4BH1, still thinking himself part of the team, was trying to hitch a lift in the boot of one member’s car. Perhaps we’ll see him again on our next outing …?

 

Bird List (MH)

  1. Pied wagtail
  2. Canada goose
  3. Mute swan
  4. Black- headed gull
  5. Tufted duck
  6. Goldeneye
  7. Mallard
  8. Robin
  9. Dunnock
  10. Coot
  11. Moorhen
  12. Teal
  13. Goldfinch
  14. Blue tit
  15. Coal tit
  16. Reed bunting
  17. Bullfinch
  18. Wren
  19. Lesser black- backed gull
  20. Gadwall
  21. Willow tit
  22. Great tit
  23. Redwing
  24. Magpie
  25. Song thrush
  26. Water rail
  27. Chaffinch
  28. Nuthatch
  29. Wood pigeon
  30. Heron
  31. Goosander
  32. Grey wagtail
  33. Shoveler
  34. Green woodpecker
  35. Carrion crow
  36. Lapwing
  37. Cormorant
  38. Great crested grebe
  39. Pochard
  40. Long tailed tit
  41. Little grebe
  42. Kingfisher

Thanks to Hilary, Heather and John for these memories of our first morning’s birding of 2016.

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