Dunham 13.12.16

Overcast, drizzly and dank (but not miserable)

The early morning promise of clear skies, albeit tinged with red (shepherds beware!) was not maintained, and as some fourteen members of the team left the NT car park the first spots of rain fell. Over the next couple of hours the rain continued, never a downpour but just a drizzle of greater or lesser extent that seemed to discourage all but a few birds, with the result that our day list was considerably lighter than usual.

However, lured onwards by those perennial Dunham quests – a sighting of the Kingfisher, a glimpse of the Green Woodpecker and reports of the Goosander on one of the pools in the park – our stalwart group pressed on, greeted, sadly, not by a sighting of the Kingfisher, but by a gathering of Mallard, Tufted Ducks and Coots mistaking us for the more regular visitors to the park who arrive laden with bags of food. Movement in the trees and sky above drew eyes upwards, but all that was revealed were a few Starlings and groups of Jackdaw, squawking their way towards the main part of the park where the soft ground was offering plentiful feeding to these strong-billed birds.

In the park itself, the raucous cry of a Jay called our attention to a pair of these active birds, foraging amongst the leaves, and the movement of Jackdaws in the tussocky ground raised false hopes of spotting the Green Woodpecker in the same location. With only the reports of the Goosander now to keep us going, we continued round the eastern edge of the park, pausing briefly to scan a field where a tractor was busy turning over the rich earth. Gulls, Pheasant, Magpie, Carrion Crow and Pied Wagtail were all noted; welcome additions to our meagre list.

The last pool failed to hold those hoped-for Goosander, but by now the prospect of warm surroundings and good food drew the team towards a nearby hostelry, where we spent the

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The only Mute Swan seen by the Team all day!

next couple of hours in a convivial atmosphere compiling a day list (the not-seen list seemed to grow at an alarming rate), tossing around ideas for future expeditions and, of course, eating and drinking.

With the drizzle at last having ceased we eventually began making our way back to the car park in twos and threes, adding on our way individual sightings of Wren, Grey Heron, Kestrel, Grey Wagtail and others, reminders of trips past and, hopefully, auguries of trips to come.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

Bird List (BP)

  1. Mallard
  2. Tufted Duck
  3. Pheasant
  4. Moorhen
  5. Coot
  6. Black-headed Gull
  7. Woodpigeon
  8. Collared Doves
  9. Pied Wagtail
  10. Blackbird
  11. Dunnock
  12. Robin
  13. Long-tailed Tit
  14. Blue Tit
  15. Great Tit
  16. Jay
  17. Magpie
  18. Jackdaw
  19. Carrion crow
  20. (Photos JH)

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Martin Mere 06.12.16

Overcast and cold

A small (but well-formed) TT group gathered at the Martin Mere Visitor Centre on a rather murky morning, anticipating another day of fun, fresh air, friends and feathers.
Having admired the more exotic – but totally ‘unlistable’ species in the nearby enclosures – the group made its way to the Discovery Hide. Here there was no disappointment, as the sight of a myriad of waterfowl could not fail to impress. Elegant pintail, colourful widgeon and teal, shelduck, pink-footed geese and Whooper swans mingled with the more ‘usual’ species; mallard, coot and tufties. A wader or two then appeared on the nearby spit – soon identified as ruffs, many more of which were seen later in the day.
Promises of a Tawny Owl sighting urged the group on along the path, past tree sparrows on feeders, towards the Ron Barker hide – and Success! An eagle-eyed (or should it be owl-eyed) member of TT located this elusive bird high up in an ivy-clad tree. All eyes strained upwards, necks cricked, backs aching, everyone eventually managed to make out the well-camouflaged feathers against the bark, before moving on to the hide. More teal, shelduck and widgeon – plus a hovering kestrel and a distant buzzard on a post were noted, before a cry for lunch was heard and the group headed back to the Visitor Centre to thaw out and refuel before the afternoon’s action.
Feeling a little warmer and well-nourished TT decided that the Janet Kear hide was to be the next port of call; hopefully to add a few woodland birds to the list. Tits and finches obliged, with rats for company at the base of the feeders sweeping up any morsels they could find. Then onto the United Utilities hide, where a kingfisher emerged from the reeds, almost flew into the hide to greet TT, before skimming back across the water and into cover.
Unable to access the Harrier Hide, where a large group were having a talk about the site, TT decided to return to the Discovery Hide, there to ‘book’ front row seats for the feeding spectacle on the ground outside.
And what a spectacle! Close sightings of the many species that came to feed, allowing detailed observation and identification of feathers, legs and beaks. A superb finale to an extremely enjoyable and rewarding day! (MH)

Bird List (BP)

  1. Cormorant
  2. Little Egret
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Whooper Swan
  5. Pink-footed Goose
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Shelduck
  9. Wigeon
  10. Teal
  11. Mallard
  12. Pintail
  13. Shoveler
  14. Pochard
  15. Tufted Duck
  16. Goldeneye
  17. Marsh Harrier
  18. Buzzard
  19. Kestrel
  20. Pheasant
  21. Moorhen
  22. Coot
  23. Lapwing
  24. Ruff
  25. Black-headed Gull
  26. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  27. Feral Pigeon
  28. Rock Dove
  29. Woodpigeon
  30. Tawny Owl
  31. Kingfisher
  32. Dunnock
  33. Robin
  34. Blackbird
  35. Great Tit
  36. Blue Tit
  37. Magpie
  38. Carrion Crow
  39. Tree Sparrow
  40. Chaffinch
  41. Greenfinch
  42. Goldfinch
  43. Redpoll
  44. Reed Bunting

Photos HP and CG