Marbury (Witton Bridge)

Bright, blue skies – plenty of sun

The Team gathered in the carpark at Witton Bridge cheered by the bright sunlight which was a welcome change to the gloomy skies of the past few days and confident(!) that a good morning’s birding was in store.  Indeed, even before we had set off, we were treated to the sight of a succession of woodland birds, robins and tits, coming in to a nearby feeder, and sharp eyers glimpsed a Great Spotted Woodpecker land on a tree just a short distance away, where it proceeded to peck at the branches giving everyone the chance to get good views of it, the colours of its plumage beautifully illuminated in the bright sunshine. Then, just as we were turning to follow the track up towards Forge Bridge, our attention was drawn to the first of many Redwings seen over the course of the morning and amongst them, to a Green Woodpecker, also making the most of the feeding opportunities in the damp ground.

Finally leaving the carpark, our progress remained slow as we stopped to enjoy more views of the Redwings, caught sight of a lone Reed Bunting and Mistle Thrush, and enjoyed the flypast of fairly dark-feather Buzzard. With time having passed – indeed it was getting near coffee time for some members of the group – our pace quickened and we headed for Forge Bridge. Here, unfortunately, there appeared to be little, if any,  activity, partly on account of the higher than usual water level, which had covered the mud edges that are usually exposed, and partly due to the distinctly cooler temperatures in the shade; the birds were all seeking the warmth of the sun and apparently uninterested in looking for food under the tree canopy. A quick detour to Hadyn’s Pool was as disappointing as on our last visit. Although the water levels were high, no birds seemed to be attracted to it. However, many of the Team took advantage of this halt to open those flasks of coffee before continuing our progress, which we did after the sighting of what was almost certainly a Peregrine, perched high up on roof of the distant Salt Works.

Neumann’s Flash made up for any disappointment we may have felt, and we had good views of a variety of ducks including Wigeon, Teal and Gadwall, all either out on the water or resting on the island in front of the hide. With the sun for once not in our eyes we were able to scan the flash and pick out other waterfowl and gulls, including Shoveler, Coot, Little Grebe, some very pale Great Crested Grebe, a couple of Lesser Black-back Gulls and some Mute Swans.  We were even able to enjoy the view, on the far bank, of a fox grooming itself in the warm sun! (Later views showed that it had lost much of its coat and was presumably going to struggle to survive many more cold nights.) Closer to us, the busy activity of a small Wren washing itself in the  shallow water next to the hide, attracted our attention and it was amazing how hard it was to make out the presence of this well-camouflaged bird amongst the branches and tree roots; only by focussing on the movement of the water as the bird washed itself was it possible to pinpoint its exact location and get just a fleeting view.

Pressing on back towards the carpark we saw little, apart from some House Sparrows flitting amongst the brambles. At the far end of the flash, however, we enjoyed good views of a pair of Red Wings high above at the top of some birch trees and a brief glimpse of a Fieldfare that dropped in on another tree not far away, before flying off again. The expanse of water on the other side of the track held no avian treats; there were just a pair of Carrion Crows wading through the shallows and prodding in the soft ground, but a final scan from the platform near the carpark picked out one, or perhaps two, Kestrel hovering, but far off, and a small flock that was circling around, but was to far away for identification.

At this point, clouds having been blown in by a freshening wind and leading to a distinct drop in temperature, it was decided to end our visit and to get back to the (relative) warmth of the cars, happy with another rewarding visit to this site with its good range of habitats.

Bird List (MHa)

  1. Robin
  2. Great tit
  3. Blue tit
  4. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  5. Blackbird
  6. Mallard
  7. Redwing
  8. Green woodpecker
  9. Dunnock
  10. Song thrush
  11. Carrion crow
  12. Coal tit
  13. Magpie
  14. Buzzard
  15. Kestrel
  16. Wood pigeon
  17. Peregrine falcon
  18. Teal
  19. Wigeon
  20. Mute swan
  21. Coot
  22. Shoveler
  23. Tufted duck
  24. Black-headed gull
  25. Lesser Black-back gull
  26. Great Crested grebe
  27. Gadwall
  28. Little Grebe
  29. Moorhen
  30. Herring gull
  31. Wren
  32. House sparrow
  33. Long-tailed tit
  34. Fieldfare

 

(Photos JH)

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