Pennington Flash 29.01.19

Heavy cloud, rain and cold

A baker’s dozen or so determined members of the Team gathered in the car park at Pennington in a light drizzle. Loosing no time in idle gossip, we set off quickly, having glimpsed some long-tailed tits moving through the trees behind us, first to scan over the flash where the usual suspects, including black-headed gulls, a lone lesser black back gull, a pair of little grebe, a female goosander and what subsequently was confirmed as a female goldeneye were all visible. Then, from the shelter of the Horrocks Hide we had good views across the spit of oystercatchers, a large number of lapwing, and a few stock doves all probing in the soft ground for food, and of a number of teal and gadwall dabbling in the shallows along one of the channels. Further off, we could see plenty of cormorants looking like rows of little old men with their black raincoats drawn closely around them in a valiant attempt to keep dry, as the drizzle gave way to rain, and of a lone great-crested grebe still in its rather pale winter plumage. A pleasant surprise – and we were in dire need of such treats as the weather continued to deteriorate – was the arrival of dozen or so goosander, male and female, floating across the water at the end of the spit. ‘A flotilla of goosanders?’ asked one of the Team, but subsequent research showed  that the ‘correct’ term (if any of such terms are correct in any sense) is a ‘dopping’, although at the time and in the place ‘flotilla’ somehow seemed much more appropriate.

Taking advantage of a lessening of the rain, we quickly made for the Edmondson hide, surrounded by birdsong from the trees and bushes on either side of the track, but without managing to get clear views of any of the birds that were so obviously present. In the hide, initial excitement at the sight of a pair of shoveler and of a grey heron, gave way to a slight despondency as the sound of the rain on the metal roof became increasingly loud. Some decided that the time had come (perhaps a little early) for coffee, whilst others continued to survey the not-too-promising vista in front. The efforts of this latter group were amply rewarded, however, and the spirits of all decidedly lifted by the sight of a couple of common snipe, doing what snipe normally do; hiding in plain sight. Binoculars and scopes were focused accordingly and we all enjoyed good views of these plain but attractive birds.

Again the rain conveniently eased off as we made our way to the hide overlooking Fox Scrape, but nothing new was sighted and a decision was taken to backtrack towards Pengy’s and Bunting hides, rather than pursue our usual full circuit. Again our progress along the track was made to the accompaniment of much birdsong and tantalising glimpses of what might have been a couple of song thrush. Given the size of Pengy’s hide,  the team split, with some going straight on to Bunting hide. From Pengy’s hide we had good views of reed buntings in the reeds(!) and of the odd bullfinch, robin and dunnock, but when the team was once again united in Bunting hide, we were all slightly taken aback by the sheer number and variety of the birds present. Reed bunting, great tit, blue tit, male and female chaffinch, greenfinch, dunnock, robin, blackbird, male and female bullfinch, moorhen were all in evidence (some more colourfully so than others, a reminder that spring(!!!) is really only just round the corner) and making the most of the feeding opportunity available to them (perhaps they sensed the impending bad weather to come?). Such was the variety of birdlife in front of us, that at least one of our number began to list the species that we were not seeing, and no sooner had the words ‘willow tit’ been whispered than –  hey presto – there was a willow tit! (Unfortunately ‘water rail’ didn’t have the same effect. (ed.))

With this final treat enjoyed by all, it was decided that further delay might risk being caught up in the forecast bad weather, so perhaps a little earlier than usual we happily made our way back towards the car park, but not without a few of us finally catching a clear view of a song thrush hopping around near the hedge on the far side of the field near the visitor centre.

Bird List (CG)

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Cormorant
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Lesser Black Back Gull
  5. Black-headed Gull
  6. Moorhen
  7. Coot
  8. Mallard
  9. Goldeneye
  10. Teal Gadwall
  11. Pochard
  12. Lapwing
  13. Oystercatcher
  14. Goosander
  15. Stock Dove
  16. Woodpigeon
  17. Feral Pigeon
  18. Robin
  19. Dunnock
  20. Magpie
  21. Long-tailed Tit
  22. Blue Tit
  23. Great Tit
  24. Common Snipe
  25. Grey Heron
  26. Chaffinch
  27. Bullfinch
  28. Willow Tit
  29. Song Thrush
  30. Blackbird
  31. Little Grebe
  32. Great-crested Grebe
  33. Tufted Duck
  34. Shoveler

Photos DC

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