NBWtripreportJanuary2006">Nottinghamshire Birdwatchers' Stoke and Lancashire trip report
15th January 2006
Trip Report by Neil Glenn
Photographs by Lynne Demaine
Several people had e-mailed me during the week of the trip to inform me of impending heavy rain in the west for the Nottinghamshire Birdwatchers' minibus outing on Sunday. I told them I had ordered good weather and to ignore the forecasts. I wasn't hopeful, though!
Dawn was breaking over Nottingham as fourteen of us left the city and it only seemed to get darker as we neared Stoke (doesn't it always?)! The light was still poor as we reached our destination but at least it wasn't raining. We spread out in the wood to scan the tops of the pine trees for the regular roosting Long-eared Owls. I tried the area where they had been for the last two years, then their previous favourite trees. No owls
After ninety minutes of neck-straining we only had a couple of Treecreepers and a few Goldcrests to show for our efforts. I decided to go for the local Little Owl instead. This little beauty showed well in the usual area of its quarry wall and the whole group admired it through telescopes.
While many took the opportunity to visit the loos on the way back to the van, Ian had no such idea about wasting valuable birding time and bent the ear of one of the local birdwatchers. “The owls have moved”, he confidently told us as we stood admiring some Bullfinches and Willow Tits at a feeding station. Brandishing a map, he showed me where they were, and off we trotted once more.
Within five minutes of entering the ‘new’ wood, Lynne shouted “I've got one!” We all took this to mean an owl rather than one of the many marauding dogs and made our way over to where she was peering into the tree tops. Sure enough, there was a Long-eared Owl sat in view, seemingly visible only from one particular vantage point. A bit of manoeuvring and the whole owl could be seen (unusual when a Long-eared is roosting!).
Peter managed to get his scope set up on the bird but it meant kneeling on the forest floor to use it. The effort was rewarded with unbelievable views of the owl from tip of tail to tip of ears. What a beast; what a magnificent creature.
Meanwhile, Jenny spotted another owl in an adjoining tree, this one giving more obscured views, as is the norm. One could only see this owl's chest in the treetop, but there were many pellets underneath the tree to examine.
After showing a group of Brummie birders where the owls were, we set off for Martin Mere at 11.15am. What's more, the sun was out!
We arrived at the WWT reserve and managed to get the van stuck (OK, I managed to get the van stuck) in the mud in the overflow car park. Obviously all the munching of sandwiches, crisps and cake en route had taken effect! Even paying a group rate it still cost, £5 for each of us to get in (they wouldn't believe I was a pensioner).
Ignoring the grotty–looking captive birds, we headed straight for the optical equipment shop where one of our party had to be physically restrained from spending £400 on digiscoping gear (it was for his own good, his wife would have killed him). Meanwhile, there was a large number of ducks and swans to scan through from the shop window.A couple of hundred Whooper Swans were on the pool as were Pintail, Pochard, Teal and Lapwing. A few Ruff were also seen.
Several of the well–stocked feeders kept us entertained. Many Tree Sparrows gorged themselves but none of us managed to catch a glimpse of any of the handful of Bramblings on the reserve.
The main hide of interest was the old Millar's Bridge Hide, now the Ron Barker hide. A few Bewick's Swans showed well from here, with one or two Whoopers for comparison. A Peregrine was sat on a post at the back of the pool eyeing up the oblivious Shelducks.
Hundreds of Teal showed beautifully but the Green–winged couldn't be found amongst them. A handsome Buzzard sat on a post in full sunlight allowing us to admire every detail of its fine plumage. To round off our visit to this hide, a Barn Owl hunted over the marsh in the distance, the third owl species of the day!
While several people opted for the heated hide to watch the swans and ducks being fed, some had a last ditch attempt to see a Brambling (one party member ‘needed’ it as a lifer). A comfortable hide overlooked a feeding station where we saw at least nine Reed Buntings at one sitting, Treecreeper and several Chaffinches but the Brambling refused to return for seconds (one had been seen ten minutes before our arrival).
I couldn't hold the rain off any longer so we headed for the minibus. It rained most of the way home! Those remaining on the bus at West Bridgford were treated to a fox running across the road near Asda to end an enjoyable day. Perhaps we should try to get back to Hoveringham and Long Eaton next time to make it five owl species in a day?!
|Mute Swan||2, Martin Mere|
|Tundra Swan (Bewick's)||10, Martin Mere|
|Whooper Swan||2–300, Martin Mere|
|Pink–footed Goose||100, Martin Mere|
|Greylag Goose||100+, Martin Mere|
|Canada Goose||3, Martin Mere|
|Shelduck||2–300, Martin Mere|
|Wigeon||100+, Martin Mere|
|Teal||500+, Martin Mere|
|Mallard||A few, Martin Mere|
|Pintail||100+, Martin Mere|
|Pochard||300+, Martin Mere|
|Tufted Duck||A few, Parbold Pool|
|Pheasant||A few, Martin Mere|
|Little Grebe||1, Martin Mere|
|Cormorant||Several, Martin Mere|
|Grey Heron||2, Martin Mere|
|Sparrowhawk||1, Martin Mere|
|Buzzard||2, Martin Mere|
|Kestrel||1, Stoke; 1, Martin Mere; Several, travelling|
|Peregrine||2, Martin Mere|
|Moorhen||A few, Martin Mere|
|Coot||Several, Martin Mere|
|Lapwing||300+, Martin Mere|
|Ruff||Approx. 30, Martin Mere|
|Snipe||2, Martin Mere|
|Black-headed Gull||400+, Martin Mere|
|Lesser Black–backed Gull||1, Martin Mere|
|Collared Dove||Several, Martin Mere|
|Barn Owl||1, Martin Mere|
|Little Owl||1, Stoke|
|Long–eared Owl||2, Stoke|
|Green Woodpecker||Heard, Stoke|
|Wren||1 or 2, Stoke; 1, Martin Mere|
|Dunnock||1 or 2, Stoke; A few, Martin Mere|
|Robin||Several, Stoke; Several, Martin Mere|
|Stonechat||1, Martin Mere|
|Blackbird||1 or 2 Stoke & Martin Mere|
|Long-tailed Tit||Several, Martin Mere|
|Willow Tit||1 or 2, Stoke|
|Coal Tit||Several, Stoke; 1, Martin Mere|
|Blue Tit||Several, Stoke & Martin Mere|
|Great Tit||Several, Stoke & Martin Mere|
|Treecreeper||2, Stoke; 1, Martin Mere|
|Magpie||Several, Stoke & Martin Mere|
|Carrion Crow||Several, Martin Mere|
|Starling||200+, Martin Mere|
|House Sparrow||1, Martin Mere|
|Tree Sparrow||50+, Martin Mere|
|Chaffinch||150+, Martin Mere|
|Greenfinch||Several, Martin Mere|
|Bullfinch||A handful, Stoke|
|Reed Bunting||At least 10, Martin Mere|
|Grey Squirrel||A few, Stoke|
|Fox||1, West Bridgford|