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Reports of Field Trips

North Norfolk Residential Trip Autumn 2017



A three night residential trip to North Norfolk staying at the Titchwell Manor Hotel on a dinner B&B basis was arranged from 5th to 8th Nov 2017   Around 22 people came and enjoyed a terrific three and a half days of birds with a visit to Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire as a bonus on the way there where a very obliging Merlin sat on an old tree for ten minutes to allow us to enjoy him or was it a her?

Awaiting a full report.



Stocker’s Lake                Sunday 19th November 2017


Stocker’s Lake is an old flooded gravel pit next to the River Colne near Rickmansworth. The morning was sunny and not too cold when 10 of us met up in the car park. We were lucky enough to spot about 44 species in the two hours or so that we were here. 10 species spotted from the car park one of which was a song thrush singing in November!


Wintering chiffchaff were feeding with a mixed flock of tits. A Cetti’s warbler was heard and seen. A goldcrest flitted through the small trees on the edge of the lake. On the water in the far distance gadwall and red crested pochard fed and dozed. Our best spot was 2 goldeneyes diving for food quite close to us. Their colourings were easy to pick out and we even saw a kingfisher.


Next time, perhaps, we should start an hour earlier to catch a water rail!

Many thanks to David and Linda Witton for leading a very satisfying trip.




Sussex Residential Trip  Chichester Area  26th Feb to 1st March 2017 


Although the weather was less than kind, we were out each day and saw a wide variety of birds  Here are some. The short eared owl was such a treat but was at a great distance and he was camera shy. The sanderlings liked to sleep and the Turnstones were friendly and ran everywhere    Photos were taken by Linda Ditton



Bird List Sussex  Feb 2017


Avocet Linnet Barnacle Goose Little Egret Blackbird Little Grebe Black -headed Gull Long -tailed Tit Black -tailed Godwit Magpie Blue Tit Mallard Brent Goose Marsh Harrier Bullfinch - heard, Meadow Pipit Buzzard Mediterranean Gull Canada Goose Mistle Thrush Carrion Crow Moorhen Cetti's Warbler Mute Swan Chaffinch Nuthatch Coal Tit Oystercatcher Collard Dove Peregrine Common Gull Pheasant Coot Pied Wagtail Cormorant Pintail Curlew Pochard Dunlin Red Kite Dunnock Red -breasted Merganser Feral Pigeon Redshank Fieldfare Reed Bunting Gadwall Ringed Plover Gannet Robin Goldcrest Rock Pipit Golden Plover Rook Goldfinch Sanderling Great Black -backed Gull Shelduck Great Crested Grebe Short -eared Owl Great Spotted Woodpecker Shoveler Great Tit Skylark Green Woodpecker Slavonian Grebe Greenfinch Snipe Greenshank Song Thrush Grey Heron Starling Grey Plover Stonechat Grey Wagtail Teal Greylag Goose Treecreeper Herring Gull Tufted Duck House Sparrow Turnstone Jackdaw Wigeon Kestrel Wood Pigeon Lapwing Wren Lesser Black -backed Gull




Wilstone Reservoir and Jackdaw Roost at Orchard Leigh NE of Chesham       Sunday 21st January 2017

In order to make this afternoon outing more varied Richard took us to Wilstone Reservoir first.
The weather was cold and frosty, but the centre of the water was not frozen over and this is where many ducks gathered. Shoveler, pochard and wigeon were among the more common species. Fieldfare and redwing fed in the tall hedges to our right as we scurried round to the hide. We enjoyed close – up views of a flock of teal, a pair of snipe and a garganey landed in front of us. A beautiful female grey wagtail fed in the mud in front of the reeds to our right and an “indescribable gull” (  lesser black - backed with pink feet), tried walking on the ice. 

We drove to Ashley Green via the A41 and parked on the left by a footpath between Torrington Farm and Grove Farm. We walked down to a large field and looked northwards to a rookery in a wood and then looked southwards. 
As dusk approached, small and then larger flocks of jackdaws flew over to the wood with the rookery. We probably saw about 600 birds but Richard was disappointed. He had studied this roost for several weeks and even gone out at 7am to watch the jackdaws rush out together at daybreak. There had been many more birds and he had seen the occasion when they had been spooked by a raptor and all flown upwards quickly to settle down again later. After we had left he had walked round the farms and seen many more.

It was the first time I had seen jackdaws roosting in great numbers and I was impressed. I thought jackdaws just settled down to sleep on rooftops! So now I can add them to other roosting birds – starlings, pied wagtails, bramblings and red kites. A whole new chapter of my birdwatching experience has opened up and I look forward to finding other birds which roost together.
Thanks Richard




 Otmoor Sunday 20th November 2016


For this trip we decided to go in the afternoon in order to find raptors and, hopefully, experience the starling roost; we were not disappointed.

In the car park a kingfisher whizzed by over our heads and, as we strolled down to the bird feeders, we had good views of fieldfare. Throughout the visit we spotted good numbers of lapwing flocks and several smaller ones of fieldfare and linnet. Water rail and tawny owl were heard and, in the far distance, hen and marsh harrier were spotted.


So, as we settled down in the open hide or stood out by the side of it, the show began. Starlings, in small groups, large groups and extremely large groups flew in and swirled a little, then dived down into the reed beds in front of us. They approached from all directions. Over the next 40 minutes or so they just kept piling in. When one reed bed was full they filled the next one. Then some decided to change to the bed across the pool thus criss-crossing and landing on the mud. At first they landed on the edges of the beds but soon wormed their way inside. It was spectacular; rather like a firework show. Huge flocks would approach from behind the distant church swirl round and dive in. Richard suggested we had seen over 50,000 starlings but David and John were feeling bullish and went for 100,000.

It was a fantastic experience so many thanks to David Witton our leader.

Mental note to go on a Saturday another time in order to drive home in less traffic. So thanks to the drivers too.







Ivinghoe Beacon Saturday 22nd October 2016


As we arrived in the car park the misty morning changed to fog. So, instead of the beautiful views usually enjoyed from this outing we had to work hard listening for birds. Not many birds sing in autumn; the robin was the exception.

We saw shapes of thrushes dining on the white hornbeam berries and, eventually, after comments like “grey underparts” and “rough cough” we decided that most of the flock were fieldfare with a few redwing and song thrush. As the fog slowly thinned fieldfare became the main bird of the trip!


Hannah spotted a goldcrest in the shrubs and we had flocks of linnet, goldfinch and some skylarks.

Every blackbird was checked for a white bib (ring ouzel) and none of the crows became ravens. Even when the fog was almost gone the Combe was strangely quiet with just a pair of mistle thrushes sighted.

For most of us these were our first fieldfare of the autumn and we also learnt that white hornbeam berries were their first fruits of autumn.

Thanks to our leader Richard






Wilstone Reservoir Sunday 18th September 2016


Today was a mild autumn morning after a sunny, warm summer.

Richard began by showing us pictures of teal and Garganay ducks which we hoped to see. Most ducks were looking rather brownish but we gradually became accustomed to picking out different species.

The Teal were easy as there were many of them and then, after some time, Jeremy found the Garganay at the water’s edge – white spot at back of beak and pale undersides when dabbling. Other ducks included 2 pintail, gadwall and red crested pochard.

Up to 5 Common Sandpipers were feeding busily along the water’s edge and, towards the end of the morning, Swallows began to trickle through in a roughly SW direction. Small groups of Chiffchaff were feeding in shrubs in several different places. Richard thought one of them could have been a Willow Warbler.

As the day warmed up 5 Buzzards spiralled upwards together over the fields and 3 Yellow Wagtails stopped briefly along the raised pathway before dashing back to the fields. The water was very clear as a result of the many barley straw bales in one corner of the reservoir and, close by, we watched a swan feeding on weed about 3 feet below the surface.

We loved the sightings of Speckled Wood, Small White, Red Admiral and comma butterflies feeding on the abundant autumn fruits in the hedgerows.

We saw about 35 species of birds.

Many thanks Richard for a great start to our new season.
















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