Today 16 members of the Group walked at Cliffe Pools and then Northward Hill.
The Cliffe Pools Reserve has always been a great place to see large numbers of water birds in the winter and today was no exception. With huge flocks of Wigeon, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Coot, Lapwing, Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail and Greylag Geese. There were several Goldeneye females, with a very smart male showing well. [later, on Flamingo Pool, we found another small flock of several females, with a male].
On the islands in the pools there were roosting Wigeon, Black-tailed Godwit and Golden Plover. As we watched, a huge number – possibly thousands – of Black-tailed Godwit flew in, several banks of at least 50 birds swooped in showing in huge bands in the sky. We followed them in awe as they continued to arrive, flock after flock of delightful birds showing their white wing-bands as they turned and banked before landing on already crowded islands.
Little Egret, Grey Heron and Cormorant stood around the edge of the pools, and occasionally they flew overhead to reposition themselves. Amongst the many Little Grebe Julie spotted a bird which looked rather different and after much scanning and looking we decided it was a Black-necked Grebe. Unfortunately the rest of the group had moved on by this time and we were unable to relocate the bird when we retraced our steps later.
At Cliffe Creek Black-headed Gulls and Redshank were the only birds visible. Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Blackbird and Dunnock were the only other additions. On the far side of the pools two female Marsh Harriers disturbed both the Starling and Crows in the area.
On to Northward Hill for the afternoon, and although it was very cold, we managed an outdoor lunch albeit birding around the car park to keep warm. Again Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit were the mainstays here with a Green Woodpecker, Collared Dove and a couple of Blackbirds nearby. Sadly the feeders were empty and there were no birds in the screened area.
From the viewpoint we surveyed the new scrape areas, including that dedicated to the late Gordon Allison, a previous warden. Again large numbers of Teal and Wigeon, Coot and Greylag were present. In the soggy fields large numbers of Fieldfare with a few Redwing thrown in either fed or bathed.
Two Grey Heron were found in the fields in front of the usual Heronry area, it can only be a matter of time before they are back on nests again.