Twelve of us met on a foggy afternoon at RSPB Northward Hill- I think two were new people to the group. Whilst gathering in the car park goldfinch and blackbird were noted. We first walked to the Ernie Helmsley viewpoint, on passing the pond there was still a faint smell of diesel [the pond was polluted with diesel fuel during a recent burglary from the barns]. We then went back through the woods, hoping to see woodcock and redpoll in the alders, but we were disappointed – only seeing woodpigeon and a couple of moorhen.
We walked on through the Dickensian fog (the word ambience kept coming up) to the cherry orchard and on to the heronry viewpoint. On the way we saw moorhen, chaffinch, robin, magpie (Magwitch?), fieldfare and a still-warm dead woodpigeon with a few feathers plucked. Consensus was that it had been caught by a sparrowhawk and, unfortunately, we must have disturbed it.
At the viewpoint we heard jackdaw and saw a couple of flocks of pigeon but did not see the numbers of corvids we were hoping to coming in across the marshes.
On the way back we saw a small flock of long-tailed tits, a pheasant flew up, we heard a wren and saw a group of blackbirds. The dead woodpigeon that we encountered on the way out had now been partially eaten, so the sparrowhawk must have returned. It’s probably still cursing us for twice interrupting its supper.
Thanks to Sally for the photos and Sandra and Norman for the festive cheer on such a poor visibility day.
I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and hopefully it will be a great new year – starting at Shellness on the Jan 1st 2017.
Pete & Karrie
Thanks to Pete and Karrie for leading the trip. And what record did they break? For leading a walk with the fewest number of bird species seen since group records began 40 years ago! But “ambience” levels were high – with fog on the marshes and the distant groan of foghorns on the Thames.