Carsington Water 26th March 2017
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A select group of 20 birders climbed onto the coach for our day at Carsington Water and set off down the M6. After a short mystery tour as we left the motorway we arrived at the reserve in due course. The weather forecast was for a bright sunny day and while we knew it would be warm later in the afternoon the choice of clothes for the first hour or two was a bit more problematic. I soon wished that I had brought gloves as we made our way to Stones Island in a cold breeze.

We immediately started to build our day list with the usual suspects for such a venue, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Teal, Mallard, Canada Geese, and Greylag Geese. Our initial walk was brightened by a small group of Barnacle Geese and the newly arrived migrants, Chiffchaff and a Little Ringed Plover on the shore of the adjacent island. The Chiffchaffs must have arrived in a coach, as the whole reserve seemed to have one in every tree. Actually getting a good view of them was a different matter though.

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We then retraced our steps and checked into the Wildlife Centre where a couple of local volunteers had started to fill their whiteboard with a list of the day's sightings. They were delighted when we quickly doubled their efforts! We also added to our list; Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Great Crested Grebe, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Moorhen, and Goldfinch!

We moved on up the western side of Carsington Water on the well maintained paths searching the adjoining fields and adding to our list; Sparrowhawk, Blackbird, Red-legged Partridge, Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Pheasant, Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Robin, and Wren. The more eagle-eyed of the group managed to spot a Snipe.

The target bird of the Day was a Great Northern Diver and from the Centre we had our first glimpse of this prize although this sighting was rather unsatisfactory being through murky glass and of a bird at great distance. When we came out to get a better view it was nowhere to be seen!

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We moved on to the Lane End hide where one of the group (who shall remain nameless!) pointed out that as we had altered the clocks overnight whilst our watches said 11am the time by his stomach remained at the 'old time' and that it was really noon and therefore lunchtime. He was a bit disappointed when it was pointed out that the clocks had gone forward and the 'old time' was actually 10am!! Nonetheless we added Redshank, Wigeon, and Goldeneye.

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We continued to move along the western shore of the lake visiting first Sheepwash hide to spot Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls. Paul Stanley hide next. By now the temperature was up to balmy warm and as we were looking across the same body of water we were having difficulty adding new species to our list though did note a Lapwing, Little Grebe, and an Oystercatcher. There was a large (possibly 300) flock of gulls which, on examination we found the significant majority to be Common Gulls. However, as we left this last hide we were rewarded with a good view of a Willow Tit. A Buzzard was also noted.

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We then retraced our steps calling in at the Lane End hide just in case a rarity had suddenly appeared but also to make a more determined search for the Diver. We quickly found it. A good view though it was distant, about three quarters of a mile away, but telescopes soon overcomes that problem. Initially it held itself very low snorkelling in the water but soon lifted its head and swam about giving us good sighting of its distinctive profile. A Sand Martin flew across in front of the scopes at this point. We continued to add to our list with a Grey and a Pied Wagtail and a Redshank entertained us by running up and down on the water's edge. On the walk back and at the woodland screen adjacent with the bird feeder we added Bullfinch, Great Tit, Coal Tit, and Blue Tit, and Long Tailed Tit.

Our last stop was for some at the Ice Cream Parlor where there was a bewildering choice of flavours. Not many birds there though! Then back to the coach for a more direct route home. Being good birders we never stopped looking and from the coach added Grey Heron and Rook.

We had an excellent day with 56 species on our day list.

Photos by Chris S and Robert D

CHRIS S

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