We left Wilmslow with a clear blue sky, but as we drove over the Pennines the clouds came in and by the time we reach Far Ings there was a local sea mist. This cleared as a breeze developed and the day proceeded.

Far Ings, a national nature reserve, is a mainly wetland reserve created from abandoned clay pits. It has freshwater pools with reedbeds, meadowland and hedgerows. It is situated on the southern bank of the Humber estuary, next to the Humber Bridge, providing salt marsh, mud flats and brackish water.

Since our last visit to Far Ings, a new Visitors Centre has been built, with an impressive upstairs viewing area overlooking the bird feeders. These feeders were visited by the usual titmice, robins and finches. Good views of siskins were obtained. From this viewpoint, a bittern was briefly seen flying up from the reeds and landing in a distant reedbed.

As usual our party split into small groups to view the reserve and its bird life. On the estuary embankment, flocks of linnet were seen along with good views of bullfinch. On the mudflats were seen curlew, lapwing, redshank and other waders (too far away to identify with certainty). On the reserve itself, tree sparrows were abundant in the hedgerows and wildfowl, coot, moorhen and mute swan on the pools. A bittern, possibly the same one as seen earlier, was seen from the “double-decker” Ness hide. Unfortunately bearded reedlings and marsh harrier were not seen.

We left Far Ings to travel over the Humber to the north bank and to our new destination at North Cave. This was our first visit to this Yorkshire Wildlife Trust wetland reserve, which has six freshwater pools. Good views of hedgerow birds and greater spotted woodpeckers were gained. Much later some members saw a green woodpecker fly past one of the hides. The freshwater pools were half covered in ice, resulting in many gulls, mainly black headed, herring and common, standing in groups on the ice floes. Exceptional views of snipe, some very close to the hides, were obtained. A water rail was briefly seen. A stoat chasing some of the many rabbits on the reserve (without success) entertained some of the members.

Both reserves provided a very pleasant bird watching trip.

Sadly, Margaret Groves sustained an injury in one of the hides at Far Ings and had to be admitted to Hull Royal Infirmary. We all wish her well and hope that she has a speedy recovery. Hopefully, she will soon be back birdwatching with us.


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