Car Trip To Pennington Flash - 12 December 2015

Driving through the heavy rain and spray on the M6 at 8.30 in the morning the thought crossed our minds – what on earth are we doing this for? However we drove on and rendezvoused in the car park with 5 other members of our group, all suitably dressed in wet weather gear and pleased to see each other. The car park was full as we arrived, a most unusual occurrence, and we wondered if we were in at the beginning of a major twitch.

No such luck! A local athletic club had organised a run around the Flash and during the morning we were to see small bedraggled groups of lycra clad athletes running and negotiating the large pools of mud and water that passed for pathways.

Our game plan was to shuttle from hide to hide as fast as possible thus minimising our chances of a soaking. The 7 of us set off just after 9 am heading for Horrock’s hide. We were lucky to see two Treecreepers flitting through the bushes by the side of the lake. We settled into the hide and were immediately entertained by a pair of Little Grebes ducking and diving right in front of us. Our numbers increased to 9 as the girls joined us, just in time to enjoy their antics. The usual Mallards and Tufted Ducks were on the water with numerous Coots and Canada Geese. There were about 100 Lapwings on the spit with 7 Cormorants nearby. We noted many Black-headed Gulls, a few Lesser-backed Gulls and one lone Herring Gull. One eagle-eyed member spotted a Snipe to the right of the spit and we all focussed on it. To our amazement we finally found 6 Snipe in the same area and this was confirmed when a Carrion Crow landed close by, disturbed them, and they flew off towards us. Looking eastwards from the doorway we had great views of the “new” feeding station that attracted several species unable to find alternative food in the steady rain, notably Nuthatch, Reed Bunting and Chaffinch. We watched a Blackbird and Mistle Thrush playing chase through the bushes.

From Ramsdale’s hide we had excellent views of a male Goldeneye in full breeding plumage and 5 Teal swimming close by. As the paths were so muddy we kept to the main route and continued clockwise round to Teal Hide acquiring more members on the way. From here we watched 3 Goosanders, 2 males and 1 female becoming very friendly despite the conditions. We later spotted a dead female at the water’s edge and presumed she had drowned during some “rough play”. By now the rain was really heavy and we dashed on to Bunting hide. This hide never disappoints and we were soon enjoying Reed Buntings, Bullfinches, all the tits including Willow and Long-tailed and Nuthatch. We counted 7 Moorhens in all the water around the feeders. Our only raptor seen was one solitary Sparrowhawk vainly looking for anything he could feed upon.

By now it was mid-day and we were all feeling uncomfortable with the cold and damp. With the prospect of a warm welcome and good food we left Pennington and set off for The Raven, a local inn. Here 15 of us sat down to a most enjoyable (and well earned) Christmas lunch, leaving reluctantly just before 3 pm so we could travel home whilst there was still some daylight left. The general consensus was that we’d had another good day and our Christmas car trip was a definite must for next year!!

Our tally for the day was 41, which was quite pleasing considering the adverse conditions we encountered.


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