December trip – LDV, 6th Dec

A mere five of us defied the blustery start to the day, which turned out to be an excellent decision.   Despite strong winds at the start of the day and a short squally shower (whilst we were sheltered in Andy Booth Hide), it was an unseasonably warm day – so much so that we all ditched layers early on – and we had good light, only light winds and some sunshine right through to sunset.

We started off at Bank Island where we spent a long time enjoying the passerines about and had great views of Bullfinch, Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare. The floods had a sprinkling of duck, but we could see larger flocks in the distance and walked to Andy Booth hide to get a little closer – very muddy underfoot but not too waterlogged. The highlights from here included Peregrine (which treated us to great flight views as well as sitting up in short grass) – this was responsible for putting up the hundreds of duck and Lapwing on and off. It was then mobbed by a cream-head Marsh Harrier which then landed where it had been. Amongst hundreds of Lapwing, Teal and Wigeon were at least 25 Pintail, a few pairs of Shoveler and some Shelduck. No scarcer ducks despite intensive searching. The flooding had left just the tops of their usual posts visible, so the Cormorants were perched mere centimetres above the water.

At North Duffield it was fairly quiet, though there were 21 Whoopers at the back (including two family parties at least) and one Little Egret. There wasn’t much to be seen from the viewpoint at Thorganby, Bubwith Bridge or Aughton Church – though we were entertained by a party of 21 Pied Wagtails at the latter. We spent the rest of the day overlooking the Refuge from East Cottingwith – enjoying spectacular views of thousands of birds, mainly duck, geese and Lapwings as they fed and came in to roost. We finally caught up with a flock of c. 100 Pink-Footed Geese here and enjoyed watching Barn Owls hunting over a field at East Cottingwith and behind the back of Swantail Hide. The tally for the day was a very respectable 64 species. Many thanks to Peter Watson for a really enjoyable day out in the LDV.

Jane Chapman