Papercourt 18 January 2024

A bright but very cold afternoon greeted the eighteen members who gathered at an unusual rendezvous, the Tannery Works. The walk proceeded in an anti-clockwise direction towards Papercourt Marsh. A few species were found in the meadow at the bend in the lane; two Egyptian Geese were accompanied by a couple of Redwings and a Fieldfare while a Jay flew across. Blue Tits, Robins, Goldfinches and a Blackbird were also identified. A quiet period then followed with just a few Dunnocks for company. The Yacht Club end of Papercourt Lake was also unproductive no doubt because of an extensive covering of ice but it soon became clear that the birds were concentrated at the far end. A large flock of gulls quickly came into view, perhaps 300 Black-headed with a sprinkling of Common plus the odd Herring and Lesser-black Backed. A closer view revealed good numbers of Coots, Gadwall and Tufted Ducks accompanied by Mute Swans, Mallards, four Great Crested Grebes and eventually some elusive Pochards. A Grey Wagtail also flew across the water while on the other side of the road a perched Buzzard was viewed distantly. Close to Papercourt Farm Lapwings were spotted in a boggy area with a few attendant winter thrushes but scanning revealed that a couple of Teal and no less than 13 Snipe were also present. A Little Egret crossed the path close to the lock while at the bridge a Kingfisher streaked over the river and perched on the bank to the delight of all. Along the towpath two noisy Ring-necked Parakeets made their presence felt, two Red Kites circled a meadow and a Kestrel was glimpsed over the Water Meadow. By the Tannery bridge the sun finally set and a vigil began. Only the Kestrel and a roosting flock of Starlings were active and the majority of the group opted to depart. The three optimists remaining were eventually rewarded with the appearance of a Barn Owl quartering both sides of the meadow and approaching close before disappearing over the river. A most enjoyable walk ended with a species list of forty.

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