CARSINGTON WATER – 21 March 2012

After some scenic detours around the back streets of Hanley, the group finally arrived at Carsington Water.

The first sighting at the Visitor Centre was a Pied Wagtail on the roof. There were Chaffinches and Goldfinches on the ground and around the feeders. Shelduck, Coots and Tufted Ducks were visible on the water. The comfortable Wildlife Centre proved to be a most productive site with Mallard, Teal, Oystercatcher, Great Crested and Little Grebe, Canada Geese, Cormorants and Wigeon all easily seen. Gadwall, two Redshanks and a fleeting view of a Snipe were seen by the sharp eyed. Despite several attempts to change the distant Grebes into Northern Divers we were disappointed not to be able to find the Great Northern Diver on this occasion. The feeders alongside the hide gave excellent views of Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings, Chaffinches and a Coal tit. The Bullfinches were looking particularly splendid in full breeding colours. Buzzards were seen flying overhead as we walked back to the visitor centre, with Blue tits, Great tits and Robins singing in the bushes.

A short drive to the north of the Reservoir and a short woodland walk brought us to the Sheepwash Hide in time for lunch. Black-headed gulls, Common gulls and Lesser Blackbacked gulls were all seen from here. A Nuthatch flew away as we left the hide and walking back we heard one of the first Chiff-Chaffs of Spring.

The intrepid group headed off to Cromford wharf in search of Hawfinches. We found the churchyard but there were no sign of Hawfinches. The bushes offered fleeting glimpses of Long Tailed tits but the river yielded no dipper. By this time the sun had really come out and the lack of birds seemed unimportant. A Wren, Songthrush and Mute Swan were the only new species to add to the list. Most of us finished the day sitting on a bench in the warm sunshine eating an ice cream before an idyllic drive home across the Staffordshire Moorlands.