The 17th February saw us braving the cold once more to head into Wales and the Deeside reserve of Connah’s Quay. But before the reserve itself, the convoy from Sandbach stopped on a frosty roadside in Shotton, to decipher through the mist both Whooper and Bewick’s Swans, as a number of both species fed in a mixed flock.
On reaching Deeside Naturalists Society’s reserve, the first bird of note was a single Red-legged Partridge which brought the line of cars to a halt. An abortive attempt to pass on the news to the other cars only flushed the bird, which thus allowed only tantalising glimpses. Parking at the visitor centre, we set off along the road to visit the hides overlooking the Bunded Pools, picking up Curlew, Redshank and Greenshank, and working out which Redshank had Spots. Small numbers of Teal, Wigeon and a Shelduck were also inhabiting the pools. Some members twice spotted a Peregrine.
As time hurried on, so did we, commuting up by car to the West (tower) hide overlooking the marshes, the estuary and the Ash Pool as the tide flooded in. More waders were identified; Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and Knot, and the white dot at the back of the marsh resolved itself into a Little Egret. More wildfowl too, with Little Grebe, 46 Canada Geese, a Greylag, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck and Gadwall. We watched a Buzzard on a kill far out on Oakenholt Marsh, and as the tide reached its zenith, the intense cold drove us out of the hide.
We returned to the visitor centre, where a warm welcome was extended by Society members, with hot drinks, and excellent views of a Kingfisher on the Bunded Pools close to the centre’s windows. A final walk up to the three pool hides added a male Bullfinch and Common Snipe to our list, totalling 49 species for the day.