The last day of September saw the first outing for the Sandbach U3A birdwatchers. With various members still in exotic places, just seven of us gathered in Tatton Drive, bleary-eyed from the early start. A short trip up the M6 brought us quickly to Leigh, and along a built-up road to dive into the inconspicuous entrance to Pennington Flash. The area quickly opened out into a large nature reserve with a golf course alongside, and we were very soon parking next to the flash among Canada Geese, Mallards and Black-headed Gulls. The day was overcast, but turned out to deliver a light misty drizzle and sunshine in equal measure.
Even before boots were donned, a spiralling Sparrowhawk had been spotted over the south end of the Flash. We set off, walking between trees and water, to reach the Horrocks Hide, overlooking a spit of land which was formerly the bed of a railway. Diligent searching brought to light a number of Snipe, Teal and Gadwall, with a single Grey Wagtail. We spent some time sorting through the gulls to try to provide some identification points for future reference.
Next call was at the Bunting hide, and here we were excited to see both bright male and less conspicuous female Bullfinches, as they patronised one of the feeding cages. Right in front of the hide Willow Tits (and Blue, Coal and Great Tits) fed in another of the cages, allowing good views of the pale panels on their wings. Just as the group was thinking of moving on, an adult female Great Spotted Woodpecker made a dramatic entrance over the roof of the hide, and spent several minutes entertaining us before opting for an equally dramatic exit through the trees.
At the Teal hide, we saw another Grey Wagtail, 2 Green Sandpipers, Wigeon, Ruddy Duck and Little Grebe. A Kingfisher flashed quickly along the back of the scrape, but wasn’t seen by all of us. This was quickly rectified at our lunch stop, the new and comparatively luxuriously-appointed Ramsdale hide, where the Kingfisher, or another of his ilk, posed in front of the hide for all to see. Our last stop provided views of another Sparrowhawk, before buzzing calls announced the arrival of a tit flock, and seventeen Long-tailed Tits straggled across the gap in front of the hide.
All in all, with 44 species recorded, a successful start to our 2009/2010 programme. For those of you who missed the trip, perhaps we can provide more of the same next time out on 21st October 2009.