Our Christmas outing took place at our local venue, the Flashes. Usually handy to the White Lion for our Christmas lunch, roadworks put paid to that with a long detour later on. About ten of us gathered at 0900, a little later than usual to see what we could. I must admit that I had no great hopes for the day, knowing that a good deal of the normally open water would be frozen.

And so it proved, with little unfrozen water for the ducks to enjoy themselves on. Nevertheless there were several species present in small numbers, with Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck, 2 Pintail and Shoveler all noted. Careful scrutiny of the river revealed three Goosanders bobbing along. Just a single flyover Cormorant made it on to the list.

The feeding station by the roadside was well-stocked, and very popular with fast (and easy) food-loving avians, Blue, Coal and Great Tits all noted along with Chaffinch, House and Tree Sparrows and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Fieldfare and Redwing were seen in close-by shrubs, and a pale-breasted Buzzard perched on a fence.

With little mud showing, waders were scarce, with plenty of Lapwing, a calling Curlew, and three Redshanks which strutted around the field below the viewpoint. We strolled down the lane to look at Elton Hall Flash, but with no additions to the list. And a peek in at Pump House Flash added only Mute Swan.

We moved on then to Foden’s Flash, parking by the canal. Walking down the lane the group came to a halt with a glimpse of azure blue. Sure enough it was a Kingfisher, flitting down the lane above the ditch. The first I’d seen on the Flashes in twenty years of visiting! Not much to see at Foden’s Flash so we returned to the canal, and were entertained by the Kingfisher flying up the other side of the lane. We walked a short distance along the canal and added Jay and Bullfinch, before turning towards the pub, warmth and lunch.

As we parked at the White Lion, in a repeat of last year’s sighting, a Mistle thrush was seen on the hedge across the road. I thought the sightings were over, but sitting opposite the window added Collared Dove and Sparrowhawk from the table. 44 species for the morning. And despite special pleading nobody ticked turkey!

Next outing will be to Marshside on 19 January 2011, where we hope to see wintering wildfowl, waders and hopefully some raptors. Happy New Year.

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