Saturday, 10 November 2012

Walking With Redwings...Prestwick Carr.

10th Nov.  I’d like to thank all participants who supported the RSPB at the presentation and walk at Prestwick Carr today.  We had twenty-seven very keen participants, for whom some, this was an introduction to the Carr.  My thanks go especially to Samuel Hood for all of his help in assisting me and providing images for the presentation.  Thanks also to Cain Scrimgeour and Peter Fletcher for allowing me the use of images and to the volunteers who helped with the catering on the day.  I can’t really comment on the presentation, but I felt everyone went home happy.  The weather could not have been better and if I say so myself, I think we provided a very enjoyable event.

After a bit of refreshment and the presentation we walked down to the Carr from Dinnington Community Hall, catching a nice sighting of Kestrel on the way.  As we joined the ‘bumpy road’ a Great Spotted Woodpecker gave a fly past.  I’d emphasised the habitat, open space and wide skies during the talk and the light was excellent today.  Improving as the sun lowered in the sky.

The first birds of note along the ‘bumpy road’ was a flock of Bullfinches which stayed in front but near to us as we progressed.  We were soon listening to the calls of Willow Tits which gave excellent sightings throughout the time we were out there.  A large flock of Fieldfare flew over the road above us and smaller numbers were seen throughout the walk.  We began to see the Redwings as we moved along the roadway.  Although looking into the light made watching them difficult at times, everyone eventually had good sightings of what were sizable flocks.  A Goldcrest showed really well and numbers of Lesser Redpoll showed fleetingly.

I’d talked about the raptors to be seen on the Carr earlier, but as expected the ones seen today were Common Buzzard (2), Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.  Only the Sparrowhawk was seen in flight.

I was surprised not to see or hear Curlew today, but I believe one of the participants saw at least one in flight.  There were a few Golden Plover in the horse fields and the odd Mistle Thrush.  Sam walked further up the pathway towards the sentry box and found more Lesser Redpolls and there was a small flock of Goldfinch in the hedge-way.  Other birds seen included Grey Heron, Greenfinch, Siskin, Reed Bunting and tits.

We stayed out a little longer than I had anticipated as I thought it a good idea to watch the sun go down.  As the sun set two large flocks of Starlings flew high in the sky.  Large by today’s standards anyway!  One flock in the east and another in the west.  Some of us cast our minds back to the large flocks seen in Newcastle in years gone by and sadly remembered that this species numbers are at least eighty percent down (and dropping) on what they were then!

We’d had some nice sightings during just over two hours on the Carr.  Not a large quantity of species and sadly no Short-eared Owls.  However the day had been about habitat as much as anything and certainly not just about Short-eared Owls, contrary to any rumour otherwise!

Darkness was fast approaching and the guns had stopped firing as we made it back to Dinnington.  House Sparrows called from the bushes.  A Tawny Owl called just before we left the area.  I think those participants new to Carr had been impressed and I hope/think will visit again.  I’m hoping they all had a good day.  I know I did!

I’m looking forward to giving another presentation jointly with Sam next week on a slightly different subject and we are already making plans for next year’s event.

Oh, and yes, I think everyone enjoyed seeing the Exmoor Ponies.  I've learn t a lot about Exmoor Ponies and their use in conservation during my research.


  1. Yep it was clever picking the one dry day that we've had recently, lol!

    A very nice and varied day.

  2. Pleased it went well Brian, as you know these sort of events planned ahead can fall a bit flat. Sounds like the red flags were flying sadly, stopping you heading up past the sentry boxes. I think the only species you might have been disappointed in not seeing were WAXWINGS !!
    Hats off to both you and Sam.

  3. Glad you enjoyed the day Mark.

    Thanks John. The success or otherwise of these days is so often weather dependent John. We were very lucky yesterday. Time didn't allows us to head past the sentry boxes so it wasn't a problem. I think a few will be back to explore themselves though. Cheers.