Minibus Trip to Sizergh Castle – Saturday 28th February 2015

Looking for Hawfinches

Looking for Hawfinches – Will Rich

Hawfinches are best seen in winter when the trees shed their leaves, and can be seen in the high branches of the trees around the visitor centre at Sizergh. Disturbance from visitors can scare them off but we arrived early enough, even with a stopover at Hellifield Flash en route. 16 pairs of eyes scanned the Hornbeam trees, but it was Colin who heard and then spotted the first Hawfinch and got the telescope onto it. As we all gathered round, another flew over, which gave the rest of us a brief but good view. Target Species achieved once again! For anyone who missed this trip and would like to see a Hawfinch, visit for free Ranger events in March and April.

Foulshaw Moss

Foulshaw Moss Will Rich

There are many other woodland species to see, Nuthatch, Tits, Woodpeckers etc. but our trip continued to Foulshaw Moss, a 350 hectare raised mire SSSI, Cumbria Wildlife Trust site noted for its Harrier roost in winter and Ospreys, Adders, Green Hairstreak Butterfly and Emperor Moth in summer. This was a new site for many of us and one to note for future visits.


The next good sighting was a Peregrine Falcon at Warton Crag, sitting high on a ledge,


Peregrine Falcon Cynthia Chandler

spotted by Robert Chandler. We were also entertained by a Buzzard being mobbed by a Kestrel. This is a nationally important, Lancashire Wildlife Trust site of limestone crag, grassland and woodland.

The forecast had predicted rain for the afternoon but we arrived in the dry at the Allen Hide at Leighton Moss, prompted by Sue Harrison’s Bird Guide report of Eurasian White –fronted Geese. We got an excellent haul of waders there, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Avocet, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, etc., plus, the aforementioned geese were scoped on the grassland overlooking Morecambe Bay. Our duck tally, which started at Hellifield, increased.

Pintail pair Leighton Moss  Peter Thornton

Pintail pair, Peter Thomson

More Pintail, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Pochard etc and the last, but not least, bird of the day was a Marsh Harrier over the lagoons of the main reserve at Leighton Moss.

Leighton Moss Hide, Eric by Will Rich

Leighton Moss Hide, Eric by Will Rich

With the promised rain arriving too late to spoil anything, Colin started the long drive home and Sue Harrison recorded the 69 species seen. Many thanks to Colin and yet again to his Wingman, Will, for a really excellent days birding and tour of the area.


report : Sue Coldwell

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