Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Reading RSPB group meeting

AT the March meeting, we were entertained by Rod Lawrence who gave an excellent talk entitled “Wildlife of

AT the March meeting, we were entertained by Rod Lawrence who gave an excellent talk entitled “Wildlife of the Exe estuary and jurassic coast”.

The talk encompassed the geology and geography of the area and how it both benefited and inflicted on the flora and fauna.

Specimens of fossils were circulated, birds and their eating preferences discussed and the pros and cons of the resurgent beaver population debated.

A few days earlier the annual weekend away saw 13 members braving the biting winds of the north Norfolk coast. Among notable RSPB reserves visited were Snettisham and Titchwell, both on the mudflats of The Wash, where waders abound, resulting in spectacular views of flocks of oystercatchers, avocets, knot, sanderling, dunlin, ringed plover, black-tailed godwits, grey plover and curlew.

Further along the coast at Holkham there were sightings of a marsh harrier feeding off a hare carcass and white-fronted geese. Out at sea there was a raft of common scoters and a single red-breasted merganser along with a party of brent geese. A roadside halt in the gathering gloom saw distant views of pink-footed geese.

En route to Norfolk the group had stopped at the RSPB Ouse Washes reserve where large numbers of whooper swans, golden plover and several species of wintering duck were seen. There was also a close view of a peregrine falcon chasing a rather surprised greylag goose.

The day’s highlight, however, was good views of five different barn owls.

The return journey to Reading was equally rewarding with a brief stop at Lynford Arboretum yielding excellent views of hawfinch. A longer stop at RSPB Lakenheath incorporated a route march in driving winds to the furthest hide which resulted in spectacular views of two rough-legged buzzards as well as distant sightings of crane and marsh harrier.

Overall it was a very successful trip with 108 bird species seen or heard and, for some, an excellent view of a stoat still in a resplendent white winter coat.

The next illustrated talk will be at Pangbourne village hall on Tuesday, April 14 at 8pm. Entitled “Svalbard and Greenland”, the talk by Graham Lenton will be about the wildlife to be found in arctic climes.

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