AT the January meeting members enjoyed an excellent illustrated talk by Brian
AT the January meeting members enjoyed an excellent illustrated talk by Brian Gallop entitled “A naturalist in Northumberland”.
We were treated to not only some excellent photographs of the various species but also the full Northumberland experience with tales of historic castles, wonderful shots of the Farne Islands and a reminder of the courage of Grace Darling in rescuing the crew of the Forfarshire. Birding highlights included excellent photographs of puffin and arctic tern and a superb one of the normally elusive woodcock.
A few days later, on a surprisingly bright but cold Sunday morning, members met at a snow-covered Barnes Wetland Centre.
The main attraction at this time of year are visiting ducks and the chance to see the shy bittern.
We were not disappointed as soon after visiting the tower hide we had the sight of a bittern occasionally sticking its head out of the reeds.
We had reasonable views through telescopes before it flew into the open and perched on top of the reeds in full view for at least 20 minutes.
A little later a second bird emerged from another section of reeds and walked along the water’s edge, offering excellent views.
After that everything else could have seemed an anti-Â climax but we did enjoy distant views of a peregrine perched high on Charing Cross Hospital all day.
The duck included good numbers of the expected wigeon, gadwall, teal, shoveler, tufted duck and mallard, along with three majestic pintail and five elegant Mandarin duck.
Among other winter visitors encountered were flocks of siskin which were feeding on the alder trees.
In total we recorded 49 species during a very enjoyable day out.
Out indoor meetings take place at Pangbourne village hall and visitors are always warmly welcomed.
For more information, visit www.reading-rspb.org.uk