Trip report: Old Moor RSPB reserve, 7th January 2024

7 January 2024      RSPB High Peak Group trip to Old Moor

8 am on a dark, mizzly Sunday morning saw 8 intrepid birders set off into the murk with the promise of other birders meeting us at Broomhill Flash.  The snow flurry on the Woodhead Pass was short lived and as we descended towards the Flouch Roundabout, a few of us saw a Red Grouse fly into the bracken below the fence.

At Broomhill Flash, we now numbered 11.  There were a few birds here, mainly ducks.  We saw Goldeneye, Teal, Shoveler, little Grebe and Mute Swan amongst them.  The best sighting was a Sparrowhawk which glided silently past us below the windows.  A quick look out onto the road found us Redwing, Fieldfare and Greenfinch.

As we knew that Old Moor would now be open, we relocated there.  Our first port of call was the Tree Sparrow Farm.  It is unfortunate that they lost the tree sparrows a few years ago due to flooding.  From there we walked to the Reedbed hide.  Chris called ‘Peregrine’ and we turned to see one fly in front of us.  We had hoped to see the Bearded Tits here, some had been seen earlier flitting between the reeds, but today was not our day.  As we left the hide we could still see the Peregrine on top of one of the pylons.

From here we called in at the Family Hide where Tim caught up with us.  Chris, Vicky and Dave had lingered a while by the Bittern hide and had seen Siskin and Redpoll.  The Family hide gave us good views of Common Gull, which are not that common.

Onwards from here; to the Wader Scrape hide where we found some Pink Footed Geese.  An interesting sighting on leaving this hide was a stoat feasting on a rabbit carcass.  Only a few people saw it as it dashed into a viny tunnel.  The water levels were quite high and a visit to Wath Ings hide gave us Goldeneye and other ducks.

After our lunch break, we moved on to RSPB Adwick.  It was lovely to see a flock of Redwing in one of the early fields working their way across it.  We then walked on to what we call ‘Banjo Pier’ because it reminds us of the one at Looe.  Here, we saw lots of Wigeon and more gulls.  As we were about to call it a day, someone spotted a bird of prey on a fence post.  It was quite an enigma.  Was it a Goshawk?  A Sparrowhawk?  It was large, grey on the back with white daubs on it.  Creamy front with barring.  We walked closer and closer to view it thinking it would soon fly off!  Some excellent photographs from Kian and his daughter brought us to the conclusion that it was indeed a female Sparrowhawk, due to the rufous colouring by the wing.  It was an exciting end to our first trip of 2024.  The trip was made all the more enjoyable through spending it in the convivial company of our very knowledgeable, pleasant members.  We saw approximately 55 birds which, given the recent wet weather, was a good total.