A sunny, but cold day, saw 9 of us set out for North Cave Wetlands. Good time was made and on arrival a visit to the mobile catering van was eagerly anticipated by some. The hide nearby afforded little shelter from a biting northerly wind but good views of a kestrel hovering nearby was our first sighting of the day. Our group then moved off towards the East Hide, where there were excellent views of a variety of species notably avocets (a count of at least 26 was made), shelduck, shoveler, teal, redshank, oystercatcher, gadwall, a black swan, 2 greylag geese with 5 goslings and the welcome sight of a ruff. Much debate took place around the identification of this bird but Stuart's scope proved invaluable here.
The Turret Hide provided a suitable spot for lunch. Here Robert noted a heron being furiously chased by a black-headed gull, the heron eventually managing to shake off its pursuer. Rabbits were seen on the far banking and coots were sitting tightly on their nests by the side of the lagoon.
Walking along the pathway towards our next stop, Joan was excited to find field mouse-ear which she declared to be her find of the day. Given that our botanists identified 53 species in flower as well as 2 ferns and that of those 53, 6 were different varieties of speedwell, the mouse-ear still came out on top.
Stunning views of 2 reed warbler at the next hide provided Sue with good photo opportunities. Here we also saw a couple of ringed plover as well as a further ruff, or perhaps the same one from earlier! The Crossland Hide gave us a chance to see a brief courtship display between 2 great crested grebe prior to mating (twice!).
Our walk back towards the minibus gave sightings of bullfinch, goldfinch and reed bunting with an excellent view of a little grebe bravely battling the waves on the final lagoon we passed. Throughout the day we were also treated to acrobatic aerial displays by the numerous sand martins and swallows flying over the various lagoons. Black-headed gulls were present in abundance along with herring gull and a lesser black-backed gull was also seen, giving a total of 46 species in all.
In spite of a poor forecast, the day only produced a few short showers but the wind remained strong throughout. Still a thoroughly enjoyable outing ably directed by John, with thanks to Sue and Stuart for driving.
See the photos here.