Sunday 23 February – Barrow Gurney Reservoirs Leader: Nick Hawkridge

Waking to battering rain and wind, I did not expect to be leading ten waterproofed birders around the tanks, including Vanessa, new to birding and the Club. The decision not to take a scope was easy, but I was glad that the relative shelter of the trees, at the top of the steps of Tank 3, allowed more robust kit than mine to be deployed by others. Through these we got our first glimpse of the overwintering Black-throated Diver. Reported as a juvenile in mid November 2019, the plumage now looked in fine shape. Walking clockwise round the tank we found the battering head wind was no deterrent to the flight of the Common Sandpiper that we flushed from its roost beside a pair of Teal. Coot moved over and away from us, save one further out, which made a useful marker for everyone to get a first sighting of the Great Northern Diver. This too arrived in November 2019. It was reported as a first winter and at first had fishing line fouling its beak but thankfully it seems to have shed this now. Having fought our way round the tank the shelter of the trees was most welcome as was a pair of Common Sandpiper, a Pied and Grey Wagtail and a really close view of the Black-throated Diver. For the finale, we crossed over to Tanks 1 and 2. There we could see a patch of over 100 Cormorants, snoozing along the tank edge, their white breeding patches brightly contrasting the black feathers. With the wind now a whisper of its earlier force, all scopes were arrayed and found, eventually, the Long-tailed Duck. This too was another November 2019 import, spending its time showing off its splendid male plumage to one, in fact any female, Tufted Duck. The total for the morning was 32 species. (Thanks Nick) Nick Hawkridge