Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Washington Wildfowl & Wetland Trust Centre - Wednesday 20th October 2010

19th October 2010

What a brilliant place! OK call me a dude [my friends do] but I enjoy having red-breasted geese waddle up to me whilst I sit enjoying the autumn sunshine. I like hearing the sexy call of eiders close to and I love watching people, who may not be super birders, enjoy birds.

This is my first visit to Washington WWT Reserve and the people here couldn't have made me more welcome. I arrived three days early because the migrants on the Northumerland coast had disappeared with the westerly winds. Also the RSPB have, thank goodness, got 2 more reserves that need visiting and therefore I need to push ahead of schedule for a bit. So a surprised staff greeted me very warmly and so my visit began.

Now the centre was just a few empty looking farm fields back in 1975 and now? Well it looks a fabulous place for children with many features of fun for them. There's the usual collection birds but not too many and there's woodland to explore, a brilliant feeding centre with hide for close views of woodpeckers and willow tits and a wader scrape down by the river, where recently over 750 curlew have roosted. After a lovely chat with Jane the Centre manager and Leanne, the marketing manager, and after having enjoyed watching the cranes chasing off a grey heron that had wandered into their enclosure, I went for a late afternoon walk around the grounds. I ended up at the wader scrape and checked all of the teal there and generally just enjoyed the peace after a day of hair-raising cycling down the A1, the A189 and the A19.

Once the centre was closed I was lucky to have a fabulous evening in the company of three great ladies: Gill, Leanne and Giselle {whose surname is Eagle and who will be working as an ornithologist on Bardsey with her boyfriend. Well, she will be once she gets a ride over to the wonderful isle.}. A million thanks for the evening girls.

20th October 2010

No cloud, a cold northerly and lots of late autumn sunshine. A quick look around the collection part of Washington and then a series of ridiculous looking photos of me with a toy flamingo for the Sunderland Echo and an interview with a reporter from the same. All great fun and my embarassment over doing such things lessening - slightly.

Have just returned from exploring the wilder areas of the reserve having seen 28 species in an hour and a half. Siskins, great spotted woodpeckers, willow tits, goldcrests and bullfinches were the highlights of a very enjoyable time. Wonderful light and lots of birds close to. Might not be the rarities that so many crave but I like it.

It's incredible what they've done with this place. For the local people it must be great to have all of this on the doorstep and tucked down in a tree surrounded valley, one can't see the large offices just up the road. What one can see is a green roof covered centre, pools and trees both large and small with autumn colours and lots of birds. A brilliant place - or have I said that before. I'll be back.

Now to get back to the A19!!!

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