Marshside RSPB 14.11.17

Heavy cloud, misty and a little drizzle at times

Having arrived in a somewhat windswept car park at Marshside, members of the Team lost no time in making for the shelter of the nearby Visitor Centre, only to find that seating space was at a premium due to the presence of another birding group who were busy scanning the very wet-looking marsh. However, a bit of tactical manoeuvring soon meant that we too had good views of the birds that were present in some number, although not always easy to spot both on account of the undulating nature of the terrain and the fact that many, including Canada, Greylag and Pink-fotted Geese, had settled on the far side of the lakes in front of us.

The sighting of a raptor sitting quietly on top of a post in the middle distance led to a good deal of discussion regarding its identification, before a consensus emerged from all present, including the RSPB volunteer, that it was a female Merlin. Later, at least one other of these birds was noted, similarly resting, presumably satisfied after an early breakfast, and offering good views even in the generally overcast conditions. The deepening gloom made difficult the identification of some Egrets whose white plumage stood out from afar. One, the nearest, was clearly a black-billed Little Egret, but three or four others, further off and only intermittently showing themselves, were harder to identify until a temporary improvement in the light levels showed a pale coloured bill on at least one of them, and their penchant for the company of the cattle grazing on the far side of the reserve suggested that these were in fact a group of Cattle Egrets, that had apparently been present on the site for some time.

Unusually perhaps for this site, there was little activity in the air; Lapwings and Black-tailed Godwits occasionally rose up for a brief swirl across the sky, but seemingly just for the fun of it and not as a result of the threat of a passing raptor. Indeed most birds seemed happy either resting in the lee of some clump of vegetation or feeding in the ground made soft by the recent heavy rains.

After lunch we set off for Nel’s hide and were almost immediately stopped in our tracks, as a Stonechat was spotted perched on top of one of the bushes alongside the path and apparently quite happy for us to approach to within three or four metres before flying off. Nel’s hide brought  good views of Pintails, which were present in good number, as well as a small group of Gadwall. Further off a lone Curlew was spotted, as well as a number of Redshank that were busily probing the mud and moving to and fro in the shallow water. And almost as soon as someone had suggested that it was unusual that we had not seen a Heron, not one, but three were spotted in quick succession! A comparison of the gulls in front of the hide led to the conclusion by the Team that, in addition to Black-headed and Herring Gulls, there were also a pair of Common Gulls present, their dark eyes and black-tipped bills, clearly marking them as different from the rest.

A distinct drop in temperature – or perhaps we had opened too many of the windows in the hide in our keenness to get good views of the birds? – then suggested that it was perhaps time to call an end to what had been both a challenging and fulfilling day’s birding, enlivened, as ever, by the usual TT camaraderie. (CG)

Bird List (MH)

  1. Shelduck
  2. Wigeon
  3. Little grebe
  4. Mallard
  5. Great black-backed gull
  6. Lesser black-backed gull
  7. Merlin
  8. Canada goose
  9. Lapwing
  10. Curlew
  11. Pink- footed goose
  12. Black- tailed godwit
  13. Cattle egret
  14. Little egret
  15. Teal
  16. Shoveler
  17. Goldfinch
  18. Greylag goose
  19. Starling
  20. Mute swan
  21. Black-headed gull
  22. Herring gull
  23. Kestrel
  24. Pied wagtail
  25. Robin
  26. Moorhen
  27. Stonechat
  28. Magpie
  29. Gadwall
  30. Tufted duck
  31. Pintail
  32. Coot
  33. Redshank
  34. Jackdaw
  35. Grey heron
  36. Common gull

Woolston Eyes 07.11.17

Rain – grey sky – total cloud – more rain – a tad drier later!

The time to get our Autumn Visit to Woolston Eyes under our belts didn’t quite coincide with the weather that we often conjure up in our minds for this splendid time of the year, when the sunshine dances through hues of trees bearing Gold and Copper clad leaves. Instead today, although the leaves were of that splendid autumnal patina as we parked up on Weir Lane, the other life-sustaining force of nature held sway and swept through the trees with its overbearing droplets of moisture!

The delay in setting off as waterproofs were hoisted into position was not wasted however, for about us, seemingly quite happy with this soggy day, was that relatively uncommon bird for our day list; the once super abundant House Sparrow which has suffered massive declines in its number over the past few decades. Fortunately, the jumble of hedges and feeding opportunities in this area supports quite a healthy flock of these cheerfully chirruping birds.

Then after the briefest of de-briefs, we set our feet in motion with a distant hide beckoning us to take shelter within its comfy surroundings, but being an inquisitive lot we soon paused to check out the loop of the Mersey upon which Tufted Duck, Mute Swan and Little Grebe bobbed about careless of the rain…well they would be wouldn’t they!

Strides in motion and we moved on …. at least twenty paces ….  before we simply had to pause in order to admire three Redwing which sat atop a couple of tall Lombardy Poplar trees, but fortunately for us these soon continued with their restless migration allowing us to push on through the rain.

Once more in defiance of the conditions, we paused to note a pair of Gadwall as they sat out on the waters of the basin area. Then it was full steam ahead as we passed along the bank of number two bed pausing only to note a couple of Cormorant which had ‘draped’ themselves high up in some trees along the riverbank.

We ‘stormed’ over the footbridge with every intention of invading the ‘Tranquil Isle of Three’ to impose our ‘oohs and aahs’ upon this picturesque, well-managed and bird-rich spot of land which lies within reach of the hustle and bustle of the M6 Thelwall Viaduct to the east and the ever expanding urbanisation of Warrington to the west.

The elevated South screen invited us to get a little nearer to the moisture filled clouds revealing a large number of Teal which were taking advantage of the managed lower water level to hoover up seeds out on the exposed mud. Next, after ensuring that we had also added the sighting of a lone Shoveler to our list, we hot footed – or was that mud-slid  – over to the comfort zone of the Morgan Hide.

A flock of finches tried to slow our progress, but as we knew they weren’t about to go anywhere in a hurry due to the rich pickings to be found on this bed, we valiantly ignored them and reached our sheltered spot saving them for later—phew!

A deep breath or two on noting the beautifully busy panoramic view that lay before us was then followed by (1) a rush to open coffee flasks and unwrap elevenses or (2) an equally hasty urge to note the wide variety of birds that lay before our eyes—being neutral I cannot myself say which of the two came first, but all I can say is that satisfaction lay over the Team like a comforting, and in today’s weather, waterproof blanket of peace.

Moorhen trundled about the place chucking their large footed prints all over the mud whilst a few Wigeon added a splash of colour to the exposed newly created mud banks as they came ashore to graze on the weed cover.

Grey Heron stalked the shallows for unsuspecting prey whilst a small flock of Common Snipe whizzed about the air looking for a patch of sheltered mud to land—their difficulty on this occasion seemed to be that they were spoilt for choice now that the bed has a better control of the water levels which at this time of the year needs to be as low as it was on this visit. Greenfinch delighted those watching the feeders and as each new species appeared these dedicated observers alerted the rest of the Team to these sightings thus I believe by the end of our visit all had been able to say that they had comfortably seen Willow Tit, Dunnock and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A conversation that seemed fitting with the Grey Damp Cloud Enveloping conditions that ruled (but NOT ruined) the day then unhappily started to slide the Team towards the despairing reality that we as lovers of the natural world are all too aware of—the plight of our wildlife and their rapidly diminishing habitats BUT as there were no comforting bottles of wine around to drown our increasing sorrows — the siren call of a reserve doing its very best to offer a safe haven to this wildlife soundlessly drew our eyes and mood back to this days positivity!

A move to check the Stewardship crops which are at present drawing in a wide variety of seed-eating birds then got our legs back into action and our field skills into full throttle and as we slowly circuited round the inner section of the bed we managed to note at least 150 Chaffinch, 45 Linnet and a few Goldfinch before we headed back to our cars.

 A pause in our progress to recheck the South Platform Hide then paid off as we locked onto a lone Black-Tailed Godwit giving a sufficient spread of species for our Rainy Day bird list to enable our release homeward which was as ever completed in the ‘gentle’ hubbub of contented conversation after another day in the inspiring arms of the natural world. (DS)

Bird List (CG)

  1. House Sparrow
  2. Blackbird
  3. Collared Dove
  4. Feral Pigeon
  5. Black-headed Gull
  6. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  7. Herring Gull
  8. Greylag Goose
  9. Grey Heron
  10. Mallard
  11. Tufted Duck
  12. Wigeon
  13. Gadwall
  14. Teal
  15. Moorhen
  16. Coot
  17. Little Grebe
  18. Cormorant
  19. Shoveler
  20. Shelduck
  21. Greenfinch
  22. Goldfinch
  23. Chaffinch
  24. Goldcrest
  25. Pied Wagtail
  26. Dunnock
  27. Blue tit
  28. Long-tailed tit
  29. Willow tit
  30. Common Snipe
  31. Redwing
  32. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  33. Carrion Crow
  34. Jay
  35. Magpie
  36. Robin
  37. Linnet



Martin Mere 31.10.17

Bright, some cloud and comparatively warm

Just after 10.30am, a dozen or so members of the Team turned down the chance to carve pumpkins or learn broomstick flying, or any of the other Halloween activities on offer at Martin Mere and left the shelter of the Visitor Centre to begin what turned out to be an excellent day’s birding.  The Discovery Hide afforded the usual good views across the mere with Lapwing, Shelduck, and Black-headed gulls all present in large numbers, mixed with a smaller count of Ruff and Pintail. Further off, on the far side of the water were a few Whooper Swans and rather more Greylag Geese. Stopping to scan across the water from the behind the new screens, en route to the Janet Kear hide, several members spied a Common Snipe in the mud along the water’s edge and, further on, a Goldcrest flitted back and forth amongst the bushes alongside the path. The hide itself provided plenty of interest including a small party of Tree Sparrows, a mix of tit mice, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and a pair of Reed Buntings all of which were flying back and forth onto the feeders, enjoying the food and scattering a fair amount of seed to be scavenged on the floor below by a family of rats that looked particularly well fed.

The excitement really began, however, at the United Utilities hide, where first a resting Buzzard was the focus of our attention, which was then directed towards a male Kingfisher that was apparently  taking a break and gave everyone in the group ample time to admire its electric blue coloration, before it eventually flew off. A Marsh Harrier next put in an appearance – the first of several sightings of at least two birds during the rest of the day – flying close over the marsh in front of the hide and revealing evidence of some damage to one of its wings. A final scan over the fields revealed the presence of some Pink-footed Geese which were not easy to spot as they were feeding in the long grass and only raising their heads every so often. The aptly named Harrier Hide, our next port of call, gave further views of a Marsh Harrier, but the water in front of the hide was comparatively empty of birdlife with only half-a-dozen Gadwall, a few Mallard and a solitary Little Egret on view.

After lunch, we reassembled in the warmth of the Raines Observatory, enjoying close views of Shelduck and Ruff, before setting out towards the Ron Barker hide. A brief pause at ‘Owl Corner’ proved fruitless, although one lucky (?) member was ‘annointed’ from above. A detour to Kingfisher Hide produced more sightings of Reed Buntings and also of Kestrel that appeared to swoop in, perhaps trying to take prey from the feeder. At the Ron Barker hide there was plenty to see, a pair of Mute Swan and a small group of Shoveler amongst the large numbers of Wigeon and Teal and, in the distance, large numbers of Starlings strung out along some telephone wires. One of the Marsh Harriers put in another appearance, and besides a flypast on the far side of the marsh, one of these birds landed a little way off to tear at a dead swan, watched by two or three hungry Carrion Crows who were somewhat impatiently waiting their turn for the feast.

With the light beginning to fade and a corresponding drop in temperature the group began a trek back toward the Visitor Centre and the car park to begin the journey home after a day that had been full of interest and spectacle. A few of us, however, first stopped to watch the feeding of the birds in front of the Discovery hide, always a sight worth seeing, no matter how often one might have witnessed it, and always remarkable for the way in which the different species of bird never seem to mingle, rather keeping to their own groups and producing a vivid, almost colour-coded, picture. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1c50

Bird List (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Whooper swan
  4. Greylag goose
  5. Pink-footed goose
  6. Shelduck
  7. Wigeon
  8. Mallard
  9. Gadwall
  10. Shoveler
  11. Pintail
  12. Teal
  13. Pochard
  14. Tufted duck
  15. Pheasant
  16. Cormorant
  17. Little egret
  18. Grey heron
  19. Marsh harrier
  20. Common buzzard
  21. Kestrel
  22. Moorhen
  23. Coot
  24. Lapwing
  25. Ruff
  26. Common snipe
  27. Black-headed gull
  28. Herring gull
  29. Great black-backed gull
  30. Lesser black-backed gull
  31. Stock dove
  32. Wood pigeon
  33. Feral pigeon
  34. Collared dove (juvenile)
  35. Kingfisher
  36. Wren
  37. Robin
  38. Blackbird
  39. Redwing
  40. Long-tailed tit
  41. Blue tit
  42. Coal tit
  43. Great tit
  44. Starling
  45. Magpie
  46. Jackdaw
  47. Raven
  48. Carrion crow
  49. Tree sparrow
  50. Chaffinch
  51. Greenfinch
  52. Goldfinch

Marbury Country Park 17.10.17

Bright, still warm for the time of year, and definitely less windy than of late

A good number of the Team gathered in the pay-and-display car park at Marbury, pleased that the weather had improved so much from the previous day and pleasantly surprised that there was no ‘paying and displaying’ to do! Signs of the recent storm were few, but unusually there was a definite dearth in avian presence amongst the trees around the car park, as though the birds had either been blown away, or were distrustful of the apparent calm and were still hunkering down somewhere. Some bird calls were heard on our way to the first of the hides, but with plenty of leaves still on the trees it was well nigh impossible to catch sight of anything. However, the first hide proved reasonably rewarding, with a variety of tits making the most of the plentiful supple of seeds that had been left out, and the good light across the Mere providing striking views of the bright green heads of male mallard and a mix of tufted ducks, coot and great crested grebe. On the far side there were plenty of birds and eventually, having walked a way along the track beside the Mere, we got better views of these which included an apparently lone curlew, a single pied wag-tail lit up in the bright sun, as well as Canada geese, black-headed gulls, lapwings and two or three cormorants.

A brief coffee break saw the arrival of a family of mute swans, two adults and three young, as well as a discussion regarding the identification of a small active duck nearby. Eventually, although no others of its species were present nearby, a consensus formed that it was a juvenile tufted duck, even though it was the size of a little grebe and seemed to be diving just as actively as that species does.

The Ice Pool hide gave excellent views of several nuthatch on the feeders and, although unfortunately this was a lone sighting, of a couple of redwing close by. At Forge Bridge there was neither sight nor sound of the Water Rail that has sometimes made its presence felt, and Haydn’s Pool was disappointingly bereft of any bird life at all. Thus it was decided to press on to Neumann’s Flash where it was understood at least one Hooper’s Swan had been seen. By this time, just after midday, the angle of the sun across the flash made observation difficult, and although there was much determined scanning none of the swans present appeared to be Hooper’s. However, we were pleased to catch glimpses of Teal, a small group of Wigeon, some Shoveler lazing on the island across from the hide and two or three Lesser Black-backed Gulls floating out on the flash.

With thoughts of lunch now coming to the forefront of minds, the group set off on the long walk back to the car park, happy to have spent a good morning in the open air, even if the birding had not been especially dramatic.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Wigeon
  4. Mallard
  5. Shoveler
  6. Teal
  7. Tufted duck
  8. Great crested grebe
  9. Cormorant
  10. Grey heron
  11. Coot
  12. Lapwing
  13. Curlew
  14. Black-headed gull
  15. Lesser black-backed gull
  16. Woodpigeon
  17. Pied wagtail
  18. Wren
  19. Robin
  20. Blackbird
  21. Goldcrest
  22. Long-tailed tit
  23. Coal tit
  24. Blue tit
  25. Great tit
  26. Nuthatch
  27. Jay
  28. Magpie
  29. Carrion crow
  30. Chaffinch

Burton Mere Wetlands

Having started the day in quite dismal conditions – rain, mist and traffic jams for some- ten  TT members were delighted to see the sunshine at Burton Mere Visitor Centre. Sightings of cattle egret, marsh harrier, ruff and snipe, alongside the more regular black-tailed godwit, lapwing, teal and wigeon, certainly raised the expectations of the day ahead.

After a good half-hour scanning the area in front of the reception hide, it was decided to venture forth and investigate the rest of the site. But no sooner had the group left the hide, when one of the RSPB volunteers called us all back with a shout of ‘the little stints have just flown in’, which indeed they had, a green sandpiper also making an appearance.

Now round to the pools to seek the kingfisher, and after watching grey wagtail nearby, the group was indeed rewarded with a kingfisher flying past and settling on the far bank.

Buzzard, kestrel, more snipe and linnet were all spotted on the way to the far hide at Inner Marsh, where there were even more rewards; a wonderful wood sandpiper in front of the hide and golden plover aplenty among the lapwing on the scrape.

By now it was time to return to the visitor centre – some in desperate need of sustenance – and a short stroll to see the spectacle of hundreds of pink-footed geese returning to the marshes, before tackling the journey home after an extremely satisfying day.  (MH)

Bird List (MH)

  1. Black swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Pink-footed goose
  4. Wigeon
  5. Mallard
  6. Gadwall
  7. Shoveler
  8. Teal
  9. Tufted duck
  10. Pheasant
  11. Little grebe
  12. Little egret
  13. Cattle egret
  14. Grey heron
  15. Marsh harrier
  16. Sparrowhawk
  17. Common buzzard
  18. Kestrel
  19. Moorhen
  20. Coot
  21. Golden plover
  22. Lapwing
  23. Little stint
  24. Green sandpiper
  25. Wood sandpiper
  26. Redshank
  27. Black-tailed godwit
  28. Ruff
  29. Common snipe
  30. Black-headed gull
  31. Woodpigeon
  32. Kingfisher
  33. Grey wagtail
  34. Pied wagtail
  35. Wren
  36. Dunnock
  37. Robin
  38. Blackbird
  39. Cetti’s warbler
  40. Long-tailed tit
  41. Coal tit
  42. Blue tit
  43. Great tit
  44. Nuthatch
  45. Starling
  46. Jackdaw
  47. Jay
  48. Magpie
  49. Carrion crow
  50. Rook
  51. Chaffinch
  52. Greenfinch
  53. Goldfinch
  54. Linnet

Moore Nature Reserve 03.10.17

A group of 12 eager TT members convened at Moore on a bright autumn morning and -despite a chilly breeze and a lack of leader – determined to cover as much of the reserve as possible to see what avian delights could be discovered.

Initially a multitude of jays and the occasional crow and magpie seemed to be the order of the day, the trees around the car park remaining eerily silent. Lapwing Hide provided the ‘usual’ sightings: coot, mallard, tuftie, gadwall and little grebe – and a kingfisher was seen darting past by a lucky few. Then a birdless wander to the feeding station followed, where absolutely nothing stirred as the feeders have yet to be filled this year. At least there was no rain, and we even had the occasional feeling of warmth from the sun in more sheltered spots.

Spirits rose soon after this as a goldcrest flitted in an ivy-clad tree, then kestrel, buzzard and a flock of long-tailed tits could be added to the list before Birchwood Pool was reached. Here Canada geese had gathered in their hundreds, with a few Greylags and other waterfowl,  and another kingfisher sighting encouraged all to step out to see what Pumphouse Pool might have to offer. No disappointment here; yet another kingfisher sighting, then cormorant, shoveler, teal, then  – a wader alert –  both black-tailed godwit and ruff, and pied and yellow wagtails too.

Now feeling satisfied, and hungry too: time to return to the cars, but not before a few lucky members caught fleeting glimpses of a green woodpecker flying from grass to tree.

Message of the day: never give up hope of seeing something unexpected. (MH)

Bird List (MH)

  1. Jay
  2. Jackdaw
  3. Carrion crow
  4. Starling
  5. Collared dove
  6. Goldfinch
  7. Nuthatch
  8. Magpie
  9. Black headed gull
  10. Buzzard
  11. Feral pigeon
  12. Kingfisher
  13. Little grebe
  14. Coot
  15. Tufted duck
  16. Mallard
  17. Gadwall
  18. Wood pigeon
  19. Blue tit
  20. Robin
  21. Kestrel
  22. Goldcrest
  23. Long tailed tit
  24. Chaffinch
  25. Great tit
  26. Canada goose
  27. Greylag goose
  28. Great crested grebe
  29. Wigeon
  30. Teal
  31. Cormorant
  32. Black tailed godwit
  33. Raven
  34. Herring gull
  35. Ruff
  36. Grey heron
  37. Grey wagtail
  38. Pied wagtail
  39. Green woodpecker
  40. Moorhen
  41. Shoveler

Pennington Flash 26.09.17

I was just wondering what to write for today’s report of a memorable morning, when an email from our new member Robbie popped up – I think she saved me the job:

Misty autumnal sunshine at Pennington for my first Team Tuesday trip… perfect.
Bird sightings…brilliant.  Company….excellent.
Highlights were many:
From the car park, courtesy of a shared scope, a flotilla of Common Scoter sailing across the middle of the Flash. Lapwings, wheeling and calling, then silent at the waters edge. Sunshine highlighting Snipe stripes as they rested on a bank. A stunning Kingfisher, darting, perching, then a skimming flight across the water. Watching a family of Long- tailed Tits busy on a feeder, then realising in the undergrowth behind was a stalking Water Rail until it was chased away by a belligerent Moorhen.
Pennington delivered again.

Thanks Robbie.

Bird List (BP)

  1. Great- Crested Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Wigeon
  7. Gadwall
  8. Teal
  9. Mallard
  10. Shoveler
  11. Tufted Duck
  12. Common Scoter
  13. Buzzard
  14. Kestrel
  15. Water Rail
  16. Moorhen
  17. Coot
  18. Lapwing
  19. Snipe
  20. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  21. Black-headed Gull
  22. Stock Dove
  23. Wood Pigeon
  24. Kingfisher
  25. Swallow
  26. Grey Wagtail
  27. Wren
  28. Dunnock
  29. Blackbird
  30. Robin
  31. Long-tailed Tit
  32. Willow Tit
  33. Great Tit
  34. Blue Tit
  35. Coal Tit
  36. Jay
  37. Magpie
  38. Carrion Crow
  39. Chaffinch
  40. Greenfinch
  41. Goldfinch
  42. Bullfinch


Chat Moss 19.09.17

Foggy, Damp, Cool … later too much sunshine!?!

A conundrum to start off Team Tuesdays Birdwatching year….was the Sun sulking because the autumn Equinox was but a couple of days away, OR was the Fog in a little too much haste to bring on the next season?

TT will never know for whatever the weather Chat Moss and a welcome cuppa at the fisheries to start the day ensured that those who were not too busy being retired/on holiday in retirement etc. found that the journey through the tail end of the rush hour was worth making…especially as a couple of the Team managed to note a Swallow as soon as they arrived—a sighting soon be of rarity value as these birds retire to their wintering grounds in South Africa.

Cuppa and a brief catch-up on summertime activities then occupied the next twenty minutes or so….and would have with ease taken up the rest of the morn but the birds were somewhere out there in the Fog, and they siren-like drew us onto the misty waves of another Chat Moss wander. Pied Wagtail, Tufted Duck and Grey Heron were seen with relative ease whilst Chiffchaff, Robin and Goldfinch made themselves heard in the now slowly clearing air. A move out to check a couple of Horse Paddocks then led us onto a wave of titmice with Long-Tailed Tit dominant. Then across the now un-shrouded field Pied Wagtail and Starling were seen…yes things were looking up for our list keeper as more birds headed for him to scribe.

We then headed up Cutnook Lane to gain views of Croxden Peat which was notably looking a lot better with vegetation and pools slowly eradicating the years that this site had suffered from Peat extraction and as if to prove the worth of this re-colonisation by nature a Greenshank popped up for all to admire before its brief stopover was ended as it moves restlessly south for the winter. Teal, Mallard and Black-Headed Gull occupied the bunded pooled area, views of which proved quite difficult as the birches and willows have now started to provide cover for this oasis for wildfowl—nice for them but challenging viewing for us! A few splashes of colour then crept into our now brightening day as we noted the gold of yet to be harvested Barley, the citrine of a posing Yellowhammer and the red-black and white of a male Bullfinch (this latter bird forming part of a family party as they moved about the area). Then as we noted a Buzzard tucking into a prey item a decision had to be made—retreat back to lunch or pinch a little more time out of our day and push for a few minutes viewing Little Woolden Moss Nature reserve.

Lunch called to some and further leg stretching west called to the rest and twenty minutes later the reward for the former group was a leisurely lunch and for the latter a sentinel male Stonechat that would insist on giving all ‘top of small’ tree poses…a delight! Then more scanning of the wide open spaces of this beautiful reserve (one emerging with love from peat extraction by the efforts of Lancashire Wildlife Trust and its Volunteers) gave seven Ringed Plover as they refuelled on their own migratory move south.

Black Darter, Common Darter and Southern Hawker dragonflies added a little more interest to our day as did fleeting views of Comma and Red Admiral Butterflies, but now was the time for retreat which we did in the usual leisurely chatty way that comes with ease to the Team Tuesday family.

Progress I admit was not quite without its pauses for more bird life came to our attention resulting in the addition of Mute Swan and House Martin to our now healthy looking day-list before we arrived back at the fisheries car-park. (DS)

Bird List (CG)

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Swallow
  3. Tufted Duck
  4. Woodpigeon
  5. Stock Dove
  6. Magpie
  7. Jay
  8. Heron
  9. Black-headed Gull
  10. Long-tailed tit
  11. Mallard
  12. Teal
  13. Coot Moorhen
  14. Linnet
  15. Blue tit
  16. Chiffchaff
  17. Pied Wagtail
  18. Blackbird
  19. Goldfinch
  20. Meadow Pipet
  21. Starling
  22. Kestrel
  23. Pheasant
  24. Greenshank
  25. Snipe
  26. Robin
  27. Buzzard
  28. Carrion Crow
  29. Yellowhammer
  30. Bullfinch
  31. Sparrow
  32. Reed Bunting
  33. Stonechat
  34. Ringed Plover
  35. Mute Swan
  36. House Martin

Trans-Pennine Trail 04.07.17

Mostly overcast, and increasingly warm

‘Not a with bang, but certainly not a with whimper’ was how the Team Tuesday  season concluded yesterday. We met in the Henshall Lane car park, the light, early morning rain having thankfully passed over, and immediately became aware of how difficult things were going to be; even Long-tailed tits, usually so easy to make out, were very difficult to spot amongst the dense foliage of the surrounding trees. Undeterred, however, we began our walk along the old railway track bed, heading east away from the site of the old Dunham Massey Railway Station (closed in 1962, even before Dr Beeching). A passing dog walker, keen to share his local knowledge, drew our attention to a mound to the south of the trail, an unusual feature given the largely flat nature of the rest of the adjacent landscape, which he assured us was known as ‘Hooley’s Hump’, and said that this was spoil from the time that the canal was dug out in the late eighteenth century. As we were thus engaged in conversation, our first notable sighting of the day appeared in the shape of a buzzard that began to circle lazily above us, before coming to rest on a distant telegraph pole, not far from a couple of apparently unconcerned Goldfinch resting on the wires.

Pressing on, accompanied by what seemed like an ever-present sound of Chiff Chaff, one of which was eventually spotted, we soon began to enjoy the auditory challenge that the morning was turning out to be, making out Yellowhammer, Wren, Chaffinch and other birds. Loud song in some of the thick undergrowth alongside the trail, was eventually agreed to be that of a Whitethroat, and indeed we soon caught sight of one of these birds, obligingly perched on top of a hedge. The call and half-sighting of a Quail led to determined scanning of a rough area at the edge of one of the adjacent fields and although the Quail appeared to have disappeared into the long grass (like so many recent government policies?), we did have good sightings of a pair of Grey Partridge and a couple of Mistle Thrush hopping around in the stubble.

Further on, after much craning of necks looking for a Skylark high above us, a small rough area of field afforded good views of a Yellowhammer, its yellow chest showing up nicely in the brighter light of the late morning.  On the other side of the path, a field of wheat was attracting plenty of Swallows that were skimming back and forth just inches above the crop, no doubt enjoying a good feeding opportunity as the growing warmth was bringing out the insects, some of which were also beginning, in their turn, to feed on us!

Retracing our steps back to the car park and a welcome lunch at the Rope ands Anchor, we continued to hear plenty of birds, catching sight of some of them, but by no means all. Some of us picked out a Skylark at rest on pile of mud, and rather more of the group (back markers by this time as many lengthened their stride in search of sustenance) enjoyed watching the activity of a small group of Blackcaps that were flitting back and forth from a hedge to feed on the weed heads along the edge of a field.

In the car park a quick dusting down and tidying up was followed by a general move towards the pub and what turned out to be a most convivial lunch where everyone agreed that the morning had turned out to be much better than might have been expected.

Bird List (BP)

  1. Cormorant
  2. Grey Heron
  3. Buzzard
  4. Kestrel
  5. Grey Partridge
  6. Herring Gull
  7. Woodpigeon
  8. Swift
  9. Skylark
  10. House Martin
  11. Swallow
  12. Blackbird
  13. Song Thrush
  14. Mistle Thrush
  15. Wren
  16. Dunnock
  17. Robin
  18. Whitethroat
  19. Blackcap
  20. Chiff Chaff
  21. Long-tailed Tit
  22. Blue Tit
  23. Treecreeper
  24. Magpie
  25. Carrion Crow
  26. Starling
  27. House Sparrow
  28. Chaffinch
  29. Goldfinch
  30. Yellowhammer
  31. Reed Bunting


Photos JH

Windy Bank Wood 27.6.17


Wet and overcast

Team Tuesday *abandons the Arc and wanders about Windy Bank Wood

Precipitation preceded our wander about this sweetly quiet backwater that sits on the most north-westerly part of my Mossland patch and most assuredly this ‘Gardeners Delight’ made every effort to accompany Team Webbed Feet aka TT throughout our late June amble about the site ensuring a comforting continuity of soggy visits that go ‘way-back’—well at least as far as last year anyway!

Deterred we were not and this year as there was a lessening of outpourings from the sky at the stroke of ten we made a rush away from the fleshpot of Bents and its warm inviting cafes and shops but not before we had carefully started our list with Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Song Thrush oh and not forgetting the Woodpigeon…for on this trip every little helps our meticulous recorder who at times at this venue struggles to gain a tally of twenty species!

Soon the Rubicon (the Glaze) was crossed and once more we were in the comfort zone of Greater Manchester where we added Mallard and Canada Goose …at this point the two members of the team who had recently returned from Switzerland where they had been feeding their breakfast scraps to Alpine Accentors were heard to say ‘the birdwatching here is so much more superior to those distant Alps’—well I think that’s what they said as they sighed!

Then as the clouds went into free-flow mode we peered across to a nearby and well established hedgerow (now there is a rarity these days) and along its leeward side skimmed at least twenty five Swallow which were seemingly unaffected by this poor weather once they had adopted their clever feeding strategy for in such relatively sheltered spots whole hosts of insects hide from the rain—-but not the hirundines’ gapes!

Then it was time for a Farming Today interlude as a couple of cows and their calves were encouraged not to trample our assemblage but to instead be gently persuaded to wander into a nearby field…at this point I would like to thank my able Assistant Rancher Alan who held the gate!

Chiffchaff song emanated from cover (well let’s face it who would be so foolish as to be exposed in such inclement weather???) which indicated that these plucky migrants were prepared to have a go at producing a second brood of young whatever the weather.

We were then onto the ‘Reserve’ proper with its well appointed paths which run through a mixed swathe of wildflower meadows and stands of relatively new plantations all with a backdrop of more mature trees giving pleasing aspects which I’m afraid at first seemed relatively devoid of birdlife—-this being emphatically disproved by Team Tenacious, for slowly but surely we kept our dedicated recorder on her toes.

Whitethroat tried their best to give us glimpses of themselves as family parties flitted about in their efforts to grab some insect-Fayre whilst Willow Warbler still persisted in their cascading song of delightful summer days with one even allowing our gathering to see it as it sat atop a tall Birch.

A trio of calves were also encountered as we ambled about these pathways but as they had seeming heard of the antics of the duo of ‘Gil Favor’ and ‘Rowdy Yates’ in a recent episode of ‘Rawhide’ they swiftly retreated before anyone could utter ‘Head ‘em up, Move ‘em out and Move ‘em on’!!!!

Then came the audiology test as a couple of Grasshopper Warbler reeled out their own song of celebration of dank places to which these birds fly thousands of miles from Africa in order to raise the next generation of these enigmatic ear testing and eye yearning birds.

Once all had happily passed their hearing test for yet another year we moved on in happy relief that the world of nature was still audible, a point most emphatically made when we then encountered a family party of Nuthatch which could ‘almost’ out-decibel my dulcet tones!

A Garden Warbler then decided to test our ability to decipher our Chromatic Scales as we ‘compared’ its song to that of the more familiar outpourings of the Blackcap which sits more easily in our memory than that of this elusive and rather plain looking bird —-well it is in my opinion rather attractive when it allows itself to be viewed!

Then after a wander through a section of birch woodland we emerged almost back at the start of the Reserve picking up Mistle Thrush and Stock Dove as we moved into a more open aspect.

Swift swept about the sky as did a Kestrel as we headed for the bridge in what we could only describe as ‘balmy’ conditions compared to what we had experienced for most of the morning (well everything is relative as they say).

Then after pausing to note a few Banded Demoiselle from this ‘Border Crossing Bridge’ we headed off into Cheshire and bid farewell for the Summer with a large proportion of Team Tuesday ‘having’ to formally end another year of great birdwatching with firm friends (old and new) by indulging in a visit to the comfy environs of Bents Restaurant!

*—yes I know I used this on last year’s write up but using the analogy  ‘if the cap fits’…!

(the unmistakable and unmissable words of DS)

Bird list (MH)

  1. Canada goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Gadwall
  4. Cormorant
  5. Grey heron
  6. Common buzzard
  7. Kestrel
  8. Moorhen
  9. Lapwing
  10. Black-headed gull
  11. Lesser black-backed gull
  12. Stock dove
  13. Wood pigeon
  14. Collared dove
  15. Feral pigeon
  16. Swift
  17. Swallow
  18. House martin
  19. Robin
  20. Blackbird
  21. Song thrush
  22. Mistle thrush
  23. Willow warbler
  24. Chiffchaff
  25. Whitethroat
  26. Goldcrest
  27. Blue tit
  28. Nuthatch
  29. Jay
  30. Magpie
  31. Carrion crow
  32. Chaffinch
  33. Greenfinch
  34. Goldfinch