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
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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

Brockholes, near Preston 20.6.17

Sunny and very warm day

As the June heatwave continued, an enthusiastic group assembled at the Visitor Village hoping the sunshine would bring out the birds and minimise the expenditure of energy by group members.  It was wisely decided to target the hides on Number One Pit throughout the morning and reserve a relatively short walk along the River Ribble for the afternoon.

Setting off through the reedbed along the northern edge of Meadow Lake, the group were enticed by the song of warblers which remained frustratingly hidden from view. However more expansive views across the lake revealed moorhen, lapwing, black-headed gulls, coots, a grey heron and a single oystercatcher accompanied by its single fast maturing chick.  Reaching The Lookout hide, views across Number One Pit revealed a wider range of birds – a reed bunting and (immature?) grey wagtails on the near shoreline; coot, mute swans, mallard, oystercatchers, a little grebe and a great crested grebe on the water; a redshank and a single starling along the far shoreline; and sand martins swooping over the water (although no sign of their usage of the sand martin wall).

A walk down to the next hide yielded more sightings of a pied wagtail, redshank, common sandpipers, oystercatchers, starlings and the great crested grebe on and close to the central island. To everyone’s delight, a nearer small shingle/rocky island hosted a rare sighting of a close congregation of oystercatcher, common sandpiper, redshank and ringed plover allowing informative comparisons of shape, size and colouring.  Onward down and around the southern tip of the lake revealed little of note – the scratchy song of a hidden whitethroat; a perfect view of a highly illuminated hovering kestrel; (for some) a small weasel scurrying across the footpath; and a fine view of a difficult to identify member of the finch family, possibly a female or immature linnet.

After a hearty picnic lunch in the increasingly warm sunshine, the group sauntered eastward from the Visitor Village to the bank of the River Ribble and headed northwards towards the weir.  The shallow slow-moving river was home to a scattering of black-headed gulls, mallard, a single oystercatcher, carrion crows, a single lesser black-backed gull, and a single grey heron which, for reasons best known only to them, was being vigorously worried by the gulls. And then, a flash sighting of a kingfisher by one member of the group which led to a thorough visual search of the far bank, and, hey presto, the male kingfisher appeared to all, dived majestically to nab a small fish, perched on an exposed branch to show off its electric plumage, and then raced along the river to show off its turn of speed.  The final stretch up to the weir allowed good views of sand martin burrows in the eroded banks and sand martins obligingly swooped overhead, but unfortunately no goosanders! With a final view of a distant kestrel and a goldfinch feeding assiduously off a lone thistle on the far bank, the group returned to the car park.

Comparing notes post event, chiffchaff, whitethroat, long-tailed tit, and a common tern were also sighted by keen-eyed members of the group, as were an impressive list of butterflies (meadow brown, ringlet, common blue, speckled wood, red admiral, large skipper) and a day flying moth (narrow-bordered five-spot burnet) and numerous dragonflies and blue and red damsel flies – clearly a very productive and enjoyable day! (SC with help from DC and MH)

Bird list (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Mallard
  4. Great crested grebe
  5. Little grebe
  6. Grey heron
  7. Common buzzard
  8. Kestrel
  9. Moorhen
  10. Coot
  11. Oystercatcher
  12. Ringed plover
  13. Lapwing
  14. Common sandpiper
  15. Redshank
  16. Black-headed gull
  17. Herring gull
  18. Lesser black-backed gull
  19. Common tern
  20. Woodpigeon
  21. Swift
  22. Kingfisher
  23. Sand martin
  24. Pied wagtail
  25. Blackbird
  26. Sedge warbler
  27. Chiffchaff
  28. Whitethroat
  29. Long-tailed tit
  30. Great tit
  31. Starling
  32. Magpie
  33. Jackdaw
  34. Carrion crow
  35. Goldfinch
  36. Reed bunting

Conwy Nature Reserve 13.06.17

Overcast at first, brighter later

Some fifteen members of the Team met for our now regular annual visit to this varied wetland reserve and after a quick discussion, to decide on the route for the morning so as to have the best chance of seeing the movement of birds due to the incoming tide, we headed off in search of Whitethroats, both Common and Lesser, whose presence had been noted on the sightings board inside the VC.

Chiffchaffs and Greenfinches serenaded us as we passed through the wooded edges of the reserve, but mostly they kept out of view and a few of us were beginning to think that the same might be true of the Whitethroats. However such despondency was soon dismissed as movement was seen amongst the grasses and bushes a few metres from the side of the path. After a number of half glimpses, at last we had clear sightings of what was apparently a small family of Common Whitethroats that must have been nesting in one of the larger bushes; a pair of adults and two or three fledglings, the latter thoughtfully staying in one place long enough for some members of the team to get good photos of them. Some passing Long-tailed Tits were quickly seen off by one of the adult birds and we had more views of the fledglings that were pursuing their parents demanding food. Determined scanning of other bushes and trees resulted in some members of the team actually catching sight of the Lesser Whitethroat as well, but this bird was much more skulking in its movements, and many of us failed to catch any sight of it at all.

Eventually moving on, we made our way down towards the estuary where the incoming tide was just beginning to push birds off the sandbanks. Shelduck, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Canada Goose and Curlew were all noted, as well as a mix of Gulls: Herring, Lesser and Great Black-backed. At the Benarth Hide we enjoyed the sight of a mix of water birds, including Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, a Common Sandpiper and a Teal that was hunkered down behind a rock and almost impossible to make out, but the highlight was the sighting of a Merganser resting on one of the islands in front of the hide. Good views were enjoyed too through the screens on either side of the hide (a welcome feature on this reserve) and Coot, Starling, Greenfinch, Pied wagtails and a lone Barnacle Goose were all seen. Interestingly, there was a mix of adult and juvenile birds and careful observation solved an avian puzzle that had presented itself earlier: a brownish bird with black beak, about the size of a blackbird that had been hopping about on the path, turned out to be a juvenile Starling!

Our progress back along the path by the estuary towards the VC (and lunch!) was briefly interrupted, first by the sighting of a solitary Wheatear that perched for some time on top of one of the information boards along the side of the track, and then by the spectacle of a Cormorant hungrily devouring a rather large flat fish of some kind, and reminding us of those pangs of hunger that we beginning to make themselves felt.

Al fresco picnics or a snack in the cafeteria were followed by a trek round the reed beds and onto the Redshank Trail. Warblers were heard in the reeds, but only a few of us caught sight of them. Sound and sighting of a family of Little Grebe was easier from the Boardwalk viewpoint and from the Tal-y-fasn hide Little Egrets, Black-headed Gulls and a Merganser – or was it a Pochard? – were seen. We also spent some time consulting handbooks and deciding on the precise identification of a wader that dropped in on one of the islands across from the hide. At our last destination of the afternoon, the Carneddau hide, we had unambiguous sightings of the Merganser which took to the water making it easy to admire its punk hair style and long bill; a suitable conclusion to an excellent day’s birding, notable both for the number of species spotted and the interesting challenges we had faced (successfully?) with regard to the identification of a few individual birds seen.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Greylag goose
  4. Barnacle goose
  5. Shelduck
  6. Mallard
  7. Gadwall
  8. Teal
  9. Pochard
  10. Tufted duck
  11. Red-breasted merganser
  12. Great crested grebe
  13. Little grebe
  14. Cormorant
  15. Little egret
  16. Grey heron
  17. Common buzzard
  18. Moorhen
  19. Coot
  20. Oystercatcher
  21. Common sandpiper
  22. Redshank
  23. Curlew
  24. Herring gull
  25. Black-headed Gull
  26. Great black-backed gull
  27. Lesser black-backed gull
  28. Rock dove
  29. Feral pigeon
  30. Woodpigeon
  31. Swift
  32. Swallow
  33. House martin
  34. Pied wagtail
  35. Wren
  36. Dunnock
  37. Robin
  38. Wheatear
  39. Blackbird
  40. Sedge warbler
  41. Reed warbler
  42. Willow warbler
  43. Chiffchaff
  44. Whitethroat
  45. Lesser whitethroat
  46. Long tailed tit
  47. Blue tit
  48. Great tit
  49. Starling
  50. Jackdaw
  51. Carrion crow
  52. House sparrow
  53. Chaffinch
  54. Greenfinch
  55. Goldfinch
  56. Linnet

Photos DC

Goyt Valley 23.05.17

Overcast at first, sunny and warm later

A dozen members of the team gathered at Lamaload Reservoir beneath initially cloudy skies.  A first sweep across the water revealed very little, although the calls of Canada Geese had been heard as we approached the water. However, Swallows were glimpsed skimming low across the reservoir and then gradually a variety of species were noted: Canada Geese and Mallard; a Coot on its nest on the opposite shore; a lone Lapwing and then, just below us, a pair of Little Grebe, noisily making us aware of their presence, and a quieter family of Coot, a male and a female busily looking after two or three little ones. A Cormorant and a Pied Wagtail dropped in as we were about to leave, and, as we made our way back towards the cars, we caught sight of the first raptors of the day, a Buzzard soaring overhead and another slightly smaller bird, probably a Sparrow hawk.

At our next stop, Pym’s Chair, on the top of the ridge above the Goyt Valley, we were greeted by a strong wind and the lusty and exhilarating song of a Skylark, giving its all high above us. The strong wind, blowing through the abundant cotton grass all around us, seemed to be discouraging other birds, and we were about to leave when a large raptor flew overhead and began to hover over the valley behind us, more or less just at eye level. The colouration and habit of the bird led to some debate about what precisely it was.  After much consultation of handbooks, a view began to emerge that it must be a Rough-legged Buzzard. Subsequent consultation with other birding friends confirmed our identification, and it was certainly a spectacle that was enjoyed by all.

A brief stop at the upper Errwood Reservoir car park  added a Kestrel to our tally, but there was little else to see. And although the call of a Willow Warbler was clear and near, the vegetation at the side of the water was too dense to vouchsafe a view.

The Errwood House car park was our lunch stop and, between sandwiches, afforded some of the Team views of a Redstart, Song Thrush and Robin. Our wander up the road past the nest boxes produced some tantalising glimpses of what must have been Flycatchers, but these birds were very elusive and it was difficult to get good views and agree identification. There were clearer sightings of other species; Blue tits and Great tits flitting in and out of the nest boxes along the side of the road; a Great Spotted Woodpecker showing well high above us; a Grey Wagtail obligingly hoping across the road a short distance ahead of us; and a female Blackcap perching in one spot just long enough for more or less everyone to enjoy a fine view. The way back to the car park along the track above the road produced a number of treats and proved that you have to look down as well as up when out on a nature walk! First a small Green Vane Hairstreak butterfly was spotted in the middle of the path in front of us before it flew into the grass nearby, then a small group at the head of the main body of the team almost literally stumbled on a Woodcock that flew off to the left and finally, this time looking skywards, we had fine views of a Tree pipet, nicely silhouetted against the clear blue sky.

The welcome appearance of an ice-cream van on the car park allowed us to cool down from both excitement and exertion before we pressed on to the Derbyshire Bridge car park, from where we had distant views of red deer on the ridge across the valley.  A short ramble up onto the moor afforded us the spectacle of a Curlew seeing off a Raven that it clearly thought was coming much too near its nest somewhere in the heather below. The liquid gurgling of Grouse alerted us to the presence of these birds somewhere near and it wasn’t long before a pair was spotted, their heads erect, perhaps eyeing us cautiously, but without taking any evasive action.

Agreeing on one final stop on our day’s trip, we next made for the disused Danebarrow Quarries in search of Ring Ouzels that had been sighted here on previous visits. For some time there was determined scanning of the grassy areas and scree below us, but beyond the sight of some corvids in the distance,  there seemed to be little avian activity of any kind. Then, almost as we were about to admit defeat, a solitary Ring Ouzel was spotted and this bird obligingly proceeded to hop around in the open allowing all members of the group to enjoy good views. This provided an excellent finale to what had turned out to be one of our best trips to these locations in recent years.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Canada goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Red grouse
  4. Great crested grebe
  5. Little grebe
  6. Cormorant
  7. Grey heron
  8. Sparrowhawk
  9. Rough-legged buzzard
  10. Common buzzard
  11. Kestrel
  12. Coot
  13. Lapwing
  14. Curlew
  15. Woodcock
  16. Great spotted woodpecker
  17. Skylark
  18. Swallow
  19. House martin
  20. Tree pipit
  21. Meadow pipit
  22. Grey wagtail
  23. Pied wagtail
  24. Wren
  25. Dunnock
  26. Robin
  27. Redstart
  28. Blackbird
  29. Ring ouzel
  30. Song thrush
  31. Mistle thrush
  32. Willow warbler
  33. Blackcap
  34. Blue tit
  35. Great tit
  36. Treecreeper
  37. Magpie
  38. Raven
  39. Carrion crow
  40. Chaffinch

Photos JH and DC

Moore Nature Reserve 16.05.17

Damp and warm, but the rain held off and there was even a little brightness later

Ever the optimists, a good number of the Team made it to the rendezvous despite heavy rain and pretty awful (for many) driving conditions en route. Optimism was rewarded, however, as the rain ceased as if by magic just before 10am, and having spotted a Greater Spotted Woodpecker feeding in the field opposite and seen Swifts wheeling around high above us and a pair of Heron flying majestically past, we set off on our usual route round the Reserve.

Our first stop at Lapwing Hide brought immediate rewards. Almost as soon as we had arrived, we were greeted by the sound and then by the sight of a pair of Little Grebes, one of whom proceeded to catch and devour, not without a little difficulty, a plump perch (as identified subsequently by one of our number whose interests obviously go beyond the purely avian). And while we were still taking in that spectacle, movement amongst the reeds just in front of the hide attracted our attention and we were soon enjoying the sight of one or more Reed Warblers which were singing and flitting about, just two or three metres away, and affording everyone the chance to get a good sighting.

Buoyed up by these early treats, we pressed on through the dripping woods, to the accompaniment of plentiful and varied birdsong, although sightings and identification were difficult. However, there was no mistaking first the yaffle of a Green Woodpecker, and then the joyous sound of a distant Cuckoo, the first this season for me, and I think for many, if not all of the group.

At the Feeding Station hide we had good views of both a male and female Greater Spotted Woodpecker who were taking turns to feed on the peanuts that seemed in plentiful supply, but few other birds were in evidence, apart from a number of Blue tits and a lone Nuthatch that made a brief appearance. Birchwood Pool was unusually quiet. Gulls seem to have abandoned this site – indeed, few were noted on our previous visit this year – and there was little to see, save for a Great Crested Grebe bending back its neck in display to no one in particular (there was no female nearby as far as could be seen) and a female Mallard that was leading her brood of four or five duckings across the water close to the shore. At Birch strip hide, a few of the group caught a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher speeding over the water, but the rest had to content themselves with the less dramatic, but nonetheless interesting sight of a Great Crested Grebe resting on its not very substantial nest amongst the saplings and reeds on the edge of the island opposite. Pump House Pool produced no new sightings save for a Shelduck that took flight as we arrived and an unusually solitary Black-headed Gull on the far side of the water.

Conscious now of the time and the threat of one or two black clouds above us, it was decided to head back to the cars, pausing occasionally to try to make out the birds that were still singing and calling loudly from the trees and undergrowth around us. Although largely unsuccessful, these efforts were eventually rewarded by the sight of a Whitethroat that perched briefly on top of a post, before carrying on with its nest-building activities in the thick undergrowth. A Buzzard, high up and far off, eluded most of the group, but easier to see were some Carrion Crow and a group of four or five Mistle Thrushes that dropped into the field and began to feed on the ground, just as we approached the car park.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Canada goose
  2. Shelduck
  3. Mallard
  4. Gadwall
  5. Tufted duck
  6. Pheasant
  7. Great crested grebe
  8. Little grebe
  9. Grey heron
  10. Common buzzard
  11. Moorhen
  12. Coot
  13. Black-headed gull
  14. Lesser black-backed gull
  15. Wood pigeon
  16. Feral pigeon
  17. Swift
  18. Great Spotted woodpecker
  19. Wren
  20. Dunnock
  21. Robin
  22. Blackbird
  23. Song thrush
  24. Mistle thrush
  25. Reed warbler
  26. Whitethroat
  27. Long-tailed tit
  28. Blue tit
  29. Great tit
  30. Nuthatch
  31. Jay
  32. Magpie
  33. Carrion crow
  34. Chaffinch
  35. Kingfisher

Photos  JH, DC and CG

Chat Moss 09.05.17

Dull start but soon bright and sunny with a trifling breeze

Yet more visitors from distant lands i.e. south of the Ship Canal decided that the best way to spend the morning was to be upon the beautiful Greenbelt of Salford but before doing so, as with last Fridays visitors, Team Tuesday had to cross the Glaze before OUR moss lands were happily reached.

I must admit that this spring morn looked equally as lovely on the Cheshire side and in fairness there was a planned lunch to be had at the Raven where the owners had allowed our quite large turnout to park thus on this occasion I give praise to this adjacent landscape but with the caveat that our very own countryside on the edge of town is magnificent (well I would say that wouldn’t I?) …

House Martin, Swallow and Swift reminded us that our Moss is far-far nicer than Africa at this time of the year for this trio of ‘sky-masters’ are now settled over our Moss for the Summer forsaking their ‘Dark Continent’ wintering grounds until autumn cloaks our landscape…..(worry not about our skies becoming empty of life for then Scandinavian Thrushes will occupy the vacuum).

Debrief over in the car-park we set off into a brightening day with Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Chaffinch serenading our way along Moss Lane until we paused at the Glaze to note Tufted Duck and Gadwall ‘Pootering’ about on the water which was running quite low due to the recent extended period of dry weather—it won’t last worry not!

Sand Martin chivvied above the watercourse enjoying their insect feast—all the better to give them energy to excavate their nest holes—let’s hope they choose their nest sites with care for this waterway can become mightily swollen at times (the tide line on adjacent fields full of junk and plastic bottles gives testament to this and sadly to our somewhat litter careless society). Open fields then gave Mistle Thrush and Pied Wagtail whilst a somewhat agitated Sparrowhawk called from behind the trees that line this right of way (foot only) into Little Woolden Moss.

Then ‘A little Bit of Bread and no Cheese’ halted our progress—no we weren’t pausing for elevenses but instead all eyes were concentrating upon a nearby Oak tree for within it sat a Yellowhammer whose song can easily be converted in our minds as a request for a ploughman’s lunch….ah such a bucolic image!

Then came a few Farmsteads which were buzzing with birdlife and here we paused to note both House and Tree Sparrow whilst collared Dove displayed over skies which only a few decades ago didn’t host these birds which only first appeared in the UK in the 1950’s —now there’s a coincidence—so did I…moving swiftly on…

A little bit of practical fieldcraft then followed as I rummaged about in a nearby open barn (owner’s permission granted) emerging with a few bundles of ‘fur’—these actually being Barn Owl Pellets which on splitting apart held amongst the regurgitated fur several bones of small mammals including the jawbone of a shrew … a positive outcome for the Owl … less so for the Shrew!

The open moss land then drew us into its busy life of food production upon which wildlife was happily coexisting allowing our Team to take in:

1 a ‘vast’ un-crowded Skyline;

2 young Lapwing tripping about the Spring-Sown Wheat;

3 a small Copper Butterfly resting upon a Dandelion;

4 a symphony of song from several Skylarks;

5 a Buzzard or two riding hidden thermals.

…….this list of nature sitting so close to our busy conurbations!

…….this list of life which our Team were able to absorb and digest in peace!

…….this list of land which some only wish to place a monetary value upon!

…….this ancient list of heritage landscape belongs to us and future generations!

…….this ……

…. Musings are part of what we are, but there was a fleck or two of brightness to note in a bare field … thus eyes and minds were soon set upon viewing a pair of Yellow Wagtail with one of them (the male) sporting a crown of powder blue which allowed all to reflect upon the fact that one of our UK Yellow Wagtails had had a liaison with a continental blue Headed Yellow Wagtail resulting in a ‘Channel Wagtail’…….phew at this point I positively refused to go into the Brexit debate—rather we moved on to the northern edge of the LWM reserve.

A quiet part of the day I admit, but it was nice to take in views over part of our moss land habitat that is being improved for nature and virtually guaranteed to survive whatever the ‘developers’ have in mind for our treasured landscape.

A move back then followed for lunch called us away from our Moss land jaunt. (DS)

Bird List (BP)

  1. Grey Heron
  2. Mallard
  3. Gadwall
  4. Tufted Duck
  5. Sparrowhawk
  6. Buzzard
  7. Kestrel
  8. Grey Partridge
  9. Pheasant
  10. Lapwing
  11. Black-headed Gull
  12. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  13. Woodpigeon
  14. Collared Dove
  15. Swift
  16. Skylark
  17. Sand Martin
  18. House Martin
  19. Swallow
  20. Meadow Pipit
  21. Yellow Wagtail
  22. Pied Wagtail
  23. Blackbird
  24. Song Thrush
  25. Mistle Thrush
  26. Wren
  27. Robin
  28. Blue Tit
  29. Great Tit
  30. Magpie
  31. Carrion Crow
  32. Starling
  33. House Sparrow
  34. Tree Sparrow
  35. Chaffinch
  36. Goldfinch
  37. Yellowhammer

Photos (including: Predated Curlew’s egg; farm machinery; Yellow Wagtail; Barn Owl pellet;  Shrew’s skull) CG, JH & DC

Rostherne Mere 02.05.17

Warm sunshine for most of the morning.

 Judicious parking in the small car park at Rostherne allowed 14 members of Team Tuesday to gather before the church bell rang at 10 o’clock. Rostherne Mere is one of Natural England’s National Nature Reserves supported by local volunteers and we were soon introduced to one of them, Steve, who was there to do some survey work on the reserve’s bird life.
Walking through the village, a buzzard flew low overhead and a robin stood on the outfield of the cricket pitch, while over the wall of the low lying church jackdaws and swallows looked for food. From the Observatory, mute swans lazily groomed themselves, two jays flew past, a great-crested grebe swam slowly back and forth and a cormorant or two took off from their nests. Reluctant to leave this peaceful scene, Team Tuesday were soon swept up in the views across the Mere and in the deep dense colour of the bluebells as the path led down through the woods to the field adjoining the reed beds but not before meeting up with Steve again who had seen a tawny owl nearby. With the help of Sheila another dedicated bird surveyor and despite concentrated searching it was thought the owl must have flown and attention turned to the reed and sedge warblers that provided a continual backdrop of sound to our walk.

Taking to the duckboard, birds were hard to spot but we were lucky to meet Malcolm a bird ringer who showed us a reed warbler just caught in the mist net, a bird that IMG_3058Malcolm had previously ringed and he told us that this tiny creature weighing less than 1/2 ounce had been to West Africa and back at least 4 times. Walking round to the woods the church tower was easily seen across the Mere so too was a greater-spotted woodpecker nearer to hand. The woods were full of wild flowers, ramson, early purple flowering orchids, wood anemone, pink campion, wood sorrel among them and a reed warbler finally showed itself above the reeds. Retracing our steps a chiffchaff and a blackcap sang while snatches of a whitethroat were heard.

What a satisfying morning it had been thanks to John and his Rostherne colleagues.(HP)
Bird List (MH)
  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Mallard
  4. Tufted duck
  5. Pheasant
  6. Great-crested grebe
  7. Cormorant
  8. Grey heron
  9. Common buzzard
  10. Coot
  11. Black-headed gull
  12. Lesser black-backed gull
  13. Woodpigeon
  14. Great spotted woodpecker
  15. Swallow
  16. Wren
  17. Dunnock
  18. Robin
  19. Blackbird
  20. Mistle thrush
  21. Reed warbler
  22. Chiffchaff
  23. Long-tailed tit
  24. Blue tit
  25. Great tit
  26. Nuthatch
  27. Starling
  28. Jay
  29. Magpie
  30. Jackdaw
  31. Carrion crow
  32. House sparrow
  33. Goldfinch
  34. Reed bunting
  35. Blackcap – heard only
  36. Sedge warbler – heard only

Plus a few butterflies: large white, green veined white, orange tip, peacock, comma, speckled-wood; and a host of flowers including bluebells and an early purple orchid.

Photos CG & DC

Pennington Flash 25.04.17

Mainly bright, but with a cold northerly wind 

With most of us having donned the winter woolies again  to cope with the sudden drop in temperature, the Team gathered at Pennington for its first outing after the Easter break. First views across the flash were not particularly encouraging with only the usual mix, Mallard, Coot, Black-headed Gulls, Canada Goose and Mute Swan present.  However, in just a little while  a couple of distant Buzzards came into view and we had first sight of a mix of hirundines skimming over the water, but these were too far off for the moment to be able to identify with any certainty.

En route for the Horrocks hide,  a veritable charm of rather noisy Goldfinches caused a brief halt to our progress, but once settled in the hide, in the teeth of an icy wind, our interest was sparked by reports from fellow birders of Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Common Tern. Eventually most of the group were able claim good sightings of each of these ‘specials’, as well Redshank, Lapwing, Great Crested Grebe, the usual Cormorant sunning themselves on the end of the spit and a lone Pied Wagtail busy along the water’s edge.

Back in the relative warmth of the sunshine outside the hide, we began what remained a challenge for the rest of the morning; spotting the various warblers and woodland birds that made known their presence singing from trees and bushes that by this time of year are now affording plenty of leaf cover. Early on, a Chiffchaff proved one of the easier birds to spot, but later Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Sedge Warbler were also identified by various members of the group.

At the Tom Edmonton hide a rather shy Heron was spotted, but there was little activity and we soon pressed on to Ramsdale Hide, where a Jay flew across in front of us, a Redshank was seen prodding in the shallows and eventually, on the far side of the pool, a solitary Snipe was spotted, stock-still at first, but later embarking on a slow feeding progress along the shoreline, in and out of cover, but all the while offering tantalising glimpses.

With the early brightness having been replaced by cloud, and an odd drop or two of icy rain being felt, we pressed on fairly rapidly, but still adding to our list along the way with some Gadwall and Teal at (yes, you’ve guessed it!) Teal hide, the first of several Mistle Thrush on the golf course and a few Blackbirds nearby. Bunting hide appeared at first totally deserted save for a pair of Mallard and a squirrel – perhaps on account of a passing raptor we had just missed? –  and it was a good few minutes before our patience was rewarded and birds slowly began to come in to make the best of the well-stocked feeders. We had good sightings of pairs of Bullfinches, the red breast of the males showing really well, of male and female Chaffinch and Reed Buntings and a weighty ‘Dole’ of six or seven Stock Doves.

A quick visit to Pengys hide afforded nothing to add to the list, but as some of the Team were leaving, a Treecreeper flew in and, unusually, remained motionless on the leeward side of a tree, somewhat confusing the eye since it had in its beak a small white feather, something perhaps to line its nest?

The last few yards back to the car park held one final treat for some as a Sparrowhawk was spotted flying over the flash and disturbing the hirundines that were wheeling overhead. (CG)

Bird List (CH)

  1. Great Crested Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Teal
  7. Mallard
  8. Tufted Duck
  9. Gadwall
  10. Sparrowhawk
  11. Buzzard
  12. Moorhen
  13. Coot
  14. Oystercatcher
  15. Lapwing
  16. Little Ringed Plover
  17. Common Sandpiper
  18. Redshank
  19. Snipe
  20. Herring Gull
  21. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  22. Common Tern
  23. Stock Dove
  24. Woodpigeon
  25. Swallow
  26. House Martin
  27. Sand Martin
  28. Pied Wagtail
  29. Wren
  30. Robin
  31. Blackbird
  32. Song thrush
  33. Mistle Thrush
  34. Blackcap
  35. Willow Warbler
  36. Chiffchaff
  37. Sedge Warbler
  38. Treecreeper
  39. Reed Bunting
  40. Chaffinch
  41. Goldfinch
  42. Bullfinch
  43. Blue Tit
  44. Great Tit
  45. Magpie
  46. Carrion Crow
  47. Jackdaw
  48. Jay

Photos DC and JH