Overcast throughout, with a few spots of wintry rain at the end
Grateful for a ‘weather window’ of comparative calm, the Team gathered in the car-park just before 10am to be briefed by Marian, our leader for the day, with regard to the latest initiatives for co-operation between the Mersey Valley Wardens and the RSPB, and on the events planned by them for the Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend of 24-25 January, all of which sounded very positive.
Our first view of the lake was very encouraging with a good of variety of water fowl in evidence, including some very washed-out looking Great Crested Grebe, several Pochard, a very Black-Headed Gull which stood out from his fellows whose heads were still pale looking, and the tantalising glimpse of a Common Gull – there one minute, gone the next!
It was at this point that the group almost fragmented irreparably as excited reports of the sighting of green parrots (!?) led some to dash back up the slope towards the feeders adjacent to the car-park, while others, less easily distracted, continued more sedately along the path round the lake. Thankfully, this proved to be only a minor set-back; parakeets were seen and the group reunited. In fact, later in our progress, the whole group came across a lone parakeet perched in the trees on the far side of the River Mersey, its tropical green brightness looking slightly out of place against the bare branches and in the murky light of the Manchester winter.
In fact, the low light levels made the identification of woodland birds throughout the morning rather difficult: there was plenty of activity with several flocks of small birds flitting back and forth between the various feeding opportunities amongst the trees, but deciding exactly what species they were, was challenging, unless they were close. However, it was evident that all these birds were intent on building up their strength in advance of the colder weather which has been forecast and which they, no doubt, have sensed as imminent.
The height of the river meant that our hunt for Wagtails proved fruitless, the rocks on which they normally rest being well under water, but our compensation came in the form of a fine pair of Goosander working their way upstream against the fast flow of the river.
A brief sally onto the Kenworthy Woods area of the park, resulted in our first (and virtually only) sighting of a Robin, the briefest of glimpses of a Buzzard and a Kestrel, and the rather more satisfying sight of a pair of Bullfinch in the bushes on the edge of the orchard area.
It was while we were admiring this latter pair that the first spots of sleety rain made themselves felt, and it was soon agreed that it was perhaps time to turn back towards the car-park. The last surprise of the morning (a very pleasant one) was the sighting of two good friends, Maggie and Joan, who had been tempted out on what had certainly promised earlier to be a much finer morning, weather-wise, than actually transpired. Greetings and news exchanged, they headed off to find the parakeet, whilst we continued on, looking out for the woodpecker that they assured us had just been sighted. Unfortunately, I understand their quest for the parakeet was no more successful than ours for the woodpecker!
Thanks to Heather and John for the photos.
Bird list for Chorlton Water Park (BP)
- Great Crested Grebe
- Grey Heron
- Mute Swan
- Canada Goose
- Tufted Duck
- Lesser Black-backed Gull
- Black-headed Gull
- Feral Pigeon
- Wood Pigeon
- Collared Dove
- Rose-ringed Parakeet
- Long-tailed Tit
- Great Tit
- Blue Tit
- Carrion Crow
- House Sparrow