Cold, and icy underfoot, but bright throughout
Despite the best efforts of the Highways Agency and their road closures, the Team met at the appointed hour and led by Hilary lost no time in beginning a circuit of the northern end of the park. An early sighting of a couple of Redwing immediately lifted spirits and we were also pleased to find that the feeders next to the (unoccupied) wardens’ hut and in front of the hide overlooking Budworth Mere were well stocked and, on a cold morning such as this, were attracting a good many small birds. Nuthatch, Coal tit and Dunnock were amongst those noted. Reliable reports of the presence of a Bittern amongst the reeds at this end of the Mere led to some determined scanning, but not, unfortunately, to a sighting.
Continuing along the path beside the Mere, largely frozen out in the middle, we were afforded distant views of the activity across the lake where large numbers of Canada Geese seemed in a particularly restless state, rising noisily into the sky every so often. Such activity may have been in response to what appeared to be a flock of another species of goose, at least from its call and general colouration, that showed itself taking off in some number, unfortunately too far away and too briefly for a definitive identification.
The approach to the Ice Pool Hide generated a certain excitement as some members of the Team were fortunate enough to catch sight of a Goldcrest, but the rest of us still had plenty to enjoy as a variety of birds, large and small, took advantage of the food that had been laid out on the feeders, with even a Jay managing, just about, to squeeze on to one of the roofed tables.
The path through the woods alongside Forge Brook held plenty of interest, with a great deal of tit-mice activity overhead and more sightings of Redwing. We managed to get unusually close to a solitary Song Thrush doggedly hunting for food amongst the leaf-covered ground, and totally unconcerned by our presence a couple of metres away. A bit more distant, but no less appreciated, was a Treecreeper busily working its way upwards and clearly illuminated by shafts of bright sunlight penetrating the edge of the wood.
With time passing, it was decided at this point to strike out for Haydn’s Pool, where we arrived to be confronted with … very little! As on the Team’s previous visit last term, the pool seemed to have attracted very little in the way of bird life. However, after a few moments of disappointment, sharp eyes made out not only a solitary Buzzard sunning itself on the top of a distant tree, but also a small group of five or six Snipe, close to the edge of the water, and similarly warming themselves in the sun, which lit them up and made them more visible than usual, despite their accustomed immobility.
At this point, a call to order (or a reminder of the expiry of parking tickets) by our leader resulted in the Team turning back towards the car-park and lunch, but not without one final treat en route, the sight of a male Bullfinch puffing out his chest for all to see, a sign, perhaps, that the mating season is not far off.
As usual, thanks to Heather and John for some excellent photos and to Barbara for the list.
Bird list for Marbury Country Park (BP)
- Great Crested Grebe
- Grey Heron
- Mute Swan
- Canada Goose
- Tufted Duck
- Common Gull
- Lesser Black-backed Gull
- Black-headed Gull
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Song Thrush
- Long-tailed Tit
- Coal Tit
- Great Tit
- Blue Tit
- Carrion Crow