Dry, a chill dampness hanging in the air, but with some bright periods later
An air of restlessness tumbled about Weir Lane as the bulk of the original Team Tuesday awaited their ‘guide’ for the day who, for due to unforeseen circumstances – two blessed Mediterranean Gulls on his Moss – had put the 10am start back a couple of minutes. In the past this would not have been so bothersome to the Team for there were usually ‘late’ arrivals, but under the new and auspicious leadership of Clive ‘being prompt’ now seems to be achieved with ease, as there now prevails a need to get out there and get birdwatching for all it’s worth and, more importantly, with all recognising that everyone plays a part in SEEING (and identifying (ed.)) each and every bird!
The Weir gave our first wildfowl of the day providing easy viewing of Tufted Duck, Pochard and Great Crested Grebe thus adding to a day-list that already held House Sparrow (an increasingly ‘rare’ bird to note these days) Collared Dove and Long-Tailed Tit. Breeding plumage Cormorant then gave easy viewing as we peered down into the loop of the old river upon which sat a few Shoveler which were being carefully scrutinised by a couple of Grey Heron from the riverbank.
Ears then came into play as first a burst of song emanated from a Chiffchaff which stuck its stake in the ground proclaiming that ‘Spring is Here’ (never mind waiting for the coming equinox), but alas none of the observers saw it unlike the next couple or so of species which first gave note of their presence by their calls: first a trio of Great Spotted Woodpecker ‘jicked’ atop some tall trees whilst a Treecreeper crept onto our list as did four Lesser Redpoll—all this before entering onto No3 bed!
Footbridge crossed, all happily padded on along the south-bank of this ‘island’ bed pausing to take in the views across this wondrous wetland habitat with its open water and enticing channels along which wildfowl aplenty amble away the day. Greylag and Canada Geese put themselves onto our tally whilst the effervescent Black Headed Gull Colony told its own story of a raucous breeding season to come. There was to be a steady amble into the centre of the bed, but this was somewhat delayed when sharp ears called a halt to our progress for ‘up there’ nicely hidden from view called a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which gave but the briefest of views as it departed from this crowd of adoring onlookers—as is oft the case with this diminutive and sadly now scarce bird.
A check from the East Tower Hide allowed all to note how much work has been undertaken to improve and open up this extensive Reedbed making it, in my opinion, our very own ‘Leighton Moss’ of Cheshire, but before we fell into a reverie of admiration a touch of the harsher reality that lies within nature broke this harmonious spell as we took to examining several corpses of Starlings, which had been selected from the vast table that has lain enticingly before our ‘resident’ Barn Owl in the form of vast nightly ‘Mumurations’ that have been this winter’s Woolston Highlight!
Morgan Hide then engulfed our number allowing all to settle into watching a widescreen showing of nature at its best when Spring comes ‘a calling’. Lesser Black Backed Gull, Little Grebe and Reed Bunting moved our count ever upward, but perhaps we were a little too fast off the starting block this year as our longed-for BNG were not present, but ‘Hey-Ho’, the nice thing about not ticking every expected bird on one visit simply guaranteed a return to this impossibly and almost improbably superb nature Reserve that sits but three miles from the centre of Warrington—wonders will never cease!
A circuit of the bed then led us back to base and ready for a well earned lunch; the appetite for which was surely enhanced by our morning’s encounter with this gem of a site.
Many thanks to Dave from the Team, both for an excellent morning’s birding, as ever made more enjoyable and instructive by his enthusiasm, his wealth and depth of knowledge and his good humour, and for penning the above report.
Bird List for Woolston Eyes (CG)
- Blue Tit
- Great Tit
- Long-tailed Tit
- House Sparrow
- Carrion Crow
- Collared Dove
- Tufted Duck
- Great Crested Grebe
- Mute Swan
- Grey Heron
- Canada Goose
- Greylag Goose
- Song Thrush
- Red Poll
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
- Reed Bunting
- Black-headed Gull
- Lesser Black Back Gull
- Little Grebe
- Merlin (a fleeting glimpse, but the consensus was that this was what a number of us saw!)
Some photos from Hilary: