Marbury Country Park (Witton Bridge)

Spring is truly sprung! Bright and breezy and getting increasingly warm as the morning progressed.

A good turnout of TT birdwatchers was greeted at the Witton Bridge car park by the promise of a predominantly sunny morning and by three buzzards circling closely above and the very noticeable spring chorus of woodland birds.

With the help of a country park map usefully provided by one member, we set off anti-clockwise around the perimeter of Ashton’s Flashes. Distant views across the flashes revealed a few wildfowl on the open water, particularly a little grebe. However the trees and bushes between the track and Wade Brook and the scrub and reedbeds below the path were rich with movement and birdsong, and soon we were treated to close and extended views of goldfinches, long-tailed tits, reed buntings and even a great spotted woodpecker, and then chiffchaffs, willow warblers and blackcaps (for many of us the first sightings of these summer visitors). These treats continued all the way to the southernmost viewpoint across the flashes and then around to the west side. Additional pleasure was derived from seeing butterflies enjoying the warmth, including Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells.

We continued along the track northwards skirting the east side of Neumann’s Flashes continuing to be entertained by the new summer visitors and some of our more familiar woodland friends, including a brightly plumaged song thrush, up to the east hide. From the hide, pairs of shovelers and of great crested grebes, lapwing, and mallard were observable but not close enough to merit too long a stay. As we continued round to the hide on the north side of the flashes, we were treated to a raven circling immediately overhead. At the hide, the flash was again sparsely populated by wildfowl but we did glimpse gadwall and common shelduck against the brightly reflected sunshine on the water.

Stopping for a careful examination of another song thrush in the woodland we hurried along Marbury Lane to the quaintly named Butterfinch Bridge in the hope of spotting a water rail but to no avail. However some members did glimpse a grey squirrel lying prone on a moss covered log apparently snoozing in the spring warmth. So onward to Haydn’s Pool where we were rewarded with sightings of oystercatchers, black-headed gulls, lapwing, and another pair of shovelers. But no sand martins yet! (Although a fellow enthusiast/volunteer did point out that he had seen some a few days earlier which he claimed were travelling further northwards before returning to Haydn’s Pool for breeding).

We finally ambled back to the car park stopping only to investigate the noisy tapping of a woodpecker in the mature woodland along Marbury Lane but our search was in vain. Nevertheless by common agreement it was a thoroughly entertaining morning.

After a picnic lunch, a small splinter group moved up to the main car park and were rewarded with sightings of a coal tit at the hide overlooking Budworth Mere and of a nuthatch at the woodland hide. (SC)

Bird List (BP)

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Great-crested Grebe
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Gadwall
  7. Teal
  8. Mallard
  9. Shoveler
  10. Buzzard
  11. Moorhen
  12. Coot
  13. Oystercatcher
  14. Lapwing
  15. Black-headed Gull
  16. Wood Pigeon
  17. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  18. Wren
  19. Dunnock
  20. Blackbird
  21. Song Thrush
  22. Willow Warbler
  23. Chiffchaff
  24. Blackcap
  25. Robin
  26. Long-tailed Tit
  27. Great Tit
  28. Blue Tit
  29. Magpie
  30. Carrion Crow
  31. Raven
  32. Goldfinch
  33. Reed Bunting

Mike reported sighting a couple of swallows on the journey home, and there have been reports of sand martins at Chorlton Water Park in the last few days: and there were certainly plenty at Leighton Moss last Saturday.(CG)

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