Marbury Country Park 29.09.15

Early cloud, but sunny and clear blue skies later

Gathering on Michaelmas Day, a large group set off from the pay-and-display car park and headed towards the hide overlooking Budworth Mere. We were disappointed to see that the feeders near the information kiosk were empty, even though this did not stop a solitary Nuthatch from a prolonged probing of the side of one of them in search of of food. A convenient tree stump meant that more or less everyone, despite their height(!), was able to enjoy a view of this bird over the fence, before continuing on our way.

Unstocked feeders at Budworth Hide, again, were a disappointment, but we had good views of Mallard, Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe, the latter showing especially well in the clear light. Walking along the side of the Mere afforded further views of a pair of Grebe that were fishing and feeding a piping youngster, whose ‘mee, mee, mee‘ calls were only silenced by an offering of fish from one or other of its parents. On the far side of the Mere Canada Geese, Blacked Headed Gulls and a few Greylag Geese were visible on the shore, and high above a pair of Carrion Crows were harrying a largish Gull  (a lesser Black Back Gull was identified later when we passed through this area again) that had evidently either strayed into their territory or been challenging for food.

With leaves beginning to turn and bright sunlight illuminating the sometimes curiously twisted branches, the magnificent trees of the park were a pleasure to behold, but something of an impediment to the clear identification of birds of which there seemed to be plenty about. There was movement in the leaf canopy and calls from all directions, but the birds were flighty and seldom paused long enough for us to get a really good view and to establish an identity. However, a consensus formed that many of the sightings must have been of thrushes, and this view was supported later in our walk when a good number were identified moving about in the meadows and flying up into a Sweet Chestnut Tree, just to the south of the car park. Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush were definitely identified, but it was not clear whether there were other winter thrushes with them.

At this point, a fork in the path resulted in the group accidentally splitting into two, with one smaller group carrying on towards a distinctly forlorn Haydn’s Pool (or perhaps ‘Puddle’ might be a better description, given the amount of water visible) with little to see save for a trio of female Gadwall and a solitary Magpie, whilst the rest doubled back round the meadow in an attempt to gain better sightings of the thrushes. Frustrated in the latter, however, a decision was made to work our way back round to the Mere and we were rewarded with the sound and sighting of a Goldfinch flitting amongst the fir trees, and from the bank of the Mere itself, distant, but clear views of several Curlew on the meadows across the water, and high above, of a Buzzard gliding past.

With that, happy for a very pleasant ramble through the woodlands, even though the sightings had been fewer in number than we have come to expect from this location, we turned back towards the car park and lunch (al fresco or back home, as the case may be).

Bird List (BP)

  1. Great Crested Grebe
  2. Grey Heron
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Greylag Goose
  5. Mallard
  6. Tufted Duck
  7. Gadwall
  8. Buzzard
  9. Moorhen
  10. Coot
  11. Curlew
  12. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  13. Black-headed Gull
  14. Woodpigeon
  15. Swallow
  16. Goldcrest
  17. Blackbird
  18. Song Thrush
  19. Mistle Thrush
  20. Robin
  21. Long-tailed Tit
  22. Great Tit
  23. Blue Tit
  24. Nuthatch
  25. Jay
  26. Jackdaw
  27. Carrion Crow
  28. Chaffinch

Chat and Irlam Mosses 22.09.15

Bright, sunny and fresh

On this bright Autumn Morn in late September the Fisheries Cafe was suddenly blessed by the enthusiastic entry of a number of Team Tuesday who had decided to forego their now well established footloose and fancy free wanderings for a bit of nostalgia allowing themselves to be gently chaperoned about Chat Moss in the hope that a few Farmland birds may appear on their now ‘busy’ list of birds, but not before all had availed themselves of the assured hospitality that this oasis provides.

Cuppas and chat over, we started off our wander, which on this occasion was accompanied by a sweep of easy going sunshine which seemed to revel in our presence to such an extent that some overflying birds could not be seen owing to the brightness of the sky. Undeterred we all relied upon our ears to identify such birds—didn’t we!

First the Pools gave the opportunity to get a few wildfowl for our list thus Mallard/Tufted Duck and Canada Goose were duly noted by the TT resident ‘List- Scribe’ along with Moorhen and Coot after which we headed out to gain the open mosslands but not before checking out the now empty (but successful judging by the amount of droppings found below it) Swallows nest.

Pied and Grey Wagtail also gave us a shout and a view before we left the Fisheries as did a Peregrine and a Yellowhammer—phew perhaps on future visits we should set up our stall here within reach of oodles of victuals whilst totting up a good count of birds noted from one spot! Legs were now in motion and thus we were soon out onto Cutnook Lane peering across an open field, which was hosting a dramatic tussle for dominance between two Magpie and a Kestrel – the two species fighting for possession of a fence-line post below which an abundance of food must have nestled hence the tussle – the outcome seemed to lie in the Falcon’s favour.

A number of Robin then serenaded our way up towards Twelve-Yards Road over which we crossed to gain Croxden Peat Pools upon which stood a single Wheatear but this was quite distant thus we pushed on over to the SBI (Site Of Biological Importance) which gave a dramatic example of compare and contrast betwixt it and the milled peat with the former brimming with life – the latter voided of same—Man’s inhumanity to Nature makes countless conservationists mourn!

A steady move along the west bund of this heather-perfumed area then gave Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Snipe building our list nicely with their welcome presence whilst out on the bare peat were four more Oenanthe-oenanthe with these giving easier viewing than the one we had noted earlier. Black Darters hurried about the completion of their all but brief life-span on the wing looking for suitable mates before their but one summer was over, once mating and egg laying were completed, but as the weather was so balmy one or two males still found time to introduce themselves to one of our gathering!

A wander about more fields then followed giving all good views of several soaring Buzzard and ‘just about’ views of Linnet before we were treated to a covey of nine Grey Partridge after which we pushed our luck and checked out some nearby farm building which held evidence of, but gave no actual sightings of Barn Owl.

We then heard a Chiffchaff keeping in contact with others of its kind as they migrated a little further south each day staying one step ahead of the Winter to come—so ‘huitt’ to you dear Warbler safe journey and please hurry back carrying spring upon your wings.

Steps then needed to be taken to get us back to base, and as is often the case at such times in our trips we added little more to our day’s Tally but added greatly to that eclectic mix of chat that makes the Team tick thus eager to reunite the next time Tuesday comes around.

To finish our jaunt a few of us strolled into the cafe for a splendid lunch which was spiced up with plenty of relaxed chat—a lovely end to a sweetly delicious day out on’t Mosses! (DS)

Bird List (MH)

Carrion crow
Pied wagtail
Reed bunting
Black headed gull
Tufted duck
Canada goose
Peregrine falcon
Grey wagtail
Wood pigeon
Stock dove
Chiff chaff
Grey partridge
Meadow pipit

Great tit
Blue tit
Gold crest
.. and Black Darter, Southern Hawker and Speckled Wood butterlies

Pennington Flash

Sunny intervals, but with a coolish wind blowing off the Flash

Despite the traffic that many of us encountered en route, our first meeting of the new season was well attended, and, as ever, did not fail to disappoint. Following what now appears to be our established clockwise route round the hides, we first called at the Horrocks Hide from where the Spit showed plenty of activity with Lapwings, Cormorants, Mute Swan and Gadwall all clearly in evidence. A little more patience was required, however, to make out a Teal and a Snipe, probing for food at the water’s edge.

Moving on to the Edmondson Hide new treats were in store: a Green Sandpiper was visible probing in the shallows and clearly illuminated in the bright sunlight, and a less obvious Snipe was moving round at the base of some willows; a Kingfisher was glimpsed flashing across the water in front of the hide (though sadly missed by most of the group); Chiffchaff and Black Caps were flitting back and forth in the brambles close to the hide; and then a small group of four or five Roe Deer suddenly appeared, bouncing along through the long grass to the left of the hide.

Several more Snipe  were seen from the next hide we visited (perhaps evidence of the start of the arrival of these birds from northern Europe, boosting the resident population over the winter), but the highlight here was a bright Kingfisher resting in the bushes overlooking the water, and this time everyone was able to catch sight of this spectacular bird. A long walk round to the Teal Hide, through woodland beginning in places to show the colours of autumn, yielded little else in the way of sightings, but once settled there, sharp eyes made out yet another Kingfisher resting a little way back in the bushes on the far side of the lake.

Having struggled a little to make out this bird, its mate obligingly came to rest on one of the posts in the centre of the shallow lake, where we had no trouble viewing it. Before moving on to Bunting Hide, we were treated to the spectacle of a Heron fishing (and having a little difficulty in swallowing its prey!).  At Bunting Hide the well-stocked feeders were bringing in the usual mix of woodland birds, many of which were looking a little dowdy, apart from the Nuthatch whose plumage was bright and colourful. Amongst the sightings, however, Bullfinch were notable by their absence, but with thoughts of lunch beginning to come to the fore, most of the group decided to give up the wait and make their back towards the car park: a lucky few who tarried were rewarded for their patience by the sight of a pair of these fine-looking birds!

Bird List (BP)

  1. Great- Crested Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Gadwall
  7. Teal
  8. Mallard
  9. Shoveler
  10. Tufted Duck
  11. Moorhen
  12. Coot
  13. Lapwing
  14. Snipe
  15. Green Sandpiper
  16. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  17. Black-headed Gull
  18. Wood Pigeon
  19. Kingfisher
  20. Pied Wagtail
  21. Wren
  22. Dunnock
  23. Blackbird
  24. Chiffchaff
  25. Blackcap
  26. Robin
  27. Long-tailed Tit
  28. Great Tit
  29. Blue Tit
  30. Coal Tit
  31. Nuthatch
  32. Magpie
  33. Starling
  34. Chaffinch
  35. Greenfinch
  36. Bullfinch