Martin Mere 26.01.16

Squally showers at first, brighter later, but very windy

A determined dozen members of the Team made their way to Martin Mere on a rather blustery morning and arrived just in time for one of the first showers of the day. However, gathering in the shelter of the Visitor Centre we were able to enjoy close-up views of Goldeneye and Pintails and begin our tally for the day, adding a dozen or so species within a matter of minutes. Although it was tempting to linger, there was a general consensus that we had to press on, so we took advantage of a slight easing of the rain and made for the new Discovery Hide just a few yards from the VC.

From relative comfort and behind the shelter of large windows we enjoyed a good view across the Mere and were particularly pleased to be able to make out a number of Ruff moving back and forth on the far shore. Prolonged observation showed that the Ruff were present in some number, the marbled patterning of their plumage standing out from the more uniform colouring of the Lapwings and Greylag Geese amongst which they were moving.

With the rain having more or less abated, we next set off for the Ron Barker Hide, passing ‘Tawny Owl Corner’, but without catching a glimpse of an owl or indeed of many other birds. The strength of the wind seemed to be discouraging much movement from smaller birds, although a few Tree Sparrows were being lured to some feeders just near the path. Ensconced in the Ron Barker Hide we were greeted by a fine specimen of vulpes vulpes, no doubt on the look out for a late morning snack, and treated to the first of several fine displays by a Marsh Harrier, lazily moving over the reed beds, soaring and gliding and generally unsettling large numbers of Lapwings that soared up into the sky at frequent intervals. Other birds, such as the large number of Teal, whose distinctive call echoed over the lake, seemed less bothered and were content to rest on the water.

Having had our fill of the Harrier, thought then turned to the ‘fill’ of lunch which was enjoyed in various locations, before we met up again at the Gladstone Hide. From here we again enjoyed views of the Ruff and also picked out a pair of Stock Dove, a little incongruous amongst so many waterfowl. The Janet Kerr Hide, despite its feeders, held little of interest, save for pheasants which paraded in front of us for close inspection.

At the Harrier Hide we encountered a problem that we had not expected; sun! The skies having cleared in the west, the brightness was now making some viewing difficult, but nonetheless we had sightings again of the Marsh Harrier and of a lone Little Grebe that was identified by its constant diving in the deeper water off to our left.

Determined to get all we could out of what was turning out to be a much better day than anticipated, we next made for the United Utilities Hide (a first visit for some members of the group). Here we enjoyed our very own ‘Wild Goose Chase’ which comprised two parts: first our efforts to distinguish between Greylag and Pink-footed Geese, and second to identify a small white goose that some could see clearly from the upper level of the hide, but which others, on the lower level, confused with some farmyard geese that were in roughly the same location.

With plenty of ideas about the identity of this individual, but nothing settled, we set off finally to witness the daily feeding of the birds from the Discovery Hide. This was indeed a much better experience than that previously enjoyed from the old Swan Link Hide, especially as we could see everything from behind the windows that were protection from what was by now a really strong wind blowing in from the west. Another novel feature was a short talk by an assistant warden which included many facts about the origins of the site and about the birds that we could see before us. (Everyone will perhaps have remembered a different fact, but the one that sticks in my mind was the speed of flight of the Whooper Swans on their journey back to Iceland: with a following wind, sometimes in excess of 60mph!)

IMG_2021And just before the conclusion of the talk, there was some excitement as the small goose that had caught our interest previously flew in to join the throng of wildfowl enjoying the
wheat on the shore’s edge. Close-up views enabled a definitive identification – a Ross’s Goose – a native of NW Canada and probably an escapee. In any case, it was added to our tally, and proved to be the final cherry on the cake of an excellent day’s birding.


Bird List (BP)

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Whooper Swan
  5. Pink-footed Goose
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Ross’s Goose
  8. Canada Goose
  9. Shelduck
  10. Wigeon
  11. Gadwall
  12. Teal
  13. Mallard
  14. Pintail
  15. Shoveler
  16. Pochard
  17. Tufted Duck
  18. Goldeneye
  19. Marsh Harrier
  20. Pheasant
  21. Moorhen
  22. Coot
  23. Oystercatcher
  24. Golden Plover
  25. Lapwing
  26. Ruff
  27. Black-headed Gull
  28. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  29. Great Black-backed Gull
  30. Feral Dove
  31. Woodpigeon
  32. Robin
  33. Great Tit
  34. Blue Tit
  35. Blackbird
  36. Magpie
  37. Jackdaw
  38. Carrion Crow
  39. Starling
  40. House Sparrow
  41. Tree Sparrow
  42. Chaffinch
  43. Goldfinch
  44. Linnet

Chat Moss 19.01.16

Overcast, but an increasing brightness during the course of the morning

Dave has waxed lyrical once again – though I’m not sure it scans everywhere – and well he should, after such a rewarding morning. By my reckoning we covered about 4 miles, but for that effort we saw plenty of birds, both in terms of species and number. The Jack Snipe was a first for me, but I also particularly enjoyed the great views of the Brambling and that large flock of Redwing just before we got back to base. (CG)

Chat Moss-Once More (or else Team Tuesday on’t Moss)

Cafe ‘full’ of Team Tuesday Talk,

I fully expected to abandon the Walk.

Why break up such a happy Throng?

It’s Winter-time there’s no bird song.


Then came that restless moment in time,

When all stirred away from ease and recline.

A move to the door,and swaddling of clothes,

Then all in fresh-air blood rushing to toes,


A bimble about this Fisheries place

Made all see, to this Moss it adds Grace.

Mallard, Coot, Gadwall and a few birds more

Created a list that would grow we were sure.


Then habits of old caused all to quietly line,

Whilst sure-foot the wanderer trod marsh sublime..

Grey Partridge, Meadow Pipit were first to be seen,

Then up shot two Snipe, in flight zigzagging supreme.


Did Team Tuesday then about tail and move along?

Nay, for they knew Marsh Wanderer was now on song,

As Eyes caught up with Snipe Three through to Six,

Up popped a Jack Snipe to more than satisfy Snipe fix.


The sound of applause then the air filled you see,

As splodge wanderer returned with a tally of JS three,

It was then time to move out into Moss beyond,

Thus Team trotted off with conversation so fond.


Cutnook Lane led soon onto Twelve Yards Road,

Where progress was steady, towards Stubble foretold.

Winter Wheat Clad fields aided quick passage East,

For these are oft void of any bird feast.


Today this winter-crop, bane of many a hungry farmland bird,

Yet three profit boosting fields at least did Song Thrush serve.

Then junction with Fiddlers Lane brought relief indeed,

For down this way lay Stubble, a bird rich habitat guaranteed.


Yellowhammer, after a second Perdix-perdix encounter this day

Ensured that here Farmland birdwatching held sway.

Chaffinch aplenty gathered grit on the track,

Giving all hope of more to our eager bird loving pack.


Corn Bunting, noted with all straining so hard to see,

Whilst Winter Thrushes foxed counts, for of these were aplenty,

Whilst bouncing in air, with flight of seeming elasticity,

A large flock of Linnet, so graceful swept by for all to see.


Eyes honed by Team Tuesday’s cohesive melding, as one indeed

Gave shout of ‘Roe Deer Three’, as this field in crossing they did proceed.

Such a day, in company so good, in such a place where OTHERS offer no good,

To me, emphasises the true worth of Humanity and Landscapes deep in our blood.


At this point with reluctance our steps did we retrace,

But this was taken in gentle ease and good grace,

Yet even though lunch was our overarching desire,

We still found time FOR to Brambling admire.

 Dave Steel (19.01.16)


Bird List (BP)

  1. Grey Heron
  2. Mallard
  3. Gadwall
  4. Buzzard
  5. Kestrel
  6. Grey Partridge
  7. Pheasant
  8. Moorhen
  9. Coot
  10. Jack Snipe
  11. Snipe
  12. Black-headed Gull
  13. Feral Pigeon
  14. Stock Dove
  15. Woodpigeon
  16. Meadow Pipit
  17. Wren
  18. Blackbird
  19. Fieldfare
  20. Redwing
  21. Song Thrush
  22. Mistle Thrush
  23. Robin
  24. Long-tailed Tit
  25. Blue Tit
  26. Jay
  27. Magpie
  28. Carrion Crow
  29. Starling
  30. Chaffinch
  31. Brambling
  32. Goldfinch
  33. Linnet
  34. Redpoll
  35. Yellowhammer
  36. Reed Bunting
  37. Corn Bunting



Pennington Flash 12.01.16

Sunny intervals, patchy cloud, a little rain, a bit of everything …

Undaunted by the not very favourable weather forecast, and keen to get back to birding after the festive break, a larger group of the Team than usual met at Pennington just after 10am. After the usual briefing, listened to attentively by a new avian member of the group (4BFullSizeRender.jpgH1 aka Cygnus olor), and a quick scan of the main flash noting goldeneye, tufted duck, gadwall and teal, we set off on our familiar circuit of the site.
The soft (if not water-logged) ground beyond the children’s play area was attracting a variety of birds; mistle thrushes, red wings and even a green woodpecker that were probing for food. Bunting Hide, too, with its well-stocked feeders, was drawing in a good number of smaller birds including nuthatch, bullfinch, reed bunting and willow tit, all beginning to look smart in their fresh plummage. However, for those lucky enough to see it(!), the highlight here was the appearance of a water rail which for once seemed more than happy to show itself in full view for the group to admire.

At Teal Hide the level of the water was much higher than on our last visit, hardly surprising, of course, given the amount of rain that we have had over the last couple of months, but we had good views of several male goosanders and a couple of females, all of which appeared to be taking things very easy, and, at the edge of the reeds across the water, of a pair of resting shoveler.

Continuing our circuit, we climbed up on to the towpath of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, from whence we gained views of a bright rainbow against blackening sky to the north and of a flock of some two hundred or so lapwing circling round in their disorderly manner against a blue sky to the west. Blue sky soon gave way to heavy cloud and the first few spots of rain encouraged us towards our last two objectives; Ramsdale and Horrocks Hides.

By this time our large group had strung itself out somewhat, but the back-markers were called towards Ramsdale Hide where the first arrivals had been lucky enough to see a kingfisher fly across in front of the hide. Fortunately, this brightly coloured bird decided to take station on a branch hanging over the edge of the water, only some twenty or so yards in front of the hide, and on this occasion every member of the group had ample opportunity to feast their eyes on a sight calculated to raise anyone’s spirits FullSizeRender 2on an increasingly overcast morning. We were even treated to a fishing display by this obliging bird before it flew a little further off, but still in full view for all to enjoy.

Finally tearing ourselves away, we made for Horrocks hide, but with little of the spit above water, there was not much to see, apart from a number of cormorants and some of the lapwings that had been seen earlier and that had come into land, jostling for what was an unusually restricted space thanks to the high water level. Although the rain had blown over by now, a cold wind funnelling into the hide meant that we did not linger long. Before heading back to the car park, however, we paused to see the almost frenetic activity of a good number of reed buntings and chaffinches which were flying onto the new feeders near the path, more or less oblivious to our presence, but responsive in a flash to repeated calls from one of their number, in alarm to a threat that we failed to identify.

As some of us left the car park, after a satisfying morning’s birding, it appeared that 4BH1, still thinking himself part of the team, was trying to hitch a lift in the boot of one member’s car. Perhaps we’ll see him again on our next outing …?


Bird List (MH)

  1. Pied wagtail
  2. Canada goose
  3. Mute swan
  4. Black- headed gull
  5. Tufted duck
  6. Goldeneye
  7. Mallard
  8. Robin
  9. Dunnock
  10. Coot
  11. Moorhen
  12. Teal
  13. Goldfinch
  14. Blue tit
  15. Coal tit
  16. Reed bunting
  17. Bullfinch
  18. Wren
  19. Lesser black- backed gull
  20. Gadwall
  21. Willow tit
  22. Great tit
  23. Redwing
  24. Magpie
  25. Song thrush
  26. Water rail
  27. Chaffinch
  28. Nuthatch
  29. Wood pigeon
  30. Heron
  31. Goosander
  32. Grey wagtail
  33. Shoveler
  34. Green woodpecker
  35. Carrion crow
  36. Lapwing
  37. Cormorant
  38. Great crested grebe
  39. Pochard
  40. Long tailed tit
  41. Little grebe
  42. Kingfisher

Thanks to Hilary, Heather and John for these memories of our first morning’s birding of 2016.