Moore Nature Reserve 29.11.16

Clear blue skies, sunny, but very cold

Arriving in the car park, members of the Team found that we were not the only birders planning a visit to this interesting site, but resolving amicably to go in different directions and briefed by the warden Annemarie, Team Tuesday  set off through a brightly-lit, frosty landscape, initially making for Lapwing Hide. The largely frozen lake in front of us did not however show much activity, although small numbers of Mallard, Teal, Coot and Wigeon were noted around the edges. Pressing on towards the Feeding Station Hide the woodland on both sides of the track was keenly scanned, but again

img_2901there was little to note, apart from a small collection of titmice high above in the canopy, and a Treecreeper spotted by a trio of late-arrivals. Despite a plentiful supply of food, the feeding station was not really drawing much in, although a Nuthatch did show, and after a little while it was decided to press on towards Birchwood Pool.

As we approached the hide, we were rewarded with fine views of a Little Grebe, unusually perhaps, spending as much time above water as below, and then, flying low and fast over the water and heading straight towards the hide, a pair(!) of Kingfishers that came noisily (cheek, cheek) to rest just to the left of the hide, from which they were just about visible. Having surveyed the rest of the lake, noting some Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls amongst the smaller Black-headed Gulls, we then pressed on towards the Phoenix Hide and the Eastern Reed Bed to check out the reported presence of a Bittern.

This longish trek caused the Team to become somewhat strung out along the path, with the result that in the end, just a few of the first arrivals caught a brief sight of the Bittern which took off from one side of the pool in front of us, only to disappear again after a few seconds into the reed bed, from which it did not reappear – at least whilst we were there!

Having by now spent almost three hours in frosty surroundings, the cold was making itself felt to all and it was generally decided to head back to the car park, which we did in groups, at intervals, and by slightly different routes. Some chose to detour via Colin’s Hide to view the hundreds of gulls standing somewhat gingerly on the ice of Pump House Pool and were rewarded by the sight of a Green Woodpecker taking evasion action from a passing fox, and later by it and a mate taking up position on a bare tree to bask in the warmth of the sun. The same bird, perhaps, had already been glimpsed by several other members of the Team a little earlier making it and, for the lucky few, the Bittern the highlights of a good morning’s birding

Bird List (BP)

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Great Crested Grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Bittern
  5. Wigeon
  6. Gadwall
  7. Teal
  8. Mallard
  9. Shoveler
  10. Pochard
  11. Tufted Duck
  12. Buzzard
  13. Moorhen
  14. Coot
  15. Lapwing
  16. Herring Gull
  17. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  18. Black-headed Gull
  19. Wood Pigeon
  20. Kingfisher
  21. Green Woodpecker
  22. Blackbird
  23. Redwing
  24. Wren
  25. Dunnock
  26. Robin
  27. Long-tailed Tit
  28. Coal Tit
  29. Great Tit
  30. Blue Tit
  31. Nuthatch
  32. Treecreeper
  33. Jay
  34. Magpie
  35. Carrion Crow
  36. Raven
  37. Chaffinch
  38. Goldfinch
  39. Bullfinch

Photos JH

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Sale Water Park 22.11.2016

Overcast and damp

Praying for no repeat of the previous day’s deluge, TT collected at the main car park and were reasonably satisfied with what proved to be just a very grey day weatherwise.  Surprisingly the normal welcoming party of Canada geese, mallards and mute swans were scattered across the lake evidently spotting that the group were birders rather than bearers of bread and biscuits. Cormorants and black-headed gulls were also present, the former also represented by a pair safely perched on the upper arms of the pylon on the far bank.

Heading anti-clockwise around the lake the group walked through the woodland and crossed the feeding stream onto the lane which skirts the far bank spotting various woodland birds, including a large number of blackbirds (a merl?) feeding in the alders and hawthorn. From the north bank of the lake, a lesser black-backed gull, gadwall, little grebe and great crested grebe were evident, and a jay was spotted foraging in the long grass of the embankment up to the River Mersey. Great entertainment was provided by a pair of grey wagtails circling playfully around one of the small islands close to the bank.

Broad Ees Dole disappointingly did not offer any sightings of kingfishers or snipe but a flock of teal, a pair of shovelers, little grebe, a grey heron, moorhen and, for a few lingering members of the group, a grey wagtail. Further along the path, views across the lake revealed an unusual gathering of 7 great crested grebe, some in winter plumage and at least one still resplendent in its summer plumage.

Intercepting the river, the group then looped back along the higher berm encountering some difficulty with the extremely muddy conditions and vegetation which had been untidily cut off the adjoining trees and bushes and randomly left on the path. However we were rewarded with clear views of a kestrel perched on an exposed branch of a tree across the river, of grey wagtails flitting along the lower path and river side and then a pair of goosanders racing past in the fast flowing river. Also a mute swan demonstrated its slow elegant flight along the river immediately below the appreciative group.

Returning to the lane we were back to our woodland friends and entertained by a flurry of activity amongst the alders and other trees on one nearby island – goldfinch, greenfinch, long-tailed tit, a wren, and, momentarily spotted by one member, a redwing. Then up to the feeders by the (former?) Visitors Centre where we were able to observe at length a second flurry of activity – chaffinch, nuthatch, blue tit, willow tit, long-tailed tit, and even a coal tit. Fully sated, we returned to the car park along the woodland path and picked up sightings of a jay, bullfinch and a treecreeper to round off a very satisfactory morning. (SC)

List (CG)

  1. Mallard
  2. Mute Swan
  3. Coot
  4. Moorhen
  5. Cormorant
  6. Grat Crested Grebe
  7. Little Grebe
  8. Blackbird
  9. Black-headed Gull
  10. Magpie
  11. Wood pigeon
  12. Bullfinch
  13. Gadwall
  14. Jay
  15. Grey Wagtail
  16. Buzzard
  17. Willow Tit
  18. Coal Tit
  19. Chaffinch
  20. Teal
  21. Shoveler
  22. Grey Heron
  23. Carrion Crow
  24. Lesser Black Back Gull
  25. Canada Goose
  26. Kestrel
  27. Robin
  28. Goosander
  29. Great Tit
  30. Blue Tit
  31. Goldfinch
  32. Greenfinch
  33. Long-tailed Tit
  34. Wren
  35. Treecreeper
  36. Nuthatch
  37. Dunnock

Photos JH

Parkgates and Burton Wetlands 15.11.16

Overcast, drizzle at first but brightening later

A good number of TT early birds met at Parkgates soon after 9.30am, a good hour or so before high tide, to watch the movement of birds over the estuary. Undeterred by a steady drizzle that seemed to increase in intensity, we were soon scanning the vista before us and were almost immediately rewarded, first with the sight of a Great White Egret with its distinctively long neck, and then with that of a Merlin perched on a post not too far from the shore, but as visibility shrank and temporary gloom descended on us both literally and metaphysically, we began to wonder whether the effort we had made was going to be worth it!  However, fluttering behind us amongst the trees and bushes around the car park drew our attention and revealed a number of Redwings, Blackbirds and Goldfinches feeding on the seeds and berries, and we were reminded that no matter what the conditions, there is always going to be something of interest to look at.

As the tide began to come in, with it came brighter weather, as the sky began to clear from the west and in the distance along the shoreline there was an increasing level of activity. Far away, a huge tangle of Knot did its ‘now-you-see-us, now-you-don’t’ routine, and, in the opposite direction, large flocks of Lapwings and Starlings rose repeatedly into the sky, no doubt alarmed by predators unseen by us.

Although the tide did not come in as far as many of remembered from previous occasions, large numbers of birds were disturbed with both Canada and Pink-footed Geese taking to the air. Eventually the longed-for raptors put in star appearances and we were treated to the sight of at least one Marsh Harrier gliding low along the estuary, a pair of Kestrel sweeping past and finally, a male Hen Harrier that flew off into the distance – not to mention a Peregrine that several of us had not previously noted, so statue-like was it on a post in the middle distance right in front of us!

With midday approaching and breakfast for many of the Team an increasingly distant memory, it was decided to move on the the Visitor Centre at Burton Wetlands, where we could eat our lunches in relatively well-appointed surroundings. Our arrival at the VC coincided fortuitously with that of three Bewick Swans that had just dropped in, before heading off again who-knows-where after a few minutes. Having enjoyed lunch and the sight of the usual rewarding mix of birds, including half-a-dozen Cattle Egrets (near the cattle!) and five or six Common Gulls contrastingly nicely with the Black-headed Gulls amongst whom they were resting, it was then decided to venture out from the warmth to see what else we could view, with some making for the Inner Marsh Farm hide and others opting for the nearer Marsh Covert Hide. While the Inner Marsh Farm hide proved disappointingly quiet (although some Snipe were spotted from one of the viewing screens en route, and a pair of our number who went the long way round came across a Pintail), the Covert Hide proved much more productive: there were  more sightings of Marsh Harriers, Shelduck, Shoveler and Teal; some witnessed a Male Hen Harrier being attacked by a crow; and Redshank, Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits were all on show.  There was some discussion, both amongst members of the team and other birders present, as to whether a bird in one of the pools in front of the hide was a Greenshank or a Green Sandpiper, with the consensus emerging (after the said bird had taken flight to reveal a solidly black back) in favour of the latter.

Thereafter, a short walk back to the car park in an increasingly golden light, vividly awakening the autumn colours of the trees, brought a good day’s birding to a very pleasant end.

Bird List (BP)

Parkgates

  1. Cormorant
  2. Little Egret
  3. Great White Egret
  4. Pink-footed Goose
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Mallard
  7. Shelduck
  8. Teal
  9. Marsh Harrier
  10. Hen Harrier (male)
  11. Kestrel
  12. Merlin
  13. Peregrine
  14. Pheasant
  15. Moorhen
  16. Lapwing
  17. Knot
  18. Curlew
  19. Black-headed Gull
  20. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  21. Stock Dove
  22. Woodpigeon
  23. Skylark
  24. Robin
  25. Blackbird
  26. Redwing
  27. Mistle Thrush
  28. Magpie
  29. Carrion Crow
  30. Starling
  31. Goldfinch

Burton Wetlands

  1. Grey Heron
  2. Greylag Goose
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Shelduck
  5. Wigeon
  6. Teal
  7. Mallard
  8. Shoveler
  9. Tufted Duck
  10. Marsh Harrier
  11. Buzzard
  12. Kestrel
  13. Pheasant
  14. Moorhen
  15. Coot
  16. Lapwing
  17. Dunlin
  18. Snipe
  19. Black-tailed Godwit
  20. Curlew
  21. Redshank
  22. Green Sandpiper
  23. Black-headed Gull
  24. Common Gull
  25. Wood Pigeon
  26. Collared Dove
  27. Kingfisher
  28. Green Woodpecker
  29. Pied Wagtail
  30. Robin
  31. Stonechat
  32. Blackbird
  33. Redwing
  34. Great Tit
  35. Blue Tit
  36. Long-tailed Tit
  37. Dunnock
  38. Magpie
  39. Jackdaw
  40. Carrion Crow
  41. Chaffinch
  42. Greenfinch
  43. Goldfinch
  44. Linnet
  45. Lesser Redpoll
  46. Bullfinch

Photos JH

Woolston Eyes 08.11.16

Grey and cold

The gathering on Weir Lane for our deep-autumnal wander about Woolston Eyes was of its usual self; easy-going, chatty, well wrapped up and keen to start off the day-list which with ease gained Collared Dove, Blue Tit and a perky bunch of House Sparrow, which still seem to be holding on in this area—unlike the Tree Sparrows which only but a few years ago were swept away by housing development (an odd word this ‘development’ to anyone interested in nature conservation for it usually results in the arrested development of the wildlife that once existed in such places).

 De-brief and final fastening of coats against the all pervading nip in the air that dominated our morn and we were off at a pace (well one which is ALWAYS dictated by the ambling pace of conversation), but even this rhythm was soon stopped in order that we could peer across the Mersey, which in this oxbow part of its lifecycle had a flotilla of Tufted Duck to admire, but as is often the case at this time of the year a Drake Goldeneye broke surface and captured our admiring gaze. The basin then offered Moorhen, Black Headed Gull and Little Grebe whilst heading back and forth across the river beyond the Weir a couple of Jay busied themselves transporting their cache of acorns.

A move along the west bank of number two bed was then made at a steady pace for number three bed beckoned but even this goal was delayed as we gained views of Shoveler, Gadwall and Coot which were enjoying the sheltered conditions offered by this bunded section of the river.

At last the drawbridge to the Castle was reached and over it we trotted ‘having to pause’ whilst some of the Team managed fleeting views of a Kingfisher as it left a blue-hued vapour trail as it sped at almost sound barrier speed out of view!

The South Viewing screen did as it said on the can—gave good views of…. an ice blessed wintry scene upon which no self-respecting member of the wildfowl family lingered… moving swiftly on…

Redwing then tormented us in their ever restless flirtatious way allowing but glimpses of their beautiful form as they ‘seeped’ off into cover, but undeterred we pushed on to the Morgan Hide where we fervently believed that the feeding stations would furnish our retinas with a few semi-static birds.

More ice-clad views then greeted us as ten Black Tailed Godwit rose from in front of the hide and ‘kindly’ put themselves out of view…but at least the Teal stayed in sight if only at a distance owing to the deeper water having not frozen where they loafed. Thus all attention was then given to the feeding stations with the main feeding area abrim with flasks and snacks as most of the Team had hit that elevenses gap…whilst the sunflower stations put on the entertainment offering Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Willow Tit.

 A circuit about the rest of the bed then gave more species for our firm but fair recorder to scribe onto the list with the stewardship crop area offering Reed Bunting,

081116-tt-we
Photo DS

Goldfinch, Linnet and more vocal than visual Lesser Redpoll. 

Then feet restlessly moved in the direction of our cars but as is atypical of this bed it managed to forestall our return for a while longer as it offered up our first raptor of the day Buzzard and it even gave a second chance for all to catch up with the Limosa limosa…how kind! At the usual chatty pace we reached the basin which afforded us ‘just one more bird’ for the day, as a first winter Common Gull came in to bathe….only then could we close the book on yet another wondrous wander with bins/scopes/notebooks and friends. (DS)

Bird List (BP)

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Gadwall
  8. Teal
  9. Mallard
  10. Shoveler
  11. Tufted Duck
  12. Goldeneye
  13. Buzzard
  14. Moorhen
  15. Coot
  16. Black-tailed Godwit
  17. Black-headed Gull
  18. Common Gull
  19. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  20. Wood Pigeon
  21. Collared Dove
  22. Kingfisher
  23. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  24. Pied Wagtail
  25. Wren
  26. Blackbird
  27. Redwing
  28. Robin
  29. Long-tailed Tit
  30. Willow Tit
  31. Blue Tit
  32. Great Tit
  33. Jay
  34. Magpie
  35. Starling
  36. House Sparrow
  37. Chaffinch
  38. Greenfinch
  39. Goldfinch
  40. Linnet
  41. Reed Bunting
  42. Carrion Crow

Photos JH

Chorlton Water Park 01.11.16

Overcast at first, bright later

Twenty enthusiastic TT members gathered in the car park at Chorlton Water Park to see what this familiar site had to offer on a somewhat chilly autumn morning. There seemed to be quite a lot of ‘catching up’ to do between friends, as various members had been away on holidays at different times, but great tits, blue tits, chaffinches and a single nuthatch on the feeders soon reminded everyone of the real purpose of the outing.
It was decided that the usual route would be followed; down to the water, following the path in an anti-clockwise direction to the river, then over the bridge into Kenworthy Woods. So with eager anticipation the water was scanned by 20 pairs of binoculars, discovering Mute swan, Canada goose, Mallard, Moorhen and Coot, along with several other species including Gadwall, Teal and Tufted Duck. Following the path around the waterside initially proved uneventful- the main observation being that it was very quiet and practically birdless- but then a CHARM of Goldfinch appeared, circling around before landing in some distant trees.
Looking across the water a lone Shoveler and equally lone Pochard were added to the list, then one sharp-eyed team member spotted a Grey Wagtail on the far bank.
The river offered … nothing! So the group decided to try its luck over the bridge and into the woods. Entertainment was now offered by a couple of stoats- or were they weasels? -on the bank of the river beneath the bridge. As Kenworthy Woods were approached a Robin flitted in the hedgerow and a Jay could be seen on a distant tree, but again it was the almost eerie silence that was the main feature. By now the sun was attempting to show itself and gloves and hats were being stowed into bags and pockets, and despite the dearth of sightings, spirits remained high. Having seen a few Starlings on the pylons near the substation, the group returned to cars, realising that an enjoyable morning had been spent in good company.
A few souls decided to have their lunch by the water and were rewarded with the sights of a Cormorant spreading its wings and a flock of Long-tailed Tits flitting about in the trees. (MH)

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. Pochard
  11. Tufted Duck
  12. Goldeneye
  13. Moorhen
  14. Coot
  15. Lesser Black-backed Gull (2nd winter)?
  16. Black-headed Gull
  17. Feral Pigeon
  18. Woodpigeon
  19. Ring-necked Parakeet
  20. Grey Wagtail
  21. Wren
  22. Dunnock
  23. Robin
  24. Blackbird
  25. Long-tailed Tit
  26. Blue Tit
  27. Great Tit
  28. Nuthatch
  29. Jay
  30. Magpie
  31. Carrion Crow
  32. Starling
  33. Chaffinch
  34. Goldfinch
  35. Bullfinch

Photos JH