Pennington Flash 24/01/2017

Cold and primarily overcast

A big turnout of Team Tuesday was welcomed by an initially hazy outlook across the Flash with the suggestion of a bright, cloudless sky which unfortunately did not materialise for any appreciable period during the morning. However views across the Flash revealed a promising range and number of birds; goosander, goldeneye, teal, cormorants and lesser and greater black-backed gulls could be seen amongst and beyond the usual mallard, Canada geese, moorhen, coots and mute swans which congregate close to the car park.

Deciding to adopt the clockwise route around the site, the group entered the Horrocks Hide for views along the spit at the end of which was a large grouping of cormorants interspersed by lapwing. This was suddenly joined by c.12 snipe who lingered in the shallows for a short while. A large flock of lapwing then circled overhead seeking a landing space.

Then along the track, spotting dunnock and bullfinches and, by some, treecreepers, up to the Tom Edmondson Hide which disappointingly revealed just a pair of grey heron and a pair of mute swans. Undaunted the group continued along to the Ramsdale Hide for sightings of a pair of goldeneye, teal and goosander, and, unfortunately by one member only, a kingfisher flashing across the water. Around to the viewpoint at the northern end of the Flash and shoveler, gadwall, a female goldeneye (mistaken by some, including the author, for a little grebe) and a reed bunting were spotted.

So far, so good! But sightings then moved up to another level! Up the slope to the bank of the Leeds Liverpool Canal to immediately spot redwing in the tops of the trees opposite. And then groups of siskin and of goldfinch and of long-tailed tits feeding in the treetops. And then a great spotted woodpecker flying across the Canal.

Urged on by a fellow birder doing the circuit in the opposite direction, the group followed the track down to the stream by the golf course to spot a statuesque grey heron and a kingfisher feeding on small fish and posing for minutes on branches at stream-side. A grey wagtail hopping along the water edge added to the pleasure. The Teal Hide revealed shoveler, teal (obviously!) and a little egret (doing its white balloon/plastic bag impression!).

On to the Bunting Hide and its feeding station where the group were treated to a colourful mixture of reed bunting, long-tailed tits, blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, robin, dunnock and bullfinches feeding and numerous moorhen mopping up the seeds fallen to ground. All were disturbed and vanished momentarily as a sparrowhawk sped across the neighbouring reedbed. And finally the group fragmented as lunchtime approached, with subgroups visiting Pengy’s Hide to be disappointed by frozen water and very few birds. However at least one subgroup were delighted to be entertained by a water rail picking its way delicately through the undergrowth directly next to the hide – a great climax to a thoroughly worthwhile and productive morning. Pennington never fails to please! (SC)

Bird list (BP)

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Great- Crested Grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Little Egret
  5. Grey Heron
  6. Mute Swan
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Gadwall
  9. Teal
  10. Mallard
  11. Shoveler
  12. Tufted Duck
  13. Goldeneye
  14. Goosander
  15. Sparrowhawk
  16. Water Rail
  17. Moorhen
  18. Coot
  19. Lapwing
  20. Snipe
  21. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  22. Great Black-backed Gull
  23. Black-headed Gull
  24. Stock Dove
  25. Wood Pigeon
  26. Kingfisher
  27. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  28. Pied Wagtail
  29. Grey Wagtail
  30. Wren
  31. Dunnock
  32. Blackbird
  33. Song Thrush
  34. Redwing
  35. Robin
  36. Long-tailed Tit
  37. Great Tit
  38. Blue Tit
  39. Nuthatch
  40. Treecreeper
  41. Jay
  42. Magpie
  43. Chaffinch
  44. Greenfinch
  45. Goldfinch
  46. Siskin
  47. Bullfinch
  48. Reed bunting

(Photos JH)




Trans-Pennine Trail 17.01.17

Weather warmish, with a touch of dampness around.

The sound of birdsong and the voices of Team Tuesday greeted this latecomer as she arrived after a brief unintended excursion to Bucklow Hill and while TT were much in evidence the birds sadly weren’t. Woodpigeon, robin, blackbird topped the list for the first few hundred yards until a lone male pheasant ran across a field. Numbers were soon up with a flock of starlings, rising and landing on a nearby feeding ground, quickly followed by a group of black-headed gulls who were more settled. Song thrushes showed themselves on a hedge and across water filled channels the treetops were full of redwing, while up close a lone yellowhammer showed off its colour.

Single flypasts by first a mute swan and secondly a sparrowhawk were added to the tally as the farm and the tree with a significant hole in the trunk, were reached. Sadly no showings there, but shortly afterwards six or so goldcrests delighted the eye followed by a flock of lapwing and telescopic views of a kestrel who was keeping watch over the canal. The group decided the canal towpath could be too muddy so after a few more steps along the old railway line in search of partridge, TT turned around and started back the mile or so along the path once trod.

A skein of pink-feet soon filled the air with their distinctive sound, song thrush and then 8 or 9 yellowhammers put on a show in nearby trees. The kestrel was still in view and final sightings gave us 40+ linnets in the treetops before the car park was reached. It was generally agreed to have been a very satisfying morning’s birding before the Team Tuesday flock went on its separate journeys, some alighting at a nearby pub. (HP)

Bird List (BP)

  1. Pink-footed Goose
  2. Sparrowhawk
  3. Kestrel
  4. Pheasant
  5. Lapwing
  6. Black-headed Gull
  7. Woodpigeon
  8. Collared Dove
  9. Blackbird
  10. Fieldfare
  11. Redwing
  12. Song Thrush
  13. Wren
  14. Robin
  15. Goldcrest
  16. Long-tailed Tit
  17. Coal Tit
  18. Blue Tit
  19. Great Tit
  20. Jay
  21. Magpie
  22. Jackdaw
  23. Carrion Crow
  24. Starling
  25. Chaffinch
  26. Linnet
  27. Yellowhammer

Marbury Country Park 10.01.17

Generally overcast and somewhat gloomy

Our morning’s birding turned out better than perhaps could have been expected, given the discouraging weather forecasts and the rather gloomy skies which greeted the dozen members of the Team who assembled just after 10am in the pay-and-diplay car park at Marbury. Indeed, spirits were almost immediately raised with a sighting by a few early arrivals of a Green Woodpecker and then, by most of the rest, of a pair of very active Goldcrests that were feeding in the bushes nearby.

Setting off on our usual route round the park, we soon noted several improvements that had been made to the facilities and were later pleased to find that feeders were well-stocked; general evidence that a bit more care (and presumably cash) is being lavished on this popular site. On the way to the Budworth Mere Hide, some common Redpoll were spotted in the tall trees along the path, and from the hide itself we had good views of numerous woodland birds, mostly tit mice and Nuthatches that were being drawn in by the feeders. Out on the water, very pale Great Crested Grebe were very much in sometimes confusing evidence – reports suggest that perhaps sixty pair are in residence –  as well as a usual mix of ducks including Mallard and Coot. A Kingfisher, seen by many, but not all, did a two-way fly past, and, in the distance, a Curfew of some 50 or so Curlew took flight wheeling around before coming to rest in one of the fields on the far side of the lake.

Making our way along the shore we were struck by how quiet the woods appeared, but a couple of pauses to scan across the water revealed four or five Little Egrets in the shallows amongst the Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, an unusually large number of Coots busily feeding in one of the fields and a lone Heron makings its way along one of the inlets. Another pause, this time mostly for coffee, and the sight of a lone Mute Swan, gave rise to a discussion of the nature of the carmen cygni, which Wikipedia suggests is largely myth, although with a slight basis in fact in relation to the whooper swan (which we had not seen).

Another well stocked feeder provided good sightings of Nuthatch, Chaffinch and Robin, all in bright plumage, but our walk through the woodland alongside Forge Brook was notable for little apart from a number of Long-tailed Tits that were spotted feeding above us. Arriving at Haydn’s Pool was a bit of an anti-climax; it appeared deserted and bereft of any signs of life, and ten minutes or so determined scanning produced nothing more than a couple of Moorhen feeding along the muddy shore, a lone Buzzard resting in a tree some distance away and a pair of Stock Dove that settled on the owl box which is visible in front of the hide.

Eventually, with rain threatening it was decided to head back to the cars and, for some, lunch.  However, one last treat lay ahead in the shape of a pair of Treecreepers that were spotted just at the entrance to the play area, adjacent to the car park, and were busily climbing and dropping down a tree barely five or six metres from the path. These provided a suitable finale to our visit, which, in sum, had proved to be perhaps surprisingly rewarding.

Birdlist (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Shelduck
  4. Mallard
  5. Pochard
  6. Tufted duck
  7. Great crested grebe
  8. Cormorant
  9. Little egret
  10. Grey heron
  11. Common buzzard
  12. Moorhen
  13. Coot
  14. Curlew
  15. Black-headed gull
  16. Lesser black-backed gull
  17. Stock dove
  18. Woodpigeon
  19. Kingfisher
  20. Green woodpecker
  21. Great spotted woodpecker
  22. Dunnock
  23. Robin
  24. Blackbird
  25. Goldcrest
  26. Long-tailed tit
  27. Coal tit
  28. Blue tit
  29. Great tit
  30. Treecreeper
  31. Nuthatch
  32. Jay
  33. Magpie
  34. Jackdaw
  35. Carrion crow
  36. Chaffinch
  37. Bullfinch
  38. Lesser redpoll