Irlam Moss 21.02.2017


Dry but overcast with a smattering of rain later

Team Tuesday’s initial plan to visit the Moss from the Glaze area soon got scuppered when I updated them on the fact that the cafe which had been temporarily closed on their last visit (boy was there a great deal of disappointment that day) was once more running at full steam…

Thus there I was after yet another trundle across the *Moss from home entering the cafe to discover some of my old Team Tuesday WEA class clutching steaming mugs of coffee….the only trouble with this welcoming cafe is it can get a little too comfortable proving it hard for me to encourage everyone away from their relaxed chat mode but then again when they were reminded of the beauty spot outside and the fact that we had a fair old wander about it to complete before they could return for lunch all moved on outside and off we went.

*PS you know I will mention seeing Lapwing/Yellowhammer and Skylark yet again—why wouldn’t I for these are the very essence of OUR Greenbelt Farmland specialities.

The Pools held the usual wildfowl and relaxed bunch of anglers whilst the sky above offered a masterful display of spring territorial ownership of the sky by one of our local Kestrels which was announcing its ‘mastery’ of this patch for the coming breeding season by its winnowing flight of courtship which took it rapidly over its domain.

Moving on but not before casting a nod in the direction of the two now resident Oystercatchers which were unusually quiet but worry not for soon they will be piping their clear and far reaching calls over this patch when they too will be pronouncing another breeding season out on our Greenbelt.

Lapwing displayed calling out one of their alternative names  ‘Peewit’ and apt naming bestowed upon them long before the naming of birds became more scientific—mind you their scientific name although not onomatopoeic in being Vanellus-vanellus  does sum them up nicely for vanellus means ‘winnowing fan’ which is a reference to the sound their wings make!

Moving on we headed over to check out the Pools on the Reserve ‘that never was’ (but who knows may be one day) the old Peat workings of Croxden Peat and here more signs of the next season came in the raucous cries of a flock of restless Black Headed Gulls and the less noisy but equally far carrying ‘whistles’ made by some pristine looking male Teal which were displaying out on the water.

Then back to Twelve Yards and a move east pausing on the way to marvel at the fact that we could hear Skylark broadcasting their choristers  song above the sounds of the M62 Ttraffic which was roaring by for a very rare change—school half-term no doubt allowing traffic flow for once—now there was a ‘Preston Guild’ moment out on this overburdened road!

Goldfinch and Lesser Redpoll then demonstrated the art of acrobatics as they flitted about the tops of some tall birch trees in their ever restless search for seeds whilst moving through the lower levels of this line of trees were a party Long Tailed Tit which were as ever engaging in their constant chatter which to me is saying “here I am… OK well I’m over here come and follow me” …birds that flock often use such calls to stay in contact.

Then open fields led our eyes to a couple of Buzzard which were sat on a pylon surveying their domain no doubt whilst skittering  across a remnant potato crop was a lone Grey Partridge which on landing was soon lost to the eye such is the efficiency of its feather camouflage.

A flock of Starling swirled about the sky with a large group of Lapwing whilst seemingly bouncing along on hidden elastics a flock of Linnet stayed ahead of these birds as they sought out some more food within the life supporting cereal stubble that lay before our eyes over this big country of food production.

Then a familiar ‘chack-chack’  sounded out as a number of Fieldfare called out their contact calls as they moved restlessly about a field division of trees and as we turned our attention to these a few Redwing (other Scandinavian winter visiting Thrushes) cut across the sky issuing their ‘tseep’ contact call.

Yellowhammer and Chaffinch were also present but these proved harder to see although I could clearly hear their calls…then a the rain started to mist up our sweeping views of this superlative Mossland (of Salford did you know!!!!) we gently moved on back to the cafe pausing at one stage for the Team to see a couple of our area’s iconic Willow Tit as they moved about with other Titmice.

Then as some of our gathering moved off into busy afternoons the remaining six of us retired to ‘Super’ Cafe and tackled some lovely food…ah what a fitting end to yet another splendid journey about this unsung hero of an area. (DS)

Bird list (DS)

  1. Canada goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Teal
  4. Grey partridge
  5. Grey heron
  6. Buzzard
  7. Sparrowhawk
  8. Kestrel
  9. Moorhen
  10. Coot
  11. Oystercatcher
  12. Lapwing
  13. Snipe
  14. Jack snipe
  15. Black-headed gull
  16. Feral pigeon
  17. Stock dove
  18. Woodpigeon
  19. Great spotted woodpecker
  20. Skylark
  21. Pied wagtail
  22. Wren
  23. Dunnock
  24. Robin
  25. Song thrush
  26. Mistle thrush
  27. Redwing
  28. Fieldfare
  29. Blackbird
  30. Great tit
  31. Blue tit
  32. Willow tit
  33. Long-tailed tit
  34. Magpie
  35. Jay
  36. Carrion crow
  37. Starling
  38. House sparrow
  39. Chaffinch
  40. Linnet
  41. Lesser redpoll
  42. Goldfinch
  43. Yellowhammer




Chorlton Water Park 07.02.17

Bright, clear blue skies, sunny and warm!

The almost spring-like weather brought out more than twenty members of the Team for what proved to be one of our best, if not the best, mornings at this site. Even before we had gathered for our usual brief ‘business meeting’, we had been treated to great sights of a Ring-necked Parakeet on one of the feeders, almost oblivious to our presence and interest. Only after this bird had flown off, however, did smaller woodland birds, a colourful Nuthatch and a Dunnock, begin to  venture out from the surrounding bushes to take their share of the food on offer.

Still waters at  Chorlton(CG)

Led this morning by John P., the Team then headed for the lake where Shoveler, Gadwall, Goosander (three unaccompanied males) and  Great Crested Grebe stood out from the usual mix of Canada Goose, Coot, Mute Swan and Mallard. Persistent scanning picked out first a female Goldeneye, her brown head showing nicely in the strong light, and later her mate with his white cheek showing just as clearly. Moving off along the path round the lake, a Song Thrush was noted as well as a few Goldfinches feeding high up in the alders. Further on some Redwing were seen by many  of the Team, but they flew off before the stragglers caught up.

After the habitual (for some) coffee break, and the slow passage overhead of a Sparrowhawk, some of us watched Blue tits flitting around near a nesting box, perhaps checking it out for possible use, caught sight of a Goldcrest near the path and had good views of a pair of Bullfinch. Heading back towards the bridge to cross the fast flowing River Mersey, we detoured in search of Siskin, but only a lucky few caught sight of any. On the bridge itself, persistence was rewarded with glimpses of both a Pied and a Grey Wagtail, but the orchard on the far side of the river was surprisingly quiet. Undeterred, however, and purposefully led by John, we pressed on across the fields back towards the river, deviating from our more usual route. We were rewarded with three magnificent sightings: a Buzzard circling on a thermal in the clear blue sky high above; a Kestrel flying across right in front of us and coming to rest in a tree nearby; and, lastly, a lone Redwing on top of a tree, far off, but nonetheless clearly visible.

Our walk back towards the car park, afforded more views of the many birds on the lake, with a Herring Gull standing out from the smaller Black-headed ones around it, the male Goosanders once again cruising past, perhaps on the look-out for mates(!), and, in the distance, of a Buzzard being harried by some Crows. The pond area, a bit dank and feeling rather uncared for, provided nothing new in the way of sightings, but our arrival back at the car park brought good views of a solitary Starling and a couple of House Sparrows, setting the seal on what had been a rewarding morning’s birding.

Bird List (BP)

  1. Great Crested Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Gadwall
  7. Mallard
  8. Shoveler
  9. Pochard
  10. Tufted Duck
  11. Goldeneye
  12. Goosander
  13. Moorhen
  14. Coot
  15. Black-headed Gull
  16. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  17. Herring Gull
  18. Sparrowhawk
  19. Buzzard
  20. Kestrel
  21. Feral Pigeon
  22. Woodpigeon
  23. Collared Dove
  24. Ring-necked Parakeet
  25. Pied Wagtail
  26. Grey Wagtail
  27. Blackbird
  28. Song Thrush
  29. Redwing
  30. Dunnock
  31. Robin
  32. Goldcrest
  33. Long-tailed Tit
  34. Coal Tit
  35. Blue Tit
  36. Great Tit
  37. Nuthatch
  38. Magpie
  39. Jay
  40. Carrion Crow
  41. Starling
  42. House Sparrow
  43. Chaffinch
  44. Goldfinch
  45. Siskin
  46. Bullfinch

Photos JH

Moore Nature Reserve 31.01.17


Some sixteen members of the team met and decided, just for a change, to make the Eastern Reed Bed and the Phoenix hide our first port of call. Just as we had agreed on this ‘revolutionary’ proposal, movement in the trees above drew our attention to a couple or so  of Goldcrests (not the only ones we were to see during the morning), some titmice and a solitary Nuthatch. Moving off we disturbed a Mistle Thrush in the hedge at the side of the field and in the distance a Buzzard flew across the path. Gaining the wood, we had good sightings of a Greater-Spotted Woodpecker flying off and coming to rest on a tall conifer that seemed to be swaying in the wind in a most alarming (at least to us) fashion, before we were distracted by a small flock of Long-tailed Tits, again the first of many we encountered over the next couple of hours, flittering back and forth and feeding in the trees above.

Our first view of Birchwood Pool was striking; not only was the water level considerably higher than any of us could remember, but there was an almost total lack of gulls, usually so much in vociferous evidence. However, for a lucky few (by this time our group seemed to have split in tw0) there was some compensation in the sighting of a Kingfisher, just in front of Birch Strip Hide. Pressing on, Pump House Pool, too, appeared almost empty of bird life, although on the far side a pair of Cormorants were noted and some spotted a pair of Goldeneye.

Our arrival at Phoenix Hide saw the rapid departure of a Grey Heron and two (!) Green Woodpeckers, and despite twenty minutes or so spent scanning the reed beds, there was no sign of the bittern that had been seen on our last visit before Christmas. Thus we had to content ourselves with the spectacle of some noisy Teal in their bright plumage, a pair of Canada Geese and, on the far side of the water, a few Tufted Ducks that were diving for food. Just as we were about to leave, however, a pair of Buzzards appeared circling slowly over the reeds, one of them displaying a tail that appeared to have lost some feathers, the result, no doubt, of being attacked by another bird.

A stop at Colin’s Hide, made brief by the cool wind that seemed to blowing directly into the hide, gave good views of Shoveler and, in the distance, of a lone Pochard whose brown head was clearly visible despite the low light levels. Our way back along the path towards the wood was at first accompanied by a large Charm of Goldfinch, and with the group having once again split in two, some were treated to the sight of Redpoll and Siskin, while others enjoyed a close view of a Goldcrest on a second visit to Birch Strip Hide. Reunited at Grebe Hide (which for once lived up to its name through the presence of five or six little Grebe which were showing nicely) and having swapped news of sightings, the Team headed for the Feeding Station, where Chaffinch, Grey Wagtail and Woodpigeon (the first of the morning!) were added to our list.

A late lunch now seemed to be the order of the day and the remnants of our group began to9z7a4272 make its way back towards the car park, but before we had got very far we were urgently summoned down a side path to view an unusual sight – an owl (of uncertain species, but probably a Tawney) roosting deep inside a hollow tree and whose presence was only revealed by two pin pricks of light as its eyes surveyed the motley crew that had gathered below its resting place.

This turned out to be an intriguing conclusion to a good morning’s birding and certainly gave rise to much discussion concerning the relative size of various species of owl, as we finally ambled back to our cars.

Bird List (BP)

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Great- Crested Grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Grey Heron
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Wigeon
  7. Gadwall
  8. Teal
  9. Mallard
  10. Shoveler
  11. Pochard
  12. Tufted Duck
  13. Goldeneye
  14. Buzzard
  15. Kestrel
  16. Moorhen
  17. Coot
  18. Black-headed Gull
  19. Green Woodpecker
  20. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  21. Wood Pigeon
  22. Kingfisher
  23. Grey Wagtail
  24. Robin
  25. Blackbird
  26. Song Thrush
  27. Mistle Thrush
  28. Goldcrest
  29. Long-tailed Tit
  30. Coal Tit
  31. Great Tit
  32. Blue Tit
  33. Nuthatch
  34. Carrion Crow
  35. Chaffinch
  36. Goldfinch
  37. Siskin
  38. Lesser Redpoll

Photos JH