Pennington Flash 25.04.17

Mainly bright, but with a cold northerly wind 

With most of us having donned the winter woolies again  to cope with the sudden drop in temperature, the Team gathered at Pennington for its first outing after the Easter break. First views across the flash were not particularly encouraging with only the usual mix, Mallard, Coot, Black-headed Gulls, Canada Goose and Mute Swan present.  However, in just a little while  a couple of distant Buzzards came into view and we had first sight of a mix of hirundines skimming over the water, but these were too far off for the moment to be able to identify with any certainty.

En route for the Horrocks hide,  a veritable charm of rather noisy Goldfinches caused a brief halt to our progress, but once settled in the hide, in the teeth of an icy wind, our interest was sparked by reports from fellow birders of Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Common Tern. Eventually most of the group were able claim good sightings of each of these ‘specials’, as well Redshank, Lapwing, Great Crested Grebe, the usual Cormorant sunning themselves on the end of the spit and a lone Pied Wagtail busy along the water’s edge.

Back in the relative warmth of the sunshine outside the hide, we began what remained a challenge for the rest of the morning; spotting the various warblers and woodland birds that made known their presence singing from trees and bushes that by this time of year are now affording plenty of leaf cover. Early on, a Chiffchaff proved one of the easier birds to spot, but later Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Sedge Warbler were also identified by various members of the group.

At the Tom Edmonton hide a rather shy Heron was spotted, but there was little activity and we soon pressed on to Ramsdale Hide, where a Jay flew across in front of us, a Redshank was seen prodding in the shallows and eventually, on the far side of the pool, a solitary Snipe was spotted, stock-still at first, but later embarking on a slow feeding progress along the shoreline, in and out of cover, but all the while offering tantalising glimpses.

With the early brightness having been replaced by cloud, and an odd drop or two of icy rain being felt, we pressed on fairly rapidly, but still adding to our list along the way with some Gadwall and Teal at (yes, you’ve guessed it!) Teal hide, the first of several Mistle Thrush on the golf course and a few Blackbirds nearby. Bunting hide appeared at first totally deserted save for a pair of Mallard and a squirrel – perhaps on account of a passing raptor we had just missed? –  and it was a good few minutes before our patience was rewarded and birds slowly began to come in to make the best of the well-stocked feeders. We had good sightings of pairs of Bullfinches, the red breast of the males showing really well, of male and female Chaffinch and Reed Buntings and a weighty ‘Dole’ of six or seven Stock Doves.

A quick visit to Pengys hide afforded nothing to add to the list, but as some of the Team were leaving, a Treecreeper flew in and, unusually, remained motionless on the leeward side of a tree, somewhat confusing the eye since it had in its beak a small white feather, something perhaps to line its nest?

The last few yards back to the car park held one final treat for some as a Sparrowhawk was spotted flying over the flash and disturbing the hirundines that were wheeling overhead. (CG)

Bird List (CH)

  1. Great Crested Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Teal
  7. Mallard
  8. Tufted Duck
  9. Gadwall
  10. Sparrowhawk
  11. Buzzard
  12. Moorhen
  13. Coot
  14. Oystercatcher
  15. Lapwing
  16. Little Ringed Plover
  17. Common Sandpiper
  18. Redshank
  19. Snipe
  20. Herring Gull
  21. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  22. Common Tern
  23. Stock Dove
  24. Woodpigeon
  25. Swallow
  26. House Martin
  27. Sand Martin
  28. Pied Wagtail
  29. Wren
  30. Robin
  31. Blackbird
  32. Song thrush
  33. Mistle Thrush
  34. Blackcap
  35. Willow Warbler
  36. Chiffchaff
  37. Sedge Warbler
  38. Treecreeper
  39. Reed Bunting
  40. Chaffinch
  41. Goldfinch
  42. Bullfinch
  43. Blue Tit
  44. Great Tit
  45. Magpie
  46. Carrion Crow
  47. Jackdaw
  48. Jay

Photos DC and JH


Hilbre 11.04.17

Fresh northerly breeze – bright and increasingly sunny

 Well it seems that the only way to entice me off my Moss was for Kenny/Colin and Stuart to host one of their Red-Carpet days out on Hilbre Isle inviting all and sundry to join them …. but with there being such a large fan club for this Wirral Gem it was decided that there would have to be three separate jaunts with today being the first of them…Team Friday and Team Woolston visits being planned for the latter days of the month.

Thus in order to get the best out of our visit all were gathered at 0900 sharp ready to face the ‘refreshing in our faces’ breeze which would lead us to a few hours of voluntary entrapment by the waters of Liverpool Bay in which our combined Team could live out a four hour occupation of ‘our very own Desert Island’.

Now all of this careful planning could have seriously gone awry at the eleventh hour as our Man of the Sands ‘young’ Kenny had been struck down with a chest infection…but a timely batch of antibiotics and a quick field promotion of ‘young’ Stewart from the ranks enabled Plan A to take place thus after loading Kenny’s Discovery with all our rucksacks Team Walk trundled off heading first for Little Eye whilst Kenny and Co-Driver Colin drove on ahead of us with strict instructions that the kettle be boiled when we arrived.

As we headed out onto the recently sea swept sands it soon became apparent that our newly promoted guide offered a serious challenge to his commanding officer but all promised not to spill the beans to Kenny in the interests of the peace and harmony when both gather together in their favourite watering hole on Friday evenings.

The birdlife I admit was a little sparse during our wander through Little Eye over to Middle Eye but on the more elevated platform of this area we did start to note a few flocks of birds including Pale Bellied Brent Geese and Oystercatchers but as we all agreed it is the whole Hilbre experience that fires up the imagination with the birds simply adding the icing to this delightful cake of an experience.

Careful negotiating through the rocky channel area between Middle Eye and Hilbre Isle was expertly executed by Stewart, with me as his relatively able assistant (who is I admit a trifle keen on H&S), then led us to our reunion with Kenny and Colin at the observatory and here all set about noting the birds that were gathering as the tide now swept in and cut off the distant shore.

In reality all settled down to well earned elevenses happy in the knowledge that the birds were going nowhere for a while and once the team were revived all could view with ease a mix of birds which were on offer about the Isle. The northerly airflow admittedly didn’t offer up a massive selection of species but as we ambled off to take in the views from the old slipway where we were closely observed by a few Grey Seal whilst we scanned the wave tossed bay upon which sat Cormorants aplenty with one noted taking a flatfish which it ‘kindly donated’ to a marauding Herring Gull!

A return to the observatory was of the usual bimbling pace for the history of the Isle brought about an open air lecture/a few Linnet and Meadow Pipit begged to be photographed/a colony or two of Short Tailed Field Vole just ‘had’ to be viewed/a small flock of Turnstone with a lone Redshank needed to be peered upon and the Heligoland Trap just had to offer up a Dunnock to be viewed (this bird already sporting a ring on its leg supplied by our Hilbre Team who are also BTO registered bird ringers) after all this a well earned lunch break was taken in the now bright and breezy conditions.

Colin then took centre stage as he outlined some of the history of the Observatory (in reality he barely scratched the surface of his knowledge about this and the whole of the Island) after which he outlined the ringing and recording activities that this station undertakes as part of a UK network of British Trust for Ornithology sites that are run by such stoic volunteers as our ‘Team Hilbre Three’ who themselves are a part of the history this long running scheme.

Then another trip to the Slipway helped to ease off the lethargy that our lunch in the sun could easily have induced but as before there weren’t too many species of birds to create a big list of birds but then again let us not forget the Red Throated Divers and Common Scoter that we had noted earlier.

A wander back to the Observatory in easy going ‘chat’ mode then followed and after a nice session of noting Ringed Plover/Dunlin and a half hearted counting of a large flock of Gulls which were pirouetting about the sky over Middle Eye we started our sure-footed return to shore as the tide receded and reconnected our splendid Isle back to the reality of the mainland. Needless to say back at Kirby Marina there were oodles of fond farewells and smiles that if they were sunshine would require at least sun factor fifty to protect Kenny/Colin and Stuart from their rays! (DS)


Bird List (MH)

  1. Brent goose
  2. Common scoter
  3. Red-throated diver
  4. Cormorant
  5. Oystercatcher
  6. Ringed plover
  7. Turnstone
  8. Dunlin
  9. Redshank
  10. Curlew
  11. Herring gull
  12. Great black-backed gull
  13. Lesser black=backed gull
  14. Meadow pipit
  15. Pied wagtail
  16. Dunnock
  17. Linnet
    And of course grey seal and short-tailed field vole!

Photos JH

Witton Bridge 4/4/2017

Initially chilly and overcast turning to bright sunshine

A good turnout of TT Birders assembled at the Witton Bridge car park a little worried by the overcast, slightly chilly and breezy weather and the accuracy of local weather forecast.  These latter concerns proved to be unfounded as the morning wore on, and with sightings of great tits and blue tits, a reed bunting and two jays from the car park, the distinctive song of chiffchaff and the yaffle of a nearby but invisible green woodpecker any residual pessimism quickly evaporated.

Taking the paved footpath alongside Witton Mill Meadow the promising calls of chiffchaff, nuthatch and song thrush were heard and in Witton Brook a small collection of teal, mallard, coot and moorhen were spotted. The group assembled on Butterfinch Bridge over the Forge Brook eagerly searching for the elusive water rail but no luck …… yet! Up to Haydn’s Pool and for once the location yielded riches – as well as teal, mallard, lapwings and a handful of black-headed gulls, the group were treated to a common sandpiper, snipe, a little ringed plover (challengingly camouflaged on the shoreline), a resting buzzard in a tree and a few early season sand martins jinking above the pool.  Invigorated by this success, the group then spotted a blackcap on the return down the access path (it having been spotted briefly by one group member earlier).

Back to Butterfinch Bridge and this time, bingo! Fully illuminated by bright sunshine so everyone could enjoy their plumage, a chaffinch, a long-tailed tit, a chiffchaff, a bullfinch and a songthrush. And then an eagle-eyed member spotted the water rail skulking about in Forge Brook long enough for a good sighting by all.

With difficulty, the group detached itself from the bridge and walked around to the hide Neumann’s Flash to take in tufted duck, mute swans, Canada geese, shelduck, coots, mallard and a greated crested grebe on the water and more sand martins flying above. Some members picked up reed bunting flitting across the nearby reeds. Walking clockwise along the footpath around the Flash visiting each hide, long-tailed tits, lapwing and cormorant were spotted and possibly/arguably a swallow, the first of the summer. Then another treat, clear views of a chiffchaff and of a willow warbler (another summer first?) singing with gusto.  A final look at the Flash from the new hide built at the end of the spit on the Flash’s southern edge revealed shoveler and gadwall and a grey heron on the far shore.

The final leg of the morning back to the car park was interrupted by a flock of curlew flying southwards overhead which resulted in a scramble over the ditch and up the bank to look out over Ashton’s Flash where, sure enough, a much larger flock (100+) of curlew congregated. A quick climb to the viewpoint over the flash close to the car park also revealed a lone greylag goose, a pair of little grebe and a lesser black-backed gull amid a larger group of black-headed gulls. A good end to a thoroughly productive and enjoyable spring morning! (SC)

Bird list (MH)

  1. Great tit
  2. Blue tit
  3. Mallard
  4. Carrion crow
  5. Chiffchaff
  6. Wood pigeon
  7. Green woodpecker
  8. Blackbird
  9. Jay
  10. Song thrush
  11. Goldfinch
  12. Long-tailed tit
  13. Common sandpiper
  14. Lapwing
  15. Teal
  16. Snipe
  17. Black- headed gull
  18. Sand martin
  19. Buzzard
  20. Little ringed plover
  21. Coot
  22. Chaffinch
  23. Blackcap
  24. Nuthatch (H)
  25. Water rail
  26. Bullfinch
  27. Canada goose
  28. Tufted duck
  29. Moorhen
  30. Great crested grebe
  31. Magpie
  32. Shelduck
  33. Mute swan
  34. Reed bunting
  35. Cormorant
  36. Barn swallow
  37. Dunnock
  38. Willow warbler
  39. Grey heron
  40. Jackdaw
  41. Robin
  42. Shoveler
  43. Little grebe
  44. Gadwall
  45. Curlew
  46. Starling
  47. Greylag goose
  48. Feral pigeon
  49. Lesser black- backed gull