Chat Moss 09.05.17

Dull start but soon bright and sunny with a trifling breeze

Yet more visitors from distant lands i.e. south of the Ship Canal decided that the best way to spend the morning was to be upon the beautiful Greenbelt of Salford but before doing so, as with last Fridays visitors, Team Tuesday had to cross the Glaze before OUR moss lands were happily reached.

I must admit that this spring morn looked equally as lovely on the Cheshire side and in fairness there was a planned lunch to be had at the Raven where the owners had allowed our quite large turnout to park thus on this occasion I give praise to this adjacent landscape but with the caveat that our very own countryside on the edge of town is magnificent (well I would say that wouldn’t I?) …

House Martin, Swallow and Swift reminded us that our Moss is far-far nicer than Africa at this time of the year for this trio of ‘sky-masters’ are now settled over our Moss for the Summer forsaking their ‘Dark Continent’ wintering grounds until autumn cloaks our landscape…..(worry not about our skies becoming empty of life for then Scandinavian Thrushes will occupy the vacuum).

Debrief over in the car-park we set off into a brightening day with Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Chaffinch serenading our way along Moss Lane until we paused at the Glaze to note Tufted Duck and Gadwall ‘Pootering’ about on the water which was running quite low due to the recent extended period of dry weather—it won’t last worry not!

Sand Martin chivvied above the watercourse enjoying their insect feast—all the better to give them energy to excavate their nest holes—let’s hope they choose their nest sites with care for this waterway can become mightily swollen at times (the tide line on adjacent fields full of junk and plastic bottles gives testament to this and sadly to our somewhat litter careless society). Open fields then gave Mistle Thrush and Pied Wagtail whilst a somewhat agitated Sparrowhawk called from behind the trees that line this right of way (foot only) into Little Woolden Moss.

Then ‘A little Bit of Bread and no Cheese’ halted our progress—no we weren’t pausing for elevenses but instead all eyes were concentrating upon a nearby Oak tree for within it sat a Yellowhammer whose song can easily be converted in our minds as a request for a ploughman’s lunch….ah such a bucolic image!

Then came a few Farmsteads which were buzzing with birdlife and here we paused to note both House and Tree Sparrow whilst collared Dove displayed over skies which only a few decades ago didn’t host these birds which only first appeared in the UK in the 1950’s —now there’s a coincidence—so did I…moving swiftly on…

A little bit of practical fieldcraft then followed as I rummaged about in a nearby open barn (owner’s permission granted) emerging with a few bundles of ‘fur’—these actually being Barn Owl Pellets which on splitting apart held amongst the regurgitated fur several bones of small mammals including the jawbone of a shrew … a positive outcome for the Owl … less so for the Shrew!

The open moss land then drew us into its busy life of food production upon which wildlife was happily coexisting allowing our Team to take in:

1 a ‘vast’ un-crowded Skyline;

2 young Lapwing tripping about the Spring-Sown Wheat;

3 a small Copper Butterfly resting upon a Dandelion;

4 a symphony of song from several Skylarks;

5 a Buzzard or two riding hidden thermals.

…….this list of nature sitting so close to our busy conurbations!

…….this list of life which our Team were able to absorb and digest in peace!

…….this list of land which some only wish to place a monetary value upon!

…….this ancient list of heritage landscape belongs to us and future generations!

…….this ……

…. Musings are part of what we are, but there was a fleck or two of brightness to note in a bare field … thus eyes and minds were soon set upon viewing a pair of Yellow Wagtail with one of them (the male) sporting a crown of powder blue which allowed all to reflect upon the fact that one of our UK Yellow Wagtails had had a liaison with a continental blue Headed Yellow Wagtail resulting in a ‘Channel Wagtail’…….phew at this point I positively refused to go into the Brexit debate—rather we moved on to the northern edge of the LWM reserve.

A quiet part of the day I admit, but it was nice to take in views over part of our moss land habitat that is being improved for nature and virtually guaranteed to survive whatever the ‘developers’ have in mind for our treasured landscape.

A move back then followed for lunch called us away from our Moss land jaunt. (DS)

Bird List (BP)

  1. Grey Heron
  2. Mallard
  3. Gadwall
  4. Tufted Duck
  5. Sparrowhawk
  6. Buzzard
  7. Kestrel
  8. Grey Partridge
  9. Pheasant
  10. Lapwing
  11. Black-headed Gull
  12. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  13. Woodpigeon
  14. Collared Dove
  15. Swift
  16. Skylark
  17. Sand Martin
  18. House Martin
  19. Swallow
  20. Meadow Pipit
  21. Yellow Wagtail
  22. Pied Wagtail
  23. Blackbird
  24. Song Thrush
  25. Mistle Thrush
  26. Wren
  27. Robin
  28. Blue Tit
  29. Great Tit
  30. Magpie
  31. Carrion Crow
  32. Starling
  33. House Sparrow
  34. Tree Sparrow
  35. Chaffinch
  36. Goldfinch
  37. Yellowhammer

Photos (including: Predated Curlew’s egg; farm machinery; Yellow Wagtail; Barn Owl pellet;  Shrew’s skull) CG, JH & DC

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