Trans-Pennine Trail 04.07.17

Mostly overcast, and increasingly warm

‘Not a with bang, but certainly not a with whimper’ was how the Team Tuesday  season concluded yesterday. We met in the Henshall Lane car park, the light, early morning rain having thankfully passed over, and immediately became aware of how difficult things were going to be; even Long-tailed tits, usually so easy to make out, were very difficult to spot amongst the dense foliage of the surrounding trees. Undeterred, however, we began our walk along the old railway track bed, heading east away from the site of the old Dunham Massey Railway Station (closed in 1962, even before Dr Beeching). A passing dog walker, keen to share his local knowledge, drew our attention to a mound to the south of the trail, an unusual feature given the largely flat nature of the rest of the adjacent landscape, which he assured us was known as ‘Hooley’s Hump’, and said that this was spoil from the time that the canal was dug out in the late eighteenth century. As we were thus engaged in conversation, our first notable sighting of the day appeared in the shape of a buzzard that began to circle lazily above us, before coming to rest on a distant telegraph pole, not far from a couple of apparently unconcerned Goldfinch resting on the wires.

Pressing on, accompanied by what seemed like an ever-present sound of Chiff Chaff, one of which was eventually spotted, we soon began to enjoy the auditory challenge that the morning was turning out to be, making out Yellowhammer, Wren, Chaffinch and other birds. Loud song in some of the thick undergrowth alongside the trail, was eventually agreed to be that of a Whitethroat, and indeed we soon caught sight of one of these birds, obligingly perched on top of a hedge. The call and half-sighting of a Quail led to determined scanning of a rough area at the edge of one of the adjacent fields and although the Quail appeared to have disappeared into the long grass (like so many recent government policies?), we did have good sightings of a pair of Grey Partridge and a couple of Mistle Thrush hopping around in the stubble.

Further on, after much craning of necks looking for a Skylark high above us, a small rough area of field afforded good views of a Yellowhammer, its yellow chest showing up nicely in the brighter light of the late morning.  On the other side of the path, a field of wheat was attracting plenty of Swallows that were skimming back and forth just inches above the crop, no doubt enjoying a good feeding opportunity as the growing warmth was bringing out the insects, some of which were also beginning, in their turn, to feed on us!

Retracing our steps back to the car park and a welcome lunch at the Rope ands Anchor, we continued to hear plenty of birds, catching sight of some of them, but by no means all. Some of us picked out a Skylark at rest on pile of mud, and rather more of the group (back markers by this time as many lengthened their stride in search of sustenance) enjoyed watching the activity of a small group of Blackcaps that were flitting back and forth from a hedge to feed on the weed heads along the edge of a field.

In the car park a quick dusting down and tidying up was followed by a general move towards the pub and what turned out to be a most convivial lunch where everyone agreed that the morning had turned out to be much better than might have been expected.

Bird List (BP)

  1. Cormorant
  2. Grey Heron
  3. Buzzard
  4. Kestrel
  5. Grey Partridge
  6. Herring Gull
  7. Woodpigeon
  8. Swift
  9. Skylark
  10. House Martin
  11. Swallow
  12. Blackbird
  13. Song Thrush
  14. Mistle Thrush
  15. Wren
  16. Dunnock
  17. Robin
  18. Whitethroat
  19. Blackcap
  20. Chiff Chaff
  21. Long-tailed Tit
  22. Blue Tit
  23. Treecreeper
  24. Magpie
  25. Carrion Crow
  26. Starling
  27. House Sparrow
  28. Chaffinch
  29. Goldfinch
  30. Yellowhammer
  31. Reed Bunting


Photos JH


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