Astley Moss 23.01.18


Overcast – grey – fresh

There are those genteel and civilised visits to the Moss starting and finishing at the Fisheries Cafe (the norm)…and then there are those once in a while curve-ball wanders when the challenge is to negotiate rather a lot of mire whilst straining for each and every elusive species of bird that may lie just within the field-view distance of our binoculars but once each bird has been incremented onto the day list the sweet taste of victory would ride well on our taste buds … this was such a day!

Rindle Road offered just about enough room for our parking and once all were safely gathered in we set off in an easterly direction for a short wander — yes this was to be a day of stop start walks – three in all.

This first sortie gave Pheasant aplenty – well it is after all a rough-shoot, keepered area –  a party of Long-Tailed Tit, several camera shy House Sparrows and had the added bonus of a couple of Hares which showed well in a stubble field.

A retracing of steps then led us westerly, towards the Astley Moss Special Area of Conservation and it was immediately obvious that there had been an almost 100% success rate in preserving mired pathways! Undaunted, we slowly negotiated these mud-pie tracks and were soon distracted by a distant flock of Finches, Woodpigeon and the odd Stock Dove.

In a more open area, we just about connected with a flock of Chaffinch which were on edge at the edge of a field and no doubt this was due to the presence of a watchful Sparrowhawk which was noted by one of the Team. Thus here we saw the balancing act shown by the smaller birds between gaining some grain whilst avoiding being grabbed for the final flight of their lives!  We than heard the sue-sue-sue song of an elusive Willow Tit and the high pitched contact call of a Treecreeper, which was moving through a light stand of woodland along with Blue/Great and Coal Tits.

In order to win views across the rare habitat of an inland raised peat bog, which has over the last 20-30 years been carefully restored by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust to its natural sphagnum pooled state, a careful ballet of delicate footfalls had to be enacted through peaty porridge before the wintry golden sweep of purple moor grass interspersed with heather and made inaccessible by deep and spongy sphagnum pools came into view.

A distant flock of Lapwing gave movement to this tranquil bird-free area, but on closer examination not quite so quiet for soon at least fifteen Snipe took to the air and zigzagged their way into and soon out of our view. (Urged on by a tall gentleman well-known to some of us. Ed)

The third and final wander then awaited our footfalls thus we carefully returned to Rindle Road, negotiated the Railway crossing and headed south for an awfully big adventure over to Chat Moss, the air above which was soon busy with large flocks of Woodpigeon, Starling and Jackdaw.

 An elusive pair of Grey Partridge then occupied our attention for a while for in spite of these birds being out in the open on a winter wheat crop they proved to be more than a match for our Team but happily all finally connected with these birds.

Photo DC

Redwing then became the headline birds as a small flock of these milled about the air landing long enough in some tall trees to give all a view unlike the three Mistle Thrush which only revealed themselves to a few of our number before they moved off.

Astley Road then required our last push for a pace or two but only as far as Olive Mount Farm for in this area and on a stubble field opposite the farm birds aplenty were ready to round off our day in style … if we were prepared to work hard for them! Effort put in by all then gained us Grey and Pied Wagtail, the odd Fieldfare and for those who happened to have their binoculars resting on the right spot after a lot attempts captured images of a couple of Brambling.

 It was time to retreat from this corner of our Moss safe in the knowledge that we had worked hard, been amply rewarded for our foot slogging and were assured that sleep would come easy this coming night! (DS)

Bird List (CG)

  1. Herring Gull
  2. Lesser Black Back Gull
  3. Greater Black Back Gull
  4. Black-headed Gull
  5. Grey Heron
  6. Lapwing
  7. Pheasant
  8. Grey Partridge
  9. Blackbird
  10. Starling
  11. Chaffinch
  12. Brambling
  13. Dunnock
  14. Long-tailed tit
  15. Blue tit
  16. Great tit
  17. Coal tit
  18. Robin
  19. Treecreeper
  20. Carrion Crow
  21. Jackdaw
  22. Magpie
  23. Pied Wagtail
  24. Grey Wagtail
  25. Fieldfare
  26. Redwing
  27. Mistle thrush
  28. Woodpigeon
  29. Stock Dove
  30. Collared dove
  31. Common Snipe
  32. Mallard
  33. Buzzard

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