Wirral Winter Wander 20.02.18

Bright with clearing blue skies, stiff breeze

Pre-walk duties carried out on clear views, sun blessed and north wind caressed morn led me back to the Team who had arrived in reasonable force for the 10 am start on Denhall Lane. Distractions aplenty delayed Team Tuesdays move north towards Neston Quay for inland, Stock Dove requested an entry on our day list, marshland flaunted a ‘pair’ of Great White Egret and, roadside, our almost deified Wirral hosts Kenny, Colin and Stewart were holding court to mesmerising effect, but nonetheless we managed a break out and off we ambled upon another Wirral extravaganza.

Activity aplenty out on the marsh managed to break up deep and meaningful conversations which seemed to range in any and every direction other than birdwatching, proving as Rag and Bone Man sings (we) Are Only Human after all ….then birds DID win through. Skylark song drifted through the air bringing nature’s angelic chorus into our souls whilst Curlew offered their haunting calls as Linnet and Reed Bunting paused for photographers to attempt image-capture these delightful smaller passerines.

Decca Pools area reached and all gained the slight incline to gain more sweeping views of this wondrous salt marsh area over which distant flocks of Starling, Pink Footed Geese and Gulls including Great Black Backed milled about during the frenzy of another day in their collective survival. The foreground from this vantage point gave with ease a lone drake Pintail, numerous Teal and Wigeon plus an elusive Little Grebe. Then after a visual acuity test, in which I am happy to report all passed with flying colours, resting Common Snipe were scraped onto our recorder’s list.

A move onward was then soon halted for a ‘Ring-Tail’ (Juvenile/Female) Hen Harrier was brought to our attention by our Raptor spotter of the day—this bird didn’t help the viewing by all of the Team for it was taking full advantage of the strong Northerly ‘breeze’ to move rapidly over the marsh, but happily I believe all connected with it to some degree or other…just!

We then decided that this was a good time to retreat towards the comfort zone of Burton Mere RSPB reserve for an early lunch and without further ado we about-turned to our cars, but the pace wasn’t set at too greater speed as we had a lot to chat about and there was a pair of Raven to admire, just to keep the ornithological element of the day topped up!

A rather busy Burton Mere Reserve was totally unfazed by the influx of our Team and with ease it absorbed us into its welcoming arms giving plenty to view whilst lunches were absorbed with comfortable ease. The Accountants cold and precise Double Entry Bookkeeping or the more subtle humanistic view of Henry Reeds – ‘The Naming of Parts’ – incremented the lunchtime part of the list with Avocet, Black Tailed Godwit, Shoveler, Redshank and Gadwall to name but a few birds that graced our comfy viewing point before we set off for an hour’s bimble about the site. Tufted Duck, bustling Goldfinch and a resting Little Egret lined the way to our next hide from which a flighty Stonechat and a carefully observed Cetti’s Warbler were noted before we decided that a final push for the day would lead us to Parkgate.

A brief drive later and most of the Team were ready to absorb a little more of the days dominant Northerly air flow which kept its promise to chill unlike a certain Owl species that in not putting on a show failed to thrill. Disappointment then ended this splendid day OR DID IT?—NEVER! for here a Marsh Harrier chose to make our acquaintance, Lapwing Galore spilled about the sky, a lone Brambling, sensing our ‘need’ to add another relatively elusive bird to our tally, perched atop a nearby tree, young Peter (Kenny’s lad) turned up helping to reduce the age average of our team, whilst finally a mini flock of Fieldfare and Redwing allowed views unlike a clearly calling Green Woodpecker!

Then it was time to bid a fond farewell to the Wirral, its Wildlife and our much appreciated Wirral Triumvirate. (DS)

Bird List (MH)

  1. Great White Egret
  2. Jackdaw
  3. Stock dove
  4. Wood pigeon
  5. Nuthatch (H)
  6. Goldfinch
  7. Little egret
  8. Starlings
  9. Dunnock
  10. Common buzzard
  11. Reed bunting
  12. Linnet
  13. Mallard
  14. Moorhen
  15. Long- tailed tit
  16. Pink-footed goose
  17. Raven
  18. Shelduck
  19. Carrion crow
  20. Meadow pipit
  21. House sparrow
  22. Lapwing
  23. Blue tit
  24. Teal
  25. Great tit
  26. Chaffinch
  27. Skylark
  28. Curlew
  29. Lesser black-backed gull
  30. Coot
  31. Pintail
  32. Wigeon
  33. Redshank
  34. Snipe
  35. Black-headed gull
  36. Little grebe
  37. Kestrel
  38. Hen harrier
  39. Cormorant
  40. Avocet
  41. Black-tailed godwit
  42. Canada goose
  43. Shoveler
  44. Grey heron
  45. Tufted duck
  46. Marsh harrier
  47. Gadwall
  48. Coal tit
  49. Robin
  50. Greylag goose
  51. Magpie
  52. Stonechat
  53. Cetti’s warbler
  54. Great black-backed gull
  55. Brambling
  56. Pied wagtail
  57. Green woodpecker (H)
  58. Pheasant
  59. Fieldfare
  60. Redwing
  61. Wren

Photos DC/CG

 

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Chorlton Water Park 06.02.18

Light snow, turning heavier for a time – cold!

A determined group of some fifteen members of the Team met in the car park just before  10am. Early arrivals had been enjoying the sight of a mix of small birds around the feeders and also of a Ring-necked Parakeet that was muscling in, much to the discomfort of the smaller birds. With the snow just beginning to fall, however, we lost no time in making our way down for a first view across the lake, where we saw fair numbers of Canada Geese, several pairs of Mute Swans, with large cygnets in attendance, as well as the usual groups of Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot and Black-headed Gull. More determined scanning revealed the presence of a small group of Pochard in the distance and the first of several Great Crested Grebe that were seen at various times over the course of the morning, all of which, however, looked  very ‘washed out’, still in their winter plumage.

Setting off, for a change, on a clockwise circuit of the lake, we paused at the pond area where patience was eventually rewarded with the sight of quite good numbers of Goldfinch, some Siskin feeding high in the trees, a Treecreeper making its almost frantic way up the trunk of one of the tallest trees, and, a bit further off, the glimpse of a roosting Buzzard that was being given a hard time by several Magpies, before it eventually flew off.

Moving on towards the river and Kenworthy Woods we saw little new – the height of the Mersey seemed to be discouraging the usual wagtails that had been seen along the banks on previous visits, and the old orchard seemed almost strangely quiet. However, just as we were leaving the orchard something put up what turned out to be a flock of twenty or so Redwing that circled round before coming to rest again a bit further on, and allowing us to get some good, relatively close-up views. Heading across into the woods, on the other side of the track we were lucky to pick out a couple of pairs of Bullfinches that were feeding enthusiastically in the hedge, the males now obviously coming into their bright spring plumage.

Further on, having just spotted a lone Herring gull out on the playing fields adjacent to the path, its profile clearly distinguishing it from the accompanying Black-headed gulls, the call of a Song Thrush teasingly attracted our attention. Its repetitive notes were clear and loud, but locating it proved somewhat of a challenge, especially as several Redwing were present and confusingly much easier to spot. Eventually, however, the singer was located and we all enjoyed the sight of this determined harbinger of spring, in which role it was having to work especially hard on this particular morning!

Coffee break taken, with the snow becoming a little heavier, we began our longish trek back through the woods and towards the lake. Little attracted our attention, however, apart from a small flock of Long-tailed tits just as we left the woods and, on the far side of the lake, a pair of Gadwall that were glimpsed through the falling snow, that was becoming distinctly wetter with each passing moment. After a final sortie onto the river bank, we all turned back towards the car park. However, as some determinedly strode ahead, others were distracted and their progress slowed, first by the raucous calls of Jays, then the sight of one of the few Robins seen during the course of the morning and finally by the sight of Siskin feeding in the trees just above the path. But while some were focusing on the latter, others spotted out on the lake, what, after much consultation of handbooks, common agreement eventually decided was a lone female Red-breasted Merganser. This bird swam back and forth across the lake for some time, before eventually taking off and disappearing from view.

The snow had more or less ceased by this time, but with a penetrating cold having replaced the dampness, no one now delayed in the final few steps back to the cars after what had turned out to be quite a satisfying morning of birding.

 Bird List (MH)

  1. Blue tit
  2. Great tit
  3. Starling
  4. Ring- necked parakeet
  5. Chaffinch
  6. Sparrows
  7. Wood pigeon
  8. Goldfinch
  9. Black-headed gulls
  10. Blackbird
  11. Pochard
  12. Cormorant
  13. Mute swan
  14. Canada goose
  15. Coot
  16. Mallard
  17. Tufted duck
  18. Moorhen
  19. Great-crested grebe
  20. Magpie
  21. Siskin
  22. Treecreeper
  23. Buzzard
  24. Dunnock
  25. Wren
  26. Carrion crow
  27. Redwings
  28. Bullfinch
  29. Robin
  30. Jay
  31. Herring gull
  32. Song thrush
  33. Long-tailed tits
  34. Gadwall
  35. Collared dove
  36. Red-breasted merganser

(Photos DC)