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)

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