Marbury Country Park 12.02.19

Cloudy at first, but brighter later

Some sixteen members of the Team assembled on a somewhat overcast morning and immediately took the revolutionary decision to begin our circuit of this varied site in the opposite direction  from the usual one, heading off down Marbury Lane rather than towards the mere. This meant that we were immediately  immersed in a search for woodland birds whose calls were loud and clear, but sight of which was not always easy. However, adjusting to the relatively low light levels we soon counted Blackbird, Robin, Goldfinch and Dunnock, which rather than singing were more intent on finding food along the field edges. The loud practice voice of a Song Thrush, not yet in full mellifluous flow, then drew our eyes towards the top of a tree, and soon after a loud drumming announced the presence of woodpeckers. In a short time most of the group had gained sightings of at least one Greater Spotted Woodpecker, the first of several seen during the course of the morning to the accompaniment of much drumming that often echoed from one side of the path to the other as we walked along.

Heading for Neumann’s Flash we paused at ‘Water Rail’ Bridge, but on this occasion it did not live up to its nickname, although we did enjoy good views of at least a pair of Nuthatch that were actively flitting about in the trees, literally only feet away from us. At the Neumann’s Flash hide coffee was taken by some, and the flash was scanned to see what birds were present. In fact there were plenty, but unfortunately right on the far side of the water where Teal, Shoveler, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed and Lesser Black Back Gulls were all spotted, no doubt enjoying the warmth of the sun, which had by now broken through the early clouds.

We then began the longish trek  back towards Budworth Mere, crossing the canal and making our way through the woods, en route spotting (and hearing!) more woodpeckers and some Starlings that were feeding along the edges of the nearby ploughed field. The feeding station near the Ice Pool was drawing in Blue and Great Tit, as well as a few male and female Chaffinch, but nothing else showed, discouraged no doubt by the presence of perhaps half-a-dozen grey squirrels that were active on the ground around the feeders.

As we made our way along the edge of the mere, our party by now having splintered somewhat, plenty of avian activity was noted on the far side where Curlew, Greylag and Canada Geese, Lapwing, Cormorant and even a couple of pair of Oyster Catcher were all present. Attention was focused on a large number (in excess of 100?) of smallish black birds under the trees on the far bank: closer inspection revealed these to be Coots, perhaps resting, but certainly in an unusually large number. Further on, both Little and Great Crested Grebe were seen, the former hiding amongst the reeds and only spotted with great difficulty, the latter in full view with one pair performing their almost symmetrical dance together.

At the main hide, to which reports of sightings of at least one bittern over recent weeks had drawn us, we enjoyed the sight of a variety of birds visiting the feeders in front of us, including a couple of Reed Buntings. Unfortunately, even the most determined scanning failed to reveal the presence of the bittern, although one of our number who had got to the hide a little before the main party  was lucky enough to have caught a very fleeting glimpse this elusive and well-camouflaged bird as it appeared to be settling down in its roost. Nonetheless, the general feeling was that this was only a minor set-back to what had otherwise been a most interesting morning of birding, and we headed back to the cars (and home) for a rather late lunch – at least in my case!

Bird List (M.Ho)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Greylag goose
  4. Wigeon
  5. Mallard
  6. Shoveler
  7. Teal
  8. Tufted duck
  9. Great crested grebe
  10. Little grebe
  11. Cormorant
  12. Common buzzard
  13. Moorhen
  14. Coot
  15. Oystercatcher
  16. Lapwing
  17. Curlew
  18. Black-headed gull
  19. Lesser black-backed gull
  20. Woodpigeon
  21. Great spotted woodpecker
  22. Dunnock
  23. Robin
  24. Blackbird
  25. Song thrush
  26. Mistle thrush
  27. Long-tailed tit
  28. Coal tit
  29. Blue tit
  30. Great tit
  31. Treecreeper
  32. Nuthatch
  33. Starling
  34. Magpie
  35. Carrion crow
  36. Chaffinch
  37. Goldfinch
  38. Reed bunting
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