Woolston Eyes 26.03.19

Dry, cloudy, but bright, with a refreshing (!) breeze

The first few days of Spring; and where might there be a few early returning migrants, where might there be an almost guaranteed selection of wildfowl to mull over, where might there be a comfortable hide in which a Team of twenty-one might sit with ease, where might this place be that requires but a relatively short drive followed by an easy going ambling walk into the quiet of a lovingly cared for nature Reserve?……..obvious really for Team Tuesday old and new … it had to be Woolston Eyes for this week’s jaunt into birdwatching with the best of company.

Once the Weir Lane Linear car park had gathered its harvest of vehicles and after a quick debrief by the indefatigable Clive all moved off in relative order in the direction of the Mersey which was bound to offer our first wildfowl of the day…it did not disappoint. A flotilla of Tufted Duck seemed to be rallying round a pair of Great Crested Grebe (Mar(t)y and Rose) as if two birds were the royal flag ship of Henry VIII, and as happened to the Mary Rose they soon sank out of view. Undeterred, our binoculars then led us to the magnificence that can be achieved in nature by a simple combination of deep red and silvery grey as our eyes met a small number of Drake Pochard, which were accompanied by their females who were happy to slip by in their understated apparel.
Gadwall, Moorhen, Mallard and Canada Goose happily made up the numbers of wildfowl already encountered and at that we strolled off to the Weir where a pair of Lesser Black Backed Gull basked in the glory of their renewed breeding plumage in readiness for perhaps causing a little mayhem in the lives of the nearby Black Headed Gull colony. Three Buzzard mewed their far carrying call as they sauntered about the sky nonchalance oozing from them in their effortless flight whilst Cormorant whizzed by in their rush to get to the fish shop before it closed … I know there I go all anthropomorphic again … moving on we gained the west bank of number two bed.

Cetti’s Warbler lay down their gauntlet in defiant explosive mode in their usual emphatic voice…”catch (a view) me if you can”  (alas only the privileged few amongst us have achieved this)  whilst almost equally loud calls rang out from several Chiffchaff, but at least one of them put in a brief appearance upon the stage of this variety show of a day. Then after a gathering of the clans outside the gates of the forbidden citadel of numbers two and one ‘beds’ (lest we forget the Woolston Eyes Conservation Group Phoenix rose from the results of the constant battle to prevent the silting up of the Ship Canal the spoils of which being deposited here on the four dredging beds) we stormed over the footbridge and overran the defenders who wished to be but left alone in the mayhem they had brought upon themselves in committing to a new breeding season.

Views from the south Hide gave Shelduck, Shoveler and Teal for most of the Team, with the rest of our gathering taking their lack of these species on their personal list in their strides towards the John Morgan Hide, from which all such species, and more might easily be gained. Having a keen and regular visitor already in place in the Hide then gave all an element of ease in the search for the reported pair of Mediterranean Gull for with aplomb our fresh faced ‘guide’ offered succinct directions which led all to view these rather smart looking Gulls. An air of peace next followed with flasks trickling hot drinks into cups, snacks being produced and unwrapped with enthusiasm whilst a Male Lapwing tumbled about the sky in his efforts to gain a mate … judged on last year’s efforts he will succeed. Then from two directions were espied that jewel in the crown species for this Reserve; Black Necked Grebe with a total of five of these being admired to such an extent that if our appreciation was the rays of the sun these birds would have ended up with sun faded plumage … always a joy to behold.

A nudge in the direction of a winter we all admit, through years of experience, that may not yet have left our shores simply because the spring equinox has been crossed came in the form of at least four Brambling, which have yet to be convinced that their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and beyond are ready for their arrival, and survival … a bonus for our eyes indeed. Sand Martin, times two, then swept into the sky allowing all to practice their ability to test their binocular skills in following such small objects about the air before that lay us before they these two minuscule bundles of pulsating life pushed on to their breeding grounds perhaps somewhere along the banks of the Clyde … these things of nature never fail to impress.

Then it was time to wander back taking the circuit that led us gently around the areas of the winter seed crop, north and south meadows and out back to the footbridge with on this occasion little else to log on our day list…but as the pen being used to record the number of species we had encountered already having run out of ink this was of little concern … there was much more interest gained in the hubbub of conversation that led all easily back to our cars. (DS)

Bird List (CG)

  1. House Sparrow
  2. Wood Pigeon
  3. Feral Pigeon
  4. Blackbird
  5. Dunnock
  6. Greenfinch
  7. Bullfinch
  8. Chaffinch
  9. Brambling
  10. Great tit
  11. Blue tit
  12. Long-tailed tit
  13. Chiffchaff
  14. Common Buzzard
  15. Cormorant
  16. Grey Heron
  17. Kestrel
  18. Great Crested Grebe
  19. Black-necked Grebe
  20. Mallard
  21. Tufted Duck
  22. Pochard
  23. Gadwall
  24. Teal
  25. Mute Swan
  26. Lapwing
  27. Coot
  28. Moorhen
  29. Lesser Black Back Gull
  30. Black-headed Gull
  31. Mediterranean Gull
  32. Shoveler
  33. Shelduck
  34. Canada Goose
  35. Greylag Goose
  36. Sand Martin
  37. Greater Spotted Woodpecker
  38. Pheasant

Photos DC

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