Marbury Country Park 17.10.17

Bright, still warm for the time of year, and definitely less windy than of late

A good number of the Team gathered in the pay-and-display car park at Marbury, pleased that the weather had improved so much from the previous day and pleasantly surprised that there was no ‘paying and displaying’ to do! Signs of the recent storm were few, but unusually there was a definite dearth in avian presence amongst the trees around the car park, as though the birds had either been blown away, or were distrustful of the apparent calm and were still hunkering down somewhere. Some bird calls were heard on our way to the first of the hides, but with plenty of leaves still on the trees it was well nigh impossible to catch sight of anything. However, the first hide proved reasonably rewarding, with a variety of tits making the most of the plentiful supple of seeds that had been left out, and the good light across the Mere providing striking views of the bright green heads of male mallard and a mix of tufted ducks, coot and great crested grebe. On the far side there were plenty of birds and eventually, having walked a way along the track beside the Mere, we got better views of these which included an apparently lone curlew, a single pied wag-tail lit up in the bright sun, as well as Canada geese, black-headed gulls, lapwings and two or three cormorants.

A brief coffee break saw the arrival of a family of mute swans, two adults and three young, as well as a discussion regarding the identification of a small active duck nearby. Eventually, although no others of its species were present nearby, a consensus formed that it was a juvenile tufted duck, even though it was the size of a little grebe and seemed to be diving just as actively as that species does.

The Ice Pool hide gave excellent views of several nuthatch on the feeders and, although unfortunately this was a lone sighting, of a couple of redwing close by. At Forge Bridge there was neither sight nor sound of the Water Rail that has sometimes made its presence felt, and Haydn’s Pool was disappointingly bereft of any bird life at all. Thus it was decided to press on to Neumann’s Flash where it was understood at least one Hooper’s Swan had been seen. By this time, just after midday, the angle of the sun across the flash made observation difficult, and although there was much determined scanning none of the swans present appeared to be Hooper’s. However, we were pleased to catch glimpses of Teal, a small group of Wigeon, some Shoveler lazing on the island across from the hide and two or three Lesser Black-backed Gulls floating out on the flash.

With thoughts of lunch now coming to the forefront of minds, the group set off on the long walk back to the car park, happy to have spent a good morning in the open air, even if the birding had not been especially dramatic.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Wigeon
  4. Mallard
  5. Shoveler
  6. Teal
  7. Tufted duck
  8. Great crested grebe
  9. Cormorant
  10. Grey heron
  11. Coot
  12. Lapwing
  13. Curlew
  14. Black-headed gull
  15. Lesser black-backed gull
  16. Woodpigeon
  17. Pied wagtail
  18. Wren
  19. Robin
  20. Blackbird
  21. Goldcrest
  22. Long-tailed tit
  23. Coal tit
  24. Blue tit
  25. Great tit
  26. Nuthatch
  27. Jay
  28. Magpie
  29. Carrion crow
  30. Chaffinch

Burton Mere Wetlands

Having started the day in quite dismal conditions – rain, mist and traffic jams for some- ten  TT members were delighted to see the sunshine at Burton Mere Visitor Centre. Sightings of cattle egret, marsh harrier, ruff and snipe, alongside the more regular black-tailed godwit, lapwing, teal and wigeon, certainly raised the expectations of the day ahead.

After a good half-hour scanning the area in front of the reception hide, it was decided to venture forth and investigate the rest of the site. But no sooner had the group left the hide, when one of the RSPB volunteers called us all back with a shout of ‘the little stints have just flown in’, which indeed they had, a green sandpiper also making an appearance.

Now round to the pools to seek the kingfisher, and after watching grey wagtail nearby, the group was indeed rewarded with a kingfisher flying past and settling on the far bank.

Buzzard, kestrel, more snipe and linnet were all spotted on the way to the far hide at Inner Marsh, where there were even more rewards; a wonderful wood sandpiper in front of the hide and golden plover aplenty among the lapwing on the scrape.

By now it was time to return to the visitor centre – some in desperate need of sustenance – and a short stroll to see the spectacle of hundreds of pink-footed geese returning to the marshes, before tackling the journey home after an extremely satisfying day.  (MH)

Bird List (MH)

  1. Black swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Pink-footed goose
  4. Wigeon
  5. Mallard
  6. Gadwall
  7. Shoveler
  8. Teal
  9. Tufted duck
  10. Pheasant
  11. Little grebe
  12. Little egret
  13. Cattle egret
  14. Grey heron
  15. Marsh harrier
  16. Sparrowhawk
  17. Common buzzard
  18. Kestrel
  19. Moorhen
  20. Coot
  21. Golden plover
  22. Lapwing
  23. Little stint
  24. Green sandpiper
  25. Wood sandpiper
  26. Redshank
  27. Black-tailed godwit
  28. Ruff
  29. Common snipe
  30. Black-headed gull
  31. Woodpigeon
  32. Kingfisher
  33. Grey wagtail
  34. Pied wagtail
  35. Wren
  36. Dunnock
  37. Robin
  38. Blackbird
  39. Cetti’s warbler
  40. Long-tailed tit
  41. Coal tit
  42. Blue tit
  43. Great tit
  44. Nuthatch
  45. Starling
  46. Jackdaw
  47. Jay
  48. Magpie
  49. Carrion crow
  50. Rook
  51. Chaffinch
  52. Greenfinch
  53. Goldfinch
  54. Linnet

Moore Nature Reserve 03.10.17

A group of 12 eager TT members convened at Moore on a bright autumn morning and -despite a chilly breeze and a lack of leader – determined to cover as much of the reserve as possible to see what avian delights could be discovered.

Initially a multitude of jays and the occasional crow and magpie seemed to be the order of the day, the trees around the car park remaining eerily silent. Lapwing Hide provided the ‘usual’ sightings: coot, mallard, tuftie, gadwall and little grebe – and a kingfisher was seen darting past by a lucky few. Then a birdless wander to the feeding station followed, where absolutely nothing stirred as the feeders have yet to be filled this year. At least there was no rain, and we even had the occasional feeling of warmth from the sun in more sheltered spots.

Spirits rose soon after this as a goldcrest flitted in an ivy-clad tree, then kestrel, buzzard and a flock of long-tailed tits could be added to the list before Birchwood Pool was reached. Here Canada geese had gathered in their hundreds, with a few Greylags and other waterfowl,  and another kingfisher sighting encouraged all to step out to see what Pumphouse Pool might have to offer. No disappointment here; yet another kingfisher sighting, then cormorant, shoveler, teal, then  – a wader alert –  both black-tailed godwit and ruff, and pied and yellow wagtails too.

Now feeling satisfied, and hungry too: time to return to the cars, but not before a few lucky members caught fleeting glimpses of a green woodpecker flying from grass to tree.

Message of the day: never give up hope of seeing something unexpected. (MH)

Bird List (MH)

  1. Jay
  2. Jackdaw
  3. Carrion crow
  4. Starling
  5. Collared dove
  6. Goldfinch
  7. Nuthatch
  8. Magpie
  9. Black headed gull
  10. Buzzard
  11. Feral pigeon
  12. Kingfisher
  13. Little grebe
  14. Coot
  15. Tufted duck
  16. Mallard
  17. Gadwall
  18. Wood pigeon
  19. Blue tit
  20. Robin
  21. Kestrel
  22. Goldcrest
  23. Long tailed tit
  24. Chaffinch
  25. Great tit
  26. Canada goose
  27. Greylag goose
  28. Great crested grebe
  29. Wigeon
  30. Teal
  31. Cormorant
  32. Black tailed godwit
  33. Raven
  34. Herring gull
  35. Ruff
  36. Grey heron
  37. Grey wagtail
  38. Pied wagtail
  39. Green woodpecker
  40. Moorhen
  41. Shoveler

Pennington Flash 26.09.17

I was just wondering what to write for today’s report of a memorable morning, when an email from our new member Robbie popped up – I think she saved me the job:

Misty autumnal sunshine at Pennington for my first Team Tuesday trip… perfect.
Bird sightings…brilliant.  Company….excellent.
Highlights were many:
From the car park, courtesy of a shared scope, a flotilla of Common Scoter sailing across the middle of the Flash. Lapwings, wheeling and calling, then silent at the waters edge. Sunshine highlighting Snipe stripes as they rested on a bank. A stunning Kingfisher, darting, perching, then a skimming flight across the water. Watching a family of Long- tailed Tits busy on a feeder, then realising in the undergrowth behind was a stalking Water Rail until it was chased away by a belligerent Moorhen.
Pennington delivered again.

Thanks Robbie.

Bird List (BP)

  1. Great- Crested Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Wigeon
  7. Gadwall
  8. Teal
  9. Mallard
  10. Shoveler
  11. Tufted Duck
  12. Common Scoter
  13. Buzzard
  14. Kestrel
  15. Water Rail
  16. Moorhen
  17. Coot
  18. Lapwing
  19. Snipe
  20. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  21. Black-headed Gull
  22. Stock Dove
  23. Wood Pigeon
  24. Kingfisher
  25. Swallow
  26. Grey Wagtail
  27. Wren
  28. Dunnock
  29. Blackbird
  30. Robin
  31. Long-tailed Tit
  32. Willow Tit
  33. Great Tit
  34. Blue Tit
  35. Coal Tit
  36. Jay
  37. Magpie
  38. Carrion Crow
  39. Chaffinch
  40. Greenfinch
  41. Goldfinch
  42. Bullfinch


Chat Moss 19.09.17

Foggy, Damp, Cool … later too much sunshine!?!

A conundrum to start off Team Tuesdays Birdwatching year….was the Sun sulking because the autumn Equinox was but a couple of days away, OR was the Fog in a little too much haste to bring on the next season?

TT will never know for whatever the weather Chat Moss and a welcome cuppa at the fisheries to start the day ensured that those who were not too busy being retired/on holiday in retirement etc. found that the journey through the tail end of the rush hour was worth making…especially as a couple of the Team managed to note a Swallow as soon as they arrived—a sighting soon be of rarity value as these birds retire to their wintering grounds in South Africa.

Cuppa and a brief catch-up on summertime activities then occupied the next twenty minutes or so….and would have with ease taken up the rest of the morn but the birds were somewhere out there in the Fog, and they siren-like drew us onto the misty waves of another Chat Moss wander. Pied Wagtail, Tufted Duck and Grey Heron were seen with relative ease whilst Chiffchaff, Robin and Goldfinch made themselves heard in the now slowly clearing air. A move out to check a couple of Horse Paddocks then led us onto a wave of titmice with Long-Tailed Tit dominant. Then across the now un-shrouded field Pied Wagtail and Starling were seen…yes things were looking up for our list keeper as more birds headed for him to scribe.

We then headed up Cutnook Lane to gain views of Croxden Peat which was notably looking a lot better with vegetation and pools slowly eradicating the years that this site had suffered from Peat extraction and as if to prove the worth of this re-colonisation by nature a Greenshank popped up for all to admire before its brief stopover was ended as it moves restlessly south for the winter. Teal, Mallard and Black-Headed Gull occupied the bunded pooled area, views of which proved quite difficult as the birches and willows have now started to provide cover for this oasis for wildfowl—nice for them but challenging viewing for us! A few splashes of colour then crept into our now brightening day as we noted the gold of yet to be harvested Barley, the citrine of a posing Yellowhammer and the red-black and white of a male Bullfinch (this latter bird forming part of a family party as they moved about the area). Then as we noted a Buzzard tucking into a prey item a decision had to be made—retreat back to lunch or pinch a little more time out of our day and push for a few minutes viewing Little Woolden Moss Nature reserve.

Lunch called to some and further leg stretching west called to the rest and twenty minutes later the reward for the former group was a leisurely lunch and for the latter a sentinel male Stonechat that would insist on giving all ‘top of small’ tree poses…a delight! Then more scanning of the wide open spaces of this beautiful reserve (one emerging with love from peat extraction by the efforts of Lancashire Wildlife Trust and its Volunteers) gave seven Ringed Plover as they refuelled on their own migratory move south.

Black Darter, Common Darter and Southern Hawker dragonflies added a little more interest to our day as did fleeting views of Comma and Red Admiral Butterflies, but now was the time for retreat which we did in the usual leisurely chatty way that comes with ease to the Team Tuesday family.

Progress I admit was not quite without its pauses for more bird life came to our attention resulting in the addition of Mute Swan and House Martin to our now healthy looking day-list before we arrived back at the fisheries car-park. (DS)

Bird List (CG)

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Swallow
  3. Tufted Duck
  4. Woodpigeon
  5. Stock Dove
  6. Magpie
  7. Jay
  8. Heron
  9. Black-headed Gull
  10. Long-tailed tit
  11. Mallard
  12. Teal
  13. Coot Moorhen
  14. Linnet
  15. Blue tit
  16. Chiffchaff
  17. Pied Wagtail
  18. Blackbird
  19. Goldfinch
  20. Meadow Pipet
  21. Starling
  22. Kestrel
  23. Pheasant
  24. Greenshank
  25. Snipe
  26. Robin
  27. Buzzard
  28. Carrion Crow
  29. Yellowhammer
  30. Bullfinch
  31. Sparrow
  32. Reed Bunting
  33. Stonechat
  34. Ringed Plover
  35. Mute Swan
  36. House Martin

Trans-Pennine Trail 04.07.17

Mostly overcast, and increasingly warm

‘Not a with bang, but certainly not a with whimper’ was how the Team Tuesday  season concluded yesterday. We met in the Henshall Lane car park, the light, early morning rain having thankfully passed over, and immediately became aware of how difficult things were going to be; even Long-tailed tits, usually so easy to make out, were very difficult to spot amongst the dense foliage of the surrounding trees. Undeterred, however, we began our walk along the old railway track bed, heading east away from the site of the old Dunham Massey Railway Station (closed in 1962, even before Dr Beeching). A passing dog walker, keen to share his local knowledge, drew our attention to a mound to the south of the trail, an unusual feature given the largely flat nature of the rest of the adjacent landscape, which he assured us was known as ‘Hooley’s Hump’, and said that this was spoil from the time that the canal was dug out in the late eighteenth century. As we were thus engaged in conversation, our first notable sighting of the day appeared in the shape of a buzzard that began to circle lazily above us, before coming to rest on a distant telegraph pole, not far from a couple of apparently unconcerned Goldfinch resting on the wires.

Pressing on, accompanied by what seemed like an ever-present sound of Chiff Chaff, one of which was eventually spotted, we soon began to enjoy the auditory challenge that the morning was turning out to be, making out Yellowhammer, Wren, Chaffinch and other birds. Loud song in some of the thick undergrowth alongside the trail, was eventually agreed to be that of a Whitethroat, and indeed we soon caught sight of one of these birds, obligingly perched on top of a hedge. The call and half-sighting of a Quail led to determined scanning of a rough area at the edge of one of the adjacent fields and although the Quail appeared to have disappeared into the long grass (like so many recent government policies?), we did have good sightings of a pair of Grey Partridge and a couple of Mistle Thrush hopping around in the stubble.

Further on, after much craning of necks looking for a Skylark high above us, a small rough area of field afforded good views of a Yellowhammer, its yellow chest showing up nicely in the brighter light of the late morning.  On the other side of the path, a field of wheat was attracting plenty of Swallows that were skimming back and forth just inches above the crop, no doubt enjoying a good feeding opportunity as the growing warmth was bringing out the insects, some of which were also beginning, in their turn, to feed on us!

Retracing our steps back to the car park and a welcome lunch at the Rope ands Anchor, we continued to hear plenty of birds, catching sight of some of them, but by no means all. Some of us picked out a Skylark at rest on pile of mud, and rather more of the group (back markers by this time as many lengthened their stride in search of sustenance) enjoyed watching the activity of a small group of Blackcaps that were flitting back and forth from a hedge to feed on the weed heads along the edge of a field.

In the car park a quick dusting down and tidying up was followed by a general move towards the pub and what turned out to be a most convivial lunch where everyone agreed that the morning had turned out to be much better than might have been expected.

Bird List (BP)

  1. Cormorant
  2. Grey Heron
  3. Buzzard
  4. Kestrel
  5. Grey Partridge
  6. Herring Gull
  7. Woodpigeon
  8. Swift
  9. Skylark
  10. House Martin
  11. Swallow
  12. Blackbird
  13. Song Thrush
  14. Mistle Thrush
  15. Wren
  16. Dunnock
  17. Robin
  18. Whitethroat
  19. Blackcap
  20. Chiff Chaff
  21. Long-tailed Tit
  22. Blue Tit
  23. Treecreeper
  24. Magpie
  25. Carrion Crow
  26. Starling
  27. House Sparrow
  28. Chaffinch
  29. Goldfinch
  30. Yellowhammer
  31. Reed Bunting


Photos JH

Conwy Nature Reserve 13.06.17

Overcast at first, brighter later

Some fifteen members of the Team met for our now regular annual visit to this varied wetland reserve and after a quick discussion, to decide on the route for the morning so as to have the best chance of seeing the movement of birds due to the incoming tide, we headed off in search of Whitethroats, both Common and Lesser, whose presence had been noted on the sightings board inside the VC.

Chiffchaffs and Greenfinches serenaded us as we passed through the wooded edges of the reserve, but mostly they kept out of view and a few of us were beginning to think that the same might be true of the Whitethroats. However such despondency was soon dismissed as movement was seen amongst the grasses and bushes a few metres from the side of the path. After a number of half glimpses, at last we had clear sightings of what was apparently a small family of Common Whitethroats that must have been nesting in one of the larger bushes; a pair of adults and two or three fledglings, the latter thoughtfully staying in one place long enough for some members of the team to get good photos of them. Some passing Long-tailed Tits were quickly seen off by one of the adult birds and we had more views of the fledglings that were pursuing their parents demanding food. Determined scanning of other bushes and trees resulted in some members of the team actually catching sight of the Lesser Whitethroat as well, but this bird was much more skulking in its movements, and many of us failed to catch any sight of it at all.

Eventually moving on, we made our way down towards the estuary where the incoming tide was just beginning to push birds off the sandbanks. Shelduck, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Canada Goose and Curlew were all noted, as well as a mix of Gulls: Herring, Lesser and Great Black-backed. At the Benarth Hide we enjoyed the sight of a mix of water birds, including Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, a Common Sandpiper and a Teal that was hunkered down behind a rock and almost impossible to make out, but the highlight was the sighting of a Merganser resting on one of the islands in front of the hide. Good views were enjoyed too through the screens on either side of the hide (a welcome feature on this reserve) and Coot, Starling, Greenfinch, Pied wagtails and a lone Barnacle Goose were all seen. Interestingly, there was a mix of adult and juvenile birds and careful observation solved an avian puzzle that had presented itself earlier: a brownish bird with black beak, about the size of a blackbird that had been hopping about on the path, turned out to be a juvenile Starling!

Our progress back along the path by the estuary towards the VC (and lunch!) was briefly interrupted, first by the sighting of a solitary Wheatear that perched for some time on top of one of the information boards along the side of the track, and then by the spectacle of a Cormorant hungrily devouring a rather large flat fish of some kind, and reminding us of those pangs of hunger that we beginning to make themselves felt.

Al fresco picnics or a snack in the cafeteria were followed by a trek round the reed beds and onto the Redshank Trail. Warblers were heard in the reeds, but only a few of us caught sight of them. Sound and sighting of a family of Little Grebe was easier from the Boardwalk viewpoint and from the Tal-y-fasn hide Little Egrets, Black-headed Gulls and a Merganser – or was it a Pochard? – were seen. We also spent some time consulting handbooks and deciding on the precise identification of a wader that dropped in on one of the islands across from the hide. At our last destination of the afternoon, the Carneddau hide, we had unambiguous sightings of the Merganser which took to the water making it easy to admire its punk hair style and long bill; a suitable conclusion to an excellent day’s birding, notable both for the number of species spotted and the interesting challenges we had faced (successfully?) with regard to the identification of a few individual birds seen.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Greylag goose
  4. Barnacle goose
  5. Shelduck
  6. Mallard
  7. Gadwall
  8. Teal
  9. Pochard
  10. Tufted duck
  11. Red-breasted merganser
  12. Great crested grebe
  13. Little grebe
  14. Cormorant
  15. Little egret
  16. Grey heron
  17. Common buzzard
  18. Moorhen
  19. Coot
  20. Oystercatcher
  21. Common sandpiper
  22. Redshank
  23. Curlew
  24. Herring gull
  25. Black-headed Gull
  26. Great black-backed gull
  27. Lesser black-backed gull
  28. Rock dove
  29. Feral pigeon
  30. Woodpigeon
  31. Swift
  32. Swallow
  33. House martin
  34. Pied wagtail
  35. Wren
  36. Dunnock
  37. Robin
  38. Wheatear
  39. Blackbird
  40. Sedge warbler
  41. Reed warbler
  42. Willow warbler
  43. Chiffchaff
  44. Whitethroat
  45. Lesser whitethroat
  46. Long tailed tit
  47. Blue tit
  48. Great tit
  49. Starling
  50. Jackdaw
  51. Carrion crow
  52. House sparrow
  53. Chaffinch
  54. Greenfinch
  55. Goldfinch
  56. Linnet

Photos DC

Goyt Valley 23.05.17

Overcast at first, sunny and warm later

A dozen members of the team gathered at Lamaload Reservoir beneath initially cloudy skies.  A first sweep across the water revealed very little, although the calls of Canada Geese had been heard as we approached the water. However, Swallows were glimpsed skimming low across the reservoir and then gradually a variety of species were noted: Canada Geese and Mallard; a Coot on its nest on the opposite shore; a lone Lapwing and then, just below us, a pair of Little Grebe, noisily making us aware of their presence, and a quieter family of Coot, a male and a female busily looking after two or three little ones. A Cormorant and a Pied Wagtail dropped in as we were about to leave, and, as we made our way back towards the cars, we caught sight of the first raptors of the day, a Buzzard soaring overhead and another slightly smaller bird, probably a Sparrow hawk.

At our next stop, Pym’s Chair, on the top of the ridge above the Goyt Valley, we were greeted by a strong wind and the lusty and exhilarating song of a Skylark, giving its all high above us. The strong wind, blowing through the abundant cotton grass all around us, seemed to be discouraging other birds, and we were about to leave when a large raptor flew overhead and began to hover over the valley behind us, more or less just at eye level. The colouration and habit of the bird led to some debate about what precisely it was.  After much consultation of handbooks, a view began to emerge that it must be a Rough-legged Buzzard. Subsequent consultation with other birding friends confirmed our identification, and it was certainly a spectacle that was enjoyed by all.

A brief stop at the upper Errwood Reservoir car park  added a Kestrel to our tally, but there was little else to see. And although the call of a Willow Warbler was clear and near, the vegetation at the side of the water was too dense to vouchsafe a view.

The Errwood House car park was our lunch stop and, between sandwiches, afforded some of the Team views of a Redstart, Song Thrush and Robin. Our wander up the road past the nest boxes produced some tantalising glimpses of what must have been Flycatchers, but these birds were very elusive and it was difficult to get good views and agree identification. There were clearer sightings of other species; Blue tits and Great tits flitting in and out of the nest boxes along the side of the road; a Great Spotted Woodpecker showing well high above us; a Grey Wagtail obligingly hoping across the road a short distance ahead of us; and a female Blackcap perching in one spot just long enough for more or less everyone to enjoy a fine view. The way back to the car park along the track above the road produced a number of treats and proved that you have to look down as well as up when out on a nature walk! First a small Green Vane Hairstreak butterfly was spotted in the middle of the path in front of us before it flew into the grass nearby, then a small group at the head of the main body of the team almost literally stumbled on a Woodcock that flew off to the left and finally, this time looking skywards, we had fine views of a Tree pipet, nicely silhouetted against the clear blue sky.

The welcome appearance of an ice-cream van on the car park allowed us to cool down from both excitement and exertion before we pressed on to the Derbyshire Bridge car park, from where we had distant views of red deer on the ridge across the valley.  A short ramble up onto the moor afforded us the spectacle of a Curlew seeing off a Raven that it clearly thought was coming much too near its nest somewhere in the heather below. The liquid gurgling of Grouse alerted us to the presence of these birds somewhere near and it wasn’t long before a pair was spotted, their heads erect, perhaps eyeing us cautiously, but without taking any evasive action.

Agreeing on one final stop on our day’s trip, we next made for the disused Danebarrow Quarries in search of Ring Ouzels that had been sighted here on previous visits. For some time there was determined scanning of the grassy areas and scree below us, but beyond the sight of some corvids in the distance,  there seemed to be little avian activity of any kind. Then, almost as we were about to admit defeat, a solitary Ring Ouzel was spotted and this bird obligingly proceeded to hop around in the open allowing all members of the group to enjoy good views. This provided an excellent finale to what had turned out to be one of our best trips to these locations in recent years.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Canada goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Red grouse
  4. Great crested grebe
  5. Little grebe
  6. Cormorant
  7. Grey heron
  8. Sparrowhawk
  9. Rough-legged buzzard
  10. Common buzzard
  11. Kestrel
  12. Coot
  13. Lapwing
  14. Curlew
  15. Woodcock
  16. Great spotted woodpecker
  17. Skylark
  18. Swallow
  19. House martin
  20. Tree pipit
  21. Meadow pipit
  22. Grey wagtail
  23. Pied wagtail
  24. Wren
  25. Dunnock
  26. Robin
  27. Redstart
  28. Blackbird
  29. Ring ouzel
  30. Song thrush
  31. Mistle thrush
  32. Willow warbler
  33. Blackcap
  34. Blue tit
  35. Great tit
  36. Treecreeper
  37. Magpie
  38. Raven
  39. Carrion crow
  40. Chaffinch

Photos JH and DC

Moore Nature Reserve 16.05.17

Damp and warm, but the rain held off and there was even a little brightness later

Ever the optimists, a good number of the Team made it to the rendezvous despite heavy rain and pretty awful (for many) driving conditions en route. Optimism was rewarded, however, as the rain ceased as if by magic just before 10am, and having spotted a Greater Spotted Woodpecker feeding in the field opposite and seen Swifts wheeling around high above us and a pair of Heron flying majestically past, we set off on our usual route round the Reserve.

Our first stop at Lapwing Hide brought immediate rewards. Almost as soon as we had arrived, we were greeted by the sound and then by the sight of a pair of Little Grebes, one of whom proceeded to catch and devour, not without a little difficulty, a plump perch (as identified subsequently by one of our number whose interests obviously go beyond the purely avian). And while we were still taking in that spectacle, movement amongst the reeds just in front of the hide attracted our attention and we were soon enjoying the sight of one or more Reed Warblers which were singing and flitting about, just two or three metres away, and affording everyone the chance to get a good sighting.

Buoyed up by these early treats, we pressed on through the dripping woods, to the accompaniment of plentiful and varied birdsong, although sightings and identification were difficult. However, there was no mistaking first the yaffle of a Green Woodpecker, and then the joyous sound of a distant Cuckoo, the first this season for me, and I think for many, if not all of the group.

At the Feeding Station hide we had good views of both a male and female Greater Spotted Woodpecker who were taking turns to feed on the peanuts that seemed in plentiful supply, but few other birds were in evidence, apart from a number of Blue tits and a lone Nuthatch that made a brief appearance. Birchwood Pool was unusually quiet. Gulls seem to have abandoned this site – indeed, few were noted on our previous visit this year – and there was little to see, save for a Great Crested Grebe bending back its neck in display to no one in particular (there was no female nearby as far as could be seen) and a female Mallard that was leading her brood of four or five duckings across the water close to the shore. At Birch strip hide, a few of the group caught a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher speeding over the water, but the rest had to content themselves with the less dramatic, but nonetheless interesting sight of a Great Crested Grebe resting on its not very substantial nest amongst the saplings and reeds on the edge of the island opposite. Pump House Pool produced no new sightings save for a Shelduck that took flight as we arrived and an unusually solitary Black-headed Gull on the far side of the water.

Conscious now of the time and the threat of one or two black clouds above us, it was decided to head back to the cars, pausing occasionally to try to make out the birds that were still singing and calling loudly from the trees and undergrowth around us. Although largely unsuccessful, these efforts were eventually rewarded by the sight of a Whitethroat that perched briefly on top of a post, before carrying on with its nest-building activities in the thick undergrowth. A Buzzard, high up and far off, eluded most of the group, but easier to see were some Carrion Crow and a group of four or five Mistle Thrushes that dropped into the field and began to feed on the ground, just as we approached the car park.

Bird List (MH)

  1. Canada goose
  2. Shelduck
  3. Mallard
  4. Gadwall
  5. Tufted duck
  6. Pheasant
  7. Great crested grebe
  8. Little grebe
  9. Grey heron
  10. Common buzzard
  11. Moorhen
  12. Coot
  13. Black-headed gull
  14. Lesser black-backed gull
  15. Wood pigeon
  16. Feral pigeon
  17. Swift
  18. Great Spotted woodpecker
  19. Wren
  20. Dunnock
  21. Robin
  22. Blackbird
  23. Song thrush
  24. Mistle thrush
  25. Reed warbler
  26. Whitethroat
  27. Long-tailed tit
  28. Blue tit
  29. Great tit
  30. Nuthatch
  31. Jay
  32. Magpie
  33. Carrion crow
  34. Chaffinch
  35. Kingfisher

Photos  JH, DC and CG

Chat Moss 09.05.17

Dull start but soon bright and sunny with a trifling breeze

Yet more visitors from distant lands i.e. south of the Ship Canal decided that the best way to spend the morning was to be upon the beautiful Greenbelt of Salford but before doing so, as with last Fridays visitors, Team Tuesday had to cross the Glaze before OUR moss lands were happily reached.

I must admit that this spring morn looked equally as lovely on the Cheshire side and in fairness there was a planned lunch to be had at the Raven where the owners had allowed our quite large turnout to park thus on this occasion I give praise to this adjacent landscape but with the caveat that our very own countryside on the edge of town is magnificent (well I would say that wouldn’t I?) …

House Martin, Swallow and Swift reminded us that our Moss is far-far nicer than Africa at this time of the year for this trio of ‘sky-masters’ are now settled over our Moss for the Summer forsaking their ‘Dark Continent’ wintering grounds until autumn cloaks our landscape…..(worry not about our skies becoming empty of life for then Scandinavian Thrushes will occupy the vacuum).

Debrief over in the car-park we set off into a brightening day with Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Chaffinch serenading our way along Moss Lane until we paused at the Glaze to note Tufted Duck and Gadwall ‘Pootering’ about on the water which was running quite low due to the recent extended period of dry weather—it won’t last worry not!

Sand Martin chivvied above the watercourse enjoying their insect feast—all the better to give them energy to excavate their nest holes—let’s hope they choose their nest sites with care for this waterway can become mightily swollen at times (the tide line on adjacent fields full of junk and plastic bottles gives testament to this and sadly to our somewhat litter careless society). Open fields then gave Mistle Thrush and Pied Wagtail whilst a somewhat agitated Sparrowhawk called from behind the trees that line this right of way (foot only) into Little Woolden Moss.

Then ‘A little Bit of Bread and no Cheese’ halted our progress—no we weren’t pausing for elevenses but instead all eyes were concentrating upon a nearby Oak tree for within it sat a Yellowhammer whose song can easily be converted in our minds as a request for a ploughman’s lunch….ah such a bucolic image!

Then came a few Farmsteads which were buzzing with birdlife and here we paused to note both House and Tree Sparrow whilst collared Dove displayed over skies which only a few decades ago didn’t host these birds which only first appeared in the UK in the 1950’s —now there’s a coincidence—so did I…moving swiftly on…

A little bit of practical fieldcraft then followed as I rummaged about in a nearby open barn (owner’s permission granted) emerging with a few bundles of ‘fur’—these actually being Barn Owl Pellets which on splitting apart held amongst the regurgitated fur several bones of small mammals including the jawbone of a shrew … a positive outcome for the Owl … less so for the Shrew!

The open moss land then drew us into its busy life of food production upon which wildlife was happily coexisting allowing our Team to take in:

1 a ‘vast’ un-crowded Skyline;

2 young Lapwing tripping about the Spring-Sown Wheat;

3 a small Copper Butterfly resting upon a Dandelion;

4 a symphony of song from several Skylarks;

5 a Buzzard or two riding hidden thermals.

…….this list of nature sitting so close to our busy conurbations!

…….this list of life which our Team were able to absorb and digest in peace!

…….this list of land which some only wish to place a monetary value upon!

…….this ancient list of heritage landscape belongs to us and future generations!

…….this ……

…. Musings are part of what we are, but there was a fleck or two of brightness to note in a bare field … thus eyes and minds were soon set upon viewing a pair of Yellow Wagtail with one of them (the male) sporting a crown of powder blue which allowed all to reflect upon the fact that one of our UK Yellow Wagtails had had a liaison with a continental blue Headed Yellow Wagtail resulting in a ‘Channel Wagtail’…….phew at this point I positively refused to go into the Brexit debate—rather we moved on to the northern edge of the LWM reserve.

A quiet part of the day I admit, but it was nice to take in views over part of our moss land habitat that is being improved for nature and virtually guaranteed to survive whatever the ‘developers’ have in mind for our treasured landscape.

A move back then followed for lunch called us away from our Moss land jaunt. (DS)

Bird List (BP)

  1. Grey Heron
  2. Mallard
  3. Gadwall
  4. Tufted Duck
  5. Sparrowhawk
  6. Buzzard
  7. Kestrel
  8. Grey Partridge
  9. Pheasant
  10. Lapwing
  11. Black-headed Gull
  12. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  13. Woodpigeon
  14. Collared Dove
  15. Swift
  16. Skylark
  17. Sand Martin
  18. House Martin
  19. Swallow
  20. Meadow Pipit
  21. Yellow Wagtail
  22. Pied Wagtail
  23. Blackbird
  24. Song Thrush
  25. Mistle Thrush
  26. Wren
  27. Robin
  28. Blue Tit
  29. Great Tit
  30. Magpie
  31. Carrion Crow
  32. Starling
  33. House Sparrow
  34. Tree Sparrow
  35. Chaffinch
  36. Goldfinch
  37. Yellowhammer

Photos (including: Predated Curlew’s egg; farm machinery; Yellow Wagtail; Barn Owl pellet;  Shrew’s skull) CG, JH & DC