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Latest News - 2017


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Updated 23rd March 2017

23/03/2017
......Better late than never....!
We had a long wait this year for our first Sand Martin but eventually one appeared over Tatton Mere at 2:45pm yesterday afternoon (22nd) and half an hour later a group of 11 passed through, they didn't linger long but flew off heading steadily north. So Sue Heath wins this year's Sand Martin competition with her guesstimate of 10:00am on 21st March and will receive a copy of the very collectable 1989 Breeding Bird Atlas of Cheshire and Wirral.
Thanks to all who have spent so much time in the wind and rain over the past couple of weeks looking for the first Martin - Darren Morris, Roger Barnes, Bob Groom, Jean Brookes and our Hon.secretary Derek Pike. It would be nice if this level of activity in the park were to continue for the next couple of months - Cetti's warblers could well attempt to nest on the Moor before too long and the improvements made in Dog Wood will make that area more attractive to Flycatchers, especially as appropriate nest boxes have been provided. Groups of up to a dozen Goldeneye can still be seen on the main mere, Chiffchaffs are increasing by the day, a Kingfisher has been seen most days along the banking between the concrete jetty and the old bathing area and a large black and white Buzzard sized bird has been seen by the garden staff on two consecutive days hovering over a large pond containing Koi carp, unfortunately they're not birders and two blurred pictures have proved inconclusive, but it could be an Osprey!

We spent yesterday morning (22nd) at a very cold and wet Woolston Eyes reserve - three or four Chiffchaffs were in song but no other warblers yet, it'll be great to hear the Common Whitethroats again, there were loads here last year. Black-necked Grebes are back, we counted five birds one of which was a youngster from last year just starting to moult into adult plumage. Canada and Greylag geese were paired up, there was much activity amongst the resident Shovelers and squabbling Black-headed Gulls added to the general atmosphere of anticipation we see each Spring amongst our birds (and birdwatchers!)

Tomorrow Evening (Friday 24th) it's our March indoor meeting when we welcome back David Tolliday who will be giving a presentation entitled "The Kruger National Park, South Africa"

Species seen at Woolston Eyes - 22nd March 2017.
Song Thrush, Mallard, Magpie, Black-headed Gull, Chiffchaff, Wren, Robin, Pochard, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Little Grebe, great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Buzzard, Shoveler,Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Coot, Little Egret, Carrion Crow, Great Tit, Bullfinch, Teal, Tufted Duck, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Willow Tit, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Lesser Redpoll, Blackbird, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Chaffinch [ ✓ 37]

14/03/2017......Chiffchaffs but no Sand Martins
Sunday (12th) found us on the Wirral Peninsula for our KOS March field trip, Parkgate to begin with followed by the RSPB's Burton Mere Wetlands reserve. The tide was quite high - 9.4M at 10:30am but it soon became apparent that wouldn't be enough to force the sea up anywhere near the quayside where we waited. Nevertheless we had some good birds including close views of female Marsh and Hen Harriers with more distant views of a Great White Egret out on the estuary it's yellow bill plain to see through "Oscar" Derek's Swarovski 'scope that I'd borrowed for the day!
Rather than hang about until noon for the Parkgate Chippy to open we decided to travel to Burton via Little Neston, close to the Harp Inn at the end of Marshlands Road, where a group of fellow birders from Southport suggested we'd have a good chance of catching up with the Water Pipits that have been wintering in the area. No luck unfortunately as this is a good time to catch them in early Spring plumage, so we carried on to Burton where the excellent butties from Chris's catering van provided more than adequate compensation for having had to miss the chippy (bacon and egg barm £ 3 - hot drinks are still available from the Reception building). A Wheatear and a single Sand Martin had passed through earlier, their first records of the year, 63 Avocets were counted on the Reserve, coming close to outnumbering the Lapwings. Having plenty of time we walked as far as the Inner Marsh hide via the Marsh Covert hide where a Little Egret was feeding, just in front of where we were sat. It was fascinating to watch it agitating the water and mud to disturb any prey and then snapping up those that appeared close to the surface. New KOS member James captured this in the short video shown below. Later on when most of us had left for home he had two Cattle Egrets from the Reception building - species 62 for the day.
As we made our way back to the Reception building a Chiffchaff began singing - our first of the year! Back in Knutsford Darren Morris was diligently searching for the first Sand Martin over Tatton Mere - he had no luck but also had Chiffchaff in song, it's not often the park has Chiffchaff before the Martins!

Parkgate + Burton Mere 12/03/2017.
Collared Dove, Canada Goose, Little Egret, Redshank, Teal, Great White Egret, Greylag, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Mallard, Buzzard, Hen Harrier, Curlew, Shoveler, Pink-footed Goose, Black-headed Gull, Cormorant, Kestrel, Great Black-backed Gull, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Dunnock, Robin, Starling, Blackbird, Herring Gull, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Marsh Harrier, Shelduck, Heron, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wren, Carrion Crow, Long-tailed Tit, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Blur Tit, Pied Wagtail, Rook, House Sparrow, Magpie, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Common Gull, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mute Swan, Snipe, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Cattle Egret. [ ✓ 62]

Late news from Tatton this afternoon (14th) from Bob Groom - Red Kite! Distant (down towards the Moor) but recognizable, harassed by corvids as it drifted away towards the town. (Hopefully not a hybrid/escape from the falconry centre!) On arrival I thought I saw a Sand Martin departing from Tatton Mere but it was only a glimpse so I couldn't be absolutely sure.

10/03/2017.......Sand Martins back - but not in Tatton yet!
The first Sand Martins of the year have arrived in the UK with one as far north as Crosby on Merseyside on Monday (6th), despite a number of members spending time in Tatton every day this week there's been no sign of them so far. It won't be long though, the temperature is rising as an area of warm air moves up from Iberia and this should bring more birds over the coming weekend.
While we wait for the first of the Summer migrants to return there's plenty of other activity; Bob Groom had 50 Siskins in the alder trees at the north end of Tatton Mere on Saturday (4th), Geoff and Sheila counted four on the 8th whilst Steve Collins reports some excellent sightings in his part of Knutsford .......like everybody else it seems from your report I waited longer than usual for Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, here Goldfinch dominated the feeders but this week I have had up to 6 Brambling, 6+ Siskin, 6+ Lesser Redpoll and 4 Reed Bunting on the feeders in the garden. Occasional Bullfinch and even a Goldcrest so things looking good in the garden now! Sheila tells me there their Bramblings have moved on, perhaps only as far as Tatton where Steve Scrimgeover, enjoying a relaxing lunchtime walk along Beech Walk in the park, had a flock of 20 to 30 - thanks for the report Steve.
Sighting of the week though must be the two Ring-necked parakeets on the feeders at the home of Jayne and Nick Davies along Bernisdale Road in Mobberley. Nick's seen them in Manchester but never in Mobberley before, I can't recall seeing this species in the wild anywhere - mind you I rarely have reason to travel south of Stoke and I know they've become a pest in certain parts of the south of England.

On Tuesday I walked from the Dog Lodge car park to Tatton's old bathing area to look for Sand Martins via Knutsford Moor, considering the time of year I managed a respectable list of 43 species including Oystercatcher, Pintail and 4 Mandarin Ducks (1M+3f). The Grey Herons are nesting in Higmere Plantation and I counted at least five active nests - there are probably more. Roger Barnes tells me that over at Budworth Mere a pair of Little Egrets have joined the nesting Herons this year. Roger has, in the past, found the first Sand Martin of the year during early morning walks through Tatton on more than one occasion, including one on the 8th March - Tatton's earliest ever record. A man for records is Roger - newer members may not be familiar with his real claim to fame! click here to be impressed!

Species list Tatton Park - 7/03/2017
Coal Tit, Black-headed gull, Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, magpie, Blackbird, Coot, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Collared Dove, Buzzard, great Spotted Woodpecker, Cormorant, Snipe, Oystercatcher, Chaffinch, Great tit, Dunnock, Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Stock Dove, Heron, Mandarin Duck, Pintail, Siskin, Goldeneye, Little Grebe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Buzzard, Jay, Pochard, Goldfinch Green Woodpecker, Kestrel, Song Thrush, Treecreeper. [ ✓ 43]

03/03/2017...... The first Lapwings plus Sand Martin Competition Entries
Local birders have seen few Siskins and Redpolls this Winter, Geoff and Sheila Blamire have hosted a few Siskins and just a single Redpoll recently in their garden at Mere. Here in Mobberley we've not had either species so far in our garden and further up Bucklow Avenue Len Mason reports that numbers in his also are well down compared with previous years. Perhaps there's plenty of food out in the countryside, along Mobberley brook this morning a flock of around 50 Siskins were noisily feeding in the waterside alders; they normally appear in greater numbers at the beginning of March prior to heading north for the breeding season. Redwings and Fieldfares are also flocking, Bob Groom had c.300 Fieldfares and c.150 Redwings along Green lane in Knutsford last Saturday (25th), they should be with us for a few more weeks though, we normally see both species until the first week in April. There was some snow on Tuesday morning (28th) but it didn't last long and quickly melted away after a few hours. Later that morning, high over the big fields opposite Smith Lane farm in Mobberley, the first Skylark of the Spring poured out it's song - a tiny speck visible only with the binoculars. This morning (2nd) at the same location we welcomed back the first displaying Lapwings of the year - a truly evocative sound - Winter's almost over!
As far as the Met. Office is concerned Spring begins on the 1st. March so we're there already, but of course, as I've said before, the KOS Spring begins with the first Sand Martin over Tatton Mere. We've had 24 entries for this year's Sand Martin competition, as I didn't advertise it externally most entries are from KOS members but ex-member Malcolm (Monty) Greenhalgh and our friend from Iceland Edward Rickson have joined in. Dates range from an optimistic March 3rd through to a pessimistic 21st! Click here for a full list.
Although the return of the first of the Martins remains uncertain we can be sure that next Thursday (9th) the Hon. Sec. and Mrs. Brookes will be returning from their Winter quarters and once more his dulcet tones will be heard echoing around Cheshire's favourite birding spots!

If I don't do an update until then Derek has asked me to remind everyone that we have our March Field trip to Parkgate and Burton Mere on Sunday 12th, leaving from the Tatton Street car park at 8:30am. This promises to be a good day with a high tide and the promise of Sand Martins and perhaps Wheatears at Burton Mere.

Tonight (3rd) it's the AGM of the Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society. 7:45 at the Catholic Church on Tatton Street in Knutsford. After the formalities of the AGM David Quinn the artist will be giving a presentation entitled "Seeing birds in a magical new light" - From the first pencil strokes of a field sketch, through to the final touches of a major painting, the Artist and Illustrator offers an insight into the challenges of capturing the essence of birds, whether portrayed in their natural setting, or on the stark white page of a Field Guide. David will talk about how he forms and develops ideas for his paintings, explaining some of the processes involved in observing, researching and depicting his subjects in a variety of drawing and painting media. He emphasises a deep appreciation for the great privileges of seeing birds, and for life as an Artist who studies them. Some of his new original paintings and drawings will be on display to augment the slide show presentation.

23/02/2017...... Plenty to see at Burton Mere
Bob Groom and Jacquie Ledward drove over to the RSPB reserve at Burton Mere last Saturday (18th) and judging from Bob's email enjoyed some excellent birding - ............"After a damp start the day quickly improved. En route we saw 2 Kestrels and 2 Buzzards. At Burton Mere, the first 2 Avocets had returned, there were 10 Whooper Swans, 3 Marsh Harriers were almost constantly in the air, spooking 1,000 plus Lapwings over and over again, I also glimpsed a Merlin that had been logged earlier. There were good numbers of Black-Tailed Godwits, Redshanks and at least 9 Dunlins. c.100 Golden Plovers went up near the IMF hide. Many hundreds of Pink-Footed Geese, also Canadas, Greylags and 7 species of duck. 4 Buzzards were up together. ( We returned later in the day and had several views of the Cetti's Warbler but didn't manage to see the reported lesser spotted.) There were lots of Little Egrets at Denhall Lane and a pair of Stonechats. Parkgate produced the bird we had hoped for, a ring-tail Hen Harrier that gave close views, as did a hunting Peregrine. There were many Curlews, a couple of Oystercatchers and more Little Egrets. An unusual sighting was 4 male Stonechats perching up together, but no short-eared owl, unfortunately........"
We followed in their footsteps yesterday morning(22nd) and did very well racking up a substantial total of 60 species. Avocet numbers had increased to seven and the large flock of Lapwings were kept on the move by the presence of three Marsh Harriers. The Avocets and Lapwings enjoyed a very successful breeding season last year due to the installation of an anti-predator fence, one of the wardens told me that this will be used again this year. The pools in front of the Inner Marsh hide were relatively quiet but three Whooper Swans showed well and in amongst the Black-headed gulls was one individual with a very noticeable pink wash on it's breast. In all other respects it was just a Black-headed Gull but it's appearance did give rise to a certain amount of speculation!

In Tatton and on Melchett Mere Bob noted plenty of action when he visited on the 16th. ".....Melchett Mere area was particularly lively, the highlights being 15 Snipe flying into the marsh and 3 Pintails (2 m, 1 fem) on the mere, along with 8 Cormorants, a Heron, 50+ Mallards, 6 Tufted Ducks, a female Goldeneye, a Little Grebe and 3 Great Crested Grebes (a pair were head-shaking and weed carrying), Moorhens and Coot. A Buzzard perched, later 3 were circling, a hovering Kestrel and a circling female Sparrowhawk. Also Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Jay..."
Alan Booth continues to visit Tatton and Knutsford Moor regularly ......"4 Pintail on the mere this morning with 25 Shoveler on moor pool at 7.30am. An early Reed bunting was singing.
There have been up to 6 Mandarins recently but not visible today..."

Geoff and Sheila Blamire must be supporting the whole of the UK bird food industry on their own, but it seems to be paying off with some excellent garden counts......."This year our max counts of finches are so far: 18+ Goldfinches, 35+ Chaffinches, 10 Greenfinches, 2m1f Bullfinches, 3 Bramblings, 1pr Siskins and today 1 Lesser Redpoll!"

Tomorrow evening (Friday 24th) we have our February indoor meeting when Mike Roberts will be giving us a presentation entitled "Bittern Diaries" - 7:45pm in the Jubilee Hall.

Finally don't forget to enter the World famous "Sand Martin Competition" closing date - next Wednesday (1st. March)

Species seen at Burton Wetlands - 22nd February 2017
Buzzard, Nuthatch, Canada Goes, Mistle Thrush, Wood Pigeon, Black-headed Gull, Jackdaw, Goldfinch, Redwing, Greylag Goose, Carrion Crow, Shoveler, Wigeon Lapwings, Shelduck, Redshank, Teal, Gadwall, Mute Swan, Greenfinch, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Starling, Oystercatcher, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Coot, Skylark, Cormorant, Kestrel, Curlew, Common Gull, Mallard, Snipe, great Tit, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Wren, Chaffinch, Siskin, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Long-tailed Tit, Rook, Little Egret, Meadow Pipit, Little Grebe, Robin, Pintail, Goldcrest, Magpie, Pied Wagtail, Dunlin, Great White Egret, Sparrowhawk, Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, Avocet [ ✓ 60]

15/2/2107...... Return of the KOS Sand Martin Competition!
Some years ago we used to run an annual competition where visitors to this website were challenged to predict the time and date that the first Sand Martin of the year would be seen in Tatton Park, normally over Tatton's main mere, Melchett mere or Knutsford Moor. KOS members would spend some time each day scanning the three areas as did our friends the Tatton Rangers - not a foolproof method but good enough for our purposes. After some encouragement I've decided to re-introduce the competition.
So you simply Click on this link to enter (sorry now closed for this year) you will be asked to enter your name, location, email address and your estimate of the appropriate time and date (it'll only take a minute).

You may want to know that the earliest date recorded is 8th March: the latest is 22nd March and the average is 14th.

Your email address will only be used if you win and I need your postal address so that you can be sent the prize! The competition is open to anyone who passes this way and not just for society members, it will run until March 1st, after which I will put a list of entrants on the website.

I'm not sure this will all work but I'm cautiously optimistic - so please give it a go and - good luck!!

13/02/2017...... KOS trip to Pennington Flash
A maximum temperature of only 4 °C backed up by a strong easterly wind for our trip over to Wigan's Pennington Flash on Sunday (12th) and, despite some of our regulars being away in warmer climes, a good turnout of 10 members met up for an invigorating 5K stroll around the perimeter of the flash.
Probably due to the park having a such a well populated catchment area, even on such a cold day, the paths were very busy with walkers, runners and mountain bikers enjoying the morning - no conflicts of interest though, there was room for all and I noticed that some of the bikes even had bells!
Not many passerines about in the undergrowth alongside the paths but there was more to see on the water, as well as the usual Coots, Moorhens, Tufted Ducks and Mallards there seemed to be plenty of Goldeneye, I later found out that 46 were present during an earlier count. As we watched from the first hide along the route (East Bay Hide) our attention was drawn to a small duck making it's way quickly over the flash, it proved quite elusive spending much of it's time under water but eventually we got reasonable views and were able to identify it as the first Winter male Long-tailed Duck that has spent some weeks at Pennington. Ramsdale's Flash is a continuation of the main flash and here we found the majority of the wildfowl, away from the sailing dinghies and out of the wind - Teal, Great Created and Little Grebes, five Scaup and no less than 40 Goosanders - immaculate plumage, handsome birds in the bright, late morning sun. The feeding stations in front of the Lapwing and Bunting hides had more customers than the ice cream van in the car park! attracting Stock Doves, Reed Buntings, Greenfinches, Water Rails, Coal Tits, the expected Willow Tits and beautiful Bullfinches that prompted a crescendo of shutter noise from the photographers, who were also using the hide, whenever they appeared.

Derek and Jean seem to have settled into their accommodation in Portugal and Derek reports seeing Swallow, Bluethroat and Flamingo already from their bedroom window ....... Weather better today about 16c we have been sat on balcony watching tide roll in.......

I received a nice email from Hazel Raw over the weekend.........I had a wonderful experience on Thursday this week. I drove into Tatton Park and went to sit on the bench opposite Melchett Mere. It was around 11.45. Around noon I noticed two Water Rails in the undergrowth to the left of where I was sitting. On a branch of a tree adjacent to where they were a Kingfisher was standing, at the end of the branch, and it proceeded to dive down and fly back to the branch with a fish in its bill. The Water Rails became agitated and a Heron flew over. The Water Rails disappeared into the undergrowth. ........ Great stuff Hazel and a reminder that it's often just as productive to sit and wait for the birds to come to you rather than charge around looking for them!

The cold spell is coming to an end, apparently by Thursday we'll be enjoying temperatures up in the mid-teens and the BBC will be able to return to worrying about the NHS and what will happen when Donald gets bored with early morning tweets and tries to find out what that big red button's for.

Species seen on the trip to Pennington Flash - Sunday 12th February 2017
Raven, Kestrel, Black-headed Gull, Magpie, Dunnock, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Blue Tit, Goldeneye, Blackbird, Robin, Great Black-backed Gull, Goosander, Lapwing, Long-tailed Duck, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Goldcrest, Buzzard, Great Crested Grebe, Long-tailed Tit, Redwing, Herring Gull, Teal, Little Grebe, Song Thrush, Wren, Shoveler, Oystercatcher, Great Tit, Moorhen, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Willow Tit, Greenfinch, Water Rail, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Scaup, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rook, Little Egret (thanks Frank!)
[ ✓ 50]

07/02/2017...... Cold Spell Forecast
A large high pressure weather system over continental Europe is forecast to expand over the next few days, eventually covering the British Isles bringing much colder weather including some snow. So you've been warned - although Daily Mail and Express readers will no doubt already know about this and begun stocking up on essential supplies or finalised plans to flee to the Iberian Peninsula for a month!
Before then though we've been enjoying some pleasant days - cold but dry and a number of our resident species were in song this morning in Mobberley - Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Robin, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and, five days earlier than last year, the first Chaffinch spluttered into song along Smith Lane. No sign yet of Lapwings and Skylarks on the big fields opposite Smith Lane Farm - perhaps they know it's better to wait just a little longer.

Last Wednesday (1st) we spent the morning at Woolston Eyes, 39 species, nothing out of the ordinary, although from the bridge we watched a male Kingfisher as it hunted below us, it remained for some minutes, giving time for Derek to get it in the 'scope and allow everyone excellent close-up views - a second bird appeared briefly before flying off towards the weir.
News today from the Green Lane area of Knutsford where Bob Groom seems to have had a close encounter with a Merlin ..........A probable Merlin flew across Green Lane this afternoon. Unfortunately I didn't get the best of views as I was busy dodging cars at the time, the lane having become a regular shortcut to and from the A50. A small, dark falcon flying very fast and low with its wings swept right back. It kept on going and disappeared over the fields towards Moss Farm. In the trees on the perimeter of the Cemetery grounds scores of Starlings were burbling away in the sunshine... In years gone by Merlin were regular Winter visitors to the area, attacking birds going to roost on Knutsford Moor - Starlings and Corn Buntings - so you can tell how long ago that was!
This coming Sunday (12th) we travel over to Wigan Flashes for our February field trip - 9:00am at the Tatton Street car park.

Woolston Eyes - 1st February 2017.
Kingfisher, Magpie Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Grey Heron, Woodpigeon, Black-headed Gull, Dunnock, Mute Swan, Coot, Bullfinch, Moorhen, Long-tailed Tit, Cormorant, Robin, Canada Goose, Teal, Shelduck, Lapwing, Kestrel, Buzzard, Goldeneye, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Reed Bunting, Wren, Tufted Duck, Pochard, gadwall, Greylag, Shoveler, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Carrion Crow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit [ ✓ 39]

30/1/2017...... A busy weekend
A busy weekend for KOS members began on Friday evening (27th) with a well-attended presentation by the much travelled wildlife photographer / filmmaker Mike Leach entitled "Owls of the World". Mike's an excellent speaker articulate, witty and authoritative; I'm sure we'll be welcoming him back before too long.
Two new members have helped to swell our ranks recently so a warm KOS welcome to Bill Boyle from Knutsford and James Devaney from Lymm.

The following morning (28th) we joined our chums from Friends of the Moor for an hours birding on the Moor as part of the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. The weather wasn't too promising - steady rain to begin with but by the end of the period things had improved as the two groups we'd formed met up again the collate the results. 31 species this time, four down on last year but not too surprising given the conditions. Once again we were fortunate enough to hear a Water Rail calling from the reedbed, 14 Shovelers on the moor pool were a surprise and good numbers of Redwings were present this time - due perhaps to the extremely cold weather they're currently enduring on continental Europe.

On Sunday (29th) it was the turn of the Heath as we got together with the Friends of the Heath for a similar exercise, although it covers about the same area as the Moor there's not the variety of habitats we enjoyed yesterday and we only managed 17 different species. Having said that those species that were present were well represented with good numbers of Blackbirds, Blue and Great tits and Robins in abundance! As a bonus, as the morning ended, news came through of three Waxwings just across the road along Garden Road, Terry Heath and Bob Groom sprinted off in that direction and were lucky enough to connect with the three before they flew off into the nearby estate (the birds that is, not Bob and Terry).

Bob Groom and Jacquie Ledward enjoyed a good day at the coast on the 28th - We stayed at BMW until the weather picked up, which fortunately it did. The tally included at least 4 Marsh harriers, close views of a ringtail Hen Harrier, 2 Peregrines, 2 Kestrels and 2 Buzzards (but no short-eared owl) plus excellent views of a Great White Egret, 2 Stonechats, massive number of Lapwings and the usual waders, ducks and geese. The only downside was the damp cold that chilled to the bone..

Closer to home and KOS members Steve Collins and Phil Dell were in the Whitley hide at Rostherne and it appears that they were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time!
A Bittern made a flight appearance today at Rostherne-The first this winter I think. Phil and I were in the Whitley Hide about 12.30 and were talking about the Bitterns last year when one obligingly flew from left to right from the reeds near the channel across in front of the hide on a beautiful day! Unfortunately I hadn't got my camera out and was gutted but delighted to see it! I remember last year that when they flew they often came back shortly after so decided to stay for my lunch for an hour. It nearly caught me out as I was scoping around but at 1.15 it came back and flew across right to left to where it originally came from and landed in the reeds in the channel area. I always wanted a reasonable flight shot of a Bittern and nearly missed it and only got one photo in focus, but as they say, you only need one!

Terry and Sue Heath currently have Bramblings visiting their Knutsford garden, they seem to be widespread this Winter, Derek and Jean had 12+ along Beech Walk in Tatton whilst Geoff and Sheila have two in their garden on a regular basis, as well as a male and female Siskin.

CAWOS (Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society) have their latest meeting this Friday (3rd February) with a presentation by Mike Lane entitled "A Digital Lane" Mike is a full-time wildlife photographer specialising in birds and mammals, which he has done for more than 40 years. He gets to travel widely and has been to over 50 countries, but his main love remains photographing British wildlife which is more challenging. He believes that there is a technique or location where nearly all British birds can be photographed relatively easily if you know how. A Digital Lane tells of various places around the globe, starting with Black Grouse in Scotland, Finland for Brown Bears, diving Ospreys and then to some amazing drinking pools for birds in Hungary. Sounds good - 7:45pm at the Catholic Church on Tatton Street.

Species seen on the Moor - 28th January 2017
Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Canada Goose, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Coot, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Nuthatch, Pochard, redwing, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shoveler, Song Thrush, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Water Rail, Woodpigeon, Wren.
Species seen on Knutsford Heath - 29th January 2017
Blackbird, Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Black-headed Gull, Robin, great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Jay.

23/01/2017...... A successful Wildfowl Watch in Tatton
A cold but relatively dry day on Sunday (22nd) for our annual Wildfowl Watch in conjunction with the Tatton rangers, held at the Allen hide on the edge of Melchett mere. The temperature was 1.5 ° C at 11:00am and had only struggled up to 2 ° C by the time we shut up shop at 1pm but the park was quite busy with groups of walkers enjoying an invigorating walk before lunch despite a few intermittent light snow showers earlier in the morning.
Days like this can be very enjoyable as long as appropriate clothing is worn, yes of course we all look forward to Spring and the return of the warmer weather and our Summer migrants, but it's no use wishing the Winter away - it won't happen any quicker and time passes quickly enough as it is, especially when you've passed your sell-by date - carpe diem!
A good turnout of KOS members with 10 in attendance ready to deal with the great British public, as usual I positioned myself on the roadside close to the entrance, posh new KOS business cards in hand and attempted to persuade passers-by that their visitor experience would be enhanced by spending a few minutes in the Allen hide. The task was made so much easier this year as Yvonne and Darren Morris had set up a refreshment stall with tea, coffee, biscuits and even some freshly made scones on offer - FREE! As a consequence a steady stream of visitors made their way down to the hide. We estimated 50 to 60 this year mostly local of course, Knutsford, Mobberley, Northwich and Lymm but some from further afield Bristol, Colne and Scotland as I recall.
Visibility wasn't too good, with a light mist hanging over the mere but a few ducks and geese were on offer and the feeders were pretty busy all morning and I didn't hear any complaints as people left! Thanks to all the KOS members who attended - especially Yvonne and Darren the Ranger for arranging the refreshments.

Mobberley Sand Quarry (SQ) as we call it lies just off the B5085 at the edge of the village; it's the wet part of what's known as the Community Meadow and was purchased by the village a few years ago to stop it falling into the hands of any developers, including the ever expanding Manchester Airport.
When the quarry closed in the 1960's a large lake with sandy margins formed and, until it began to shrink in the 1980's, was the home of Redshanks and Little Ringed Plovers and an excellent spot for passage migrants in the Spring and Autumn. Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Whimbrel, Ruff, Little Stint, Turnstone we had them all over the years! Unfortunately the lake became smaller and smaller until it started to dry up completely during the Summer months. Recently though an effort has been made to reverse this trend and an excavator has been used to dredge and deepen it, the excess mud and soil has been used to form two islands so it should be an interesting place to watch once again this coming Spring.

A busy weekend ahead for members starting on Friday evening with our first indoor get together of the year - Mike Leach will be giving a presentation entitled "Owls of the World". On Saturday morning we'll be taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch on Knutsford Moor with the Friends of the Moor, followed on Sunday by a similar event on Knutsford Heath in conjunction with the Friends of the Heath. Both events begin at 11:00am and will last for the one hour allowed - any members who'd like to attend would be most welcome. Send me an email if you require further details of any of these events - tony@10X50.com

Species seen on Sunday in Tatton during the Wildfowl Watch
Robin, Mallard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Shoveler, Cormorant, Buzzard, Brambling, Redwing, great Tit, Blue Tit, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Jay, Moorhen, Magpie, Chaffinch, carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Canada Goose, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Black Headed Gull, Pintail, Goldeneye, Green Woodpecker, Raven, Starling [ ✓ 40]

15/01/2017......The first field trip of the year.
A good start to the New Year with 62 species seen between the two sites we visited on our first field trip of 2017 (14th January), beginning at Warrington and the Moore Nature Reserve in the morning before driving over to Marbury Country Park at lunch time.
The weather wasn't too promising on our arrival at Moore it was raining quite heavily and the temperature was only 4 ° C (in fact it never rose over 6 ° C all day). In the trees above the car park and the first entries on the day list, a number of Lesser Redpolls, not good views as they were watched only in silhouette high up in the tree tops. The first of the hides is along Lapwing Lane overlooking Lapwing Pool and from there we had nice views of a good selection of wildfowl including Wigeon, Goldeneye, Mallard, Pochard, Teal, Coot, Moorhen and a very obliging Little Grebe feeding just a few yards in front of us, it's path underwater revealed by a tell-tale stream of bubbles and moving vegetation.
The feeding station was well stocked and attracting a steady stream of visitors - Reed Buntings, Blue, Great and Coal Tits but no sign, on this occasion, of the Willow Tits that are one of the Reserve's main attractions; they're a rapidly declining species and may have vanished altogether from Moore, this may also be the case with Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, another Reserve speciality conspicuous by it's absence.
Birchwood Pool held a few gulls - Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Common, Bob found us his usual Sparrowhawk which gave good views through the 'scope when it landed opposite us in a birch tree - as we watched a Green Woodpecker appeared briefly flying towards the feeding station, species 44 for the morning.

It didn't feel any warmer over at Marbury as we sat in the viewing screen overlooking Budworth mere and the Coward reedbed, a Bittern had been seen here earlier in the week, no sign of it on this occasion but we did see a Kingfisher and heard at least two Water Rails calling from the reeds. On the mere good numbers of Great Crested Grebes (c60 were counted recently) plus Greylags and Shoveler for the day's final tally of 62 species.

There are still plenty of Waxwings around the area but they have yet to re-discover the berry laden cotoneaster trees in Mobberley that kept them sustained for some weeks during the last irruption a couple of years ago. Bob Groom with Darren and Yvonne Morris caught up with the birds at Tesco Northwich on the 30th December, but only very briefly before they quickly vanished - never to be seen again. Jayne and Nick Davies were pleased to have a Brambling visiting their garden in Mobberley on the 10th whilst over in Mere Geoff and Sheila Blamire currently have three Bramblings - they've now been around for a couple of weeks.
Don't forget that this coming Sunday (22nd) it's the Tatton Wildfowl watch in conjunction with the Tatton Rangers at the Allen hide from 11:00 am until 1pm - I've been told that refreshments may be available this year!

The latest KOS committee meeting took place on Friday evening at Geoff and Sheila's home. Treasurer Frank Dearden was happy with the financial situation and he'd allocated Sue and Jacquie a little more money this time for speakers and they've booked some really good ones for the next season (2017/2018).
A full range of field trips was provisionally agreed, although there's still plenty of work to be done before the list is finalised. From this year we will be having an August trip for the first time and rumour has it that we'll be returning to Lindisfarne and Suffolk during the period concerned: all for ten quid a year - you've never had it so good!

Moore and Marbury January 14th 2017. Stock Dove, Sparrowhawk, Robin, Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Lesser Redpoll, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Little Grebe, Wigeon Goldeneye, Mallard, Magpie, Pochard, teal, Coot, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Heron, Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Jay, Pheasant, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Cormorant, Buzzard, Bullfinch, Jackdaw, Black-headed Gull, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Canada Goose, Green Woodpecker, Common Gull, Wren, Herring Gull, Redwing, Kestrel, Mute Swan, Collared Dove, Mistle Thrush, Curlew, Buzzard, Water rail, Greylag Goose, Pied Wagtail, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Dunnock, Shoveler, Great Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Starling, Rook. [ ✓ 62]

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