Winter blizzards of horizontal snow! Plenty of hides though and we managed a creditable final total of 66 species including excellent views of some of the less common of those on offer.
The day list began as we approached Leighton Moss from Carnforth driving alongside the new areas of reed that, I believe, now form part of the reserve - a Kingfisher flew across the road in front of us #1 and a good start; we'd reached 15 species before leaving the car park!
The staff in the reception building were very helpful (a feature at Leighton Moss) with the latest news and there's always an up-to-date list on the white board next to the rear door onto the reserve. The expected range of species fed on and beneath the feeders - Great and Blue Tits, Nuthatch and Chaffinch although there was no sign of the Marsh Tits; a reserve speciality of course. Bitterns had been booming apparently but we didn't see or hear any during the day although a very vocal Water rail was squealing loudly as we walked down to the Tim Jackson hide. Plenty of species on view from the Jackson hide - Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Oystercatcher, Shoveler, Pintail, Little Egret and a female / juvenile Marsh harrier carrying a green wing tag. Two Snipe flew in, landing on a small reed covered island, there were quite a few around including one just next to the hide that posed nicely for Geoff's camera.
The highlight from the Grisedale hide was the Great White Egret shown in the second of Geoff's images, feeding on the insects and small fish it disturbed by shuffling it's feet as it progressed through the shallows. Making our way back from the hides we came across the Marsh Tits and enjoyed brilliant views, down to a few feet in good light - they were in pristine early Spring plumage - Excellent!
A quick visit to Lillian's didn't produce anything new so we made our way down to the causeway hide where the number of birds on view came as quite a pleasant surprise with good numbers of Pochard, Tufted Duck and 18 Goldeneye; a single Little Grebe was added to the list and a male Marsh Harrier struggled over heading into the latest snow storm.
Lunch was taken in the cars or in the reserve's excellent cafe before driving over to the two coastal hides - the Allen hide and the Eric Morecambe hide. Here we found a large flock of 106 Black-tailed Godwits and 20+ Avocets - superb birds! An electric fence has been erected around the Allen pool to deter predators which decimate the Avocets that attempt to breed there every year. Once again a website devoted to the Avocet's progress is again online [click here] let's hope the fence works and they have more success in 2018 than in previous years. Before returning to the cars for the journey back to Cheshire we paused near an anonymous looking clump of bushes where Barry Jordan had watched a Merlin attacking small passerines that were attracted to the area, there were Tits, Chaffinches and Reed Buntings aplenty; we concluded that food for the small birds must be provided at that particular spot for some reason.
A good days birding for those that braved the elements - well done team!
Remember this coming Friday - 23rd it's our March indoor meeting when Dr. Kevin Briggs will be be giving a presentation entitled " Goosanders and Ringed Plovers" I think it's about the birds of the Lune Valley.
Species seen of the KOS trip to Leighton Moss - 17th March 2018
Our Hon. Chairperson and Geoffrey had a hat trick of sightings on the 7th at Marbury......... We went to Marbury today to try for the Hawfinches (3rd attempt).
There were quite a lot of birders, including 3 in the "usual" spot.
After a few minutes, we started to walk around the swimming pool and came across 2/3 birders and they were watching 1 Hawfinch in the back of a tree.
Geoff saw it first but the view was obscured, I was too far left to see it. After some time it moved slightly, and for me, into a clear view. It started preening and wing stretching. I was in the right place at the right time! So many frustrated birders around us, but I kept saying anyone to the right of me wouldn't see it. Eventually it flew and down inside the pool area. We walked to the entrance to look through the railings, but we couldn't see it. A couple of yew trees were laden with fruit within the pool area.
Then we walked to the hide to try for the Bittern. A birder could see it and gave directions but it wasn't easy. Eventually I saw it - it was so obvious. The top half of the bird was visible with its head facing to the right. I could see the black crown. By the way, we didn't have the scope with us!!! But when it lowered its head it completely disappeared. Unfortunately, Geoff couldn't get onto it. Again I was in the right place at the right time!!
A couple of birders were talking about a pair of Lesser Spots near the feeders behind the pond. So we walked quickly to the feeders. After just a few minutes we heard some drumming and I was peering through the slots towards the direction of the drumming, when 2 Lesser Spots flew into a tree. But 1 kept on flying, with the 2nd bird perched briefly and then followed the 1st bird - out of view. Again I was in the right place at the right time!!! Unfortunately, Geoff didn't see them.........I hope the photographers leave these birds alone this year - they are a schedule 1 species - but I doubt it. This is one of the species I normally keep quiet about, to avoid disturbance but this site is so well known mentioning it here will make no difference. [acu]
Unperturbed by the prevailing conditions Geoff and Sheila Blamire enjoyed an invigorating walk around Mere and Tabley on the 28th, taking in what I assume was the A556 but is now the B5569 which has been "de-trunked" as part of the new A556 link between the M6 and M56.
This morning we decided to repeat a walk we did a few days ago. The sun quickly disappeared and we almost wished we hadn't bothered. The walk starts going along Moss Lane and the fields to the left were full of birds (we took our bins with us!). This is probably conservative estimate:
Lapwings 300++; Golden Plover 40; Fieldfare 60 Plus Starlings and loads of Black-headed Gulls.
Lot of Redwings in the wood amongst the leaf litter, along with Blackbirds.
Along the quiet road between Tabley Church and Mere a flock of 40+Redwings edge of a field, and a Song Thrush hitting a snail on the kerb and flew off with it when a Magpie tried to steal it.
Nice to see, by then we were frozen and it was snowing heavily. c5.25km
The previous day they'd been over to Marbury in search of the Hawfinches.Went to Marbury CP Tuesday morning (briefly) to look for the Hawfinches - dipped again. 11 were seen yesterday.....
Just up the road from us Jayne and Nick Davies have also seen an increase in avian traffic in their garden and had some interesting sightings along Pavement Lane.
A few different visitors to our garden during the icy weather:
3 fieldfares (the blackbird did not approve), a goldcrest on our feeders, and a pied wagtail. We're still seeing a brambling from time to time.
Meanwhile two nuthatches are thinking about spring and inspecting our nest box.
We walked along Pavement Lane yesterday morning, and ten or so snipe flew up from the fields on the right. Then there was a lot of flapping between the hedge and the wire fence behind it, and something else flew away across the fields, at first I thought it was another snipe, but bigger, with very obvious rufous rump. Woodcock maybe? That's the only thing we could think of, but we've only ever seen them once or twice so not 100% confident.
If I don't do another update before then, please remember it's our March field trip on Saturday the 17th - this year to Leighton Moss - 08:30 from Lilac Avenue. Given some warmer weather and a following wind we should have our first Sand Martins of the year and Spring will have officially arrived!26/02/2018...... Waiting for the "Beast from the East"!
But it takes more than the threat of bad weather to keep KOS members indoors and I've received a series of emails to prove the point!
Ken and Shirley Davies have been out and about in their camper van around the Severn Estuary ..........
Hi Tony.....We have had a few days away, starting on the 12th of Feb with a visit to Slimbridge. A total of 55 birds, the highlight was to see 3 Cranes out on the estuary, feeding along with a Red Breasted Goose and C.90 Barnacle Geese.
The weather was overcast and cool but no rain like the two days before.
Rook ,Woodpigeon ,Long-tailed tit ,Blackbird ,Song thrush ,Blue Tit ,Pheasant ,Magpie ,Robin ,Starling ,Collared Dove ,Buzzard ,Curlew ,Dunnock ,Black-tailed Godwit ,Redwing ,Redshank ,Oystercatcher ,Golden Plover ,House Sparrow ,Chaffinch ,Moorhen ,Coot ,Mute Swan ,Cormorant ,Mallard ,Lesser Black-backed Gull ,Black-headed Gull ,Grey Heron ,Shelduck ,Teal ,Wigeon ,Canada Geese ,Greylag Geese ,Pintail ,Bewick's Swan ,Shoveler ,White-fronted Geese ,Little Grebe ,Barnacle Geese ,Red-breasted Goose ,common Cranes ,Jackdaw ,Goldfinch ,Snipe ,Dunlin ,Kestrel ,Stock Dove ,Pied Wagtail ,Goldcrest ,Carrion Crow ,Tufted Duck ,Pochard ,Gadwall ,Herring Gull. (55)
Then on the 21st Feb we visited RSPB Newport South Wales. The highlight was a lovely sighting of a Cetti's Warbler . Weather a little cool but between light cloud the sun shine was very welcome. Magpie ,Cetti's warbler ,House Sparrow ,Carrion Crow ,Wren ,Snipe ,Lapwing ,Stonechat ,Long-tailed Tit ,Blue Tit ,Goldcrest ,Great Spotted Woodpecker ,Robin ,Song Thrush ,Woodpigeon Greenfinch ,Marsh Harrier ,Buzzard ,Pied Wagtail ,Moorhen ,Water Rail ,Cormorant ,Coot ,Shelduck ,Wigeon ,Mallard ,Shoveler ,Tufted Duck ,Little Grebe ,Canada Geese ,Gadwall (31)
Bob Groom paid a visit to Pickmere Lake with the family (a much overlooked venue [I can only find one other reference to it in all the years this website has been running])
We went on the boardwalk with Elaine and the children yesterday afternoon. Rather pleasant as relatively windless. There were 8 Goldeneye on the lake (2 drakes), 50+ Tufted Ducks, trilling Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe etc. and I thought I heard a water rail in the reedbed. Be interesting to visit in spring..
Bob also paid a visit to Newchurch Common, near Whitegate with Sue Middleton in search of the long-staying female Smew
Sue and I had a good morning, at Newchurch Common (near Whitegate, park at the end of Nova Scotia Lane). Redhead Smew on Big Pool, also goosander, wigeon, shoveler, latter 3 also on the smaller pool with a pair of gadwall. Huge mixed flock of Bramblings and Chaffinches on the set-aside. First visit there, would recommend it for a Wednesday morning sometime.
Having recovered at last from a pulled muscle in my leg I've been content to resume my daily walks around the lanes of Mobberley once again. On the 19th February at least 5 Song Thrushes were singing along the 5K route, two days later, in the big fields opposite Smith Lane Farm, the first singing Skylark of the season followed on the 25th by a Lapwing in tumbling Spring flight at the same location. Last Thursday (22nd), in conifers along Slade Lane a singing Goldcrest drew my attention, whilst at the junction of this lane with Smith Lane four Yellowhammers, one of which was in full song. Also at this location a Jay flew across the road in front of me and landed in a tree, as it did so there was the loud mewing call of a Buzzard which was repeated a number of times coming from the same tree - but no Buzzard to be seen, I can only assume it was the Jay - perfect mimicry!
This coming Friday (2nd) March it's the AGM of the Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society (CAWOS) at 7:45pm in St. Vincent's Church, Tatton Street, Knutsford. There is no entry fee and after the AGM there will be an interesting presentation entitled "LOOKING FOR THE GOSHAWK" by author Conor Jameson
Conor discusses the sequence of events that led to him writing his acclaimed book Looking for the Goshawk, some of the people he met and the places he visited as he seeks to understand 'the phantom of the forest'. He describes how the lost raptor went missing from our landscape, and our imaginations, and the work that's being done to help it come back. He describes what the apparent and actual absence of Goshawks may reveal about us, and the exciting challenges of rewilding.
I spent a couple of hours in the peace and quiet of the Rostherne observatory on Tuesday (13th) evaluating the combination of 'scope and clamp; they performed very well, although the magnification is only 20X the 'scope lets in a lot of light and, compared with my 8X binoculars, I was able to identify the various wildfowl species at the mouth of Rostherne brook (including a female and 2 male Mandarin ducks), determine the sex of a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the split lime and identify a group of Goosanders at the far end of the mere, the best part of a kilometer away - all impossible with just the binoculars.
In the early days of the KOS we used to travel down to Shropshire for Goosanders but this winter there are plenty locally with birds at Rostherne, Tatton, Marbury and on Thursday (6th) Bill Mccaig had six on Shakerley Mere - thanks Bill.
I had hoped to see one of the Rostherne Hawfinches on Monday but had no luck, nevertheless I was cautiously optimistic on Wednesday (14th) of seeing my first of the winter as we made our way over to Marbury where there had been a flock of no less than 19 the previous day! It was hard work as we huddled in a group at the appropriate spot in a temperature of only 2
C but eventually the sharp-eyed Bill Killey spotted one flying into an ivy-covered tree; it showed well through Derek's Swarovski.
A good count of 44 species during the morning at Marbury although the two Bitterns didn't put in an appearance - it was great to hear a Song Thrush in full song close to where we stood, there was also one in Bucklow Avenue during the week and last Wednesday (7th) a flock of c. 150 Pink-footed Geese passed overhead in a north-westerly direction - sure signs that Spring is just around the corner. (cue another cold spell)
Species seen at Marbury Country Park 14th February 2018
By now it was approaching noon and as the high tide wasn't due until 1pm we decided to walk along the quayside up to the Parkgate chip shop, this is a fine establishment - one of our members - an iconic figure in the world of dominoes and crown green bowling who likes to keep in shape for these extreme activities eats fish and chips only once a year - always at the Parkgate chippie - he wasn't disappointed and neither were we!
The high tide was a bit of a let-down and apart from a single Snipe I don't think we saw any new species as the incoming water remained just a grey streak in the distance.
On then to the RSPB's Burton Mere Wetlands Centre, busy with people arriving from Parkgate but quite a disappointing species count after reports seen online over the past few weeks - Kingfisher, a Grey Wagtail and a pair of Stonechats were probably the highlights; apart from the fact that you can now buy a very nice cup of filter coffee from the reception centre for £ 1:60!
Species seen at Parkgate / Burton Wetlands - 3rd February 2018
species recorded on Knutsford Moor 27/01/2018 11:00am - 12 noon. counts are maximum seen at any one time.
On Friday (2nd) it's the CAWOS (Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society) February meeting when Brian Anderson will be presenting a talk entitled "Stinkers, Pintados and Mollymawks". 7:45pm at St. Vincent's Church Hall, Tatton Street.
The following morning (3rd) it's our KOS February field trip over to the Wirral Peninsula for the high tide, Parkgate to begin with then over to Burton Mere Wetlands Centre (via the Parkgate chippie!). Meeting up in Lilac Avenue at 08:50am ready to leave at 9:00am prompt.22/01/2018...... Winter days with the KOS
Species seen at Connah's Quay - 20th January 2018
The weather was obviously keeping people at home and we had fewer visitors than last year although once again the promise of free drinks was enough to tempt a trickle of folk over the two hours we were open. During the past couple of weeks members have reported a Kingfisher perched nicely over the outlet channel where Melchett overflows into Tatton Mere's own overflow stream. It was there again on Sunday and we were able to point visitors to the spot where they could see it - it's amazing how many people have never seen one "in the flesh"!
Thanks to all who attended and contributed to such a successful and entertaining session
Don't forget that this coming Friday (26th) it's our January indoor meeting when Jim Almond will be telling us all about Springtime in New England.
Species seen from the Allen Hide 21st January 2018
A few people have been out braving the elements - up to 6 Hawfinches remain at Marbury Park, they were seen at the end of December by Sue Middleton ( a new species for Sue), Darren Morris and Bob Groom , Derek Pike had 47 Lapwings on the big fields opposite the entrance to Lilac Avenue on 26th December, increasing to 112 on New Year's day - this is less than half a mile from Knutsford town centre and the site earmarked for a development of 260 new homes as part of the local councils "Vision for Cheshire East in 2030". Derek and Jean spent some time in Tatton over the new year and on the 7th January had two Green Woodpeckers calling and two Ravens displaying - the latter are very early nesters so hopefully they'll be setting up shop in the park once more. Tatton Ranger Darren Morris tells me they had 10 Woodcock in Hanging Bank on the 7th and whilst cleaning out nest boxes (they have 30) found that 90% had been used in 2017. It's hoped to attract Pied Flycatchers to the park and to this end some boxes are plugged until mid-May to prevent members of the Tit family from moving in before the flycatchers return.
Roger Barnes reports a Barnacle Goose and two Greylags on Melchett Mere; Bob also saw these as well as 7 Wigeon, a Kingfisher and a flock of Siskins in that area so we may have something to show the public this coming Sunday, the 21st, when we team up with the Tatton Rangers between 11am and 1pm for the annual wildfowl watch, Darren tells me that refreshments will again be available, probably only tea and coffee as last years scones were a bit of a bonus!.
The following weekend on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th we'll be joining forces with the Friends of the Moor (27th) and Friends of Knutsford Heath (28th) for the Big Garden Birdwatch; each event will last for an hour beginning at 11:00am. All welcome - the more the merrier!
Later this month our KOS committee will be meeting to discuss the programme from May 2018 through to May 2019. Last year as well as the normal indoor and outdoor events we enjoyed the Scottish week in June and Lindisfarne at the end of September, perhaps we'll have another weekend away later this year and no doubt due consideration will be given to the possibility of a week abroad to celebrate our 45th anniversary in 2019!
Input from members is always welcome regarding any of the Society's activities - indoor or outdoor - praise or constructive criticism, your wish is our command!30/12/2017...... Seasonal conditions for the Christmas walk
Passerines seemed to be down in numbers this year, I'm guessing that many species are taking advantage of garden feeders. We have two, one of which was designed and built by a friend and features the usual wire mesh front but which additionally curves round underneath at the bottom. It's filled with sunflower hearts and is attracting large numbers of Green and Goldfinches, especially the latter with up to 20 at any one time. The seeds are also dislodged from the bottom mesh onto the ground where they're consumed by Blackbirds, Dunnocks, House Sparrows, Chaffinches and recently 4 Bramblings.
Species seen on the Christmas walk, 29th December 2017.
I am pleased to report that, in addition to a very enjoyable evening yesterday, we also had a very successful fund raising.
The total profit realised was just short of £ 300.
This is a record and beats the previous best year (2015) by more than £ 20.
On Sunday Marshside lived up to it's reputation as being one of the coldest places on earth! Dry as we left Knutsford but when we reached our destination it was raining heavily and the temperature was reluctant to rise above only 3
C. so it was off immediately to the shelter of the Sandgrounder's hide. It wasn't much warmer in there but at least it was dry.
The usual mixture of Wildfowl - Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shelduck, Gadwall, Shoveler plus Canada and Greylag Geese. At one point, in the far distance, a huge flock of Pink-footed Geese passed over towards the Ribble estuary - many thousands - quite extraordinary we'd never seen that many before. Waders were well represented with Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Curlew and Golden Plovers but just a single raptor braved the elements - a tiny male Sparrowhawk that landed on a fence post just up from where we watched - it looked quite dishevelled and miserable.
Given the time of year there weren't many people at Martin Mere although a few brave kids seemed to have persuaded their parents to "Sail to Santa" across the water in front of the reception building where we ate our lunch before moving to the restaurant for a coffee.
The highlight of the afternoon came as we sat in the Ron Barker hide and watched five Marsh Harriers quartering the reedbeds. Apparently, earlier in the day, there were seven in view at the same time! There was the usual scrum at feeding time with 1,600 Whooper Swans and a sea of Shelducks hoovering up the grain but we saw only a couple of Ruff this time despite a count of 83 during the morning.
As the light began to fade the Pinkfeet returned (there are 15,000 on the reserve [thanks Marcia]) settling noisily at the far side of the main lake.
A reminder that this year's Christmas walk will take place on Friday 29th December meeting up at the public car park next to the Stanley Arms in Anderton at 09:45am. Derek has a 4.3 mile walk planned which, with stops, should take us about three hours.
species recorded at Marshside / Martin Mere on 17th December 2017.