Archived Latest news, 2021

Supplementary Pages 2021

Updated  29th December 2021

29/12/2021......The KOS Christmas Walk
Despite a less than encouraging weather forecast, 13 hardy souls gathered at the Witton Mill car park yesterday (28/12) for our annual Christmas stroll around the Northwich Woodlands; taking in Budworth Mere, Dairy house Meadows, Neumann's Flash and Ashton's Flash [map].
It was certainly wet to start with, the roads in Mobberley were awash and in Lostock Gralam, we had to proceed carefully through flood water a foot deep!

Fortunately as we set off, after a briefing by our trip leader and KOS Chairperson Sheila Blamire, the rain had all but stopped and didn't re-appear until we were heading for home four hours later.

There was plenty of activity in the car park with Blue and Great Tits on the feeder, male and female Reed Buntings fed below and the subdued Winter song of Robins accompanied us as we headed towards Butterfinch Bridge. It was here, some years ago, that we heard our first Cheshire Cetti's Warbler. Nothing for us but Karina Stanley, who was initially some way behind us, reported a bird in song as she passed.
Heading towards Budworth Mere a pair of croaking Ravens flew overhead, perhaps a sign of Spring (or wishful thinking) already, the birds begin nesting in mid-February - just 6 weeks away!
Elevenses were enjoyed in the covered picnic area before moving on towards the Mere, pausing to watch our first Redwings of the day as they fed in the yew and holly trees next to the Ranger's complex.
The viewing screen overlooking the Coward reedbed is no more, succumbing to old age and rotting timbers but still a good viewpoint and we added most of the usual suspects to the day-list - ducks, geese and gulls. Further on, good views of a Kingfisher that perched, obligingly, next to where we stood.

Good views of a number of Goldcrests from the screen next to the woodland feeder, optimists in the party looked carefully for a Firecrest, without success. The leucistic grey squirrel pictured is apparently the offspring of an even whiter parent and a normally coloured partner - very attractive!
Legs were starting to ache a little by the time we'd passed through Dairy House meadows but our trip leader was just getting into her stride and we dutifully followed right around the perimeter of Neumann's Flash, as far as Pod's hide, where a good selection of "new" species were added - Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall, amongst others. A Buzzard was added as we scanned Ashton's Flash, the only one of the day, and we rounded off with a Great Spotted Woodpecker back at the car park. Species #51 - a commendable total, given the time of year and weather.

Derek Pike had a nice flock of Lapwings in the field next to the new Redrow housing development (confusingly called Tabley Park) along Northwich Road, in Knutsford ...."180 Lapwings in field adjacent to Tabley Park (Redrow)entrance "....... This is probably the same flock seen, on Christmas Day, by Bob Groom and the Blamires ........"Nice count. We (G & S & self) had a big flock yesterday too and they came from that direction. I counted c.110 Redwings in the 'horse field' on Moss Lane, along with about 30 Goldfinches, a few Chaffinches and a couple of Buzzards. Also about, a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel and G & S counted 10 Pied Wagtails in a field."......
Geoff and Sheila were in the Plumley area again on Boxing day and again found plenty of finches......"We went to Plumley/Holford area yesterday - gosh was it muddy, and where it wasn't it was flooded!
The number of birds on the sunflower seed heads drastically reduced, probably to c100 (from 300-400 on 19th Dec). Still a mixture of Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Reed Buntings and Bramblings, but they were feeding on the plants furthest away from the road so really need a scope to see them well. Also saw a pair of Yellowhammers on an overhead wire before they dropped into a field and lost in view.

This will be the final update of 2021, another year we'll not get back! In January the vaccination programme had just started and strict covid restrictions were still in force. At the beginning of April it was announced that up to six people could meet outside and, by the middle of May, groups of up to 30 were allowed. We were able to resume our KOS field trips and Wednesday mid-weekers. So called "Freedom day" was the 19th July when almost all restrictions were lifted.

There followed a period of optimism, but "the best made plans of mice and men.. etc" springs to mind! I see tonight's grand total is 183,000 new cases in the past 24 hours - you couldn't make it up!!

Anyway the current plan is for any survivors to meet up on Saturday 22nd. January 2022 - 10:30am at Wigan's Pennington Flash for our first trip of the year. Have a good one!

species seen on 28th December 2021 - Northwich Woodlands.
Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Jay, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Mallard, Lapwing, Reed Bunting, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush, Jackdaw, Raven, Nuthatch, Redwing, Cetti's Warbler, Mistle Thrush, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Coot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Goldeneye, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Kingfisher, Shelduck, Mute Swan, Sparrowhawk, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Water Rail, Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Dunnock, Teal, Wigeon, Kestrel, Wren, gadwall, Shoveler, Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker. [ ✓ 51]

22/12/2021...... Latest news from Rostherne, Tatton and beyond.
Yesterday (21st) was the Winter solstice, the shortest day, and we can look forward to lighter nights and, eventually, the first Sand Martins of the year over Tatton and Rostherne meres. Just a couple of months away now but a lot could happen before then!

Last Tuesday (15th) I spent the morning in the company of Bob Groom in the Rostherne observatory. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, perfect viewing weather and, for some reason, the wildfowl were spread out in the centre of the mere, rather than hidden away under the banks and mereside shrubbery, as is usually the case. Using the big binoculars I was able to do an accurate count - Wigeon 124, Goosander 5, Shoveler 15, Teal 47, Little Grebe 1, Goldeneye 7. Stock Doves were displaying and "in song". Bob also added Kingfisher, Kestrel, 2 Jays and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

A couple of days later (17th) Bob was in Tatton and found a Kingfisher in what's become a favourite location, along the Melchett Mere outlet stream....." Siskins and Chaffinches in the trees again but no egrets. Usual Heron, couple of Buzzards, 7 Cormorants and a pair of Wigeon. Walking back to the car I saw a glint of blue and sure enough there was a Kingfisher, low down in the tree on the channel where we have seen them before in winter. I watched it for quite a while, at one point, while it was preening, it was surrounded by Long-Tailed Tits, Siskins plus a Wren. It flew out briefly at one point, possibly to catch an insect, then re perched".......

Peter Dawson has also been in the park, as well as the Tabley area ........" Last Thursday I did the Green Lane-Moss Lane-Swains Walk route. I haven't been over that way for some time so I was interested to see what was about. It was a sunny and mild day. Highlights were a kestrel, meadow pipits and Siskins along Green Lane, tree sparrows, redwings, grey wagtail and a very large group of starlings at various points on Moss Lane and fieldfare, mistle thrush and a singing(!) skylark from Swains Walk. Back home I heard both a song thrush and a great tit also both singing.

A fairly brief check of the Knutsford end of Tatton Mere on Friday morning produced approx 12 mandarin - a group of about 10 males/female types plus a separate pair. I've only ever seen the odd one or two there before. I was in the park again today but it was pretty quiet birdwise. A skein of approx 80 pink footed geese flew over and a single male stonechat on the west bank were the highlights. There was a report on the Cheshire Bird WhatsApp group chat late last week saying that a probable crossbill had been heard near the Knutsford gate but unfortunately no sight or sign for me during the two visits."

Derek Pike also had Pinkfeet flying over, this on Monday (20th). Rather than the usual rough guess Derek used his own unique measure of flock size! ....."A large skein of Pinkfeet flew over south to northwest at 1:00pm, hard to tell how many but skein must have 60-70 yards across."...... A rough calculation on the back of a Woodbine packet came up with c.60 birds. I still prefer counting the legs and dividing by two - (yes, the old ones are always the best!)

Geoff and Sheila Blamire were out and about in the fog last Sunday .......We spent the morning in fog! As we walked through the fields and the mud between Plumley and the railway crossing the fog seemed to lift slightly but as we walked around the lanes around Holford it descended again. But when we reached the sunflower field (SJ704734) we were so pleased we'd made the effort. There were 100s Reed Buntings and finches - probably 300-400! One time, there was a small tree by the bridge over the stream which held 40 finches - I counted 4 Chaffinches and 36 Bramblings! I walked slowly towards the tree and got within about 16ft of the Bramblings - what a sight!..........

Sheila will be leading our annual post-Christmas walk on Tuesday 28th December. We'll be walking from the Witton Mill car park, taking in Budworth Mere and Neumann's Flash. 9:30am start from the car park

Simon Smith ventured out as far as the Dee Estuary yesterday and had some success with the Short-eared Owls....."It appears to be a good year for Short-eared Owls on the Dee Estuary. Yesterday afternoon, I went down to the marshes at Neston and spent an hour watching 4-5 Owls hunting & squabbling in the area between Neston Old Quay and the Neston Reedbeds. I arrived at 1:30, but there was talk about them being out from 12:30 on some days. There were the usual number of dog walkers out on the marsh and even a few photographers! However, the Owls just floated around them and weren't unduly perturbed by the activity, making for some good viewing through binoculars and even a few photos when they got near to the edge of the marsh "........
Thanks Simon - well up to your usual high standard!

13/12/2021......Marshside and Martin Mere
Grim, murky weather yesterday morning (12/12) as we drove along the A5209 and over the top of Parbold Hill on the journey to RSPB Marshside. Luckily it cleared as we descended and, by the time we reached our destination, visibility was good with just a light drizzle to contend with. A group of 14 had assembled at the car park, including the adventurous Ken Davies, who arrived on his bicycle. No he hadn’t pedaled all the way from home in Middlewich! He and Shirley were staying in their camper a short ride away in Southport. Well done anyway Ken, I think that’s a first.
Another, larger, group of birders arrived at the same time as us but they set off straight to the Sandgrounders’ hide, so there was no conflict of interests.

We began, as usual, at the Junction Pool viewpoint, where we’d normally spend 10 minutes or so but, on this occasion, it was the best part of 40 minutes. The wildfowl were close in and we enjoyed excellent views of Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler and Tufted Duck. They were sharing the marsh with huge flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover. Curlew, Snipe and a single Ruff were also picked out from within the larger aggregations.
Passerines too were added to our rapidly expanding day-list, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks passed overhead and a pair of Stonechats showed well in the reeds as we walked up in the direction of Nel’s Hide.
A Peregrine passed through, low over the marsh scattering the birds in all directions, before settling on driftwood way out in the estuary. Pride of place though went to two male Hen Harriers, picked out by the ever alert Phil Rowley, as they flew over the reedbeds across the other side of the Marine Drive - great views!
We didn’t stay long in Nel’s Hide, the sun was out by then, making for uncomfortable viewing; looking right into the light.
By the time we reached the main Sandgrounders’ hide the other group had moved on. We added a few new species, bringing the total up to 44 before we said goodbye to Ken and moved on to Martin Mere.
The car park at the reserve was quite full but it’s a big place and there’s plenty of room for the required (again) social distancing. Trip leader Frank Dearden had done a full recce two weeks previously and recommended that lunch be taken in the Ron Barker Hide or on the veranda outside the restaurant. I joined Frank, Geoff and Sheila on the veranda and watched as Santa’s elves ferried kids across to the great man’s island - "Sail to Santa" at £ 15 a time!
Walking down to the Ron Barker hide we noted the first Redwings and Tree Sparrows of the day, others had Treecreeper, Bullfinch and Goldcrest as well. Great views from the hide of four Marsh Harriers; one feeding on an unfortunate gull of some description, the others floating gently over the phragmites reedbeds. Only a few Whooper Swans in view this year on the reserve and I had the impression that Pink-footed Geese were also down in numbers. The Janet Kear Hide was quiet but we manages to add Reed Bunting and Coal Tit to the list.
A peregrine flew over the area as we walked back to the Discovery Hide for the 3pm feed. It spooked many of the birds, including the flock of Ruff and the single Black-tailed Godwit you see in the image, captured by Simon, at the top of today’s update. I was stood with Simon at the time and watched the birds through binoculars: there is no way my camera is capable of producing an image like that at such long range - good work Simon!!
We watched the birds being fed from the Discovery Hide - the usual free-for-all! Disappointingly the Ruffs didn’t appear but I managed to capture part of the scrum on video
We headed for home just after 4pm with a good list of 67 species recorded during the day. Our thanks go to trip leader Frank and all who came along and contributed to such a very enjoyable day!

Ken and Shirley have been out and about in their camper again. Their latest trip found them at the WWT’s parent reserve - Slimbridge.
......."Our recent visit to Slimbridge on the 1st /2nd December favoured us with not bad weather but a cold chill the birds a little scarce with very few waders but plenty of geese and I found out that there are only 28 Bewick’s swans at the moment:
Lapwing ,Mute Swan, Pied wagtail, Bewick’s swan, Crane(8), Teal ,Magpie, Pochard, Rook, Mallard, Jackdaw, Pintail, Carrion crow, Wigeon, Blue tit, Moorhen, Coal tit, Tufted duck, Woodpigeon, Greylag geese, Water rail, Shoveler, Collared dove, Coot, House sparrow, Black-headed Gull, Peregrine, Barnacle Geese, Canada Geese, Ross’s Goose, White-fronted Geese, Blackbird, Robin, Curlew, Dunnock, Redshank, Golden Plover, Grey heron, Great tit, Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Great White Egret, Starling, Cormorant, Shelduck, Oystercatcher I make that 46 again could have been better let’s hope Southport turns up a few surprises
. "

Thanks again Ken. I think the biggest surprise on Sunday was the sight of you on your bike, looming into view through the drizzle!

Of course there’s no need to go all the way to Southport for Pinkfeet, as Geoff and Sheila Blamire demonstrated last week!........."Our 11.7km this morning took us around Mere and Rostherne. Most notable were c50 Chaffinches in the field next to the Natural England car park, then the next field alongside Marsh Line there were 30+ Redwings and 10 Fieldfares, then finally a skein of 60+ Pink-footed Geese flying south from Millington direction."...........

Next year the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch takes place between the 28th and 30th January 2022 - full details here. Perhaps we can get together with friends of the Moor and Heath once more. Then again we may be in the middle of the latest lockdown!!

Species recorded on 12 December 2021 at Marshside and Martin Mere
Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Curlew, Starling, Lapwing, grey Wagtail, Wigeon, Pink-footed Goose, Blackbird, Teal, Wren, Stonechat, Pintail, Shelduck, Mallard, Redshank, Goldfinch, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Skylark, Little Egret, Moorhen, Shoveler, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Golden Plover, Greylag Goose, Hen Harrier, Carrion Crow, Robin, Meadow Pipit, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Peregrine Falcon, Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Ruff, Pied Wagtail, Pheasant, Gadwall, Dunnock, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Cormorant, Coot, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Redwing, Tree Sparrow, Collared Dove, Chaffinch, Jackdaw, Treecreeper, Bullfinch, Goldcrest, Whooper Swan, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Grey Heron, Reed Bunting, Pochard, Goldeneye, Coal Tit, Magpie, Little Grebe [67]

07/12/2021......A visitor from the east.
I visited Knutsford Moor last Thursday (2/12) to check whether the Little Egrets and Goosanders were still present. The Goosanders had moved on but I was pleased to see a Little Egret, looking quite settled, in the reeds on the far side of the Moor pool.
This is a popular spot with Knutsfordians, who wander down to feed the birds, so there are always a few Black-headed Gulls hanging around in the hope of a meal.
I noticed some of the gulls sported darvic rings (those long coloured plastic ones with large letters) as well as the metal BTO type. I wandered amongst them and over a short period I photographed six bearing rings and was later able to read the numbers from the images displayed of the computer at home - 275B : 2S92 : 239A : 248A : 2S99 and 2P74 all blue with white letters.
A bit of research lead me to this website By following the instructions I was able to enter the appropriate numbers and, almost immediately, the details of each bird were available via a pdf file. Knutsford_Moor_BHGs.pdf.
I assume they were all ringed on the Moor during the Winter, so where they spend the Spring and Summer isn’t available from those data.

I had more luck though the following day in Tatton itself, when I noticed a Black-headed Gull on the boat launching jetty with a yellow ring. This is the bird shown at the top of this update. The "grainy" inset shows the number to be TPL6 and, again, a trawl through the internet eventually lead me to this website - I entered the details and after a couple of days received this file Polish_ring_details.pdf So it appears that the bird was ringed, as an adult, at breeding colony near Neilbark in Poland on the 1st June 2018 and spends the Winter months here with us in Cheshire.

The water level on Tatton Mere continues to drop, as preparation continues for the repair work needed on the sluice at the north end of the lake. I’m told this work could take some time and it may mean draining the north lagoon completely - potentially it could be good for waders in the Spring of next year!
The shallow water is proving attractive to both the little Egret and it’s Great White cousin; texts this afternoon from Roger Barnes and Darren Morris report both present in the shallows. The record shot I’ve included shows just how shallow the mere is at that point!

Despite the current spell of inclement weather Geoff and Sheila Blamire continue with their daily rambles; on Sunday (5/12) it was Plumley and Holford Moss....."Gosh - it was windy, cold and very muddy plus a big tree had come down across the footpath didn’t help (had to climb over trunk), but so pleased we did the walk!
Just past Keepers Cottage there were 2 Yellowhammers and further on, just before the bridge over the railway, c30 Redwings and a single Fieldfare. In a field at Langford Farm SJ704742 (opposite Hame Farm), Holford there were 35 Curlews with sheep. When we reached the sunflower field there was a finch flock of about 80 - mostly Chaffinches, some Greenfinches, Bramblings (counted 8 last time we were there) and a single Yellowhammer. Nearly back to the car we came across c150 Curlews in a field SJ719742 along Cheadle Lane, Plumley. Difficult to count them because the field is undulating. Turning up the track that leads to Keepers Cottage could see some of them but the track is too low to get a good view. So we retraced our steps back to the car. "

On the same day Bob Groom went over to Tabley Mere, where he’s finding it’s tough going with all the repair work going on ......."Not pleasant conditions but very successful for birds. That field off Cheadle Lane is where I used to see big numbers of curlews so good to know that they are using it again. used to peer through a small hole in the hedge near the triangle (road to farm). I visited Tabley Park where Ivan, on the electric vehicle, stopped to warn me that conditions were very treacherous. He wasn’t wrong. Contrary to what I had thought the contractors hadn’t been using the main track but instead had taken over the side track that I usually follow to and alongside the mere and had put down inconsistent hardcore etc. and erected plastic fencing on both sides. Very hard going and will be for me in the future. Ivan thought they may have finished by the month end. I couldn’t face going back the same way so took a short cut to the main track that I knew once I’d negotiated the fence and got back in half the time. Surprising amount on the mere, considering, including 14 Mute Swans, 2 Shelducks and a Little Egret.. 16 Long-Tailed Tits near Keeper’s cottage, Buzzard, Kestrel, Nuthatches"..........

1/12/2021......Egrets in Tatton Park.
Arwen, the first named storm of the season, passed through over the weekend. The gale force winds on Saturday night caused much damage in some areas, bringing trees down across power lines, causing widespread outages; the worst storm since 2005, apparently. Locally we seemed to have escaped lightly although Tatton park was closed on Sunday (28th) while the damage was assessed and debris tided up.

Just 3C on Sunday morning in the Rostherne obs. The bird table was, predictably, very busy with the usual suspects but the gales hadn’t brought in anything unusual. A snow-capped Winter Hill, 22 miles away, looked very picturesque but it vanished from view as the morning progressed and it started to snow, becoming quite heavy in the early afternoon. Bill Bellamy’s request for help with the monthly wildfowl count was successful and on the 7th of last month Chris Wilkshire joined Phil Dell on the walk around the perimeter of the mere, whilst the wildfowl were counted from the observatory. Well done Chris! The team could always use extra help, either walking the mere or counting from the (relative) comfort of the obs. Bill’s email address is - You’d be able to access parts of the reserve not normally open to the public and help to add to the reserve’s records that now stretch back 130 years!

Up to seven Goosanders have been counted at Rostherne recently, records from Tatton are very rare and the species has never been recorded on the Knutsford Moor pool. Never recorded until last Sunday (28/11) that is, when Geoff and Sheila Blamire rectified the situation!......"This morning went to Knutsford Moor with my niece and her family and walked into Tatton Park and bumped into Alan Booth - he had a Little Egret on the mere and another one on the moor. Walking back to moor - no sign of Little Egret. From the children’s play area I spotted 2 male Goosanders - obviously fresh in! ".......

As if this wasn’t good enough, on Tuesday (30/11) Peter Dawson went one better" ..........."After the rain and wind had died down this morning, I decided to go for a short walk to Knutsford Moor and the bottom end of Tatton Park to have a quick look to see what was about.
I first had a look at the Moor "back pool" where I found a little egret. There was not much else about except the usual gulls and mallards so I wandered into the park and scanned from the area of pine trees on the west side. As on my most recent visit there were good numbers of pochard and tufted duck as well as a few goldeneye and the odd little grebe. Amongst all these I found a nice male pintail - possibly the same one that the group had seen on Melchett Mere on the recent walk. I could also see an egret perched in a tree on the opposite bank. I assumed it was another little, although it did look quite large, but it was only when I got a bit closer that I realised it was actually a great white. Both this and the pintail were both firsts for me locally so further additions to my "walking from home" list.
So, that’s two little and one great white egret I’ve seen on Tatton Mere in the last few days. I seem to recall that these are the same numbers that Bob has seen at Tabley and that the work they are doing there has involved drained the mere. That being the case, I assume that these are the same birds that have relocated. It will be interesting to see if they stick around. "
It will indeed Peter, Tatton ranger Darren Morris points out that the egrets are very close to the Grey Heron colony, so things may become interesting in a few weeks time! Darren tells me that the water level in the park’s main mere is very low at the moment because of maintenance work ........."I haven’t seen it as low as it is now for years. The mere is inspected each year by a reservoir inspector. There is a gauge at the outflow at the northern end. In winter this is kept between 0 and -10. Summer between 0 and +10. It’s now at -20. Lots of mud around the scout’s jetty.".......... In years gone by the level was reduced every Autumn so that broken glass could be removed from around the bathing area. The exposed mud attracted waders and we’ve had Redshank, Dunlin and Ringed Plover there, so pay extra attention to these muddy areas if you’re in the park. Also keep an eye open for your first Winter record of Siskins; Maria Freel reported them from the park earlier this week ......."Not sure if anyone has reported them in this area yet, but a small group of approx 10 Siskin hidden among our ubiquitous goldfinches this morning. Those are my first of the winter! Very exciting, plus looked lovely among the snowy branches"........

Bob Groom has sent me an excellent report of his September trip to Majorca you can read it here - Bob’s trip to Majorca Bob ponders that it will probably be his last overseas trip: I’ve heard this many times before so it should be taken with a pinch of salt - I suspect the lure of a Gyr Falcon over the Icelandic glaciers will prove too strong!!

Others taking advantage of a brief period of freedom, in between lockdowns, were Ken and Shirley Davies ........"Our latest trip was a good one. The weather was kind to us and Shirley and myself enjoyed 4 nights on a site at Wells-next-the Sea, with birding you are never in the right place to see a reported sighting but the list is not bad all the same.

Jay ,Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon ,Collared Dove ,Magpie ,Pheasant ,Red-legged Partridge ,Curlew ,Blue Tit ,Great Tit ,Oystercatcher ,Grey Heron Lapwing ,Marsh Harrier ,Buzzard ,Kestrel ,House Sparrow ,Starling ,Jackdaw ,Stonechat ,Robin ,Mallard ,Wigeon ,Little Grebe ,Greylag Geese ,Pink-footed Geese ,Brent Geese ,Cormorant ,Black-tailed Godwit ,Red Throated Diver ,Shoveler ,Redshank ,Little Egret ,Gadwall ,Teal ,Common Sandpiper ,Dunlin ,Grey Plover ,Black-headed Gull ,Herring Gull ,Great Black-Backed Gull ,Red-necked Grebe ,Wren ,Snow Bunting (20ish) ,Blackbird ,Chiffchaff ,Rook ,Barn Owl ,Tawny Owl ,Red Kite ,Chaffinch ,Goldfinch ,Snipe ,Moorhen ,Golden Plover ,Reed Bunting ,Hobby ,Pintail ,Avocet ,Linnet ,Green Shank ,Grey Partridge ,Pied Wagtail ,Tufted Duck ,Shelduck ,Mute Swan ,Canada Geese ,Common Scoter ,Little Auk ,
We then came back to Ferry Meadows Peterborough and added Ring-necked Parakeet(10) ,Pochard ,Long-tailed Tit ,Great Crested Grebe ,Coot .
A total of 74 not a big number but an enjoyable trip let’s hope we have a better trip to Slimbridge in a few weeks time.......Ken "

Don’t forget that it’s our December field trip a week on Sunday. 12th December. The leader for this outing is Frank Dearden. (see how to get free admission to Martin Mere in the previous update.)

Well, that’s about it - plenty of news this time. Thanks to all concerned for your records.

25/11/2021......The trip to Burton Mere and a Waxwing.
Twenty one members and friends gathered at the RSPB’s Burton Mere Wetlands reserve on Sunday (21/11) for the latest KOS outing. A good turnout and possibly the biggest for a long time. Due to a cold I was unable to attend but trip leader Bob Groom has kindly provide an excellent report and trip-list. Simon Smith has sent me the stunning images that I’ve included in this update - thanks chaps.

A gloriously sunny day (Nov.21st) prompted an excellent attendance (21 members) for the KOS visit to Burton Mere Wetland reserve and Parkgate. Despite the cold weather everyone was in good spirits and enthusiastically put together a joint list of 72 species identified.

There was plenty to see from the Reception building. Marsh Harriers were almost constantly in view and when they came together in the same field of view there were 3 females and a male. As usual there were lots of Black-tailed Godwits out on the Scrape, a good number of Redshanks and many ducks. Another reserve highlight was the egret roost on the pool beyond the Loop. Normally they fly out early to feed, staff told us, but on the day of our visit most stayed put through the morning with double figures of both Great White Egrets and Little Egrets, glowing bright white in the sunshine.
Over at Marsh Covert Hide there was a single Pintail. It wasn’t easy to see, however, but there was the wonderful sight of at least 2,000 Lapwings up against a clear blue sky.

Lunchtime saw people relocating to Parkgate for the high tide on the Dee, although it was obviously not going to be one of those days when it covered the marsh. In the event it was a little disappointing. There were more good views of Marsh Harriers and a ringtail Hen Harrier appeared but there was no sign of a Short-eared Owl. At least some people were lucky enough to see a Barn Owl. A Kestrel hovered in front of us but no Merlin sighting. Pink-footed Geese are always a winter highlight there and there were also many Greylags and Canadas. Curlews and Snipe were also present but no sign of the Spoonbills. All in all it was another very successful society outing....... Bob Groom

This from Simon and Lyn.........The highlight at Burton Mere was definitely the roost of Great & Little Egrets on the Mere pool. We spoke to one of the RSPB staff who mentioned that the Egrets roosted there most nights but usually flew out first thing onto the reserve, so for them to remain there was quite unusual. (I’ve attached a couple of pictures).
Other birds seen at BMW, that may have eluded the list, included a Great-Spotted Woodpecker (at the feeders beyond the Bunker Hide) and a Goldcrest and a solitary Curlew at Burton Point and I had brief views of what I felt was Sparrowhawk, hedge-hopping at both locations. Later, we saw a Peregrine putting the flocks up over the Scrape.
At Parkgate Baths, we had Hen Harrier (ringtail) as well as many Marsh Harriers. However, our highlight was the Barn Owl that, along with Jacquie & Sue, we saw flying over the golf course and then onto the marsh to hunt.

Our next field trip is a double-header to RSPB Marshside and WWT Martin Mere. I’ve mentioned before the extortionate entry fee at Martin Mere ( £ 14.95 - adult and £ 11.95 concession). This year though, there is a way of reducing this to two quid! You need to buy a national lottery ticket, then go to this website where you can obtain a voucher and use it (online) to book into Martin Mere on the 12th of December. If you have more than one email address you can get further vouchers - it does work and I’ve booked in - otherwise I’d be thinking twice about going!

In lieu of our traditional Christmas party Jude Halman is organising a meal at Knutsford’s Legh Arms pub. on the 14th December. For more details Jude can be contacted via email at

A Waxwing was photographed on Saturday (20/11) at Toft but, as far as I know, hasn’t been seen since. This from Peter Dawson....."The waxwing was reported on Birdguides on Sun having been seen on Sat. The location was shown as just south of Seven Sisters Lane in an area I’m pretty sure is either a private garden or farm land. There was some chat about it on the Cheshire WhatsApp group including a photo. It wasn’t clear who had seen/reported it. Hopefully some more will turn up"........

Tatton ranger Darren Morris has sent me a copy of the park’s Winter newsletter you can read it by clicking here. Thanks Darren, clear and concise, with a couple of excellent pictures!

It looks as though we’re in for some Winter weather over the coming weekend, with sub-zero temperatures, gales and even some snow! I think the birds are aware of this and are stocking up - the sunflower hearts in the feeder are vanishing at an alarming rate! Mainly Goldfinches and Greenfinches at the moment, although we did have a female Great Spotted Woodpecker earlier in the week. No Bramblings yet but just down the road Jayne Davies had one in her garden a couple of days ago.

species recorded at Burton Mere / Parkgate on 21st November 2021.
Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Kestrel, Common Pheasant, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Snipe, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Moorhen, Coot, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Cetti’s Warbler, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Magpie, Jay, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

18/11/2021......We’re doomed, we’re all doomed!
A post on our local "Mobberley Matters" Facebook page, last Sunday (14/11) brought news of (as far as I know) the arrival of the village’s first Ring-necked Parakeets. The following morning Maria Freel reported two in the gardens at Tatton Hall, so, judging from what’s happened elsewhere in Britain, they’ll now become a permanent feature of our avifauna.

The species seems to divide opinions amongst those who already host them in their area. Plenty online, as you can imagine - this from Birdguides being typical.......""........ I’ll be reserving judgement!

Peter Dawson continues with his local walks, which, predictably, don’t turn up much of interest at this time of the year - so he’s off to Norfolk!...........Just to update you on my recent local sightings. I had a walk round Tatton Park earlier this week in the vain hope that the pintail reported from the group visit last week was still about. Needless to say, it wasn’t! Nothing very exciting about - highlights were siskin, green woodpecker, reed bunting, meadow pipit and a pair of egyptian geese on Melchett Mere.

A nice male goosander was on Booths Mere today, viewed from the path on the north/east side. A single grey wagtail was at the brook at the bottom of Pavement Lane and a mixed flock of pied wagtails and meadow pipits were in the fields by Booths Farm. A single collared dove was at the farm and a number of redwings in the trees by Booths Hall itself. I’m keeping my eye out for a black redstart again. No sign as yet but it was early December last year so plenty of time yet. Here’s hoping!

The tawny owl behind my house in Sanctuary Moor has been active in the last couple of weeks. I often hear one but actually seeing it is another matter! I had my first brambling of the autumn in the garden a few days ago although it didn’t stay very long.

I’m off to Norfolk this weekend for a week so looking forward to hopefully decent weather and seeing some good stuff.

Fieldfares are still in short supply and Bob Groom was getting a bit agitated about not recording any yet - but he’s a happy man now!........." Nice bit of brightness earlier. Still so mild (I’m all for it!) - Min 10C Max 13C. Similar tomorrow, with a good deal of sunshine promised. I went over to Sudlow Lane this morning, following the tip off from Derek (thanks Derek) and sure enough the winter thrushes were feasting on berries near the motorway bridge. At least a dozen Fieldfares and probably twice that number of Redwings. "..........

Things are hotting up at Rostherne with a build up of Goosanders and the daily Starling murmuration. Bill Bellamy showed a group from U3A around the reserve last Wednesday afternoon (11th) and they seemed to get their money’s worth......."I showed 12 of Hale U3A group around last evening and they were lucky enough to witness a great murmuration of around 10,000 Starlings with a Sparrowhawk making continued attacks into the middle of the flock. Eight Goosanders came into roost and there was a Pink-foot flyby of 80 birds. They left with big smiles on their faces."........

I spent some time in the Rostherne obs. on Monday morning (15th) and was delighted when a big flock of Pink-footed geese flew overhead, heading west. I counted 120 but Geoff and Sheila Blamire, who were just approaching the obs., were able to add to the total, as a skein of 80 passed directly over the top, out of my line of sight - so that made c.200.

I received the latest "Bird News" today, lots of interesting stuff and a good read. Nice to see we’re going to get a regular Tatton Park section!

The age old problem of persuading CAWOS members to take a more active role continues; rather than an "age old" problem, perhaps I should have said an "old age" problem. It’s just the same (wearing another hat) with Amateur Radio clubs and, to a lesser extent, the KOS.

With so much attention currently on the natural world and climate change etc. and the genuine concern amongst young people it should be an easy task to attract the younger generation(s).

Looking back through the mists of time, if I was back at work, this would call for a problem solving exercise and you’d start by defining the actual problem. If you asked 100 people to read the editorial in November’s "Bird News" and asked each what the problem is, you’d probably receive 100 different answers, (well 20 or 30 anyway)!

You’d have to thrash away until the basic problem is defined, then decide on the actions need to resolve it.

I suspect the answer, in the case of CAWOS, KOS and The Radio Society of Great Britain, would be - the organisation is not attracting enough young people to ensure continuity.

Just my thoughts, nothing else!

Don’t forget; this Sunday (21/11) it’s our trip to the RSPB’s Burton Mere Wetlands reserve. 09:30am in the reserve car park. Leader Bob Groom.

11/11/2021......Chelford’s purple patch continues!
Following Gill and Steve Barber’s record breaking late Hobby on the 2nd November at Chelford’s Acre Nook quarry, the couple were delighted to discover a Purple Sandpiper at the village’s Mere Farm Quarry last Saturday (6/11). This will probably turn out to be Cheshire’s first ever inland record of the species. They nest on the tundra in the high arctic and, although some of the populations over-winter in Britain, they are normally to be found on rocky shorelines. In Cheshire this means places like Hilbre Island, where we’ve seen them regularly on our trips over the years, so this was another remarkable record.
I drove over to Chelford on Tuesday hoping the bird was still there (it was still present on Monday) but, on this occasion, I was disappointed. There were a couple of other birders there, complete with their Swarovskis, but, despite being there for an hour, they’d not seen it. A couple of people were walking their dog along the opposite shoreline, so, although the pool is attractive to wildlife, it suffers from disturbance. Steve confirmed this .........."It’s been an epic few days for MFQ notwithstanding the daily disturbance by dog walkers right round the very edge of the water on the north pool - although the Purple Sand withstood that for three days. At least the person who swam daily in the South pool appears to have given that up!!".........

My visit was on Tuesday morning but I should have gone in the afternoon because, incredibly, Christopher Harris filmed an immature Gannet dropping into the north pool amongst the flock of Greylag Geese!! His video is available on Twitter to those that venture into that murky world.

Bob Groom went over to Tabley last weekend for the monthly WeBS wildfowl count. He seemed to enjoy the visit, despite the start of essential work to repair some of the park’s infrastructure......"I Went over to Tabley this morning to see what was happening. Barriers in position, some plant on site and a few trees felled (including an old dead tree that was a good lookout) but not yet started constructing the road through the wood. Great views of a Great White and a Little Egret together, until the former saw off the latter and then resumed feeding. Highlights also included a drake Pintail, a male Mandarin and still 36 Mute Swans".......

Fieldfares are still few and far between, although Geoff and Sheila Blamire came across some on Sunday (7th) along Swain’s Walk ........."Redwings and Fieldfares feeding on the hawthorn berries at the Tabley end of Swain’s Walk, also along to the church and further down towards the small roundabout. One time a Fieldfare and Redwing flew down to a puddle in front of us - great to see so close"..........

I’ve spent some time in the peace and tranquillity of the Rostherne obs. Wildfowl numbers remain low, although up to three Goosanders seem to have settled in for the Winter and last Friday (5/11) five Whooper Swans paid a brief visit to the mere.

Following my recent remarks about the price of nuts and seed etc. for your feeders I’ve received a couple of recommendations.
From Sheila ........."We still buy from Freshpak to support them because they have advertised in Bird News for many, many years and still supply Tatton Park and also they supported Macmillan. We’ve just bought 20kg for £ 32.99 (in the last BN it was £ 29.99). Yes it’s more expensive than Yorkshire but.........".
And from Jane Storey ........."noted the recent comment about the increase in cost of bird seed, so may I be cheeky here and put in a shout for a company called Vine House Farm. Their premium bird seed mix is £ 32 for 25kg, with free delivery, just to give you an idea. But the main reason I like them is they make a donation to your local Wildlife Trust of 4% of your spend."..........

Our next KOS field trip is a week on Sunday (21st November) when we’ll be visiting the RSPB’s Burton Mere Wetlands reserve. The trip leader will be Bob Groom and you should let him know if you’re going along Bob will work out an itinerary in due course but I suspect we’ll end up at the Parkgate chippie!!

04/11/2021......A Tatton walk and a late Hobby
It appears that we’re in for a good Brambling Winter -
Following Geoff and Sheila Blamire’s early record last month (21/10), Alan Gillespie recorded 3 or 4 birds amongst a Chaffinch flock along Beech Walk in Tatton Park ......."I walked down the row of beeches along the golf course. I saw a small flock of about 15 chaffinches but mixed in were 3 or 4 Bramblings. That’s all I saw last year! Also on Tatton mere I had my first drake Goldeneye. Just the one and no females. There were also about 750 black headed gulls at the north end. It was late in the day! Jays were everywhere and very vocal. "......

This prompted a Wednesday trip to the park yesterday morning, (3/5). A group of eight mid-weekers assembled at Dog Lodge before setting off on what turned out to be a 6 ½ Km leisurely stroll in bright sunlight; quite cool, just 9.8C maximum at 1pm yesterday but very pleasant.

We began on Knutsford Moor, which was quite busy as people enjoyed the autumn weather. A lady was feeding the waterfowl - Moorhens, Coot, Canada Geese, Mute Swans, Mallard; further out a couple of Cormorants and numerous Black-headed Gulls, the latter, a really common bird but, when photographed close up, make excellent subjects.

Cetti’s Warblers sing outside the breeding season but no luck on the moor this time - they’ll be in there somewhere, we had to be content with House Sparrow for the list, not always guaranteed nowadays on this particular walk!

Turning left, after entering by the main gate, we made our way along the whole length of Beech walk but it was pretty quiet, no Bramblings and only a couple of chaffinches calling. A Song Thrush was added to the species count and Jays were very conspicuous as they squabbled amongst themselves over this year’s poor acorn crop.

As we approached Melchett mere, Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings flew down from the lower branches of a convenient oak tree to feed in the juncus reeds.

Elevenses were enjoyed overlooking Melchett - Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Wigeon, Great Crested and Little Grebes plus a handsome drake Pintail floated on the mere.
It wasn’t until we began the return journey, along the east shore of the main mere that we encountered the first Goldeneye, a female but there were probably more present on the far side of the water.
A pair of Stonechats followed us along the mereside as we made our way towards Dog Wood; very attractive little birds and now annual in the park during the Winter months. The wood was very quiet, just Long-tailed Tit and Nuthatch were added to the days list, which ended up at a reasonable 41 different species.

Surprisingly we didn’t record any Redwings or Fieldfares during the morning; Redwings are widespread now but Fieldfares seem to be late this year. I think the first local record came on Tuesday (2/11) with two birds seen by Bill Bellamy at Rostherne, as he approached the obs.
Bill does the WeBS wildfowl count at Rostherne (and Tatton) on the appointed day every month. Although Tatton still takes a long time, it’s relatively straightforward when compared to Rostherne, as the mere is 100’ deep in the middle and the wildfowl tend to congregate in the shallows around the edge. So, to obtain an accurate count, the birds must first be flushed. To do this a group of people walk around the mere whilst others do the actual count from the observatory, Bill could always do with more help, even if it’s "only" joining the walking party. For those that have often wondered what it’s like to walk right around Rostherne mere, this is the opportunity you’ve waited for!

The next count is this coming Sunday from 9:00am. If you’re interested in taking part you may want to drop Bill an email - He will be delighted to hear from you.

Bob Groom couldn’t join us on Wednesday as he had a prior engagement with Elaine and the grandkids at Alderley Edge! ......"Nice and bright, but chilly. Min 4C Max 11C. Brilliant views of c.30 Bramblings, favouring rowan berries. Also Mistle Thrush, Redwings, 2 Ravens and 2 Jays. Elaine is pretty good on fungi ID, we saw lots and she photographed some of them. Seems to be an exceptional year for them. We’ve even got fly agarics in profusion in Queensway, also puffballs. I’ve had a very pretty one on my back lawn. Probably a Grisette mushroom, a.k.a. Amanita Vaginata. The kids had a good time too, in the woodland play area. ".......

Not far way at Chelford’s Acre Nook sand quarry Steve Barber tells me that the Hobby is still there and, a sighting on the 2nd November was Cheshire and Wirral’s latest ever record!

species recorded at Tatton on 3rd. November 2021.
Starling, Robin, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Black-headed Gull, Grey Wagtail, Mallard, Moorhen, Cormorant, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Reed Bunting, Tufted Duck, Pintail, Wigeon, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pochard, Stonechat, Coot, Pied Wagtail, Goldeneye, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, [ ✓ 41]

28/10/2021......The first Brambling
Geoff and Sheila Blamire recorded our first local Brambling of the season in their Mere garden last Thursday (21/10). Looking back at their records, Sheila notes that they had none in 2019 or 2020 and just one in 2018. Beech Walk in Tatton is a good place to see the species, as they feed on the beech mast during the Autumn; they stay with us until well into the Spring and can be heard calling from the tree tops in the park’s Dog Wood as late as the first week in May.

Redwings have arrived back in good numbers but I haven’t heard yet of any Fieldfares, last year Alan Gillespie had a small flock at Tatton on the 11th. October, so they’re quite late this time around.
On the subject of Thrushes, I notice that Britain’s second ever Varied Thrush has arrived on Orkney. No doubt this will attract the usual crew and we’ll be seeing online pictures of the bird and flocks of salivating listers before the day is out!

I put our feeder out this week, filled with some sunflower hearts kept from last year. Not many customers so far, just Goldfinches and a couple of Long-tailed Tits. I also ordered the usual 20Kg of seed from our usual supplier in Altrincham but be warned, the price has shot up from £ 25 last year to £ 36 now! I did find a company in Yorkshire that charges £ 29 delivered free and I’ll perhaps give them a go next time.

As usual Bob Groom’s been out and about but had no luck when searching for Neumann’s Flash’s elusive Blue-winged Teal......"Not a bad morning but wind becoming very chilly. Min 9C Max 13C. Spent the morning at Neumann’s Flash but still no BWT, think I may have to admit defeat on this one. Curlews, Cormorants, Buzzards, Sparrowhawk, two Kestrels (f & imm) preening next to each other on a birch tree, several Snipe, 2 Little Grebes and a good mix of ducks including a Shelduck. Big numbers of Canada and Greylag Geese. Lots of flighty Redwings. Also Green Woodpecker.."....not to worry, Robert, I know you’ve seen them in North America, where they were genuinely wild!

Bob’s also been in Tatton, this from last Saturday (23/10)......"A cold one - Min 3C Max 11C - but at least bright and sunny to lift our spirits a little. It was definitely a sheep fest in Tatton but rather quiet (except for the stags being in good voice!) but a few nice sightings - Kestrel, Buzzard, 2 snoozing Egyptian Geese, 8 Cormorants, Jay, 5 Snipe flying across the mere (Melchett), female Great Spotted Woodpecker. Looking rather showery but with brighter intervals in the morning".........

The following day found him doing the WeBS count in Tabley park ......"Definitely a nicer day than forecast, sunshine even P.M.! - Min 11C Max 14C. Went over to Tabley this morning and had some good counts, including 42 Mute Swans and lots of ducks, though no teal or wigeon. 4 juvenile Little Grebes and a Little Egret"........

A surprising number of wildfowl, when I visited Tatton last Friday (22/10; with a combined total (both meres) of 131 Tufted Ducks, 53 Pochard and three (probably) first Winter Goldeneye.

18/10/2021......Field trip to Lunt Meadows

A good turnout for Saturday’s KOS field trip, with 18 people meeting up at the Lunt Meadows car park, on the banks of the river Alt, in deepest Merseyside. Amongst those, we welcomed four new faces - Patricia, Gwyneth, Derek and Colin. We hope you enjoyed the day folks and will consider joining us on future outings!

Today’s trip leader was our Secretary Karina Stanley who took us on an anti-clockwise route around the perimeter of the reserve in overcast but dry weather, with a maximum temperature of 14 ° C.

Our first stop was the viewing screen overlooking the main pool but before then we’d already recorded a small flock of overflying Redwings and, in the distance, larger flocks, of up to c150 Pink-footed geese. There were fewer of these pinkfeet this year than previously, perhaps due to the fields on the other side of the river being sown with winter wheat.

On the main pool itself Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls mixed with a variety of water birds - Coot, Moorhen, Teal, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Shoveler and Great Crested Grebe. Common Snipe were well hidden amongst the reeds but, compared with those we’re used to on Tatton’s Melchett Mere, they seemed quite restless and frequently took flight giving fleeting photo opportunities for those with cameras. I don’t think anyone managed a passable shot - I certainly didn’t!

As we continued towards the Kingfisher pool, a number of passerines were added to the day-list, amongst them Greenfinch, Linnet, Grey and Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird and, although we never actually saw one, Cetti’s Warblers sang from the tangled undergrowth.
A pair of Stonechats appeared on the brambles near the Kingfisher hide but from then on the appearance of "new" species declined as we made our way up to the pumping station and along the embankment overlooking the Alt, although somewhere én route Phil Rowley recorded a Water Rail.

Over on the Great White pool and Garganey scrape we came across a flock of Canada Geese, a lone Greylag and more gulls; the Hon treasurer set up his new(ish) Opticron ’scope and we were able to clearly see the green legs and smaller yellow/green bills of the Common Gulls. It’s a good ’scope and I’m not convinced the very expensive Swarovskis that currently seem to be de rigueur for most birders are worth the extra.

We returned to the cars around 1.30pm and had lunch, before heading back to Cheshire but not before Bob and David, who’d taken a different route to the rest of us, reported back and we were able to add Little Egret and Golden Plover to the list, bringing it up to a respectable 52 species.

Having spent Saturday amongst the Snipe at Lunt Meadows, by coincidence, Jacquie Ledward heard a programme on Radio four, the following morning "looking at the vital connection between poets and birds." .......I thought the members might be interested in a podcast on radio 4. It’s called the Poet and the Snipe. I caught this morning in the radio and it was quite appropriate as we had seen Snipe yesterday........
Thanks Jacquie - it’s still available and people can listen to it here - ...
The presenter is Paul Farley who is apparently Professor of Poetry at Lancaster University and is visiting Leighton Moss and Burton Mere Wetlands during the broadcast. I must confess I’ve never heard him on "Radio Caroline Flashback"!!

Species recorded at Lunt Meadows - 16th October 2021.
Woodpigeon, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Skylark, Lapwing, Goldfinch, Snipe, Cormorant, Redwing, Mallard, great Spotted Woodpecker, Carrion Crow, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Teal, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Shelduck, Buzzard, Mute Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Kestrel, Cetti’s Warbler, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pochard, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Magpie, Greenfinch, Pheasant, Linnet, Starling, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Blue Tit, Wigeon, Water Rail, Reed Bunting, Jackdaw, Sparrowhawk, Little Egret, Golden Plover, Wren, Dunnock, Jay [ ✓ 52]

14/10/2021......Summer visitors hanging on.
The annual Cheshire and Wirral Bird Report always contains a section, compiled by Steve Barber, listing early and late dates for Summer and Winter migrants for that year, plus a running ten year average for each species.
In 2019, the latest to be published, it shows that the last Common Tern was seen from Hilbre Island on the 15th October and the average final record was on the 8th of October, so a bird seen yesterday morning (13/10) at Tatton could well enter the record books.

There was no sign of the bird early in the afternoon but my eye was dawn to a couple of people lying in the long grass, close to the main mere - nothing unusual there in the park! but, on this occasion, they were photographing the rather splendid example of Parasol mushroom you see in the photo on the left. It was one of a group of six, the others were less advanced but should look quite spectacular this morning. They are edible but apparently you need to be aware of the closely related Shaggy Parasol, which is not!!
There seemed to be good numbers of wildfowl on the mere and I counted - Tufted Duck - 108, Pochard - 67, Wigeon 8, Teal 1 (combined count - Tatton and Melchett meres). A flock of Meadow Pipits is building up, I counted 23. Jays, in search of acorns, were very active in the oak trees.

There is a shortage of acorns this year - this from Bob Groom on a visit to Mobberley ......" I called at Gleavehouse Lane. Pair of Egyptian Geese in field with gulls. I seem to see them everywhere at the moment! Usual Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk over Spring Wood, also lots of sightings of Jays. Apparently there is a shortage of acorns this autumn, which could affect their survival over the winter. Also lots of Rooks"......

Geoff and Sheila Blamire are on their travels again, now that Sheila has recovered from that broken pelvis! On Sunday (10/10) they had some late Swallows ......." A good 7.5km walk this morning. Started with a Raven over along Chapel Lane, then along the lanes 1 Kestrel and several Buzzards, Skylark over, and on power lines by Moss Farm, Peacock Lane (SJ714844) 4-5 Swallows! They were hanging around rather than moving through.".......
I would have thought they were quite late but, turning again to the Cheshire Bird Report of 2019, perhaps not so. 2019’s last record of Swallow was a bird on the 25th November, at Hoylake, with an average last record of 16th November!

Redwings are beginning to appear locally, I had a flock of 12 last Thursday (12/10) over the garden, in Mobberley, although they’re not widespread yet. This may change over the weekend as, according to the weather forecast I saw, we may have some clear nights and north-easterly winds.

On Saturday it’s our KOS field trip to Lunt Meadows, meeting up in the reserve’s car park at 10:00am. Our leader will be KOS secretary Karina Stanley. This is always a good trip with big flocks of Pinkfeet almost guaranteed!

The illustration of the Jay is interesting, it’s from a book titled "British Ornithology" which was published in three volumes between 1815 and 1822 by John Hunt. He wrote it and produced all the illustrations alone; unlike people like Audubon and Morris he wasn’t a business man and he sold very few copies, making the book extremely rare! You can read about his life here

06/10/2021......More Winter visitors
More Winter visitors are beginning to appear and Sheila Blamire tells me that last Friday (1/10) what may turn out to be the first Cheshire Redwings of the season were recorded at Marbury country park.
I headed over to Rostherne the following morning, as the yew trees next to the car park seem to attract early Redwings in most years. No luck though, nor with the reserve’s Hobbies - I met up with Bob Groom in the obs and, although we had Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk there was no sign of a Hobby. Bob had more luck the following day though ....."Headed over to Rostherne this morning and parked past Briddon Weir Farm. No yellowhammers but lots of Buzzards, including three thermalling, along with two Sparrowhawks that were interacting. Kestrel on dead tree, then flew over me. Three Meadow Pipits and party of Goldfinches. Then saw what looked very much like a Hobby zipping away from the direction of the mere, although after a morning’s stint in the observatory with Tony yesterday without a sighting I’d assumed they had probably gone South. Saw a single Swallow from the observatory, yet more Buzzards and 4 Wigeon. (Phil had a goosander the previous evening.) Noted that Geoff and Sheila had visited earlier.. This afternoon as I got to Melchett Mere male and female Stonechats sat side-by-side on the fence. Very nice. (No one else near, fortunately, just red deer.) Usual Buzzard on dead tree, Heron on smaller tree and Green Woodpecker on the ground. Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch on the feeders. Can you guess what non-water bird I saw more frequently than any other? Yes, indeed, Jays were almost never out of view the whole time at both locations. A good day..".......

A good day indeed Bob and great to hear about the Goosander on Rostherne Mere and the return of the Stonechats to Tatton. Another hint of Winter yesterday (5/10) from Mere, where Geoff and Sheila Blamire recorded a flock of 60 Pink-footed Geese flying west over Chester Road, but Summer’s not over yet as Tatton ranger Darren Morris had 20 Swallows over the park, also yesterday!

As kids we were always told that the clapping sound made by a Woodpigeon when disturbed from a tree or bush was made by the bird slapping it’s wings together over its back. This is something most birders are familiar with but less so with a similar sound made by Nightjars, as we rarely come across them in this part of the world. Nevertheless it’s been generally assumed that both species produce the sound in the same way.
As long ago as 1928 Cheshire’s own T.A. Coward considered that this was wrong and explained why in an article in the magazine "British Birds". You can read it by clicking here.

Now, almost 100 years later, KOS members Alison Lee and Mark Eddows; without prior knowledge of Coward’s hypothesis, have reached the same conclusion and, using 21st century audio analysis techniques, offered alternative explanations in a paper published in this month’s edition of the same magazine. You can read it here
Mark has sent me an email explaining how their curiosity was aroused and the subsequent investigation............."A most unexpected observation. We were incredibly lucky with the light conditions and the display that the two males gave that evening. A couple of days earlier a third bird had been here, presumably a female that these two males were looking to impress.
Alison turned to me and asked "why do they call it wing-clapping?". Bewildered and almost disbelieving my own eyes, I didn’t know how to reply.
The following day Alison did a Google search and came across Coward’s note in British Birds from 1928
I had taken my mobile phone that evening to record churring, to see if I might be able to distinguish between individual males that way, but luckily had also recorded some wing clapping. I downloaded the free audacity software so that I could look at sonograms and was immediately struck by the double beat in the nightjar wing claps which we attribute to independent "clapping" of each wing, in accordance with Coward’s whip-lash hypothesis. I then checked out a few more sonograms accessed from xeno-canto and could see the same pattern in those recordings.
We have an increasing number of nightjar in the Matlock Forest area in recently felled conifer plantations spread over about 7 square miles. When things are beginning to quieten down a bit towards the end of the breeding season for the passerines that are my main study focus, it’s time to go looking for nightjar. This year I located at least 14 and perhaps 15 churring males in this area. Judging by how many were still around in mid-August, some of them alarm calling to indicate chicks present, there were at least 6 and probably several more breeding pairs in this area. KOS is familiar with the birds in the Goyt and I have also found them at various sites in the Sheffield recording area, slightly to the east. I have made some brief evening visits to Macclesfield Forest in previous years and not found them but wonder if some might turn up there soon. "

Thanks Mark and Alison, a great piece of work!!

30/09/2021...... Burton Mere
After a couple of recent disappointing outings, yesterday (29/9) we enjoyed a successful mid-week trip to the RSPB’s Burton Mere Wetlands reserve, on the Wirral.
It was a wet and overcast scene that greeted us, after a challenging drive down the M56 through some heavy downpours that slowed traffic down to a crawl at times (but that saved some precious fuel of course!).
There were few visitors, so we were able to spend longer in the reception building than usual. Probably the best part of an hour, allowing members of the party to get to know each other, as some were meeting for the first time. We were also delighted to welcome our Hon Chairperson, Sheila Blamire back amongst us after making a remarkable recovery from a broken pelvis, suffered in early August!

Star birds were the Great White Egrets, we counted 21 but we were told later that no less than 34 had been present! Alongside them, Little Egrets, but at that stage, no sign of the Cattle Egrets that were seen the previous day.

Also on view, the usual wildfowl species, including numerous Teal, Canada geese, Mallard, Gadwall, and a single Little Grebe. Egyptian geese bred on the reserve this Spring and during the morning a flock of 11 flew in. Anonymous looking birds on the ground but a fine sight in the air, with their large, snow-white wing patches. A Marsh Harrier appeared, quartering the reedbeds, at one stage putting up a lone Common Snipe - the only one we saw during the day. Other waders were Lapwings, Black-tailed Godwits and a good number of Ruff, looking very smart in their newly acquired Winter attire.

A Cetti’s Warbler was singing spasmodically to one side of the building, with more heard later as we made our way down to the Marsh Covert hide from where we could see more Egyptian Geese, Shovelers and even a smart looking Ruddy Shelduck: an escapee? probably, unless you need one for one of your various "lists", in which case it was obviously wild!!

On then to the splendid new Inner Marsh hide, more Cetti’s, well-hidden Chiffchaffs were calling and we were surprised by the appearance of a mixed flock of hirundines; Swallows and House Martins.

Not much on view from the hide, as we enjoyed late "elevenses" but Jay, Goldfinch and Meadow Pipits were added to the day list.

On the return walk from the Inner Marsh hide a small flock of seven Pink-footed Geese passed overhead, Long-tailed tits were new and a Chiffchaff was in full song - a reminder of early Spring as we descend towards the colder months!

We were in no hurry today, so re-visited the reception building, enjoying RSPB coffee or hot chocolate and views of a Cattle Egret, species number 50 for the day - most enjoyable it was too!!

Bob Groom had domestic duties on Wednesday so didn’t join us but was pleasantly surprised, as we were at Burton, to come across a substantial flock of hirundines ........"Heading up with Elaine to Tabley Hill Garage where earlier I had topped up with super leaded before going to Bob Farnon’s I saw a few Swallows and so afterwards I walked up Tabley Road and was really pleased to see a party of 60+ Swallows feeding left of and over Square Wood in the late sunshine.(Possibly brought down by the 4.00 PM rainstorm that produced a double rainbow.) Perhaps my last sighting of a party this year."........

species recorded at Burton Mere Wetlands Centre. 29th September 2021
Lapwing, Great White Egret (23!), Canada Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Moorhen, Coot, Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Teal, Ruff, Little Egret, Kestrel, Buzzard, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Little grebe, Marsh harrier, Common Snipe, Cetti’s Warbler, Starling, Pheasant, Wren, Skylark, Egyptian Goose, Jackdaw, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Chiffchaff, Ruddy Shelduck, Stock Dove, Shoveler, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Swallow, House Martin, Jay, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Meadow Pipit, Cattle Egret, Raven, Black-tailed Godwit, Woodpigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Robin. [ ✓ 50]

21/09/2021...... The Autumn equinox
Tomorrow (22/9)it’s the Autumn equinox, the 24 hours when day and night are the same length. The astronomical start of Autumn, after which the days become shorter and the nights longer, until the 21st. December, the date we start heading for Spring - although at the time it always seems to be such a long way away!

It’s a tipping point for our wildlife as well, although more nebulous and not as easy to define. Summer visitors have left or will shortly be leaving for the south; Swifts have long gone and, except for the usual stragglers, Swallows are heading for their African Winter quarters - two passed over the garden yesterday. There will still be more but the majority have left us.

We have a number of Chiffchaffs in the gardens of Bucklow Avenue at the moment; there’s a singing male and three or four others, both adults and juveniles. County recorder, Hugh Pulsford identified he bird pictured as an adult ....."Yes these are all Chiffchaffs, the juvenile is undergoing its post juv moult, mainly body feathers and some coverts so will look very scruffy for a while whilst the adult has undergone a complete post breeding moult and looks pristine. I have one in my garden at the moment, calling mainly but occasional bit of song, and picking off the crane flies when it can."..... When we used to produce our own annual KOS bird report, click here for an example, the difficult task of determining annual "last records" was eased by ringing records supplied by the South Manchester ringing group, especially those from Knutsford Moor. The group still ring there but, for various reasons, haven’t been able to do so this year....."I am afraid I have not been able to get into Knutsford Moor this autumn, although the contractor has finished his balsam clearance work and left a bit of willow scrub where I had previously had net rides, I have been without trainees now for nearly a year, and the BTO has only just let us become visible on their systems as "available to take more folks on" . Its a difficult place to work on ones own and some bits are dangerous, a real floating reed bed in places. A shame as I am sure Cetti’s bred there this year, along the boundary stream edge somewhere. "..... Thanks Hugh.

Tatton and Rostherne continue to provide us with most sightings, the Hobbies are showing well at both locations, I watched one at Rostherne hunting over the Mere on Friday (17/9) from time to time it passed right in front of the obs. - too fast for me to get any decent photos unfortunately! Tatton ranger Darren Morris had a Wheatear on the track leading up to the Mill Pool on the same day, I went there yesterday but, predictably, it had moved on. I noticed a number of Meadow Pipits, both on the ground and passing over, east to west. Still ploughing a lone furrow in the sand dunes of Crosby Barrie Armit counted no less than 740 mipits yesterday [click here] a damned interesting bird Baz!! Barrie also reports large flocks of Pinkfeet returning for the Winter, so we should see plenty on our trip to Lunt Meadows next month.

Steve Barber has sent me an interesting link that points to an interesting article by Eric Hardy describing a visit to the Bollin valley and Tatton Park by John James Audubon in the 1830’s [click here and scroll down one page to 197]........"During one of his earlier visits, the great American naturalist strolled along the Bollin Valley, near Manchester, in the district where his mother or wife was born, bird watching, and ’took an immense walk up and down the river, and about the woods,’ and shot a pheasant out of season in Lord Tatton’s coverts, The same woods he walked in now form a nature sanctuary in memory of the late T. A. Coward, of Cheshire, one of the most respected of modern students of British ornithology.".........

Thanks Steve. That website is a new one to me and gives access to thousands of historical books and papers - beware you can spend an awful lot of time tunneling down for local records!

On the subject of websites has been running in it’s present form since around 1999 when I registered the URL (address) before this (in 1995) I used an American company called Tripod but this website has been lost in cyberspace. After tripod my ISP was an outfit called U-net from Warrington who offered 1Mb of space for your own website (and more if "we like it"!! - those were the days!!). Recently I re-discovered it and you can enjoy it here!

13/09/2021......Brockholes, Black-necked Grebe and Hobbies in Tatton.
A good turnout on Saturday (11/9) for our first taste of the Brockholes nature reserve in the early Autumn; our last visit was on 16th June 2018 when we recorded 54 species and before that, in April 2017 no less than 61. Despite our best efforts on Saturday we struggled to reach a miserly 28 - there’s a time and a place for everything!

Most of the party chose to complete both the 2 mile walk around the imaginatively named number one pit and later the walk along the banks of the river Ribble. Apart from a substantial flock of c.200 Lapwings present on the Meadow Lake we saw no waders during our visit; on no.1 pit family parties of Coot and Moorhen with Shoveler and Gadwall on one of the islands. Boilton Wood was very quiet - singing Wrens and Robins plus a few Nuthatches, Blue and Great Tits.
After lunchtime snacks we did the river walk, again nothing of note, although a long-staying Osprey had been watched fishing there in the early morning. So, from an ornithological point of view, a disappointing day but again enlivened by wide-ranging conversations, with subjects ranging from the change in diet of Hobbies during the breeding season to "grab-a-granny" nights at the Valley Lodge Hotel, needless to say I knew nothing about this last subject!

Also disappointed were Ken and Shirley Davies on their recent visit to Slimbridge......."Evening Tony our visit to WWT Slimbridge September 1st 2nd was a little bit disappointing with a lot of work going on, grass cutting reed strimming etc. Weather a little over cast but warm thankfully.

Avocet, Pied wagtail, Lapwing, House Martin, Swallow, Jackdaw, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Crane(6), Little Egret, Curlew, Rook, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Kestrel, Starling, Magpie, Greylag geese, Black-headed gull, Mute Swan Mallard, Moorhen, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Shoveler, Coot, Lesser black-backed gull, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Canada geese, great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Robin, Goldfinch, Peregrine, Ruff, Blackbird, House sparrow. (45)

I hope Scotland is a little bit more productive next week. ".........

On a more positive note Alan Booth recorded a juvenile Black-necked Grebe on Tatton Mere last Sunday (5/9). It didn’t stay for a second day but hopefully it will return later and add interest to our Tatton walks, as did last Winter’s long-staying individual.

Bob Groom’s Hobbies seem to have dispersed from their breeding site but we are still enjoying their company locally, especially Tatton. Roger Barnes saw a bird last Thursday (2/9), I watched an adult hunting over Melchett Mere on two occasions last week and Bob recorded two, at the same location, on Friday (10/9)........" I was watching the Hobby on the dead tree and dragonfly catching at Melchett Mere. Much to my surprise, at 5.20 a second (also adult) Hobby appeared and flew into a big tree. A few minutes later it did a couple of circuits of the mere and then went on its way. The first bird just ignored it. There was also a Kestrel around but this time it didn’t attack the hobby, which spent a lot of time just looking good on the top of the dead tree."..........

I spent a peaceful hour or so at Rostherne this morning (13/9). Nothing special but I did notice in the log that a Great White Egret dropped into the reserve last Wednesday (8/9).
On the way home I drove through Tatton Park and spent half an hour on the seat overlooking Melchett Mere; no Hobby today but there was plenty of prey for them - a flock of c.60 House Martins were flying low over Tatton Mere before towering up in a tight flock and drifting off to the north - I thought they should be going south but I guess they know best!

Tatton ranger Darren Morris has kindly sent me a copy of their Autumn news letter you can read it here. Also Bill Bellamy sent a copy of the latest Tatton, Melchett and Rostherne WeBS counts, click here. Thanks both.

Our next field trip will be to the excellent Lunt Meadows nature reserve, on Saturday 16th October, meeting up in the reserve car park at 10:00am [L29 8YA]. The flocks of Pink-footed Geese (numbering up to 5,000) should have returned and always make for spectacular viewing. I can guarantee we’ll see more species than on our last two trips!!

Last but certainly not least, great news from Mere where our Hon. Chairperson Sheila Blamire has recovered enough to return home to continue with her recovery from a broken pelvis. Knowing her as we do I’m sure no one will be surprised if she and Geoff turn up on the Lunt Meadows trip next month!

species recorded at Brockholes - 11 September 2021
Blackbird, Mallard, Carrion Crow, Robin, Lapwing, Woodpigeon, Kestrel, Mute Swan, Magpie, Coot, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Chiffchaff, Canada Goose, Shoveler, Gadwall, Black-headed Gull, Moorhen, Starling,Buzzard, Wren, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pheasant, Chaffinch. [ ✓ 28]

02/09/2021...... Success for the Hobbies
Bob Groom has closely monitored the nesting Hobbies, a few miles from Knutsford town centre, for the whole of the breeding season and was duly rewarded last Tuesday (24/8) when he watched three birds, two adults and a juvenile in the air at the same time.
I went over on Saturday (28/8), joining forces with Bob and Simon Smith but despite a three hour vigil we had only poor views late on in the session............" With the glorious sunshine I headed over to the Hobby site in anticipation of lots of activity, but how wrong I was with no definite sighting in nearly three hours! Tony U joined me and later Simon so between us we weren’t going to miss anything. Finally, as we were looking to give up the watch, two Hobbies did appear but they came in high, did a brief circuit (with one seemingly buzzing the other so probably the juvenile and an adult) before departing. We speculated that they may have relocated but hobbies can be unpredictable and mysterious so I will continue to monitor and see what happens".................

The following morning the situation had changed again and Bob had what appears to be excellent views......." To (thankfully) confound my speculation, when I went over to the nest site today a Hobby was sat on what I call the guard tree as I arrived at the gateway, heralding a morning of activity! After a half-hour there was a food pass, from the male to the female I think,and shortly afterwards there were three birds in the air together. Two and three birds then seen flying several times plus an adult spending time on the ’guard’ tree, things finally quieted down towards lunchtime, when I left. Well, I did say they were unpredictable!Two Ravens passed by, kronking, three Buzzards interacting plus c.10 Stock Doves. "......

I finally got my first decent views of a Hobby this year on Tuesday this week (31st), at Rostherne with a bird perched on a dead tree overhanging the mere. In 2019 one spent some time on the reserve, favouring the same tree - was it the same bird? It was certainly an adult as, at one stage, it landed briefly close to the obs. and I was able to get a record shot which, when enlarged, clearly showed the red "trousers" and vent area.

We spent yesterday morning at Northwich’s Neumann’s Flash; just a small group of mid-weekers but it was great to meet up once again with Jude Halman, complete with her two new knees that seemed to be articulating in an appropriate manner - they’ll be good for another 30 years Jude!! She told me that their Knutsford town centre Swifts have left. Probably on schedule as we rarely see the species in September, although there was one year in the 1970’s when small flocks were passing through the area until late into the month - it’s not happened since.
Ashton’s Flash held a small collection of gulls, Lesser Black-backed, Black-headed and a single Common. In and around the water - Moorhen, Snipe, Shoveler, Teal and Lapwings whilst across the track, on Neumann’s - Tufted Ducks, Canada Geese, Gadwall, Dabchick and an elegant Great White Egret.
Views from all the hides are very restricted by this years growth of phragmites reeds but with (I’m told) only one full-time ranger and a small group of volunteers it’s unlikely that anything will be done in the near future to improve visibility.

Our Hon. Chairperson Sheila Blamire comes to the end of her two weeks covid isolation tomorrow so Geoff will be able to visit her in Sharston House. Geoff told us she’s up and about and able to walk a few steps although it may be some time before she’ll be enjoying those 12 Km daily yomps again. In the meantime Geoff is busy cleaning and cooking but he found the time to get the very nice image of the female Sparrowhawk and a couple of Goldfinch feathers you see on the right. That grass needs mowing Geoffrey!!

Our next KOS field trip is on Saturday 11th when we’ll be visiting Brockholes nature reserve.

Details of this and other forthcoming trips can now be found on our updated KOS trips and meetings page -

Species seen at Neumann’s Flash 1/9/2021.
Blackbird, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, House Martin, Robin, Snipe, Moorhen, Shoveler, Common Gull, Lapwing, Teal, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Jay, Blue Tit, Little Grebe, Canada Goose, Great Crested Grebe, Great White Egret, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Wren, Greylag Goose. [ ✓ 32]

24/08/2021......Update on the Hon. Chairperson and the trip to Hilbre

Our chairperson Sheila has now been moved to Knutsford’s Sharston House nursing home to continue her recovery from the broken pelvis she suffered two weeks ago. She’s currently in isolation because of covid restrictions, has communication via her mobile phone but currently no internet. I’m sure Geoff will be sorting that out! ( in fact I met Geoff this morning (24/8)in the Rostherne obs., she does have the internet but, as yet, no email facilities)

In Sheila’s absence I led Sunday’s (22/8) walk over to Hilbre Island. Some "regulars" were unable to make the trip but we still ended up with a party of 10, including five new faces - Joy and Patrick Jones who brought their grandson Jared along, and Wendy Stratford and Bridget Knight, two ladies from Mobberley on their first outing with us. Phil Rowley also joined us, a long-time member, but someone we’ve not seen for a considerable time since he moved to Admaston on the Blithfield Estate in Staffordshire.

Inevitably, after warning everyone about being careful when walking on the slippery rocks alongside the Middle Eye, I was one of two who "measured their length" when traversing that particular section! My new camera bounced on the rocks but seems to have survived unscathed - the only damage was my bruised ego!

If the success of a trip is measured by the number of species seen, Sunday’s was a bit of a damp squid! We struggled to reach much beyond 20 but, with many in the party being newcomers, even the more "common" species created considerable interest.
We were probably a few weeks early this year and the large, spectacular flocks of waders, for which the island is justifiably renowned, had yet to build up. Oystercatchers were the exception, there seemed to be many thousands in view as we approached Hilbre, alongside them in the gullies, good numbers of Little Egrets.

Those that sensibly climbed over the Middle Eye watched a small flock of about 13 Linnets as they made their way through the bracken. Other passerines seen on Hilbre itself were Wheatears (3), Pied Wagtail and Rock Pipits, the latter have bred this year on the island and were active all day, giving good views and an opportunity for people to familiarise themselves with the species. Small groups of migrating Swallows appeared from time to time, feeding briefly before continuing with their journey south. Visible migration.

Initially we set up shop in the usual location with a view across the sea towards Red Rocks, a comfortable place to sit, enjoy a drink and a Goostrey’s sausage roll. There wasn’t a lot to see; grey seals stared quizzically back at us and a small flock of Turnstones fed on the rocks, coming just a few yards from us as the tide came in. I was talking to one of the ringers and he said, with a light westerly wind we’d be lucky to see much out on the sea and few passerines would be passing through. Frank spent a long time hunched over his new ’scope but had no luck. His efforts though were recorded for posterity by Patrick, who’s excellent charcoal sketch that features at the top of this update captures the Hon. Treasurer’s jizz so well!!

As the tide began to ebb some of the party recorded Gannets over towards the Welsh side of the estuary and as we made our way back towards West Kirby we saw many more birds than on the outward journey. Common and Sandwich Terns appeared in substantial numbers, Ringed Plover and Dunlin had joined the flocks of Oystercatchers and a lone Curlew called briefly as it passed overhead.

The long trek back across the sands of Dee seems to take longer each year! But I finally made it, well behind the peloton and thoroughly cream-crackered but recovered quickly when the Hon. treasurer bought me a nice ice lolly and we joined the rest of the group for a relaxing ad-hoc de-briefing.

We’d not seen a large number of species but we’d had good views of those that were present, the weather was pleasant and the company excellent!!

species seen on Hilbre Island: August 22nd 2021
Swallow, lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wheatear, Linnet, Turnstone, Cormorant, Kestrel, Gannet, Grey Heron, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Magpie [ ✓ 21]

19/08/2021...... Problems in Mere
Regular visitors to this part of our KOS website will know that Geoff and Sheila Blamire provide a lot of content for these updates, with observations from their daily walks from home in Mere. Unfortunately last Thursday (12th) Sheila had a fall in the kitchen and has ended up in Macclesfield hospital with a broken pelvis. In an email yesterday Geoff tells me that she will shortly be transferred to Sharston House nursing home in Knutsford for rest and recuperation. As she’s been in hospital, because of covid restrictions, she’ll be in isolation for two weeks before being allowed out of her room. Knowing Sheila I’m sure that it won’t be too long before she and Geoff will be out and about again tramping the paths and lanes of Cheshire; although I’m guessing the trip to Chile will, temporarily, be going on the back burner. Get well soon Ms.Chairperson!!

Locally things seem to be very quiet, I’ve done a couple of Mobberley walks this week - a Yellowhammer is still in song along Hobcroft Lane but this isn’t unusual, last year it was still going strong, at the same location, in September! There were plenty of Swallows around the farms I passed, although Bob Groom says there are very few close to his Hobby site, a few miles away. Not surprising really with the Hobbies so close! he expects the youngsters to fledge shortly.

Bob continues with his Tabley WeBS wildfowl counts (and is still looking for an apprentice!)......." Min 14C Max 18C A bit oppressive under the trees but at least it stayed fine until I completed my Tabley count. It being August, probably the quietest birding month of the year (except at the coast), things were pretty quiet except for a green sand calling as it flew across the mere. Ivan, man on electric vehicle, had seen two little egrets together a few days ago but not in the last week. Not a single bird of prey or any hirundines seen. Bit disappointing ".......

As Bob implies the coast can be more rewarding at this time of the year - Frodsham Marshes is buzzing at the moment as this Facebook entry illustrates!....."I finally caught up with the Long-billed Dowitcher on No.6 this morning. It spent most of its time feeding with Common Redshank. Also here was the Garganey, Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, 8 Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwit, 2k Black-tailed Godwit, 239 Common Redshank, juv Western Marsh Harrier, 33 Little Grebe & 143 Northern Shoveler. Also a couple of Ruddy Shelduck which flew off at 11.30 am. Three Common Swift were moving through.".......

It’s our August field trip this Sunday (22nd) when we’re walking over to Hilbre Island, so perhaps some of these species (and others) will appear in our notebooks!

Bob mentions two Little Egrets at Tabley, perhaps these were the same two I saw a couple of weeks ago at Rostherne. I’ve been spending some mornings in the Rostherne obs. recently where a strategically placed log on the bird table makes a nice prop when photographing some of the visitors.

05/08/2021......Osprey, Red Kite and a trip to Burton Mere
Geoff and Sheila Blamire had an eventful walk in Millington on Monday (8th)........ " We stopped for a few minutes to do a butterfly count (up to Aug 8th if you haven’t done it yet), but didn’t want to do the whole 15 mins and just as well because further down Millington Clough a Red Kite was circling! Watched it for a few minutes until it drifted off over the wood. On a high we continued on to walk along the edge of a cereal field when a raptor flew low beside us - an Osprey! It flew on then gained in height before disappearing towards Manchester/Rostherne. I immediately rang Tony Usher to see if he was at Rostherne (he was) to keep an eye for it. It was rather optimistic to wish for a 3rd special species? Anyway - what a morning.".........

Yes, I was indeed in the obs. at Rostherne, practicing my photographic skills (and realising the limitations of a bridge camera) on the birds coming in to feed on the bird table, just a few feet from where I sat. Prior to Sheila’s phone call I had already been scanning the mere and the surrounding trees in the hope that an Osprey might just drop in. It’s the right time of the year as the birds slowly make their way to Africa for the Winter. Plenty of time yet, Ospreys are in no hurry; I remember watching one at Tittesworth reservoir in the first week of November - just before the first frosts!

I received a text from Tatton Ranger Darren Morris last Saturday (31/7) with news of the park’s Kingfishers and they appear to have bred successfully in the sandy bank right in front of the Allen hide, overlooking Melchett Mere.
I went down to have a look, they weren’t visible from the hide but I had tantalising glimpses from the side of the wood (where the Melchette seat is). I managed a few record shots (it’s very dark under there - that’s my excuse anyway!). A maximum of three were seen at any one time, so there could be more.
They must have just left the nest as Bob Groom was there the previous day and it’s unlikely that he’d have missed them.
....." A very useable day, I felt, unlike what is forecast for tomorrow. Min 12C Max 18C, so a repeat of yesterday’s temperatures. A trip into the park (just in case of a dispersed juv BNG). 20 Swifts high over Tatton Mere and 6 Sand Martins low over the water. 2 Reed Buntings, m Pochard and 1 Egyptian Goose. 4 Cormorants, Buzzard, 8 Mute Swans. Melchett Mere - 5 male and 2 female Pochards! Also the other Egyptian Goose. Heron in dead tree. Green Woodpecker calling.. While in the Allen Hide I did a little birding seminar for 3 ladies from Sale, the highlight of which was an adult Great Crested Grebe with a small young on its back and the other adult approached and fed it a fish. They were made up! I was pleased too.. The Egyptians were back together for another first for them. A pleasant interlude indeed.".......

Yesterday (4/8) we enjoyed a mid-week visit to the RSPB’s Burton Mere Wetlands reserve, our first for well over a year. It was nice to meet up with Ken Davies once again and also to meet his friend Martyn Lewis who’d come along with his daughter Georgia. As with other RSPB sites an outside "meet and greet" procedure was in operation, although the visitor centre and all the hides were open. The morning had begun well with a small flock of five Egyptian Geese on view from the car park and, from the visitor centre, plenty of Canada Geese and Greylags mixing with other wildfowl species, all in moult at this time of the year making identification challenging. We did though ID Mallard, Tufted Duck, Teal, Shelduck, Shoveler and Gadwall. Waders present included Black-tailed Godwits (100’s), Lapwings, a single Snipe and an overflying Curlew. Bob Groom and David Cogger, who stayed in the centre longer than the rest of us, also had Oystercatcher and Greenshank.
Not much on view from the Marsh Covert hide so we made our way over to the new Inner Marsh hide. In the past this has meant a detour up and then down a steep slope before reaching the boardwalk leading to the hide: wheelchair access was impossible. Now though a new flat boardwalk has been constructed through the reeds, an easy walk right up to the entrance. A birder in a battery powered wheelchair showed us just how successful this new arrangement is - without it his visit would have been out of the question.
Along the boardwalk we had Cetti’s Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and a Song Thrush basking in the mid-day sun! The new Inner Marsh Hide is a great improvement on the old affair with more seating and bigger well-placed viewing slots but, despite this, the Border Pool was very quiet! I think the only two species we added to the day list were Pied Wagtail and Kingfisher.
We regrouped at the visitor centre for ice creams and coffee before heading for home, although some of the party made their way to Parkgate with its world famous chippie (I believe some resisted the temptation!) whilst there Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Redshank and Pink-footed Goose were added to the list giving us a reasonable 57 species.

species seen at Burton Mere / Parkgate August 4th 2021.
Woodpigeon, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Coot, Lapwing, Starling, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Chiffchaff, Moorhen, Shoveler, House Martin, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Wren, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard, Sedge Warbler, Coal Tit, Robin, Little Egret, Black-headed Gull, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Gadwall, Green Woodpecker, Cetti’s Warbler, Little Grebe, Curlew, Song Thrush, Whitethroat, Raven, Pied Wagtail, Kingfisher, Goldfinch, Grey Heron, Blackcap, Great Tit, Blackbird, Jay, Dunnock, Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Redshank, Pink-footed Goose, Oystercatcher, Greenshank, Stock Dove, Nuthatch, Reed Warbler, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit, Mallard, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Lesser Black-Backed Gull [ ✓ 57]

Butterflies - Small White, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Speckled Wood, gatekeeper, Meadow Brown.

25/07/2021...... Quail again and a Cuckoo
The recent spell of hot (too hot!) weather has been perfect for our local farmers and they’ve been busy well into the night harvesting, including wheat from the fields in Mobberley where we’ve heard the Quail ever since Bob Groom discovered it last month. Peter Dawson visited the area on Friday (23/7) and re-located the bird (and perhaps a second) a few fields away......."Just a quick update on my walk to Gleavehouse Pool this morning. I haven’t been over there for a while and was interested to see if the quail was still about. Along the way I saw the usual buzzards, kestrel, house and tree sparrows and swallows.
When I got to the field where it has been, the crop had been cut! So, no chance. Anyway, I carried on to the pool where there were a few lapwings, chiffchaff and yellowhammer singing from a nearby hedge as well as both swallows and house martins catching insects over the water. On the way back, as I walked through the "middle" field (which has also been cut) I stopped to look at a pair of yellow wagtails that were flying over. As I watched them, I heard the unmistakable call of a quail! It called a few times but I couldn’t make out exactly where it was. It sounded as though it was somewhere to the south, towards Pedley Brook. So, rather than walk home back down Pavement Lane, when I got to the gate for the farm I took the footpath south towards the brook and followed it round the field edge. The crops here have not been cut yet but I couldn’t here anything although I did see a couple of yellowhammers and a collared dove. After a while I gave up and decided to head home via Springwood Farm. After having crossed the bridge over the brook, I walked up towards the junction of paths at the top of the hill. As I got there, I heard a quail calling from the field of long grass on the left. It was calling quite often although not very loudly so was probably some distance away. Whether this was the same bird as I heard earlier, I don’t know. So, there may be more than one in the area although I think it likely that one is the same bird that was in the field towards Mobberley and has relocated when the crop was cut. Who knows!? Anyway, great to hear one again in our local area.
"...... I walked over to the same area today but heard nothing. There were few birds about but, returning via Mobberley Sand Quarry, I was impressed by the number of butterflies in the SQ, mainly Gatekeepers with a few Meadow Browns and Painted Lady. There’s some water left in the wader scrape and I watched a big blue dragonfly quartering the area, it didn’t land but I think it was an Emperor. Common Darters were sunning themselves on the path, easier to identify and certainly easier to photograph than birds!

A surprise phone call from Bob this afternoon brought news of a juvenile Cuckoo along Swain’s Walk in Tabley. The adults will be in Africa by now and the young will follow later, sometimes not until September. Bob and the bird were still present when I arrived about 15’ later and seemed settled there when we left two hours later. It was frequenting a rather unsightly rubbish dump in the centre of the first field after the depot, flying down to pick up prey from it’s lookout on what looked like an upturned computer swivel chair! A bit too far for my camera but Geoff managed a respectable record shot.

Despite the uncomfortable weather Geoff and Sheila have continued with their daily workouts,......."Over the past few days, averaging 11km each day - not easy with the heat. Here’s the highlights:
20th July: Swain’s Walk bridleway, Tabley 70+ Swallows, including newly fledged young, on the wires (probably underestimate). Pool north of the new roundabout on Chester Road, Mere, pair Moorhens with newly hatched 2 youngsters.
21st July: Millington Clough Grey Partridge (first time in this area).
22nd July: Little Mere, Mere 1 adult + 3 large young Great Crested Grebes. Haven’t seen the other adult, nor the other 1 young - hope they’re together in another part of the mere.

Elsewhere it was nice to hear from Terry Heath who reports a Red Kite at Arley, he’s hoping to join us on one of our trips in due course. In Warrington Simon Smith has had a Chiffchaff (ringed) visiting his and Lyn’s bird bath during the hot weather. Bob Groom has visited "his" Hobby site from time to time and has seen food passes between the male and female, so this would indicate that things are going well for the pair.

20/07/2021...... Latest news from Rostherne & Woolston
I spent last Wednesday morning (14/7) at the Woolston Eyes reserve, my first visit for about a year. This is the default location for our Wednesday mid-weekers and we’ve been many times over the years but, although yesterday was so-called "freedom day" as Covid restrictions are largely lifted, I’m not sure we’d be welcomed with open arms just yet. The problem is I never know how many people are going to turn up for our Wednesday outings; it could be 6, it could be 16 and we’ve had over 20 in the past! Some creative thinking required! A few species were still in song and I heard Reed Warbler, Wren, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat and even a Grasshopper Warbler. The wildfowl are mostly in moult - a confusion of greys and browns but I did pick out, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Gadwall. Gadwall everywhere! A recent count there revealed 820 on the reserve; approaching the figure of 1,000 which would make it a location of international importance!

Rostherne was very quiet yesterday morning, as the sun climbed into another cloudless sky and the temperature headed into the high 20’s once again - too hot, why people want to go abroad for this sort of heat I just don’t know! Hopefully the logbook will be re-instated before too long so that people will kept up to date with what earlier visitors have seen without having to join the reserve’s WhatsApp group. I believe Common Terns have been recorded passing through and recently a small flock of Common Scoters were recorded on the mere. The Spotted Flycatchers seem to have bred successfully again in Wood Bongs where, with a little patience, they can be located away from the nest site. During the period from this coming Wednesday (21st) to Sunday (25th) the approach roads to Rostherne will be closed due to the RHS Flower Show in Tatton Park.

I tried Rostherne again this morning and picked out two Little Egrets right at the far end of the mere, on overhanging branches in front of Gale Bog. They eventually took to the air and did a circuit of the area before landing again on the sandspit where Rostherne Brook empties into the mere. Maybe they’ll discover the new scrapes, giving good photo opportunities from Dave’s hide.

Last Thursday (15/7) David Cogger told me that he’d heard Mobberley’s Quail again, close to Gleavehouse Pool. Although I couldn’t hear it previously when Bob first discovered it, I went down the following morning, more in hope than anticipation.
I was lucky as, when I approached the end of the field of sweetcorn the bird was performing well just a few yards away!
I switched the camera to video and was able to get a few seconds of the call. Interestingly it was only a few yards from where I’d inadvertently flushed one many years ago!
Also on the day, good numbers of Yellow Wagtails that seemed to be in family parties, Skylark and Yellowhammer in song plus lots of gatekeeper butterflies.
You can listen to the Quail here [turn the sound up!!]

11/07/2021......The Great Orme and Conwy
A good turnout of 15 members for yesterday’s July field trip to Llandudno’s Great Orme and the RSPB reserve at nearby Conwy. The torrential rain showers we drove through along the A55 weren’t forecast but, apart for some drizzle as we set off on our walk around the Orme, the day remained dry.

This was the first time we’d been to the Orme at this time of the year so it was nice to see the heather and a perfusion of wild flowers in bloom. Normally it’s a location we visit earlier, just at the start of the Spring migration, when species such as Ring Ouzel and Wheatears can be anticipated; on one occasion I remember 60 Wheatears being counted along the limestone pavement!

Most people chose to drive up the centre of the Orme before driving down the zig-zag route to the Marine Drive, so avoiding the £ 3:70 toll! Not so Simon and Lyn who found the toll booth was un-manned and went up from the bottom; they were rewarded with the first Fulmars and two Black Guillemots flying in. Not a bad start to their day!

Predictably there were no Wheatears but Stonechats, a bird to be found year-round on the Orme, were everywhere and most were carrying food, they seem to have enjoyed a successful breeding season but their alarm calls were perhaps in response to the presence of Stoats, we saw them at two locations during the morning. Also along the top we noted Linnet, Dunnock, Meadow Pipit and we enjoyed excellent views of a family party of four Chough, just as well, there were none further round the route.

Despite the relative lateness of the season there was plenty of activity on the sea cliffs when viewed from the Marine Drive, with Guillemots and Razorbills, Kittiwakes with their inky black wing tips stood out from the Herring Gulls and a Peregrine scattered them all as it powered along close to the cliff face.

We enjoyed our lunches on the picnic tables alongside the Marine Drive before moving down to Conwy, arriving at about 1:45pm. The car park was busy but there were few visitors to the various hides; the day list expanded quickly - stars of the show were the three Great White Egrets on one of the islands, accompanied by numerous Little Egrets and a couple of Grey Herons. Not a situation we could have envisaged just a few years ago and nature’s litmus test warning us yet again about climate change. Further round on the estuary Curlew, Whimbrel, Ringed Plover and Cetti’s Warbler, whilst walking back to the visitor centre Len and I rounded off the day with Blue Tit and Great Tit on a feeder - they all count!!

As I’m writing this the whole county seems to be in the grip of mass hysteria whipped up by the various media outlets as kickoff time in the European football final approaches. Thankfully it wasn’t like this in ’66 and it’s even worse than in 1988 when Altrincham and Macclesfield clashed in a 4th round FA cup qualifier at Moss Lane. 3 - 0 to the Robins, sending the Macc lads home with their tails between their legs!

species recorded on the Great Orme and Conwy. 10th July 2021
Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Gannet, BH Gull, Herring Gull, LBB Gull, GBB Gull, Common Gull, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Peregrine, Buzzard, Black Guillemot, Guillemot, Razorbill, Cormorant, Linnet, Stonechat, Dunnock, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Chough, Raven, House Sparrow, Whitethroat, Little Egret, GW Egret, Grey Heron, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Magpie, Wren, Goldfinch, Robin, Skylark, Woodpigeon, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Ringed Plover, Pied Wagtail, Shag, Wigeon, Curlew, Long-tailed Tit, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Sand Martin, Starling, Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff [ ✓ 71]

05/07/2021......Mobberley’s Quail still about
Last Wednesday (30/6) found us at Northwich’s Neumann’s Flash for a morning mid-weeker. There was still some song; a Willow Warbler was performing nicely just past the car park at Witton Bridge and during the morning we also heard, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Stock Dove, Whitethroat, Goldfinch, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler.

From the viewpoint overlooking Ashton’s Flash we noted Lapwing, Greylag Goose, and Moorhen; two Green Sandpipers called briefly as they flew from the flash and Sheila found a Little Ringed Plover hidden away at the far end of the pool.

From Pod’s hide we had Tufted Duck + young, Wigeon, Great Crested Grebe and close-up views of a pair of Little Grebes and their two chicks, the youngsters tapping the bills of the adults in anticipation of some food.

Elevenses were taken in the Scrap Yard hide (I’m sure it must have another name!) before moving on to Dairy House Meadow where Sheila set her ’scope up and we were able to see a Barn Owl lurking in the back of it’s nest box across the other side of the pool. From there we headed back to the cars, pausing on the way to feed the Chubb, swimming in Forge Brook, underneath Butterfinch Bridge.

Peter Dawson tells me that the Quail was still calling in the field leading to Mobberley SQ as recently as Friday (2/7)......" Quail singing again this morning. Probably the same place you heard it although I don’t know where the SQ is! Anyway if you cross the stile from the path alongside GHF back towards Mobberley it’s about 100m in the crop field. Not far off the path but not singing loudly or often. It seems you need to be patient! Great find!"........

Bob Groom seems to have had a rewarding morning yesterday at Rostherne (4/7) ........" Before going to collect Mel from the train station I spent some time in the observatory. It was rewarding - 21 Swifts, good views of a Hobby, a Common Tern pointed out by Sheelagh (on the weather station) when she arrived with her brother-in-law, a Scoter that Bill B had seen earlier, juvenile Bullfinch, Cetti’s calling, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. The only thing missing was a buzzard, probably put off by the downpours, though the Gatekeepers kept flying.."........... The tern could well have been the bird seen on Friday (2/7) by Darren Morris on his way to work in Tatton Park.

Our July KOS field trip takes place this coming Saturday (10th) when we’ll be visiting Llandudno’s Great Orme and the RSPB’s Conwy reserve. As Olwen and I were staying in Llandudno for a few days at the end of last week to celebrate our golden wedding anniversary I took the opportunity of doing a recce of the two locations. A real treat for the golden girl, as you can imagine!!
We stopped off at Conwy RSPB on Thursday for an hour. Plenty of stuff about including singing Reed and Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. Also present Little Egret and three Great White Egrets.
The setup is similar to Leighton Moss, with a meet-and-greet kiosk where you are given instructions, fill out a test and trace form before being free to go. (The Welsh are much keener on sanitising hands, face masks, social distancing and test and trace than we are). The cafe is open but only doing a limited range of food. There are a few well-spaced tables inside and plenty of outside seating. We would be well-advised to take sandwiches to eat on the Orme before travelling down.
I spoke to three members of staff who weren’t aware of any limit on numbers and thought a group of 15 would be acceptable, as long as we didn’t go around in a single group. Anyway they would put us in their diary for Saturday 10th July.
Later we drove up the Orme and parked in the "Rest and be Thankful" car park. Excellent americanos £ 2.20 and beautiful lemon drizzle cake! I walked back down the road to a point overlooking the cliffs. Plenty of action - Guillemots, Razorbills, (two birders I met had seen 6 Black Guillemots) Kittiwakes, Fulmar, Raven, 2 Chough, 2 Peregrines, Gannets, displaying Rock Pipits
For those familiar with the location it’s £ 3:70 to drive up the Marine Drive but for those with limited finances (if you know the road) you can drive up alongside the tram tracks before descending down the zig-zag road to the drive where the toll booth was not in operation!

species recorded at Neumann’s Flash on 30th June 2021
Buzzard, Wren, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Mallard, Goldfinch, Jay, Willow Warbler, Swift, Mute Swan, Starling, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greylag, Little Ringed Plover, Magpie, Little Grebe, Moorhen, House Martin, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Long-tailed Tit, Whitethroat, Song Thrush, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Chiffchaff, Woodpigeon, Cetti’s Warbler, Linnet, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Barn Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Swallow, Water Rail, Chaffinch. [ ✓ 49]

28/06/2021...... Quail in Mobberley
I had planned to have a quiet, peaceful morning in the obs. at Rostherne today. I managed about an hour before being joined by a party of around 30 primary school kids on a day trip! They seemed to be very well behaved as they were being shown the new scrapes, although the pools probably haven’t been there long enough for pond-dipping activities. I remember, many moons ago, when I was at Mobberley primary school, from time to time a Mrs. Duckworth would arrive, seemingly un-announced. She’d take us on a nature ramble, normally down to Fox Harbour and the places we still frequent today. We really enjoyed those little outings and perhaps, in some way, Mrs. Duckworth helped to kindle a lifetime of interest in natural history in we Mobberley lads. Let’s hope that one or two of today’s young visitors to Rostherne will be similarly inspired.

I had planned to move on to Tatton and was just packing my ’scope when I received an unexpected phone call from Bob Groom. Now, any call from Bob is a surprise, especially from his mobile phone! Par for the course, when Bob and technology come together, after about 5 seconds beep!! and he’d gone but I did decipher "Quail calling Gleave House........" and that was it (flat battery apparently)!
Anyway I made my way over to Mobberley’s Gleavehouse Lane, found Bob’s car and set off in the direction of Gleavehouse Pool, where I suspected he would be heading. I found him at the stile leading to Mobberley SQ and it was from here that he’d heard a Quail calling. We’ve had them in adjoining fields a few times over the years.
I discovered some weeks ago when listening to the Grasshopper Warbler on Pavement Lane that my hearing isn’t what it used to be and it was the same today with the quail. I struggled to pick it up, although Bob was hearing it quite clearly. Old age and poverty catching up with me again!

No problems though with other species - Skylarks were in full song still and calling Yellow Wagtails appeared to be everywhere, carrying food for their offsprings.
Bob headed off towards Gleavehouse Pool, I don’t know if he found anything of interest but perhaps he saw the family of Shelducks, Wendy Stratford was there the other day and, surprisingly, the five juveniles have survived so far.

Peter Dawson reached a personal milestone yesterday with his 100th species recorded whilst walking from home - well done Peter. A remarkable achievement!! ........" Just a quick report on a walk over to Ollerton yesterday. There is a small pool (about half the size of the world famous GHP) in a field between Ash Farm and Colshaw Hall. There’s no observatory, you have to look through gaps in a rather large hedge, but yesterday morning there was an oystercatcher with chick, a lapwing with chick and a little ringed plover. The latter was my 100th species of year whilst walking from home!
Also in the area were yellowhammer, swallow, house martin, tree sparrow, reed bunting, red legged partridge, lesser black backed gull,stock dove, buzzard, and skylark. Also nice to see was a hare.
An enjoyable couple of hours.

The Blamires, G&S discovered a late Lesser Whitethroat in song on one of their recent daily workouts ........" We did our Millington 11km walk this morning and just over new A556 bridge, on Chapel Lane, heard and saw Lesser Whitethroat - less than 80 metres from where we heard it in May. I assumed it was a wandering bird because we didn’t see it again - until now. Did it breed and now on its second brood? Hope so!!!
Further into our Patch (which will be cut in two by HS2!) saw a Buzzard carrying a rabbit towards where another Buzzard was calling urgently, probably in an unseen nest with hungry youngsters. A few minutes later saw it fly off, minus prey. Hopefully we’ll see the nest when the leaves start to drop

Our first two KOS field trips of the new era; to the Goyt Valley in May and last week’s up to Leighton Moss were very successful. We now plan to have five more before Christmas, starting a week on Saturday to Llandudno’s Great Orme and the RSPB’s Conwy reserve. Final arrangements are still to be made but I would envisage a 10am gathering on the Orme: 3 hours birding : lunch : followed by a couple of hours at Conwy. Our Secretary Karina will email all members shortly.

Possible field trips between now and the new year.
July - 10/7 - Sat - Gt Orme/Conwy
Sep - 18/9 - Sat - Hilbre
Oct - 16/10 - Sat - Lunt Meadows
Nov - 21/11 - Sun - Burton Mere
Dec - 12/12 - Sun - Marshside RSPB and Martin Mere

20/06/2021......A memorable day at Leighton Moss
Nice weather for birding on Saturday (19th) when we travelled up the M6 for our KOS trip to the RSPB’s Leighton Moss reserve, slightly overcast, some sunny spells and a peak temperature of 20 ° C in mid-afternoon.
We arrived at 10am after the 90’ journey up from Knutsford. I think my car wondered what was going on - that’s its longest trip for 15 months, ever since the start of lockdown #1!

The staff at the reserve were operating a "meet-and-greet" facility outside the visitor centre where the rules and regulations were explained - all straightforward enough and we were good-to-go!

From the sky tower we enjoyed the far-reaching views across the whole reserve; it seemed very quiet and this is what we expected given the time of year but first impressions can often be deceptive and this would prove to be the case: the day just got better and better!

The reserve’s Marsh Harriers have bred successfully and from the tower we saw a male bird approaching from the coast, a female flew up from the phragmites and we witnessed the food pass - a good enough start.

Reed Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Cetti’s Warblers were singing from the reeds along the paths down to the Grisedale and Tim Jackson hides. As usual the Cetti’s explosive outpourings came from a few yards away but the birds remained frustratingly well-hidden!

From the hides we had more excellent views of the Marsh Harriers plus the expected species such as Oystercatcher, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Shelduck and Grey Heron. The first Little Egret lurked in the reeds, a flock of c.40 Black-tailed Godwits took to the air at one stage and a Sparrowhawk gave fleeting views as it flashed over the Grisedale hide.

Re-tracing our footsteps we found Lillian’s hide quiet so, without much delay, we moved on to the causeway hide. The hide was quite crowded so we didn’t spend much time there either, just long enough to add Little Grebe to the day list. It was from then on that a routine day became a memorable day!

As I approached the boardwalk to return to the visitor centre I bumped into Bob Groom and our new secretary Karina Stanley who were watching a family party of Cetti’s Warblers. Normally so difficult to see, these birds were giving excellent views as they remained in the same location for a considerable time. The tangle of vegetation confused the auto focus on my camera but I did manage to get some reasonable images, one of which you can see on the introduction to this update.

We ate lunch in the covered picnic area, close to the feeders and were pleased to watch a Marsh Tit making numerous visits for food. This is a rapidly declining species, no longer found in our area where they once nested every year in Tatton Park’s Dog Wood.

Right on schedule at 1pm we met back at the cars before moving onto the Allen and Morecambe hides overlooking Morecambe Bay. A Sedge Warbler was singing from a tree next to the car park as we arrived, the first I’d seen or heard this year as I’d been following the rules and not been to suitable locations prior to Saturday!
As we walked towards the hide Len Mason, calling on his years of experience as a warden at Loch Garten, only needed a glance to ID an Osprey passing over the edge of the reserve against the background of a wooded hillside - top man!!

Further excellent birds from the hides. A pair of Avocets were defending recently hatched chicks and one of the pair was indulging in a distraction display in a (successful) attempt to lure a Great White Egret away from it’s family.
A few yards away, sweeping it’s bill form side to side, a Spoonbill fed, whilst four others loafed on an islet in the afternoon sun. Bob Groom arrived in the hide a little later than the rest of us but reported excitedly that he’d just had Osprey, Buzzard and a male Marsh harrier in his binocs. at the same time. It takes a lot to get Bob excited nowadays but it was that sort of a day!!

I’ve been visiting Rostherne quite often lately, it’s very quiet when viewed from the obs. but I’m sure that there’s plenty going on hidden away in the woodland and reed beds! Peter Dawson was in Wood Bongs yesterday (Sat. 19th) and watched what was considered a male Spotted Flycatcher feeding a food-soliciting female. The bad weather earlier in the season meant that the species was very late in returning to the area this year. Ringer Malcolm Calvert tells me that Rostherne’s Reed and Cetti’s Warblers are doing "very well this year"!

I’ve not been to Northwich Flashes this year, so it may be a good candidate for a mid-week visit. Bob has recently done well there. ....." 2 Kestrels, 2 Garden Warblers singing (one in full view), Willow Warbler, Song Thrush, Buzzard circling against the blue sky. Male Reed Buntings. 2 Little Ringed Plovers, one very close. Dozens of Lapwings. Greenshank. Heron. Oystercatcher. Curlew. Greylags. Pied Wagtail. Reed Warbler. House Martins. Lots of Mallard and Tufted Duck ducklings. Cygnet. Whitethroat singing from wire. So not at all a bad list, considering it’s mid-summer.. Scores of dragonflies and damselflies ( but no hobby) at Neumann’s. Speckled wood.."......

Last but by no means least Geoff and Sheila Blamire have continued with their daily workouts, pausing from time to time to get their breath for a little birding!
......" We did our Mere/Millington 11km walk this morning - boy, it was chilly!!!
Millington: the usual birds, but there were 12-15 Swallows and House Martins (70/30%) hunting for insects in the lee of the wood and over the grass meadows - great to see. Walking back we passed Newhall Farm, then continued over the new A556 towards Chester Road. Then.... I saw a Hobby appeared behind Bucklow Manor Care Home, swoop down to fly down Chester Road at hedge-height, then flew over the A556 and disappeared in the distance - just took literally a few seconds. What a flying machine!
Little Mere: the Great Crested Grebe family is doing well - all 4 youngsters are big enough, hopefully, to continue to fledging.
Our garden: on 12th June male Siskin and then this morning (14th) pair of Siskins, still have at least 3 male and 2 female Bullfinches but today first juveniles this year, still have 2 GSW juvs.

Species recorded at Leighton Moss. 19th. June 2021
Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Cormorant, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Robin, Chiffchaff, Kestrel, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Mallard, Jay, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Cetti’s Warbler, Woodpigeon, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Grey Heron, Shelduck, Mute Swan, Swallow, Swift, Wren, Marsh tit, Buzzard, Lapwing, Blue Tit, Sparrowhawk, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Reed Warbler, Carrion Crow, reed Bunting, Oystercatcher, Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Moorhen, Raven, Little Egret, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Sedge Warbler, Little Grebe, Marsh harrier, Bullfinch, Skylark, Whitethroat, Osprey, Avocet, Long-tailed Tit, Blackcap, Spoonbill, Great White Egret, Redshank, Magpie, House Martin, Willow Warbler, Jackdaw, Meadow Pipit, Song Thrush, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull. [ ✓ 66]

13/06/2021...... Airport walk and a new Secretary

It’s a few years now since the KOS Secretary at the time, Roy Bircumshaw, became incapacitated and Derek Pike temporarily took the reins for a few months "just until the next AGM". Those few months became a few years and now Derek has decided he deserves a well-deserved rest. Being a small society we were concerned that finding a replacement would be a major problem but, thanks to some behind-the-scenes diplomacy by our Chairperson Sheila Blamire, we were delighted to learn that Karina Stanley has volunteered to take over from Derek.

So our thanks go to Derek of course, for all his hard work over the past few years and welcome Karina! The pandemic has affected all our lives and the disruption caused has even filtered down to organisations such as ours. Currently we can meet outside in groups of up to 30, so we are able to resume outdoor field trips but it could still be a long time before we can consider re-starting indoor meetings. My understanding is that we will continue with the trips until perhaps April 2022, when hopefully an AGM can be held and the best way forward discussed and agreed.

Geoff’s excellent picture of the two young Whitethroats was captured last Tuesday (8/6) in Plumley during one of his and Sheila’s daily walks. The previous day in Millington they’d heard a late Lesser Whitethroat still in song ...." Chapel Lane, just over the new A556: on the left were Kestrel, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting (all females) and the right 5 Lapwings on a bare patch in a field (including on a nest), male Reed Bunting and a singing Lesser Whitethroat!!! (probably yet to find a territory/female, because very late to hear their song and first time we’ve heard it here). Further down a Goldcrest was singing."....

A little further away it was nice to hear from Pavement Lane resident David Broadbent who had an all-time new species whilst on holiday in Wales
......" Not often get the opportunity to contribute but have just witnessed good viewing of a black kite at Plas Cadnant Gardens in Menai.
As we were leaving the gardens a RSPB Volunteer fund raiser gave us a heads up one had been see so waited to see. The car park is a great setting in an open valley set with tall trees to the perimeter giving a large wide open sky view point. Bird returned twice giving 5/6 mins of flying time. On going over trees at one point a buzzard came to investigate and looked diminutive by comparison.
A first for me

Meanwhile on Tuesday evening (8th), and back in Mobberley, within sight of Dave’s house along the lane I heard a Grasshopper Warbler "reeling" from the centre of a field of tall grass, on the way down towards Springwood Farm. It wasn’t there the following day when Peter Dawson passed the location ......" After two weeks away in the last three (one in Scotland and one in E Anglia) I am back home and had been planning a walk over to the world famous pool today so your email arrived at just the right time to spur me on to go this afternoon.
Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, there was no sign of the gropper. Looking at the habitat I wouldn’t have expected one there in the first place so it’s probably moved on. Mid afternoon not a great time of day so it could still be about. I did see/hear a few yellow wags and hammers on my walk. The latter the first I’ve had in the area this year. Not a lot round the pool - a few linnets were in the hedge, about 12 lapwings flew off as I arrived and a single adult shelduck was loafing about. No sign of its partner or any young though. Otherwise the usual canada geese, moorhens and coot both with young.
A tree sparrow with what looked like food in its beak was along Pavement Lane and the pair of oystercatchers that have been at Booths Mere since early spring are still there. No sign of them breeding though. The only raptor I saw was a single buzzard. Also no sign of a lesser whitethroat in the bushes by the mere although chiffchaffs, blackcaps and Whitethroats were still singing.

Wendy Stratford also went along to Gleavehouse pool yesterday, where she was impressed by the number of Yellow Wagtails that were feeding young. They seem to have had another good year in what is their local stronghold........." Went to GP for the first time in 2 weeks this morning. Only 1 swallow in Gleavehouse lane - looked like it was feeding in the right hand barn.
There were 3 skylarks singing over the 2 fields to the east of Gleave House, and a female yellow wagtail carrying a grub over the skylark field. She perched in the hedge near the (repaired) stile waiting for me to go, so I did.
At the pool a moorhen disappeared into the copse, and the coots were on the pool with 2 well grown youngsters - constantly peeping. That was all until I noticed a female yellow wagtail feeding on the south shore of the pool.
On the way back there were 3 female wagtails over the skylark field with food in their beaks. I sat on the repaired stile and waited, and each one eventually dropped down into the crop, all near the east hedge fairly near the stile. Then as I walked the footpath towards SQ there was another female yellow wagtail carrying food! So there’s a good chance I saw 5 female yellow wagtails, 4 carrying food. Didn’t see a male anywhere
"........ Thanks Wendy, I’m glad that the stile has now been repaired, it was a challenge for some!!

On the second of our mid-weekers, last Wednesday (9/6) we had a walk around the airport trail. Beginning as usual at crash gate 9 we chose to do the clockwise route. The direction does actually make a difference as the very steep track leading up and down to the tunnel is less severe on the east side. Anyone wanting to visit the location can park along Woodend Lane and take what is the shortest route down to the river.

We recorded a reasonable total of 33 Species during the morning. Some were in song - Song Thrushes, Chiffchaffs, Whitethroats, Skylarks, a couple of Willow Warblers plus Blackcaps and Garden Warblers that prompted the usual discussions! The majority were Garden Warblers.
After elevenses taken on the big concrete blocks overlooking runway 2 we descended down to the Bollin where everyone had good views of the Dippers and Grey Wagtails. The Dippers were carrying food and at least one bird sported a BTO ring.
We noted numerous damsel flies and a few dragonflies, who’s names I can’t remember! Wild flowers posed further identification problems - we managed to identify a few of the common species but the rest remained a mystery!

Species recorded on a walk around Runway two - Wednesday 9th June 2021
Lesser Black-backed Gull, Chiffchaff, Wren, Buzzard, Long-tailed Tit, Moorhen, Skylark, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Rook, Whitethroat, Robin, Jackdaw, Oystercatcher, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Curlew, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mallard, Dunnock, Willow Warbler, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Swallow, Jay, Garden Warbler. [ ✓ 33]

06/06/2021...... Mobberley and a tale of true grit!!
It’s often said that Mobberley is the second biggest parish in England but I’ve never seen any figures that prove this! Nevertheless it does cover quite a large area: from Knutsford in the west to the boundary with Chorley in the east; then from Fox harbour in the south up to the northern boundary which is the River Bollin as it flows around the edge (and under) the runways at Manchester airport.

Gleavehouse Pool in Fox Harbour was quite disappointing on Wednesday morning (6th) when I spent an hour in the obs., sweltering in the hot sun. Yellow Wagtails seem to be doing well, as a succession of adults collected food from the edges of the pool, before heading off to feed their offsprings. The Coots have succeeded so far but there are only two young with the parent birds. There was no sign of the family of Shelducks nor singing Yellowhammers, normally a feature of this area.

Perhaps I was being too pessimistic though, as later in the week Jayne Davies re-located the Shelducks and recorded a Yellowhammer!

......"I found the missing shelduck family this morning, they were on the small pool close to the footpath that heads SE towards the Damson Lane bridleway from just north of GP. The family was there, all 5 youngsters still present. There’s another coot family there too, with 3 juveniles that I could see from the path.

24 lapwings by Gleavehouse Pool when I arrived there today, several visits by yellow wagtails, a couple of swallows, a single oystercatcher, the coot family with 2 little ones, also a pair of bullfinches on Damson Lane.

I also visited G.Pool quite late on Thursday evening, (fitting in a sunset walk to recover from a very tedious drive back from my Mum’s, took 2hours 15minutes, normally 1hr 30min), and I heard a singing yellowhammer somewhere quite close by, first one I’ve heard this year. "..........

From the deep south of the village, up to the frozen north where, on Friday (4th), Geoff and Sheila Blamire enjoyed a successful morning in the Bollin Valley.

........" We did the clockwise walk around the airport perimeter this morning. Heard and saw several Common Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, 2 Willow Warblers and 1 Garden Warbler, but no sign of Lesser Whitethroats (though didn’t expect them because they don’t usually sing this late). Best was on the River Bollin - pair of Dippers seen many times and with prolonged views, including catching prey along the edge of the river, not as usual in the fast-flowing water. One time 2 birds were chasing each other through the tunnel - wasn’t sure what was going on there! Supporting cast of Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. Insects including Common Blue Damselfly, Broad-bodied Chaser and a female Beautiful Demoiselle! What a stunning damselfly "...........

Bob Groom hadn’t seen a Dipper for some time and was anxious to see the pair watched by G&S. In an email, he asked me if I though he should tackle the very steep hill up from the Bollin Valley back to the track leading to Wood Lane. "Certainly not" was my reply.

I don’t know why he asked or why I even replied!!

......"I couldn’t resist the temptation of seeing a bird I hadn’t seen in yonks and certainly not as close as Mobberley. So with the sun shining and hope in my heart I set off from Wood Lane. Two Pied Wagtails. Garden Warbler still at the first corner (and a second bird heard much further on), lots of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Whitethroats (including a pair very busy carrying food)..Almost empty skies - one Buzzard only - but quite a few planes, surprisingly outnumbering the few pedestrians and cyclists. It was hard going but helped by the cooling breeze I made it to the River Bollin. It was so nice at the riverside in the shadow of the tunnel. Great views of both Dippers and both Grey Wagtails.(Between flycatching there was a lot of chasing, couldn’t decide whether they had finished breeding or not yet started.) Would have stayed longer but needed to get back. It seemed to take forever walking back (the round trip took me 4 hours at my slow pace) but I gritted my teeth and kept going. Glad I did it but won’t be doing it again in a hurry and inevitably there was a price to pay in pain and stiffness when I got back but we KOS birders are made of stern stuff, are we not.."........

We certainly are Robert!

Our second KOS field trip of the (hopefully) post-covid era has been arranged for Saturday 19th June when we’ll be travelling up to the RSPB’s Leighton Moss reserve. Sheila Blamire has kindly offered to lead this trip and all KOS "members" (those folk who were members prior to lockdown #1, last March) have been informed.

30/05/2021......KOS field trip to the Goyt Valley
Yesterday (29/5) we enjoyed our first "official" KOS field trip since last year’s visit to Pennington Flash, on the 17th March 2020, just before the first lockdown.
It appears the recent run of poor weather has ended and we enjoyed a dry and relatively mild day in the Goyt Valley.

I recorded just 32 species this year, down from 38 in 2019 and 39 in 2018 - and we had to work hard to reach even that modest total. An email from Bob Groom summed up the day rather nicely

......" Well, what an improvement - MIn 11C Max 20C!! I don’t know if you were keeping a list, Tony, and if I can add to it. Cuckoo heard, but I’m sure you did, Buzzard, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Cormorant.. But no common sand, tree pipit, spotted fly, wood warbler - OK redstarts a-plenty but so elusive. At least lots of willow warblers but overall not a patch on what the Goyt used to be .. Nice m Grey Wagtail but didn’t see the wheatear. Nice to see Len back on form after his trials and tribulations. Just like old times. Pity the birds weren’t."......

We took the normal route: up the steep slope from the middle car park, along the high path that runs parallel to the valley road before dropping down again and walking as far as the point where the woodland ends with a view over Goyt’s Clough. After dropping down to the River Goyt we then followed it’s course back to the car park.

As Bob observed there was an abundance of Willow Warblers but just a couple of Chiffchaffs; the reverse of what we’ve seen and heard down on the Cheshire plain. A Cuckoo was heard calling a couple of times in the distance, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers were heard frequently, especially the Redstarts but both were reluctant to show themselves, although in the end most people had views of both species.

After lunch back at the cars we drove up to Derbyshire Bridge from where we walked up the road towards the Cat and Fiddle to a point where, in past years, we’d come across nesting Whinchats. No luck with them but we recorded singing Skylarks and displaying Meadow Pipits. Curlew and a single Wheatear were added to the day list and a pair of Grey Wagtails gave good views along the stream.
Simon Smith says, of his image of the wagtails ....." an "arty" shot of the Grey Wagtails ( I didn’t get the right shutter speed for the conditions, though I never knew that they showed so much white in the tail) ".....

I thinks that’s a brilliant shot Simon, a welcome change from the pin-sharp "bird on a stick" images normally seen on the internet.

If it was mine I would have claimed to have " deliberately reduced the shutter speed to capture the movement and excitement of a pair of Grey Wagtails in their springtime display over a bubbling Pennine stream" - a winner!!!

Discussions are ongoing at the moment about the future of the KOS in the post-covid world. On one hand with a small, aging membership and the reluctance of people to serve on the committee, combined with the high cost of paying speakers it’s been suggested that we move to field trips only and cease indoor meetings. On the other it’s been pointed out that, for various reasons, not everyone can take part in these outdoor get-togethers and the monthly indoor meetings are their only chance to socialise and meet up with fellow members.

What do you think?

Species recorded along the Goyt Valley - 29th May 2021
Canada Goose, Chaffinch, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Mallard, Wren, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Pheasant, Cuckoo, Blackbird, Goldcrest, Woodpigeon, Oystercatcher, tree Pipit, Song Thrush, Pied Flycatcher, Cormorant, Grey Wagtail, Raven, Curlew, Skylark, Buzzard, Wheatear, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Meadow Pipit, Blackcap, Jackdaw, Kestrel, House Martin [ ✓ 32]

25/05/2021......A great record from Tatton and Rostherne re-opens
The current Cheshire atlas shows only four confirmed records of Goosanders breeding in the county so Jayne Davies was delighted to find a brood in Tatton on Sunday (23/5)......"I was out in the Tatton deer enclosure, and was surprised and delighted to see a female goosander with 9 little chicks on the brook that flows through the deer enclosure to the Birkin. Sadly no record shot - I was taken completely by surprise, and they swam away pretty quickly towards the Birkin as soon as they saw me. I just had time to count the little ones."........ Thanks Jayne, the Birkin starts at the confluence of Pedley Brook and Marthall Brook at the western extremity of Fox Harbour in Mobberley, so this could explain the many sightings of the species at Gleavehouse Pool.

By coincidence, today I was talking to Sheelagh Halsey who told me she’d seen a similar sized brood just over the county border in Dunham Massey park - no wonder that we’re getting so many Winter records!

Sheelagh posted an email over the weekend with details of Rostherne’s re-opening after the virus ........." I am pleased to report that the Observatory is now open from today but limited to 4 people including children. It would however be OK for a larger family bubble to use it without others in the hide. Please take notice of all the instructions that have been put up in order for everybody’s safety.
You have renewed your permits this year via CAWOS and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support during this difficult time. The door code for the Observatory is on your permit.
The Bittern hide is now open to volunteers with keys, permit holders can be taken there by the volunteers. It’s limited to 3 people.
Dave’s hide is now open to the volunteers and people they’re showing around and it’s limited to 2 people.
Permit holders who wish to use the Bittern Hide and Dave’s Hide can do so by attending the Observatory on either a Wednesday at 10am or on a Sunday at 10am and one of the Rostherne volunteers will be able to show you the way and allow entry to those hides. If you would like to visit these hides, please let me know so that we can arrange group sizes and suitable times with volunteers. Also, if new permit holders would like an introduction to the site we can make similar arrangements.

Sheelagh also included a report that detailed the recent changes to the reserve, including the creation of numerous scrapes. It’s a splendid document with many overhead shots taken from a drone and well worth a view, although sputnik 33 would have been launched in the 1960’s and long gone by now! - [click here]

I spent a couple of hours in the obs. this morning, being joined by Bob Groom (who else!). It was as quiet as we remembered it, little in the way of water birds, with small flocks of Swifts and House Martins passing quickly through from time to time. Highlight was a Cuckoo that flew past the obs. in mid-morning. It didn’t linger either. The toilet facilities have been nicely refurbished with new a toilet bowl and wash basin complimented by a warm air hand drier incorporating a UV bug killer!

A second publication I recently received came from Woolston Eyes where it will soon be possible to view the recently constructed Number 4 bed ......"As you will be aware No. 4 bed has been closed to visitors due to health and safety issues as heavy machinery has been in use.
We are pleased to advise that as from 1st JUNE 2021 access can be made as per the attached map.
We would respectfully request that you keep to the path marked on the map and do not go onto the wetland bunds and always carry your up to date permit
."........ [Click here]

Geoff and Sheila Blamire caught the nesting Great Crested Grebes at the Little Mere at just the right time on Sunday (23/5)......." The grebes have 4 very young chicks. All the time the female was on the nest with the male bringing fish to feed them. Or feeding feathers to the chicks (the feathers are thought to protect the stomach by padding the sharp fish bones and slowing down the process of digestion so that the bones dissolve rather than pass into the intestine.) Occasionally the tiny chicks fell in the water and scrambled back onto the female’s back. A fabulous one hour!".........

Thanks team, Geoff’s videos are brilliant! You can view them using the links below

Scramble for safety:

Fight club:

Feeding time:

Yesterday Bob travelled over to Marbury in search of Spotted Flycatcher for his year list......" Went over to Marbury this morning. I had just found a seat at the Bittern hide and was saying to Steve Collins that the last Spotted Flycatcher I’d seen was the one in Wood Bongs many moons ago when the bird in question appeared at the top of the dead tree! Steve and others had been waiting for it for 2 hours so I got the credit for ’summoning it up’! At one point it shared the tree with a pair of Blackcaps, 4 Long-tailed Tits and a Reed Bunting! It also came into bushes much closer to the hide and gave great views, then flew round the reedbed before moving away. With the rain lots of Swallows and a few House Martins came down. Also seen - Reed Warblers, Raven, Chiffchaff, Jay, Nuthatch, usual Shelduck, 2 Oystercatchers, Herons and lots of Song Thrushes. Driving back there was a cloudburst, flooding the roads and yet when I got back to Knutsford there was no sign of rain ".........

There’s a chance we’ll see Spotted Flycatcher somewhere along the Goyt Valley this Saturday (29th) on our first KOS field trip since March last year although we’ve not seen one there for some time. Pied Flycatcher is guaranteed though! 9:30am at the second car park along the valley - the one nearest to the reservoir.

20/05/2021...... Life gets back to normal!
Solo birdwatching has much to commend it; a single individual causes less disturbance to wildlife, the lone birder can sit quietly in a favoured spot and allow the birds to continue with their normal activities, species counts will be greater than that accrued by a group. Additionally it’s an activity that’s allegedly good for the individuals physical and mental well-being - Although, having met and talked to 100’s birders over the years, I’m not convinced that’s always the case!!
Human beings are naturally gregarious and enjoy the company of others, so yesterday (19th May) it was great to enjoy our first mid-weeker for well over a year. There was a lot of catching up to do!!

We walked a 5K route through the beautiful Mobberley countryside, that area we know as Fox Harbour, passing along the way the Gleavehouse Pool. The weather was kind to us, blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds and a temperature of around 12 ° C. Given the circumstances and significance of the occasion this was never going to be a record breaking morning but we managed a satisfactory total of 34 species.

A Blackcap was singing from behind the Roebuck Inn, Swallows flew around the farm and Swifts were seen from time to time high overhead. The Shelducks and their young were still on Gleavehouse Pool, although only four of the original five ducklings remain. Yellow Wagtails were seen frequently during the walk. Returning from the pool David Cogger had a close encounter with the birds ...." On the way back I had possibly the best view of Yellow Wagtails - a pair just by the stile at the top of the first field - they seemed oblivious to my presence for about 5 minutes and were really close up!".....
Yellowhammers are giving cause for concern, at this time of the year they’re normally in full song but yesterday, although we had two sightings - a single male and a pair noted by Len Mason, there was no song. I wonder if they’ll go the way of the Corn Buntings that favoured this area in the 1970’s and 80’s.
Our return route took us past Mobberley SQ where good numbers of House Martins had returned and Simon managed a flight shot. Not an easy task!

We’d walked (and talked) for about 2½ hours. A small but significant step along the road towards normality, thoroughly enjoyable and a reminder at just what we’ve been missing since last Spring.

Singing Lesser Whitethroats continue to draw attention to themselves throughout the area. This from Peter Dawson........." Had another walk over to Gleavehouse pool this afternoon. Went via the scrubby/bushy area north east of Booths Mere and found a lesser whitethroat. This area is possibly suitable for breeding. There are plenty of other warblers in that area including blackcap, chiffchaff and common whitethroat although no garden warbler this time.
Plenty of yellow wagtails around and good to see a pair of shelduck with five ducklings on the pool. Tree sparrows down the lanes as usual but still no sign of any yellowhammers. Also managed to find another wheatear on the way back in the downpour!
Thanks Peter, Lesser Whitethroats seem to be more common than Willow Warblers this Spring.

Bob Groom also heard one whilst looking for Garden Warblers on the west side of the airport’s R2........" Heard the Garden Warbler as I got out of the car. Homed in on the song to roadside spinney just past the field gate where people park but then a big refuse vehicle went past and the bird went quiet. After a few minutes it started up again and I got good views of it over the hedge in thinner branches. Carried on and got a good list - B’cap, Chiffchaffs, Lesser Whitethroat (heard), pair of Long-Tailed Tits,2 Stock Doves, Cormorant, Heron, 2 Swifts, Bullfinch, Skylark, 2 Stock Doves and a Curlew near the runway. Walking back the Garden Warbler had moved round the corner to the trees near the little layby and got several brief views.".........

Despite his recent operation Geoff Blamire continues with the daily walks.

...."Geoff had his hernia operation on Thursday 13th May - it seemed to go well and I collected him late Thursday afternoon. I’ve continued with 10-12km walks every day, plus starting from yesterday, with short walks with Geoff (he managed to do 3.5km today).
Mere - Little Mere: 1 Coot on a nest with tiny chicks being fed by the other adult; pair Canada Goose with 5 goslings; pair Mallard with 3 ducklings (started with 8!); Great Crested Grebe still incubating.
Mereside Road: still 4 Lapwings on the field pool (the other pair seem to have left - perhaps failed?). Goldcrest still singing.
Chester Road: 2 Skylarks in a field; pair of Coots north of the new roundabout; 1 Moorhen, 1 Lapwing (2nd might still be on the nest), and 1 Oystercatcher on a nest south of the new roundabout; 2nd Oystercatcher further down in a field with cows. Wish I had a camera with me because several Jackdaws were plucking hair from cows to line their nests.
Tabley Swains Walk (aka bridleway): 2 Lapwings including 1 sitting tight on its nest on one of the potato ridges;
Green Lane/Tabley Road: 4 Lapwings in the corner field.
Millington Skylarks singing in couple of places and Lapwings, again in 2 different sites, usual warblers, etc.
Rostherne Wood Bongs: Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, Goldcrest, usual warblers, etc. "......

Darren Morris kindly sent me a copy of the Summer 2021 Tatton Wildlife Newsletter. You can read it by clicking here.

Darren also tells us that the Allen Hide overlooking Melchett Mere has re-opened. Bob took full advantage on Tuesday (18/5)......" My first visit to the Allen Hide in a very long time! 3 herons in a line on the grass, a 4th nearby and No.5 stalking at the mereside! Pair of Mandarins close in, the male looking superb in the sunshine. Unfortunately the Mute Swans seem to have abandoned their nest. "..........

Species seen on Wednesday’s Mobberley walk.
Goldfinch, Dunnock, Blackcap, Swallow, Robin, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Swift, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Pied Wagtail, Skylark, Buzzard, Pheasant, Yellow Wagtail, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Coot, Shelduck, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Lapwing, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Wren, Chiffchaff, Mandarin Duck, Mallard, Whitethroat, Carrion Crow, House Martin, Starling. [ ✓ 34]

13/05/2021......At long last!
Our last KOS field trip was on the 15th March 2020 when we visited Pennington Flash and I wrote ........"On Sunday (15th) we travelled over to Pennington Flash and enjoyed what will probably be our last KOS field trip for some time"........ Little did we know!

Hopefully the situation is now under control and, from next Monday (17/5), groups of up to 30 people can again meet outdoors. Indoor meetings remain some way off but we’re able to resume our KOS field trips. So in two weeks time (Saturday 29th May) we’ll be enjoying a day out together, with a visit to the Goyt Valley, meeting at the Errwood Hall car park at 09:30am. That’s the usual one overlooking the reservoir. With luck there will still be some song and, although many species will be feeding young, we should get Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Common Sandpiper and, perhaps, Wood Warbler and Whinchat - no promises though!

In addition I’ll be resuming our mid-week activities. These started at the end of the last century (!!) when I took early retirement and decided that, come what may, I’d go birdwatching at least once a week. By and large I’ve managed to do this and over the years others have come along to keep me company. The rules are pretty straightforward and very undemocratic - If I decide to go out (and it’s usually a Wednesday) I send out an email, normally on Sunday or Monday depending on the latest weather forecast, to interested parties,- (some but not all are KOS members [this is not an official KOS activity]). A time and place is given and if people wish to come along they just have to turn up as appropriate. Normally we get 8 - 10 from an email list of 22, so there’s room for a few more. We welcome Manchester United fans but nevertheless tolerate City fans and Guardian readers!

Since the last update I’ve paid three visits to the airport trails. Highlight was a singing Lesser Whitethroat last Sunday (11/5) on the east side of R2. Bob Groom went along the next day and found the bird still there........" Parked on Wood End Lane and took the footpath. I took it slow (no other way) and listened hard. Heard both Willow Warblers, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Bullfinch and finally picked up the Lesser Whitethroat, to my left. It led me to the wooden footbridge over the stream and gave me a view as it flew into the bramble tangle and disappeared. It kept singing and eventually appeared at the top but as I cautiously raised my binoculars it spotted the movement and flew across into the spinney. Brief views in a tree and then all went quiet."...... "........

Yesterday I did the west side of the runway and went down the steep hill to the tunnel. Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Common and a distant Lesser Whitethroat. A singing Garden Warbler appeared for a few seconds and allowed me to grab a quick record shot!
Geoff and Sheila Blamire alerted me to the presence of Dippers on the River Bollin close to the tunnel entrance. I didn’t have to wait long before one appeared and managed some distant shots. It remained for some time so I don’t think it’s feeding young at this stage. Interestingly it had a BTO ring on it’s right leg.

Peter Dawson tells me the Cetti’s Warbler is still on the Moor....."A quick visit this morning confirmed that the cetti’s warbler is still in the same area. Otherwise just one reed warbler and one reed bunting were all I heard. No sign of a gropper but I wasn’t there very long before the heavens opened and a heavy rain/hail storm started yet again!"......

In Tatton the Great Crested Grebes are again nesting very close to the road on Melchett Mere and providing a photo. opportunity as demonstrated by Alan Gillespie......"The pair of Great Crested Grebes have nested in the same spot as last year close to the road on Melchett Mere. Pretty hard to miss as the rushes haven’t grown too much. On the weekend I did get a view and there was one egg. The weathers a bit tough and the high winds were sending in some waves but hopefully things are warm and dry.

I popped down and took some photos last night with a new lens (200-500 mm f5.6). I’ve attached a cropped photo. With a bit of heat the nest will soon be hidden so thought I’d pass along a snap.

FYI. Last Sunday afternoon Tatton Mere was littered with Barn Swallows, House Martins, Swifts and even a few Sand Martins. The numbers were in the 100’s (estimated 300 plus - they are hard to count). On the Monday the numbers had dropped significantly but still a lot of activity. I suspect the strong northerly winds had put a halt on movement to the north!

Geoff and Sheila went further afield for more Lesser Whitethroats....."Paid a visit this morning - first time this year (last time was 25th December 2020). Hoping to see the special birds we recorded in 2020 along the Manchester Ship Canal.

Main target was Lesser Whitethroat along the Manchester Ship Canal, but when we reached the area we couldn’t hear it - drowned out by Whitethroats and a Cetti’s Warbler. Further along, in between canal and Mersey River, a 2nd Cetti’s. Walking back heard Lesser Whitethroat - this time very loud (well - as loud a LW can be!) and very close to the same area in 2020 - brilliant.

04/05/2021...... More migrants despite the weather!
We’re well into May now but Spring 2021 is still struggling to shake off the vestiges of last Winter. My weather station records the temperature once every minute and analysis shows the average temperature in April was 7.6 ° C compared with 11.2 ° C last year; the current reading now, at 2pm, is only a chilly 7.3 ° C!

Nick Webb visited the Gleavehouse Pool for the first time on Saturday (1/5) and had a good record -".....I duly found the real Gleavehouse Pools this morning and enjoyed a very rewarding couple of hours there. It’s quite a hot spot.
I was delighted to see my first yellow wagtails for a couple of years: a cock and hen were feeding and mooching about together as a pair, getting quite close when I sat quietly on your "observation stile". The male a superb canary yellow.
The other jewel and a real surprise was a cock redstart, flitting about in a proprietorial fashion between the thick willows to left of the pools and the bushes between the pools, singing from several perches and feeding on the ground. No sign of a female but it might be worth looking out in the weeks ahead.... not classic redstart habitat but there are many veteran field oaks, chestnuts etc. in the farmland to the east of the pools, where convenient nest cavities might be found?
Many other birds: a flock of swallows feeding constantly over the water, a pair of reed buntings gathering nest material, pied wagtails, linnets, goldfinches, several lesser black-backed gulls, a couple of black-headeds, moorhens, coots on their obvious nest....and a single shelduck
For good measure, in the adjoining fields were yellowhammers, skylarks and my first whitethroat of the year......

I went down the following morning, meeting Jayne Davies and Peter Dawson, I think we were all hoping the Redstart hadn’t moved on. It had but, as my email to interested parties shows, it was far from a wasted journey. "......After yesterday’s Redstart it was unsurprising that the Gleavehouse Pool Obs. had reached full capacity before 10am. The remainder of us stood alongside! [1+2 - Me, Jayne, Peter]!!
The Redstart had moved on but there was still plenty going on. Yellow Wagtails in good numbers as Peter and I walked the path through the Winter wheat. Skylarks enjoying the sun. One of the LTTs was in the nest when I showed Jayne where it was. Swallows over the pool and up to 3 House Martins collecting mud from the edges where Yellow Wags. fed. 2 Wheatears in the field behind the obs. (Peter has another in the donkey paddock on his walk home - he’d also had a garden Warbler on his walk in earlier). As I walked back just past the farm a Cuckoo flew over and dropped down to Fox Harbour. My first in Mobberley for years........

It’s was nice to see the House Martins back at the pool. They’re late but Tatton has seen some good counts over the past few days; Darren Morris counted 150 last Thursday (30/4) and the following day Bob Groom had 60 ".... I went into Tatton earlier today. After a shower there were 32 House Martins, about 10 Swifts and just a couple of Swallows over the mere. I kept watching in hopes but only raptors were Buzzards (almost constantly in view). Another shower saw House Martin numbers double to at least 60. Female Gadwall, 3 Greylags, 3 Cormorants on the mere...."

Geoff and Sheila Blamire did their Rostherne walk on Friday (30/4) and Saturday (1/5)....." Lapwing chicks! Adults with 3 chicks on the Mereside field pool (between Mereside Road and Cicely Mill Pool), plus another pair still incubating and another 6 Lapwings around the pool (failed breeders?).
Cicely Mill Pool: Sedge Warbler singing, the Mute Swans have laid 2 eggs so far, Male Shoveler still on the pool on its own, plus House Martin.
Rostherne new scrapes: Mandarin (Steve had a Green Sandpiper there a few days ago). Wood Bongs: Willow Warbler, Treecreeper (not by a nest), local dog walker heard a Cuckoo before we got there (according to Phil Dell - the first of the year), no sign of the Kestrels in the wood.

We did the Rostherne walk again this morning.
Mereside field pool: 2nd Lapwing pair have also hatched 3 chicks, so now have 2 broods of 3, still waiting for the 3rd pair to produce chicks - fingers crossed - it looks promising. See Geoff’s video

Thanks Geoff, a nice video and encouraging to see that, at least here, Lapwings can successfully incubate their eggs without being disturbed by current farming practices.

Elsewhere Darren treated Yvonne to a day out at Coombes Valley ...." Nice trip to Coombes Valley today. We sat in Clough Meadow and had our sandwiches near to the cottage that used to be my house when I volunteered there back in 1985.
There is usually a redstart that nests around the building and a nice male soon appeared followed by the female.
I had a walk into Six Oaks Wood near to where the tree top hide used to be. Another male redstart showing interest in a hole was set upon by a male pied flycatcher and their mid air tussle saw them tumble, claws locked to the ground. The pied fly saw the larger redstart off and immediately went back to a nearby nest box.
Enjoyed the walk around the reserve and bumped into Lucy Lapwing(natural history social media personality for those who don’t know) who was sitting on the bench with the superb view over the reserve with her parabolic reflector!
I always enjoy a visit here away from the crowds and dogs

For those that want to do it the traditional way, get down to Northwich flashes and sort them out yourself!

......"We went around Neumann’s/Marbury this morning, highlights were: Swifts over Budworth Mere, Cuckoo (heard) and Grasshopper Warbler (heard), Garden Warbler - seen and heard (very fortunate with this species this year!), plenty Reed and Cetti’s Warblers and Water Rail (heard). G&S "..............

28/04/2021......Sad news.
I’m afraid this update begins with some bad news. Sue Heath died this week, she had been a member of the KOS for almost 40 years and, together with her husband Terry, served on the society’s committee a number of times. Our thoughts are with Terry and the girls at this most difficult of times. Sue’s funeral will take place on Friday 7th May and the society will be represented. Terry’s address is - 2. Victoria Street Knutsford WA16 6HY.

On Friday (23rd) I paid my first visit this year to the airport perimeter path, starting at crash gate 9 I walked as far as the top of Woodend Lane - Plenty of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, 2 Willow Warblers, Swallows at the farm, 3 Song Thrushes and 2 Common Whitethroats (1st this year).
The following morning I did the opposite side of the runway, parking at the top of Wood Lane and I was delighted to hear an early Lesser Whitethroat - Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, pair of Kestrels displaying, again good numbers of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, Common Whitethroat and a Lesser Whitethroat singing from the scrub midway between the fishing pit and the right turn towards the blocks, near the ILS sign.

On Sunday Derek and Jean enjoyed a walk around the Tatton gardens -....." We had a lovely tranquil 2 hours in Tatton Gardens this morning. The gardens are looking better than ever I can remember in all the years I/we have been going in, A lot of hard work has been going on.
Birds - Raven, Jackdaw, Crow , Song thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Mallard, Coot, Canada Goose ,Magpie, Robin, Woodpigeon, Blackcap, Green Woodpecker Buzzard. The views of the Goldcrest with sun shining on its head and Bullfinch were excellent.
No Willow Warbler or hirundines
"....... Tatton Ranger Darren Morris tells me that there’s a Ravens’ nest close to the mansion with young.

On Monday (26th) Geoff and Sheila Blamire walked the whole of runway 2 perimeter at the airport.
..." We ventured into Mobberley this morning leaving our car by crash gate 9 and aim was to walk the circuit doing the west side first (opposite way to KOS walks).
Whitethroat seen and heard, same with Skylark. No luck with Lesser Whitethroat even though I was listening out for it. Walking down the slope towards the tunnel Tony U rang me - he’d come across my car. He’d heard the LW earlier so we walked back up the slope to give it another try. Passing the concrete blocks and through the gate I immediately heard LW! It flew to the top of tree along the hedge and sang again and Geoff got it as well. A brief song, before it flew again. Continued under the runway tunnel and about to look at the Bollin from the footpath bridge we came across Andy Livermore who told us that a non-birding friend had seen dippers the west side of the tunnel. From the bridge a male Grey Wagtail flew in front of us. We spent a lot of time there because we watching the pair of wagtails making a nest under the bridge - not the footpath bridge but the runway tunnel bridge! The nest is on a beam and is rather untidy, and occasionally they retrieved some AWOL material to do a better job. We walked back along the tunnel to try for the Dippers. Success! Geoff saw one first then I actually flushed one. Just a question of being in the right place at the right time. We continued with our walk skirting the runway. Then I abruptly stopped after hearing a new song. Fortunately it showed itself - Garden Warbler!.
So 3 new migrants for us (Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler), pair of Dippers and a new Grey Wagtail nest - we agreed it was a good walk...

Bob Groom and Wendy Stratford have both visited Mobberley’s Gleavehouse Pool - from Bob ......" Song Thrush gathering worms at the farm. Raven flying over. Several Skylarks up. At the pool. Pied Wagtail, a male Yellow Wagtail called in to gather insects (enough there to feed 20 birds!), had two sightings of males on hedges earlier. 2 m Reed Buntings chasing, also a pair of Linnets. (But no LTTs..) 10 Lesser Black-Backed Gulls; Shelduck,17 Canada Geese, 6 Greylag Geese, The pair of Mallards, 9 ducklings with the female. 3 Coots (one on a nest).
I was just getting ready to leave when a bird suddenly emerged from a hole in the ground, had a look round and then disappeared again; it was a female Mandarin! The thought occurred; could it be incubating eggs? All very peculiar. But for that brief appearance would never have suspected it was there. On the way back, 2 Tree Sparrows, 2 Lapwings and 2 Ravens flying together, several times, and separately, with some calling. Another Buzzard passed over. Chiffchaff.. Good day.

From Wendy ...."Swallows in Gleavehouse Lane, and a pair of Egyptian geese flew over from the GP direction towards Springwood Farm. There was a pair of lapwings calling and displaying over the Gleave House field, and a skylark above - delightful. More skylarks in the next field and at the GP.
At the GP were the oystercatchers, one shelduck, 3 coots (one on the nest), several mallards (there are still 9 ducklings) and a few geese. There were 2 lapwings feeding on the grass, then they flew into the cows’ field behind the obs, where they were calling and displaying. There were 2 male reed buntings chasing at the top of the hedge.
Quite suddenly a male mandarin appeared on the pool - he landed in the water, but from a bank rather than flying in from above. He was near where the island is slowly emerging. I looked all around for a hole, but the only ones seem to be the ones in the bank north of the pond. I can’t find the LTT nest either!
On the way back I went further down Pavement Lane to see if there were any wheatears in the donkeys’ field (there weren’t), but as I was walking down I saw a bird swerve into a tree. Stopped and saw there was a hole, so waited, binoculars ready, and a male tree sparrow emerged from the hole, conveniently pausing so I could get a good look!

Bob Groom and Peter Dawson both sent me reports of their visits to Tatton this morning - they both had what they were looking for (and a little more). Peter’s report - ".....I haven’t been round the park for a while so thought I would give it a go today in the hope of a swift and possibly a tern.
Good news on the former. Plenty of swifts about [Bob counted 110] as well as house martins and a few swallows. As I neared the top end of the mere, I bumped into Bob so stopped for a chat. We were talking about Tabley, and hobbies in particular, when he suddenly said "that looks like a raptor over the pines!". We both looked and, yes you guessed it, two hobbies flying around. Always great birds to see! Great spot by Bob.
After I left Bob, I wandered up to Mill Pool but disappointingly didn’t see a lot. One swallow and one little grebe were the best I could find although I did hear brief snatches of willow warbler and whitethroat near Old Hall on the way.
As I walked back down the east side of Tatton Mere I managed to spot a common sandpiper flying north and landing on the jetty. That’s a first for me in the park.
There were a few other birds of interest - reed bunting, lesser black backed gull, green woodpecker - but unfortunately I didn’t find any terns. Maybe tomorrow!?
A very brief stop at the reedbed produced one singing reed warbler but no cetti’s or gropper on this occasion.
Btw I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this to you before but I’ve had a water rail in Sanctuary Moor, just over my back fence, since March 20th. I’ve only managed to see it once and there’s no chance now with all the leaves having grown. Usually I can only hear it squealing but the last couple of days it’s been "singing". I couldn’t work out what it was at first but having listened to it’s "song" on my phone app that’s definitely what it is. I’ve always thought that the habitat is right for them but never heard one before in the 9 years that I’ve lived in the house....."

22/4/2021...... A day to remember!

On the 6th May 1978 we were in Suffolk on an early KOS long weekend.

I was a memorable day for two reasons.
#1 The local team, Ipswich Town, beat Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup final. The landlord of the local pub was an Ipswich supporter; he had a few beers prior to kick off "just to calm his nerves". After the final whistle he went into full celebratory mode with more alcohol. His wife and a couple of regulars carried him upstairs to bed about 9 o’clock but not before he’d bought everyone in the pub a drink!
#2 Earlier in the day we’d been at Minsmere and I’d heard the song of a Cetti’s Warbler for the first time. They were known to be spreading north and, back in Knutsford a few days later, I was standing at the edge of Knutsford Moor with Jonathan Guest and I asked him how long it would be before we heard a Cetti’s singing on the Moor. I think we agreed it would be about 40 years. Not far out, as on Sunday morning (18th) I heard a bird in song at the bottom of Drury Lane - my first. I know they’ve been seen locally for some time now but this was my first on the Moor.

Peter Dawson directed me to the correct spot and yesterday (21st), on the Moor, he had both Reed and Grasshopper warblers.
....."Had a quick wander down this afternoon to see whether any other warblers had arrived. The cetti’s was in good voice in the scrub along Moorside. I moved along to Hillside where after a while I heard a reed warbler singing and a grasshopper warbler reeling. The latter quite subdued and only heard twice for relatively short periods in the space of about 15 minutes. I’ll give it another go in a day or two......"

On Tuesday (20th) I paid another visit to the Moor and to Dog Wood. No Cetti’s this time but as I sat at the end of the wood scanning the mere Tatton Ranger Simon Jones drew my attention to the spectacular bird pictured at the start of this update. He recognised it immediately as a Lady Amherst’s Pheasant as he’d used feathers from this species to tie fly fishing lures - I hadn’t a clue what it was!
It’s not valid for inclusion on any lists (Life, British, Cheshire, Tatton, year etc.). Luckily I stopped listing when I grew out of short trousers and went up to the "big school".

Ranger Darren Morris didn’t have to make this choice as I think he missed it - out on one of his Tatton safaris - this from last weekend.

"I had a four hour walk in the park this morning. Still 7 or more goldeneye on Tatton Mere. No hirundines but two mandarin.
A small flock of brambling with linnets and goldfinches at Swan Clump and a pair of mandarin on the Mill Pool again that seem to have taken up residence with the little grebes.
I walked around the farmland and outlying woodland but it was very quiet.
Had a good look for redstart at the Mill area too.
Oh and a nice pair of grey wagtail at Swan Clump too.
I’m just dissecting some barn owl pellets that I got out of the deer enclosure. Lots of voles!
Heard a Cetti’s warbler too when walking along the Moor path.........Darren

Mobberley’s Gleavehouse Pool continues to entertain its aficionados. Wendy Stratford found her first Yellow Wagtail of the year on Sunday (18th)...."Just come back from a glorious early evening walk to the GP. 2 swallows and a charm of about 10 goldfinches in Gleavehouse Lane (near the barn), and skylarks singing over the usual field.
At the GP I saw a male yellow wagtail (hooray!) as I approached - by the edge of the pool near the "float through" under the hedge. Later he flew into the tree above - great view from the obs. A female yellow wagtail was on the far side of the pool at the waters edge. While I was watching her an LRP flew in and landed close by - it was still there when I left about 30 mins later, making fast little runs along the shore. The goosanders, oystercatchers and one shelduck were also there, and the usual backing cast.

After some navigation issues Bob Groom paid a visit (Tuesday 20th) and had a rewarding morning - "The visuals did the trick. Half-hour there, half-hour back and a good hour spent at the ’observatory’! Frequent Raven sightings (including once over the pool) and as I discovered on Sunday there are definitely two birds about. Strange occurrence on the way down. Sure I heard a Cetti’s call! Unlikely I know but it’s hard to mistake that call, heard numerous times at Frodsham yesterday. Several Skylarks ascending in song, good views of one. At the pool, a stunningly bright male Yellow Wagtail gave super views. Presumably same as Wendy’s bird. 1 Pied Wagtail. 1 House Martin swooped in several times to gather mud. 2 Long-Tailed Tits, m Reed Bunting (sallying out of the willow to catch insects!), Chaffinches, Bullfinch, plus 2 Tree Sparrows flying into clump of trees just before the pool. Stock Dove. Distant Buzzard. 2 Oystercatchers. Wildfowl Tally - 1 very naughty Shelduck attacked all 3 Coots and twice had a go at the female of the Mallard pair, giving the poor bird a right slap. (The male didn’t intervene.) 19 Canada Geese, 7 Greylag Geese. Also a Moorhen. Altogether a very successful visit I felt as I swigged my apple juice in the sunshine.."

Jayne Davies has also been a regular visitor and has counted four Yellow Wagtails and the first returning Yellowhammer of the Spring..."I had a rather chilly stroll to GP this evening and was rewarded with the sight of 4 yellow wagtails.
The goosanders were back - I hadn’t seen them for a while - but now there were three: a male and female sitting together, and a second male socially distanced from the pair. Also, my first yellowhammer this year - a male, sitting quietly on top of the hedge by the track.
Walking out via Mobberley SQ I saw a pair of Egyptian geese and a male mandarin, and as I was walking back towards Gleavehouse Lane a female mandarin flew over and landed in a wet area at the field edge
. "

On Saturday Len Mason found a male Wheatear in the horse paddocks along Pavement Lane in Mobberley, a bird seen later by Wendy. I missed it but yesterday I had two distant males in a field of cows behind Gleavehouse Pool.

Geoff and Sheila Blamire once again explored Rostherne’s Wood Bong and Geoff caught some of the action in two videos - well worth a view! (On YouTube you should see some of Geoff’s other videos available on the right of the screen. Some have had 10K views that’s as many as read this update each week!!) "Our walk from home included a quick stop by Newhall Farm just the other side of new A556 - we were watching a Brown Hare when it put up 2 Skylarks.
Continued up Rostherne Lane - but nothing of note on the scrapes. Past the Obs. to Wood Bongs and very surprised that the Treecreepers’ nest has been deserted and with most of the nesting material been removed. It never seemed to be good spot with many twigs falling out. Couldn’t see another nest close-by but there are so many places in that area ideal for a Treecreepers’ nest I’m sure it will have relocated nearby. Here’s a link to Geoff’s video from Wednesday 14th April:
But we found a Great Spotted Woodpecker’s nest further into the wood, seen from the bridge. The male was in the middle of excavating the nest hole. Here is a link to Geoff’s video taken this morning:

So there we are, up-to-date I think. There’s a lot going on at this time of the year - Spring; the thought of which sustained our spirits during the long Winter months!

17/4/2021...... Summer migrants continue to return
A high pressure system remains firmly planted over the British Isles; it’s brought a long spell of dry weather but the clear nights mean sub-zero temperatures, although the sun’s getting stronger at this time of the year and daytime temperatures are reaching double figures.

Sand Martin counts at Tatton continue to decline as more of the birds continue north; there have been few House Martin records so far and it’s the same with Swallows, although some are returning directly to local nesting sites here in Mobberley.

Darren Morris recorded the first Wheatears of the season with two birds near the Millennium Wood in Tatton last Sunday (11th). Earlier in the morning he’d had two Common Sandpipers on Tatton Mere, again the first of the year. Maria Freel caught up with the Wheatears the following day in the deer park and managed to capture the image shown.

Also on Monday, (12th) I went in search of the Wheatears, unsuccessfully, but I did hear my first singing Willow Warbler this Spring as I sat on the bench overlooking the Mill Pool, where Little Grebes trilled, a Green Woodpecker yaffled and a pair of Mandarin floated on the water.

I heard another Willow Warbler the next day, in Dog Wood, near the bottom gate. I couldn’t locate it but as I scanned a mereside oak the Brambing pictured caught my eye; it was perched at eye level, unusual, as later in the season, they’re normally right at the top of the budding oak and beech trees.
Geoff and Sheila Blamire are still finding Bramblings in their back garden in Mere....."Anyway - now to the afternoon in our back garden. Started with a Goldcrest at the top of our big conifer and a Chiffchaff foraging along the hedge and next door’s cherry trees (no song). Then started to count the number of finches: 8+ Siskins (4m 4f), Bullfinches (2+ pairs), Greenfinches (1pr), loads of Goldfinches and Chaffinches, 1 Lesser Redpoll and 2 BRAMBLINGS!!"

Bob Groom was anxious to add Brambling to his Winter list and I met him the next day (14/4) as he headed through Dog Wood in search of the previous day’s bird...... "Walking through Dog Wood this morning I encountered Tony U returning. He hadn’t see his brambling again but I was hopeful and pressed on. We remarked on the number of singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. A lovely symphony of song. I watched a Tree Creeper feeding a second bird, presumably courtship feeding at what looked like a nest site. Sat on a log and watched the 2 Common Sandpipers on the bank and when disturbed fly down the mere. Very nice. I was about to start back when I heard a Great Spotted drumming very near the incline track in Tatton Mere Covert. I started up but then heard a wheezing call. I turned and as I did 3 Bramblings flew into the top of the big tree nearest the gate and gave good views before flying off with, I think, the 4th unseen bird behind them. Whoopee!"

Swain’s Walk, Tabley, continues to provide some good records, including, on Monday (12/4), the first Yellow Wagtail this year by courtesy of the Blamires ... "Swain’s Walk: the "dung heap" field was being planted with potatoes, accompanied by 70+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 9+ Buzzards including 7 on the ploughed edges but were being moved off when the tractor came too close, and - drum roll - Yellow Wagtail!!!!!"

Two days later, at the same location Peter Dawson had a nice sighting - ....."Just a quick update from my walk this morning across town to Swain’s Walk and back via the Moor reedbeds.
Whilst walking back up Swain’s Walk I saw a raptor circling that didn’t look quite like the usual buzzard. Disappointingly it wasn’t the hoped for osprey but actually a red kite. Where I’m originally from in Berkshire they are "garden" birds but of course much rarer in this area so good to see.
No reed or grasshopper warblers at the reedbeds but a cetti’s warbler was singing from the usual place close to the cut through between Hillside and Moorside.
"....... Thanks Peter, I’ve yet to hear a Cetti’s on the Moor but I think I’ve been listening from the wrong place!

The Little Ringed Plover hasn’t been seen for a few days now at Gleavehouse Pool but, at this time of the year there’s always something of interest - including on Thursday three Yellow Wagtails. My first this year..." 11 ° C as I walked to the Gleavehouse Pool, although it felt a lot warmer. Sufficient heat to generate some thermals, in one 2 Buzzards, m&f Sparrowhawk and a Raven. Pr. Tree Sparrows by the big gates and still c40 Linnets on the second big field. 2 Shelduck on the water and a f. Mandarin flew off as I arrived.
3 Yellow Wagtails were the highlight - 2 bright males and a female.
No Wheatears or Yellowhammers yet.
Jayne Davies was down there yesterday and reports just one Yellow Wagtail and two House Martins, so we should see many more of the latter over the coming days.

This is a good time of the year to count Rook’s nests, before the leaves come out. Derek Pike counted 30 along Northwich Road, I estimated 18 in Ashley, just passed Sugar Brook Farm, 20 on Mobberley Road near the Bentley garage and yesterday 20 in Toft, just past the cricket club.

We should have Reed Warblers singing on Knutsford Moor this week. Geoff and Sheila heard one yesterday (16th) in Mere.... "Pair of Gt Crested Grebes have built a rickety nest close to the nearest bank. Female climbed on top and solicited the male which he obliged by copulating with her. But really spoilt it when he slid over the female’s head into the water as if it was a water slide!!!! Very funny... Also: Reed Warbler singing!".

10/4/2021..... Migration stalled by the adverse weather.
The predicted cold weather duly arrived during last weekend and continued for most of the rest of the week. Having roosted nearby overnight Sand Martins would normally continue with their northerly migration early the following morning but because of the low temperatures, combined with strong winds straight from the arctic, they paused their journeys and large flocks built up over local waters. This, of course, included Tatton where Bob Groom proclaimed Saturday 3rd April as being Sand Martin Day!
"I DECLARE THIS DAY ’SAND MARTIN DAY’.... I headed into the park at opening time and was greeted with a real spectacle. At a conservative estimate 800, possibly nearer 1,000, Sand martins were over Tatton Mere. A huge number low over the water, end to end of the mere, but when you looked up there were three times as many in the sky! Despite a lot of painful scanning, I couldn’t see any other hirundine species. But talk about hypnotic.."

Similar numbers were encountered at Marbury and by Tuesday (6th) Bob estimated 1,500 birds in the park as a whole. Along with them came their nemesis in the form of a Hobby, Bob’s earliest ever record "...End-to-end Sand Martins as for the last few days, also a couple of Swallows and a single House Martin. At one point they all suddenly disappeared. For a moment I thought they had left then I caught sight of a tight ball of hirundines low behind the pine trees, I looked up in the sky and a Hobby was circling! Has to be my earliest ever locally. It moved away towards Moss Wood and was lost to sight. Within 5 minutes the hirundines had spread out again the length of the mere....."

Also on the 6th Geoff and Sheila Blamire went to Northwich, shopping for essential supplies, and found huge numbers of Sand Martins present there."....We went to Neumann’s/Marbury CP this morning before going to Tesco (25% off wine finished today!). Around the flashes: 2 Avocets and 4 species warbler (Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Cetti’s). Budworth Mere: end-to end Sand Martins (a big mere!) - well over 1000. Only found 1 Swallow and no House Martins..."

In Mobberley Wendy Stratford braved the deteriorating conditions and visited our local Gleavehouse Pool ".....Despite the fact that it’s now snowing in Smith Lane I’ve just come back from a great walk to the GP - very blustery cold wind but sunshine the entire way, and the light was very sharp and bright which made the singing skylarks in both fields easier to see!
Approx 40 linnets in the Gleave House stubble field - flitting between the hedges and the ground. At the GP there were maybe 20 meadow pipits on the ground around the small ponds and also the pasture to the south of the big pond. They were well spread out and busy feeding.
On the water were 14 canada and 2 greylag geese, the oystercatchers and the shelduck, plus pied wagtails, coots and mallards. The reed bunting was in the thorn hedge by the obs today. There were 4 swallows (possibly more) busy feeding over the fields to both sides of the pool - in full twitter, great to see!

Meanwhile I confined my activities mainly to Knutsford Moor and Dog Wood where there was some shelter from the weather!...."I stuck to Dog Wood this morning hoping for a Willow Warbler. Wall-to-wall Sand Martins again. Highlight was watching two Goldfinches carrying feathers and using them to line their nest in an elder bush right next to the path. As I watched them a Chiffchaff appeared carrying nest material and dived into the undergrowth (record shot [notice it’s ringed])."....
No Willow Warblers for me yet but the early warblers are unperturbed by the current weather and getting on with the job in hand.

I received a text yesterday afternoon from Jayne Davies with news of a returning Little Ringed Plover at Gleavehouse pool. I made my way over there and luckily it was still there, at the far side unfortunately, a bit too far away for a decent shot with the camera (my camera anyway!). Jayne’s first record last year came on the 8th April, so the weather doesn’t seem to have put the bird off. Although at one stage last year three birds were present and some serious display occurred they eventually nested elsewhere. As I sat watching the goings on I was delighted to see a Little Egret fly over, heading purposefully north. A good record for the pool and Mobberley; I’ve never seen one in the village before!
We’ve still to welcome back any Yellow Wagtails (7/4 in 2020), we’re lucky with this declining species as, last year, there were 3 or 4 nesting pairs within half a mile of the pool - perhaps this week!

The results of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch have been published - you can download the spreadsheet by [clicking here]

This morning Darren Morris drew our attention to a YouTube presentation - "The reintroduction and rewilding summit". It’s introduced by Chris Packham and amongst the guests is Roy Dennis, who’ll no doubt be talking about the reintroduction of White-tailed Eagles on the Isle of Wight. We first met Roy in the 1970s during our stints as volunteer wardens at Loch Garten - Barrie will remember his wellingtons! [click here to watch]

02/04/2021...... More Summer migrants
We’ve enjoyed some pleasant weather over the past week, with the temperature reaching 20 ° C at times, so, with the lifting of some lockdown restrictions, I was able to meet-up with John Somerville and hon sec. Derek Pike in Tatton Park on Monday morning (29/3) for a couple of hours birding. I’ve seen Derek a few times recently but it’s been 12 months since I’ve seen John.
We set up shop on the shores of Melchett Mere hoping for a few passing migrants, but it wasn’t to be and we saw very little; still it was great to meet face-to-face after such a long time and share some gossip and discuss current ailments!

It appears from the latest forecasts that the warm weather will come to an abrupt end on Monday, with winds straight from the Arctic bringing the chance of some snow once again! A timely reminder that Winter can still have a sting in its tail, a fact not lost on some Winter visitors that remain with us - Maria Freel recorded a flock of 27 Whooper Swans flying north over Tatton on Thursday morning (1/4); a few minutes earlier Steve and Gil Barber watched what must have been the same flock as the birds passed over Chelford. Also on 1/4 Geoff and Sheila Blamire saw some late Winter thrushes on one of their morning walks - "....Millington: 4 Fieldfares and 10 Redwings, so many Chiffchaffs and Blackcap, loads of Lapwings and Skylarks in the usual places.
Mere: 2 pairs Lapwings and 1 Oystercatcher on Mereside Road field pool, singing Goldcrest at last year’s site on Mereside Road, 2 Goldcrests at the end of Clamhunger Lane, we still have male Reed Bunting in our garden...

Sand Martin numbers have increased since the last update and a week ago Bob Groom counted 240 feeding over Tatton mere......"I settled down on the log to count Sand Martins and the more I looked the more I saw. My best count was 240+ but there could have been more. They tended to stay well down the mere so couldn’t tell for sure if there was anything else with them but I doubt it as at one point they bunched into a ’swarm’ and lifted up into the blue sky. They flew round a couple of times and I thought they might be about to depart but they then dropped down again and separated....."

Maria found our first local Swallow on Sunday (28/3) when she spotted a bird amongst the Tatton Sand Martin flock.
The previous day Geoff and Sheila recorded the first House Martin, this time at Rostherne where a new bird was added to the reserve’s all-time list as Bill Bellamy recorded two Avocets - not on the new scrapes, but floating on the surface of the mere (23/3)! I’ve seen Redshanks "swimming" occasionally - not very efficiently but they certainly weren’t wading.

I had a walk through Dog Wood on Tuesday (30/3), my first visit for a long time - 32 species including, 5 singing Chiffchaffs, my first Blackcap, 7 occupied Herons’ nests, 2 pairs GC Grebes displaying on the main mere and one bird on the Moor, Gadwall, Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Gleavehouse Pool continues to attract its devotees, this from Wendy Stratford - "..... At the GP this afternoon there were the goosanders, tufted duck, oystercatchers, one shelduck and also 6 canada geese, 5 coot, a moorhen, pied wagtail and 2 pairs of mallard. 2 buzzards overhead. Everything was quiet and most birds were resting, apart from the oystercatchers which were mating, which including dancing around with their wings outstretched (crane-like)! Skylarks singing over both fields.

Met Jayne at the pool - the first time we’ve met. Very nice to chat together. We are both hoping to see a ring ouzel again!

Excellent! As W.B. Yeats wrote "There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met."

26/03/2021......Return of a young friend.
The Rostherne Mere all-time species list stands at around 220; quite respectable for an inland location but it’s taken a long time to reach that total - 140 years, or thereabouts! Coward and Oldham began visiting the mere in 1886, with some of their observations published in "The Birds of Cheshire" (1900) and "The Vertebrate Fauna of Cheshire and Liverpool Bay" (1910). It wasn’t until Rostherne Mere was declared a National Nature Reserve in 1962 and a full-time warden appointed that the species count accelerated somewhat. Many, if not most, of the British waders have been recorded but, apart from Snipe, Lapwing and occasional Green Sandpipers, records are few and far between.
Recently though, taking advantage of the reserve’s closure due to covid-19, a number of scrapes (23 I believe) have been created in the hope that passing waders will be tempted down and utilise the new facilities!
The plan seems to be working as, last Thursday (18/3), on one of their daily walks from home, Geoff and Sheila Blamire saw a Green Sandpiper on one of the new scrapes!
..."Rostherne Lane overlooking the new scrapes (meant to be 23!) 4.20pm: on one scrape was a pair of Mandarins, pair of Teal, 3-4 Pied Wagtails and a Green Sandpiper! (Well - Bill Bellamy did say they were hoping to attract waders there!!!)".....

Despite limited access in 2020 Bill Bellamy has edited an excellent Bird Report for the year. As well as birds; dragonflies and damselflies are also covered, there are some cracking pictures and it’s well-worth downloading [click here].

There are fewer species on the Tatton list, just over 200 I think. At one time, in the 1980s Bryan Roberts and Garry Healy were keen to expand this but, for one reason or another, they no longer visit the park. I believe Tatton Ranger Darren Morris has an up-to-date tally. Again waders are not attracted to the location, although there were some good records in the ’80s when the water level of the main mere was lowered every Winter, exposing large areas of mud. This was arranged by my late brother-in-law, Tatton Ranger Phil Pownall, ostensibly to remove broken glass (swimming was allowed then) but in fact Phil knew it would benefit the birds and we birders!!

The park’s Common Scoter only stayed a short time but was replaced by a first winter (2CY) Black-necked Grebe, discovered by Darren last Thursday (18/3). As you can see from Maria’s photo it’s not an adult and quite possibly the youngster that appeared on 22/9 last year and stayed for almost a month, being last seen on 18/10.

Here in Mobberley, Jayne, Wendy, Len and I continue to follow the current travel restrictions and are largely confining our activities to the roads and paths around the village. Lapwings are displaying once again opposite Smith Lane Farm and last week I had three singing Song Thrushes on a 5K stroll around the lanes plus my first singing Chiffchaff, from the footpath on the new road hill. Wendy, Jayne and I have visited the Gleavehouse pool a number of times in the past couple of weeks. I went down on Monday - ..." I set off for the Gleavehouse Pool early(ish) this morning, complete with flask and a Goostrey’s sausage roll, hoping for LRP, Goosander, early Yellow Wagtail or Swallow etc.
I spent a couple of hours in the GP observatory but didn’t have much luck; 2 Oystercatchers, 4 Canada Geese, 3 Greylags, 2 Tufties and a calling Raven - in the same tree they favoured last year when away from the nest. 2 Skylarks were in song but that was about it!
When Wendy went down in the afternoon she recorded a male and female Goosander.

On Wednesday (23/3) it was all change again, the Oystercatchers were still there with the usual 5 Canada Geese who’d been joined by these rather splendid White-faced Whistling Ducks; a species originating from South America and sub-saharan Africa. Perhaps these individuals came from somewhere a little closer!!

The Goldcrest pictured appeared outside the kitchen window as I making my breakfast one morning this week. It was taking insects from the window frame and seemed to be quite unconcerned with my presence; it even gave me enough time to go to the next room, grab my camera and run off a few shots! They were taken through two layers of double glazing, so the image is not pin-sharp but the softness introduced is quite attractive - that’s my excuse anyway!

A reminder that it’s time to renew your Woolston Eyes permit, if you’ve not already done so. Work on number 4 bed continues and eventually this will become one of the premier birding spots in the north of England - the March newsletter has been circulated and you can download a copy by [clicking here].

Well it’s 12 months ago today when we first started to record our activities during lockdown#1 and were restricted to birding locally, without the use of motorised transport. When war broke out in 1914 the consensus was that "It will all be over by Christmas". It wasn’t.
Will this latest war be over by Christmas 2021? You’ll have to wait and see - stay safe!

17/3/2021...... Another nice record for Tatton
Tatton Park ranger Darren Morris enjoyed a memorable morning today (17/3), beginning with his first singing Chiffchaff of the season at 9:00am in Dog Wood, followed a short time later with a male Common Scoter on the main mere. I was able to send out a few texts and emails to interested parties and during the next few hours a number of KOS members and friends were able to tick it off on their lists and for Maria to capture the image shown!
You may remember last year, in early April, we became aware of the nocturnal migration journeys undertaken by this species, as huge numbers passed over Cheshire at night, making their way to the North Sea after wintering in the Liverpool and Morecambe Bay area. Perhaps this bird was an early starter. Alan Gillespie tells me it was still present on the mere in the late afternoon.

We’re now at the cross-over part of Spring, with early Summer arrivals overlapping with late Winter visitors, who’ll be heading north soon.

Despite the recent stormy spell of weather Sand Martin numbers continue to increase. This from Alan Gillespie last Friday (12th)...... "I was in Tatton Park very early this morning in the rain (and a bit of sleet). It was very quiet as dog walkers had delayed their routines. I did see 8 or 9 sand martins (not easy to count as they were moving back and forth) on Tatton Mere around the blue buoy at the north end of the mere. These were my first for the year. I seemed to have ducked the previous sightings. Also had kingfisher, little grebe (2), displaying goldeneye, resident kestrel, calling green woodpeckers, calling raven as well as a very close encounter with a buzzard apparently drying its wings on a low branch much like a cormorant."

Representing our Winter birds, Hon.sec. Derek Pike reports a male Blackcap in his Lilac Avenue garden and Jude Halman had a small group of four Yellowhammers at Toft.

Geoff and Sheila Blamire meanwhile are still seeing Fieldfares and Redwings on their morning walks. They should be with us until the first week of April. This from Friday (12th.)......"Friday 12th March - 12km walk notable sightings

Chapel Lane over A556 (SJ725836): 10 Lapwings in 2 fields

Millington Lane opposite Newhall Farm (SJ733843): 33 Fieldfares and 2-3 Redwings in a field + 2 Buzzards

Cherry Tree Lane: stubble field after Cherry Tree Farm 10+ Lapwings displaying and 1+ Skylark singing; 2 stubble fields past Tom Lane 4+ Yellowhammers (1 singing) and 16+ Reed Buntings; further down in a field out of sight were 6 Lapwings displaying.

Mereside Road (SJ735829): in a field with an almost permanent pond were 2 Lapwings displaying.

Total of 28+ Lapwings at 4 different sites.

Plus on Saturday 13th March: Chester Road new small roundabout leading to the new bypass: north field 6+ Lapwings displaying; south field 2 Oystercatchers and 4 GreyLags......

Bob Groom did his monthly wildfowl count at Tabley on Sunday and did better than in February, although the news about the Herons is disappointing......"Good to see a variety of species on Tabley Mere, including best count of Teal (41) for a very long time. Also Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mallard but surprising absence of swans (unless hidden in the reeds) and not much activity in the heronry, considering breeding normally well underway by now ".......

I walked down Smith Lane in Mobberley today, in the hope of hearing my first Chiffchaff. Normally it’s possible to hear up to three in song along the stretch down to it’s junction with Slade Lane. No luck on this occasion but I did watch displaying Lapwings in the big field of stubble opposite Smith Lane farm and, in the same field, a flock of c. 150 Linnets - very active commuting between the ground and surrounding trees.

Smith Lane resident Wendy Stratford has been down to the Gleavehouse pool three times this week and been rewarded with plenty of activity.

...."On Monday a pair each of tufted duck, shelduck, oystercatcher, canada geese and coot. On Tuesday the same apart from no shelduck, but 5 mallard and more Canada Geese. Also 3 skylarks singing above the normal field, which was delightful! As the crop is so low they were visible when they coasted down to the ground. Today no skylarks (although it was lovely and bright and warm) and at the pool the same as yesterday, with the addition of a pair of goosanders! There was also a small leggy wader at the back of the pond when I arrived but it flew away before I could identify it - best guess sandpiper?"......

It could well have been a Green Sandpiper Wendy, as we’ve seen them there in the past.

10/03/2021...... The first Chiffchaff!
Peter Dawson may have just missed out on the first Sand Martin of the year last week but, by way of compensation, yesterday (9th) he recorded the first singing Chiffchaff of the season in Tatton!
".........First singing migrant of the year for me this morning, a chiffchaff in the scrub, town side of the Dog Wood entrance.
Also at least two, probably more, sand martins over the Mere and a pair of stonechats in the usual marshy area by Melchett Mere.........
Well done Peter, I think that’s our earliest ever record. Perhaps singing Blackcap next!

There’s a National Trust property, close to the church called Mobberley Field. Recently a big pool has been excavated there and I guess it will be called Mobberley Field Pool. This is the title I gave to the pool "re-discovered" to the east of Gleavehouse Farm last Spring which was featured in many lockdown reports. So, to avoid any confusion, I propose to rename "our" pool "Gleavehouse Pool" and use the title from now on!!

So on Saturday (6th) I paid my first visit to Gleavehouse pool this Spring. Just 19 species which included 28 Canadas, 2 Greylags, 2 Oystercatchers, Skylark in song, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove in "song".
No LRPs yet but they have been recorded in other parts of Cheshire.

Jayne Davies had been there two days previously.
........."Out past the field pond on Tuesday and again today. The pond and surrounding field were very busy, having been taken over by dozens of Canada and Greylag geese. Amongst the geese I’ve also seen four mallards, two coots, one male teal, two oystercatchers and two lapwings. So it’s definitely livening up! There were skylarks singing above the nearby fields too, and a tree sparrow on Gleavehouse Lane."

Jayne was followed by Wendy Stratford and David Cogger...." I went to the Gleavehouse pool today - lovely calm afternoon. Counted 13 Greylags, 18 Canadas, 2 Oystercatchers, coot, mallard and a pair of Teal. I met David Cogger (I think) there, we had a good chat"....."

Yes Wendy it was David and apologies to you both for not warning you about the knee-deep mud!!

From this year the annual Cheshire Bird Report will be compiled using data from the BTO’s BirdTrack database.
The BTO have published a newsletter for BTO members and volunteers in Cheshire and Wirral. Full details are given about BirdTrack and how to use it - you don’t have to be a BTO member. To download a copy click here.

It can, of course, be used for all your records - in Cheshire or at any location in the world! Give it a go, it’s very intuitive and KOS members will have no problem getting to grips with it. Just make sure that, in Cheshire, you use the locations that appear in the County gazetteer, a copy can be downloaded by clicking here.
Mobberley Sand Quarry and Mobberley Fox Harbour have been recently added.

Bob Groom’s been out and about, taking in both Tatton and Rostherne...." Tatton was fairly quiet, perhaps people had been put off by the forecast of rain, unfortunately it was rather quiet birdwise too. No martins there, or at Rostherne when I checked. (Still don’t understand why they cut all those trees down, they were a happy home for blackcaps and chiffchaffs.) I went on to Cherry Tree Lane and like G and S had some good views - 4 Yellowhammers, 2 Greenfinches, a dozen plus Reed Buntings, 2 Greenfinches, Great Spotted, 2 Long-Tailed Tits, Buzzards.. but the highlight of the day for me was a Song Thrush, singing its heart out in a tree at the Rowans.."

The Blamires have reached a new milestone as we come up to 12 months since lockdown #1.

".......Over the last 4 days we’ve walked 43km and here are the best notable sightings:

Friday 5th March: the first stubble field after Cherry Tree Farm there were 7 Lapwings, but no Skylarks. Then further down Cherry Tree Lane, in the adjoining stubble fields, 20+ Reed Buntings, but no Yellowhammers.

Saturday 6th March: Garden - male Reed Bunting and 2 pairs of Bullfinches. Still got our pair of Mallards though...

Sunday 7th March: Yesterday, just outside our house, I found a Treecreeper singing, and a Pied Wagtail perching on a roof and singing. Chapel Lane, just over the bridge over new A556, 7 Lapwings in their "usual’ field, but no display (it was cold!). Then walked around the whole of our new "patch’, but this time we counted the stiles - there were 10. Not surprising we were exhausted! Next to Rostherne Lane we watched for some time a Sparrowhawk circling and towards the village 4 Buzzards were riding the thermals. Cicley Mill Pool - 3 Little Grebes, but no sign of any Great Crested Grebes yet. Little Mere, Mereside Road, 2 Great Crested Grebes were doing their synchronised head shaking and preening - looks hopeful.

Monday 8th March: Went into Wood Bongs - the first time in 2021! Watched repeated visits by 1-2 Blue Tits clearing out the Treecreeper’s nest from 2020 and disposing the old nesting material nearby. Seems that they are planning to reuse the area behind the bark - seems very strange... A short distance away another Blue Tit is excavating in a dead bough. Then found a Treecreeper looking for insects and occasionally pausing to sing. It will be a tall order to find a Treecreeper’s nest 2 years running!!! By the way, if you want to see what is going on the best place is from Rostherne Lane at the entrance to the footpath which cuts of a corner of Rostherne Lane.

But the notable thing for this week - drum roll - since the 1st lockdown we’ve walked the grand total of 3,000km, equivalent walking to Moscow (but as the crow flies it’s only 2,560km to Moscow).......

03/03/2021...... A record first and a first record!
Based on the meteorological calendar, the first day of Spring each year is March 1st, whereas, in 2021, the spring equinox occurs on Saturday, March 20th. This event marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. But, as all KOS members know, the real first day of Spring is the day when the first Sand Martin is seen over Tatton Mere!
So, this year, it was yesterday, 2nd March, when Tatton Ranger Darren Morris watched two birds hawking for newly hatched insects over the main mere, by the overhanging willows on the west shore. This was a new record, beating Roger Barnes’s 2003 bird by a full 6 days!

Darren was closely followed by Peter Dawson, who almost took the honours this time!....." He beat me to it! I was in the park this morning and saw one flying north then two going south and then two going north. Some may have been the same birds so between 2 and 5. There were about 30 wigeon on MM, one male goosander and a kingfisher."

For me, and just as exciting, was Knutsford Moor’s first singing Cetti’s Warbler. Seen and heard by Middle Walk resident, Alan Booth..."Good news about the sand martins.
I had my first Knutsford Moor cetti’s in the scrub at the moor side of Moorside Road this morning. good views for a few seconds at 2 metres (social distancing) and singing very loudly
Thanks Alan a long-awaited occasion and something we’d been anticipating for decades, ever since hearing them on a trip to Suffolk in the 1970’s and becoming aware of their expansion northwards due to climate change.

The 2021 Olympics in Japan are almost certain to be cancelled but Geoff and Sheila Blamire are still in full training!
...."we walked 76.4 km / 47.7 miles over the week (7 days) - took us a little longer than usual because there was so much to see!!"

From Sheila’s notes on 28/2 ...."Our 10.5 km walk today took us to Millington and our new patch we’ve found - walked new woods - so very promising.
Highlights was on Chapel Lane over the bridge over A556 in the left field were 10 Lapwings in the air plus 7 on the ground, including 1 soliciting for mating, and in the right field were 46 Rooks and 37 Jackdaws. Further along Millington (past Children’s’ Adventure Farm) was a singing Skylark (a new place for Skylark).

So notable sightings over the last week:
Chapel Lane: 17 Lapwings (calling), 21+ Golden Plovers in the field
Millington: Skylark (singing), Brown Hare.
Cherry Tree Lane: 6+ Lapwings (calling), 6 Skylarks (singing), c12 Linnets (singing), 1 Yellowhammer (singing), no sign of the c40 Reed Buntings from previous week.
Swains’ Walk (aka Tabley Bridleway): 1-2 Skylark (singing).
Moss Lane: Green Sandpiper on a flooded field........."

23/02/2021...... Good times ahead!
News of Tatton’s Hooded Merganser eventually found its way onto social media. Predictably there was some whingeing from certain quarters. ..."A poor excuse by the rangers and whoever else made the call in my view...It is a public park with no restriction on viewing...and a park full of ordinary public who had probably come further than would-be twitchers....just another example of the self-righteous covid police. "... On the whole though there was a positive reaction and agreement with the action taken. "Good decision. Twitchers would have travelled for this for sure. Stunning bird - will settle for the photo !".

Peter Dawson tells me that Oystercatchers have returned to the area with two birds on the flood water along Chelford road, along with two Shelduck (22/2).
Peter’s also walked into Tatton and added to his Tatton year list. "I had a walk round the park yesterday, the first time in a while. Very quiet on the bird front and no sign of the merganser. Notable sightings were a pair of grey wagtails on the stream by the Old Hall and eight wigeon on Melchett Mere with a pair of stonechats in the marshy area to the south. There was also another pair in the marshy fringes on the west bank of Tatton Mere. There are still a few goldeneye around on both Meres. Down towards the southern end of Tatton Mere the usual lesser black backed gull was in amongst the black headeds, whilst looking at that I noticed a male goosander some distance away. First of the year for me. It was the Knutsford side of the "fence" so I think that makes it Knutsford Moor rather than Tatton Park?"
As I understand it Peter the park’s southern boundary is the reedbed of Knutsford Moor so the Goosander can be safely added to your list!.

Park Ranger Darren Morris has kindly sent me a copy of their 2021 Wildlife Newsletter - you can download a copy from here - Tatton Park 2021 Spring Newsletter - it’s well worth a viewing, if only for the stunning Stonechat picture!!

Geoff and Sheila Blamire continue with their daily yomps and last Monday (15th) came across an unusual aggregation of Reed Buntings .. " Our 11km walk consisted of Mereside Rd, along the length of Chester Road, continue to Cherry Tree Lane, up to Rostherne village, along Cicley Mill Lane and back along Mereside Road.
The ’usual’ field along Cherry Tree Lane (with Rostherne Mere in the background) held c40 Greylag Geese. Then just pass Cherry Tree Farm 2 Skylarks singing!! in a field with a mixture of lank grasses and sedges. In the next field (stubble) were c40 Reed Buntings with no other species amongst them (I was looking out for Yellowhammers!).

Bob Groom followed their footsteps a couple of days later (not the whole 11km) "Long time since I’ve been that far down and the lane was a bit busier than expected.(Birkinheath lane was closed due to cable work/ tree trimming.) But the birds were great. Quite a few Chaffinches but fewer Reed Buntings than you had ( about ten or a dozen) but still grateful to see so many. 4 Yellowhammers on the dividing hedge between the two stubble fields. The 2 Skylarks put in an appearance while the sun shone. Long-Tailed tit plus several Great & Blue Tits. 4 Lapwings, 3 Goldfinches. At least 4 Buzzards, a Kestrel and great views of a circling Peregrine that came from the direction of Bowdon Church, headed towards Rostherne Mere, then went higher and veered off. Party of Redwings. Nuthatch. Bullfinch. Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming. Also Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush. Jay en route. Really good. Will definitely go back there for another session."

Closer to home Tony Ellis reports that he now has up to a dozen Lesser Redpolls visiting his garden feeders and they’ve recently been joined by a pair of Blackcaps.

Here in Mobberley Jayne Davies now has two Bramblings in her garden - "I’m still seeing a brambling in the garden most days, and occasionally I have seen two, both females. Today there were four lesser redpolls and a siskin in the garden too.
Down Pavement Lane yesterday, the two little owls were both in front of the nest hole, see photo.

Spring is coming! Let’s hope we’ll all soon be able to go out and about a bit more

A sentiment shared by each and everyone of us Jayne! It appears that all being well groups of up to 30 people will be able to meet outdoors from the 17th May. That’s the week before what is normally the date of the first of our Friday evening summer walks - Goyt Valley anyone?

14/02/2021...... More questions than answers
Tatton Park recently played host to a remarkable little visitor. First seen on the 20th January and a second time on the 2nd February, in poor light on both occasions, it was eventually re-discovered on the 4th February and identified as a Hooded Merganser - a first winter male.

The official British Bird List is maintained by the BOU, the British Ornithologist’s Union. I was surprised to find that a bird that is quite common in wildfowl collections, with escapes bound to occur, is included on the list, based on a female of the species seen in October / November 2000 on North Uist.

The BOURC’s announcement accepts that this decision was not straightforward. It was acknowledged that there are large numbers in captivity and known escapes have occurred, and the BOURC states that it remains of the opinion that the majority of birds in Britain and Ireland are derived from a captive origin. Conversely, numbers of the species in the Nearctic are increasing, and there have been several recent records from the Azores, implying that transatlantic vagrancy is certainly a possibility. Weather conditions in autumn 2000 also appeared conducive to natural vagrancy, and the bird arrived at the same time as a number of other Nearctic ducks.

From the BUBO website........Some birders may wish to count other individuals. For example, up to four birds were at large in the 1996/97 winter. The way BUBO Listing operates, British birders can add any Hooded Merganser to their list if they wish to do so. Some will wish to wait for the BBRC to pass judgement on a record before counting it. Others may feel that any bird that doesn’t display obvious signs of captive origin is acceptable. It’s up to you. Remember, however, that your record will be open to scrutiny to any other birders, so make sure you feel you can argue its case!

As far as I know only 9 KOS members know about this bird and, much as we’d have liked to publicise it’s presence, we were, and still are, in the middle of a global pandemic. This country has a higher death rate / per capita from covid than any other on earth so we’re obliged to follow the government regulations. Including - "You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area. You should maintain social distancing." So, reluctantly, and in conjunction with Tatton staff the decision was made to suppress the news until the bird had moved on. It was thought that too many people would have been tempted to travel outside their local area to "tick" it off on their various lists, just in case it was eventually accepted as a genuine vagrant from North America.

During it’s stay the bird favoured Melchett Mere but, with the very cold weather recently, both meres froze over and it has moved on, perhaps to the coast. Apologies to all you listers but, on this occasion, we really had no option!

...... Firecrest in Dog Wood
I think Darren Morris was after Lesser Spotted Woodpecker for his 2021 Tatton list on Thursday last week (4th) on a visit to Dog Wood. No woodpecker but he was rewarded with a real bonus for his list in the form of a Firecrest, the first in the park for a long time. Geoff and Sheila Blamire were in Tatton at the same time and Geoff managed a record shot of the rare little visitor.
Darren has also added Pink-footed Goose (50 over -> NW yesterday) and a Ring-necked Parakeet over in the deer enclosure, bringing him up to 75 species already.

It appears that the current cool spell will last for a few more days, -3.5 ° C last night here in Mobberley, before the waiting Atlantic low pressure systems take over from the present continental high.
Lots of activity on the feeders, with four Lesser Redpolls regular visitors amongst the usual Green and Goldfinches. They were joined yesterday by a fine cock Siskin and today we welcomed a female Brambing in the wildlife area at the bottom of the garden; presumably this is the same bird Jayne Davies has been watching in her garden, just a couple of hundred yards away.

Also in Mobberley one of the Little Owl pair has been showing well along Pavement Lane, perched next to the nest hole they’ve used in previous years.

Along Smith Lane Wendy Stratford was watching a Buzzard feeding in the field opposite her house; after it left the scene she went across to see what the prey was, expecting a rabbit, she was surprised to find the remains of a drake Mandarin Duck!

Bob Groom and other KOS members have also been keeping an eye on goings-on in the park. Bob had a rewarding time on Tuesday (9th)........"Highlight was close view of a Peregrine that came from the direction of the Gardens. A Buzzard and later a Heron swept low over the marsh but no snipe came up, perhaps not surprising as there had been several birders in there earlier. A male Stonechat showed itself on the tussocks. Two sightings of a Kestrel. A Raven called and displayed. 10 Wigeon and about 4 Goldeneyes (male, sub-adult male, females) on Melchett Mere (about 30% ice). A male Mallard was amorously pursuing a white duck, obviously full of spring fever !"
Yes indeed, Spring fever - it’s only a month now before we’re welcoming the return of our first Summer migrants. Last year, unusually, it was Chiffchaff but by the 20th March we should have recorded them and also the first Sand Martins skimming low over Tatton Mere.

Of course this begs the question - "when will be able to get together as a society once again?". The general consensus is that, given a following wind, it will be outdoors at first and eventually we’ll be able to resume indoor meetings. Our Summer evening walks, on the fourth Friday of the month, take place in May, June and July so perhaps these dates could be pencilled in as possibilities. What about an outdoor AGM sat on the big hill overlooking Mobberley’s Fox Harbour?

02/02/2021...... The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch
Last year over half a million people took part in this, the UK’s biggest Citizen Science project. Given our current circumstances this year’s will be even more popular and hopefully include records from KOS members who had set aside an hour over last weekend.

Here in Mobberley the feeder had been replenished the previous day and early in the morning I "ground-baited" with bread, dry meal worms and some out-of-date Booths ginger cake.
Anxious to have Lesser Redpoll on the list I waited for the first to appear before starting the clock!
I did quite well and ended up with a total of 18 different species; the highlight was a Song Thrush. They can often be heard singing in the Spring but this was the first I’d ever seen actually in the garden.

As I explained in the last update, in the interest of continuity, it would be good if Knutsford Moor and the Heath were covered as in previous years. Bob Groom and Hon. sec. Derek Pike stepped up to the plate. Bob covered the Heath and Derek the Moor.

As in the past, with a larger range of habitats the Moor was more productive,.

"January 31st 2021 RSPB Big Birdwatch start 9 30am weather high cloud (forecast sun) temperature 2c.

I went early to miss the crowds of young families, One problem two women feeding the birds on Moor pool try counting BH Gulls when they are fighting for bread!!!
Birds - 10 Jackdaws, 2 Moorhens,3 Carrion Crows, 7 Tufted Duck, 3 Coot, 50+Black Headed Gulls 1 in Summer plumage, 5 Mallard all male, 4 Blackbirds, 5 Magpies, 1 Coal Tit Drury Lane end, 4 Blue Tit, 2 Dunnock, 2 Robins, 1 Great Tit, 1 House Sparrow, 10 Woodpigeons, 7 Canada Geese.
And the star bird 1 Goldcrest in hedge and flitting to trees opposite Swinton square. Not a lot of small birds about I should think saving energy because of the temperature!"

Meanwhile on the Heath Bob was disappointed with his haul ......" You beat me by two species! I had hopes of 20 but in the event only scored a measly 15 - no finches, woodpecker, not even a wren! Wood pigeon/Jay/Blackbird/Jackdaw/Collared Dove/Magpie/ Blue, Long-Tailed, Coal and Great Tits/Nuthatch/Carrion Crow/Dunnock/Robin/Black-Headed Gull.."
Counts of zero can be just as significant as any other Robert!!

Over in Mere Geoff and Sheila Blamire managed a modest list but it did include Siskin and Brambling!
"Brambling, Siskin, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great, Blue, Coal, Long-tailed Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Magpie, and Sparrowhawk = 16 species. Some flyover species but can’t count them. In the past up to 20 species oh well.... "

Maria Freel’s Tatton list for 2021 has reached 66 already - half way to the 125 target. Latest additions include Water Rail, Brambling and Goosander. The Rail on Melchett is a good one - they nest on the Moor but that’s outside the park’s boundary so any there won’t count!
Darren Morris hasn’t updated me with his latest list but yesterday he had no less than six Stonechats in the deer enclosure and a male and female Goosander on the Birkin.
It’s turning out to be a good Winter for Goosanders, Tony Ellis has eight whilst walking around Shakerley Mere on Sunday (31st).

Roger Barnes reports four occupied Herons’ nests at the Higmere Plantation heronry. Roger tells me he’s just purchased a Panasonic bridge camera identical to mine so, as he walks through Tatton every day, I’m looking forward to some spectacular images for this section of the KOS website!

Incredibly I’d just finished this update and was about to upload it when I received a text from the above mentioned Roger Barnes informing me that he was sat at the side of Melchett Mere watching a female Smew!! We used to get one or two each Winter but I’ve not seen one in Tatton for many, many years. Did he get a picture? sadly no, it was raining and he’d left is new all-singing, all-dancing camera at home. Lets hope the bird stays for a few days!!

18/01/2021...... Busy Gardens
The newly formed Knutsford Medical Partnership was quick off the mark with the covid vaccines, last weekend (9th & 10th) they inoculated 1200 of the area’s most vulnerable, followed this week by c. 500/day folk aged 75+. This seemed to include quite a few KOS members, including me!
I was in at 1:40pm and left 20’ later clutching the all-important card with dates and details of the vaccine now coursing around my body - it was the Pfizer variety. Of course this is not a passport to freedom giving the bearer carte blanche to do as they please. It’s a small but very significant step on a long road and it’s still incumbent on us all to continue following the guidelines which, by now, we’re all very familiar with.

some cold weather lately with further snow forecast later this week. Here in Mobberley the sunflower hearts are vanishing at an alarming rate with visitors every morning from first light. The usual Goldfinches have been joined lately by what appear to be family parties of Greenfinches and up to four Lesser Redpolls and two Siskins; species we don’t normally see until later in the winter. Hugh Pulsford tells me the juvenile Greenfinch was about 7 months old when the picture was taken and is probably a female.

Tony Ellis also has Redpolls in his Knutsford garden - "......... I had one of the best days for garden birds today: Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Treecreeper, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Coal Tit,
And then the more usual: Collard Dove, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin

Over in Mere, Geoff and Sheila Blamire have been doing quite nicely too "....In our garden today: Lesser Redpolls (2m), Siskins (2m 3f), Bullfinches (1m 1f), also Goldfinches and Chaffinches (no Greenfinches), GSW, etc. And a male Sparrowhawk scaring everything away!!!!!"

In Sale John Somerville is lucky enough to have a female Blackcap visiting the garden whilst back in Knutsford Darren Morris has a male!

Roger Barnes reports a Jack Snipe at Melchett Mere on Wednesday afternoon (13th). A species ticked off by Darren on an early morning tramp around the park...."I had an early start today again and saw 48 species in total and took the year tally to 63.
New additions today were two that I targeted: Jack snipe (2) and woodcock (15) others included mandarin and two ravens getting very agitated over Shawheath Plantation. Still no brambling!

The RSPB’s "Big Garden Birdwatch" takes place from Friday 29th until Sunday 31st this year; normally we would be joining forces with the "Friends of the (Knutsford) Moor" and "The friends of the Heath" on two of these days for an hour or so in our capacity as "experts"!
It won’t be possible this year but, in the interests of continuity, perhaps an individual or couple could use the locations for their hour’s daily exercise sometime during the weekend and send the results to the two organisations. Having said that I read in the week that Northwich police attended Acton Bridge station where people who had been seen train spotting received an appropriate warning!!

11/1/2021...... Lockdown #3
The guidelines from the official government website tell us that, during the current lockdown, and until otherwise advised.

✱ You should minimise time spent outside your home.
✱ You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting).
✱ This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
✱ You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

As usual these are somewhat nebulous and open to individual interpretation by the general public and those charged with ensuring compliance.

I’m sure it’s OK for Knutsford residents to walk into Tatton Park for their daily exercise but I’m not comfortable doing the same having driven from Mobberley, although it’s less than 3Km from home to the park’s Dog Lodge entrance.

So for the time being I’ll just stick to walking from Bucklow Avenue in much the same way as I did during the Spring lockdown and leave our Knutsfordian members to keep an eye on proceedings in Tatton.

One of the Little Owls along Pavement Lane can be seen during daylight hours roosting in the oak tree, directly opposite the new wooden gate 100 meters north of Pavement Lane Farm, whilst, from just in front of the old farmhouse, Peter Dawson has seen a Barn Owl in the nestbox that they used successfully last year "On a couple of occasions before Christmas I saw what I thought was part of a barn owl in the box in fields between the lower section of Pavement Lane and Knutsford Rd. I couldn’t see enough to be sure so didn’t include it in my "Lockdown List". I had a look again this morning and an owl was sat outside the box in clear view! It can be seen from the metal gate by the donkey pen." Flocks of up to 20 Meadow Pipits can be seen from the same spot, feeding amongst the sheep in the field that runs across to the owl box.

The recent cold spell seems to have prompted some movement amongst our Winter thrushes with small numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares perched in the roadside oaks on the track down to Springwood Farm. Overhead occasional Skylarks have been heading west and the local Ravens, presumably from the Damson Lane nest, have become very vocal. They should be laying eggs in a month or so.

Tatton Park ranger Darren Morris and Maria Freel, who is lucky enough to have a flat in the mansion, are keeping lists of the number of species they record in the park this year. I think the all-time count is around 200 different species but that includes Knutsford Moor; Darren and Maria will only be including those seen within the park’s boundaries, so any records from the Moor won’t count. We were asked what’s reasonable figure to aim for and plucked a figure of 125 from thin air! Many years ago we managed 75 species in a single morning and Garry Healy managed no less than 82 in a day in response to my challenge! So 125 should be easily achievable!

Maria has so far reached 39 species - Out walking out usual circuit today (past the ice pond, towards Rostherne, around to millennium wood, between Tatton and Melchett meres, then back to the mansion) and along with the usual suspects we spotted a massive group of approx 200 redwing mixed with about 50 or so starling at the large clump of trees by the old deer sanctuary. The Raven was disturbed by a buzzard down by the millennium wood pond. 2 Little grebe on their own at mill pond. Heard a green woodpecker get disturbed from swan clump at the old hall. Plus there’s still a good presence of pochard and goldeneye on Tatton mere. Overall a pretty good day leading my total to 39 for the year so far, 20 of those from today! Off to a flying (excuse the pun) start.
Darren though has 10 more with 49 ticked off after an early morning visit on Thursday (7th). - I went in for 8am again and saw kingfisher and a few snipe, plus two stonechat. I’m up to 49 for the year.

Geoff and Sheila Blamire also include Tatton in their catalogue of winter walks - Geoff and I went into Tatton Park yesterday for a 9km local walk. The conditions were challenging - well for me anyway now I can’t wear my snow boots and of course we walk into other places that most normal people don’t go to. Good though - one time we followed some fox tracks until they disappeared under the fence into Millennium Wood. Also the Stonechats and a pair of Goldeneyes gave very good views.

Bob Groom’s never been a fan of Winter but you can’t keep a good man down and he’s been braving the elements in Tatton, Plumley and Mobberley - this from Thursday (7th) .....Certainly been a cold one today - min -5C,max +1C but by mid-week it will be up near 10C. Frosty scene may be very atmospheric, as it certainly was in Tatton today with the Stonechats, but personally I’ll be happier when my fingers don’t tingle.. Just hoping the snow forecast for the early hours doesn’t put us back to square one, temporarily.
Lots of Fieldfares and Redwings in Plumley yesterday and in the paddocks off Gleavehouse Lane, Mobberley the day before. I think there has definitely been a further influx...

03/1/2021...... The cold spell continues

What does Tatton Ranger Darren Morris do on his day off? Well he goes for a walk in Tatton of course!......

Having a day off and knowing how busy the park is recently I headed out early this morning. Walking through Dog Wood just as it was coming light at 8am. By the jetty I could make out the silhouette of a kingfisher bashing a small fish against the branch it was perched on.
Snow was still underfoot and a scan of the mere revealing 6 mandarin, 5 little grebe, several goldeneye and a teal. Tufted duck and pochard plentiful.
It was great to see 6 whooper swans, 4 of which were 1st winter birds too further along the mere towards the public jetty.
On Melchett there were 8 wigeon and 31 snipe in the rushy corner, these were flushed way away from them on the path so I don’t think there were any Jack’s among them.
No brambling along beech avenue though.

Darren alerted me to the presence of the Whoopers on Tatton Mere in a text message, so I was in the park by 10:15am, just after the gates were opened to traffic. Unfortunately the whole length of the main drive, from the Knutsford entrance to the mansion, was closed due to snow and ice and I had to use the main car park before walking down to the mere. Sadly the swans had moved on but the opportunity to photograph a male Stonechat for the first time was a bonus, as was meeting Roger Barnes who’d had a pair on the far side of Melchett Mere at the same time as I was watching the two in the reeds of Tatton Mere - so confirming that at least two pairs of Stonechats are wintering in Tatton, something we’d suspected for some time.

The following morning, New Year’s eve, Wendy Stratford followed Darren’s example and was in Dog Wood before the crowds built up.

I went into Tatton via Dog Wood just after 8am today and spent a wonderful hour or so on the lake side in the snow (it was snowing!).
There was some ice by the far bank, and the middle of the mere was starting to freeze in places - frail ice? But the bank I was on was clear and the majority of the birds were feeding there.
The squadrons of geese were slowly but steadily moving towards Knutsford, and several groups took off and headed further away (Booths Hall maybe?). A pair of great crested grebes were starting their pairing dance on the far side - synchronised swimming towards each other, then away, repeat! Also swimming with neck and head low on the water and wings slightly raised. Lovely. 3 or 4 other gc grebes further up the mere feeding together. Saw 8 little grebes (3 together, 2 together and 3 alone). The pair were right next to a coot briefly, which really demonstrated how small they are. In the trees there were mixed tit groups, a nuthatch moving from tree to tree exploring the bark and song thrushes (one in Dog Wood stayed still in a bush close to me - great view).
No swans to be seen at all, but I didn’t walk right up the north end. As I was walking back by the jetty a kingfisher flew right to left and landed in the fallen tree by the Dog Wood fence, flashing brilliant turquoise.
Great tip from Darren to go in early - only saw a couple of runners, but as I was nearly at the gate on my way out there were quite a lot of dog walkers.

The current spell of freezing weather hasn’t deterred Geoff and Sheila Blamire from continuing with their daily outings - the 30th December....The wildfowl managed to keep the strip of water open in the Little Mere - there were c45 Mallards and c35 Coots, but with half of them standing on the ice rather than on the water! We walked to Rostherne this morning. Cicely Mill Pool was completely frozen over - of course the whole pool is very shallow. We couldn’t see Rostherne Mere because of the fog. All the fields had a blanket of fog as well which give the whole area an atmospheric feel.

And to start the new Year .....Our 9.2km walk this morning to us to Holford area. Highlights included: the "usual" field held 160+ Lapwings, then 80+ Curlews flew in but settled in a field out of sight (no idea whether they joined other Curlews already there); almost back to the car we came across another field with sheep held 80+ Lapwings with 4 Curlews, then c100 Curlews flew in along with c50 Lapwings, then c70 Pink-footed Geese flew low overhead. So - 3 quality species, with their evocative calls. Not bad to the start of 2021.....

Bob Groom finally managed to travel over to Tabley for the December WeBS count last Sunday.... Fortunately the weather was more clement than the M.O. forecast and although there were treacherous bits the paths were much better walking than I had feared. A highlight was several views of a couple of Tree Creepers in bright sunshine. The Mere was busy with wildfowl, including 300+ Canadas. For once Shovelers and Gadwall outnumbered Mallard and Tufted Ducks. Still 25 Mute Swans.. Just a single Goldeneye, they always seem to favour Tatton over Tabley and Rostherne.
I often used to see curlews in the fields to the right heading past the farm along Cheadle lane but not so much more recently.

01/01/2021...... A remarkable Lockdown List.
One of the few positives to come out of the pandemic has been the realisation that it’s possible to enjoy birdwatching without the need to travel more than a short distance from home. Here in the Knutsford area we’re luckier than many people as, on our doorsteps, we have such a good mixture of open countryside that’s criss-crossed by well-maintained and well-marked footpaths.
During the first lockdown from the end of March until the beginning of May KOS members were out and about, on foot, within a few miles of home, enjoying the excitement of the Spring migration combined with a spell of beautiful weather
As lockdown regulations were eased we were able to travel a little further, using motor transport, rather than being restricted to Shanks’s pony and most folk ended their lists. One person who didn’t was Peter Dawson who continued right through to the end of 2020 and he’s kindly summarised his activities over the nine months since the first lockdown in the article below.

I’m fortunate that my Knutsford house backs onto woodland, with plenty of water about, so I always see a decent number of interesting birds without going anywhere! I keep an annual list and usually see between 50 and 60 each year from the house. In a "normal" year, I wouldn’t usually go on many walks from the house. Like most birders I suppose, I would generally go out in the car to sites where I thought that there was a much better chance of seeing some more uncommon birds. That all changed this year. According to my records, Lockdown 1 started on March 23rd and, at that time, we were told to stay at home and only go out for daily exercise or if necessary for work, essential shopping etc. Consequently, I started daily local walks from the house. As always, I would take my binoculars with me although sometimes only the "mini-bins" which are not great for seeing things but are much easier to carry! These walks were usually three main routes - Chelford Rd-Ollerton-Radbrook Hall-Toft Rd, Toft Wood-Seven Sisters Lane-Manor Lane and also through Booths Hall down to Pavement Lane.

When out and about in the early days, I met a few birders and stopped for a chat. The couple (apologies but I can’t remember their names) that I met in Moss Lane told me about Swain’s Walk and also that you were posting daily updates of local sightings on the KOS website. From this information I expanded my walks to include Swain’s Lane and also to Mobberley Field Pool where a number of interesting sightings had been reported. In the early days, access into Tatton Park was not possible. As time progressed, the number species increased due to summer migrants arriving, To add a bit of interest, I decided to keep a "Lockdown List" comprising of birds seen and/or heard whilst out walking from the house. By the time that Lockdown I ended, in mid May, my list total was 86. I was pretty pleased with what I considered to be a good number so decided to carry on and see whether I could get to 100 by the end of the year. I thought that it was definitely possible but I would need to get a few unexpected ones in order to reach my target. On October 20th, I managed to get there by seeing a pair of wigeon on Melchett Mere.

By the end of the year, my list had increased to 106. I was very pleased with the final total and amazed at some of the species that are local to the area. In particular, there are three that I have trouble finding every year anywhere in the UK - yellow wagtail, grasshopper warbler and black redstart - so to find these so close to home, and in the case of yellow wagtail breeding - was very surprising (to me anyway)! Below is a summary of the "best" birds that I found and where they were.

Site Bird
Home/Sanctuary Moor tawny owl, sparrowhawk, brambling, lesser redpoll, pink footed goose, siskin, little grebe, peregrine, green woodpecker
Knutsford Moor/reed beds reed warbler, grasshopper warbler, raven
Tatton Mere kingfisher, black necked grebe, goldeneye, egyptian goose, common tern, curlew, grey wagtail, wigeon, stonechat, green woodpecker
Mill Pool redstart
Melchett Mere egyptian goose, wigeon, snipe, stonechat, teal
Chelford Rd floods mandarin duck, shelduck, oystercatcher
Toft Wood-Seven Sisters Lane garden warbler, lesser whitethroat, red legged partridge, fieldfare
Lower Moss Wood-Radbrooke Hall yellow wagtail, yellowhammer
Gleave House Farm area/Field Pool yellow wagtail, wheatear, little ringed plover, raven, red kite, egyptian goose, sedge warbler, oystercatcher, yellowhammer, pink footed goose
Tabley Rd-Swains Walk yellow wagtail, grey wagtail, hobby, tree sparrow
Tabley House cuckoo
Booths Hall/Mere shoveler, grey wagtail, pink footed goose, mandarin duck, raven, teal, black redstart, egyptian goose, goosander, collared dove, snipe
* Heard only.

I should make it clear that not all of these were found by me - I was told about some by others so many thanks to all those who provided the information about both the birds and the walks. Also, many thanks to you for all your hard work in providing regular updates on the website.

If anyone wants any more information about when or where particular birds were then please feel free contact me.

A happy and healthy New Year to all!



26/12/2020...... Little & Large
The Firecrest in the Big Wood at Marbury Country Park continues to attract a steady stream of visitors, including some KOS members and it appears that all have been successful, it just requires a little patience and determination, as Bob Groom found.
......."I went over to Marbury with high hopes and had an excellent visit. The ringtail hen harrier that had been there on the Sunday (and at Neumann’s the day before) was too much of a long shot so my aim was to see the diminutive rarity in Big Wood. En route I met up with Geoff and Sheila and just afterwards at the hide three birders came past who had just been watching the Firecrest! Following their directions and trying to ignore the brambles scratching my legs I joined another hopeful birder scanning the two big yew trees at the back. After half-an-hour he had to give up and go back to Crewe and I was considering leaving myself when birder-with-bike arrived from the other direction (a much easier route) and within minutes we were watching the little gem as it came out into sunlight near the top. What a lovely bird! Also seen the pair of Wood Ducks, pair of Goosanders, drake Pintail and when there was a disturbance at the far side of the mere 200 Curlews and 500 Lapwings (rough counts) went up. Great....." My thanks to Mark Jarrett for giving me permission to use the image of the Marbury bird (he refers to it as a record shot - some record shot Mark!)

Peter Dawson has been spending more time at Booths Mere recently, where he too had Goosanders......"The Black Redstart was still about yesterday when I was there. Another birder I met had seen it and I got a glimpse of what I think was it. There was also a report of it on Birdguides later in the day when it was back on the office roof.
There are also a few Goosander on the mere, a Pink-foot amongst all the Greylags and 10 Egyptian Geese and a pair of ravens over.
I’m going over there quite regularly now but haven’t always seen the BR. Preferable to Tatton Park where there are so many people and dogs running around all over the place! ......."

Understandably in the current circumstances Tatton is getting a little crowded at times but it doesn’t seem to affect the wildlife, on Thursday (24th), on his daily walk, Roger Barnes counted 150 Greylag Geese on Melchette Mere plus an interesting duck which, from his description, was, perhaps, a female Common Scoter.
At this, the other end of the size scale from the Firecrest, Pinkfeet have been passing over our area. Last Sunday (20th), whilst doing some essential maintenance in the garden, a flock I estimated at 400 to 500 passed over, heading due south and on Christmas Eve Len Mason had 400 flying west. There’s no finer sight and sound, natural or man-made than these flocks of Pink-footed Geese.

The temperature on my weather station dropped to -2.5 ° C in the early hours of Christmas day and there followed a cold but sunny morning. Members took full advantage - even the Hon.Sec. and Mrs. Brookes!".........Years ago Jean and I had an Xmas walk down Sudlow Lane; well, we decided to go this morning being glorious sunshine, no wind and the temperature just above freezing. We hoped to see a Brambling no luck.
The highlight of our walk must have been GS Woodpecker drumming shows we are on upwards turn towards spring. Other birds below.
Blue, Great, L T Tit, Nuthatch, several Redwings flying and scuffling about in the leaves. 1 Fieldfare, Tree creeper, Jay, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Carrion Crow, Rook, Robin, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Magpie, Kestrel, Buzzard, Dunnock, Black-headed Gull"

Geoff and Sheila Blamire went over to Moore........."Our Xmas morning walk - set off at -3C with some sunshine and little wind. Fortunately the mud and enormous puddles were frozen to make it easier going.
Moore NR: started with Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, etc. 2 brief visits of a Willow Tits at the feeders, plus Coal, Blue and great Tits, Nuthatches, Chaffinches, etc.
Upper Moss Side: small flock of Reed Buntings.
Canal towpath: flushed a Woodcock!
Mersey River towards Wigg Island: usual gulls, etc, plus 21 Curlews and 100s Lapwings (at low tide).
Back to Moore NR: superb male Bullfinch.

A Good morning all round.............."

over in Marton Steve and Gil Barber also took advantage of the good weather......." We had c90 minutes out along a local lane. Ponds were frozen except one with a little open water which held a few Mallard and Teal. It was good to see that the field flood which provided lockdown LRPs in spring was back though iced over. Highlights were 7 Buzzards on the Lapwing field (but no Lapwings) and a Raven flushed from an item of food in another field. Anything smaller than a thrush was very thin on the ground! "

Thanks for your reports folks and to everyone who sent in their sightings over the past year.

This will be the last of 2020’s updates. It’s no use me trying to summarise the events since March, they’ll be talked about and analysed by all and sundry for decades to come. Long after we’re all gone. Lets just hope that 2021 proves to be a little less stressful for one and all.

We’re now passed the shortest day, Derek mentioned a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming on Christmas day and the Dunnocks are singing in the garden - things can only get better!!

16/12/2020...... The Black Redstart is still around
The Black Redstart remains in the vicinity of Booths Hall Farm and the Booths Park business complex but it appears to be giving just fleeting views, so I was probably lucky last Sunday to obtain a couple of record shots. Bill Bellamy apparently caught a glimpse of it on Sunday (14th) on his way home from doing the Tatton and Rostherne WeBS counts, details of which he sent to Tatton Ranger Darren Morris......Well it was a challenging Sunday regarding the weather. I’m hoping you weren’t working but the rain did seem to keep the crowds away. I’ve attached the counts from Rostherne and Tatton. The rain and wind probably moved quite a bit of waterfowl to more sheltered sites. I did notice on my way home that there were 500+ Canada Geese on Booths Mere at the other side of Knutsford where there was also a flighty Black Redstart!
Highlights at Tatton included 4 Little Grebe and 12 Snipe with good numbers of Mallard overall (124)
............ You can access the latest counts by clicking here.

The following day Bob Groom also went in search of the Redstart, he didn’t find it but he did have what must be a record count of Greylags!........ As I couldn’t go into Tatton I used my hour off to check Booths Hall in case the BR was still around. I didn’t see it, perhaps moved on in the week, and only a few birders around also having no luck, so I concentrated on Booths mere. As Peter mentioned a huge amount of wildfowl, more species and bigger numbers than I’ve been having at Tabley recently and more than I can remember being there when I used to check it way b back. Must definitely keep monitoring it. A few Redwings around also. Surprisingly all the Greylags went up (140+) at one point (and all the ducks!) when a Buzzard went over and their calls echoed off the buildings. True stereo effect!

I’ve been in Tatton a number of times since the last update, it’s busy at weekends of course, but in mid-week you can always find a quiet spot, especially up past the Old Hall towards the Mill Pool. New birds this week were a couple of Siskins in the alders next to the Melchett car park. Geoff and Sheila Blamire have recorded Siskins in their Mere garden, but no Lesser Redpolls yet this season. So we beat them to it in Bucklow Avenue where I saw two on the sunflower hearts last week but they flew off when I went inside to get the camera and haven’t re-appeared!
The two Stonechats have been frequenting the big juncus reed beds at the north end of the park as well as the reeds along the western edge of Tatton Mere, this is where I found them last Friday(11th) where they were joined by a third party - the little weasel shown above (I also obtained my best photo yet of the female Stonechat but I’ve been told the world doesn’t need any more Stonechat pictures, so it will have to remain on file!)

Today I walked as far as the conifer plantation hoping to perhaps locate a Firecrest (they’ve been recorded here in the past and there’s one currently in the Big Wood at Marbury Park) Plenty of Goldcrests, seen and heard but they were high up and against the light, so no luck.

A little further up, just beyond Higmere Plantation and you’re on Knutsford Moor where Hugh Pulsford and the South Manchester Ringing Group do much of their valuable work although, because of the virus, activity has been restricted this year.

We have been a bit restricted this year for obvious reasons but also the contractors responsible for "attempting" to clear the Himalayan Balsam encroaching along the waterways into the Moor. Their technique was originally to simply clear the entire area , cutting all the phragmites in one go, yes all 11 hectares!!

but I managed to step in and stop that reminding them and Tatton Estates that the breeding birds need last years reed stems to build their nests on. Amazing what environmental consultancies don’t know. I also had to remind them that as a SSSI on botanical grounds, the ground flora was a balance of the entire area and below the phragmites were "interesting sedges and bog plants".

They were also too late in the season, so touching any plant led to an explosion of seeds etc. I gave them contacts at Woolston Eyes and RSPB folks who are savvy with HB clearance techniques and they have upped their game to a degree, but it is a one man band with a couple of helpers, which as we all know is useless against an invading plant like that.

So they have been clear felling in quarters of the bed earlier before the plants set seed, (although this has reduced the breeding number of Reed warblers using the area). They don’t have the resource of the weed touch killing techniques or the ability to pull the plants earlier in the season which is very manpower intensive but highly effective.

I have had to juggle net lanes and catching areas over the last two years, although it is still a dangerous place to set foot in. The contractor tells me his workers have disappeared up to their arm pits on several occasions just stepping off a fox path not 20 yards from the road, and needed rope and tackle to get out!. there are no natural paths or walkways into the bed.

(I of course only send my trainees in!)

I’ve added a couple of sound files to the website this week.

The first is from the "Today" programme and is about nocturnal migration [click here]

The second is a tribute to Eric Hardy, first broadcast on Radio Merseyside shortly after his death in 1992. [click here]. It’s quite long but very entertaining as the great man rails against authority!

Encouraging news from founder member John Somerville this week. His oft-postponed heart operation finally went ahead on Monday, he’s back on the ward and anticipates going home tomorrow (Thursday 17th). It’s been a frustrating time for JS but hopefully in a couple of months time, like the rest of us, he’ll be out and about again visiting our favourite biding spots - Tatton, Woolston, Burton Mere and, John’s favourite - Lunt Meadows.