To:KOS update Usher Tony <>
Sent:23/04/2020 19:52
Subject:Knutsford Nature News #29
Please send any sightings or observations to me via email or text.

emails -  or

texts also ok to 07710 508 544
Thursday 23 April 2020
One of those "special" days for Darren Morris in Tatton Park!
After a couple of days where work got in the way, a few things to report today.
Firstly, I made the decision it was time to go out and unplug the pied flycatcher nest boxes that I have dotted around the deer enclosure. Yes I know it's a long shot, as well as  the osprey platform, but worth a punt. While over there it was good to hear whitethroat calling from the patches of bramble that we have fenced off for them. Jayne knows all about this area, spending many a happy hour bramble bashing in the summer to prevent the sheep getting tangled.
Two male mandarin were on the Birkin river and a male and female further along Tatton Mere stream. Two Egyptian geese here too.
But, the best till last! And a first for me at Tatton... a splendid male redstart at the Mill Pool! Absolutely stunning! Inside the bush, a second browner bird was flicking its wings. Maybe a courtship display!? I just couldn't make it out as it was deep in the foliage. The male was a real show off though, landing on the track only a few feet from me and then back to the bush. Certainly one of those days to remember!

Wendy Stratford has decided to teach herself birdsong - good luck Wendy, you'll find yourself in  a whole new world!

Hi Tony,

I went to the field lake quite early again - there by 9 o'clock. Another glorious morning, but much less wind. There were swallows and dunnocks on Gleavehouse Lane. When I approached the field lake I tried to get a look around the back of the clump of trees containing the small pool north of the actual lake (from the other footpath), but the ground falls away so nothing to see, although I did see a heron flying away from the lake - heading towards the SQ.

At the lake a yellow wagtail pair were feeding by the small ponds to the north, and a pair of tufted duck were cruising around. A swallow was feeding over the lake, but otherwise just mallard (no ducklings), coot and pied wagtails. Sat on the stile step for about 30 minutes just watching - blissful. On the way back the skylarks had woken up and were singing from on high, and in the second winter wheat field (think that's what you said it is) nearest Gleavehouse a female yellow wagtail flew nonchalantly across the field and then dropped suddenly into the vegetation. I think there are probably a lot of nests in that field!

I have decided to teach myself warbler song identification (never had the opportunity to do this before) and have started this week with blackcap (at least I can recognise them, and have seen them around!). I think I heard one in the large tree by the lake, but couldn't see him.



Geoff Blamire has more advice regarding phone apps.

Hi Tony,

Update on the birds app.  Tried Aves Vox in the field, well Swains Way(!), yesterday and worked the same as at home on WiFi, but obviously there was a strong 5G signal.  Still think the number of clips per species is a bit overwhelming, and of course there are no photos/drawings and write up of the species to help with the ID, assuming bird was also seen.

Birds of Britain Pro:  There is a ‘lite' version which is free.  The operation, ie user interface, is exactly the same as the Pro version but there is an extremely restricted number of species.  So could be worth downloading to see what it's like and how it works before buying the pro version. 

Errata.  There is a variable number of clips per species with both  Collins and Birds of Britain Pro, usually 2 but could be 1 or 3 (max I've seen so far) depending a bit on the species.





 It appears Derek Pike will be last person in Cheshire to see a Swallow this year!

Hi Tony, 

You say "it's striking how far the birds behind in Cumbria," well Jill don't worry, this part of Cumbria called 2 Lilac Avenue is with you.

After hours and hours gardening etc and getting a stiff neck looking skywards ( I hasten to add eyes open 90% of the time)  I have yet to see a Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin in the area. Also looked from bedroom and bathroom windows from there we have a huge sky to look at!

The RSPB say no records are important too.

I am typing this at 4 10pm I will no doubt go outside and see a Swift; I will not hold my breath!!

At least we have a Blackcap singing his heart out! 


Gil and Steve Barber heeding the wise words of JPG.

Hi Tony,

Our walk east of Marton today took us in distant view of Mow Cop from where a Hobby was reported earlier on.  Ever hopeful, we paid particular attention to the skies but failed to see a Hobby.  Mindful of a comment by Jonathan Guest, an ex-Cheshire County Recorder, that birders were often guilty of spending too much time on birds that weren't present, we turned our attention to the species we could see and hear.  As a result we added a couple more species to our lockdown list. The first of these was a fine male Yellow Wagtail which flew calling toward us across a large field, landed atop the tree we were stood under and began to sing.  It remained long enough to get a good view and a poor photo before off it went into the distance across the next field.  We carried on along the track and five minutes later were watching and listening to our first Whitethroat of the year.  The rest of the walk was pleasant in the gentle breeze and included a stoat, which we rarely see in these parts, that dashed across a lane as we made our way back into the village. 

Cheers Steve

A new route for me this morning as I walked the length of Broad Oak Lane, with views of Tatton's private woodland down the whole of one side. Under normal circumstances you just don't use this road. It's narrow, there's no speed restrictions and it has no footpaths. Safer today of course but still quite busy it's the quickest route between East Knutsford and Wythenshawe, Altrincham and the airport.
Half way down is Square Wood which won an award some years ago after extensive landscaping. We once had Wood Warblers singing here and Woodcock roding at dusk. Just Robins, Wrens and single Blackcaps and Chiffchaff today, although it's keepered and I didn't venture in.
I took the track leading to the Railway Inn where landlord Tony Davies was walking the deserted bowling green with his grandson. I remember playing in the same football team as Tony in Dublin (1969 Tony? he's a subscriber to the KOS website and yes, he was a better footballer than me!)
Just a single Willow Warbler in a list of 32 species.

More ramblings from Phil Hampson, his words not mine. You might want to tell us more about mothing Phil.
Just a short one today.

Birding highlight of the garden was a Kestrel harassing one of the local Buzzards. I had set my moth trap last night as it felt a bit warmer, still no improvement in numbers with just 2 caught. a Common Quaker and an Engrailed but he best part was birdsong. I just sat there and listened to Blackbird, Song Thrush and Robin warbling away amongst others, it was fantastic and worth the 06:00 start.

More Ramblings ............. The Treshnish Isles

Continuing on from yesterday.

The options from the small jetty are the WTE boat trip, I would highly recommend it but has to be prebooked, or the alternative is a trip out to the Treshnish Isles. Have to say this is expensive but worth every penny. Just beware that no matter how good the weather it can get cold on a boat out as sea so make sure you have a sweater or jacket.

It takes a while to get out to the islands and if I remember right the first post of call is Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa, who doesn't know Mendelssohn's concert overture The Hebrides. The basalt structures are breathtaking and well worth seeing.

After a while on the island it is back on board and a short trip over to the island of Lunga. There is no jetty just a wooden gangplank over the shallows, not a problem. If you are a photographer hopefully you will have charged your batteries and have a pocket full of memory cards because you will need them. When you climb up to the top there's a grass topped plateau and all around the edges are the special bird that we've come to see, Atlantic Puffin (Fbratercula arctica) who does not love them. It is the most incredible spectacle with them flying out to fish and those coming back land near their burrows, at the right time of year the calls of the Pufflings can be heard down the burrows. They literally are at your feet and at times too close to focus the camera, it doesn't matter as there are ample opportunities.

Of course it isn't just the birds coming back to the nest there is the constant harassment they suffer en-route. Great black-backed, Herring and Lesser black-backed Gulls all participate in trying to steal the food. But of course it isn't just Gulls, there are Skuas around, not in big numbers but there is always a chance of an Arctic or Great Skua around the seabird colonies. It isn't just about the Puffins, there are seabird colonies around the cliffs. Guillemots, Razorbills and Fulmars along with nesting Gulls. It is spectacular and also compact. The boat trip also gives the chance of seeing the birds in their fishing environment and also the chance of Black Guillemot. There are quite a lot of people do this trip but just seem to disappear after landing.

Cheers ...... Phil


I've put a new webpage on that will contain links to copies of these emails, so they're saved for posterity. Future historians won't believe it! 
Tony Usher.