To:KOS update Usher Tony <>
Sent:25/04/2020 20:17
Subject:Knutsford Nature News #31
Please send any sightings or observations to me via email or text.

emails -  or

texts also ok to 07710 508 544
Saturday 25th April 2020.
Some botany from Jane McHarry and why not? After all this is Knutsford Nature News and we're not restricted only to birds.
Thanks to all of you who suggested bird song recordings, I was intending to download Aves Vox this evening but got diverted by watching a selection of useful clips on Youtube. 

For those botanically minded members, on my latest dog walk down Blackhill farm lane I found a lovely patch of Greater Stitchwort, the first bush vetch I've spotted along with the ever present cow parsley and hogweed. Yesterday it was a patch of Red Campion near Toft Hall. Interestingly on a visit to the Czech Republic some years ago, we noticed that the common hedgerow flora there consisted not of red campion and cow parsley but blue lupins and cow parsley.

It was wonderful to read Phil's account of Mull and the Hebrides. The North West Highlands and Islands are amazing. It brought back memories of sitting outside our camper at midnight in Glencoe listening to nightjars, parking for the night on a silver sand beach on Lewis and waking up in the morning surrounded by an assortment of waders and not forgetting being shown where a golden eagle was on it's nest, on Mull. Perhaps Mull would be an Idea for the next KOS holiday, after lockdown of course 


Common Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler today for Karina Stanley in the area to the east of Longridge (soon to be built on of course)
Hi Tony

Hope all is well.

Just an update to let people know that I saw and heard 2 Common Whitethroat in the scrub by Longridge today. Nice easy find.  A Willow Warbler was there as well. I'd walked from Knutsford via Toft, Booths Hall, Pavement Lane and round to Longridge. I turned left into the scrub area  at Longridge and headed towards Booths Mere- saw the Whitethroat there.
Had joyous views of happy, jumping cows at the back of the Toft CC  and ‘on safari'  Jackdaws with the donkeys along Pavement Lane picking up delicacies whilst playing piggyback .
A couple of free wheeling buzzards en route made me feel a bit free and easy too! e

Take care ........ Karina

Alan Booth had his first Common Whitethroat on Knutsford Moor this morning.
Hi tony

First whitethroat this morning. No sound of yesterdays reed warbler .......... Alan

Warblers are few and far between for Steve and Gill Barber but plenty of Skylarks and nesting Lapwings.

Hi Tony, 

In our four mile walk west of Marton this morning we covered some of the same ground as yesterday. The number and variety of singing warblers continues to disappoint with just three of both Chiffchaff and  Blackcap.  We're beginning to accept that if the habitat isn't there then neither are the birds.  We did though count eight singing Skylarks and found 11 Lapwings apparently sat where there were eight yesterday.  From one point in the walk we looked back toward Marton in the distance and realised that quite a lot of Buzzards were aloft in a fairly small area - I counted 17 before they dispersed in several directions.  In the County breeding and wintering Atlas (2004-2007) David Norman speculated that perhaps 835 pairs was a reasonable upper limit population estimate. I wonder what figure a survey would arrive at today. 

Cheers Steve

Jayne Davies had some company this morning on her way back from the airport! 

Hi Tony

I enjoyed having your company for part of my walk today and hearing a bit of Mobberley history :-)

I walked round the lanes on the north side of Mobberley today. Out along Smith Lane, there were lapwing on the ground in the field to the left. Slade Lane, Hobcroft Lane, then onto a footpath which leads towards the airport boundary. Part way along I turned right onto a narrow path with high hedges and trees on both sides which leads to Lady Lane, with lots of singing blackcaps, and a few speckled wood butterflies.  Along Lady Lane to Crash Gate 9, still no lesser whitethroats, and then I met Tony on the way back, and we had a socially distanced walk back as far as Mobberley SQ, looking for swallows along the way. Finally found one when we reached Town Lane. I am still waiting for my first willow warbler.



Yes, as Jayne says we seemed to have followed the same route today and had about the same number of species. 29 in my case, so a little disappointing in that it didn't include Lesser Whitethroat. Also this morning it was very busy especially with cyclists, who were sweating past every few seconds. So for Mobblonians it's best to head south, rather than north, at the weekend!

Jacquie Ledward has beaten the rest of us to it with the first Swifts of the year!!

Hi Tony

Ruby and I had a lovely long walk via Cogshall Lane where we had great views of a Yellowhammer and Whitethroat. A Skylark was singing away overhead and one Swallow was flying low in the field.

We continued over to Barnton and saw Blackbird, Wren, Magpie, Crow, House Sparrow, Buzzard and had a good view of a Kestrel perched on the branch of a dead tree.

Once in Barnton we continued along Hough Lane and we dropped down on to the canal leading to Anderton Lift and the nature park.  I was hoping for Peregrine but got a Raven instead so I'm not complaining.

Once in Anderton nature park we heard numerous Blackcaps and I introduced Ruby to the Cetti's Warbler with its distinct call.

We crossed Carden's Ferry Bridge and onto Carey Park. We were serenaded by Willow Warblers and the occasional Blackcap all the way to Neumann's Flashes and continued down to Pod's Hide.  Then I heard a familiar screeching sound of two Swifts overhead!   That made my day as it's the first sighting this year.  We heard a Little Grebe babbling and a few Reed Warblers were calling in the distance.  We also saw Lapwing, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Lesser Black Backed Gull, black Headed Gulls, Mute Swan and Great Crested Grebe.  At the hide another enthusiastic birder informed us that we had just missed a Black Tern and some Sand Martins, never mind .... that's birding for you!

As we walked back to Marbury from Neumann's we bumped into Sue, who was heading for Marston.

On the way back to Marston, we had Cormorant, Buzzard, another Whitethroat and Wren.

Another satisfying walk during lockdown.



Wendy Stratford sensibly headed south this morning!

Hi Tony,

Went to the pool this morning, Gleavehouse Lane was alive with small groups of long tailed tits and goldfinches, flitting from tree to tree. Watched a goldfinch on the verge carefully eating the seeds from a dandelion clock.

Started to notice the St Mark's flies as I got close to the pool - amazing numbers. Badgers have been digging in the wheat field near the pool I think - you can see the scratch marks they have made.

At the pool the ducklings were just being hurried away by the mother - she doesn't like spectators! - I counted 6 or 7. Wonder where they go? They just seem to vanish. The oystercatcher was feeding and when he eventually flew silently away he went towards SQ. There were both shelduck, 4 Canada geese (one with quite a limp), female yellow wagtail feeding by north pools, pied wagtail, coot and mallards.
On the way back the skylarks were so high up I couldn't make them out. At SQ there were about 10 house martins feeding.




Phil Hampson (like us all most of us) is still waiting for his first Swift but also has more memories from the island of Mull.
Friday was spent looking longingly skywards in the hope of a Common Swift, with no luck. They usually arrive when I am in Lesvos, which would normally be now, so hopefully any day now. Who can fail to love the sound of them screaming on a warm evening. Still have Song Thrush and Blackbird in full song, with backup singing from Robin, Dunnock and Wren to name but a few. I love my early mornings to check the moth trap which is still very quiet but April is still very early in the season, but, the payoff is the dawn chorus. Simply outstanding. Mind you in summer when the trap and triple figures of Large Yellow-Underwing moths I won't be as happy.

A bit more from Mull

A few steps back to the Ferry Terminal

As you depart the ferry from Oban to Craignure take a left turn towards Duart Castle and enter the excellent, mature woodland. Here is, in my experience, the best place for the woodland species. Listen for Redstart, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Garden Warbler. The lucky visitor will come across another of my favourite birds the Spotted Flycatcher. This is a stretch of woodland well worth parking up and having a wander.

Then move on and in a 5 or 6 miles we come to the head of Loch Spelve. A narrow road to the left will take you up through aged sessile oak woodland and the migrants we'd expect to see within it. Carry on and the side of Loch Spelve opens up. Here there are a good variety of waders and passerines. Anywhere along here can be raptors, Kestel, Merlin, tourist eagles and Hen Harrier. Wheatears abound and anywhere along the Lochside can give fantastic views of Otter. Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers are all over.

But carry on and again enter woodland between Kinlockspelve and Loch Buie. There are high cliffs on the right and Golden Eagle can be seen soaring above, I think I am right in saying Mull has one of the highest density of this majestic raptor in Scotland. Everywhere on the island you'll see yellow signs saying Eagle Watch, an initiative between authorities and locals to combat the evil so and so's who would wish ill on them and hopefully covers all birds of prey.

Anyway back to the tour and carry on to Loch Buie, I think this was the site of one of the smallest Post Offices in Scotland. It is quite simply beautiful here and some of the Southern Hebridean islands can be seen in the distance. But, I have to be honest and say have seen little avian here aside from Ringed Plovers and some of the species we'd expect on the sea.

So now back to the main road and beware it is narrow and farmland so when stopped to look at wildlife be aware of people working, and I speak from experience. At the main road turn left and drive to the Grasspoint road, well worth the drive and always a chance of WTE and other raptors down there. Anyway back to the main' road and onwards towards Bunessan and pass through Pennyghael. All along the road can be good birding so well worth having a spotter, not the driver of course.

As the road rises look to the right and there are some Skerries and I'm sure I remember you can pull off to overlook them. This is a favourite spot for WTE to sit and pass the day by. After this there is a run through to the village of Bunessan, waders and Gulls in the harbour depending on the tide. Here in the village there is a side road to Loch Assapol, from this road there are a number of beaches well worth exploring for waders and other coastal birds. At Kilvickeon Beach Ive sat for hours watching Ringed Plover and sanderling with Twite on the fences. The day can disappear in this area so easily. Dragging oneself away and drive back to Bunessan and onwards to Fionnaphort where the ferry departs for Iona, but that is for another day.



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.