I spent a couple of hours in the peace and quiet of the Rostherne observatory on Tuesday (13th) evaluating the combination of 'scope and clamp; they performed very well, although the magnification is only 20X the 'scope lets in a lot of light and, compared with my 8X binoculars, I was able to identify the various wildfowl species at the mouth of Rostherne brook (including a female and 2 male Mandarin ducks), determine the sex of a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the split lime and identify a group of Goosanders at the far end of the mere, the best part of a kilometer away - all impossible with just the binoculars.
In the early days of the KOS we used to travel down to Shropshire for Goosanders but this winter there are plenty locally with birds at Rostherne, Tatton, Marbury and on Thursday (6th) Bill Mccaig had six on Shakerley Mere - thanks Bill.
I had hoped to see one of the Rostherne Hawfinches on Monday but had no luck, nevertheless I was cautiously optimistic on Wednesday (14th) of seeing my first of the winter as we made our way over to Marbury where there had been a flock of no less than 19 the previous day! It was hard work as we huddled in a group at the appropriate spot in a temperature of only 2
C but eventually the sharp-eyed Bill Killey spotted one flying into an ivy-covered tree; it showed well through Derek's Swarovski.
A good count of 44 species during the morning at Marbury although the two Bitterns didn't put in an appearance - it was great to hear a Song Thrush in full song close to where we stood, there was also one in Bucklow Avenue during the week and last Wednesday (7th) a flock of c. 150 Pink-footed Geese passed overhead in a north-westerly direction - sure signs that Spring is just around the corner. (cue another cold spell)
Species seen at Marbury Country Park 14th February 2018
By now it was approaching noon and as the high tide wasn't due until 1pm we decided to walk along the quayside up to the Parkgate chip shop, this is a fine establishment - one of our members - an iconic figure in the world of dominoes and crown green bowling who likes to keep in shape for these extreme activities eats fish and chips only once a year - always at the Parkgate chippie - he wasn't disappointed and neither were we!
The high tide was a bit of a let-down and apart from a single Snipe I don't think we saw any new species as the incoming water remained just a grey streak in the distance.
On then to the RSPB's Burton Mere Wetlands Centre, busy with people arriving from Parkgate but quite a disappointing species count after reports seen online over the past few weeks - Kingfisher, a Grey Wagtail and a pair of Stonechats were probably the highlights; apart from the fact that you can now buy a very nice cup of filter coffee from the reception centre for £ 1:60!
Species seen at Parkgate / Burton Wetlands - 3rd February 2018
species recorded on Knutsford Moor 27/01/2018 11:00am - 12 noon. counts are maximum seen at any one time.
On Friday (2nd) it's the CAWOS (Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society) February meeting when Brian Anderson will be presenting a talk entitled "Stinkers, Pintados and Mollymawks". 7:45pm at St. Vincent's Church Hall, Tatton Street.
The following morning (3rd) it's our KOS February field trip over to the Wirral Peninsula for the high tide, Parkgate to begin with then over to Burton Mere Wetlands Centre (via the Parkgate chippie!). Meeting up in Lilac Avenue at 08:50am ready to leave at 9:00am prompt.22/01/2018...... Winter days with the KOS
Species seen at Connah's Quay - 20th January 2018
The weather was obviously keeping people at home and we had fewer visitors than last year although once again the promise of free drinks was enough to tempt a trickle of folk over the two hours we were open. During the past couple of weeks members have reported a Kingfisher perched nicely over the outlet channel where Melchett overflows into Tatton Mere's own overflow stream. It was there again on Sunday and we were able to point visitors to the spot where they could see it - it's amazing how many people have never seen one "in the flesh"!
Thanks to all who attended and contributed to such a successful and entertaining session
Don't forget that this coming Friday (26th) it's our January indoor meeting when Jim Almond will be telling us all about Springtime in New England.
Species seen from the Allen Hide 21st January 2018
A few people have been out braving the elements - up to 6 Hawfinches remain at Marbury Park, they were seen at the end of December by Sue Middleton ( a new species for Sue), Darren Morris and Bob Groom , Derek Pike had 47 Lapwings on the big fields opposite the entrance to Lilac Avenue on 26th December, increasing to 112 on New Year's day - this is less than half a mile from Knutsford town centre and the site earmarked for a development of 260 new homes as part of the local councils "Vision for Cheshire East in 2030". Derek and Jean spent some time in Tatton over the new year and on the 7th January had two Green Woodpeckers calling and two Ravens displaying - the latter are very early nesters so hopefully they'll be setting up shop in the park once more. Tatton Ranger Darren Morris tells me they had 10 Woodcock in Hanging Bank on the 7th and whilst cleaning out nest boxes (they have 30) found that 90% had been used in 2017. It's hoped to attract Pied Flycatchers to the park and to this end some boxes are plugged until mid-May to prevent members of the Tit family from moving in before the flycatchers return.
Roger Barnes reports a Barnacle Goose and two Greylags on Melchett Mere; Bob also saw these as well as 7 Wigeon, a Kingfisher and a flock of Siskins in that area so we may have something to show the public this coming Sunday, the 21st, when we team up with the Tatton Rangers between 11am and 1pm for the annual wildfowl watch, Darren tells me that refreshments will again be available, probably only tea and coffee as last years scones were a bit of a bonus!.
The following weekend on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th we'll be joining forces with the Friends of the Moor (27th) and Friends of Knutsford Heath (28th) for the Big Garden Birdwatch; each event will last for an hour beginning at 11:00am. All welcome - the more the merrier!
Later this month our KOS committee will be meeting to discuss the programme from May 2018 through to May 2019. Last year as well as the normal indoor and outdoor events we enjoyed the Scottish week in June and Lindisfarne at the end of September, perhaps we'll have another weekend away later this year and no doubt due consideration will be given to the possibility of a week abroad to celebrate our 45th anniversary in 2019!
Input from members is always welcome regarding any of the Society's activities - indoor or outdoor - praise or constructive criticism, your wish is our command!30/12/2017...... Seasonal conditions for the Christmas walk
Passerines seemed to be down in numbers this year, I'm guessing that many species are taking advantage of garden feeders. We have two, one of which was designed and built by a friend and features the usual wire mesh front but which additionally curves round underneath at the bottom. It's filled with sunflower hearts and is attracting large numbers of Green and Goldfinches, especially the latter with up to 20 at any one time. The seeds are also dislodged from the bottom mesh onto the ground where they're consumed by Blackbirds, Dunnocks, House Sparrows, Chaffinches and recently 4 Bramblings.
Species seen on the Christmas walk, 29th December 2017.
I am pleased to report that, in addition to a very enjoyable evening yesterday, we also had a very successful fund raising.
The total profit realised was just short of £ 300.
This is a record and beats the previous best year (2015) by more than £ 20.
On Sunday Marshside lived up to it's reputation as being one of the coldest places on earth! Dry as we left Knutsford but when we reached our destination it was raining heavily and the temperature was reluctant to rise above only 3
C. so it was off immediately to the shelter of the Sandgrounder's hide. It wasn't much warmer in there but at least it was dry.
The usual mixture of Wildfowl - Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shelduck, Gadwall, Shoveler plus Canada and Greylag Geese. At one point, in the far distance, a huge flock of Pink-footed Geese passed over towards the Ribble estuary - many thousands - quite extraordinary we'd never seen that many before. Waders were well represented with Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Curlew and Golden Plovers but just a single raptor braved the elements - a tiny male Sparrowhawk that landed on a fence post just up from where we watched - it looked quite dishevelled and miserable.
Given the time of year there weren't many people at Martin Mere although a few brave kids seemed to have persuaded their parents to "Sail to Santa" across the water in front of the reception building where we ate our lunch before moving to the restaurant for a coffee.
The highlight of the afternoon came as we sat in the Ron Barker hide and watched five Marsh Harriers quartering the reedbeds. Apparently, earlier in the day, there were seven in view at the same time! There was the usual scrum at feeding time with 1,600 Whooper Swans and a sea of Shelducks hoovering up the grain but we saw only a couple of Ruff this time despite a count of 83 during the morning.
As the light began to fade the Pinkfeet returned (there are 15,000 on the reserve [thanks Marcia]) settling noisily at the far side of the main lake.
A reminder that this year's Christmas walk will take place on Friday 29th December meeting up at the public car park next to the Stanley Arms in Anderton at 09:45am. Derek has a 4.3 mile walk planned which, with stops, should take us about three hours.
species recorded at Marshside / Martin Mere on 17th December 2017.