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Latest News - 2019


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Supplementary Pages 2019

45th Anniversary Mid-Wales Holiday.....

Updated 23rd May 2019

23/05/2019
...... Latest news from Rostherne & Tatton plus the Mid-Wales Holiday
The Arctic Tern flock at Rostherne increased from 7 to 30 during the afternoon of 8th May; 9 remained the following day. Darren Morris reports that none were seen at Tatton on the 8th. I checked the park on the 10th and was lucky to see a Common Tern on a buoy in the centre of the main mere, in Dog Wood a Garden Warbler showed well and a male Grey Wagtail was watched collecting food near the concrete jetty. Today (22/5) Darren told me that he'd seen a female Mandarin Duck with 5 chicks on a stream in the deer park.

The 45th Anniversary holiday went very well and we achieved our target of 100 species! It's a bigger report than normal so qualifies for a page of it's own! click here for the report

09/05/2019...... Hobbies back on site!
It was well into the breeding season last year before Bob Groom was able to confirm that "his" Hobbies had bred again at their site not far away from Knutsford. No problem this time though as he saw the pair last Friday (3/5) from the usual viewpoint - most encouraging - well done Bob!
Lesser Whitethroats have also returned to their favourite locations; on Monday (6/5) a male was in full song along Breach House Lane in Mobberley, showing well as it moved through a roadside oak tree above the tangled undergrowth, where it will no doubt build trial nests in the hope of attracting a mate. A brief drive away at the airports crashgate 9 another was heard in the distance rattling away as I began a short walk along the perimeter paths as far as the last of the dwellings, where the view opens up to reveal the whole of the airport. Summer migrants in the form of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Common Whitethroats were present in good numbers along with three singing Willow Warblers - not many about this spring apparently. We normally hear many Skylarks along this route, the 1000's of acres of grassland that border the two runways are perfect nesting sites, unfortunately the grass has to be kept short for reasons of safety and a large mowing machine was in action doing its stuff. It seemed to be set quite high, leaving a few inches of grass showing but it had four big wheels and the mower six at the rear so this probably takes its toll every year. only one Skylark was heard.
The cold spell continues, yesterday (8/5) the temperature only reached 10.5C with an easterly wind and periods of drizzle making it feel more like December. I spent a couple of hours in the obs. at Rostherne where small groups of Swallows and House Martins fed low over the mere picking newly hatched insects from the surface. They were joined from time to time by single Swifts - they are late this year with Jude Halman and Derek Pike both reporting zero sightings so far around their favourite spots in Knutsford. My optimism was rewarded at 11:15 am when a flock of seven birds arrived from the south-west - Arctic Terns! I had a reasonable view as they flew in but subsequently they moved to the eastern end of the mere and were only in view fleetingly through the trees but I was pretty certain of their identity.

The weather forecast for next week is encouraging with a high pressure system set to bring dry and warm conditions from Monday onwards. Ideal for our KOS 45th anniversary trip to mid-Wales from Wednesday (15th) until Sunday (19th) based in Barmouth. 100 species again? We'll be doing our best!



02/05/2019...... Plenty of good records from Tatton
Tatton Ranger Darren Morris has sent me details of some nice birds he'd seen recently in the park. On Tuesday (30th) he had Whinchat and Wheatear in the deer park and on the 25th April two Hobbies were hawking for insects over the main mere, I think these were the first Hobbies recorded in Cheshire this year. Encouraged by Darren's sightings a small group of mid-weekers enjoyed a walk around Tatton yesterday (1/4) hoping, amongst other things, to see the first Swifts of the season - they're late this year and by tradition have always returned in time for Knutsford's annual May Day festivities, this year taking place on Saturday 4th.
We took the usual route - Knutsford Moor, Dog Wood, the Allen hide then back along the west side of Tatton mere. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were singing as we made our way down towards the Moor where a newly returned Reed Warbler was in full song from the reed bed. Climbing up from the Moor towards Dog Wood more Blackcaps and a Common Whitethroat although we were disappointed that there was no sign of the Garden Warblers that can often be found here with its mountains of bramble and convenient song posts.
Dog Wood was unusually quiet given the time of year as was the main mere, just a few Great Crested Grebes, Mallard and a late female Goldeneye, although we were delighted when a Common Sandpiper flew up from the waters edge and settled on the far bank - a new bird for the year for most of us. A second Common Whitethroat was in song as we approached the Allen hide and a Grey Wagtail called as it passed over, whilst from the hide itself we were surprised to see a pair of Egyptian Geese with three small youngsters in tow. Darren told me some time ago that a pair had hatched five young from a nest near the mansion with another pair seen with offsprings on the Toft estate.

No Swifts as we made our way back towards the Knutsford entrance, not a single hirundine either, although as we passed the Moor pool two Swallows flew over, late additions to a modest day list. So it appeared that this year Swifts wouldn't be recorded in our area on or before the first of May but help was at hand in the form of local birder Alan Booth who we encountered as we headed back to the cars. Alan told us he'd had Reed and Sedge Warblers and two Swifts on Sunday 28th April!
Late news today (2/5) in an email from Bob Groom who'd dropped into Tatton this morning on his way back from Rostherne and watched 40 House Martins and 10 Swifts zipping back and to over the main mere......the latest I can recall first seeing them for many a long year.

Species seen in Tatton Park - Wednesday 1st May 2019.
Goldfinch, Starling, Jackdaw, Chiffchaff, Woodpigeon, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Blackbird, Moorhen, Magpie, Coot, Mallard, Robin, Canada Goose, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Cormorant, Carrion Crow, Long-tailed Tit, Common Whitethroat, Stock Dove, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, Collared Dove, Treecreeper, Goldeneye, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mute Swan, Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail, Egyptian Goose, Pied Wagtail, Nuthatch, Buzzard, Green Woodpecker, Shoveler, Swallow, Sparrowhawk. [ ✓ 46]

25/4/2019...... A good selection at Neumann's
The spell of warm weather we were blessed with over the Easter weekend came to an end yesterday afternoon (24th) with an intense thunder storm at around 3:30pm. We'd spent the morning enjoying the final few hours of the nice weather around Neumann's Flash in Northwich, a good turnout of 15 mid-weekers for a gentle stroll around the perimeter before moving on to Haydn's Pool in search of summer migrants - about 2 miles in total.
Three warblers in song before we'd left the car park with Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat all doing their stuff, whilst a couple of hundred yards along the embankment two or three distant Sedge Warblers and a Cetti's. Blackcaps seemed to everywhere and we thought we'd heard a Garden Warbler deep in the undergrowth but couldn't be certain, nevertheless the species was added to the day list as Bob Groom had one in song along the different route he'd taken, along the path running in between Neumann's and Ashton's Flash.
A pleasant surprise awaited us as we met up at the big hide on the far side of the flash - a Cuckoo calling; I didn't hear one in Cheshire at all last year! Also in that area Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers whilst on the water in front of the hide, amongst a fair selection of wildfowl, a Whooper Swan that, for one reason or another, had not migrated north to Iceland for the summer. Hirundines were in short supply with only a couple of Swallows passing over, additionally no Swifts so far this spring, there are normally a few around by now, it looks as though the recent spell of bad weather over Spain and Portugal has held them back during their journey up from Africa.
Making our way towards Haydn's pool Reed Warblers were singing from the phragmites at the side of Neumann's and we added Nuthatch, Mistle Thrush and Goldcrest to the day list. Very little water at Neumann's unfortunately, the only species of note was a Sparrowhawk circling over the old ICI works in the distance.

Tomorrow evening (26th) it's our KOS AGM which normally takes all of 10 minutes! no one will be press-ganged into serving on the committee as all last year's officers have volunteered to continue for another 12 months. Admission is free and after the short formalities Sheila and Geoff will be giving us a presentation entitled "Texas the Roadrunner State".

Species recorded at Neumann's Flash - 17th April 2019
Reed Bunting, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Willow Warbler, Robin, Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Greylag Goose, Magpie, Mallard, Blue Tit, Wren, Sedge Warbler, Mute Swan, Buzzard, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Starling, Carrion Crow, Canada Goose, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Dunnock, Lapwing, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Cuckoo, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Oystercatcher, Black Headed Gull, Gadwall, Shoveler, Shelduck, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Reed Warbler, Swallow, Cormorant, Chaffinch, Stock Dove, Tufted Duck, Jay, Garden Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Redshank, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Mistle Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Whooper Swan. [ ✓ 55]

15/04/2019...... A good day at Leighton Moss
Another cold day on Sunday (14th) for our April field trip - up the M6 to the RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss. The temperature never reached double figures all day and a strong easterly wind didn't help matters, although once in the shelter of the reed beds it felt pleasantly warm.

We began with a climb up the sky tower, as you can imagine it was perishing up there but we were rewarded with excellent views from above of some of the resident Marsh Harriers floating over the reserve, the male birds looking magnificent as the morning sun caught them twisting and turning over the reeds. Having ticked off some of the commoner species also to be seen from the tower we made our way down and set off along the track towards the Tim Jackson hide; Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers were all in song as well as the resident Cetti's Warblers exploding into action from the undergrowth, we did actually catch fleeting views of a couple of individuals but they do tend to remain well-hidden almost all the time. Also along the paths were the Marsh Tits - great views as usual of this rapidly declining species. As we approached the Jackson hide we heard our first Reed Warbler of the year - Sedge Warbler had apparently also been heard but we had just this single Reed during our visit.
All three species of hirundine passed through as we watched from the Jackson hide, just one House Martin amongst them. The Harriers were again very active, a male bird was collecting nesting material and carrying it to a location opposite the hide and another passing food in mid-air to his partner.
Following visits to the Grisedale and Lillian's hides we enjoyed a lunchtime break in the excellent restaurant before walking down to the Causeway hide where we added Oystercatcher, Great Crested and Little Grebe to the day list and watched a family of four Otters enjoying a fishing expedition in the centre of the lake. The first I've seen at Leighton Moss despite so many visits over the years. No Bitterns (only one male this year) or Bearded Reedlings, although others had heard them calling earlier in the day.

A short drive and walk found us at the coastal hides from where we had some spectacular views of the species present. The islands were covered with a rufous cloak of 100's of Black-tailed Godwits in a confusion of plumages! From time to time, perhaps spooked by a passing predator, the whole lot would take flight and a number of smaller grey birds, about 50, revealed their presence amongst the Godwits. They were Knot, apparently still in winter plumage, perhaps 2nd calendar year birds that won't attain their characteristic Summer plumage until next year. A knowledgeable local birder also pointed out three Bar-tailed Godwits amongst the flock of Black-tailed, we'd have overlooked those without his help!
Other species on view from the two hides included Avocet, Peregrine, Pink-footed Goose and Great Egret giving us a pretty impressive total of 66 for the day. You can't go wrong at a reserve like Leighton Moss at this time of the year!

species seen at Leighton Moss Sunday 14th April 2019.
House Martin, Dunnock, Jay, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Buzzard, Goldfinch, Wren, Collared Dove, Chiffchaff, Woodpigeon, Cetti's Warbler, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Pheasant, Robin, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Black-headed Gull, Mallard, Teal, Coot, Mute Swan, Nuthatch, Marsh Harrier, Treecreeper, Lapwing, Carrion Crow, Marsh Tit, Moorhen, Reed Warbler, Pochard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gadwall, Swallow, sand Martin, Grey Heron, Magpie, Great Black-backed Gull, Water Rail, Shoveler, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Snipe, Reed Bunting, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Oystercatcher, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Knot, Black-tailed Godwit,Bar-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Redshank, Peregrine Falcon, Long-tailed Tit, Great White Egret, Cormorant, Pink-footed Goose, Jackdaw [ ✓ 66] .

11/04/2019...... Record number of Tatton Sand Martins
So far April has been colder than March and days of adverse weather conditions over the past week caused a build up of summer migrants at suitable locations as they paused in their journey north. Bob Groom had what must be a record count of Sand Martins over the Tatton meres last Thursday (4th) .......... I paid a visit at lunchtime and there were Sand Martins literally from one end of Tatton Mere to the other. It was mesmerizing watching them, a rough guesstimate would be 1,500 birds. There were 5 Swallows over the Head-of-the-Mere 'pool', didn't see any others but then visibility wasn't good. Also 66 Sand Martins over Melchett Mere. I headed home when the wind got stronger and the rain even heavier. Just hope there were enough insects for them all!. Tatton ranger Darren Morris reported 100's of Sand Martins the previous day plus the first House Martin of the year over Melchett Mere; Darren also counted 12 occupied Herons' nests in the park's Higmere Plantation. I had a look on Saturday (6th) and there were well-grown young on view but some birds seemed to be on eggs - perhaps replacement clutches after problems caused by the gales in March.
In Dog Wood I had 4 singing Chiffchaffs and 6 Blackcaps but no Willow Warblers, although the previous day (5/4) David Cogger had one fly into his house through an open door; he managed to catch and positively identify it before sending it on it's way! Darren heard one singing in the deer park in Tatton on Monday (8th) but the rest of us had to wait until Wednesday (10th) for our first of the year when two were in song at Woolston Eyes.
It was fine and sunny at Woolston but only 8C with a biting easterly wind - scarves and gloves still the order of the day! Other summer visitors included Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and small parties of hirundines that were passing quickly through - still mostly Sand Martins with a few Swallows and just a single House Martin.
All the usual wildfowl were present - Mallard, Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Greylag and Canada Geese, Teal, Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall, Pochard, Mute Swan, Shoveler, Little and Great Crested Grebes plus the reserve's speciality - Black-necked Grebes of course! 17 had been counted earlier, it took us sometime to locate any but eventually a pair were located in the reeds opposite the Morgan hide from where we also noted the nesting pair of Lapwings on one of the small islands just below the hide - the female bird was incubating three eggs. Just a single Brambling remained under the feeders, two further pairs of Black-necked Grebes showed well from the Frank Lindley hide from where a Cetti's Warbler sang briefly as we left.

This Sunday (14th) we have our April field trip to Leighton Moss. 08:30 from the Tatton Street car park or c. 10am at the reserve. A great time of the year to visit Leighton and we should have booming Bitterns and plenty of summer migrants, hopefully including the first Reed and Sedge Warblers of the year!

Species seen at Woolston Eyes 10th April 2019.
Blue Tit, Woodpigeon, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Cormorant, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Wren, Carrion Crow, Great Crested Grebe, Chiffchaff, Tufted Duck, Blackcap, Robin, Rook, Willow Warbler, Black-headed Gull, Canada Goose, Teal, Coot, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Shoveler, Lapwing, Buzzard, Jay, Grey Heron, Jackdaw, Pheasant, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Sparrowhawk, Reed Bunting, Greylag Goose, Magpie, Song Thrush, Shelduck, Mallard, Mute Swan, Brambling, Black-necked Grebe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Moorhen, Kestrel, Cetti's Warbler, Pochard [ ✓ 50]
Butterflies - Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Speckled Wood

03/04/2019......A good record from Tatton and the first Blackcaps
Tatton's not a place for most waders - there are no large areas of mud to attract them, so a Redshank seen from the Allen hide at the side of Melchett Mere by Bob Groom was a nice record for the park. In the past the water level of the main mere was lowered every winter to give access for the removal of bottles etc. near the old bathing area exposing large areas of mud which attracted Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Redshank etc.

The same observer was over at Marbury Park last Thursday (28/3) and reports his first Blackcaps of the year with one seen and a further two heard. Jude Halman and I noted two on Monday (1/4) at Rostherne when we conducted the first of our 2019 CBC surveys in Rostherne's Harper's Bank Wood, just 3C, the same as last year's first visit, but thankfully no freezing rain this time! The species count in the wood is small but it is a very enjoyable exercise (on a dry day!!) the highlight for us was watching Treecreepers at two different locations carrying nest material into very likely nest sites.

The survey has been running continuously for more than 40 years and new volunteers are always welcome, you get to do a bit of "real" ornithology rather than just birdwatching (and also a Reserve key giving access to the new Whitley hide and areas normally not accessible to other permit holders!)

Our 45th anniversary holiday to Wales is just over a month away and I'm glad to report that the Dyfi Ospreys have returned and are busy refurbishing last year's nest. The link below is to the webcams overlooking the nest (now 2 cameras in full HD) I've also added links to two other sites - Glaslyn (also in Wales) and also Loch Garten. A pair at Glaslyn, but no birds so far at Garten where, as I write, the nest is under two feet of snow!

Dyfi - click here..... Glaslyn - click here..... Loch Garten - click here



27/03/2019...... Visible Migration
I sometimes refer in these updates to visible migration (viz.mig.) normally when we're in somewhere like Tatton and flocks of hirundines and even species such as Lesser Black-backed Gulls can be seen passing through the area. They don't spend long with us, arriving in waves before moving on almost immediately during their Spring and, to a lesser extent, Autumn journeys.
I knew one or two people partook of this rather esoteric aspect of our hobby but I didn't realise how popular it has become until Monday (28th) when Bob Groom and I met up at the Rostherne reserve with Barrie Armitt, ex-Mobberley resident and a product of our KOS junior section back in the early days of the Society. Barrie lives now in Crosby Merseyside and almost every morning from 7:00am, sometimes earlier, can be found ensconced at the top of a sand dune recording the passage of (land-based) birds along the coast - species and numbers thereof. These data are then entered onto a rather splendid website devoted solely to viz.mig - https://www.trektellen.nl. Barrie's personal data can be seen by clicking here. Different strokes for different folks!
Barrie is hoping to join us on one or two of our trips - especially to Lunt Meadows - only a few miles from his home. He plans once again to go camping in the Shetlands during October in search of rare vagrants and hopefully he'll be sending us emails of his autumnal adventures. They were well received last year Baz!!

Today (27th) we enjoyed a mornings birding over at Woolston Eyes and those that hadn't already done so were able to add Sand Martin (5) and Chiffchaff to their year list. A Cetti's Warbler again sang briefly from the reeds just below the first raised viewing platform from where we added the usual selection of wildfowl to the day list - Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal etc. and also the first Black-necked Grebe we'd seen this year. More Grebes were on view from the Morgan hide, so probably around six have now returned, a small flotilla of eight male and three female Pochard glided into view as we watched the Grebes (someone's going to be disappointed!) whilst on the feeders, Blue and Great Tits, Greenfinches plus half a dozen Bramblings coming into full breeding plumage reminding us that Winter can still have a cold sting in its tail.
A Willow Tit was calling from the area where we heard one singing on our last visit and a single Redpoll flying overhead as we returned to the cars was species #42 rounding off a very pleasant Wednesday morning.

species recorded at Woolston Eyes - 27th March 2019.
Collared Dove, Greenfinch, Blackbird, Grey Heron, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull,Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Robin, Chiffchaff, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Gadwall, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Goldfinch, Lapwing, Canada Goose, Mallard, Shelduck, Greylag Goose, Shoveler, Teal, Cetti's Warbler, Black-necked Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Magpie, Long-tailed Tit, Pheasant, Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, reed Bunting, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Mute Swan, Brambling, Sand Martin, Willow Tit, Redpoll. [ ✓ 42]

18/03/2018...... A wild day on the Wirral
It's not often that we make last minute changes to our field trips, I can't remember more than a couple of occasions over the past 45 years but on Saturday (16th) the weather forecast for the southern Lake District was so bad that we decided to, re-schedule Leighton Moss for April and instead travel over to Burton Mere Wetlands. This meant that we avoided the worst of the impending storm and also a total of at least 3 hours travel time there and back, mainly on the M6. Additionally we already knew the paths at Leighton were flooded in mid-week so they could only have become worse (right).

So it was a small and very select group that met up in Lilac Avenue for the journey west to the Wirral peninsula! Heavy rain to start with but the sun actually appeared as we approached our destination, although it was very, very windy; conditions that prevailed for the rest of the day - occasional sunshine and heavy, but short lived, rain showers.

A good start to proceedings as we drove down Puddington Lane and came across a group of 24 Egrets feeding in a sheltered field. I did a quick count and assumed they were all Little Egrets but I was later told the two Cattle Egrets were often to be found amongst them.

Staff outnumbered visitors at the reception centre but, most importantly, they'd got the coffee on, so we enjoyed a cup as we set up the 'scopes and began scanning the reserve. Most species were hunkered down due to the ongoing gale, but a female Marsh Harrier spent most of the morning quartering the reserve, her progress marked by potential victims taking briefly to the air. A passing Peregrine though caused much more consternation and generated a blizzard of activity!
Lapwings appear to be on eggs already and a number were in constant action seeing off intruders whilst the Avocets don't seem to have started yet and looked absolutely brilliant as they fed in the shallows. The head Warden told me they had at least 70 and steps have been taken to deter predators by the erection of an electric fence around the whole of the marsh- excellent!
We counted 47 Grey Herons crouched in the reeds, I assume they would be well into incubation by now but there was no sign of activity in the trees where they nest - the weather was doing them no favours. From the Inner Marsh Hide we had good views of a Great White Egret and a selection of the usual wildfowl sheltering from the wind - Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal and a large number of Wigeon.
As you can imagine small birds were taking a low profile but stands of willow afforded some protection and we were able to add species such as singing Wren, Dunnock, and Robin to the day list - not birds we'd normally struggle with! Finally on the return leg we had the briefest of views of a Bearded Reedling, low over the water flying between two clumps of phragmites. 52 species recorded, a thoroughly enjoyable morning and much better than likely!

This Friday 22nd March it's our final indoor meeting of the season before the AGM. We'll be welcoming back David Tolliday who will be telling us all about "Overseas Travel with a Wildlife Camera".

Species seen on the Wirral - 16th March 2019.
Collared dove, Chaffinch, Song Thrush, Little Egret, Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Tufted Duck, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Shoveler, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Shelduck, Black-tailed Godwit, Mallard, Teal, Cormorant, Skylark, Redshank, Starling, Gadwall, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Jackdaw, Pheasant, Robin, Blackbird, Little Grebe, Cetti's Warbler, Wren, Wigeon, Pied Wagtail, Rook, Long-tailed Tit, Pintail, Redshank, Bearded Reedling, Raven, Kingfisher, Buzzard, Curlew, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Egret. [ ✓ 52]

Ken and Shirley Davies have recently enjoyed two trips away to WWT reserves in their camper prior to leaving later in the Spring for four months in Scandinavia - living the dream!
Thanks for your reports Ken.
Our trips to WWT starting at Slimbridge on the 7th of February the weather was overcast and windy thankfully no rain unlike the day before and the day after it rained a lot and was windier. It did not deter us from seeing the following birds.

Robin , Wren, Collared Dove, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Woodpigeon, Yellowhammer, Goldfinch, Redshank, Snipe, Dunlin, Crane, Lapwing, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Golden Plover, Dunnock, Herring Gull, Black Headed Gull, Coot, Moorhen, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail. Bewick's Swan, Mute Swan, Shelduck, White-fronted Geese, Mallard, Greylag Geese, Black-tailed Godwit, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Barnacle Geese, Canada Geese, Grey Heron, Twite, Starling, Linnet, Skylark, Fieldfare, Meadow Pipit, Rook, Pheasant, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Curlew, Peregrine, Song Thrush, Water Rail, Cormorant, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Merlin, Blackbird (58


Ten days later we visited Caerlaverock WWT 17th/18th Feb . Not having much luck with the weather, raining windy and a bit cool again, out we went and had a reasonable two days birding.

Collared Dove, Robin, Curlew, Blackbird, Starling, Chaffinch, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Pheasant, Little Egret, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Merlin, Kestrel, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Yellow Hammer, Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow, Peregrine, Golden Plover, Coal Tit, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Gold Finch, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Pink-footed Geese, Grey Heron, Shoveler, Cormorant, Pintail, Scaup, Mute Swan, Teal, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Whooper Swan, Barnacle Geese, Canada Geese, Shelduck.

10/03/2019...... Sand Martin in Tatton
Winter returned with a vengeance today. Gale force winds and heavy rain to begin with, followed in the afternoon by sleety snow and eventually a flash of lightening ushered in a fierce hail storm as the temperature dropped rapidly from 7.0 to 2.5C. This though didn't deter the indefatigable Bob Groom who's persistence was rewarded with Tatton's first Sand Martin of the year over the main mere! .......... I was amazed how it kept flying in the atrocious conditions. I retreated into my car during the worst of it but as the sun came out again, there it was still criss-crossing the mere. Just hope it manages to find enough insects to survive this extreme weather........ This follows on from Bob's first Sand Martin of the season at Woolston Eyes and a count of no less than 25 yesterday over Marbury Park's Budworth Mere. So, despite the conditions, it's officially the first day of the KOS Spring!

7/3/2019...... A great morning at Woolston Eyes
Ignoring a less than encouraging weather forecast a small group of seven mid-weekers travelled over to Woolston for a couple of hours birding on Wednesday morning (6th). Crossing over the bridge onto the reserve we were greeted by a Song Thrush in full early Spring song perched in the bare branches at the top of an ash tree - beautiful and a good start to the day.
From the raised viewing platform all the usual suspects plus a Water Rail scuttling across the wide ride that's been cut through the reedbed opposite whilst just to one side the explosive song of a Cetti's Warbler - now quite commonplace here at Woolston with a number of breeding pairs - perhaps someone could send us a couple over to Knutsford Moor. Please!
Bob Groom was a little behind the rest of the party as we walked to the Tower hide and, when he caught us up, was justifiably quite delighted to report that he'd had a Sand Martin as he'd made his way over. The first for any KOS member and a first this year for the reserve - nice one Robert!!

Elevenses were taken in the comfort of the Morgan hide, bolstered on the day by Jude's excellent home made picked onions - I hope you save some for the Christmas party Jude!
Plenty of action in front of the hide. No Black-necked Grebes yet but plenty of Black-headed Gulls, Little and Great Crested Grebes and displaying Shoveler on the water whilst on the well-stocked feeders Chaffinches, Greenfinches and four Bramblings.
Further round the reserve, on the track away from the Warrington Rotary hide, a song none of us is very familiar with, that of a Willow Tit, hidden away in a tangle of undergrowth. We downloaded the song from the excellent Xeno-Canto bird song website for confirmation. No such problems a further 50 yards down the track as we approached our first Chiffchaff of the year, close enough for everyone to hear - unlike the Willow Tit which was outside the range of some of the old ears amongst us!

A reminder that it's time to renew your Woolston permit or apply for one if you've never had one previously. Click here - permits.

species recorded at Woolston Eyes - 6th March 2019.
Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Magpie, Dunnock, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Mallard, Cormorant, Robin, Blackbird, Greylag Goose, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Song Thrush, Gadwall, Wren, Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Canada Goose, Teal, Shoveler, Coot, Pheasant, Shelduck, Water Rail, Little Grebe, Cetti's Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Heron, Oystercatcher, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, Siskin, Sand Martin, Chaffinch, Pochard, Brambling, Moorhen, House Sparrow, Willow Tit, Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, Lapwing. [ ✓ 47]



03/03/2019...... More early Summer visitors
By the time you read this it's possible that storm Freya will be upon us as it powers in from the Atlantic Ocean, not good news for the very early migrants that arrived during the recent mild spell when a temperature of 21.2C was recorded in the south of England - the warmest Winter day ever recorded in the British Isles!
Wheatears, Sand Martins and Chiffchaffs have been seen already in places such as Anglesey, Burton Mere and Marbury; none at Tatton or Rostherne as far as I know but KOS member Karina Stanley heard a singing Chiffchaff yesterday (3/3) by the River Mersey in Didsbury.

In Mobberley singing Skylarks are back along Smith Lane and Hobcroft Lane but, as yet, no displaying Lapwings although I expect them to return on schedule this coming week in the big fields opposite Smith Lane farm, their favourite location; this year growing Winter wheat - so they may stand more of a chance than last year.
In Tatton Bob Groom counted 65 Common Snipe when they were flushed from the reed bed by a photographer, no Jack Snipe this time though. Bob recently had a Peregrine from the obs. at Rostherne and I was lucky enough to get a good view of one, carrying prey, as it flew low overhead. Also there an Oystercatcher perched on the rails of the weather buoy in the middle of the mere (25/2).

In two weeks time Saturday (16/3) it's our March field trip up to Leighton Moss meeting at the reserve around 10am or 08:30am in Lilac Avenue. We'll be looking for Sand Martin, Marsh Harrier, Marsh Tit, Bearded Reedling and, of course, booming Bitten!

Please note that our April Field Trip has been changed from Saturday 20th April to Sunday 14th April to avoid the Easter weekend.



19/2/2019...... Very early Summer migrants
We're enjoying spring-like weather at the moment as strong southerly winds sweep up all the way from Africa bringing us daytime temperatures as high as 14 ° C. A Red-rumped Swallow and one of our own Barn Swallows were both seen in South Wales last week, a House Martin was recorded today (19/2) on Anglesey and Bob Groom tells me a Sand Martin on Saturday (16/2) was the earliest ever recorded in the Cheshire and Wirral recording area!

My request for volunteers to help with the Big Farmland Bird Count organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust met with a lukewarm response which was a great pity. A list of farms who had asked for help from competent birders was extensive with a large number in and around the Northwich / Middlewich area. This is an ideal opportunity to open a few doors and gain access to some new birding areas - I'll be twisting a few arms next year.

As it was, just Bill Killey and I took part, and last Wednesday (13/2) visited Shipbrook Hill Farm, Whatcroft owned by Simon Bennett and home of Riverside Organic, a family run farm, wholesalers, farm shop, and cafe. The farmland is managed as stipulated in Natural England's Higher Level Stewardship scheme.
The farm stands in a lovely location; slightly elevated with views down the Dane Valley looking towards Northwich - the survey itself is a doddle and requires that observers simply select an area "of interest" and spend half an hour identifying and counting the species seen!

Bill and I chose a field just down the road from the farm - flat and very damp running alongside the River Dane and being managed with Lapwings in mind. The first birds we saw as we approached the field were Curlews, a flock of 21 - so we started the clock there and then! An area of open water and juncus reed in the centre of the field held 6 Mallard and 13 Teal, a Song Thrush was singing from a roadside ash tree and, as we left, a Chaffinch spluttered into song - the first I've heard this year. 19 species and one Brown hare was a very satisfactory total given the 30' time limit.
Bill and I have been invited back in the Spring to see what's about during the breeding season: door open - job done!

The annual late Winter increase in visitors to our feeders is underway, the resident Goldfinches have been joined by up to six beautiful little Siskins and yesterday three female Reed Buntings. No sign yet of Redpolls or Bramblings but I'm hoping we'll get some soon - other KOS members have reported both species in their gardens recently.

This Friday (23rd) it's our February indoor meeting when Ashley Grove will be telling us all about "Trinidad and Tobago: Home of the Hummingbird". As usual 7:45pm for an 8pm start in the Jubilee Hall.



12/2/2019...... A weekend of contrasts
Over the years I've slowly built up a modest collection of bird books, almost all concerning British birds. I have travelled abroad a few times but never been able to work up much enthusiasm for the species to be found in those far flung places. We've been to New Zealand five times but I've never seen a Kiwi! I'm never happier than when I'm out birding in the UK - especially the leafy lanes of Cheshire. So, naturally, it's the books of Thomas Alfred Coward that I value most and I have all his published works. They're not expensive, I think my copy of "The Birds of Cheshire" published in 1900 cost the most - about £ 80.
Despite this narrow spectrum of ornithological interests I've always found other people's books, if not their birds, fascinating; especially rare antiquarian examples and none more so than Audubon's iconic "Birds of America" - the four volume "double elephant" portfolio published in the mid 19th century each measuring 39"X26" with a total weight of 200lbs!. They're worth a little more than any of Coward's! In 2010 a set of the four volumes were auctioned for $11.5 million, equivalent to $13.2M today.
I knew that the Liverpool Central Library owned a set and one was always on display in a glass case, each volume in turn and a new page revealed once a week. It was always my intention to travel over for a look but never got round to it, but when it was announced a few weeks ago that a special series of viewings were being arranged of not one but two volumes - out of their glass cases and laid out in front of you with staff on hand to relate the story of their arrival in Liverpool and answer questions about their conservation (past and future) it was an opportunity not to be missed.

So on Saturday (9th February) Olwen and I headed west to Merseyside and the centre of Liverpool; just one navigation error when we ended up driving through the sleepy suburb of Wavertree not a place in which to linger! We finally arrived with no further mishaps at the appropriate location, a much more salubrious spot with the library sandwiched between the World Museum and the Walker Art Gallery opposite St. John's Gardens and the Bedlam Paintball Emporium!
The library itself is a lovely building having re-opened in 2013 after extensive refurbishment with all the usual facilities and a pleasant cafe serving snacks and proper coffee. The viewing event took place on the third floor, in the search room, into which we were ushered at the allotted time. A group of about 25 people who were asked to consider others during the event - not to hog the best positions and allow everyone to get a good view and take photos if they wished. This worked well, all very civilised with participants moving politely from spot to spot to examine the prints and take some record shots. The two members of staff gave interesting presentations and were happy to answer questions as they went along. The prints were beautiful and looked as fresh as the day they were completed and no one went away disappointed. I believe a further event is planned sometime this year with all four volumes available - but you'll need to book early!

On then to Sunday (10/2) and back to the day job, our February KOS field trip to Tatton Park, a reasonable turnout of 11 members and one pooch ably led my our leader for the Day Tony Ellis. We met up at the Dog Lodge layby, down Moordale Road and onto Knutsford Moor. A Song Thrush was singing at the bottom of Moordale but there was little of interest until we entered Dog Wood (when will we have a singing Cetti's on the Moor?). From a position looking across to the Higmere Plantation we were pleased to see the Mandarin Ducks were still present - 25 Males and at least 9 females, probably more, the boys were displaying furiously - perhaps a few nest boxes would be useful! 12 Herons perched high in the waterside alders watched the goings on below with haughty indifference. A Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed intermittently, Nuthatches called and a Green Woodpecker's yaffle was heard a couple of times.
Just a single Lesser Black-backed Gull further up the mere and a few Goldeneye, there's been no late winter build up as yet. Elevenses were taken in the Allen hide overlooking Melchett Mere whilst watching a small gathering of waterfowl including Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, a dozen or so Wigeon and a pair (or is it two) Egyptian Geese. Our return route took us around the far side of Melchett close to the reedbed where Tony E. and Patch diverted into the reeds themselves and managed to put up a few Common Snipe and no less than 10 Jack Snipe that flew only a few yards before diving back into the reeds in their characteristic manner, unlike their bigger cousins that invariably "tower" away and leave the area completely. We left the park via "Beech Walk" and were lucky enough to bump into the previously reported mixed flock of Chaffinches and Bramblings.
A respectable total of 49 species during a very pleasant mornings birding - thanks to all who were able to come along and help me celebrate my 75th birthday!!

Species seen in Tatton Park on 10th February 1944 2019.
Dunnock, Blue Tit, Song Thrush, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Wren, Mute Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Magpie, Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, great Tit, Carrion Crow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Little Grebe, Mandarin Duck, Redwing, Grey Heron, Canada Goose, Pochard, Siskin, Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Goldeneye, Coot, Moorhen, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wigeon, Egyptian Goose, Starling, Jack Snipe, Buzzard, Chaffinch, Brambling, Jay, Mistle Thrush, Common Snipe, Coal Tit. [ ✓ 49]



6/2/2019...... Cold snap brings us more Winter visitors
Topsy-turvy weather over the past couple of weeks, 7 ° C yesterday and 6.5 ° C today, in marked contrast to last week when the temperature remained below freezing on Thursday (31st) and dropped to -5 ° C in the early hours of Monday this week (4th).
More Redwings and Fieldfares have appeared in our area, Jayne Davies tells me that she had large numbers of Redwings on Sunday (3rd) when driving into Tatton Park and the following morning (4th) a large mixed flock of Redwings, Fieldfares and Starlings fed amongst the sheep in a field along Smith Lane in Mobberley. Also in the village singing Song and Mistle Thrushes, the latter were very active defending their chosen nest sites from one another - nice to see more than one pair of these early nesters. Goldcrests are in song, hidden away in the conifers surrounding Mobberley Church and some of the village's larger gardens.
We welcomed back the first Siskins of the Winter to our feeders last Saturday when a male and female appeared on the sunflower hearts. Certainly not the first though, Geoff and Sheila Blamire had Siskins and Redpolls in their Mere garden on Sunday the 27th during the Big Garden Birdwatch. Steve Collins hosted both species two weeks previously in his Knutsford garden.

The Manchester Birding Forum reports Brambling this morning (6th) along Beech Walk in Tatton. Park ranger Darren Morris had no less than 40 Mandarin Ducks in front of the Higmere Plantation on the Park's main mere (1/2). I thought this must have been a record for Cheshire but Hugh Pulsford tells me he has previously had a flock of c.100 on the lake in Alderley park where a nest box contained 24 eggs - all of which apparently hatched out!

An interesting text today from Darren who has watched (for the past few weeks) 15 to 20 Cormorants herding young carp into the shallows of the lagoon at the north end of Tatton mere. I've seen film of Pelicans doing this but a quick search on the internet revealed that other members of the Cormorant family indulge in this cooperative exercise in other parts of the world.

So plenty to look forward to on Sunday (10th) when our February field trip will be to Tatton. Meeting up at 9:00am in the Dog Lodge layby on Mobberley Road. Tony Ellis is the trip leader.



28/01/2019...... The Big Garden Birdwatch

Cool but dry weather over the weekend when we again teamed up with The Friends of Knutsford Moor (Saturday 26th) and The Friends of the Heath (Sunday 27th) to lend a hand with the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. 8C at 9:00am on Saturday morning as we gathered on the Moor. There was a good turnout of Knutsfordians together with three visitors from Stockport, it was just a pity that there were more people than birds! Still it was rewarding to be able to point out species such as Redwing, Nuthatch and Goldcrest etc. to folk who'd never seen them before. 28 different species in all, 3 up on last year but 7 less than in 2017. All recorded in one hour - the time allotted for the annual exercise.

Just 19 species the following morning on the Heath; despite the later start it was 3 degrees cooler at a chilly 5C with gale force northerly winds making it feel even colder. Although the two locations are about the same size the Heath suffers from not having an area of water within its boundaries and so misses out on the waterfowl to be found on the Moor Pool (although we "nearly" had an Egyptian Goose that passed low over the Heath without landing - that wouldn't feature on many garden lists!). Despite its limitations the Heath is a pleasant place to explore on a windy winters morning, numerous paths criss-cross the woodland making it very popular with local families walking their dogs and the shelter provided by the trees meant the small birds weren't affected by the weather and Blue, Great and Coal Tits were all in song - a gentle reminder that Spring's just around the corner (although the weather forecast gives snow for tomorrow and last year "The Beast from the East" didn't arrive until late February!

Song Thrushes were recorded at both locations and again this morning I had three in song on a walk around Mobberley. Very encouraging and it looks like they're making something of a comeback after years of decline.

On Friday (1/2) it's the CAWOS February meeting at 7:45pm at the Catholic Church on Tatton Street
Our second talk for 2019 is by Mike Leach who is a superb photographer and speaker. Mike has visited us a number of times and always has been very entertaining. His talk this time is a bit of a follow up to one of his previous talks although it is by no means necessary to have attended the "Part 1" to fully enjoy his offering this time. Thoroughly recommended to ALL! Michael returns with a second helping! Those with long memories will remember his entertaining part 1 back in 2005! Further confessions of a wildlife photographer featuring advice on how to make a wild cat look more menacing and the story of working with hen harriers on a storm-swept Scottish mountain. Michael reveals how cameramen look into the secret world of underground dens and how to build a motorway in your garden shed.

NB Some people are still getting CAWOS and KOS mixed up! KOS is the Knutsford Ornithological Society our local bird club and the "owners" of this website. CAWOS is the Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society - the county Society. Some KOS members are members of both.

Species seen on Knutsford Moor 26th January 2019. Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Coot, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, mallard, Moorhen, Redwing, Robin, Song Thrush, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Woodpigeon, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Cormorant, Carrion Crow, Coal Tit, Feral Pigeon, Collared Dove, Pochard. [ ✓ 28]
Species seen on Knutsford Heath 27th January 2019. Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Nuthatch, Robin, Song Thrush, Woodpigeon, Wren, Kestrel, Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker [ ✓ 19]

25/01/2019......Winter on the Wirral
A cold start to the day for our mid-week trip over to the Wirral on Wednesday (23rd), -0.3C at 9:00am with a maximum of only 1.1C during the afternoon. The car park at Burton Mere Wetlands was a sheet of ice and quite treacherous so it came as no surprise that the paths were closed to visitors, even the short stretch to the first viewing screen where we'd hoped to find the Bearded Reedlings.
Despite this disappointment, and the fact that the main pool was also iced over, we spent the best part of an hour in the reception building enjoying crystal clear views across the reserve to the Connah's Quay power station and up to the snow covered Welsh mountains in the distance. The RSPB wardens had the wood burner going full tilt and the filter coffee on offer was most welcome - all very civilised!
Pink-footed Geese passed to and fro high over the reserve whilst in the distance a small flock of Whooper Swans grazed alongside more Pinkfeet, Greylags and Canada Geese.

On then to Parkgate for the high tide of 10M. Many others had also made the trip and the car park at the old baths was chock-a-block, we managed to squeeze in and made our way to the sea wall where Sheila Blamire was nicely ensconced with a clear view across the estuary. The high tide was due at 12:36pm but it soon became apparent that the incoming water was never going to reach the sea wall, conditions on this occasion were just not in our favour. Nevertheless there were plenty of good birds to be found and those that appeared gave us good views. Up to five Marsh Harriers were in the air together, Male and female Hen Harriers caused much excitement as did the hunting Short-eared Owls - three at one stage with one posing photogenically on an old fence post out in the estuary, perhaps just too far away for the multitude of photographers after that killer image!!
Little Egrets were few and far between but a Great White Egret was a welcome addition to the day-list, Skylarks passed over in good numbers and two Stonechats obliged the photographers, assuming an appropriate pose just beyond the sea wall.
The Parkgate chippie was doing a roaring trade but it was again well worth the wait - great to welcome Len Mason back with us after his recent problems and in such good form - he wasn't going to miss those fish and chips!

Fieldfares have been conspicuous by their absence so far this Winter but I had 12 yesterday in Mobberley and Bob Groom counted 61 flying over Queensway at lunchtime.

A busy weekend ahead starting this evening (Friday 25th) -

Friday 25th January... KOS indoor meeting - "North Norfolk Here I Come" with Jim Almond

Saturday 26th January - Big Garden Birdwatch with the Friends of Knutsford Moor. 9am to 10am on the Moor.

Sunday 27th January - Big Garden Birdwatch with the Friends of Knutsford Heath 11am to noon on the Heath.

Species seen on the Wirral - Wednesday 23rd January 2019
Blue Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Mallard, Goldfinch, Pheasant, Pink-footed Goose, Starling, Redshank, Black Swan, Greylag Goose, Heron, Carrion Crow, Canada Goose, Reed Bunting, Whooper Swan, Moorhen, Lapwing, Teal, Little Egret, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Curlew, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Marsh Harrier, Black-headed Gull, lesser Black-backed Gull, Magpie, Snipe, Shelduck, Meadow Pipit, Short-eared Owl, Pied Wagtail, Oystercatcher, Hen harrier, Skylark, Shoveler, Kestrel, Great White Egret, Herring Gull. [ ✓ 44]

15/01/2019...... The Winter Wildfowl Watch 2019
It was a real Winters day last year (21 January 2018) for our annual Winter Wildfowl Watch at the Allen hide - overlooking Melchett mere in Tatton Park. More benign conditions for this years event on Sunday (13th) with a temperature of 10 ° C, although a very strong westerly wind made it feel a little cooler.

10 members arrived to give a hand during the morning, including Yvonne and Darren Morris who once again provided tea, coffee, biscuits and a supply of hot water - essential ingredients with which to tempt people in!

We were surprised that given the more agreeable weather there were so few people passing by, but nevertheless with the promise of free refreshments we were able to accompany a steady stream of visitors down to the hide throughout the morning.
Amongst the 31 species seen or heard there was nothing unusual but, with the use of member's 'scopes, things like Cormorant, Black-headed Gull, Coot, Mallard, Shoveler, Wigeon, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Pochard, Goldeneye and Common Snipe could be pointed out to our guests. Alan Gillespie, a long time friend of the KOS, again paid us a visit and alerted us to the fact that, as last year, a Kingfisher was on view along the channel connecting Melchett and the outlet stream from Tatton Mere. A 'scope was quickly set up there and passersby were able to view a species they'd previously only seen on TV!
Most visitors were local to the area and from the positive comments received I suspect we may see some of them again at one of our coming indoor meetings or outdoor field trips.

Thanks to all concerned for their help in making this event such a success - we must do it again sometime!

Also in the park Roger Barnes tells me that Grey Herons can be seen perched high in the alder trees of Higmere plantation, staking out their claims to the most favourable nest sites prior to the breeding season, which is now upon us - young birds have been seen as early as February at some locations in the past. On his way to the Allen hide Alan Gillespie walked along Beech Walk, next to the golf course, and reports seeing Brambings feeding on the beech mast - the first I've heard of in our area this winter.
In Mobberley a pair of Little Owls have set up shop along Pavement Lane and this morning on Slade Lane I watched a group of 5 Bullfinches exploring an orchard and heard three Song Thrushes and two Goldcrests in song. let's hope they don't get carried away - it's mild at the moment but the weather people tell us it's going to get a lot colder - winter's not over yet!

There are some high Spring tides next week - around 10 meters on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th. The RSPB will be putting on a special event on the 23rd.

Wednesday 23rd January - Parkgate High tide Birdwatch (RSPB). 10.30am-2.30pm, Price: Free. In celebration of the RSPB Dee Estuary reserve's 40th anniversary, join us at Parkgate Old Baths for the awe-inspiring spectacle of a high tide flooding the vast salt marsh, potentially reaching the old sea wall. The marsh at Parkgate is one of the best wetland habitats in the northwest, and when flooded by an incoming tide, the wildlife which lives here is pushed closer, with chance of seeing the great range of ducks, geese, wading birds and egrets in big numbers as they are driven upstream by the rising tide. A range of birds of prey take advantage of mice and voles flushed from the grasses; hen and marsh harriers, peregrines and merlins all spend the winter months on the estuary and this is one of the best places to watch them, plus short-eared owls if we're really lucky. So why not venture out to try witness all the drama. Low pressure and a westerly wind will help push the tide and wildlife in close. There is free public parking at the Old Baths car park (CH64 6RN) at the north end of The Parade, and the Wirral Country Park car park on Station Road (CH64 6QJ). There are public toilets at Mostyn Square in the middle of The Parade, and a number of pubs and cafes. High tide (10.0m/32.8ft) at 12.36pm.

Species recorded in Tatton Sunday 13th January 2019
Jackdaw, Redwing, Starling, Brambling, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull, Coot, mallard, Shoveller, Kestrel, Wigeon, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Pochard, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Tufted Duck, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Kingfisher, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Snipe. [ ✓ 31]


07/01/2019...... January field trip to Connah's Quay
I'd sent out an email to members with the postcode for the Connah's Quay reserve, the venue for Sunday's first field trip of the year on Sunday (6th). It must have been correct as everyone arrived with time to spare. Everyone except me and Frank that is. A combination of old age and finger trouble on the satnav found us still on the A55 at the allotted time heading for Conwy and Llandudno!
Luckily Frank was in his usual unflappable mode and soon had us back on track. We were late but only by a few minutes. 75 years ago chaps like him would have been sat in the tattered remains of the fuselage of a crippled Lancaster bomber calmly guiding the pilot back to safety at some aerodrome on the flatlands of Lincolnshire! Anyway, suitably embarrassed, we eventually landed to hoots of derision from the rest of the KOS Crew!!

High tide was at 11:00am so we made our way immediately to the tower hide at the far end of the reserve, Chaffinch, Linnet and Brambling, seen from the cars, were early additions to the day list as we made our way along the track running parallel with the River Dee. Earlier in the morning we'd seen huge flocks of Pink-footed geese passing overhead as we approached Connah's Quay, a few more were seen from the hide but here Canada Geese predominated, a sizable flock grazed in front of us accompanied by a few Greylags and two difficult to find Barnacle geese.
Waders were well represented with c. 50 Dunlin feeding on the mud before the tide rolled in plus Curlew, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and, in the distance, viewable only through the bigger 'scopes, a small group of Knot.
We had a number of sightings of Little Egrets out across the estuary towards Parkgate plus one record of a single Great White Egret. A Peregrine appeared from that direction and landed for a short time on a nearby pylon, partially obscured by the structure but viewable through the 'scopes. Just four species of raptor during the day with the Peregrine, an early Kestrel, Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier seen by Bob as we walked back to the cars, bringing our final tally to a reasonable 51 species. The only disappointment was the absence again of any Twite; apparently they have appeared only intermittently in small numbers at very high tides and after heavy rain when fresh water pools, in which they were seen bathing, formed in the car park.

This coming Sunday (13th) we'll again be at the Allen Hide, overlooking Melchett mere, in Tatton Park from 11am until 1pm for the annual Winter Wildfowl Watch in conjunction with the Park Rangers. Always good fun and we're hoping that refreshments will again be available but this depends on what Darren can scrounge!!

species seen at Connah's Quay on Sunday 6th January 2019.
Chaffinch, Brambling, Linnet, Robin, Grey Heron, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Kestrel, Great Tit, Curlew, Buzzard, Raven, Shelduck, Lapwing, Teal, Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Greylag Goose, Wigeon, Dunlin, Reed Bunting, Pheasant, Oystercatcher, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Shoveler, Coot, Moorhen, Cormorant, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Barnacle Goose, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Greenfinch, Little Grebe, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Harrier, Dunnock, Wren, Mallard, Peregrine, Mute Swan, Redwing. [ ✓ 51]



30/12/2018...... Christmas Walk
A pleasant enough day on Friday (28th) for our annual Christmas walk around Budworth Mere / Haydn's / Neumann's etc. - overcast but dry with a maximum temperature of 12 ° C. It was nice to see our Hon. Sec. Derek back out in the field and in great form! and also Hon. Treasurer Frank who survived a 10 hour drive up from Kent the previous day - sheer weight of traffic with cars queuing in the slip roads up to the services on the M25 and M6; how on earth are we to cope in the future when all these vehicles need their batteries charging when we're all electric?

Our route took us from the Witton Bridge car park up to Haydn's pool, along to Budworth Mere then over to Neumann's Flash on our way back to the cars. Dunnocks, Great and Blue Tits were all in song as we approached Butterfinch Bridge, no Cetti's Warbler this year but a Water Rail called briefly from deep inside the reedbed upstream from the bridge.

Haydn's Pool was disappointing; it's currently overgrown with little water to be seen, but we did tick off Stock Dove and Peregrine on the day list - the latter perched on a railing on the old ICI building, not in it's usual position on the chimney - you can't hide from the Hon. Chairman's Swarovski!

Elevenses were taken at the viewing screen overlooking Budworth Mere. More to see here, the most obvious species on view were the Goosanders - no less than 29 birds, four full adult males but mostly "red heads" one of which was fishing in the shallows, just below the screen, where Richard obtained the image shown above. A second Water Rail was heard from here whilst out on the mere good numbers of Great Crested Grebes two of which were displaying.

Over towards the sandspit were the gulls, Mainly Black-headed with a few Herring a handful of Lesser Black-backed and a single Great Black-backed. Other wildfowl included Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe with a couple of Canada Geese and a lone Goldeneye. A Kingfisher flew low over the mere as we made our way along the waterside path and into the woodland.

Approaching Neumann's we came across a small flock of finches predominately Green and Gold but alongside them a couple of Lesser Redpolls. More Wildfowl on Neumann's with Wigeon and Teal present in good numbers; across on the far side of the flash a flock of c. 200 Lapwings (but no Golden Plovers this time). Richard, Geoff and Sheila diverted to Pod's hide before returning to the cars and from there had a Snipe and great views of a Water Rail which was so close that Richard was able to capture this shot with his phone camera. In the foreground you'll see red roses left in memory of Pete "Pod" Antrobus and in who's memory the hide was erected. A poignant image and a reminder that for many people Christmas and New Year can be a very difficult time.

Some up and coming dates for your diary.

Friday 4th January.... The latest CAWOS meeting - Paul Hobson "Scotland" 7:45pm at the Catholic Church, Tatton Street, Knutsford.

Sunday 6th January.... Our KOS January field trip to Connah's Quay. 08:30am at the Tatton Street car park or 09:20 at the entrance to the reserve. Hopefully the Twite flock has built up again this winter.

Sunday 13th January... Wildfowl watch with the Tatton Rangers. 11:00am to 1pm at the Allen hide.

Friday 25th January... KOS indoor meeting - "North Norfolk Here I Come" with Jim Almond

Saturday 26th January - Big Garden Birdwatch with the Friends of Knutsford Moor. 9am to 10am on the Moor.

Sunday 27th January - Big Garden Birdwatch with the Friends of Knutsford Heath 11am to noon on the Heath.

Species seen at Northwich Woodlands. Friday 28th January 2018.Dunnock, Robin, Mallard, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Magpie, Chaffinch, Great tit, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Nuthatch, Water Rail, Carrion Crow, Peregrine Falcon, Stock Dove, Mute Swan, Jay, Coal Tit, Song Thrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goosander, great crested Grebe, Moorhen, Cormorant, lapwing, herring Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, great Black-backed Gull, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Shelduck, Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk, Coot, Kingfisher, Heron, Canada Goose, Long-tailed Tit, Buzzard, Greenfinch, Teal, Wigeon, Lesser Redpoll, Snipe. [ ✓ 47]

19/12/2018...... The KOS Christmas Party
Our 44th Christmas party went very well on Friday evening (14th). Despite fewer attendees than last year, as Frank Dearden our Hon. Treasurer reports, the society's finances received a very welcome boost.

Greetings all. A lovely evening last Friday rounded off our 2018 meeting programme with festive spirits fuelled by a delicious food offering. This event is also our sole fund raising effort of the year; here is how we did on that front.

A total of twenty one people attended the party; a figure lower than in previous years owing to a number of late cancellations from members felled by various bugs. Nevertheless, the evening was a great success on the financial as well as the enjoyment front, coming in the top three of KOS parties for money taken and profit recorded. The two occasions when slightly more was raised were years when we had guest lists of twenty eight. Based on the size of our gathering, it was the most financially productive party that we have ever had.

Admission money at £ 7 per head raised £ 147.00

The raffle organised by Sue and Jacquie brought in £ 54.10

The bring and buy stall, followed by the end of evening auction, overseen by Sheila and Judith realised £ 54.40

Various donations totalled £ 53.00

This produced a total revenue of £ 308.50. Deducting modest buffet costs of £ 51.50 (all the offerings being subsidised in some way by the providers) gave a profit of £ 257.00

So a big thank you to all involved in our party, for supporting the raffle and the bring and buy, for providing the food and making donations. Also to Bob for organising a quiz and providing the prize.

The sum raised will help keep the Society going and enable us to continue to attract quality speakers to our meetings.

Frank

Thanks Frank it looks as though we'll not have to post that begging letter to Jose Mourinho who's apparently leaving Old Trafford with a golden goodbye of £ 18 million!

I've not received many sightings of interest since the last update. Bob Groom was at Rostherne on 11th December and had a flock of c.100 Pinkfeet flying over. In Mobberley along Pavement Lane two Little Owls have taken over the oak tree nest site used two years ago by a pair of Barn Owls. Blue, Great and Coal Tits have been in song for the past couple of weeks and were joined over the weekend by the local Dunnocks. Not long now to the shortest day and in the garden the daffodil leaves are beginning to emerge - Spring can't be that far away - or am I being a tad too optimistic? In his weather column in today's Times Paul Simons, who correctly predicted the arrival of the "Beast from the East" at the end of February, seems confident that were going to suffer something similar in the near future, possibly as soon as late December although more likely in mid to late January. It could run through to February with hard frosts, ice and snow - you've been warned!

I've updated the trips and meetings page with three additional outdoor events. On December 28th we'll be having our Christmas walk around the Northwich Woodlands - Neumann's / Haydn's / Budworth Mere etc. meeting at the usual Witton Bridge car park at 09:45 for a 10am start.
We'll again be joining forces with two Knutsford organisations for the Big Garden Birdwatch. Friends of Knutsford Moor at 9:00am on 26th January and Friends of Knutsford Heath at 11:00am the following day.



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