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Supplementary Pages 2022

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Updated  17th August 2022

17/08/2022...... More Hobbies and a White Stork.

Quite a gap since the last update due to my computer packing up and the extreme temperatures in the computer room! Anyway the weather has returned to normal, and I have a new HP computer, complete with a five year, comprehensive next-day repair contract, courtesy of Gordon at Tabley Computers - local, knowledgeable, very reliable and reassuringly expensive! .

Luckily the pc problem has come in the quiet time for birding but I have received some reports - so I'll do these in reverse order with the most recent first.

Hobbies again feature in many reports, it's about now that the young fledge and birds have been recorded in Mobberley, Rostherne and an undisclosed site a short distance from Knutsford. Bob Groom and I had great views from the Rostherne observatory of a Hobby hawking for dragonflies on Monday morning (15/8), also there a Common Sandpiper flushed from the mereside by the Hobby.

Two sandpipers at Tatton's Mill Pool on Saturday (13/8) but on this occasion they were Green Sandpipers, reported by Tatton ranger Darren Morris. I've spent hours there, sat on the bench overlooking the pool and not seen a thing (of any consequence!) - still it's a nice quiet location, even on the busiest days.
Also in the park, two Sundays ago (7/8), I was sat on the bench by the side of Melchett Mere scanning the sky when I was lucky enough to come across a large black and white bird circling in the thermals over the park. It was a White Stork! As I watched, it drifted over in the direction of Mere, where Geoff and Sheila Blamire live, I phoned them but unfortunately they were in Northwich at the time and missed it. I've seen the species in Hungary and on Cyprus but never in the UK (except for a ringed escapee one Winter in Tabley). I think it's a new one for Tatton.

Our Swifts seemed to have left us and headed south - I spend a lot of time on the decking at the back of the house (worrying about how I can afford the next gas and electric bill) but also in the hope that something "interesting" will pass over and I've not seen a Swift for over a week now.
Derek Pike does the same, in his case not worrying about bills of course, but in anticipation of a significant overflying rarity......."I went to sit in the garden at 7 40pm sky watching looking for Swifts no luck. Instead I had, at one time, 50+ Swallows - how many in total don't know. Were the 50+ the same ones going back and forth feeding very high up? This went on for 45 minutes (now have stiff neck). Then, for several minutes, no birds - then one or two, then 20 + etc.
At one time I though they had gone over the house heading south as the sky was empty for a couple of minutes then 50+ birds came back, then a few more.
If they were all different birds going over for 45 minutes - hell of a lot of Swallows! "
.......

Last Wednesday a small group of us enjoyed a mornings birding at Warrington's Woolston Eyes reserve. It's not the "best" time of the year at Woolston but, nevertheless, we managed a list of 40 species during our visit. No full song but we did pick out Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Sedge Warbler, with a few bars from a Cetti's Warbler. From the first raised viewing platform a very young Water Rail chick sneaked through the undergrowth and the first of multiple views of a Sparrowhawk, hunting low over the reed beds. Identification of wildfowl, at this point in the season, can be challenging but a small, drab individual seen from the tower hide was thought to be a Garganey.
Elevensies were enjoyed in the Morgan hide where the feeders were attracting the expected species - Blue Tit, Great Tit and Greenfinches but no Willow Tits on this occasion. Moving round to the Frank Linley hide, Gadwall, Pochard, Little and Great Crested Grebes rounded off a very agreeable mornings birding.

It was great to see Ken Davies on Wednesday, back from his Scandinavian adventures with Shirley in their motor home. Ken has again sent me a brief account of their travels and a list of species actually seen.
....."Shirley and myself started out on the 3rd of May on the over night ferry Harwich to the Hook van Holland with a visit to the Keukenhof gardens, fantastic display of bulb flowering plants, not many birds but quite a few Ring-necked Parakeets flying around . Our journey took us through Holland Germany and up into Denmark where we had a surprise sighting of a White-tailed Eagle on the west coast then over to the east coast for our ferry to Sweden. We decided to go along the border of Norway towards the Arctic Circle spotting a Rough-legged Buzzard at one of our nights stop . As we travelled north we had a big worry we may run our of diesel must have been nearly empty as to fill the motor home cost £171 (and we think the fuel is expensive in the UK) Leaving the Arctic Circle with little traffic on the roads, we had a perfect view of a Wryneck flying out of the trees and landing on a post next to the road . Every day on more than two or three occasions we heard the Cuckoo some times way into the night but that far north it doesn't go dark. We travelled down the east coast of Sweden going onto the island of Oland then to the south of Sweden and over to Rostock Germany and south to the Mosel for a bottle or two . Then sadly home not able to return to Europe for 90 days due to the Schengen agreement not allowing us.
The birds I have listed are not in the order we spotted them sorry. "
..........

Rook ,Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Starling, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Red Kite, Buzzard, Collared Dove, Blackbird , Long-tailed Tit , Blue tit , Great Tit , Ring-necked Parakeet , Robin , Chaffinch , Chiffchaff , White Wagtail , Mute Swan , Cormorant , Black-headed Gull , Herring Gull , Common Tern , Mallard , Egyptian Goose , Grey Heron , Coot , Oystercatcher , Little Egret , Shelduck , Tufted Duck , Great White Egret , Gadwall , Shoveler , Greylag Goose , Bittern , Common Sandpiper , Redshank , Avocet , Whitethroat , Kestrel , Blackcap , Swallow , Cetti's Warbler , Willow Warbler , Cuckoo , Song Thrush , Sedge Warbler , Reed Bunting , Marsh Harrier , White Stork , Jay , Green Woodpecker , Spotted Flycatcher , Reed Warbler , Wren , Lapwing , Grasshopper Warbler , Great Spotted Woodpecker , Yellow Wagtail , Stonechat , Skylark , Meadow Pipit , Brent Goose , Barnacle Goose , Knot , Great Black-Backed Gull , Black-tailed Godwit , Wigeon , Ringed Plover , Ruff , Grey Plover , Dunlin , Greenshank , Bar-tailed Godwit , Red-necked Grebe , Spoonbill ,Crane , Pochard , Goldeneye , Water Rail , Garganey , Golden Plover , Kittiwake , Curlew , Eider , Common Scoter , Red-breasted Merganser , Pied Wagtail , Linnet , House Martin , Hooded Crow , Tree Sparrow , Greenfinch , White-tailed Eagle , Yellowhammer , Wheatear , Raven , Grey Wagtail , Fieldfare , Eurasian Nuthatch , Bullfinch , Pied Flycatcher , Rough-legged Buzzard , Sparrow Hawk , Wryneck , Red Grouse , Redstart , Swift , Black Guillemot , Velvet Scouter , Lesser Black-backed Gull , Common Gull , Turnstone , Sandwich Tern , Gannet , Black-throated Diver , Canada Goose , Green Sandpiper , Whooper Swan , Arctic Tern , Spotted Redshank , Whimbrel , Great Crested Grebe , Goosander , Moorhen , Red-backed Shrike , Grey Partridge , Black Redstart , Siskin , Sand Martin , Dunnock. (135)

Species recorded at Woolston Eyes - Wednesday 10th August 2022.
Blackbird, Magpie, Swallow, Grey Heron, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sparrowhawk, Water Rail, Black-tailed Godwit, Cormorant, Woodpigeon, Coot, Moorhen, Pheasant, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Wren, Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Mute Swan, Blackcap, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Shoveler, Garganey, Sedge Warble, Lapwing, Goldfinch, Willow Warbler, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Cetti's Warbler, Gadwall, Jay, Jay, Nuthatch, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pochard, Snipe [ ✓ 40]



26/07/2022......Jacquie's evening walk
A week ago we were all having to endure temperatures in the upper thirties, just 17C this evening - much more pleasant. We've had plenty of much needed rain too; our water butt, that collects rainwater from the garage roof, is full once again and the overflow pipe leading down the garden has fully replenished the wildlife pond.

The weather had begun to turn on Friday (22/7) for our third and last Summer evening walk, when Jacquie Ledward, ably assisted by Sue Middleton, guided us on a stroll through the Northwich woodlands.
A good turnout of 14 members gathered in the car park next to the Stanley Arms and set off along Cogshall Lane; it was overcast and a bit gloomy with periods of light drizzle but that failed to dampen spirits! The evening started well with a male Sparrowhawk in full attack mode chasing a Blackbird; Swallow, House Martin and Swift quickly followed and were added to the evening's list as we made our way further up the lane. Jacquie often walks this route and pinpointed a field where she often saw hares, two were showing well as we passed by. On the opposite side of the lane a Yellowhammer sang from a telephone line as a Song Thrush dealt efficiently with a snail, cracking open it's shell on the surface of the road.
By the time we reached the edge of Budworth Mere the light was fading fast but we did manage to record Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe, while Cormorants perched on the fence where Kid Brook enters the Mere. Emerging from Hopyard's, Wood Hon. Sec. Karina Stanley found us the best bird of the evening - a Grasshopper Warbler, reeling from a tangle of undergrowth a few yards from the side of the path, understandably we didn't actually see the bird, they're very secretive at the best of times but actually hearing one was more than good enough. It was my first of the year! Our thanks go to Jacquie and Sue, perhaps next year we'll do the same walk earlier in the breeding season.

Our next get together is the trip to North Wales on September 10th - Llanfairfechan and Morfa Madryn followed by Conwy RSPB, meet at Llanfairfechan car park at 10am. our leader will be Sheila Blamire.
Shortly afterwards, on Friday 23rd September it will be our first indoor meeting for 2 ½ years! when Steve Watson will be telling all about the Forest of Dean Raptors.

Geoff and Sheila Blamire continue to visit the Rostherne obs. from time to time, on their daily walks. This from last Saturday (23/7)......"Our last 2 visits to Rostherne have been good!

Thursday (21st) and Saturday (23rd) Rostherne Obs: so many young Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps (and a couple of adults) - the Blackcaps were feeding on the blackberries, raspberries and elder flower berries. 3 young Blackbird juvs being fed by the female. 2+ Great Spotted Woodpeckers (male and juvenile). Female Reed Bunting. Female and juv Kestrel on Oxhey field. Few Swifts and Swallows (but most of the Swallows from Ciceley Mill Farm have departed). "
..........

Bob Groom and I were at the same location yesterday morning (25/7). Heavy rain showers sweeping across the mere were punctuated by short spells of dazzling sunshine. Two juvenile Mandarins floated near the boathouse, also there a female Tufted Duck with two well-grown young, they looked too big to be from the family of six I saw a couple of weeks ago. I did look for the bigger family but couldn't find them, while I was looking a Kingfisher flew through my field of view. Juvenile Chiffchaffs and an adult and juvenile Blackcaps fed on the elder berries in front of the obs. Stock Dove, Swallows, Swifts (passing through?), First Coal Tit of the autumn on the bird table. At one time c.20 Canada Geese flew in, so the annual moult, when the birds loose their flight feathers and become flightless, has ended.

Species recorded on the evening walk around the Northwich Woodlands - Friday 22 July 2022.
Black-headed Gull, Blackbird, Sparrowhawk, House Sparrow, Woodpigeon, Coot, Goldfinch, Moorhen, Mallard, Magpie, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Collared Dove, Wren, Song Thrush, Stock Dove, Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Pheasant, Starling, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant. Grasshopper Warbler, Heron

21/07/2022......Phew!!
The only redeeming feature of the temperature we've had to endure over the past few days is that the grass stops growing!
On Tuesday (19th July 2022) the all-time UK record was well and truly broken with a temperature of 40.3C in Lincolnshire. Not quite so warm here in Cheshire but the Meteorological Station at Rostherne reached 37C and, in our back garden, my budget set-up showed 35.0C in mid-afternoon (see chart above).

It promised to be almost as hot on Monday (18/7), so I took myself off to Rostherne for the morning. Not much about; young Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in front of the obs. and a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker on the bird table. A few Swallows and Swifts passed through, moving south but it was pleasantly cool and I didn't realise how hot it had become until I left in late morning and walked up into the full glare of the sun. Rostherne Lane is closed this week from Wednesday until Monday next week due to the RHS flower show at Tatton.

Our "living room" has been the coolest room in the house during the hot spell and we've sought sanctuary there during the hottest part of the day. Luckily the heat here has coincided with the Tour de France and this has provided excellent entertainment in the afternoon. Three weeks of almost non-stop physical and mental endeavour by the riders - Premier League footballers should be forced to watch this before complaining about having to play two matches in a week!

I've also found time to start reading a book - a rare event - normally my reading is restricted to a quick skim through the daily paper and, once a month, Practical Wireless!
The book is "Our Place" "Can We Save Britain's Wildlife Before It Is Too Late" by Mark Cocker - 338 pages - I've reached page #153 but I'm finding it heavy going. There's nothing wrong with the content. He starts by reviewing the beginnings of conservation in Britain and the multitude of private and governmental organisations that have come and gone over the years, each attempting to protect the country's wildlife and reverse the damage caused by our thoughtless actions. I think my problem is, I've forgotten how to read a book! Most of my time is spent on the internet and, as a consequence, developed a very short attention span. Anyway I'll carry on and eventually find out whether we "can save Britain's wildlife before it's too late".

On the subject of books, anyone who has an interest in Cheshire ornithology should own a copy of "The Birds of Cheshire" by Thomas Coward and Charles Owen, published in 1900 it is the county's first avifauna. I paid £ 60 for my copy some years ago and that sort of price has held up subsequently. However, currently on Ebay, there is a copy for £ 9.99 [click here] - a bargain but you need to be quick!

Tomorrow (22nd July) it's the third and final evening walk of the Summer, when Jacquie Ledward will be leading us on a tour of the Northwich Woodlands area. We meet at 7:00pm in the Anderton Lift car park.


13/07/2022...... The trip to Burton Mere
It appears that sometime in the next 7 days, a new all-time record temperature may be reached somewhere in England, some computer predictions give a maximum of 40C! No problems on Saturday though, with a pleasant 21C for our KOS outing to the RSPB's Burton Mere Wetlands reserve.

We were able to take our time, as, on this occasion, we planned to spend the whole day there and not continue on to Parkgate and it's famous fish and chip shop!
As usual we started off in the reception centre, spending the best part of an hour there enjoying cups of excellent RSPB filter coffee - still only £ 2. Very good value!

There was plenty of activity to keep us fully occupied and we recorded 35 species from the centre and surrounding area. Waders were well represented with Green Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Common Redshank starting the day list; Black-tailed Godwits,in a confusion of plumages, were much in evidence - a small party of Ruff were present including a white-headed male still in summer plumage, as were three Spotted Redshanks, with a fourth that appeared to be a bird of the year.

Some people ventured out up past the bunker hide and found a singing Whitethroat and a family party of five Yellow Wagtails. They also spotted a Purple Hairstreak butterfly in an oak tree along the path, I think most people saw it (except me, despite precise directions - one oak leaf looks very much like another!) any way Geoff obtained the nice image you see on the left.

Moving on towards the Marsh Covert hide a Cetti's Warbler flew in to a hawthorn bush right next to the path and exploded into song, blowing out a few hearing aids as it did so! It was the only one of the day - a trip to the reserve is not complete without a Cetti's.

From the hide, two Avocets and good numbers of Little Egrets loafing in front of the reed bed. On the way to the Inner Marsh hide we met Derek and Gwynneth, who'd gone ahead as they had to leave for home early - they'd had Raven and excellent views of a Hobby catching dragonflies. Along the boardwalk we watched a family of Dunnocks and a Blackcap sang from deep in the undergrowth.

Lunch was taken in the hide, from where we could see more Black-tailed Godwits, a few Dunlin and an additional three Spotted Redshanks. Back at the centre a debriefing session took the final total to 62 different species; not the highest we've had here but a commendable effort. As a reward for our efforts birthday boy Geoff treated us to ice cream and coffee!

Anticipating a hot day on Monday (11/7) Bob Groom and I spent a few hours in the Rostherne observatory, it's well-shielded from the morning sun and a breeze swirling over the mere keeps it a few degrees cooler than the surrounding countryside. As I arrived Bob was in-situ and justifiably excited as a small flock of five Little Egrets were circling the mere - perhaps a record count! They didn't land though and quickly moved on in a southerly direction. Buzzards soared over the reserve and careful scanning of the sky eventually produced Hobby and Peregrine.

Sheelagh Halsey had kindly sent me a copy of the Rostherne Quarterly Review produced by Bill Bellamy. (April to June 2022) you can read it by clicking here. It contains some brilliant pictures, including that of a juvenile Willow Tit that was ringed by Malcolm Calvert!

As I left the obs. I met Pete Kelly who has kindly sent me the superb image of a Small Red-eyed Damselfly that I've used as a header to this update. Pete specialises in insect photography and he told me that his record of the Damselfly was the first for Cicely Mill. He agreed that many insect species are only considered "rare" because, compared with birdwatching, there are far fewer people who have the necessary expertise and motivation seek them out. Perhaps I could take this up, but then again "....old dog new tricks.... etc!!"

Geoff and Sheila had a close encounter with a Little Owl when out and about last Wednesday (6/7).........."Did our Plumley/Holford/Lostock Gralam walk this morning. Nothing new to report except for a Little Owl! Cheadle Lane - it flew to the road to pick something up, flew into a tree next to us, then immediately flew off having spotted us! Haven't seen a Little Owl for years."............
They seem to be becoming rarer, unfortunately, the Mobberley pair haven't been seen recently at their traditional nest site.

Derek Pike tells me he has a dozen or more Swifts over Lilac Avenue on Monday evening (11/7) and today (12/7) seven in the Shawheath area of Knutsford; by coincidence I was in that locality last night and there were 20+ screaming through the estate. They were late arriving this year and did so in smaller numbers than usual but those that made it seem to have had a successful breeding season.

Next Friday (22nd July) it's the last of our evening walks when Jacquie Ledward will be leading us on a trip around the Anderton / Neumann's Flash area. We meet in the Anderton Lift car park at 7:00pm.

Species recorded at Burton Mere Wetlands on 9th July 2022.
Woodpigeon, Chiffchaff, Swallow, Wren, Grey Heron, House Martin Shelduck, Green Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Canada Goose, Lapwing, Teal, Redshank, Ruff, Coot, Pied Wagtail, Moorhen, Marsh Harrier, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Shoveler, Goldfinch, Robin, Sand Martin, Spotted Redshank, Mallard, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Linnet, Greylag Goose, Yellow Wagtail, Dunnock, Whitethroat, Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Cetti's Warbler, Magpie, Reed Warbler, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Avocet, Hobby, Raven, Blackcap, Swift, Blackbird, Great White Egret, Dunlin, Starling, Gadwall, Long-tailed Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mute Swan, Sedge Warbler, Carrion Crow, Tufted Duck, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Jackdaw. [ ✓ 62]

06/07/2022......Brief Encounter
Back in March (25/3) I mentioned the fact that some of our members have wide-ranging interests and expertise, other than amateur ornithology........." Perhaps, sometime in the future, I'll mention the member who is a world-renowned expert on American blues music, regularly writes magazine articles, book chapters and notes for..[CDs]. He's also travelled to the USA and appeared on southern radio stations telling the locals about their own music. If you don't already know, you'll never guess!"...........

I was reminded of this last Thursday (30/3) when I received this email from Bob Groom .............."On the way back from B and Q I called at Neumann's Flash, quietish, but had an interesting encounter. I'd been giving some ID tips to a little party of older ladies on the causeway when a couple came through the gate, looking for Pod's Hide. They proved to be from Louisiana and were fairly well up on the birds of that state and wanting to familiarize themselves with British birds now they are regularly visiting their daughter in UK. They were amazed at my knowledge of Louisiana and other places down South and it ended up in a really long conversation that roamed to Cajun music , zydeco and R & B, my writings and talks etc. I was in my element, as you can imagine! Took me back over there, at least in my imagination. We ended up singing "Don't Mess With my Toot Toot" together before they had to go. Swifts and House Martins zipped over our heads, Reed Warblers were going flat out etc."..............

So now you know! Thanks Bob, a great story, let's hope we meet up with Norman and Raejean sometime in the future. Incidentally I notice that Bob's book, in pristine condition, can go for $100!

Last Wednesday (29/6), Geoff and Sheila Blamire paid a long-overdue visit to Tatton park ............"We decided to go Tatton Park - our last time was 10 May! The usual route: Dog Wood, Tatton Mere (TM), through wood to wooden bridge, up to Mill Pond, Deer Park, passing Millennium Wood to Melchett Mere , back along Tatton Mere to Knutsford gate, on to Moor Pool = 9.5km. Notable sightings:
Path to southern TM there were 80+ Coots in a small area and 21 Mute Swans; further along, a Kingfisher flew south the length of TM - we watched it all the way! Northern end of TM c15 Pochards and 2 Mute Swans.
Wooden bridge leading to the Mill Pond there c10 Banded Demoiselles, few Blue-tailed Damselflies and very common Common Blue Damselflies.
Other side of the Deer Park fence a perched Green Woodpecker and another Green Woodpecker flew into Millennium Wood and shortly after start yaffling.
Melchett Mere there was another Pochard and 2 Mute Swans.
Tatton Mere there were 6 Egyptian Geese.
Few House Martins and Swallows, but most numerous were Swifts flying very low over the grasslands and the mere.
Moor Pool there was a single Egyptian Goose and a distant singing Reed Warbler. "
.............

On Monday (4/7) Bob, his daughter Elaine and the grandchildren spent some time in the observatory at Rostherne Mere and were lucky enough to see a Little Egret fly in, a few days previously he'd also had two Hobbies at the same location. So I went along yesterday (5/7) hoping that the Egret and Hobbies were still around. It wasn't the best of mornings, with a fine, steady drizzle but after a short time it cleared up and the sun appeared. Inevitably the birds I'd gone for weren't around but there was plenty of activity on the bird table with young Nuthatches plus Blue and Great Tits to test my photographic skills.

Out on the mere, I noticed that the Great Crested Grebes had gathered together in a group towards the centre, a good opportunity to do an accurate count - there were 25.
Tufted Ducks were more scattered but I attempted to count them too. I came across a single Pochard but, amongst the 76 tufties, I noticed a female with six tiny youngsters - great news. Looking back through the reserve reports, as far as 2015, I learnt that the species hasn't nested during the previous seven years and, referring to Tom Wall's definitive book "Rostherne Mere - Birds of Mere and Margins", the last time Tufted Ducks bred on the reserve was as far back as 1997!

Phil Rowley is lucky enough to live in the grounds of Blithfield Hall and he tells me that this week he had an Osprey flying over carrying a sizable fish, he has no knowledge of the species nesting nearby but will investigate the matter further. Phil is a stalwart of the KOS and is present on most of our weekend trips, despite living so far away from our usual destinations. So, hopefully, he'll be with us on Saturday (9th July) when we'll be visiting the excellent Burton Mere Wetlands Reserve, meeting at 09:30 in the reserve car park.

28/06/2022......The Goyt Valley
Thankfully, a dry evening on Friday (24/6) for our visit to the Goyt Valley. As usual we met up at the Errwood Hall car park, before proceeding, in an easterly direction, along the side of the reservoir and down to the side of the River Goyt. We'd not visited this location at such a late point in the season before and it soon became apparent that it would be an evening for quality rather than quantity.
Family parties of Canada Geese on the reservoir pointed to a good breeding season and Common Sandpipers flitted along the shore, at one point a Dipper sped up the river but that was about it; passerines were few and far between, with only a few Willow Warblers, Chaffinches, Blackbirds and a lone Song Thrush still in song.
As the light began to fade we decided to move to a location away from the valley floor, where, in the past, we'd been lucky with Nightjars - although we'd been told they were no longer to be found at that particular location. No sooner had we set off than the cars ahead suddenly stopped as our sharp-eyed Secretary, Karina, had spotted a hunting Barn Owl a short distance from the roadside. We had excellent, prolonged views of the bird and I even managed to capture some video,despite the poor light. Geoff Blamire has kindly improved the footage somewhat and you can view it by clicking here.
The Nightjar area has certainly changed since our last visit in 2019 and huge swathes of timber have been harvested but, despite rumours to the contrary, Nightjars were still there and we heard at least two birds "churring", although we didn't actually see either. It was now 10:15 pm and the light was fading fast as we made our way back to the cars, meeting up with Bob Groom - who'd not done the full walk, on the way. He'd not heard the Nightjars but, by way of compensation, had seen a Long-eared Owl flying silently through the pines. Arguably the best bird of the night!
We managed 28 species, 7 less than 2019, perhaps next year we'll revert to May for this trip.

Needless to say Bob was out and about the following morning (25/6), on this occasion at Chelford's Acre Nook sand quarry......"Apart from the usual gulls and geese there was a flock of about 60 Lapwings that went up at one point. There were 2 noisy Oystercatchers flying round and good numbers of Swifts and House Martins over the water throughout. Two smaller raptors appeared, chasing, one dark, one a bit lighter. Conditions were terrible with violent wind gusts , lashing rain, not to mention being hampered by fuzzy eyes. (Wish they had appeared later, in sunshine.) At first I thought it was a Sparrowhawk chasing but now I'm not so sure, the chased I'm pretty sure was a Hobby. Much later I had repeated, closer views of possibly two Hobbies. Several Buzzards appeared and a Kestrel hovered right in front of me and stayed around a while. Eventually I could see more dark cloud gathering and was about to leave when I had my bonus bird, a Red Kite appeared left of The Big Dish and drifted round for several minutes before departing into the trees.".......

The same morning (25/6) the Blamires also had a Hobby, close to their home in Mere ......."Little Mere: 4 Coot nests still occupied and the male Great Crested Grebe was bringing water lilies to build the up their nest whilst the female sat tightly on the eggs, closely watched by their youngest juvenile (wonder whether the juvenile will help to feed the chicks when their hatch?). On the way home we stopped to have another look and then a Hobby appeared! We watched as it caught at least 2 dragonflies (southern hawkers) (see Geoff's record shot), one time it perched on a distant tree. Several House Martins were flying over the mere and one time seen flying very close to the perched Hobby but it didn't try to catch them - it preferred to go for the easier prey of dragonflies."..........

Hobbies seem to be doing well this year and even I had one yesterday (27/6). It was from the observatory at Rostherne, in the company of Jude Halman and Bob; first a distant bird over Harper's Bank, followed a few seconds later by a second bird dashing past the obs., in hot pursuit of a House Martin. Jude is one of a handful of volunteers who keep the newly decorated observatory clean and tidy. Yesterday she'd cleaned the glass windows of the viewing slots using a homebrew concoction containing water and vinegar, applied with a soft cloth and polished with pages from the Sunday Times! I was there in an advisory capacity, of course. Well done Jude, I hope people notice! [I was reminded of a song from a long time ago]

I'm glad to report that local birders are still visiting the beautiful area around Gleavehouse Pool, no Quail so far this year but, looking back at my notes, it wasn't until late June that a bird was heard calling last year - in fact, the 28th June, exactly a year ago today!

This from Jayne Davies on Thursday (23/6) ......"I went for a late evening stroll to Gleavehouse Pool last night. First for a couple of weeks, the young Shelducks have grown a lot since I was last there.
It was a beautiful evening, there were yellow wagtails, swallows and lapwings, but the best thing was seeing four lapwing chicks wandering around in the grass at the far end of the pool. "
........

From Peter Dawson on the same day ......"I did my usual circuit Booths Mere bushes-Pavement Lane-GH Pool-Rooney's-Springwood Farm-Booths Mere walk yesterday morning. I was mainly hoping for a quail somewhere but no sign anywhere. Looking back at my notes from last year, it was into July before the first one was found so there's plenty of time yet! However, I did find a few things of interest.
•In Booths Mere bushes, a few chiffchaffs were still singing and a buzzard circled overhead.
•Just after coming out of the wooded area at the bottom of Pavement Lane heading north, a female yellowhammer was sitting on the field entrance gate. Last time I walked up there I heard and saw a male so maybe they are breeding in that area although there were no obvious signs of it. A bit further along, at least one tree sparrow was in a tree by the phone mast.
•GH Farm area - about 6 swallows were flying around the barns along the lane. In the fields I found just one pair of yellow wagtails, a few skylarks and one yellowhammer singing from somewhere towards the farm.
•At GH Pool the shelducks and three ducklings were still present. Also around were six lapwings, a tree sparrow, two pied wagtails, two linnets and a single swallow.
•On the walk back to Spring Wood Farm a couple of reed buntings were singing, a kestrel sat in a dead tree and a hare ran up the track in front of me towards the farm. "
.........

Finally, from Wendy Stratford on Friday (24/6)........."Another lovely walk today (before the rain starts!). Gleavehouse Lane had lots of swallows, some still feeding, presumably, second broods in the stables. As I walked past the building nearest the lane I looked back, and 8 swallows were perched on the guttering on the side of the barn. Mixture of adults and juveniles, who were fluffy and huddled together. Makes me think about getting a decent camera!
As I approached the pool an adult lapwing on the ground was calling quite insistently, and when I scanned the shore there was a lapwing chick towards the path side, still quite young but progressed from being a tiny ball of fluff! It pattered along the shore, seemingly unaware that it's parent further down the pond was calling. Then it turned into the rough grass and out of sight. The parent took half an hour to move down the shore towards where the chick had been, still calling most of the time. Eventually the chick appeared out of the grass, and then another followed! A second lapwing was flying around periodically but landed in the field behind the obs. Also on the shore were 3 or 4 juvenile yellow wagtails, and a large group of about 12 swallows and house martins were busy feeding over and drinking from the pool. The shelducks and their 3 near adult sized young were cruising around or sleeping on the rocks in the pond - they do seem to lead a very relaxed life! Female goosander was on the far bank, and a pair of kestrels were hunting over the field to the north of the pond. As I walked back a male yellow wagtail was perched on the top of the hedge opposite Gleave House - great view! "
...........

Members will be pleased to know that Len Mason continues to recover from his snapped Achilles tendon. Olwen and I went round to Len's on Friday (24/5) morning to raid the potato patch (by invitation, of course) and were surprised and delighted to find him home. He had been dropped off earlier and would be collected in the afternoon. He was in excellent form and looked really well although he's a bit frustrated by having his appointments at Macc. hospital repeatedly put back. Needless to say he was doing "a bit of tidying up" in the garden!

Our next outing will be on Saturday 9th July when we'll be visiting the RSPB's excellent Burton Mere Wetlands reserve, meeting at 09:30am in the reserve's car park. The last time we went to Burton in July was in 2018 when we recorded 63 different species. A day to look forward to - our leader will be Bob Groom, which means Hobbies will be guaranteed of course!

Species recorded in the Goyt Valley. Friday 24th June 2022
Jackdaw, Meadow Pipit, Curlew, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Common Sandpiper, Chaffinch, Cormorant, Canada Goose, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Grey Heron, Wren, Robin, Mallard, Willow Warbler, Kestrel, Buzzard, Barn Owl, Song Thrush, Nightjar, Long-eared Owl, Dipper, Pheasant, Lapwing, Goldcrest, Red Grouse, Lesser Black-backed Gull. [ ✓ 28]

20/06/2022......Barn Owls and Wagtails.
Ken Davies sent me the email (above) from the coastal town of Ratan on the east coast of Sweden, as he and Shirley make their way south of the arctic circle in their motor home. I think he was trying to get me jealous. He succeeded!

Colin Butler also recently travelled to Scandinavia and he's kindly sent me an account of his visit. I've put it on a stand-alone web page and you can read it by clicking here. Thanks Colin - some really good images.

Meanwhile, back in Mobberley, Bob Groom had an excellent morning last Monday (13/6). If anyone asks you why you go birdwatching - just show them this!..........."It felt jolly cold in Mobberley at 8.00 a.m. this morning. (Even the buttercups were still closed up!) Not that it helped with my hay fever as a prolonged sneezing fit ensued as I put my coat on and wiped my blurry eyes. Momentarily I thought, "what the heck am I doing here?" but then I thought of HRH and carried on and things got better and then even better.
I got my Swallow fix at the horse farm, House Martins and Swifts also close by and lots of Goldfinches. I walked up Gleavehouse Lane and then took the regular left hand path from the gates. In the second field, on the boundary of the grassy area and the cereal crop a slightly fluffy juvenile Yellow Wagtail was following an adult female; ah, feeding time, happy families I thought but not a bit of it. The adult saw off the young bird in short order and I think the message was "Scram, junior, you're big enough to get your own food."
Had close views of both male and female Yellow Wagtails on the cereal stalks and the hedgerow and other adults in the regular field and from the path across to the stiles. I'd really timed it well. Lots of Skylarks went up in song (one almost collided with a wagtail) as the sun came out. Perfick (to quote Pa Larkin)! The sun soon went in again, however, and I had to put my coat back on.
I visited the Gleavehouse Pool for only the second time this year and had a much needed half-hour plus sit down at the 'observatory'. A speckled wood was trying to absorb energy on the path and was still there much later when I walked back. 2 Linnets, 2 Lapwings, party of Swifts. The 2 adult and 3 juvenile Shelducks were still on GP. The adults later flew off but probably thought the young were now big enough to look after themselves. The Lesser Black-Backed Gull certainly stayed well away from them. Two Buzzards (also had many other sightings) and a Red Kite appeared. The Kite circled the pool for at least 5 minutes before gradually getting higher and higher and then slowly drifted away. I watched it until it dropped down near The Dish. I had a grandstand view! 4 House Martins and 3 Swallows kept dipping down to the water. Saw a Jay and then a Hobby put in a brief appearance but stayed high. I had a job to drag myself away!
Walking back from the 2 stiles at least a dozen Swallows were over the cereal field, which was really nice to see. Still many Swifts about. Very few people around which helped with the good feeling. I cooked bacon, scrambled egg, beans and tomato when I got home. I thought I deserved it! "
............

Thanks Bob - great stuff! I followed in Bob's footsteps the following day and tried to decide how many pairs of Yellow Wagtails were feeding young. Two definitely and, perhaps, three but no more than that this year. The fields that have held potatoes in the past are being used for wheat and barley this year, so that could explain the lower numbers, as the species prefers spud fields. It's not called the "potato setter" for nothing! You'll see I managed a "record shot"!

Geoff and Sheila Blamire have, of course, been out and about locally. This from last Wednesday (15/6)......"It was our Millington walk this morning, walking through fields of flowering grasses - not good with hay fever!!!

On the way there was the male Grey Wagtail on the outlet from the Little Mere, shouting at us - then saw why - a newly fledged juvenile. Superb. The adult was going berserk, so we quickly moved on. On the fallow field over the bridge on Chapel Lane there were 8 Lapwings - probably failed breeders. Further down on a hedge there were a pair of Yellowhammers and a pair of Linnets. Round the "patch" and along the Millington Lanes there were two Kestrels. Of course when they start do the ground works for HS2 our "patch" will disappear. "
......
From the same area around Little Mere (a small water where Mere Mere empties into Rostherne Brook)........."Little Mere:- although we walk past several times a week we don't spend much time there but most of the times it produces the goods. The last 4 visits:
Tues 14th June - 2 adult Grey Wagtails and a new fledged juv on the outlet. The adult were going berserk so we moved on quickly.
Thurs 16th June - Kingfisher and 4 pairs of Coots still incubating. 3 of the nests are very close together, including the Great Crested Grebes nest.
Fri 17th June - female GC Grebe brought some new vegetation to an old Coot's nest. The male appeared and they started mating - right in front of the youngest chick from their first brood! They didn't have a second brood last year - as far as we know.
Sat 18th June - At least 2 Grey Wagtails and 6+ House Martins. "
........

Good news from Tatton, where Ranger Darren Morris was checking his owl boxes this week ........"I checked my barn owl boxes in the park the other day and was really pleased to discover that we have two breeding pairs. One box had two chicks and the other had four younger ones. On the floor near to the box with the two chicks, I found the remains of a dead adult barn owl. So possibly that brood is being reared by one parent.

Anyway great news!"
............. Indeed it is, Darren - congratulations to all concerned.

Don't forget, this Friday (24th June), it's our evening walk along the Goyt Valley, meeting at the Errwood Hall car park, at 7:30pm. Jude Halman will be the leader and would appreciate an email if you intend to come along. Her email address is - judithhalman@btinternet.com

13/06/2022...... Woolston Eyes
Pleasant weather on Saturday (11/6) for our June KOS field trip to Woolston Eyes, broken white clouds but dry with a maximum temperature of 19 ° C in mid-afternoon.
KOS secretary Karina Stanley was our leader for the day and, having done a recent recce, suggested that we visit the usual number 3 bed plus the new number 4 bed, a location new to most of us.

A group of 14 members had gathered for the trip and set off on the circular route around the number 3 bed. There was little in the way of song but we did pick out Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Blackbird, Reed Warbler and Whitethroat. The song of a Grasshopper Warbler heard briefly in the distance was apparently coming from a tape lure used by the ringers! (later correction ....."Savi's Warbler not Grasshopper Warbler. They never play any breeding species (wouldn't be ethical), that's why you can hear Savi's, Bluethroat, Common Rosefinch, etc and other rarities. Come August they play breeding species to attract juveniles into the mist nets so they can ring them.".......)

Woolston is famous for it's breeding Black-necked Grebes and they've done really well this year. Recorder, Brian Martin, told us that no less than 17 broods have been counted so far - 34 adults and 38 young, the second highest total recorded on the reserve. We saw family parties from the comfort of the Morgan hide, as well as newly hatched Pochard youngsters with their parents.
Raptors were well represented with sightings of Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and a distant Peregrine; I have it, on good authority, that the Harriers have successfully bred and two chicks are being reared.
From the Morgan hide we continued around no.3 bed, stopping at the other two hides en route, before returning to the cars for lunch. 41 species thus far, the 41st being a Kingfisher seen from the bridge as we left.

After wining and dining we drove back towards the reserve entry and parked just short of the locked barrier in a roughly constructed lay-by for use by visitors to no.4 bed.
It's still work-in-progress on the new bed; visitors are asked to turn left and proceed around the west perimeter, although, in due course, it will be possible to walk to the hide and viewing platform on a shorter, more direct route. It was quite a hike of about a mile, along the overgrown and pot-holed path but we all made it safely and eventually the view opened out and we could see the newly created pool. You'll see from the header picture that it's quite a size, with a number of strategically placed islands that will provide safe nesting places for a number of species as they evolve. I believe Little Ringed Plovers have bred there this year but we didn't see any sign of them. Karina suggested that we walked as far as the bend in the River Mersey but not try to reach the observation platform and hide. The platform can be seen in the header picture, in the distance, to the right of centre. Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls rested on the biggest island together with the only Lapwing of the day. Over the water, Swifts and Sand Martins, the latter no doubt nesting in the sandy banks of the Mersey. A Cetti's Warbler exploded into song from the undergrowth, our first of the day and a good spot to turn around and head back to the starting point. As we returned a Little Egret flew overhead and two Willow Warblers were added to the day-list bringing the total to a very reasonable 57 species. Our thanks go to Karina for dealing with the clerical side of the trip, doing the recce and acting as leader on a most successful day.

Back in Mobberley, on Tuesday (7/6) I walked to Gleavehouse Pool - a Cuckoo called from the direction of Spring Wood but that was about as good as it got! The Shelducks have bred at the pool again, they're down to three youngsters but they're now quite well-grown so they should be OK. Lots of Skylarks and an encouraging number of Yellow Wagtails, I saw no indication of successful breeding but subsequent emails from Wendy Stratford and Peter Dawson makes me think I should have paid more attention!
This from Wendy.........."Had a great walk today - swallows and 4 house martins by the stables in Gleavehouse lane, and a small flock of tits feeding in the hedge tops. As I walked along the path opposite Gleave House (past the stile on the left that goes to the nature reserve) I heard a yellow wagtail calling. It appeared from the far side of the hedge and perched, calling, in full view at the top of the hedge. I watched for several minutes and then a young yellow wagtail appeared and perched near the adult, both calling. The young wagtail flew into the winter crop and perched on a grain head, and another one took it's place on the hedge top with the adult. Watched for about 15 minutes as they all flew between the crop and the hedge, calling most of the time. At one point there were 4 in the air, but silhouetted so not sure if it was one or two adults. Worth the wait - these are the first yellow wagtails I've seen this year, not for want of trying! Skylarks up as well, singing occasionally..... Wendy "..........

And, from Peter ......"I went over there this morning. A pair of yellow wags were getting quite excited along the hedge by the path just north of the farm. Very good views. I then saw a female with food so they must have young close by.
The pair of shelducks were still on the pool and still with three young. Only other bird there was a skylark along the edge of the pool. I also heard a yellowhammer whilst I was there, the only one of the morning.
Four house martins were around the barns on the lane to the farm along with a pair of swallows. A whitethroat was singing by the brook south of the farm.
Three oystercatchers were at Booths Mere.
No quail heard anywhere................. Cheers Peter"
........

Just one Yellowhammer for Peter in what was one of their local strongholds. I think they've all moved to Plumley - this from Geoff and Sheila ........"We did our usual walk around Plumley and Holford. Started off with a Red Kite circling over the road whilst driving through the traffic lights on A556 and the Northwich Road junction (9:45am). A garden bird for Derek?
The farmland around Holford (Inovyn) and Lostock Gralam is superb. Mixture of crops (oats and maize) and beef cattle and sheep, and plenty of hedges and margins. Many Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Whitethroats, Goldfinches and the odd Reed Bunting. Around the farms are Swallows and House Martins and 100s(?) House Sparrows. Of course in winter there are Curlews and Lapwings and, as in last winter, Bramblings. And of course many Buzzards. It's one of my favourite walks.
Geoff's "hi-key" photo from today: "
...........

Our next KOS outing is our second evening walk, this time to the Goyt Valley on Friday 24th June. Meeting at the usual middle car park in the Valley. The trip will be led by Jude Halman. Full details in due course.

Species recorded at Woolston Eyes. Saturday 11th June 2022.
Chaffinch, Wren, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Tufted Duck, canada Goose, Chiffchaff, Black-necked Grebe, reed Bunting, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Pochard, Bullfinch, Swift, heron. Black-headed Gull, Coot, Reed Warbler, Moorhen, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Pheasant, Magpie, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Stock Dove, Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Peregrine Falcon, Greylag Goose, Starling, House Martin, Kingfisher, Jackdaw, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Sand Martin, Herring Gull, Lapwing, Cetti's Warbler, Swallow, Robin, Garden Warbler, Little Egret, Goldfinch, Willow Warbler, Linnet, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush [ ✓ 57]

05/06/2022......KOS people on their travels
Members have been making the most of Spring 2022 as the threat of Covid diminishes. New member Colin Butler has been to Israel and Finland, although when I talked to him on the airport walk, he was still waiting for KLM to find his luggage, including his camera, containing 5,000 images captured during the two trips!
Jude Halman is on a walking holiday in Montenegro but pride of place must go to Ken and Shirley Davies who are touring Scandinavia in their camper and, on Ken's facebook page, the photo suggests that they've reached Nordkapp - the most northerly point on the mainland of Europe!

Meanwhile, Peter Dawson also travelled north - to Scotland ............."Scotland May 21st-27th based in Carrbridge.
Weather pretty bad all week except Tuesday. A lot of rain and high winds dictated where we went on most days and a lot of birding had to be done from the car. We came home a day early as the forecast was terrible everywhere! Most, if not all, sites are from the book "Best Birdwatching Sites in the Scottish Highlands" by Gordon Hamlett. For those who may not know, this is one book from a series covering a number of areas in the UK including Norfolk and North Wales. They are generally very accurate although they haven't been updated for a while and of course things do change. In general, like here, the number of birds seemed to be down on usual, presumably because of the weather. However, it was, as always, a very enjoyable week with some good spots.........

Day 1
•Loch Insh - goldeneye, common sandpiper, unusually no divers.
•Kincraig - osprey on nest, goosander.
•Craigellachie NR - pied fly, redstart, tree pipit but no wood warbler or spotted fly.

Day 2
•Lochindorb - merlin, red grouse, cuckoo. No divers.
•Grantown woods - red squirrel, crested tit, tree pipit. Crested tits were heard first then seen in the top of tall, mature pine trees. No crossbills.
•Loch Mallachie - tree pipit and redstart but not much else. No crested tits or crossbills.

Day 3
•Spey Dam - red throated divers, osprey, cuckoo, wheatear.
•Strathmashie Forest - not much about except for tree pipit and merlin.
•Craigellachie NR - even less than Day 1!

Day 4
•Red Point (a few miles south of Gairloch on the west coast) - great skua, great northern diver, black guillemot, gannet, red throated diver, tern sp, auk sp, rock pipit, shag, redpoll, dolphin and porpoise. Stonechat, cuckoo and wheatear were seen on the road to the point.
•Gairloch - hooded crow.
•Gruinard Island - a white tailed eagle flew from the island right over our heads towards the hills behind. Closest, best views I've ever had of one. 5 mins later a pair of golden eagles appeared from the hills behind and circled for some time! Usual divers, auks and terns over the sea.

Day 5
•Loch Ashie - black throated diver.
•Loch Ruthven - slavonian grebe, osprey., cuckoo.
•Findhorn Valley - just two raptors were seen. One was a buzzard, the other unidentified but possibly a golden eagle.
Day 6

•Burghead - fulmar, rock pipit, ringed plover, knot, curlew, gannet, auks sp inc razorbill.
•Lossiemouth West Beach - terns sp, auks sp, sanderling, ringed plover, gannet, eider, "
....................

Thanks Peter; a nice report, I think we've visited most of those locations over the years. A pity about the weather but it rarely fails to disappoint up there (a bit like their football team!)
Meanwhile on his return Peter turned his attention back to our local birds ..........."

Back home:

Wednesday June 1st - I walked through the fields east of Knutsford, to the south of Tabley Mere. I found 4 singing whitethroats and 5 yellowhammers. A hobby circled over the lanes by Tabley Mere, it was the first one I've seen locally this year.

Thursday June 2nd - I did my now usual circular route of Booths Mere, Pavement Lane, Gleave House farm and pool, Rooney's and back via Springbank Farm.

•Booths Mere bushes - one whitethroat in song. First I've heard in the area this year.
•Gleave House farm area - just one yellow wagtail and one yellowhammer. As I was walking through the last field before the track to GH Pool I heard a distant and brief call of a quail! It was difficult to tell where it was coming from but seemed to be in the general direction of the pool. Unfortunately I didn't hear anything again but for anyone that is in the area it is worth listening for one. There were at least two in the general area last year.
•Gleave House pool - the pair of shelducks are still there but they are now down to three young. I saw a single tree sparrow in the "hedge" but it was getting quite excited so there may be a nest somewhere close by. Otherwise just canada geese and a couple of swallows were about.
•On the walk through the fields just after the large barns close to Rooney's, a lesser whitethroat was rattling in one of the hedges. Again a first locally for me this year. Also a lapwing was flying around and calling suggesting a nest somewhere. A pair of tufted ducks were on the small pool by the track north towards GH farm.
•A single grey wagtail was around Pedley Brook at the bottom of Pavement Lane.
•A pair of shelducks and a single oystercatcher were on Booths Mere.

A pretty fruitful couple of days!

And I didn't even mention the white tailed lapwing (plover) at Bickershaw CP on Monday!"
...............

A pleasant morning on Tuesday (2/6) found Bob Groom out and about earlier than usual..........."I took advantage of an early start to deliver Mel to the train station by 7.30 a.m. and then went over to a favourite spot and walked as far as the railway line. Lots of good sightings, including Hobby (can but hope there is a second bird in the area), Raven, a cock Yellowhammer on a dead branch, shining bright in the lovely sunshine, just 2 Swallows, both Thrushes, lots of Blackcaps singing, also some Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler singing, in the same place as last time I was near the railway. Two Garden Warblers were competing in song near the settling pool and a Buzzard came over low. Fortunately there is a little wall at the depot so I could have ten minutes sit-down before starting back. Four hours in all"...................

Needless to say the Blamires have been putting the mileage in! This from Sheila on Friday (3/6) as they took part in the BTO's breeding bird survey....." A very early start this morning for our BBS. We parked at 7am, just off the tetrad, then we spotted 2 ducks, 1 on a fence and the other in a tree - Black-bellied Whistling Ducks! What the h***? Nothing else of note until near the end - 2 Egyptian Geese. First time seen there. We were about to call the end of the survey until I heard a faint song I couldn't place and I stopped to try to hear it again - then - drum roll - pair of Spotted Flycatchers! Near the water tower. Seen fly-catching. Wow! What an end to the survey".......

Finally, a couple of websites I've found interesting. The first is about the work of a gamekeeper in the Goyt Valley, a favourite location of ours up in the Pennines. 'Keepers sometimes get a bad press, normally due to the activities of a few dubious characters within their ranks, this shows that you can't tar them all with the same brush click here

The second website is provided by the RSPB and shows two webcams, the first is focused on the Ospreys but the second on a Goshawk nest in the Abernethy Forest - pin sharp images of a species we rarely see in these parts. click here

Don't forget that it's our June KOS field trip this coming Saturday (11th June). We'll be visiting the excellent Woolston Eyes reserve where we hope to visit the new no.4 bed, as well as the usual no.3 bed. The trip leader will be our secretary Karina Stanley and you may want to let her know if you intend to come along. Full details have been sent to all members and other interested parties. Karina's email address is secretary@10X50.com.

31/05/2022...... The airport walk and news from Rostherne & Woolston
It's now three months since we recorded the area's first Sand Martin of the year flying over Tatton mere. How quickly Spring seems to progress, when compared to the three mid-winter months of November, December and January: they seem to drag on forever!
An email from Sheila Blamire reminds us that tomorrow is the first day of Summer 2022 and our wildlife has been getting on with the tasks in hand.
......."Saturday 28th May - Little Mere, Mere: Great Crested Grebes with 3-4 "humbugs", 3 pairs Coots on new nests in the middle of the mere, including 1 pair taking and refurbishing the now-vacated GCG nest, Grey Wagtail on the outlet.
Rostherne: Cuckoo heard from the Obs, Great Spotted Woodpecker juvs have fledged from their nest in Wood Bongs.
Ciceley Mill Pool, Rostherne: Canada Geese + 5 goslings, Mallards + 6 very young ducklings, Reed Bunting, no sign of GCG and Mute Swans. Numerous Common Blue Damselflies.

Sunday 29th May - Swain's Walk, Over Tabley: Skylark singing over the wheat field, Tree Sparrow feeding young next to the "dump", Linnets singing. Chester Road, Over Tabley: Moorhen and 4 very young chicks on the pool north of the small roundabout. Tabley Road, Knutsford: 5+ Lapwings on the fallow field and Skylark singing. "
.........

Things were relatively quiet on Friday (27/5) when we enjoyed the first of our three Summer evening walks - a stroll around the perimeter of runway 2 at Manchester Airport. We managed only 34 species this year, this did include some Summer migrants in the form of Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Blackcap but, on this occasion, no Willow Warblers or Lesser Whitethroats. No Dippers on the River Bollin but the Grey Wagtails showed well at the entrance to the tunnel underneath runway 2 and it was encouraging to hear so many Song Thrushes in full song. It was a pleasant, warm late Spring evening, enjoyed by 15 members, some of whom hadn't met before, so a good team-building exercise! KOS treasurer Frank was on hand with a supply of membership cards and reported that we're now only 5 short of our initial target of 40 members and that's before the autumn / winter programme of indoor meetings - very encouraging!

Our next outing will be to Woolston Eyes on Saturday 11th June. Karina will be leading this trip when, as well as the usual No.3 bed, we hope to have a first look at the newly landscaped No.4 bed. The reserve is enjoying an excellent breeding season - this from Dave Bowman's facebook page .........."At this time of year a lot of the early-arriving warblers have stopped singing, as they are well on with breeding but others, like Reed Warbler are still in full voice. Despite the coolish conditions and light drizzle we managed to locate the following in song: 34 Reed Warblers, 19 Chiffchaffs, 21 Blackcaps, 5 Cetti's Warblers, 3 Whitethroats, 2 Sedge Warblers and 1 Willow Warbler. Interestingly, research indicates that, for Reed Warblers, the actual breeding population is usually around double the number of singing males counted, giving us an estimated population of 60-70 pairs. Then it was on to scanning for broods and by late morning we'd managed to find 15 pairs of Black-necked Grebe, feeding at least 30 young, which is more than we've had for quite a few years, Pochard, too, are doing well with five broods already and plenty of time for more to come.".........
Additionally Sheila tells me that today (31/5) a White-tailed Plover arrived at Woolston!!

Since the last update I've been over to Rostherne a couple of times and seen (and heard) a Cuckoo on each occasion, on Wednesday (25/5)a male and a female were perched together near the boathouse. On Monday (30/5) Bob Groom joined me and we saw the female fly down to the reed bed, no doubt looking to deposit an egg into the nest of an unsuspecting Reed Warbler. A pair of Hobbies have been seen flying over Mere Covert, more than once, and a pair of Spotted Flycatchers are thought to be nesting in Wood Bongs, where they can be seen from the permitted path through the woodland.
On the 25th Bob and I witnessed some unusual behaviour by three 2CY Lesser Black-backed Gulls. They were perched in the Cormorant colony and harassing incoming birds as they returned to their nests. They were very determined, following the Cormorants in Skua style, until they reached the sanctuary of their nests. Were they trying to frighten the Cormorants into regurgitating the food meant for their chicks? Neither of us could remember reading about this sort of behaviour before.

On the 6th. September it's the 60th anniversary of the opening of Rostherne Mere National Nature Reserve and there will be an open day with refreshments. Permit holders will have been emailed about this event and should let Sheila Halsey know if they will be able to attend.

The Rostherne Mere 2021 Bird (and more!) Report, edited by Bill Bellamy, has been released and you can download a copy by clicking here. It's well-worth a read and must have taken Bill a huge amount of time and effort!

Tatton Ranger Darren Morris has sent me a copy of the Summer 2022 Tatton Wildlife newsletter - again you can read it by clicking here - thanks Darren.

As many of you will know KOS founder member Len Mason has been unfortunate enough to snap an Achilles tendon (quite common amongst athletes, heroes of the Trojan War and crown green bowlers!). He's currently recovering in Leycester House, Mobberley and hopes to be returning home before too long

species recorded on the airport walk. 27th May 2022.
Blackcap, Robin, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, carrion Crow, Goldfinch, Swift, Wren, Magpie, Skylark, Woodpigeon, Mallard, Great Tit, Song Thrush, Pheasant, Lapwing, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Whitethroat, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Swallow, Kestrel, Buzzard, Raven, Garden Warbler, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Jay, Reed Bunting, Jackdaw, Cormorant, Buzzard [ ✓ 34]

23/05/2022......Hobbies!
This year's arrival of our Summer visitors has been somewhat inconsistent; most species have been late and, when they've eventually arrived, it's been in smaller numbers than expected. Hobbies are normally amongst the last to arrive but it would appear that they're right on time. Geoff and Sheila Blamire recorded the area's first bird last Tuesday (17/5) at a site close to Knutsford ............."We all look forward to the spring and with returning migrants. It's hearing the first Chiffchaff and the more melodious Willow Warbler. Sorting out the songs of the Blackcap and the similar Garden Warbler. Seeing the first Sand Martin and Swallow and a little later Swift. For me this year it was finding the Whinchat in Mobberley (a local rare migrant), stopping briefly on its migration. But this morning it was finding another sought-after local rarity - Hobby!!! Hopefully to stay to breed rather than passing through. Here's Geoff's record shot (it was a long way away!):".............

Two days later Bob Groom had one at the Rostherne Mere NNR............"At Rostherne today bumped into Steve Collins and John Hancock. They had seen a pair of Hobbies earlier and a pair of Spotted Flycatchers so were pretty chuffed! Later a Hobby appeared, high over Mere Covert. Also had 2 sightings of Raven and a couple of Swallows. A Buzzard passed by with one of its legs dangling, possibly had suffered an injury.."..........

On Saturday (22/5) Geoff and Sheila heard a Cuckoo on the reserve ........" Cuckoo heard twice towards Harper's Bank Wood, firstly from Rostherne at 10:45 and again from the Obs at 11:40."...... Rostherne volunteer and report editor, Bill Bellamy, later told Sheila that the male had been joined by a female! Also two Hobbies were now on the reserve.

Peter Dawson has been out and about again in Mobberley. This from last Monday (16/5)........"No reports from me for a while as I was away for a week in Norfolk and then not a lot to report when I got back! In all the time I was in Norfolk I didn't see a single swift. On my return I visited Acre Nook (both ends) and Mere Farm last Monday morning and still no swifts! In the afternoon, having spent more than an hour trying to get my printer working and finally managing it, I walked up to the PO to post my KOS application form and lo and behold three swifts were over the town! So, my first of the year anywhere on May 9th.

Last week I had a couple of walks out looking for lesser whitethroat (even a common whitethroat!) and garden warbler. Nothing!

Yesterday I set off on the circular walk Booths Mere bushes, Pavement Lane, Gleavehouse Farm and pool then home via Rooney's and Springbank Farm. It was a partial success. Highlights:
•Booths Mere bushes - one common whitethroat (first and only of the year locally!)
•Pavement Lane - a grey wagtail was along the brook at the bottom end. It looked to have food in its beak so maybe it had young somewhere nearby. A single yellowhammer and two swallows were further up the lane.
•Gleavehouse Lane/Farm - lesser black backed gull in one of the fields. plenty of starlings and skylarks about, and a single swallow and yellow wagtail flew over.
•GH Pool - pair of shelducks with four ducklings. one greylag goose and two Canada geese were all that was about. Linnets were singing nearby.
•Rooney's to Springwood Farm - yellow wagtail over, pair of lapwings around the pool although at times they were mobbing a buzzard sat in a nearby tree, and a reed bunting.

It was interesting to note that during the 2.5 hrs I was out I saw only three swallows, no martins or swifts, and, apart from the single whitethroat, the only warblers were a few blackcaps and chiffchaffs in various places along the route. It seems to be a very strange year for migrants.

I'm off to the Cairngorms for a week on Saturday so I'm hoping for some good stuff there!"
.........

Thanks Peter, enjoy the Cairngorms. It's time we made our way up there again!

Wendy Stratford has just returned from Scotland. Mainly walking, with a little birding and wild swimming! ......"Scottish highlight was seeing a lesser whitethroat very close - didn't need binoculars! It flew into a small birch tree right by me and we studied each other!. This was on Skye, where the birds don't seem so nervous of people. We were on our way up to what we call eagle escarpment - have seen eagles every time, including once golden and white-tailed together. Definitely worth the hike up. This time we had a great view from above a golden eagle cruising over the trees below the escarpment! Also saw many stonechats, wheatear (not as many as the same week last year), cuckoo including one flying by, many meadow and rock pipits, great northern and black-throated divers, sand martins nesting in sandy cliff where a small river ran into the sea, common sandpiper, brambling and many song thrushes.

In Wester Ross (we stayed at Gairloch looking over the sea loch) there were many gannets - we saw upwards of 40 fishing together in the loch from our garden! We saw great skuas in several places, including mixed with the gulls following the fishing boats coming in as well as on wild remote coastlines, large mixed flocks of ringed plover and dunlin feeding on the beaches, red-breasted merganser, golden eagles cruising over cliffs and hills, and many meadow pipits, stonechats and song thrushes. It was a lovely holiday, and as usual the weather was much better than forecast... "
...........

Bob Groom's been on his travels again, this time a short trip to Suffolk - you can read his report by clicking here. Thanks Bob.

Sunday (22/5) found the KOS up in the Pennines on the KOS May field trip. I was supposed to be the leader for the day but unfortunately had to drop out at the last minute. Still they managed quite well without me! Jude Halman sent me the list of species recorded.
Great day - 15 members and 1 dog, weather perfect, 33 species so far, Bob hadn't returned before I left. On the journey over, after crossing the Cat and Fiddle road onto the Congleton road, just on the top, Wheatear and two Curlews, I can't count them but nice to see.

species recorded in the Manifold Valley. 22nd May 2022.
Buzzard, Willow Warbler, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Chiffchaff, Pheasant, Chaffinch, Robin, Woodpigeon, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Blackcap, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Mallard, Song Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Bullfinch, Pied Wagtail, Swift, Redstart, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Grey Wagtail, Linnet, Long-tailed Tit, Garden Warbler, Cuckoo, Nuthatch, Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush, Jay. [ ✓ 36]


I did the list, everyone was very helpful - telling me all they had seen - Mark did the leading.
Thanks Jude and sorry for leaving it so late.

This Friday (27th. May) it's the first of our Summer evening walks. We'll be doing a circuit of Manchester Airport's runway 2, meeting up at crashgate 9 on Lady Lane in Mobberley at 6:30pm. I'll (hopefully) be leading this trip and I will be sending directions to all interested parties shortly.

KOS Treasurer, Frank Dearden tells be that 32 people have now paid their subscriptions. This includes those who were members, pre-covid, in 2020 and an encouraging number of newcomers. So we're already well on the way to our initial target of 40; a number that will pay for the Jubilee Hall and lecturers' fees for the 2022/23 season.


16/05/2022...... Another wet Wednesday
Mark Eddowes has sent me further details about the work he's doing up in the Pennines, investigating the translocation of some species of passerines from the Cheshire plain up into the hills........"It was involvement with the CAWOS atlas as much as anything that got me thinking about this. It showed that so many of our long-distance passerine migrants were shifting up the altitudinal gradient, disappearing from the Cheshire plain and hanging on in the Eastern Hills. Then, when I came here to Bonsall, I found myself on the boundary of where the Redstarts settle to breed which has enabled me to start looking more seriously at things. It was very fortuitous that I landed on the right spot. I now have 159 nest boxes spread across various sites, some along the Manifold Valley a bit to the north of Ecton and at near Swallow Moss and some more near Buxton which gives be a good range of climates and a good range of start dates for breeding. I have i-Button thermochron temperature sensors fixed to the bottom of each box to monitor local temperatures so I can analyse the dependence of first egg dates on local temperature. It keeps me busy at this time of year. I don't get many Redstart but there is enough data to paint a picture and the Great Tits provide a useful reference point.".............

Thanks Mark, excellent work! Mark and Alison will be joining us this coming Sunday (22nd May) on our KOS field trip to the Manifold Valley. Secretary Karina will be circulating an email to all our members with full details of this trip shortly. I will be trip leader for this one and can be contacted by email - tony@10X50.com or phone 07710 508 544.

I finally saw my first Swifts of the year on Tuesday (10/5), in Tatton after receiving a text from Sheila Blamire......." Good 10km walk around Tatton this morning - first time for ages.
Started off with Swifts over Tatton so I texted Tony for him to "tick" them! Finished with c20 over our heads screaming - such a lovely sound. Then before Tony arrived we had 3 Common Sandpipers. After we updated Tony we continued to the Mill Pond, then to deer fence, to Millennium Wood, cross-country to Melchett Mere, then along the mere to the Knutsford gate. No Wheatears, no Whinchats, but still a good morning! "
........

The three of us also met Tatton ranger Darren Morris, as we watched the Swifts. He tells me that he had a Common Tern last Thursday (12/5), perched on the deer fence that stretches across the southern end of Tatton Mere and yesterday (15/5) a female Cuckoo - now quite a rarity in our area. Also locally, another Red Kite - this time seen by Alan Gillespie in Mobberley ......."I had a red kite in Mobberley today around 17:00. Viewed from the Railway Inn beer garden. It was very low and being harassed by crows and jackdaws.
I was in Dresden last week and saw lots of them however they still seem rather scarce in the greater Cheshire area!"
........

I was hoping for better weather last Wednesday (11/5) than we'd had for the previous week's airport walk, but it wasn't to be. A small group of mid-weekers had travelled over to the Goyt valley, despite the threat of heavy showers - my phone app. showed a 100% chance of rain at 10 and 11am, and for once it was accurate!
Still we decided to make the most of it and followed the usual routes from the valley's middle car park. Willow Warblers were everywhere, with just a single Chiffchaff. Jude found the first Pied Flycatcher and Frank the first of three Cuckoos. I think the Common Sandpipers were new in - one was displaying furiously on the far side of the reservoir and two others chasing each other on the near side.
Redstarts were singing in the rain and showed well, we ended up with a Lesser Whitethroat just passed the concrete bridge, before returning to the cars for late elevenses.

Members have been again venturing further afield. Simon and Lyn travelled to Suffolk last week and Simon has sent me some excellent images that have gone on file for future updates. Bob Groom and his mate Matt were also down there at the same time. Bob will be writing an account of their visit for eventual inclusion of this website.
On his return Bob and our secretary Karina drove over to the Wirral on Saturday where Karina found Burton Mere's first spotted Flycatcher of the year!

......."Karina and I went over to the Wirral, starting at Leasowe Lighthouse. 3 Wheatears, our first of the year (having in my case missed all the local ones) and a close Sedge Warbler but no rarities. The tide was right out at Hoylake so we just picked up a few Dunlins and Ringed Plovers. Usuals at Burton but no marsh harriers. In the car park, about to head back, Karina spotted a Spotted Flycatcher (1st of year, also for Burton).. Great.. "......

species recorded on a rainy day in the Goyt - 11th May 2022
Goldfinch, Robin, Canada Goose, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Cuckoo, Common Sandpiper, Wren, Coal Tit, Grey Heron, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Blue Tit, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Long-tailed Tit, Buzzard, Song Thrush, Cormorant, Mallard +13 juvs, Lesser Whitethroat, Meadow Pipit, Lapwing, Skylark, Jackdaw, Magpie. [ ✓ 30]

09/05/2022......A wet morning at the airport
A group of nine hardy souls gathered at the airport's crash gate 9 last Wednesday (4/5) for a mid-week walk around the perimeter of runway 2. It wasn't particularly cold; just very wet! We took the clockwise route, as the very steep incline up from the tunnel is a little less severe in that direction! Despite the weather there was a surprising amount of avian activity. Apart from Garden Warbler, most of the other Summer visitors we anticipated were added to the days list - Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and no less that four singing Lesser Whitethroats. Bird of the day though, was a male Whinchat, that stood out like a sparkling jewel on a post a few yards from the path - unfortunately, by the time I'd retrieved the camera from my rucksack, it'd moved on to a nearby bush - so all you get is one of the famous KOS record shots!
Last year Dippers were nesting on the Bollin, close to the tunnel under the new runway, there was no sign of them this year but Grey Wagtails were again present. Elevenses were enjoyed at the far end of the tunnel before we tackled the slope up to runway level and back to the cars after a walk of 4.52 miles and a total ascent of 187'.

Following Darren Morris's count of 100 Swifts over Tatton Mere on Tuesday last week (3/5) I fully expected to see my first of the year the following day on a visit to the park. Not a one! but I did see an Arctic Tern fly along the middle of the mere, towards Knutsford Moor, it returned a few minutes later before flying off towards Melchett Mere.
Swifts are late this year but all is not lost, Sheila Blamire tells me that on Saturday (7/5) 25,000 were counted moving north at a location in southern France, with 30,000 the following day!

We don't have a surplus of Yellowhammers this Spring in Mobberley but I thinks Geoff and Sheila have discovered where they're hiding! This from Sunday (8/5)............"Highlight of today from Plumley and Holford - Yellowhammers at 6 different sites!
Pair along a hedge before the bridge over the railway (and a pair of Long-tailed Tits breeding in the same hedge).
Pair in a hedge after the bridge (close to Holford Hall).
Pair along the track in Holford.
Singing male Yellowhammer before the sunflower field, Lostock Green.
Pair along Patmoss Lane
Finally singing male Yellowhammer further on from we parked the car on Cheadle Lane! "
..............

Karina Stanley, our hardworking KOS Secretary also found one during a walk from home the same day - as well as four singing Whitethroats!........."A couple of newly arrived Swallow along the railway line this afternoon. At least 4 Whitethroat , a singing Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch, 2 x Reed Bunting and Chiffchaff plus a couple of dancing Lapwing over the recently mucked and ploughed field - they saw another interloping Lapwing off. Also 3 Stock dove and a couple of Song Thrush in the area."...........

Yesterday morning (8/5) I had intended to walk as far a Mobberley's Gleavehouse Pool but it was such pleasant weather that, at the end of Gleavehouse Lane, I turned right instead of left, into the village's hinterlands. The footpaths, that were so well-used during the Covid lockdowns, are now becoming less distinct and overgrown once again: I saw only two other people during a 5.3 Km. walk. I counted 7 singing Chiffchaffs, numerous Skylarks (some carrying food), Swallows were back at the farms but just single Whitethroats and Yellowhammer. I was surprised to flush a Snipe from a disused fishing pit; back in the 1950's they were common nesters but I last saw a nest, locally, in 1984. Moving on in the direction of Rooney's pile, (now officially christened "High Lake Manor") - well it does have a fishing lake within its 40 acres, I passed a second pit where Jude Halman has a pair of Little Ringed Plover a couple of weeks ago. Gleavehouse Pool was quiet, two small Mallard families fed on the water, sharing it with sundry Canada and Greylag Geese and a female Goosander. I was disappointed not to see or hear a single Yellow Wagtail - hopefully just a one off.

Back in the 1970's I remember following the same route and counting 10 singing Willow Warblers. There were none this year. Perhaps a subtle sign of a species reacting to changes due to climate change.
We social birdwatchers (amateurs) can remember obscure facts like that warbler count and even take part in local and national surveys but it takes more than amateurs to interpret the raw data generated and decide what they indicate and the significance of any conclusions reached.

I was reminded of this recently when reading Mark Eddowes' Twitter pages.
Until they moved from the Knutsford area Mark and his partner Alison were very active members of the KOS and we've not lost touch with them. You may remember their paper in "British Birds" concerning the "wing clapping" of Nightjars, published last year. You can read it here.
Recently Mark gave a presentation to the BOU (British Ornithologist's Union) explaining the work he's carried out near home in Bonsall that shows how the species he studies are reacting to climate change........."There is adaptive phenological tracking through plasticity in evolutionarily conserved populations using established weather-based migration cues and the selection of trophically synchronous sites, promoting range shift in mobile migrants."...........
As you can imagine that had me reaching for the dictionary!! But, basically, I think it explains that climate change is forcing some species (such as our Mobberley Willow Warblers) to move to cooler places during the breeding season - either to higher ground or higher latitudes altogether. Mark's Twitter page is here.

Species seen on the airport walk. May 4th 2022.
Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Canada Goose, Swallow, Goldfinch, Wren, Reed Bunting, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat X4, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Skylark, Robin, Jackdaw, Jay, Whinchat, Bullfinch, Willow Warbler, Chaffinch, Lapwing, Woodpigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey Wagtail, Kestrel, Magpie, Cormorant, Mallard, Dunnock, Mistle Thrush, Buzzard = 32

03/05/2022......Wheatears and both Whitethroats
Locally there's been a shortage of hirundines this Spring (and Swifts are very late too) I began to think the same was true of Whitethroats but Geoff and Sheila Blamire saw and heard plenty on one of their morning walks at the end of last week............"We did our 12km Millington walk this morning - so many warblers around including an influx of Whitethroats.
But the best sighting was that one pair of Lapwings have managed to hatch 4 chicks - fingers crossed that all 4 fledge! (Sheila tells me that the four youngsters were still there on Sunday [1/5])
7+ Lapwings in the field along Chapel Lane - displaying but no sign of nesting (so far), but a Skylark was singing. "
..................

I went in search of Whitethroats, the following morning (27/4), around crash gate 9 at the airport - one of their strongholds. There were plenty of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and even Willow Warblers but no Whitethroats; nevertheless I was delighted to here the rattle of a Lesser Whitethroat, some distance away, towards CG10; they normally arrive after their commoner cousins.
(incidentally I don't refer to the Whitethroat as the Common Whitethroat, it would be easier to do so and avoid confusion but apparently Common Whitethroat is wrong - and we must stick to the rules but I draw the line at Barn Swallow, Northern Wheatear etc.!!)

The same morning ranger Darren Morris was in Tatton's deer park, unplugging the entrance holes on his Pied Flycatcher nest boxes (they're kept sealed until later in the Spring to prevent Tits nesting in them). He reports young Ravens, already out of their nests, a male Mandarin on the stream that runs through this private area of the park and a female Wheatear on the track leading up to the Mill Pool.

Members have been travelling further afield for their birds - Wendy Stratford and Bridget Knight drove over to the RSPB's splendid Burton Mere Wetlands for the dawn chorus on Sunday (1/5)........"Just back from the RSPB dawn chorus walk at Burton Mere - the weather was better than forecast and we had a great walk and heard lots of warblers - blackcap, reed, sedge, grasshopper, willow and cetti's! We saw a cetti's warbler quite close, several sedge warblers and a spotted redshank in summer plumage (nearly black). Then hot chocolate and pastries... Great start to the day.".............. The ladies left Mobberley at 4:05am!!

Also on Sunday Bob Groom and our KOS Secretary, Karina Stanley, went over to Woolston Eyes.........."Not too bad a morning, better than forecast. Min 8C Max 13C. Karina and I went over to Woolston Eyes.
Apparently an extensive 3 hour search from first light had failed to find the Ferruginous Duck. Nonetheless we had a good session - female Marsh Harrier, three sightings of a Hobby, Cuckoo calling, Sparrowhawk [x2], Sedge Warbler and Whitethroats singing. "
...............

Those well-known long distance travellers, Ken and Shirley Davies fitted in a short break to the Lake District before setting off, in their camper, up to the Arctic!........."While KOS was enjoying a visit to Burton Mere Shirley and myself ended off a good weekend - three nights in Grange over Sands (a hotel for a change not the motor home) calling in at Foulshaw Moss nature reserve on our return journey to Middlewich, plenty of activity on the feeders with about 12 Redpoll ,Greenfinch ,Goldfinch ,Reed Bunting ,Chaffinch ,Tree Sparrow ,Great Spotted Woodpecker ,Great Tit ,Wren ,Pheasant ,Robin .Moving out onto the moss we had Meadow pipit ,Kestrel and the main bird we stopped to see, a pair of Ospreys. we were told by the wardens they had three eggs and were the same pair that, last year, successfully reared three young .
As I said it was a very quick visit nice and sunny but a cool wind roll on Scandinavia. "
............. Thanks Ken and Shirley. The Foulshaw Ospreys can be watched via two webcams, overlooking the nest [click here]. Have another great adventure in the far north!

I finally found my first Whitethroat of the year on Friday (29/4), it was singing from a bramble covered paddock, along Mobberley's Pavement Lane. I was making my way to Gleavehouse Pool - not much going on but Yellow Wagtails came along from time to time, indulging in some fly-catching. For once I could identify the insects: not a difficult task given their unique appearance - St. Mark's flies, named after St. Mark's day - 25th April, so, like everything else, a little late this Spring.

For the past few years Gleavehouse Lane has been a good spot for migrating Wheatears but it seemed they'd given it a miss this time. Until Sunday that is, when Jayne Davies found two on a newly harrowed field. Just one remained at 10:00am the following morning but neither, an hour later, when Bob arrived - I don't think he's seen on yet this year. Anyway it wasn't a wasted journey as, at the top of the cul-de-sac, we heard and obtained, great views of a Lesser Whitethroat!

Late news! At the start of this update I mentioned a shortage of Swifts this year - not any longer though, as Darren has just sent me a text saying there are 20+ over Tatton Mere (11:40am). Nature never stands still and things can change rapidly in a few hours or minutes!

26/04/2022......Joining the KOS, 2022/23 programme and the trip to Burton Mere.
As mentioned in the last update, the KOS committee has been working hard to produce a programme of events for the next 12 months, so that we can return to normal after the covid pandemic. I'm happy to report that the new programme has been finalised and you can download a copy by clicking here or view it online here.

We're also starting to accept membership applications again, after a two year suspension of subscriptions due to the pandemic. These haven't been increased since 2015 but, mainly due to the cost of speakers at the indoor meetings, membership will now be £ 20 per annum. A membership application form can be downloaded by clicking here. This should be completed and sent to our treasurer Frank, who's address is on the form. Frank can be contacted by email at treasurer@10X50.com. Alternatively I can be contacted at any time on 07710 508 544 and I'll probably be able to answer any questions you have about the society.

Right back to birding! We enjoyed a very successful trip to the RSPB's Burton Mere Wetlands on Sunday (24/4). 15 Members gathered at the reserve and were given a briefing by Bob Groom, our leader for this trip. He gave us a target of 60 species for the day. No problem! We began the day list with Egyptian Goose and Green Woodpecker before leaving the car park! There was plenty of activity on view from the reception building, the islands were populated by numerous pairs of nesting Black-headed Gulls and amongst them we picked out at least two Mediterranean Gulls; also noted, as we enjoyed a very nice RSPB filter coffee (still only £ 2), Greylag and Canada Geese, Shelduck, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall and a fine drake Pintail. Waders were represented by Redshanks, displaying Lapwings and the remnants of the Winter Black-tailed Godwit flock, some in full Summer plumage. Avocets and Lapwings are breeding again, as are Oystercatchers, one of which dealt successfully with a lumbering Canada Goose that strayed too close to it's nest!

Walking towards the Marsh Covert hide, we were pleased to hear so many warblers in song; Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Willow and Reed Warblers. Very vocal Cetti's seemed to be everywhere, David Cogger had a singing Whitethroat close to the reception building.
A female Long-tailed Duck was the centre of attraction as it performed well in front of the hide, with closer views possible from the viewing screen a little further along the path. The heronry is hidden behind the trees at this time of the year but judging by the noise there are plenty of birds present, I assume there are Little Egrets nesting alongside them.
Nothing new from the splendid new Inner Marsh hide, except a lone Swallow - hirundines seem to be few and far between this Spring, normally we'd expect to see umpteen passing through in April.

We returned to the cars at 12:30pm before moving on to Parkgate. This is really a Winter birdwatching spot so I think we only added Stonechat and House Sparrow to the list. The town's main attraction though is it's famous chippie and most of the party availed themselves of the facilities, including, I believe, the Hon. treasurer who was seen with a large portion of chips. Quite a change from his usual plastic box of rabbit food!

A good trip - 16C, unbroken sunshine and 66 different species.

Back in Knutsford, Maria Freel tells me that she's seen a Red Kite over the Gauntlet Bird of Prey Centre. Still a rare sighting around here, perhaps eventually they'll become as common as Buzzards. Maria did work in Tatton Park but has been working at the centre since July last year. She leaves in September to pursue a masters in Conservation Biology

Peter Dawson's been away somewhere south of Stoke and on his return made for Mobberley's famous Gleavehouse Pool..........."I visited Knutsford Moor reedbed early yesterday morning in the hope of finding a grasshopper warbler but no luck. I did find willow warbler, blackcap, chiffchaff, reed warbler and reed bunting so all was not lost! I'll give it another go in the next few days.

This afternoon I paid my first visit to Gleave House Farm area for a while, spurred on by your report that the yellow wagtails are back. Yes they are! I was with a birding pal who a few months ago gave me a guided tour of Holford Moss. He expressed an interest in getting good views of yellow wagtails so I was happy to return the favour. We saw three including two cracking males - one by GH Pool and the other sat in the hedge just by the entrance gates of GH Farm. There were a few other birds of interest around as well:

•Grey wagtail by Pedley Brook on the walk over.
•At GH Farm/Pool - yellowhammer, a female goosander (no male about), linnet, reed bunting, skylark, pair of oystercatchers and Shelducks, swallows, house martin and mallards with ducklings.
Unfortunately no sign of any garden warblers, Whitethroats or lesser whitethroats in the bushes by Booths Mere so another visit is called for soon.
Also nice to meet David Cogger who was sat in the GHP observatory when we arrived there. A very enjoyable afternoon. "
..............

Species recorded at Burton Mere and Parkgate 24th April 2022.
Green Woodpecker, Egyptian Goose, Goldfinch, Pheasant, Chiffchaff, Jackdaw, Shelduck, Cetti's Warbler, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Blue Tit, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Black-headed Gull, Oystercatcher, Coot, Black-tailed Godwit, Shoveler, Gadwall, Carrion Crow, Grey Heron, Blackcap, Mallard, Pintail, Lapwing, Redshank, Wren, Moorhen, Skylark, Great Tit, Whitethroat, Blackbird, Magpie, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Tufted Duck, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Raven, Long-tailed Duck, Buzzard, Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Willow Warbler, Swallow, Jay, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Mistle Thrush, Stonechat, Kestrel, House Sparrow, Starling, Ruddy Shelduck, Rook, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Coal Tit, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker. [66]



22/04/2022......Yellow Wagtails return
Three different locations on Monday (18/4), in search of returning migrants. I began at Mobberley's noisiest location, parking at Crashgate 9, next to the airport's runway 2 where I was hoping for either, or both, Whitethroats.
I walked as far as the end of Woodend Road where the view opens up and you can see the whole of the airport, sprawled out in front of you. No Whitethroats but two singing Willow Warblers, plenty of Chiffchaffs and a number of very active Blackcaps. There'd been an emergence of Orange Tip Butterflies, they were everywhere; Speckled Woods chased each other along a narrow, shady path leading from the fields to the road.

From the airport I drove to Gleavehouse Lane, still in the same village but a world away from the hustle and bustle of CG9! The usual Tree Sparrows and Linnets along the lane, with Swallows now back for the season at Blackthorn Farm. More Orange Tips as I headed for Gleavehouse Pool, here joined by Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell; overhead Skylarks in song flight and, just past where the Quail was singing last Summer, a female Yellow Wagtails dropped into the field of Winter wheat, it's mate landed on top of the hedge, a few yards away - bright Yellow in the early morning sun.

At the pool, as well as the usual Canada and Greylag Geese, a single Teal and a pair of mallards plus 10 ducklings (Wendy Stratford counted 11 youngsters the day before). As I rested for a time on the stile, two House Martins appeared, collecting mud from the pool side before flying off towards Town Lane.

I'd only been back at home for a short time when I received news, from Darren Morris, of a female Whinchat at Tatton's Melchett Mere He and Yvonne had kindly waited for me on the Melchett bench. They had seen the bird on the opposite side of the mere so I had a bit of a hike but it was pleasant weather and I spent an hour at the appropriate spot, without any luck. The couple had seen Kingfisher on Melchett as they waited for me.

I had Kingfishers this morning (22/4), when I went into the park, via Knutsford Moor and Dog Wood. The first sighting was on the Moor's back pool, the second further into the park, close to the boat launching jetty. I had half expected at least a Reed Warbler or Cetti's on the Moor but heard neither, "just" Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and a single Willow Warbler. Two late Bramblings called as they fed at the top of Dog Wood's tall, mature beech trees, more Blackcaps were in song but no sign yet of the expected Garden Warblers and Whitethroats. A pair of Canada Geese had seven goslings in tow whilst overhead, only a few Swallows and Sand Martins and a Buzzard mobbing a Raven that had strayed into its territory.

Reed Warblers have arrived on the Moor. This from Peter Dawson on Monday (18/4) ..........." A quick update from my walk yesterday. I left early heading for Swain's Walk in the hope of finding some interesting birds. I decided to go via the Moor reedbed to see if there were any warblers in yet. I heard blackcap, chiffchaff, willow warbler and reed warbler as well as a water rail but no sign of grasshopper or Cetti's.

Disappointingly the Tabley Rd-Green Lane-Moss Lane-Swains Walk route provided virtually nothing of note. Just blackcaps, chiffchaffs, skylark, stock dove and collared dove in addition to the usuals. No hirundines or raptors at all. "
...............

Simon Smith and Lyn Graves had a trip to the Goyt Valley on Wednesday (20/4) and, although it's quite early in the season, met with some success .........." Lyn & I went up to the Goyt Valley today, to see what was about. There were loads of Willow Warblers, Goldcrests, Treecreepers and a Pied Flycatcher in the trees around the bench where lunch is usually taken on your trips. We were after a Common Redstart and finally tracked down a beautiful male, which was very wary so I only managed a record shot.
We saw a Pipit on the roadside between the car park and the quarry and immediately assumed it was a Meadow Pipit. However, on checking the picture we're convinced that it was a Tree Pipit (white belly, flank streaks obviously finer than breast streaks and a "strong" bill with pink base) - picture attached. "
................
Thanks Simon, another great image and Hugh Pulsford agrees that it's of a tree Pipit.

From next month we're hoping that the KOS can resume normal activities. Activities that were so rudely interrupted by the covid pandemic. To this end, the committee have been working to produce a programme of field trips, Friday evening Summer walks and indoor meetings that will begin again in September. Jacquie Ledward has worked hard to arrange a series of lectures that will take us from September this year right through to April 2023.

An email will be sent out to all those on Karina's members mailing list. It will have attached - a copy of the programme and a membership application form that can be printed off and sent to KOS treasurer, Frank Dearden, who will send, in return, a receipt and a nice shiny new Knutsford Ornithological Society membership card - something we've not done before!
When I receive a copy of the new programme I'll put it up on the website's trips and meetings page. There may be some regular visitors to this website who are not on Karina's list and would like to join us but fear not, the same membership application form will be downloadable from here.

That's the plan anyway!

Don't forget this Sunday (24th) it's our April field trip to the RSPB's Burton Mere reserve, meeting at the reserve at 09:30am. Our leader will be Bob Groom - you may want to let Bob know if you're coming along bobbluesgroom@hotmail.co.uk

17/04/2022...... More warblers.
A dull, misty and overcast morning on Tuesday (12/4), still (especially at this time of the year) nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I drove over to Rostherne, at least it would be dry! Shortly after arriving I was joined in the obs. by Geoff and Sheila Blamire, looking a bit bedraggled but determined that their daily walk wouldn't be spoilt by a drop of rain.
The far end of the mere was hidden in the gloom but the bird table was attracting a good selection of small birds. At one stage we heard the distinctive song of a Willow Warbler, just a short burst but on their way home G&S heard one more distinctly, in Wood Bongs. I think this was the reserve's first record this year, as was, or were, the three Blackcaps - two males and a female watched in the undergrowth, just below the obs.

Fortunately by the next day (13/4) the weather had improved and we had a dry morning for a mid-weeker at Northwich's Neumann's Flash. We did a complete circuit of the two flashes - Ashton's and Neumann's, hoping for a Willow Warbler (and perhaps more) for those that hadn't seen one since last year. No problem, as there was one singing next to the car park! This is a good area for early warblers and, as we reached the corner of the path that runs alongside the road, Blackcaps were singing, at least three or, possibly, even more. The spot was christened "Blackcap Corner"!
Elevenses were enjoyed in the hide at the far side of Neumann's Flash; Cetti's Warblers are now omnipresent in this part of the world but it's still unusual to actually see one and we were lucky when a singing male performed in front of us for a few seconds, before vanishing into the phragmites.
Moving on, Sheila picked out an early Reed Warbler singing from the reeds, very quiet, but I think we all heard it when silence was called for!! Also there, a pig-like squealing revealed the presence of a skulking Water rail.
Arriving back at the cars most of us carried on along the bund that separates the two flashes as far as Pod's hide. good views from there of the whole of Neumann's, so careful 'scoping revealed a good selection of water birds including Great and Ltlle Grebes, Shoveler, Shelduck and Gadwall.

By Saturday (16/4) conditions had improved even more and it was 18C as I walked from home to Mobberley's Gleavehouse Pool in search of Yellow Wagtails and even Little Ringed Plover - One of the Little Owls was on duty at the nest hole, Linnets and Tree Sparrows along Gleavehouse Lane. Walking towards GhP Skylarks everywhere but no sign of any Yellow Wagtails. No potato fields this year they've all been sown with winter wheat.
At the pool the usual suspects - Canada (8) and Greylag Geese (7), Mallard, Coot (2 Coots' nests on the small pond to the left) 4 Buzzards enjoying the weather, 3 Oystercatchers flew in. After an hour three House Martins arrived and spent a couple of minutes re-fuelling before leaving for the north - my first this year - a great sight!!

Oh yes! don't forget it's our KOS field trip this coming Sunday 24th April, to Burton Mere. 9:30am at the reserve, our leader will be Bob Groom - let him know if you're coming along bobbluesgroom@hotmail.co.uk

Species recorded at Neumann's / Ashton's Flashes - Wednesday 13th April 2022.
Jay, Robin, Magpie, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Cetti's Warbler, Wren, Carrion Crow, Starling, Mallard, Blackcap, Jackdaw, Cormorant, Goldfinch, Tufted Duck, Collared Dove, Linnet, House Sparrow, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Moorhen, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Coot, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Little Grebe, Shoveler, Great Crested Grebe, Lapwing, Sparrowhawk, Reed Warbler, Water Rail, Stock Dove, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Buzzard, Bullfinch, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Oystercatcher, Teal, Grey Heron Gadwall. [ ✓ 50]

11/04/2022...... Little Gull at Tatton
Bob Groom, the KOS's equivalent of the Duracell Bunny has come up with the goods yet again with a Little Gull, the World's smallest, over Tatton Mere ! ............"Horribly windy and cold but I thought if those old timers can get out there, so can I, so I did and was rewarded. I started off at Rostherne. Pretty quiet. There was a flock of Chaffinches near The Rowans, suggesting the fluctuations in the weather have really confused them. As I opened the window in the observatory, the checklists nearly flew off into outer space, just managed to grab them. Incredible suction. I headed back through Tatton. Lots of activity. Goldeneyes chasing, couple of Swallows with c.225 Sand Martins (no white rumps), but the highlight was a LITTLE GULL! At one point a big bully Black Headed Gull had a go at it. Such a dainty bird."............

Sheila Blamire acknowledged Bob's persistence in her notes the following day (8/4) .........."Well done Bob - in the right place, at the right time, and putting the time in (as with the Bittern at Rostherne!).
We did a quick walk around Mere, Knutsford and Tabley - boy was it windy - Tabley Road is a wind tunnel!
Tabley Road stubble field: 3+ Lapwings including display and pair of Egyptian Geese (on the way back one was sitting with the other keeping guard?).
Swain's Walk: Skylark singing over the "dump" field and another over the field the other side of the track; Lapwing displaying; right of the pond several bird boxes, one definitely taken by Blue Tits and the next to it , one with a bigger hole - Tree Sparrows!. "
...........

On the subject of energy I recently found this excellent video on Youtube. In it the gentleman runs a route that takes him along some of Mobberley's least known paths (although I mention them quite often in these updates). At 3'33" he's passing Gleavehouse Pool; 4'11" crossing Pedley Brook in Fox Harbour; a glimpse of Wayne Rooney's new mansion at 4'50"; Springwood Farm at 7':44" and the famous Pavement Lane at 8'06".
Peter Dawson used it to find a new circular on his walks from home! ........." Thanks for sending this Tony. It's meant that I have at last found a circular route to/from GH Pool. Previously I've returned home the same way I came as the footpaths around Rooney's palace seem to have been re-routed v the OS map so I've never been able to work out a route back. It's a long way round but does at least mean I don't have to re-trace my steps. A few birds of note from this morning:

•Pavement Lane/GH Lane - at least two pairs of tree sparrows and linnets. Both firsts for me this year in the local area. Four lesser black backed gulls were circling overhead between Pavement Lane and the Park.
•GH Pool - just a few mallard, canada and greylag geese with a single oystercatcher, mute swan and chiffchaff singing. The usual skylarks were singing in the fields but no sign of any yellow hammers or wagtails.
•Rooney's to Spring Wood farm - three lapwings and a few meadow pipits were around the small pools in the fields.
•Booths Mere - nothing really of note but one oystercatcher and a few greylag geese.
Quite a few chiffchaffs were singing in various locations along the route but I didn't hear a single blackcap anywhere! "
............

I went over to Gleavehouse Pool this morning. On the way, along Pavement Lane, I noticed one of the Little Owls perched in the nest hole - I assume the other bird is now incubating and, at Blackthorn Farm, the first Swallow has returned to what's become a regular nest site. Despite the reasonable temperature today (10C) it felt quite cool with a strong south-easterly blowing down from the Pennines. There was no sign yet of Little Ringed Plovers or Yellow Wagtails, two Swallows dropped in, dipping down to the water to take some liquid on board before continuing on their journey north. Two Ravens croaked overhead and a singing Yellowhammer were the only other records of note.

I received my copy of the 2020 Cheshire and Wirral Bird Report yesterday. Citizen Science at its best, 160 pages of facts, figures and superb photos - this is the real deal, the definitive account of avian activity during the first year of Covid. Copies will be around for decades, even centuries, long after the internet has vanished into a black hole of it's own making! There's a huge list of contributors this time, presumably because the editors are using the BTO's BirdTrack database and anyone entering a record will be included.

On a smaller scale, with just seven contributors, Ken Davies sent me a copy of the Middlewich Wildlife Report for 2021 [You can read it here] - covering birds, mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, bats, moths, bees, hoverflies, frogs, toads and wild flowers. A huge undertaking for the single editor - a real labour of love!

Ken and Shirley are setting off soon for a Scandinavian tour in their camper but, before then, managed to fit in a visit to Slimbridge ........" Morning Tony our recent visit to WWT Slimbridge was a pleasant day, sunny intervals with the odd hail shower. We had a late start so Shirley and myself only had time to walk to the tower hide thankfully a quiet day very few people and not many birds . We don't seem to have much luck there lately but not a bad list .
Cetti's warbler,Chiffchaff,Woodpigeon,Jackdaw,Greenfinch,Avocet,Buzzard,Redshank,Rook,House sparrow ,Blue Tit ,Robin, Dunnock ,Crane ,Lapwing ,Stock Dove ,Linnet ,Pied Wagtail ,Collared Dove ,Blackbird ,Wren ,Oystercatcher ,Mute Swan ,Moorhen ,Teal ,Shelduck ,Mallard ,Coot ,Tufted Duck ,Shoveler ,Greylag ,Black-headed gull ,Pintail ,Little Egret ,Canada Geese ,Barnacle Geese ,Black-tailed Godwit ,Wigeon ,Grey Heron ,Ringed Plover ,Lesser Black-backed Gull ,Carrion Crow ,Great tit ,Willow Warbler ,Kestrel ,Magpie ,Pheasant also a Bar-headed Goose feeding on the fields with the Barnacles a total of 48 birds 47 seen 1 Cetti's heard . Any spelling mistakes feel free to correct them! my next report will be from Scandinavia . "
..........

Thanks Ken - have a good trip!

07/04/2022......tempus fugit
Time flies, yes it certainly does - tomorrow it's one month since the first Sand Martin of the year was seen over Tatton Mere and, just as last year, our Summer migrants are currently having to contend with adverse weather conditions.

Combining birding and his duties as a grandfather, Bob Groom noted the build up of Sand Martins in Tatton (30/3) ........" Well, they weren't wrong - cold and wet. Min 2C Max 7C - 8C down on yesterday! This afternoon the four of us went into Tatton. We did an Easter egg book in the Allen Hide to settle them . A bird not often seen at Melchett - Oystercatcher. Plus Heron, Cormorant etc. 1f Great Spotted Woodpecker on the feeders and a Green Woodpecker calling loudly (they don't call it the Rainbird for nothing..). Over beyond TM a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming. As anticipated, c.130 Sand Martins low over Tatton Mere in the rain. Most I've yet seen"..........
The following day (31/3) Bob counted almost as many as he returned from Rostherne Mere ........."A shock to the system - Min -1C Max 7C, effects of the sunshine rather spoiled by glacial wind chill. Rostherne Observatory was like an icebox. Snow was visible in the distance on the high tops but only experienced with a few flakes falling occasionally; needless to say not much going on - usual Buzzards, but no migrants, not even a chiffchaff. I came back through Tatton. c.110 Sand Martins over Tatton Mere (but try as I might, couldn't see any white rumps amongst them). Buzzards, Heron, Sparrowhawk, Cormorants.."...........

I spent a couple of hours at Rostherne on Tuesday morning (5/4)and noticed three pairs of Mandarin Ducks that seemed to be searching for suitable nesting sites. Geoff and Sheila Blamire saw the same behaviour last Tuesday (30/3)......"Our 12km walk today was to Rostherne and area.
Notable was a big flock of finches in the field at the Rostherne end of Ceciley Mill Lane - Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Linnets - probably 90+. At the Ceciley Mill Pool the male Mute Swan has stopped attacking the 3 cygnets and turned its attention to any Canada Geese who dare land there, even pursuing them into the reeds. The same with Rostherne Mere, though many more Canada Geese there. A lot of interaction between 2 male and 1 female Mandarins - definitely one of the males wasn't welcome! The female was inspecting potential nest holes and spent a lot of time in a hole in the dead stump in front of the Obs. Eventually the female flew towards the new scrapes closely followed by the 2 males. No hirundines seen. "
...........
I saw no hirundines either, in fact, looking in the log, it wasn't until the 1st April that the first Sand Martin was recorded - despite a Swallow arriving on the 17th March, the reserve's earliest ever record!

Bill Bellamy has produced an excellent report of activity at Rostherne during the first three months of the year - you can read it by clicking here.

Looking back at previous years, I noticed that on this day in 2020, during lockdown #1, Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears were found as local birders walked up to Mobberley's Gleavehouse Pool and, the following day, Jayne Davies discovered two Little Ringed Plovers there - if you remember we had some glorious weather at the time; not so now of course but it's a place we shouldn't neglect and it's well worth a visit when things improve.

In other news Tatton Ranger Darren Morris tells me that a pair of Egyptian Geese have hatched five youngsters on the park's Ice Pool, whilst over at the Chelford Sand Quarries a Turtle Dove was reported on Sunday (3/4) - a national rarity nowadays, let alone in Cheshire. We used to see and hear them around Neumann's Flash, in Northwich and the Ascol Drive reserve in Plumley but I've not seen one for ages.

28/03/2022......KOS trip to Leighton Moss
We've enjoyed a remarkable spell of warm Spring weather since last Tuesday (22/3), with temperatures as high as 20C. Things are about to change though as the Met. Office confidently predicts that, by Thursday, we'll have arctic winds blowing down from the north and a return to wintry snow and ice! Conditions that will not help our Summer migrants arriving from the south.

Bob Groom's winning streak continues, this time at Rostherne Mere on Friday (23/3)......."I still seem to be on a roll. Went over to Rostherne this afternoon. Male Bullfinch, Buzzards up, what would the third B be for the Log, I wondered and was then stunned to see a Bittern flying low over the water, coming from the right. It dropped into the V of reeds just beyond the boathouse. Because I was high up I got great views every time it put its head up, which it did several times before eventually disappearing. Also m Mandarin, f Goldeneye, Reed Buntings etc. My best bittern sighting in 50 years of visiting the Observatory."......

Nothing quite so rare for Peter Dawson but he did record the first Blackcap of the year in our area on one of his daily walks......." Recently when I've been out locally I've seen nothing of note hence the lack of reports. Anyway, I did manage to get a few birds of interest this time including a blackcap. My route took me through Toft Wood to Seven Sisters Lane, through Ash Farm and then back via Radbrooke Hall and Toft Rd. Of note:

• General - a few greenfinches were "wheezing" in various locations. It's interesting that I very rarely get them on the garden feeders but often hear them when out and about, including regularly in Booths car park. Also, there were a number of chiffchaffs and buzzards in various locations along the route.
• Toft Wood area - an oystercatcher flew over calling although I didn't see it. The fields between the wood and SSL held a pair of shelduck.
• A number of skylarks were seen and heard singing around Ash Farm where I also found two yellowhammers and a single hare. A few lapwings were flying around the same area with one which looked to be sitting on a nest!
• A single blackcap was singing in the wood by Radbrooke Hall. Only my second of the year after finding one in Big Wood at Marbury yesterday. A pair of reed buntings were in the adjacent field.

Shelduck and yellowhammer were firsts for me this year on walks from home. I still haven't managed to find a sand martin anywhere yet! ".
............

The previous day, for a change, Geoff and Sheila Blamire headed over to Tatton ........."We went to Tatton yesterday morning - the first time for ages.
Walking through Dog Wood found a Long-tailed Tit nest- both birds were bringing feathers. Very visible but a long way from the path.
We followed the narrow path down to the mere and disturbed a pair of Great Crested Grebes building a nest. Many pairs of GC Grebes seen displaying on both meres, also Little Grebes with a lot of trilling. A lovely sound.
A Pair of Wigeon were on Melchett Mere. As Bob said - Goldeneyes still numerous on the meres. No Sand Martins around "
............
That convenient path leading down to the deer fence, from the main path, is by courtesy of Alan Booth and his trusty pair of secautars!!

KOS Secretary Karina Stanley is still gainfully employed and makes the early morning commute to the Christie in Manchester, normally down the M56 ......."My first Cheshire Red Kite! Guess where - on the way to the airport @ Styal. (M56 closed so had to go via the back roads!) Happy Days!"..........Thanks Karina, it's always a mystery to me why we aren't seeing more Red Kites around here. Still it's always a great sight when one does appear!

Wall-to-wall sunshine yesterday (27/3) for our KOS trip to Leighton Moss, just 10C when we arrived at the reserve, peaking at a comfortable 17C during the afternoon. Jude Halman was the day's trip leader and, knowing the topography and the limitations of some of the participants, had decided that we wouldn't go round in a large group (there were 18 of us) but just do our own thing until 1:30pm before returning to the cars and moving on to the coastal hides.
Most people began by ascending the 9 meter "sky tower", which gives excellent views across the whole of the reserve. Plenty of water birds on view - Tufted Duck, Mallard, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Teal, and Gadwall plus Great Crested and Little Grebes. Chiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers were in full song and, in the distance, a lone Song Thrush. Both male and female Marsh harriers were in the air, on occasions carrying sticks to their chosen nest sites, deep in the reed beds.

On the track down to the Tim Jackson and Grisedale hides more very close Cetti's and squealing Water Rails. Good views from the hides of Little Egrets, a number of Pintail and four Garganeys (yes that is the plural!), newly returned from Africa, and apparently they are part of an influx into the UK this year
Some folk went to the cafe for lunch, a bit expensive, apparently, but most of us used the picnic tables, with views of the feeders from where the usual species were added to the day's list, including eventually, Marsh Tit, one of the reserve's specialities and a rapidly declining species.

Before we left for the coastal hides most people walked down to the Causeway hide where species such as Common Snipe, Grey Heron, Great Black-backed Gull and even Canada Goose were seen for the first time. We hadn't heard Bitterns "booming" all day but this was rectified by Derek and Jean who were staying locally for a few days and they reported one later in the afternoon and it's therefore included on the trip list.

The cars just about survived the "road" down to the car park at the start of the coastal trail and from there we set off to the two hides at the end of the trail. I noticed that electric fencing has been placed around the perimeter of the pool in front of the Allen hide to try and stop the predation of the nesting Avocets that have suffered badly in the past from the attention of (presumably) foxes and badgers as well as stoats and GBB, LBB and Herring Gulls. There are currently about 90 Avocets present and there was much display and copulation taking place.
Other species seen from the hides - Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Ruff, Oystercatcher, Wigeon and, finally, four Sand Martins, our first of the day, I think we'd expected more but perhaps they'd seen the latest weather forecast!

Ospreys are beginning to return to their nest sites and there are any number of webcams trained on them for the benefit of fireside birdwatchers!

Here are some of them -

Dyfi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TGcI-5mwy8

Loch Garten https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/loch-garten/live-video-webcam/

Loch Arcaig https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--l_qKzu2kE

Poole Harbour https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/osprey/osprey-webcams/

Glaslyn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJF12yRCqt0

Loch of Lowes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKkfqbWBgKg

Cumbria https://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife/cams/osprey-cam

Rutland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxN8Sb_xHp0

Species recorded at Leighton Moss on 27th March 2022.
Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Greenfinch, Robin, Chiffchaff, Collared Dove, Greylag Goose, Wren, Goldfinch, Woodpigeon, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Moorhen, Marsh Harrier, Song Thrush, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Gadwall, Teal, Cetti's Warbler, Water Rail, Nuthatch, Little Egret,Lapwing, Pintail, Pochard, Garganey, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Coal Tit, Dunnock, Little Grebe, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Snipe, Cormorant, Pheasant, Canada Goose, Grey Heron, Green Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Tit, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Shelduck, Wigeon, Redshank, Ruff, Skylark, Pink-footed Goose, Oystercatcher, Sand Martin, Kestrel, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Jackdaw, Bittern. [ ✓ 66]

23/03/2022..First Swallow and Lesserpeckers!
Since it's inception 27 years ago, this website has been devoted to the Knutsford Ornithological Society, it's members and their birding adventures, both locally and,from time to time, further afield. Nowadays the visitor counter shows it's read more widely so perhaps, in future updates, I'll write a little more about our members. They come from all walks of life, brought together by a mutual interest in natural history, birds in particular. A well-rounded group (some would say in more ways than one!) with wide-ranging interests apart from amateur ornithology. I was reminded of this on Sunday (20/3) as Olwen and I watched 5,000 runners pass through Mobberley in the Wilmslow half marathon (despite it's name the majority of the route is in the village). Amongst the participants was KOS member Darren Morris who completed the 13.1 miles in a very creditable 1 hour and 55 minutes! Darren is a ranger in Tatton Park, Stoke City fan and has been known to travel abroad to watch his favourite band - New Model Army! He even used the occasion for some birding and reports 10 singing Chiffchaffs on the way around!

Perhaps, sometime in the future, I'll mention the member who is a world-renowned expert on American blues music, regularly writes magazine articles, book chapters and notes for..[CDs]. He's also travelled to the USA and appeared on southern radio stations telling the locals about their own music. If you don't already know, you'll never guess!

Anyway enough of that and back to birds. KOS stalwart Bob Groom has had a remarkable few day birding, beginning on Saturday (19/3) when he went over to Rostherne after reports of an early Swallow.........." No swallows entered in the log, although they may have been seen elsewhere, e.g. over e.g. Cicely Mill. Most of the regulars seen, including a couple of Buzzards. Came back via Tatton. No sign of wheatears, only 'leafbirds'! A few Sand Martins higheish over Tatton Mere and, lo and behold, a single Swallow!!"...........

The following day (20/3) he was doing the WeBS count at Tabley Mere and found it a more rewarding morning than usual ......."An excellent count today, no less than 21 species using the Mere! The Great White and Little Egrets are back. Very pleasing. A pair of Oystercatchers nesting on Tower Island. 3 Shelducks, 3 Mandarins, 2 Egyptian Geese. Even 10 Gadwall. Buzzards busy displaying and the Herons seem to be well on with breeding".........

But wait - there was more to come on Monday (21/3) ......."I was then aware of a small bird moving in the trees to the left by the pool. It turned out to be a male LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER! After watching it for a few minutes I became aware of a second bird, a female, which at one point got close to the male. A pair!! I watched them for the best part of 20 minutes before losing track of them. No calling but I did hear the sound of bark being removed from branches. Needless to say I was thrilled"......... Well done Bob, an excellent three days! Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers are a red listed species and for some pretty obvious reasons the location won't be revealed.

Geoff and Sheila Blamire are finding plenty of singing Skylarks on their daily walks. I've not heard any recently so I need to get over to their local stronghold in the Gleavehouse Pool area ......"We did our Millington walk this morning (22/3).
Mereside Road: 2 Lapwings and singing Skylark; pair of Great Crested Grebes on Little Mere.
Chapel Lane: 11 Lapwings including lot of display and one time they put a Snipe! Yellowhammer preening on the hedge.
Our patch: 4 Lapwings, many Buzzards, several Chiffchaffs, 150+ LBG and Black-headed Gulls where a farmer was ploughing the field.
Newhall Farm: Skylark singing.
".........

Our friends at the Dyfi Osprey reserve are back online, with live views of the nest and surrounding countryside. I believe they also have some new state-of-the-art cameras so coverage should be better than ever; and it was excellent last year - all they need now is two Ospreys! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1mc3Eoxl0w.

This coming Sunday (27 March) it's our KOS trip to Leighton Moss, meeting up at 09:45 in the reserve car park. Our leader for the day is Jude Halman, please let her know if you'll be coming along. judithhalman@btinternet.com


17/03/2022......No Wheatears yet
They say that Mobberley is the second biggest parish in England, but I've never seen any published figures to verify this claim! Nevertheless it is big, as demonstrated by Jayne Davies on Sunday (13/3) as she completes a 20Km. walk without straying outside the parish boundaries........."I went for a long meandering walk round some of the local footpaths on Sunday (13/03), including some that I haven't used before, out to the west of runway 2. I heard my first chiffchaff of the year as I headed out that way, and several more later on my walk. Also seen: a single lapwing over the fields adjacent to Smith Lane, a grey wagtail from the bridge on Slade Lane, and four bullfinches (2 male, 2 female) on one of the footpaths near Lady Lane. I visited Gleavehouse Pool on the way back: two oystercatchers, two shelduck and a pair of teal, as well as lots of Canada and greylag geese, another chiffchaff, and a singing skylark over an adjacent field. One of the Pavement Lane little owls was clearly visible in its usual tree, I have seen them regularly over the last few weeks. "...........
Jayne tells me that she visited the excellent Barnshaw Smithy cafe, for a bacon bap and a coffee before walking over Gleavehouse Pool; that's a long trek in itself!
Hopefully we'll have some Little Ringed Plovers back at the pool again this year, they were displaying during the first lockdown in 2020 but didn't nest. A walk there from home will take me past the Little Owl site and the horse paddocks that are favoured by passing Wheatears. Both Bob Groom and I have spent time in Tatton in search of the latter, without any luck - perhaps we'll find one closer to home, Bob thinks so!......"Went as far as far side of Millennium Wood and the Deer Enclosure but disappointing; no wheatears, pipits or skylarks, in fact not a lot of anything except red and fallow deer. A few Fieldfares, couple of Buzzards, 2 Mistle Thrushes and Starlings. Nothing like the old days, not even a Green Woodpecker. Looks like a trip over to Mobberley is required and hope luck is with me tomorrow ".......

No Wheatears either, for Geoff and Sheila, on a walk from home to Tabley......" We did our Tabley walk this morning - the first time for ages. Couple of Chiffchaffs along Moss Lane - the most vocal was opposite the ponds. A few Redwings were along the lanes The usual Pied Wagtails and finches in the stubble field on Tabley Road also at least 3 Lapwings and pair of Egyptian Geese. There were at least 150 Fieldfares in the stubble field top of Swains Walk with a few Starlings and literally the odd Redwing. Plenty of Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel. No Wheatear".......

On Wednesday (16/3) we enjoyed a mid-week visit to Woolston Eyes, our first as a group since the start of the pandemic. I'd followed the approved procedures by booking a month in advance but, nevertheless, we found ourselves sharing the reserve with an RSPB group - but it was rather a special group: RSPB ecologists - professionals! Some had travelled down from Scotland to meet up and tour the reserve with Brian Martin and Alan Rustell, so I think they were mainly interested in the nesting Black-necked Grebes and Willow Tits. Anyway we didn't get under each others feet and it was great to talk to them!
We had good views of the Black-necked Grebes, now in full Summer plumage of course, as they scouted for the best nest sites. Other water birds present included, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Shoveler, Coot, Moorhen plus Canada and Greylag Geese.
We'd had singing Chiffchaffs at the first locked barrier to the reserve and more were recorded as we made our way around the reserve; it looks like another good year for the species.
There were still plenty of Bramblings around, mainly under the feeders away from the Morgan hide, just one Cetti's Warbler today, in full song from one of the observation towers. The local Dunnocks were full of the joys of Spring and doing what Dunnocks are famous for during the breeding season - that's a great picture of the Dunnock by Simon!
We ended up with a day-list of 40, with most of the expected species, although the absence of Willow Tit on this occasion was disappointing. Alan Rustell told us that they seem to be in decline.

Finally our congratulations to Lyn Graves who, after navigating all the red tape and procrastination afforded by our legal systems, has been granted UK citizenship. From Colorado to Cheshire - welcome aboard Lyn!!

Species recorded at Woolston Eyes - 16 March 2022.
Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Mallard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, Black-headed Gull, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Little Grebe, Pochard, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Redwing, Sparrowhawk, Magpie, Great Crested Grebe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Shoveler, Black-necked Grebe, Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Brambling, Chaffinch, Cetti's Warbler, Buzzard, Pheasant [ ✓ 40]

14/03/2022......In search of Chiffchaffs.
I spent a couple of hours in Tatton's Dog Wood on Thursday (10/3) hoping to hear my first Chiffchaff of the year; no luck, but it wasn't a wasted journey.
There's now a route, of sorts, leading from the main path down to the mereside, next to the deer fence, with a view along the south end of Tatton mere and the heronry in Higmere Plantation. There were 17 herons' nests, when viewed from this side of the mere, and they all looked quite substantial. Until they have young it's not possible to estimate the number that are actually occupied.
On the water a good selection of wildfowl including, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebes and trilling Little Grebes. Also seen were two Kingfishers, which is interesting. They should be nesting by now and it's possible that they're using the sandy banks between the concrete boat launching jetty and the old bathing area; they've used this bit of the shoreline before and the path there is currently blocked off so they could get away with it!

Bob Groom also checked the park too, on the same day ........"I Checked the Moor/Dog Wood a.m. but no sign of 'chiffy'. Did you have any luck, Tony? Glimpse of a Sand Martin only at Tatton but good views of a pair of White Wagtails, chasing each other. Lots of Buzzard display. ".........

White Wagtails don't breed around here, these would be on passage to Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, there have been a number of reports of the species, on the various birding forums, over the past few days. The males are easy to identify at this time of the year but a lot more difficult when they return in the Autumn. There's a good paper on ID here.

We didn't have to wait long for the area's first Chiffchaffs though as Geoff and Sheila had two singing as they enjoyed their morning walk around Plumley, the following day (11/3)......." We did our Plumley/Holford walk this morning. Shortly after set off came across a Chiffchaff singing (next to Holford Hall) and the way back another Chiffchaff singing the other side of Plumley. 2 Redwings at Hulse Farm (saw 1 the other day there), seems a strange site for Redwings. Also saw on our walk 2 superb male Reed Buntings and 1 male Yellowhammer, and heard, but not seen, Curlew."..........

I had my first Chiffchaff this morning (14/3) during a visit to Rostherne Mere. It was very active and nicely camouflaged in the bushes just below the obs. but I did manage a quick record shot. Darren Morris tells me that there were more than one singing in Dog Wood as he cycled to work in the park earlier today.

Numerous Wheatears have been recorded in Cheshire over the past few days so this is a good time to take a walk from Tatton's Old Hall as far as the Mill Pool, the short track between the two is a favourite spot for the species.
The Rarebirdalert website has pages that show the gradual arrival of Summer migrants in the UK - this is the Sand Martin page.


08/03/2022......We have a winner!!
I had intended to be in Tatton early this morning, in search of the first Sand Martin of the year. Unfortunately one of the car's front tyres punctured en route so I had to divert to the excellent Bob Farnon Tyre Centre on the Longridge trading estate who sorted me out with a new tyre, in double quick time.
Nevertheless I was delayed by over an hour and, by the time I was mobile again, Derek Pike had already recorded the first Sand Martin of 2022 flying over Tatton Mere!!

........"I think I counted 14 Heron's nests, 4 maybe 5 occupied. A small group of Pochard, several pairs of GC Grebe - one pair displaying, several pairs of Goldeneye, a small party of Tufted Duck,a few pairs of Mallard plus plenty of Carrion Crows and Woodpigeons. Finally the star bird of the day - a Sand Martin at 11:15am; heralding spring! Although it was less than spring like with a cold wind roaring down the Mere from the Knutsford end and generating waves on the Mere............

Well done Derek! and well done to Caroline Williams, from Knutsford, who, with her estimate of 11:17am on the 8th March was only 2 minutes out!! So Caroline wins this year's Sand Martin competition and a copy of the 2022 Birdwatcher's Year Book.

Derek and I then retired to the Allen hide and celebrated with tea, coffee and Goostrey's sausage rolls!

Bob Groom thinks that Tatton now has more Herons' nests than Tabley - he visited the park on Sunday (6/3)......" Went over to check. The contractors have finished and have upgraded the track into a level surface gravel road, all the way to the weir. A much better outcome than I'd feared. Bit 'glarey' but will perhaps soften with time but at least it reduces slipping/tripping hazards, if a bit hard on the feet. Water levels back to normal so no more muddy edges. Heron nesting well under way.. No less than 6 Egyptian Geese and 3 Shelducks. ".........

The next Summer migrant in Tatton will be Chiffchaff, normally to be heard singing in Dog Wood, probably before the weekend. Geoff and Sheila Blamire had one over at Northwich yesterday (7/3) ......." We had a Chiffchaff by Budworth Mere but it was calling, not singing! Others were recorded in other parts of Marbury CP. 16+ Curlews and 2 Oystercatchers on Kidbrook Spit.
Female Wood Duck in a small pond within Big Wood (very nervous) - near where they bred last year.
Male Pintail on Neumann's Flash.
No Sand Martins recorded today in the area, as far as I'm aware. "
.........

Good news from the Woolston Eyes reserve where the first Black-necked Grebes have returned. I was over there with one of our new members, on Saturday (5/3) when two birds were located. A further three were located on number four bed. A large flock of Bramblings were using one of the feeders and a singing Cetti's Warbler was heard close to one of the observation towers.

A Cetti's was in song close to the boathouse at Rostherne Mere yesterday (7/3), the refurbishment of the observatory has been completed and it looks great - good for another 60 years!!

Over in Merseyside Barrie Armitt is, once again, spending his mornings ensconced on his favourite Crosby sand dune, recording visible migrants as they pass along the coast. You can follow his adventures here - different strokes for different folks!.

04/03/2022...... Still waiting for the first Sand Martin
Last year, Tatton's first Sand Martin was recorded over the main mere on the 2nd. March; the park's earliest ever record. A plume of warm air stretching all the way to the UK from the Iberian peninsula was assumed to be responsible. This year we're still waiting patiently - looking at entries for the 2022 Sand Martin competition I notice that there are 3 predictions for the 3rd., 4 for today and 2 on the 6th.

The Tatton staff are looking forward to the coming Spring and ranger Darren Morris has kindly sent me a copy of the park's Spring 2022 newsletter - you can read it by clicking here - thanks Darren.

I spent Tuesday morning (1/3) in Tatton's Allen hide......"It was a cool day too. Just 4C when I arrived at the Allen Hide, to be joined shortly after by Derek and then later by Jude and friend.
Not a bad haul, with 31 species in 2 hours - Tufted Duck, m&f Wigeon, 5 Gadwall 3m, 3 Goldeneye 1m, GC Grebe, 3 Common Snipe, 2 Ravens croaking overhead.
Stock Doves and Wrens in song. Carrion Crows with their strange Springtime fluty call, Sparrowhawk, GS Woodpecker and finally c.20 Siskins in the usual alders.
Tea, coffee and Goostrey's sausage rolls. "
......

Bob Groom had the same idea the following morning, accompanied by daughter Elaine and the two grandkids......."Temperature profile almost a straight line today, Min 6C Max 8C but mostly 7C. Despite the rain we headed into Tatton for a stint in the Allen Hide. I was sad to see that the buzzard's favourite dead tree (also a regular hobby perch in summer) had gone. Elaine and the children were thrilled to see a female Great Spotted Woodpecker on the feeders. There were 2 Ravens calling and Buzzards around. Tree Creeper was a good sighting. Gadwall and Goldeneye on Melchett. Most of the Black-Headed Gulls now had their brown caps"........

Needless to say Geoff and Sheila Blamire have continued with their daily yomps. This from Tuesday (1/3) when they walked from home in Mere to Hazel Raw's house at the far side of Knutsford. Hazel proofreads forthcoming copies of CAWOS's "Bird News"........" We walked to Hazel's this morning. Highlights:
Stubble field on Moss Lane: Winter thrushes seem to have relocated to here - more Fieldfares than Redwings. Plus loads of Starlings.
Tabley Road stubble field: 7 Lapwings (loads of display) and 20+ Lapwings flew towards Knutsford in the distance, c30 Pied Wagtails (very conservative estimate), loads of Chaffinches, few Greenfinches and Linnets, didn't see any Goldfinches which was strange.
Field opposite Moss Farm: 2 Oystercatchers. "
.......

Peter Dawson is another dedicated walker and he too reports Oystercatchers returning to our area......."Highlights from the last couple of days;
•Two oystercatchers have returned to Booths Mere. Also in the area 2-3 meadow pipits at the farm, two large groups of redwings in the nearby fields/woods and a single bullfinch singing in trees near the Hall.
•At least three singing skylarks in the fields by Ash Farm Ollerton, also ~20 lapwings and a small group of fieldfares.
•In the fields at the end of Sandy Lane (near Radbrooke Hall) I heard a red legged partridge (couldn't see it), saw a small group of redwings and, unusually, a pair of stonechats. No sign of any yellowhammers.
•2-3 bramblings are still regularly visiting my garden feeders as are good numbers of siskin and redpolls, some of the males of both species are now in cracking plumage.
I've seen a couple of reports of wheatears on Birdguides in the last couple of days although none in this area. Also no reports of any sand martins anywhere yet so my prediction of March 3rd is not currently looking very promising but with the weather hopefully improving this coming week, you never know!"
..........
Indeed you don't Peter but they'll all be here eventually, nature's very predictable, unlike that deranged imbecile in the Kremlin - bud' syl'noyu Ukrayino

24/02/2021...... Smew and B.N. Grebe at Chelford
A good turnout of 14 mid-weekers yesterday (23/2) for the short trip over to the Chelford sand quarries; despite its proximity to Knutsford it was a new location for some of the party.
We gathered at the top end of Lapwing Lane and spent about half an hour 'scoping the Acre Nook quarry. The Great White Egret I saw on my last visit seems to have moved on but the Black-necked Grebe was still there and gave excellent views, close to where we were positioned. A good selection of other wildfowl were picked out with Shelduck, Shoveler, Canada Goose, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Mandarin, Pochard, Teal and Wigeon to start the day's list. There were raptors too and we recorded Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, bringing the total seen from this single spot to 27 species in just 30 minutes.

Next we followed the bridleway towards the Lapwing Hall Pool where a female Smew had been seen recently. Having passed through the gate onto the reserve we saw Gil and Steve Barber in the distance: they'd saved us a job, as they'd located the Smew close into the shore but very well-hidden behind the waterside willows. Would we have found it without their help? That's debatable!
Walking further around the pool (actually a large lake) more of the wildfowl we'd seen at Acre Nook with the addition of three Goosanders at the far side of the lake - found by Jude Halman, her 'scope mounted on the very nice, lightweight tripod she'd bought the previous day at Focal Point Optics over in Antrobus. By coincidence Simon and Lyn had also visited the same establishment recently and purchased a compact little Opticron field scope, which proved to be a very capable piece of equipment, when I used it to scan Acre Nook. [incidentally I have no affiliation with Focal Point. It's a good shop, although some say a bit pricey!]

After elevenses, our third stop of the day was just up the road at the Mere Farm Pools, parking just beyond the Chelford roundabout, on the road to Alderley Edge. The recent rain had left the paths down to the pools very muddy and slippery, so it was a bit of a struggle for only a few new species. The best of the bunch being a Grey Wagtail feeding on a manure heap as we made our way back to the cars. An excellent morning and a chance to introduce, to those that were unfamiliar with them, three excellent birding sites.

Also out and about on Wednesday, Hugh Pulsford, who visited Tatton Park........"The usual suspects via Dog Wood to Melchett Mere, including a small group of Siskin with a few Lesser Redpolls in Dog Wood. Goldeneye, male Goosander, Pochard and Tufties on the main mere along with a male stonechat near Melchett but the very large cereal field next to the main path, held over 200+ Redwing, with a few Fieldfares, but best of all, 5 Golden Plover flew in from the non public area and landed in the muddy dip in the centre of the field. Wouldn't have seen them but for them flying in, almost disappeared in the short green crop and mud. Didn't stay long, flushed by a low aircraft and seemed to return the way they had come to the fields bordering the north end of Witchcote Wood. "........

Thanks Hugh; the Golden Plovers must have been a fine sight, I've never seen the species in Tatton.

By the time I've finished this update and uploaded the text and pictures hundreds more people will have died at the hands of Putin's bully boys in Ukraine. The world changed today and not for the better.

Species recorded at Chelford 23rd. February 2022.
Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Robin, Blue Tit, Black-headed Gull, Cormorant, Lapwing, Carrion Crow, Shelduck, Shoveler, Pochard, Canada Goose, Coot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Goldfinch, Mandarin, Magpie, Oystercatcher, Teal, Wigeon, Pied Wagtail, Nuthatch, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Goosander, Pheasant, Starling, Wren, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Herring Gull, Great Tit, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Gadwall, Collared Dove, Grey Wagtail, Redwing, Tree Sparrow, Rook, great Spotted Woodpecker [ ✓ 51]

18/02/2022......Otter at Rostherne
Otters have been recorded for several years along the River Bollin and the Birkin Brook; Blackburn's Brook, the outlet stream from Rostherne Mere, flows into Birkin, which in turn empties into the Bollin. It therefore came as no surprise when an otter was captured on his trail cam by Bill Bellamy, you can view the video footage by clicking on the still image on the left.
There's certainly enough food for Otters, the mere is never fished and, when we've walked along the banks during the breeding bird surveys, the shallows have been teeming with small fry.
Of course not everyone welcomes the spread of Otters. This from a carp fishing forum ........"Let's face it the bleeding heart bloody liberals will protect the otters rather than rehouse the homeless on our streets. In other words fence it or assume it's already lost. Very frustrating and frankly nauseating. Political. Lobbying is probably the answer. Trouble is the people on our side don't have the money to pay off the right people. Rant over.".........There are always two sides to every story!

Peter Dawson has sent me a short report from Tatton - ......."Highlights from a quick walk into Tatton Park via the Moor this morning. I only went about half way up the Mere as I tried to avoid the showers.
• On Tatton Mere there were still a good number of goldeneye, tufted ducks and pochard as well as the usual black headed gulls. Two ravens were cronking in the woods at the Knutsford end.
• On the return journey, I was very pleased to hear a cetti's warbler. Just one burst in about 10 mins coming from the same area as last year, near the "cut through".
• The pool behind the Moor pool produced four gadwall as well as the usual water birds. "
.........
Nothing out of the ordinary but it struck me how things have changed over the years - 30 years ago we'd be lucky to see Ravens or Gadwall and a singing Cetti's Warbler would have led to an invasion of list-tickers!

Our current list of trips and meetings runs until mid-May with the outing to the Manifold Valley on the 22nd. The KOS committee is busy working on the next programme, for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. There will be a full calendar of outdoor trips, both weekend and our popular Friday evening Summer walks. Also I'm led to believe that indoor meetings, on the fourth Friday of every month, will resume in September, after being rudely interrupted by you-know-what! Subscriptions remain suspended but will shortly be re-introduced so we can afford speakers and insurances.

The closing date for the 2022 Sand Martin Competition has passed, so you can see the full list of runners and riders by clicking here. Estimates range from the 13 February through to the 18th March, with a cluster around the 3rd and 4th of March. So a couple have fallen at the first fence, as the remainder vanish into the distance!

13/02/2021......The Tatton outing
A final reminder that this coming Tuesday (15th) is the closing date for entry into our 2022 Sand Martin competition. Remember it's not you, who has to see the first bird, there will be plenty of KOS members and Tatton rangers scanning the Tatton meres who will do that. So don't delay and get your entry in now! Anyone failing to do so will be hung upside down over a picture of Angela Rayner or Jacob Rees-Mogg (other politicians are available) click here to enter - it'll only take you a minute.

Despite a pessimistic weather forecast there was an encouraging turnout yesterday for our morning stroll around Tatton Park. 18 people arrived at the Dog Lodge layby, including two new friends - Jemima Gore and Chris Wilkshire, who joined us for the first time.
Tony Ellis was the trip leader for the day and he guided us down to Knutsford Moor, through the main gates, along the side of Tatton Mere to Melchett Mere and the Allen hide before returning home via Dog Wood.
Goldfinch, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard, Coal Tit and other expected species started our day list as we descended to the Moor, passing the deserted tangle of bramble bushes which, in a few weeks time, will host Chiffchaffs, Garden Warblers, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps!
Local people were feeding the birds on the Moor, attracting a cloud of Black-headed Gulls and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull. On the water, the usual mixture of wildfowl - nothing out of the ordinary, now the Little and Great White Egrets have moved on.
The Grey Herons in Higmere Plantation are busy already, viewing is best from the east side of Tatton Mere but through the trees, looking from the west we could see plenty of activity with one bird seemingly sat tight on eggs. Early nesters!
On the mere itself, Goldeneye, Pochard and Tufted Ducks with a single Little Grebe and displaying Great Crested Grebes. We have come to expect wintering Stonechats in the park and weren't disappointed as a male bird gave excellent views along our route towards Melchett Mere.
Reaching Melchett we found Bob Groom already comfortably ensconced in the Allen Hide, he was able to add Gadwall and Wigeon to the day's tally and, with her 'scope Sheila Blamire picked out a couple of well-hidden Common Snipe.
The trek back to the cars was into the wind and, with the mercury hovering around 6 ° C, we were glad to reach the shelter of Dog Wood. Great Tits, Dunnocks and Robins were in song and we heard calling Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Nuthatches. An alder tree had attracted a mixed flock of Goldfinches and Siskins - a nice way to end an enjoyable Winter walk in the park - and it had just started to rain!

There's obviously still plenty of food available in the wild but I was pleased to get our first Siskins of the Winter in the garden this week; a male and a female. Up to four Redpolls have been visiting us, but over in Knutsford Tony Ellis reports a dozen, plus a female Reed Bunting. Peter Dawson tells me he's had both species and Bramblings .........."With regard to garden birds, I've been having a number of redpolls visit since well before Christmas. Since the start of the new year Siskins have also turned up in good numbers and, in the last couple of weeks, bramblings have become regular visitors - at least two males and a female. Hopefully they'll stick around for a while yet!"..........

Geoff and Sheila continue with their daily walks, undeterred by the weather! This from last Monday (6/2) ......."Home Farm, Holford (SJ704743): no sign of the Redshank on the field pool but 79 Curlews there (we've seen Curlews there before) - now 5 pools on the flooded field.
Cheadle Lane, Plumley (SJ723743): 46+ Curlews on a new field with water and a lot of pipes and equipment."
.........

And from Thursday (10/2)......."We did our Millington walk this morning. As we crossed the bridge over the new A556 on Chapel Lane a number of Lapwings flew over and landed in the field on the left. As we counted them (there were 17) a Skylark flew over us and starting singing!!! It was bitterly cold and shortly after that it started to hail. Other than Redwings and a few Fieldfares recorded in different places nothing else of note."........

Our next KOS field trip is to the RSPB's Leighton Moss reserve on Sunday 27th March 2022, meeting in the reserve car park at 09:45am. Jude Halman will be our trip leader.

Species seen in Tatton Park - 12 February 2021.
House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Collared Dove, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Tufted Duck, Linnet, Dunnock, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Cormorant, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Magpie, Wren, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Grey Heron, Goldeneye, Pochard, Nuthatch, Stonechat, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Wigeon, Snipe, Siskin, Long-tailed Tit, Jay, Song Thrush. [ ✓ 41]

05/01/2022......Chelford Sand Quarries
Following the recent report from our Hon. Sec. Karina of her visit to the Lapwing Lane sand quarries in Chelford, I paid a long overdue visit myself on Thursday (3/2). Parking the car towards the end of the lane, it's just a short walk to the viewpoint, overlooking the Acre Nook quarry. It's a lot bigger now than when I last visited some years ago; it's huge and must be well over a kilometer in length!
Some of the wildfowl were relatively close but, even with my 20X telescope, identification of the more distant birds was a challenge - a more powerful instrument was called for. Fortunately Gill and Steve Barber had arrived when I returned from a diversion over to the Lapwing Hall Lake and, using their 'scopes, the Black-necked Grebe I'd struggled with earlier showed very well. Also present we noted Teal, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Goldeneye, Shoveler, Mandarin, Pochard and Goosander (4males and 2 females). There were no Wigeon on Acre Nook but over at the Lapwing Hall Lake I'd counted at least 100. Bob Groom, who'd arrived shortly after the Barbers, added Little Grebes, at both locations, to the list.

Steve told me that over time Acre Nook will become even bigger as water from the surrounding area drains in. Currently there's an island and spit of land that the birds favour but, in time, they will vanish under water. On the island a distant white blob turned out to be the Great White Egret seen on Sunday by Karina. There were other birds there too as a huge flock of Lapwings suddenly took to the air from the island - the biggest gathering I've seen for a long time. I estimated about 600 but subsequent analysis of the pictures I took (see above) showed there to be 1000+ (in fact I counted 1099 when the three images were combined)

Our garden feeders are still very busy and up to four Redpolls are visiting us at any one time. Just down the road Jayne Davies regularly has two Siskins and in Knutsford, Roger Barnes, a female Blackcap. Bramblings normally appear at this time of the year in the garden but there have been none so far, perhaps there's still an abundance of natural food with the Winter being so mild, although over in Mere Geoff and Sheila Blamire returned from one of their morning walks to find one in-situ ......."Cicely Mill Pool, Rostherne: 2 Goosanders (m&f), family of Mute Swans (2ad, 3 cygnets) AND Kingfisher!
Little Mere, Mere: 75 Canada Geese, 2 Shovelers, c14 Coots, "loads" of Mallards and Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebe, 4 Cormorants.
Finally....
Our garden: male Brambling! "
.............

Next Saturday (12/2) it's our February field trip to Tatton Park - 9:30am at the Dog Lodge layby. Our leader will be Tony Ellis - so we'll be in safe hands!

The closing date for our 2022 Sand Martin contest is rapidly approaching, so don't delay and get your entry in - only 60 seconds of your precious time! Remember it's not you, who has to see the first bird, there will be plenty of KOS members and Tatton rangers scanning the Tatton meres who will do that. So don't delay and get your entry in now!


31/01/2022......The Big Garden Birdwatch 2022

........"Before you go any further, don't forget to enter our KOS 2022 Sand Martin competition. [Click here] It'll only take a minute - do it now, otherwise you'll only forget!!"..............

It was certainly a game of two halves at the weekend as we joined two local volunteer organisations for their annual RSPB "Big Bird Watch" surveys.

On Saturday (29/1) we met up on Knutsford Moor with the "Friends of the Moor", who, shortly before we started, had hoisted their new Green Flag Award for 2021/22.
It was a small group that gathered in the Moor shelter this year, I suspect that people had been put off by the imminent arrival of storm Malik.
Malik had indeed arrived as our group (1 of 2) set off in the direction of the woodland next to the pumping station. If there were any birds singing, it was impossible to hear them over the noise created by the wind and rain plus, more worryingly, the creaking of the trees, snapping branches and the clatter as they descended to the ground. In the best traditions of "The News of the World" we made our excuses and left!

Being of sterner stuff, I think the other group did better than us and recorded a nice flock of Redwings and the only Robin of the allotted hour. Both groups saw the nice flock of Long-tailed Tits and, moving on from them, noted that many of the Black-headed Gulls sported blue darvic rings, as described in a previous update.
Secretary Jan Mccappin collected the soggy record sheets from both groups and her analysis of the data showed that we recorded 147 birds and 23 species. Down from 32 in 2020 and 28 in 2019. Considering the weather I think this was an excellent result!

Species seen on Knutsford Moor - 29th January 2022
Blackbird 1 Black-headed Gull 61, Blue Tit 4, Canada Goose 6, Carrion Crow 2, Collared Dove 1, Coot 2, Cormorant 1, Goldfinch 1, Great Tit 1, House Sparrow 5, Jackdaw 10, Lesser Black-backed Gull 2, Long-tailed Tit 8, Magpie 2, Mallard 12, Moorhen 3, Redwing 8, Robin 1, Mute Swan 2, Tufted Duck 10 , Woodpigeon 3 , Wren 1. [ ✓ 23]


The following day (30/1) couldn't have been more different when we repeated the exercise with the "Friends of the Heath". Storm Malik had blown through, leaving bright sunshine and not a trace of wind; A bigger turn out too, with 17 observers, who split into three groups. Two concentrated on the woodland, the third did a full circuit of the heath, alongside Northwich Road and the A50, then Tabley Road until they reached the woodland edge.

Such a great morning had brought the people of Knutsford out in force, the Heath was busy with families and dog walkers. A number asked us what we were up to, presenting us with an opportunity to tell them about the Friends of the Heath and the Knutsford Ornithological Society, I handed out plenty of KOS business cards! I think all the folk we talked to were familiar with the RSPB and most with the annual Big Garden Birdwatch.

Given the improved conditions there was more in the way of song and at least we could hear it! Blue Tits were very active but not singing, unlike the Great Tits that were in full song at a number of locations, as were the local Robins. We thought we'd done well with a small gathering of four Redwings but one of the other groups had ten. Nuthatches were seen and could be heard calling throughout the morning, one of the three groups recorded two Song Thrushes and I assume they too were singing, it's the right time of the year.
As we were re-grouping at the end of the hour, a Sparrowhawk was circling overhead and a record shot by Katie showed a red wash to its breast, confirming it as a male.

Our thanks go to Kevin and Jan for inviting us along again and we look forward to repeating the visits next year!

Species recorded on Knutsford Heath - 30th January 2022
Blackbird 3, Black-headed Gull 1, Blue Tit 3, Bullfinch 2, Carrion Crow 2, Chaffinch 2, Collared Dove 1, Dunnock 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Great Tit 3, Jackdaw 2, Jay 1, Long-tailed Tit 4, Magpie 11, Nuthatch 2, Redwing 10, Robin 2, Song Thrush 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Starling 3, Treecreeper 1, Woodpigeon 5, Wren 1. [ ✓ 23]


In Mere Geoff and Sheila Blamire also carried out their garden count on Sunday (30/1) and did extremely well!........."This afternoon we recorded 20 species in the garden for the RSPB Garden Watch (total of 67 birds): 4 tit species, 4 finch species + Siskin (briefly), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Sparrowhawk, Pheasant, plus the "usual" garden birds.".............

KOS Secretary Karina Stanley, really enjoyed her weekend off work and, following the Heath count, went over to Chelford .........."Inspired by this morning's company I popped out for a quick walk down to Lapwing Hall Lake. Not been there before.
Excellent views of Lapwing, pair of Great White Egret, Pink-footed Geese, Greylag, Mandarin duck, Goosander, Goldeneye, Cormorant, Shoveler, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Siskin, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and, my favourite, - Tree Sparrow.
I didn't see the Smew or the Black-necked Grebe but reckon that's a challenge for the 'scope people!"
................

Derek Pike stayed a little closer to home after Sunday's exertions! ..........."On the Academy field, off Northwich Road.
100+ Redwing, 30+ Fieldfare, 100's Starling hard to count very mobile Redwing and Fieldfare in superb plumage in the sun.

Since my previous email, loads more Redwing, Fieldfare and Starlings have arrived and now around 50 Jackdaws have flown over. The field is nicely churned up after a weekend of rugby and makes good dining for the birds."
................

Last but by no means least, I'll get up to date with today's email from Bob Groom who introduced a friend to Lostock's sunflower field........"David and I headed over to the sunflower site (which was new to him) and had excellent views of 6 Bramblings, catching the sun. Also a few Chaffinches and a singing Song Thrush. I spotted a female Sparrowhawk flying low along the stream. Several Stock Doves seen. In the fields off Cheadle Lane - 75 Curlews, 200+ Redwings, Pied Wagtail, Starlings. Also 2 Buzzards and another singing Song Thrush."...........





27/01/2022......The 2022 KOS Sand Martin Competition
On our January field trip last weekend to Pennington Flash we recorded 54 different species; I've never visited the location during the Spring but I don't think we'd get many more than that. The Winter months can provide excellent birding opportunities but, of course, it's the Spring that many folk regard as their favourite season and, at this time of the year, March and April are eagerly anticipated!

For Knutsford birders Spring begins "officially" with the appearance over Tatton Mere of the first Sand Martins. There's always a certain amount of friendly rivalry as KOS members and friends search for the first bird of the year. It's been a long time now since I organised an annual "Sand Martin competition", when people were asked to predict the date and time the first bird would be recorded over the park (normally Tatton Mere itself but once over Melchett Mere). We've decided to begin running it again this year and everyone is invited to submit their carefully considered estimate (commonly called a guess!!).

Anyone can enter, not just KOS members (a chap in the USA won one year) and you can do so by clicking here. Only one entry per person please and entries can be submitted up to and including the 15th February (Cheshire's earliest record, as far as I know, is the 16th February)
The person who estimates the time and date closest to the first record will win a small prize!

Always remember - "it's only birdwatching - no one dies!"

Bob Groom recently enjoyed his monthly WeBS count at Tabley Mere.........."It was an excellent count as no work going on (though the fencing still in position) and the water level reduced by about 20%, giving muddy margins. (Could be good for waders in Spring if it stays like that.) At least 400 Lapwings were present and 103 Teal, more than I've seen there in a very long time. 2 Shelducks, 9 Herons, 5 Cormorants, 3 Shovelers, 2 Egyptian Geese, 2 Mute Swans, a Great Crested Grebe plus usual Canada Geese, Mallard ,Tufted Ducks and Coot."............

This weekend it's the RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch and we will again be helping out two of our local organisations with their count.
On Saturday 29th, we'll be out with "The Friends of the Moor" on Knutsford Moor - 11am until noon. Meeting up at the pavilion on the Moor.
The following day (Sunday 30th) we repeat the exercise with the "Friends of Knutsford Heath". Again 11am until noon. Meeting by the information board close to the junction of Stanley Road and Northwich Road.

Anyone is welcome to join us.

25/01/2022......The trip to Pennington Flash
Despite the absence of some "regulars" 19 folk arrived at Wigan's Pennington Flash for our January KOS field trip. Any potential shortfall being made up by newer members and returnees, making it a very encouraging turnout.

Due to the high pressure still sitting over the UK it was overcast but dry, with little wind and a temperature of 7 ° C. as we set off on the 5Km circumnavigation of the flash.

As usual the good people of Wigan were being very generous with their left-over meat pies and it was much appreciated by the Canada geese, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Black-headed Gulls, crowded along the shore.
Further out the Goldeneye and Cormorants seemed uninterested, as did the Goosanders we came across, a short distance along our route, the males with a salmon-pink, early Spring flush to their flanks, looked very handsome. We were disappointed not to hear any Cetti's Warblers this year, the phragmites reedbed bordering the flash is an ideal place for them and previously could be relied on to host one or more singing birds, long before we'd become familiar with them in the Knutsford area.
On a spit of land across the other side of the flash we could make out a single Oystercatcher and a Little Egret, the only one we saw all day. The various paths then merged into just one as we headed towards the sailing club; very muddy, despite the recent dry spell. A field alongside us held a flock of wintering Redwings and some of the party had relatively good views of a Kingfisher, hidden away in an overhanging willow.
Following the unavoidable short walk along a busy road we turned right and down towards the north-western end of the flash, where we added Greylag Goose, Sparrowhawk, Pochard, Pheasant and Shoveler to the day's tick list. The route than became a bit muddy again but we were soon onto firmer ground and Herring Gull, Common Gull and Little Grebe were revealed by the 'scopes. We arrived at the wetlands area, with it's hides, at 12:30pm, so that was 3 miles in 2 ½ hours - a good, steady, birdwatching pace!
Considering it was a weekend the hides were sparsely populated; a Water Rail showed well from Pengy's hide (see Richard's picture) and, from the Bunting hide, close-up views of Reed Bunting, Stock Dove, Moorhen and Long-tailed Tit were enjoyed. A short distance away an enterprising (probably photographer) had baited some fence posts with food and this was attracting Bullfinches, Coal Tits and, at last, the reserve's speciality, Willow Tits - excellent views!
We ended the day with 54 different species, a good effort and most enjoyable!

Bill Bellamy has kindly sent me the results of Sunday's WeBS counts at Rostherne and Tatton......."Attached are the results from the first WeBS Count for 2022.
Some interesting sightings. Eighteen Whoopers which seemed to come from the Tatton direction descended on Rostherne but it was only a passing visit as they flew on. Several Cormorants have started nest building already. Two Ring-Necked Parakeets were very vocal in Wood Bongs and seemed to be prospecting for a nest hole. Times are a changing!
The total Goldeneye count between the sites was a healthy 29. There was a good Mallard count on Melchett (157) and nice selection of different species. There were 20 Pochard feeding at the Knutsford end of Tatton Mere, mostly males. Canadas remain low at each of the sites. It is strange day when you see more Whoopers than Canadas! "
..........
Apparently the event attracted no less than 14 participants, including Mobberley birder Wendy Stratford, on her first visit on the day of a count........"It was a great experience - so nice to get nearer the water! There were 5 of us including Phil our guide. The Whooper Swans were quite close - we were on the far lake shore. Also Siskin, Ring-necked Parakeets and heard Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler".........

Species recorded at Pennington Flash on 22nd January 2022
Coot, Canada Goose, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Magpie, Robin, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Goldeneye, Cormorant, Buzzard, Little Egret, Goosander, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron, Wren, Lapwing, Redwing, Kingfisher, Carrion Crow, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Chaffinch, Greylag Goose, Nuthatch, Teal, Pochard, Pheasant, Shoveler, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Stock Dove, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Water Rail, Blackbird, Willow Tit, Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, Jackdaw, Dunnock. [ ✓ 54]

21/01/2022......A trip to the coast and more Bramblings
They weren't taken locally, I know, but I couldn't resist using Simon Smith's images of Snow Buntings and Sanderlings in this latest news update!..........."We took a trip out to Wallasey Shore this morning, to see the Snow Buntings that have been residing there since mid-December. There were 5 of them in the dunes by Derby Pool and they were very confiding. Also had fun watching a small flock of Sanderling, scuttling around at the waters' edge."..........Thanks Simon, beautiful shots!

Meanwhile, nearer to home, Geoff and Sheila Blamire's route on Sunday (16/1) took them past the sunflower meadow in Lostock Gralam I described in the previous update........We did our "usual" 11km Sunday walk around Plumley and Holford - no other birdwatchers spotted during the morning! Actually not many people seen at all!

At the start there was a decent flock of finches and buntings between Holford Hall track and railway bridge - Reed Buntings, Chaffinches and Yellowhammers. Nothing of note until we saw c30 Lapwings Hame Farm, Holford. Then continued towards the sunflower field and from the lane we had c150 Fieldfares and Redwings plus 'loads' Starlings. By the bridge flock of finches - mostly Bramblings. Visibility was rubbish but still good to see them in the gloom. Came across couple of Buzzards 'worming' in the wet fields. We walked back through the lanes and came across c60 Curlews in the 'usual' field. In the end a good walk.
..........

On the same morning Bob Groom set off to Tabley Park to do his monthly wildfowl count but was forced to abandon the exercise......."I attempted to do the Tabley Count this morning but for the first time ever I wasn't able to do it. I met Ivan and he told me that the contractors wouldn't now be finished until well into February! He advised that even they (shoot) weren't risking going down to the mere at the moment. I pressed on but the combination of slippery, uneven rubble, mud and water made the tracks very hazardous and in the end I was forced to go back. (The rain mist didn't help either.) The worry is whether they (contractors) are going to leave the tracks in bad condition. I left rather disgruntled and ended up on the Tabley Hill Bridleway. Kestrel, Sparrowhawk (but unusually no buzzard), 250+ Lapwings (a fine sight), Heron, Pied Wagtail, lots of Starlings and Jackdaws but only 5 Redwings.".........It must have been bad, as I know Bob has carried out the survey for nearly 40 years!

KOS Secretary Karina Stanley was anticipating a bit of a scrum at the Lostock sunflower meadow and, instead, chose the tranquillity of a site closer to home!.........."Just one Brambling for me today! Couldn't face the crowds over there in Lostock land? so we walked across the fields behind Toft Hall.
Two very large flocks of intermingled Fieldfare and Redwing with teams of Starling setting the pace were just gorgeous. Before we reached the Bells of Peover, we stopped to look at a noisy charm of Goldfinch only to spy a single Brambling and a couple of Chaffinch as well!
An acrobatic Goldcrest, a few Siskin and a very startled, unsuspecting Buzzard (which flew towards us as we were stopped watching the finches ) were other highlights. "
...........

The following day (17/1) found Derek and Jean on Sudlow Lane, enjoying the current spell of dry, sunny conditions,........."Had a walk down Sudlow lane earlier on this beautiful sunny afternoon, as forecast, not a lot about but some highlights a Grey Wagtail, a covey of Partridge and a Buzzard sat on top of a newly cut hedge plus a few Fieldfare.

It felt like Spring: well it would be all the layers I had on! "
........

I spent the morning of the same day at Rostherne - Just 4C in the obs. when I arrived at 09:45am. The wildfowl didn't co-operate and remained hidden away around the edges of the mere. There seemed to be a lot of Goldeneye and there were certainly 6 Goosanders: 4 males.
A big flock of 61 Greylags flew in at 11:30am, a great sight - I thought they were Pinkfeet as they approached the reserve! A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming as I left.

It's our KOS January field trip tomorrow (22/1) when we'll be doing a circumnavigation of Wigan's Pennington Flash. Hopefully we'll have the increasingly rare Willow Tits and singing Cetti's Warbler.
Normally it's quite muddy underfoot and I suspect it will remain so, despite the recent lack of rain.
10:00am in the car park - WN7 3PA

13/01/2022......Bramblings
As we've now left the European Union, the common agricultural policy has been replaced, in the UK, by the sustainable farming initiative. ........"The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) is the first of our three new environmental land management schemes. Through this scheme, we will pay farmers to produce public goods such as water quality, biodiversity, animal health and welfare and climate change mitigation, alongside food production."..........

........"For decades, farmers have received area-based payments where the driving force has been size and scale to the detriment of our natural environment. These first standards in the SFI scheme set a new direction that will reorientate farming practices away from a production-at-all-costs mindset to delivering environmental return under public money for public goods."......

Perhaps it means that, in future, we'll see more of the small parcels of land such as the sunflower meadow created in the parish of Lostock Gralam (see map) that was "discovered" by Geoff and Sheila Blamire during their daily walks in the Cheshire countryside.
They visited the location again on Sunday (9/1)......."Fabulous morning today, these are the highlights:
8 Curlews flying, then 1 single Curlew, then c100 Curlews flew into a field (as before on early visits). Might be more because the field is very undulating, so difficult to count.
Sunflower field: few Reed Buntings and Chaffinches, but then - drum roll - at least 30 Bramblings!
Support cast: flock of c100 Redwings (plus smaller flocks elsewhere), 1+ Yellowhammers, 12+ Long-tailed Tits (plus smaller flocks elsewhere), 1+ Goldcrests. "
.........

Bob Groom followed in their footsteps on Tuesday (11/1)....."I went this morning, via Lostock Green. I found the bridge easily, thanks SB, TU, DP. When I parked there were birds in trees near it but there was a surprising number of vehicles back and to along the lane (considering it's a no through road) and they quickly moved further away. My first estimate was about 60 Bramblings but then another flock came in and when a Jay gave its alarm call and they all went up into the trees at the back of the sunflower field I reckoned over 100 birds, almost all or all Bramblings; a fine sight. A flock of Redwings flew past but didn't stop. I headed back via the lanes but didn't spot any curlews. ".......

I couldn't resist the temptation and went over yesterday (12/1), meeting up with Derek and Jean, who'd arrived earlier. We recorded Brambling, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting and Linnet in the flock, that we estimated to be at least 200 strong. A fine sight and a demonstration of how valuable the creation of this sort of habitat can be. Later as I stood on the bridge a chap in a JCB pulled up and asked what I was looking at, as he'd seen others there, similarly equipped with binoculars and 'scopes. He did contract work for the farmer and all he knew was that it was only to be mown once a year, so I assume that it was created as part of a stewardship scheme.

Joy Jones was in Tatton on Saturday (8/1) ........"On Saturday I saw a flock of about 50 Siskin in the alders at the far end of Tatton Mere. The experienced birdwatching friend who was with me at the time (and who got very excited about it) said that it was worth reporting to you! We also saw a couple in Anderton Nature Reserve the next day, so they're around now, and I shall keep a lookout for them - lovely to see when the sun catches them."..... Thanks Joy, that's a favourite spot for the Siskins and, especially after windy weather, they come down to the ground to feed on the alder seeds.

Just across from there, on Monday 10/1), Tatton Ranger Darren Morris, was watching early display from the Great Crested Grebes on Melchett Mere......"Two Great Crested Grebes today on Melchett Mere, reared up in the water head shaking with weed in their bills".....

Derek Pike and I spent a couple of hours in the Rostherne Observatory on Monday morning; not much to report but we did have a flock of Pink-footed Geese in the distance, just before noon. Apparently there was a movement of pinkfeet during the day with many reports from all over Cheshire. I managed to get a shot of the flock and there were 230 birds. The coloured dots are to assist counting when viewed in large scale on the computer screen!
The Rostherne Observatory will be closed for redecoration between the 21st and 25th February. Lulu Lytle won't be involved!

06/01/2022......A warm start to the new year
Bob Groom tells me that a Swallow was seen at Sandbach on Christmas Day - a late or an early record? It has been unseasonably warm though, on New year's Eve a temperature of 15.8C was recorded at Nantwich. This was an all-time record for December 31st, as was the 16.3C the following day in London.
As I write though, things seem to returning to normal for the time of year, the temperature on my weather station shows 2.3C and it's snowing!

The birds seemed to appreciate the short spell of milder weather, on a walk along Pavement Lane in Mobberley I noticed that one of the Little Owls was perched alongside the nest site used in previous years and the local Robins had been joined in song by Coal Tits and Dunnocks. Sheila Blamire reports a Song Thrush tuning up and even a singing Redwing in Marbury Big Wood!
Our garden feeder, containing sunflower hearts, is busy from dawn to dusk; currently good numbers of Green and Gold finches with the occasional Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch. We usually have to wait until later in the Winter for Siskins and Redpolls, although the latter are around and KOS Secretary, Karina Stanley, managed to obtain a decent shot of one in her Knutsford garden.
It was interesting to read recently that the latest research reveals that the various species of Redpoll should now be considered as just one - the Redpoll https://www.birdwatchingdaily.com/news/science/new-research-redpoll-species-are-all-one/. Hopefully the same will prove to be the case with Herring Gulls etc.!

On Monday (3/1) I spent a very pleasant couple of hours in the Rostherne observatory. I arrived at 10:10am and had just finished opening the windows and putting out some seed when a flock of Pinkfeet appeared flying south from the direction of Altrincham. Unusually low, great sight and sound: about 50 birds.
The wildfowl again moved towards the centre of the mere, away from the edges (fox or something?) 80 Wigeon, 93 Teal, 2 Greylags, 8 Goldeneye, 4 Pochard, 3 Goosander and a lone Shelduck.
7C ultra-bright sunshine. Cup of tea and cold toast; food of the gods (Goostrey's bakery was closed - so no sausage rolls!).

The next WeBS count on the reserve takes place on Sunday 23rd January, anyone who'd like to take part should contact Bill Bellamy bill.bellamy@outlook.com. Again, all are welcome to take part, any help is always appreciated.

Other dates for your diary -
Friday 7th January - CAWOS Zoom meeting at 7:30pm - Seabirds and Marine Conservation - Jonathan Green. All CAWOS members will have been sent an email with details.
Saturday 22nd January. KOS field trip to Pennington Flash - details to follow.
Saturday 29th January RSPB "Big Garden Birdwatch" with the Friends of Knutsford Moor.
Sunday 30th January "Big Garden Birdwatch" with the Friends of Knutsford Heath.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A fairly brief check of the Knutsford end of Tatton Mere on Friday morning produced approx 12 mandarin - a group of about 10 males/female types plus a separate pair. I've only ever seen the odd one or two there before. I was in the park again today but it was pretty quiet birdwise. A skein of approx 80 pink footed geese flew over and a single male stonechat on the west bank were the highlights. There was a report on the Cheshire Bird WhatsApp group chat late last week saying that a probable crossbill had been heard near the Knutsford gate but unfortunately no sight or sign for me during the two visits."
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Derek Pike also had Pinkfeet flying over, this on Monday (20th). Rather than the usual rough guess Derek used his own unique measure of flock size! ....."A large skein of Pinkfeet flew over south to northwest at 1:00pm, hard to tell how many but skein must have 60-70 yards across."...... A rough calculation on the back of a Woodbine packet came up with c.60 birds. I still prefer counting the legs and dividing by two - (yes, the old ones are always the best!)

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

Sheila will be leading our annual post-Christmas walk on Tuesday 28th December. We'll be walking from the Witton Mill car park, taking in Budworth Mere and Neumann's Flash. 9:30am start from the car park https://mapcarta.com/W439814795/Map

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

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

We began, as usual, at the Junction Pool viewpoint, where we’d normally spend 10 minutes or so but, on this occasion, it was the best part of 40 minutes. The wildfowl were close in and we enjoyed excellent views of Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler and Tufted Duck. They were sharing the marsh with huge flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover. Curlew, Snipe and a single Ruff were also picked out from within the larger aggregations.
Passerines too were added to our rapidly expanding day-list, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks passed overhead and a pair of Stonechats showed well in the reeds as we walked up in the direction of Nel’s Hide.
A Peregrine passed through, low over the marsh scattering the birds in all directions, before settling on driftwood way out in the estuary. Pride of place though went to two male Hen Harriers, picked out by the ever alert Phil Rowley, as they flew over the reedbeds across the other side of the Marine Drive - great views!
We didn’t stay long in Nel’s Hide, the sun was out by then, making for uncomfortable viewing; looking right into the light.
By the time we reached the main Sandgrounders’ hide the other group had moved on. We added a few new species, bringing the total up to 44 before we said goodbye to Ken and moved on to Martin Mere.
The car park at the reserve was quite full but it’s a big place and there’s plenty of room for the required (again) social distancing. Trip leader Frank Dearden had done a full recce two weeks previously and recommended that lunch be taken in the Ron Barker Hide or on the veranda outside the restaurant. I joined Frank, Geoff and Sheila on the veranda and watched as Santa’s elves ferried kids across to the great man’s island - "Sail to Santa" at £ 15 a time!
Walking down to the Ron Barker hide we noted the first Redwings and Tree Sparrows of the day, others had Treecreeper, Bullfinch and Goldcrest as well. Great views from the hide of four Marsh Harriers; one feeding on an unfortunate gull of some description, the others floating gently over the phragmites reedbeds. Only a few Whooper Swans in view this year on the reserve and I had the impression that Pink-footed Geese were also down in numbers. The Janet Kear Hide was quiet but we manages to add Reed Bunting and Coal Tit to the list.
A peregrine flew over the area as we walked back to the Discovery Hide for the 3pm feed. It spooked many of the birds, including the flock of Ruff and the single Black-tailed Godwit you see in the image, captured by Simon, at the top of today’s update. I was stood with Simon at the time and watched the birds through binoculars: there is no way my camera is capable of producing an image like that at such long range - good work Simon!!
We watched the birds being fed from the Discovery Hide - the usual free-for-all! Disappointingly the Ruffs didn’t appear but I managed to capture part of the scrum on video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsaGo_ygTw0
We headed for home just after 4pm with a good list of 67 species recorded during the day. Our thanks go to trip leader Frank and all who came along and contributed to such a very enjoyable day!

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Despite the current spell of inclement weather Geoff and Sheila Blamire continue with their daily rambles; on Sunday (5/12) it was Plumley and Holford Moss....."Gosh - it was windy, cold and very muddy plus a big tree had come down across the footpath didn’t help (had to climb over trunk), but so pleased we did the walk!
Just past Keepers Cottage there were 2 Yellowhammers and further on, just before the bridge over the railway, c30 Redwings and a single Fieldfare. In a field at Langford Farm SJ704742 (opposite Hame Farm), Holford there were 35 Curlews with sheep. When we reached the sunflower field there was a finch flock of about 80 - mostly Chaffinches, some Greenfinches, Bramblings (counted 8 last time we were there) and a single Yellowhammer. Nearly back to the car we came across c150 Curlews in a field SJ719742 along Cheadle Lane, Plumley. Difficult to count them because the field is undulating. Turning up the track that leads to Keepers Cottage could see some of them but the track is too low to get a good view. So we retraced our steps back to the car. "
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On the same day Bob Groom went over to Tabley Mere, where he’s finding it’s tough going with all the repair work going on ......."Not pleasant conditions but very successful for birds. That field off Cheadle Lane is where I used to see big numbers of curlews so good to know that they are using it again. used to peer through a small hole in the hedge near the triangle (road to farm). I visited Tabley Park where Ivan, on the electric vehicle, stopped to warn me that conditions were very treacherous. He wasn’t wrong. Contrary to what I had thought the contractors hadn’t been using the main track but instead had taken over the side track that I usually follow to and alongside the mere and had put down inconsistent hardcore etc. and erected plastic fencing on both sides. Very hard going and will be for me in the future. Ivan thought they may have finished by the month end. I couldn’t face going back the same way so took a short cut to the main track that I knew once I’d negotiated the fence and got back in half the time. Surprising amount on the mere, considering, including 14 Mute Swans, 2 Shelducks and a Little Egret.. 16 Long-Tailed Tits near Keeper’s cottage, Buzzard, Kestrel, Nuthatches"..........

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