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Supplementary Pages 2023

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17th March 2023...........The First Sand Martin
Perhaps it's the talk of global warming and early Springs etc. that persuaded the majority of entrants to chose an early date in this year's KOS Sand Martin competition; the first few days of March were popular, with some even going for late February! The cold winds coming from the north over the past weeks put paid to their chances though and it wasn't until yesterday (16/3) that Alan Gillespie recorded Tatton's first birds of the year .........."I saw my first Sand Martins this year today at 13:31 flying both high and low over Tatton Mere mainly around mid-mere near the scout boat launch area. The best I could count was seven(7). I did a good scan for about 10 minutes but that was the best I could come up with. I had to get back to work."............ Thanks Alan, it's a good job you decided to take a break!

Derek Pike and I had both been in the park earlier, without success, so the birds must have arrived after we'd left. Anyway no one guessed the actual date, the closest were Frank Dearden and Jane Storey who both chose the 14th (and exactly the same time of 14:15!) and Colin Butler with 11:01 on the 18th. I wasn't looking forward to the calculations required but help was on hand from this website which told me that the winner was Colin who was 2,730 minutes out compared with Jane and Frank (2,886' out). So well done Colin who wins a copy of the 2023 Birdwatcher's Year Book.

Time spent in Tatton in search of Sand Martins is never wasted though and over the last few days I've had Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker and even a Common Scoter that was floating in the middle of the mere. The walk through Dog Wood can be rewarding with Woodpeckers drumming and good views of Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Nuthatch. It's this wood that we'll be concentrating on next week in anticipation of the first singing Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.

Although the first Summer migrants are beginning to appear our Winter friends are still with us in good numbers, especially Redwings and Fieldfares as Geoff and Sheila Blamire found on their daily walk last Saturday (11/3)........""We did our usual Mere/Rostherne walk this morning. Much warmer than yesterday! Lot of bird song – good to hear.
Little Mere: both Great Crested Grebes were present – one time the male surfaced with some weed but the female had disappeared and eventually he dropped it. We were hoping for some display! 12-14 Tufted Ducks.
Cicely Mill Pool: 1 Mute Swan (his partner seems to have gone AWOL), plus 6 Gadwall.
The field on New Lane, just before Rostherne village, held 50-60 Fieldfares (could have been more), and few Redwings and Starlings.
Rostherne Obs: 9 Shovelers (7m, 2f); 4 Buzzards interacting over Mere Covert; 4 Goldeneyes (1m, 3f); trilling Little Grebe by the boathouse; plus the usual other species.

The following morning (12/3) found us at Wigan's Pennington Flash for our March field trip. There'd been some heavy rain overnight but the day remained dry, although it was very muddy and quite challenging in places. The usual species started the day-list and, from the car park, we began with Canada Goose, Mallard, Little and Great Crested Grebes, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck etc.
A little further round the flash a feeding table had been set up where we noted Blue, Great, Coal and a fleeting glimpse of our first Willow Tit of the day. The species is apparently declining here too: one of it's strongholds.
Reaching the far side of the flash, whilst watching a small group of Goosanders, we were joined by 104 greyhounds! (you wouldn't have been happy Derek!) They were from the Makanto Greyhound Rescue organisation on one of their 10th anniversary walks. Dogs and handlers all polite and well-behaved, preferable to the bell-less cyclists we normally encounter on our trips!
The area around the hides was very busy as the good people of Wigan enjoyed the first warm(ish) day for sometime but the hides themselves were relatively quiet and from them we added Little Egret, Teal, Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Reed Bunting, Shoveler and Water Rail to the list bringing us up to 50 species for the day.
We were looking forward to visiting the newly opened visitor centre and cafe but they'd had to close it, temporarily, due to a power cut. It looks good from the outside though, with both indoor and outdoor seating available.

Len Mason continues to make a good recovery from the Achilles tendon problem that curtailed his activities last Summer. On Thursday last (9/3) I paid him a visit and sat by his back window as he finished his beans on toast. He'd just had a Brambling which I missed by a few minutes but loads of finches. Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, 6 Siskins and his first Redpoll of the Winter.

On the same day, just up the road from Len, Jayne Davies had what must have been the same Brambling in her garden. She also braved the conditions and walked over to Gleavehouse Pool........."Interesting to hear about the visitors to Len's garden. I've seen a Brambling in my garden today, first this year, and about 10 Siskins. No Redpolls yet, but I did have a visit from a Reed Bunting this morning, a rare sighting in my garden.
I had a cold, grey stroll round some Mobberley footpaths on Wednesday. It was generally very quiet, but Gleavehouse Pool had livened up a bit since my last visit a few weeks ago: two Shelduck, a pair of Oystercatchers, Mallards, Canada Geese and half a dozen Lapwing which flew away as I was approaching because a dog walker was passing through. Also a Snipe flew over while I was there. "
..........Thanks Jayne I think we're all ready for the warmer weather and walking up to Gleavehouse pool again - Wheatear, Quail, Yellow Wagtail, Yellowhammer and Little Ringed Plovers!

Don't forget that next Friday (24th March) it's our March indoor meeting when Ashley Grove will be talking about Crane Spotting in Sweden ........."The Lake Hornborga area of Sweden plays host to one of the most incredible bird spectacles to be seen in Europe, with over 25,000 Common Cranes stoping here to feed on their journey to more northerly breeding grounds.
This talk centers around these birds, but includes other wildlife that make this area so special to visit in the early Spring. All five European Grebe species can be seen at this time and top birds like White-tailed Eagle, Hawfinch and Capercaillie are other highlights."
The meeting will be held in the usual Jubilee Hall, Stanley Road, Knutsford. WA16 0GP. Doors open 7:15pm for an 8:00pm start. Non-members will be made most welcome.

Species recorded on the trip to Pennington Flash. 12th March 2023.
Canada Goose, Mallard, Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Goldeneye, Oystercatcher, Goldfinch, Moorhen, Mistle Thrush, Woodpigeon, Coot, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Willow Tit, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Nuthatch, Kingfisher, Wren, Stock Dove, Gadwall, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Cormorant, Lapwing, Dunnock, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Pheasant, Buzzard, Pied Wagtail, Greenfinch, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Goosander, Little Egret, Teal, Grey Heron, Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Reed Bunting, Shoveler, Water Rail = 50

7th March 2023....... Spring's just around the corner!
February this year was one of the driest on record (stand by for another drought!) but we've now reached the start of the meteorological Spring (1st March). Looking at the latest weather forecast it seems that Winter hasn't finished with us just yet and we're promised a few days of cold, snowy weather before warmer, and probably wetter, conditions arrive over the coming weekend.

It may well be officially Spring but, as all KOS members know, it's not really begun until the first Sand Martin appears over one of Tatton's meres and, despite our best efforts, none have turned up so far.

Bob Groom was on the lookout last Tuesday (28/2).........."Good visit to Tatton but was puzzled by the flooding of part of the marshy area with overflow from Melchett Mere. Suspect it's connected with the work in the channel. Several Snipe were along the new edge and a Green Woodpecker flew across to Moss Wood, perhaps puzzled by the changed geography.. Heron stalked the marsh. A Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed near the outflow stream. Mistle Thrush singing and a Raven calling. Two Siskins just above me at usual trees. Great views of the pair of Stonechats chasing and perching in the reeds next to the head-of-Tatton Mere 'pool' where several Pochard. Jays were also well in evidence as there were few walkers."...............

Park Ranger, Darren Morris explained that the problem with the water level was caused by a blocked culvert that takes the overflow from Melchett and directs it into the main mere's outflow stream. It's now been sorted using a strong chain and lots of manpower!
Darren reports at least one Brambling with Chaffinches along the Knutsford Drive (3/3) and either a Willow or Marsh Tit near the Mill Pool last Thursday (3/3), unfortunately he didn't have his binoculars handy at the time. He's also kindly sent me a copy of the Tatton Spring Newsletter [click here to read it]. Thanks Darren.

Elsewhere Rostherne is proving a popular venue for a few hours birding in relative comfort. John Patterson had a male Common Scoter on the 24th February and the previous day Bob had a nice flock of Golden Plover amongst the local Lapwings .........".... then on to Rostherne. It was only 6C in the Observatory but after yesterday's trial by wind at Parkgate it was just about acceptable. Several Buzzards constantly in the air, a Raven was harassed by a Carrion Crow over Mere Covert, at least 90 Wigeon on the mere and a couple of drake Goldeneyes but the highlight was a flock of well over 100 Golden Plovers flying close to an even bigger flock of Lapwings (300+) on the other side of the mere!".......... Golden Plovers were much more common at one time, as there was a daytime feeding/roosting field at nearby Ashley; it's not been used since the field was dissected by the M56.

Ken Davies and I spent Monday morning in the Rostherne Observatory; a Cetti's Warbler was in full song from the reedbed on front of the obs. and, apart from "singing" Stock Doves, that was the only sign of Spring. 95 Wigeon remain on the mere, with four Goosanders and five displaying Goldeneye; none yet ready to move north. Ken had brought along four large Morrisons sausage rolls, remarkable value for only £1:75! Goostrey's remain closed but I noticed replacement windows have been fitted and the whole exterior repainted, so they should be reopening soon but I fear four large ones will be a lot more than £ 1:75!

Ken and Shirley have just returned from a couple of nights on the Wirral ........""Shirley and myself have just spent two nights at the Wirral Country Park Caravan and Motor home Club site, just above the Dee Sailing Club. At low tide the wader numbers were too great to even estimate, the main ones being redshank and dunlin with curlew black-tailed godwit, oystercatchers and turnstone . The highlight for Shirley being a large number of pintail (60+) Six Brent Geese, feeding on the slipway as the tide went out on the Sunday morning .On the Wirral way we had Goldcrest ,Bullfinch, Song Thrush Blackbird with the usual Blue tits ,Great Tits ,Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and plenty of Robins.
Our next trip will be to Dumfries and Galloway can't wait

I've taken the short walk from home down to Mobberley's Pavement and Gleavehouse lanes over the past week. Some evidence of birds on the move with a huge increase in the number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls joining the usual Black-headed. The horse paddocks are nicely churned up, just right for the expected Wheatears that will stop off there in the coming weeks. Peter Dawson passed that way too on his walk from home in Knutsford .........""I did a walk through Booths Park to Gleave House Farm this morning. Birds of note:
•Two pairs of goosanders and good numbers of shoveler are still present on Booths Mere.
•In the fields by the Mere there were pairs of both shelducks and oystercatchers and a small group of fieldfares. 2-3 buzzards circled overhead calling incessantly.
•A few linnets were in the trees by the bridge at the bottom of Pavement Lane.
•Approx. 6 meadow pipits were in the "little owl field". Once again no sign of the owl.
•Tree sparrows were chirping from the hedge by Gleave House Farm. Not sure how many, possibly just a pair. A single skylark was singing somewhere around the farm.
I finally had a brambling visit the garden a few days ago. Luckily I happened to look out of the window at the right time to see it as it only stayed for a couple of minutes before disappearing, never to be seen again! Also, a couple of nights ago I had good views of a tawny owl sitting out in a tree just over the back fence.

Geoff and Sheila Blamire have, of course, been taking their morning constitutionals. This being the latest from Monday (6/3) ...........""Monday: we did our Mere/Millington 11.5km walk this morning. Chosen 6 species to highlight:

Little Mere – pair of Great Crested Grebes – thought they were going to start their display but they had second thoughts.
Peacock Lane – pair of Yellowhammers (new pair).
Peacock Lane – 13 Lapwings in 1 field and next field 2 Lapwings. Been there for ages, with some display, but always spread out across the field – reminds me of nesting Gannets keeping a bill-length away from neighbours!
Millington Lane – Skylark singing, just after I said “I need to hear a Skylark to give me a lift” (I was flagging……)
Newhall Farm – Brown Hare (or Buzzard if you want 6 bird species).
Chester Road – male Kestrel which we kept flushing.

Finally (and weather permitting) on Sunday (12th March) it's our March field trip to Wigan's Pennington Flash. Our hard-working Secretary, Karina will be leading the trip and has sent out the following missive -

Pennington Flash on Sunday 12th March 10 am.

Our trip next Sunday is to Pennington Flash.

They've upgraded the place (£2.7m grant to spend) and so far they have put in a new visitor centre and café.

The Hide Coffee House and Café opened on March 3rd. It'll be a welcome pit stop, especially if it's a bit chilly out there next weekend. Open 9am-4pm at this time of year. They will open 'til 7pm as from April.

Car parking has gone up, is contactless, and is now £2.50 per day. The main entrance is situated on St Helens Road opposite Leigh Fire Station. For Sat. Nav. users the postcode is WN7 3PA.

I'll be leading and will see you there at 10am. Last year we had splendid views of Willow Tit and saw 54 species. It would be good to know if you're planning on coming. karina[dot]stanley[at}

23rd February 2023...... A high tide at Parkgate.
A small group of mid-weekers made their way over to the Wirral peninsula yesterday (22/2) to enjoy the spectacle of one of the highest tides of the year (10.4M) as it swept in over Parkgate's reed beds. We weren't disappointed, as a strong north-westerly wind helped to push the water right up to the sea wall but it made the temperature of 6C seem a lot lower and standing out in the open for two hours was a bit of a challenge!

The old baths area was already crowded with birders when we arrived at 10:45am and we were fortunate to locate the last remaining parking spot. We joined Geoff and Sheila Blamire who'd arrived before us and bagged a decent view point overlooking the marshland with the Welsh hills in the background.

It was two hours before the high tide at 12:50pm but there was already plenty of activity. Great White and Little Egrets showed prominently, five Great Whites and, I believe, 38 Little were counted. Marsh Harriers floated over the reeds, from time to time scattering the wildfowl - Teal, Shelduck, Mallard, Pintail and Wigeon all present in varying numbers. Pink-footed Geese constantly passed overhead, there must have been 100s if not 1000s in the area. A Kestrel patrolled the marsh looking for small mammals forced out of cover by the incoming tide, a Peregrine powered over but didn't linger, unlike a fine Short-eared Owl that landed in the reeds a short distance away, giving everyone spectacular views through the 'scopes. Waders were represented by good counts of Lapwings, five Greenshanks, just a single Black-tailed Godwit plus flocks of Dunlin and Oystercatchers well out over the estuary. We saw only one Grey Heron, on past visits there were many more but, of course, it's now their nesting season and they are no doubt fully occupied elsewhere. As the tide began to ebb we migrated to the Parkgate chippie; a small fish and chips £5:80p, more than enough and as good as ever!

Our "usual" correspondents have been out in the field again and sent me their valued contributions. During the first covid lockdown, in the Spring of 2020, no less than 39 different people sent me records so there's plenty of room for more and any reports or records would be most welcome!

Two reports from Geoff and Sheila. The first from Monday this week (20/2)......."We decided to do our Millington patch this morning and we were very pleased we did!
Chapel Lane: Yellowhammer singing with the female perched further down the hedge (same area from last year). First of Lesser Celandine blooms out.
Peacock Lane: 12 Lapwings displaying and some soliciting in 2 cereal fields (same area from last year).
Millington Lane: Skylark singing over cereal field (heard on 15 Feb as well). "

The following morning (21/2) found them out at Plumley ........"Yesterday we did our Plumley/Holford/Lostock Green walk. Started off well with 2 Yellowhammers singing, flock of 27 Linnets, 200 Starling and flock of 50 winter thrushes (approx 25 Fieldfare, 25 Redwings).But them came across 4 Brown Hares in a grass field – very close. They were very nervous of us then the testosterone over-ruled their wariness. We spent ages watching the 3 males chasing the female. We saw boxing, fur flying, jumping over each other, and 1 time a brief mating. They run across the road and into another field. By then the female disappeared having shaken off her pursuers. Definitely the best ever sighting:"............

I spent a couple of hours at Rostherne on Monday in the agreeable company of Jude Halman, Ken Davies and Bob Groom. Not much about - 87 Wigeon, 3 Goosander, c.80 Lapwings, 13 Shoveler, 5 Buzzards but it was nice to be out in the fresh air again after the previous weeks 'flu bug! Bob had more luck after we'd left .......""Another spring-like day, Min 7C Max 14C. A trip over to Rostherne Observatory was rewarding. The female Great Spotted Woodpecker was again drumming on the split lime. About 150 Lapwings put in an appearance. Buzzards were numerous, up to 8 in the air at once at one point. But the highlight was a really spectacular encounter over Mere Covert. A Raven appeared and was displaying - somersaults, rolls, dives, wonderful but a Buzzard took exception to this big bird showing off over its wood and went for the Raven. A prolonged dog fight ensued with lots of Jackdaws as spectators. Neither bird came out as the winner but eventually they disengaged. I checked the corner field from the village and like G & S noted scores of Fieldfares and Redwings but just then someone appeared at the gate and they all went up into the trees and then a helicopter went over and they departed into the distance, as did the smaller birds (which could have been linnets) with them. All a bit frustrating but the Raven was the day's star bird. .........

Remember tomorrow night it's our February indoor meeting. A Gordon Yates film night - "Pennine Birds" (55 minutes) with an interval followed by "The Wildlife of Spitsbergen "(25 minutes). Non-members will be most welcome.

Species recorded at Parkgate 22 February 2023
Teal, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Tit, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Curlew, Shelduck, Redshanks Mallard, Dunlin, Greenshank, Dunnock, Lapwing, Pink-footed Goose, Chaffinch, Stonechat, Starling, Canada Goose, Buzzard, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, Skylark, Kestrel, Snipe, Jack Snipe, Blackbird, Oystercatcher, Peregrine Falcon, Pintail, Wigeon, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Heron, Stock Dove Short-eared Owl, Moorhen, Cormorant, Wren, Blue Tit, Robin, Pheasant, Water Rail, Knot, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Red-Breasted Merganser, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Reed Bunting, Herring Gull [51]

17th February 2023......... The Tatton Trip and SMC '23 entries

One of the few good things to come out of the covid pandemic was the fact that common colds and influenza took a back seat for the duration. I hadn't had a cold since 2018 but this temporary respite came to a sudden end last Friday (10/2) when Olwen and I both went down with a particularly nasty bug; it was my birthday too! So I was unable to lead the Tatton Trip the following morning, fortunately Sheila Blamire was still at home when I rang and she kindly agreed to take the reins. They did very well too, 45 species during the morning was good going. Thanks Sheila!.........."12 people met up in Dog Wood layby for our annual walk around Tatton Park. Spring was definitely in the air. The first bird we heard was a Song Thrush singing behind the Crosstown Community Orchard. On the moor pool a Moorhen was collecting nesting material. Entered Tatton Park via Knutsford Gates and were greeted by a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Then we arrived by the Higmere Plantation and counted 10 occupied nests in the heronry. Several Pochards and Goldeneyes were on Tatton Mere but no Great Crested Grebes – we had to wait until we saw just one on Melchett Mere. But the pair of Stonechats didn't disappoint - they posed very nicely for us by the mere. And a Kingfisher flew down the length of the mere – just a glimpse of an electric blue dart. All in all, a lovely walk."..........

The Rostherne observatory continues to attract a steady flow of KOS members, it's not the most exciting locality for the birder of course but it's a pleasant place in which to spend a couple of leisurely hours. Bob Groom was there on Tuesday (14/2) and again watched a female Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming........"" Still a Southerly airflow. Noticed the Saharan sand on our cars? Despite the mild spell I felt uncomfortably cold in the Observatory when I went over to Rostherne for a couple of hours. The female Great Spotted Woodpecker made 3 visits to the top of the split lime for drumming sessions in the time, All very intriguing................
Geoff and Sheila also noticed the woodpecker ........."We were there earlier and saw the female GSW drumming in Wood Bongs (as well as top of the elms). Almost like she's seeking a male GSW! I spotted her drumming branch – the sound was very loud. But then she moved to the top of branch (much thinner) and her drumming was more high-pitched. From the obs we had 2 female Bullfinches, 5 Goldeneyes (3m 2f) and 2 Goosanders (1m 1f), etc.
The corner field between New Road and Rostherne Lane in the village was covered in Fieldfares! Conservative estimate was 130+ Fieldfares, and 12+ Redwings and also Linnets but more difficult to count them because of the terrain and because we didn't want to spook the Fieldfares."
........... Bob and I have seen female GS Woodpeckers drumming in Tatton's Dog Wood in previous Springs. It's a well-known phenomena and apparently the birds can recognise each other by their individual drumming rhythms.

The closing date for entries to the 2023 KOS Sand Martin competition was on Wednesday (15/2). 35 entries this year, 8 more than last. Estimates cover a whole month, from 23rd February through to 24th March! The most popular choice is 2nd March with 4 people choosing that option; four dates each had 3 people's backing - 7/3, 8/3, 11/3 and 14/3. You can see all the runners and riders by clicking here.

Finally, next Friday (24th February) it's our monthly indoor meeting and you're in for a real treat! We have obtained permission from wildlife film maker Gordon Yates to show two of his videos in public for the first time. We will be featuring "Pennine Birds" and "Polar Bears and other Wildlife of Spitsbergen". Non-members will be welcome to come along and enjoy some of Gordon's finest work. The venue is the Jubilee Hall, Stanley Road, Knutsford, WA16 0GP. We will be there from 7:15pm for an 8pm start.

Species recorded in Tatton 11th February 2023
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Moorhen, Coot, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Nuthatch, Starling, Blackbird, Redwing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Stonechat, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting = 45 species.

9th February 2023.......The lad's done well!
Perusing the KOS's records, with Treasurer Frank Dearden, we noticed the name - Master Armitt from the days when we had a junior section! That self-same Barrie Armitt is now more than old enough for a bus pass but still birding. We must have been doing something right as a number of juniors from that era are still out in the field!
I wrote (on 26th October 2022) about his visible migration (viz-mig) activities and the amazing count of 122,600 Redwings passing his vantage point in Crosby on 19th October 2022. This dedication caught the eye of Birdwatch magazine and he has been rewarded with a pair of Celestron Nature DX ED 8X42 binoculars - "Local birding movement of the year" - Nice one Baz!!

Still over on the west coast Ken and Shirley Davies paid a recent visit to Southport in their motor home............. Shirley and myself away again in the motor home, this time to Southport......."Not one of our best trips as Shirley decided to practise her dancing skills and didn't see a small slope on the way out of the shop falling and severely spraining her ankle ,and we only went shopping for a new strap for my binoculars (so it was my fault).
Didn't go far from the site but I did leave her with a full kettle for a brew . The only birds of note was a singing Song Thrush as I left the site with several Stonechat on the coastal path.
Sunday morning we drove to Marshside but this time I left Shirley with a good book. Just past the entrance to the RSPB hide, looking out to the estuary, I was helped by local birders in spotting Merlin, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Peregrine and a Buzzard, with nothing of note on the marsh only Snipe. The list of birds more or less as seen on our visit just two weeks earlier"
............ Thanks Ken, nice to see chivalry alive and well in Middlewich!

On Monday morning (6/2) a small group of KOS members gathered in the observatory at Rostherne Mere for tea or coffee, a sausage roll, a chat and a bit of birding. In the continuing absence of Goostrey's sausage rolls, Ken provides the same items from Morrison's. A lot cheaper and quite acceptable but when the Mobberley bakery re-opens (in March apparently) we'll probably switch back. A cool morning, just 2⁰C , and nothing special but, just after Jude Halman and Geoff and Sheila Blamire had left, we were pleased to have excellent views of a black-necked Grebe. Bob Groom summed things up nicely........""Joined the gang at the Observatory. A productive visit and I stuck it for over 2 hours before giving in to the cold. The star bird was a Black-Necked Grebe that appeared near the boathouse and then quickly disappeared into the reedbed, not to be seen again. Unusual for Rostherne an Oystercatcher had been seen earlier on, flying round, calling. Phil had also seen a Snipe and a Woodcock. Entertaining the KOS contingent, two Sparrowhawks interacted and 4 Buzzards just qualified as a kettle. A female Great Spotted Woodpecker did some drumming, well recognized in the literature and presumably territorial. Approx 260 Lapwings put in an appearance beyond the mere, as usual. Two drake Goosanders vied for the attention of a female. Wigeon, Shoveler and a couple of Goldeneyes on the mere. Near the NE car park I got surprisingly close to a sunbathing male Reed Bunting. Also seen a Kestrel and a party of Goldfinches, but again no Linnets.............
The Grebe was a tatty looking individual, I thought it was a first Winter bird and would have expected an adult to have regained it's breeding plumage by now.

The Oystercatcher was one of a number that have been recorded recently, prior to the breeding season. Peter Dawson had one at Booths Mere, a couple of weeks ago ............"" A single oystercatcher was back at Booths Mere today. In addition to a good number of shoveler there were also a few pochard about. Unfortunately it's hard to count anything on the Mere because viewing is so restricted wherever you are looking from. No sign of either owl from Pavement Lane.
After some months of not hearing any tawny owls from Sanctuary Moor they reappeared again about a week ago. I haven't managed to see one yet but they are calling/hooting most mornings and evenings at the moment.
Brambling reported again in Tatton Park this morning in the usual area.""

Geoff and Sheila missed the Black-necked Grebe on Monday, just a short stay on their daily slog but they are accumulating some good records. This from the previous morning (5/2)........"We did our 11km walk around Plumley/Holford/Lostock Green, parking on Cheadle Lane, near Keeper’s Cottage. Can’t list all the birds it will take me too long! So just the highlights: Cheadle Lane: 300+ Starlings, 40 Fieldfare and 31 Curlews flew over. Little Egret in the horse field – been there since 1st Jan! Past Keepers Cottage: 10 Pied Wagtails with sheep feeding on harvested swede. Set-aside field before the bridge over the railway: 200+ finches - 50% Chaffinches/50% Reed Buntings and a few Lesser Redpolls (I know it adds up more than 100%!). And a Kestrel. Patmos Lane: male Yellowhammer – first one seen this year. Also on the walk: several smaller flocks of Starlings, Fieldfares and Redwings. And 7 Song Thrushes (6 singing) and a Mistle Thrush. "............. Thanks team, you're doing well for Song Thrushes still none in song around here.

Also amongst the Thrushes Jean Brooks and Derek Pike, on Monday morning (5/2) .........."We went to the Lovell Quinta Arboretum this morning to have a look at the superb display of Snowdrops. Between 30000 to 40000 have been planted and they are expected to last about three weeks,
In adjacent field was the largest number of Fieldfare/Redwing we have ever seen I estimated between 600-700 hundred in top of field and a further 100 or so in bottom of field and bushes plus some in Arboretum, fantastic!
Other birds of note G S Woodpecker drumming one short song from Song Thrush. Several Buzzards, Kestrel.
Lovely tranquil place to visit £2.50 for none members, plenty of leaflets to show you the way round. Swettenham Arms next door closed for refurbishment

This coming Saturday (11th February) it's our KOS walk around Tatton Park. We'll be gathering in the usual Dog Lodge layby at 09:30am. The weather looks good and, although we're unlikely to see this year's first Sand Martin, there are Bramblings about and Jayne Davies tells me that the Heronry in Higmere Plantation is already a hive of activity.

You may want to let me know if you're coming along on Saturday, as I'm the trip leader.

1st February 2023.............. The Big Garden Birdwatch.

Yesterday Defra published a revised version of the plan, originally created in 2018, to restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife habitats, create 25 new or expanded nature reserves and restore 400 miles of river. It's a 25 year plan that will ensure that all households will live within a 15 minute walk of a "green space" (apparently a green space can mean a playing field, a disused railway or an allotment!)
The BBC has a good piece about the plan click here with a graph showing the change in abundance of 149 priority species since 1970.
It's a nice simple graph and I wondered where the data used to draw it came from. I suspect if they relied on professional ecologists (who normally make their money counting newts on proposed building sites) it would cost a fortune. Perhaps they rely on cheap data generated by organisations such as Butterfly Conservation, BTO, RSPB and others.
Last year 700,000 people took part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch recording 11,000,000 individual birds - plenty of data to look at there!. Citizen Science in action!

We did our bit over the weekend when we assisted the Friends of the Moor (Saturday) and The Friends of Knutsford Heath (Sunday) with their counts.
On Saturday the weather was much kinder than last year, when we had to contend with storm "Malik", and we managed to record 26 species and 143 individuals (total of the maximum number of each species seen at any one time). 3 more species than last year but 9 short of 2016's record of 35.
Similar conditions the next day, on the Heath. Just 17 species and 45 individuals but there's no water on the Heath and the habitat is not as diverse. Still it was nice to see Treecreeper and enjoy prolonged views of a Goldcrest, in bright sunlight, hovering in the branches of an oak tree, picking off insects. Thanks to the two organisations for inviting us along and thanks to all KOS members who helped out.

In Mere Geoff and Sheila Blamire did the BGBw in their own garden but not before they stretched their legs earlier in the appropriate manner......"This morning we did our Rostherne area walk. Most notable:
The field on the right before the crossroads in Rostherne on New Road: c150 Fieldfare, 3= redwings, 25+ Starlings, c80 flock of finches (30 Chaffinches, 30 Goldfinches, plus other species) – all in harvested wurzels!
Rostherne Lane: c70 Redwings (but on the reserve side).
Observatory: 3 Goosander (1m), 3 Goldeneye (1m), 6 Long-tailed Tits appeared on the bird table as we were to leave.
This afternoon we did our Garden Birdwatch: 19 species actually seen in the garden – 18 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit, 2 Coal Tit, 6 Long-tailed Tit, 3 Blackbird, 2 Robin, 2 Dunnock, 1 Nuthatch, 1 Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinch, 4 Jackdaw, 2 Magpie, 1 Pheasant, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Wren, 5 Woodpigeon, fem Siskin (very briefly), pair Bullfinch (again briefly) and 1 Sparrowhawk – twice!!! Total birds = 59, 19 species. "

KOS secretary Karina Stanley is one of only a handful of members still gainfully employed and, on her way to work at The Christie, has seen a Barn Owl in her car headlights whilst driving through the Ashley area, during both morning and evening commutes. Last Monday (23/1) she had a quick view of an even bigger owl but was unable to stop safely, so that one will remain an intriguing mystery for the time being.
On the subject of Owls, Tatton Ranger Darren Morris sent me the image you see on the left; it's the skull of a Great Spotted Woodpecker that he found in a Barn Owl pellet he was examining - a member of the Knutsford Nature Notes Facebook group said ..........."Wow interesting! Trying to think of a time and place when those 2 species would cross paths!"...........

Don't forget to enter the Big KOS Sand Martin Competition before it's too late. It's open to anyone, there's no entry fee, it's easy, you can complete it in 60" and there is a small prize for the winner! click here.

25th January 2023......... Rostherne Cormorants
As the name implies, the "tick list" in the Rostherne Mere observatory is a binary affair - 0 or 1; tick or no tick. It doesn't indicate the number of each species, just whether or not at least one individual was present on a given day. Perhaps not as useful as the monthly wildfowl counts or the CBC and BBS surveys but, over a period of years, the simple and easy to understand tick list can show long term fluctuations in our bird populations.
There are some species that are recorded on the tick list every day, amongst these is the Cormorant. Until the end of the last century it was just a Winter visitor but in 1999 they remained on the reserve and nested for the first time. In 2021 the colony, located in the mereside trees of Harper's Bank, held 173 nesting pairs. Reading the appropriate literature it appears that tree colonies never become permanent as the guano generated by the birds kill off their host trees. This has happened at Rostherne; the trees are dead but, despite this, the Cormorants have returned and, once again, begun nesting. Ken Davies and I were in the obs. on Monday (23/1) and, with the aid of Ken's Swarovski, spent some time observing the comings and goings. Male birds sat on their nests with wings quivering, heads pointing upwards and cocked tails spread upwards and backwards. Established pairs stood side by side, in one case sharing a piece of nesting material jointly in their bills. Fascinating stuff, about which there is little online, so I had to dig out volume one of BWP!
The wildfowl were mostly hidden away amongst the mereside vegetation, so trying to count them was impossible. The previous day (22/1) a monthly count had taken place revealing 157 Teal, 134 wigeon, 110 Mallard, 32 Mandarin, 20 Shoveler, 49 Canada Geese and 3 Goosanders.
The bird table was very busy, we saw a small group of five Siskins and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming; a sure sign of the warmer weather to come.

On a walk around the lanes of Mobberley last Sunday (22/1) there was a woodpecker drumming in Spring Wood, clearly heard from the best part of a kilometer away. I headed in that direction, on the way passing a field of c.100 corvids - Jackdaws and Rooks (the rookery in Shawheath is just a short distance away) and, in another field, c. 200 winter thrushes, 95% of which were Redwings. I didn't find the woodpecker but at the confluence of the Marthall and Pedley brooks, where they become the Birkin, I came across a Little Egret only the second I've ever seen in the village!

Just across a couple of fields is Booths Mere, a spot that Peter Dawson keeps an eye on. This from last Wednesday (18/1)........."Once the sun had come out and the snow had started to disappear, I had a wander around Booths Park early afternoon. Of note, there were approx a dozen mandarin on the Mere, mainly males. I've seen them there before but only the odd one or two. Also about the same number of shoveler, a mix of male and female, and 3-4 pochard. Otherwise just the usuals. Still no brambling in the garden. I haven't seen many reports from anywhere of them this winter. However they often don't turn up until Feb or March so there's still time yet.".......... Thanks Peter, no Bramblings (or Siskins) for us yet either but, as you point out, they'll appear eventually.

The warmer weather hadn't arrived by last weekend but the continuing cold snap didn't deter Bob Groom (18th Jan) ..........."Whatever happened to the mild Southerly air we were promised for this weekend? It seems it slowed down when it reached the south-west and instead we are stuck with the ice and snow and low temperatures - Min -6C Max 4C - and it will be midweek before milder air replaces the frosty air. Elaine and I had to cancel our trip into Tatton with the road still closed and Moss Lane was too icy so we had a productive walk on Green Lane (which had been gritted) instead. Close views of Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Only a few Redwings and a single Fieldfare. 44 Lapwings at a distance and another bird flying with them that might have been a Golden Plover. The ditches were full to the brim but frozen solid and covered in red grit."............

The Blamires too remain determined to get out and about whatever the weather and Mondays walk took in the Rostherne obs............" Mereside Road: 100+ Fieldfares. Rostherne Brook area: 2 Lesser Redpolls (with Goldfinches), Song Thrush singing, Wren investigating the leaky dam , female Bullfinch.
Oxhey Meadow: 22 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing.
Obs (with Tony and Ken): Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming (good to hear) and just as we were leaving Tony spotted c5 Siskins. "

The Sand Martin Competition now has 30 entries, from as far away as Maryland (USA), Auckland (New Zealand) and Warrington! So get your entries in NOW before you forget. A reminder that it's open to everyone, not just KOS members. click here.

Members will be having a busy weekend, starting on Friday ((27/1)

On Friday 27th January it's indoors at the Jubilee Hall when Mike Watson will be telling us about the Northern Territory of Australia. Doors open at 7:15pm for an 8pm start

The following day (Saturday 28th) we're on the Moor with the Friends of the Moor helping with their "RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch" - 11am start, meeting at the shelter on the Moor

On the Sunday (29 January), were on the Heath with the Friends of Knutsford Heath for their "Big Garden Birdwatch" - again it's an 11am start at the information board on the heath. Close to where Stanley Road meets Northwich road.

The KOS committee will be meeting next week to discuss the programme for 2023/2024 and preliminary discussion will take place about how we celebrate the society's 50th anniversary!!

I believe that only three current members were at that first meeting, on the 29th April 1974, when Colin Istead suggested the possible make-up of the first committee. This was voted on and his suggestions accepted by those present. The first "proper" meeting took place the next month when Bill Mulligan introduced the speaker, Sidney Bunker who entertained us with his bird song recordings on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder!
18/01/2023...... The trip to Marshside & Martin Mere

We're enjoying another cold(ish) snap at the moment with a mid-morning temperature of 0⁰C in the back garden. It will be over by the weekend and get nowhere near the -6⁰C we experienced in the run-up to Christmas.
My weather station measures the temperature once every minute and analysis of the data produced showed that the overall average in 2022 was 0.8⁰C warmer than 2021 ( 11.2⁰C v 10.4⁰C )

A bit wet to begin with on Saturday, (14/1) for our January field trip up to Marshside and Martin Mere but the rain soon moved off, leaving a dry but very windy day.
We'd not left the car park at Marshside before eagle-eyed Bob Groom found us a splendid male Hen Harrier, close in, flying slowly into the wind over the shoreline - an excellent start to proceedings. Number #1 on the day-list that eventually grew to 60 different species.
As it was still drizzling we walked to the RSPB's hide/information centre and set up shop overlooking the marsh, which was heaving with wildfowl and waders. Wigeon, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Pink-footed Geese, Mallard, Shoveler, Shelduck, Gadwall, Pochard, Teal plus Lapwing, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher. All in a constant state of flux; I don't know how they are ever counted but they must be as the RSPB's website gives target figures for the different species ..........."We aim to ensure that black-tailed Godwits and ruffs remain present through the breeding season and that breeding wildfowl numbers are stable. Meanwhile, our October-March targets for non-breeding birds include 1,650 black-tailed Godwits, 700 pink-footed geese, 6,000 wigeons, 1,800 teals, 140 shovelers, 500 golden plovers, 700 oystercatchers, 1,500 knots, 1,500 dunlins and 300 curlews."..........

We learnt that Nell's hide, further up the marsh and a normal stopping point for us, had been vandalized and was closed. Instead we headed into Southport as, earlier in the morning, Colin Butler had seen a flock of Twite and a Snow Bunting close to the pier. On a more benign day it would have been an easy stroll along the promenade up to the appropriate spot but the gale force wind on Saturday made it a bit more of a challenge. Anyway, with coats flapping, hats flying and eyes watering, we all made it and had reasonable views of the flock of c.40 Twite but, unfortunately, the single Snow Bunting had moved on - however it has been included on the list as Colin was part of the group and the rule is "any bird seen or heard by any member of the party"! Of course this has led to a few contentious additions in the past but, as we all know, "it's only birdwatching, no one dies"

On then to Martin Mere. The prices in the restaurant seemed quite reasonable; I paid £2:50 for a large americano and joined others from the party outside on the veranda as we'd brought our own food. It was a cool spot and, given the conditions, one of the staff invited us to sit inside. A nice gesture and one which was readily accepted!
Out on the reserve five Marsh harriers floated over the reedbeds and a Peregrine quartered the area from time to time but on the whole we thought numbers, especially Pink-footed Geese, were down compared with previous years. From the Ron Barker hide a Great White Egret and a Grey Heron sheltered from the wind at the waters edge in the lee of the reeds. Making our way down to the Janet Kear hide I noticed a Little Egret in the pool in front of the flamingo enclosure, it was unconcerned by visitors walking by and posed nicely for the camera.
Around the Kear hide Treecreeper, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird and Goldcrest all helped to swell the day-list. A useful and, most importantly, up-to date record of species present at Martin Mere is kept on the website. click here.

Back in Cheshire the colder weather brought a sprinkling of snow overnight, in fact a few places had some yesterday. This from Sheila Blamire after returning home from their daily meander........"It’s snowing here as I’m typing!
Did 11.5km around Millington area this morning – a little icy in places! Difficult with the poor visibility but a lot of winter thrushes: Mereside Road – 60+ Fieldfares; Peacock Lane – c40 Redwings, c10 Fieldfares plus c20 Starlings. Also Buzzard."

Birding webcams abound during the breeding season but there are fewer in Winter. One of the better ones is situated at Loch Garten, up in Speyside. As well as the usual, Coal and Great Tits, from time to time a Crested Tit will appear plus Great Spotted Woodpecker and Red Squirrel. Well worth a look. click here. If it's currently night time just click back on the red time line for earlier footage.

Only 20 entries so far in the Great 2023 KOS Sand Martin competition, so you're in with a chance! Open to all click here. Done and dusted in 60"!!

Species recorded on the KOS trip to Marshside and Martin Mere. 14th January 2023.
Hen Harrier, Black-headed Gull, Wigeon, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Shoveler, Shelduck, Gadwall, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Pochard, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Oystercatcher, Herring Gull, Teal, Starling, Great White Egret, Cormorant, Pied Wagtail, Magpie, Redshank, Coot, Moorhen, Pink-footed Goose, Little Egret, Twite, Snow Bunting, Peregrine, Ruff, Robin, Curlew, Pintail, Whooper Swan, Marsh Harrier, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Buzzard, Grey Heron, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Stock Dove, Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Tufted Duck, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch, Blackbird, Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk, Skylark, Carrion Crow, Mute Swan, Great Spotted Woodpecker [ ✓ 60]

13th January 2023......... More signs of Spring.

Finch flocks are building up locally. Last Saturday Sheila Blamire spotted a Siskin in the garden at Mere, the first since April 2022. In Knutsford Peter Dawson has Siskins plus Redpolls on his feeders and Sheila and Geoff had 60+ Siskins at Rostherne on one of their early morning walks. Here in Mobberley we've not had either species so far but there's plenty of time as they don't normally turn up until mid-February.

On Sunday (8/1) KOS Secretary Karina Stanley added a new species to her year list with a visit to Chelford for the Smew on Lapwing Hall Pool..........."A quick diversion to Lapwing Lane en route to Northwich for food shop. Nice views of The Smew [✓] and other wildfowl were available. Close encounter with a female sparrowhawk as she flew low across the grass and watched enthralled as a male kestrel hovered a few yards away, strategically going lower and lower, before successfully diving for a mouse snack. Great view as he flew triumphantly away with his prey and nipped its neck. "...............

Not to be outdone, we hastily organised a mid-week morning to same location! There was plenty to see on the Acre Nook lake, just a few yards up from the Lapwing Lane car park. Unfortunately the island has now vanished but there were still large numbers of Lapwings on the far bank, where a Great White Egret stood guard in the shallows. On the water a nice selection of water fowl - Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Teal, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe and Coot.
Our time 'scoping the lake was brought to an end by a short, sharp shower of ice cold rain; so it was off to the sheltered lane leading to Lapwing Hall Pool. En route, growing on a birch tree, we noticed the bracket fungus you can see on Geoff's picture at the top of this update. This engendered a certain amount of discussion but with 15,000 species of fungus to go at we were floundering! Anyway, after consulting an expert, it seems that both are examples of Birch Polypore and the green appearance of the upper example is caused by algal growth. There's a whole new world out there!
We didn't have to look too hard for the male Smew, it was floating in the inlet, close to the entrance gate. Poor views though as this stretch of water is obscured by dense shrubbery. Further round the lake good views of other occupants, including more Wigeon and nine Goosanders (5♂ and 4♀), looking splendid in their fresh Spring plumage. A single Snipe leapt up from the edge of the pool and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming in the distance. We finished off with excellent views of a Goldcrest, feeding low in moss-covered hawthorn, too quick for our cameras unfortunately!
Fortunately the hazel catkins were moving slower than Chelford's Goldcrest and I was able to get a decent image. It looked great - one of the first signs of Spring - of which we've had further examples, as well as the drumming woodpecker, Sheila and Geoff report singing Mistle Thrushes at three different locations and Bob Groom had a Song Thrush in song on the morning of our recent trip to Budworth mere.

Don't forget tomorrow (14/1) it's our field trip to Marshside and Martin Mere, meeting up at 10:00am at RSPB Marshside from where we'll be making our way over to Martin Mere for lunch and then onto the reserve for ducks, geese, swans and harriers (hopefully)

Remember also to enter our world famous Sand Martin Competition. Do it NOW by clicking here it's open to anyone, not just KOS members. You can do it less than a minute!

Species recorded at the Chelford sand quarries 11th January 2023.
Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Woodpigeon, Cormorant, Goldeneye, Teal, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Lapwing, Pochard, Carrion Crow, Smew, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Goosander 9+6, Snipe, Great Spotted Woodpecker (drumming), Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Robin, Shoveler, Kestrel, Pheasant, Goldcrest, Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Magpie = 33.

6th January 2023........Drake Smew at Chelford and the 2023 Sand Martin Competition

It's often said that the one good thing about waking up with a hangover is that the rest of your day can only get better. I find that, even without the aid of alcohol, you can normally induce the same effect by listening to the "Today" program on Radio four. A bit of a letdown this morning to discover that, despite the ongoing strikes and Putin's war in Ukraine, the focus was on the continuing royal family soap opera. Perhaps the BBC think we've had enough bad news over the past few months and we needed a little bit of comedy to start the day.
Of course the rest of the natural world, of which we're just a small part, carries on regardless. This morning a Dunnock was going full belt from the silver birch at the bottom of the garden, whilst below it the daffodils are pushing through nicely, ready to bring a splash of colour in just a few weeks time, a reminder that Spring's just around the corner.

Regular visitors to this website will know that, in this part of the world, Spring officially begins with the appearance of the first Sand Martin over Tatton Mere and this year I'll again be running the KOS Sand Martin Competition, in which visitors are invited to estimate (guess!) when the first Martin will be recorded. The competition is not just for KOS members, anyone can enter and there will be a small prize for the winner. The average arrival date in Tatton is the 14th March, last year it was the 8th March and Cheshire's earliest record is the 16th February, so the closing date is the 15th February. Remember it's not you that has to see the bird, there will be plenty of KOS members (some of whom work in the park) keeping a daily watch from mid-February. You can enter by clicking here, it will only take a few seconds of your valuable time!

I spent a couple of hours in the Rostherne Obs. on Monday morning (2/1) just 3⁰C but crystal clear visibility and through the big binoculars set to 40X, I could make out people walking along the skyline next to the tower on Rivington Pike, about 22 miles away!
Most of the wildfowl were hidden away around the edges of the mere but a small flock of Teal were very active and a group of Mandarins appeared, 7 birds - six males and a lone female, the boys were most vigorous in their attempts to impress the young lady.

Geoff and Sheila Blamire began the year, as they left off, with a muddy trudge around one of their favourite locations on Sunday morning (1/1) ........." We did our 11km walk around Plumley, Holford and Lostock Green this morning, which turned out to be wet and muddy, with a lot of flooding, but bird wise a good start to 2023!!!
Holford: 136 Curlews (opposite Hame Farm), 1 Kestrel (Holford track).
Plumley: 71 Curlews and 1 Kestrel (Cheadle Lane) and a Little Egret! First time we've seen an egret in this area - it was in a field with horses. "

Last Winter we enjoyed a mid-week visit to the Chelford Sand Quarries and were lucky enough to come across a female Smew on the Lapwing Hall Pool. This year there are two females and they've been joined by a male - a striking looking bird that we used to get annually on Tatton Mere. Naturally it's attracted a lot of attention and amongst the visitors was our own Bob Groom! ............"" A better day than forecast and still lovely and mild - Min 8C Max 12C. Went over to Lapwing Lane. Inevitably there was a twitch on and parking was at a premium but I did manage to get the last space. Cracking views of the drake and accompanying female Smew (eventually) that had arrived yesterday and later saw the other female that had already been in residence. I chose the route through the wood and kept on walking round. Lots of Wigeon, Goosanders etc. Also male Goldeneye and hovering Kestrel. I was lucky to catch the m/f close in at a point where there was a gap in the trees. Later saw them again en route to the gate but more distant. Walking back down the road saw the usual Tree Sparrows and Nuthatches. Great White Egret, hundreds of Teal and Lapwings, many Cormorants and yet more Goosanders at Acre Nook. At one point a Sparrowhawk powered across. A very successful visit.................

Late news 6th January 2023 - Phil Dell recently sent me details about a large flock of Pink-footed geese (he estimated about 5,000) that were roosting in fields close to his house in High Legh. I travelled there yesterday (5/1) but they failed to appear. It was a different story today though! Via the Rostherne Mere WhatsApp group he alerted me to the fact that the birds had appeared at 2:30pm. I therefore abandoned this update and made my way to the recommended spot, along Crabtree Lane - close to Lilac Farm. At first I could hear them well enough but they were out of sight in an adjoining field. Eventually though they took to the air and vanished, flying north - a great sight and sound. I managed a few seconds of video and some still pictures - thanks Phil, great stuff!

30th December 2022.......... The 2022 Christmas Walk.

Welcome to the last update of 2022. This year we managed a full program of KOS outdoor field trips and in September, after 2½years, we were able re-start our indoor meetings. Trips and indoor get-togethers, up to April 2023 are listed on this website's trips page. The committee will be meeting shortly to draw up plans for the Period May 2023 through to May 2024 (which will be the 50th anniversary of the KOS!!). I know that Sheila Blamire has already set the wheels in motion for a 4 day holiday to East Anglia in May next year. All members should have been sent details via email.

We were lucky yesterday (29/12) with the weather for our annual Christmas walk around the Neumann's Flash / Budworth Mere area of Marbury Country Park. 13 members arrived at the Witton Mill Bridge car park at the allotted time and, as we were enjoying some of Jude Halman's homemade sloe gin, a flock of about 20 Pink-footed geese were spotted in the distance - a good start.
The trip leader for the day, Sheila Blamire, led us along the old Warrington Road, as the normal route alongside the extensive reed beds was "wellies only" due to heavy overnight rain. A pity, as this is where we would have expected Cetti's Warbler. As it was the species doesn't appear on the day list, hopefully they've survived the extremely cold weather at the beginning of the month.
Elevenses were enjoyed at the park's picnic area where we met up with Bob Groom before moving down to the new viewing screen. Geoff Blamire hurriedly set up his 'scope and everyone was able to take a look at the cobalt blue Kingfisher, perched just below the screen, a few feet above the water of the mere.
It's a regular visitor to that spot explained Stuart Jackson, a local photographer, who spends a lot of time capturing images of the mere's wildlife. He has kindly sent me the image you see on this update; it was taken during the recent cold spell. A fabulous picture - thanks Stuart!
Further out on the mere, Mute Swans, Tufted ducks, displaying Great Crested Grebes and no less than 14 Goosanders. Has there been an influx lately? I hear that Rostherne had nine yesterday.
Over the far side of the mere, telescopes revealed 100s of Coot and a large flock of wintering waders, mainly Curlews and Lapwings, plus more wildfowl - Shoveler, Canada and Greylag Geese, Teal and Goldeneye.
Cutting back up through the woodland and over the canal we arrived at Dairy House Meadow where a Barn Owl, sheltering at the back of it's nest box, was added to the ever growing list. Neumann's Flash was unusually quiet but, from Pod's Hide, we had Shelduck and Wigeon bringing the grand total to 52 species, one more than Christmas last year!
Derek and Jean had intended to join us but there was a mix-up with times, so they ended up at Tatton where they too had excellent views of a Kingfisher ......."I could have been there for 10:00am then realised it was 9:30am never mind I hope you all had a pleasant morning. We went into Tatton for an hour or so.
Superb, prolonged views of a male Kingfisher on the small tree on the side of the overflow stream from Melchett, it then flew towards us and landed twenty feet or so away posing, then across the road to the overflow stream from main mere, landed then flew down stream towards where a branch goes across stream landed again.

Best views for a long time in Tatton "

Our next field trip is on Saturday 14th January when we'll be visiting RSPB Marshside and WWT Martin mere.

Two weeks later there follows a very busy weekend!

On Friday 27th January it's indoors at the Jubilee Hall when Mike Watson will be telling us about the Northern Territory of Australia.

The following day (Saturday 28th) we're on the Moor with the Friends of the Moor helping with their "RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch"

And, on the Sunday (29 January), on the Heath with the Friends of Knutsford Heath for their Big Garden Birdwatch!

Species recorded on the Christmas walk.- Thursday 29th December 2022
Black-headed Gull, Pink-footed Goose, Woodpigeon, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Goldfinch, Jay, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Buzzard, Long-tailed Tit, Mallard, Jackdaw, Magpie, Greenfinch, Goldcrest, Mute Swan, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Kingfisher, Cormorant, Lapwing, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Curlew, Common Gull, Shoveler, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Teal, Chaffinch, Treecreeper, Barn Owl, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Fieldfare, Redwing, House Sparrow, Shelduck, Wigeon, Grey Heron, Coot, Bullfinch, Siskin, Song Thrush. = 52

21st December 2022...........The Winter Solstice
Today is the shortest day of the year; the start of the astronomical Winter - the Winter solstice. Only a few weeks to wait before the first Sand Martins are seen over Tatton Mere, marking the beginning of the KOS Spring!

The spell of cold weather came to an abrupt end over the weekend; in the early hours of Friday morning (16/12) my weather station recorded a low of -7.3⁰C . The official Met. Office station at Rostherne recorded -9.5⁰C but the temperature then began to rise rapidly and reached +14⁰C on Monday (19/12) as a plume of warm, humid air pushed up from southern Europe.

The temperature in the obs. at Rostherne Mere on Monday morning was 8⁰C but it was 12.5⁰C outside and, as a consequence, the windows were dripping with condensation, the log book was damp and the monthly "tick list" sodden! Quite remarkable. Volunteer warden Phil Dell told me he'd never seen anything like it, in all the years he's been visiting the reserve.
It was pretty gloomy, we managed to count a few species loitering near the boathouse but a big flock of finches remained largely unidentified........."47 Wigeon, 25 Pochard, 3 Goldeneye, 32 Lapwings, m&f Goosander, Grey Heron (survived the cold spell). Too gloomy to ID c.120 finches in the mereside alders, I did make out some Goldfinches the rest probably included Siskins and, perhaps, some Redpolls"............

There are some Redpolls about, Geoff and Sheila Blamire came across some during their Friday morning workout .........."We did our 10km walk to Rostherne on Friday 16 Dec - boy it was cold!
Highlights include: Rostherne Brook (seen from Rostherne Lane) flushed 2 Snipe and 8+ Mallards; Rostherne Mere 1m 1f Goosanders; below the Obs 1 Lesser Redpoll feeding amongst the brambles; seen when we left the Obs 8+ Lesser Redpolls feeding in the Silver Birches and 1 Song Thrush; Ciceley Mill Lane, Grey Wagtail feeding along in the leaf litter (same as in 14 Dec)."

Bob Groom managed to do the monthly WeBS count over the week and was pleased to encounter a Bittern as he progressed around Tabley Mere. .........." I decided to do my Tabley count, with the now benign air making it quite pleasant. Nonetheless I found Tabley Mere still 95% frozen so everything was concentrated in one corner. 128 Teal were so nervous that they were constantly flighting ( and burning up fuel, but a lovely sight). Otherwise the rest of the wildfowl seemed happy enough - 75 Mallard, 6 Wigeon, 7 Canada Geese, 5 Tufted Ducks, 2 Cormorants, 2 Coots. A Heron put in an appearance and a Buzzard winged low across the water but the highlight was a Bittern flying across the mere. Great view! Small birds in the wood included Tree Creeper, party of Long-Tailed Tits, Nuthatches, Goldcrest, Wren, Robin... Fortunately the rain largely held off until after I'd left."................

Birder Bill Morton forsook his beloved Frodsham marshes last Thursday (15/12) and enjoyed a stroll around Tatton Park where he came across the park's first Bramblings of the Winter......."I was out from dawn till dusk birding along the banks of the Mersey and that was chilling to the marrow. I've been to Tatton Park today where it was people free and managed some Bramblings along the beech walk alongside the golf course. "......... Thanks Bill!

Of course the highlight since the last update has been the KOS Christmas party, our first since December 2019! There was good turnout of 21 members and friends, slightly less than three years ago, but I know the current 'flu bug that's doing the rounds meant that some regulars couldn't attend. Nevertheless more than 50% of our current membership were able to enjoy a most successful evening. Our secretary Karina Stanley, ably assisted by Jude Halman, set out the tables during the afternoon and, as you can see from the picture, these were rapidly filled with a delicious selection of temptations as people arrived with offerings of, mainly, home cooked dishes.

Treasurer, Frank Dearden did the appropriate calculations and was able to announce a very useful profit.

Many thanks to everyone for your contributions to last night's party; a lovely and relaxed gathering.
Along with the enjoyment we raised an important sum for the Society's funds, as follows:

Admission £ 152.00
Raffle £ 76.00
Bring&buy £ 59.60
Donations £ 50.00 from absent friends
= £ 337.60
Bought in food items came to £ 55.00 giving a net contribution to KOS funds of £ 282.60

Karina's off for a Christmas get-together with her family in Dubai but left us with a lovely email message before she left.

It was a very special evening enjoyed by all the members and friends. So good to be able to share time after the Covid restrictions of recent times. A great team effort indeed - thank you all so much.
Looking forward to next year's party and hoping even more members will be able to come and join the fun.
Happy Christmas!

13th December 2022 .......... The cold spell continues....

The trip up to Leighton Moss on Saturday (10/12) had to be called off at the last minute. At 7am the temperature was well below freezing and it had started to snow, this was to continue for the next five hours and resulted in Manchester Airport being closed to both incoming and outgoing flights. Fortunately only 10 people had signed up for the outing, so a quick series of phone calls and everyone was made aware of the cancellation. Everyone that is except Frank, our Hon. Treasurer, who must have left his hearing aid out and who, despite numerous attempts, couldn't be raised. And so it was that at 07:40 he fired up the trusty Saab and headed north!
In the event he did quite well and seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed himself!

............"No Bearded Tits in view from the walkway when I was there. Otter I saw from the Causeway Hide on the fringes of the one area of standing open water on the reserve.

Yellow-browed Warbler was on the reserve day list, having been seen by staff at first light by the track leading to Lower Hide. I headed there as soon as I entered the reserve to find three likely looking birders staking out a clearing. So I joined them and gave it thirty minutes before moving on to the Lower Hide itself, which was the only viewpoint on the reserve with decent views of wildfowl. Caught up with the Yb birders later and, in response to my questioning eyebrow, they shook their heads and said "no".

Despite this, the Lower Hide and track to it were clearly the most productive part of the reserve in those conditions. I spent the whole morning in the vicinity. A small mixed tit flock there included two Marsh Tits. But Birds of the Day for me, on account of their confiding nature and prolonged views, were two Treecreepers navigating a large Silver Birch.

After a winter warmer lunch in the cafe, I headed for the Jackson and Grisedale Hides. Both were empty of birders and similarly of birds apart from two Pied Wagtails skating on the ice which covered both stretches of water. Passerine sighting was better from the approach tracks though parts of these were treacherous and I could move only slowly. One other couple I saw on the footpath gave up halfway.

So difficult conditions but the cold atmosphere and frosted surroundings made it a delight to be there. In hindsight I'm glad I didn't hear that phone call from Tony. "
................ Thanks Frank; I'm glad we're still on speaking terms!

I went over to Rostherne later in the day, it was looking very picturesque (see image above)......"I waited for the snow to stop and had an early lunch before going over to Rostherne arriving at 12:15pm. The temperature was 2.7C and it had dropped to 2.4C an hour later when I left. The thermometer in the obs. showed a minimum recorded temperature of -5.6C; I assume this was overnight on Thursday/ Friday of this week. I didn't re-set it.
Predictably the bird table was very busy, a Cetti's Warbler sang from near the boathouse and a Little Egret flew low over the mere heading towards the Bittern hide."

Earlier in the week (Weds. 7 December) Geoff and Sheila Blamire included the reserve in their daily walk ..............""We decided to go to the Rostherne Obs via Cheery Tree lane - 12km in all. Quiet birdwise along Cherry Tree Lane until a Buzzard flew up from one of the fields and perched in a dead tree by the wood with the sun behind it forming a highlight around the bird - beautiful. Every time it called you could see its breath in the freezing temps. When it finished its meal (vole?) it flew to another dead tree to use a lookout perch. Continued along Marsh Lane, across the two fields then passed in front of Wood Bongs and saw another Buzzard in a dead tree by the mere. When we arrived in the Obs the outside temp was 0⁰C , the inside temp was 2.5⁰C ! No other birders had braved the cold. The "usual" Mallards, Wigeons, Tufted Ducks, Pochards, Goldeneyes (2f 1m) etc , but good to see a female Goosander fly in. Continued to Ciceley Mill Pool and 3 Buzzards flying low together - all the time calling. The pool was almost frozen over. The same with Little Mere.
The last time I saw a Woodcock was earlier this year when we disturbed one from Wood Bongs and it flew the length of the field beside Marsh Lane and disappeared over Marsh Lane farm - just as we were walking along the field!

Bob Groom also went to Rostherne the following day but took in Tatton Park on the way ........."According to the Met Office it was -5C at midnight and -6C through the early hours. Definitely the coldest night that we've had for a very long time. The maximum for the day was forecast to be zero C so again the coldest day in yonks. In the event it crawled up to +2C but still brutally cold. I went into Tatton. To my surprise Melchett Mere was mostly unfrozen , which was good as the 'pool' at the head of Tatton Mere was hard frozen (so no gwe). Cormorant and Heron shared the half-dead tree and there were 3 more Cormorants. 3 Wigeon, 3 Egyptian Geese, a few Pochard and Gadwall. There was a brief duck panic, which spread to a big tit flock in the trees but it wasn't a raptor. Another Heron had taken off from a treetop..

Two small birds beyond the mere were probably the Stonechats but hard to tell with the vegetation covered in hoarfrost. A few people were photographing the winter wonderland but the park was pretty quiet considering.

I carried on to Rostherne and met Phil Dell in the observatory. I got him on a departing Little Egret but he missed a Woodcock flying past, my second in two days! He's e-mailed me this evening to confirm. It was apparently disturbed by Rupert and Bill doing survey work in Doll's Meadow. (A lot of Teal also came out.) There were 5 Goldeneyes with the drakes head shaking! Also 2 Egyptian Geese, 2 Herons, GSW, LTTS...."

I'm sure it's not needed but a final reminder that this coming Friday (16th December) it's our annual KOS Christmas Party. The food will be as good as ever, despite the "Great Mobberley Disaster of December 2022" when a lorry backed into Goostrey's Bakery - demolishing a wall, dislodging three ovens and severing the gas supply! I believe Karina has sourced another supply of meat pies but, of course, this of little comfort to the villagers of Mobberley who are having to somehow survive this freezing winter weather without Goostrey's sausage rolls!

On the 29th December it's our annual Christmas walk and, as usual, we'll be taking in Budworth Mere and the Neumann's Flash area. 9:30am at the Witton Bridge car park.