It didn't feel any warmer over at Marbury as we sat in the viewing screen overlooking Budworth mere and the Coward reedbed, a Bittern had been seen here earlier in the week, no sign of it on this occasion but we did see a Kingfisher and heard at least two Water Rails calling from the reeds. On the mere good numbers of Great Crested Grebes (c60 were counted recently) plus Greylags and Shoveler for the day's final tally of 62 species.
There are still plenty of Waxwings around the area but they have yet to re-discover the berry laden cotoneaster trees in Mobberley that kept them sustained for some weeks during the last irruption a couple of years ago. Bob Groom with Darren and Yvonne Morris caught up with the birds at Tesco Northwich on the 30th December, but only very briefly before they quickly vanished - never to be seen again. Jayne and Nick Davies were pleased to have a Brambling visiting their garden in Mobberley on the 10th whilst over in Mere Geoff and Sheila Blamire currently have three Bramblings - they've now been around for a couple of weeks.
Don't forget that this coming Sunday (22nd) it's the Tatton Wildfowl watch in conjunction with the Tatton Rangers at the Allen hide from 11:00 am until 1pm - I've been told that refreshments may be available this year!
The latest KOS committee meeting took place on Friday evening at Geoff and Sheila's home. Treasurer Frank Dearden was happy with the financial situation and he'd allocated Sue and Jacquie a little more money this time for speakers and they've booked some really good ones for the next season (2017/2018).
A full range of field trips was provisionally agreed, although there's still plenty of work to be done before the list is finalised. From this year we will be having an August trip for the first time and rumour has it that we'll be returning to Lindisfarne and Suffolk during the period concerned: all for ten quid a year - you've never had it so good!
Moore and Marbury January 14th 2017. Stock Dove, Sparrowhawk, Robin, Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Lesser Redpoll, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Little Grebe, Wigeon Goldeneye, Mallard, Magpie, Pochard, teal, Coot, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Heron, Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Jay, Pheasant, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Cormorant, Buzzard, Bullfinch, Jackdaw, Black-headed Gull, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Canada Goose, Green Woodpecker, Common Gull, Wren, Herring Gull, Redwing, Kestrel, Mute Swan, Collared Dove, Mistle Thrush, Curlew, Buzzard, Water rail, Greylag Goose, Pied Wagtail, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Dunnock, Shoveler, Great Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Starling, Rook. [ ✓ 62]
Species seen during the KOS Christmas walk 2016. Goldfinch, Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Wren, Magpie, Cormorant, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Carrion Crow, Song Thrush, Redpoll, Mute Swan, Wood Pigeon, Jay, Buzzard, Stock Dove, Snipe, Peregrine, great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Pochard, Water rail, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Heron, Black-headed Gull, Canada Goose, Dunnock, Teal, Common Gull, Chaffinch, Herring Gull, Lapwing, Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Goosander, Curlew, Goldcrest, Starling, Redwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Fieldfare, Waxwing. [ ✓ 51]
Sunday (18th) found us heading north on the M6 again, first up to the RSPB's Marshside reserve and later in the morning across to Martin Mere. At 7
C it wasn't particularly cold but a steady breeze from the Irish sea made it a morning to make for the various hides rather than stand out in the open for long periods.
As we've come to expect the stretch of water in front of Nel's hide was the most productive with a good selection of wildfowl - Shelduck, Wigeon, Pintail, Teal, Shoveler and Tufted Ducks were all present in large numbers plus Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Curlews and Golden Plover. They all remained quite settled for long periods, despite the presence of a few Great Black-backed Gulls, only taking to the air en masse when a big female Sparrowhawk passed low over the area.
The car park at Martin Mere was filling rapidly when we arrived shortly after midday, the various special Christmas attractions were obviously working and it was nice to see so many young families enjoying the reserve and the seasonal facilities laid on to attract them. Rather unfortunately one of these was the "sail to Santa's Island" adventure where kids could be paddled out to meet Santa and receive a gift etc. this was set up on the "Swan Lake" in front of the large observation windows where normally visitors could eat their sandwiches whilst watching an interesting selection of wildfowl from all across the planet, these birds appear to have been temporarily re-located. The restaurant was doing a roaring trade and the Hon. Treasurer and I wondered how much money was generated by this and the shop. Looking at the latest accounts it appears (to my non-expert eye) that the catering operations take £ 2.8M and the retail operations £ 1.3M per annum - big business!
The path down to the Ron Barker hide provided some new species for the day list including Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Coal, Blue and Great Tits plus the anticipated Tree Sparrows whilst from the hide we added Kingfisher and an unexpected Green-winged Teal.
We ended the day in the Discovery hide for the 3pm feed, quite a scrum! and an encouraging number of families had deserted Santa Claus and his elves to enjoy the spectacle.
Closer to home in Tatton Park Alan Booth tells me that on the 18th December 3 pairs of Mandarin Ducks were present on the main mere and, on the same date, he heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in Dog Wood. After the disruption caused during the forestry work last year it's to be hoped that things will have settled down and the wood attracts the woodpeckers back plus, perhaps, some Summer migrant species such as Redstart and the Flycatchers.
Today (21st) it's the Winter Solstice - at 10:44 GMT apparently - so we can begin to look forward to the longer evenings and even the return of the first Sand Martin in around 10 weeks time! Before then though remember on Friday 30th we have our Christmas walk around the Northwich Woodlands meeting up at the Millers Bridge car park at 09:45 for a 10:00am start.
Species seen at Marshside / Martin Mere on 18th December 2016.