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Latest News - 2017

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Updated 15th January 2017

......The first field trip of the year.
A good start to the New Year with 62 species seen between the two sites we visited on our first field trip of 2017 (14th January), beginning at Warrington and the Moore Nature Reserve in the morning before driving over to Marbury Country Park at lunch time.
The weather wasn't too promising on our arrival at Moore it was raining quite heavily and the temperature was only 4 ° C (in fact it never rose over 6 ° C all day). In the trees above the car park and the first entries on the day list, a number of Lesser Redpolls, not good views as they were watched only in silhouette high up in the tree tops. The first of the hides is along Lapwing Lane overlooking Lapwing Pool and from there we had nice views of a good selection of wildfowl including Wigeon, Goldeneye, Mallard, Pochard, Teal, Coot, Moorhen and a very obliging Little Grebe feeding just a few yards in front of us, it's path underwater revealed by a tell-tale stream of bubbles and moving vegetation.
The feeding station was well stocked and attracting a steady stream of visitors - Reed Buntings, Blue, Great and Coal Tits but no sign, on this occasion, of the Willow Tits that are one of the Reserve's main attractions; they're a rapidly declining species and may have vanished altogether from Moore, this may also be the case with Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, another Reserve speciality conspicuous by it's absence.
Birchwood Pool held a few gulls - Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Common, Bob found us his usual Sparrowhawk which gave good views through the 'scope when it landed opposite us in a birch tree - as we watched a Green Woodpecker appeared briefly flying towards the feeding station, species 44 for the morning.

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]

31/12/2016...... Waxwings back!
Thirteen KOS members enjoyed our annual post Christmas walk around the Northwich Woodlands area - Haydn's Pool, Budworth Mere, Neumann's Flash etc. on a cold but dry winter's day (30th). Although the temperature was above freezing at around 4 ° C the recent frosts had frozen the ground nicely so the going was firm and not as boggy as in the past.
Haydn's Pool was completely frozen over so we were surprised to see a single Snipe lurking in the reeds whilst further out a Buzzard perched close to the owl box and, in the distance, a Peregrine surveyed it's kingdom from atop one of the old ICI buildings.
The facilities at the Marbury Park visitor centre have been improved but unfortunately the butty van wasn't in attendance so we had our elevenses at the viewing screen overlooking the Coward reed bed and Budworth Mere where Blue, Great and Coal Tits together with Nuthatches were using the feeding station and Water Rails were calling from the reeds below us. On the mere itself a good selection of water birds - Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Gadwall, greylags and Canada Geese - star of the show was a very confiding Goosander swimming a few yards out from where we were stood; it was a "redhead" but areas of paler white areas on it's flanks suggested a young male bird.
Neumann's Flash was almost completely iced over except for a small area of open water which was being kept temporarily clear by the presence of a concentrated mixed flock of wildfowl - Teal, Wigeon, Mallard and Shoveler plus Black-headed, Common and Herring Gulls.
At this stage we had planned to drive down to Northwich town centre and the Lidl car park where Waxwings had been seen the previous day but, just in time, Sheila phoned to tell us that she and Geoff were at the Tesco store and were watching a flock there, in the same Rowan tree they'd been using a couple of years ago, we saw seven birds but Sheila reports that they counted 21 later in the afternoon. There weren't many berries on the tree this winter and even fewer on the other tree next to it so the birds will be moving on quite quickly - hopefully to Mobberley where two Cotoneasters on Town Lane, which kept a flock of up to 25 birds in food for three weeks previously, are absolutely laden with fruit!
More Winter visitors have been recorded locally, Geoff and Sheila have been visited by three male Brambling and Jayne and Nick Davies counted between 20 and 25 along Beech Walk in Tatton Park on the 29th.

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]

So there we go, another year of fun and games with the KOS! Plenty of highlights for me - the Nightjars at the end of May up in the Pennines, 10,000 Barnacle geese in the air at Caerlaverock in November and hearing my first Cheshire Cetti's singing in the reed bed from Butterfinch Bridge below Haydn's Pool. Feel free to share your favourites, there must be many amongst such a well travelled group of birders! I'm sure there'll be more this year especially with the trip to Speyside in June - I can't wait!
A Happy and Healthy new year to all KOS members and anyone else who passes this way as they drift through cyberspace.

21/12/2016...... Christmas Party 2016 and Martin Mere
A busy weekend for KOS members with the annual Christmas party on Friday evening (16th) followed on Sunday with our outing to Marshside and Martin Mere.
The party was a great success and our Treasurer Frank Dearden reports a healthy profit of £ 188.20, the third highest in the society's history, 26 people attended, just one short of last year and included six who hadn't attended in previous years; it was one of these who pointed out that there aren't many places in the world where you can see a man auctioning a plate of meat pies whilst simultaneously chewing a cold sausage!
Thanks are due to everyone who attended and those who provided the excellent selection of food especially Jude for the coronation chicken and Sue and Jacquie who prepared the delicious apple crumble that vanished so quickly. Sheila Blamire won the quiz with a 46 points out of a possible 50, I thought I'd made this years questions/id's/anagrams a little more difficult than previously, but no puzzle fooled everyone in the room, even the picture of a Masked Wagtail was correctly identified by the well-travelled Bob Groom (just wait for next years anagrams!) As usual our hard working Secretary Derek Pike was MC for the evening, managing to keep a semblance order and squeeze a final few bob out us during the auction - in his report, whilst considering suggestions for possible changes to the evening, Frank quite rightly points out that "people would want to retain Derek's auctioneer banter at the evening's close even if it raised not a penny"!

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.
Skylark, Little Egret, Shelduck, Pied Wagtail, , Robin, Woodpigeon, Canada Goose, Mallard, Magpie, Great Black-backed Gull, Meadow Pipit, Lapwing, Pink-footed Goose, Starling, Wigeon, Buzzard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Golden Plover, Wren, Pochard, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Teal, Black-tailed Godwit, Shoveler, Greylag Goose, Black-headed Gull, Redshank, Curlew, Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail, Moorhen, Coot, Goldfinch, Linnet, Grey Heron, Dunnock, Blackbird, Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Whooper Swan, Cormorant, Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Tree Sparrow, Jackdaw, Greenfinch, Green-winged teal, Pheasant, Ruff, Song Thrush, Kingfisher. [ ✓ 53] +

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