RSPB Conwy, 17 September  2018

Seven members enjoyed our first trip of the new season to RSPB Conwy with a Low Tide exposing lots of mud on the estuary for the Curlew to plunge their long beaks into! Yum! Also saw Little Egret in the gulleys. . Despite lots of wind, we got clear blue skies and sunshine for a great walk round the reserve. First we had a fleeting glimpse of a Water Rail by the scrapes and plenty of water fowl who didn't seem to mind the wind. There were a flock of Redshank sheltering under the reeds with a few Dunlin but we missed having a scope in the group to see them better. On the water we counted: Red breasted Meganser, Little Grebe, lots of Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall. Bird of the day was a Snipe grubbing around in the open, but so well camouflaged it was hard to spot. Well done to my wife Jackie who spotted this! Total for the day: 27 species.

Stephen Williams

Woolston Eyes Reserve, 16 October  2018

We had a great turnout of 19 members to visit Woolston Eyes Reserve in Warrington next to the Ship Canal which had been pre-booked as a guided tour. The weather stayed dry for us with light cloud and it stayed mild. Access to the reserve is strictly controlled with locked barriers and locked gates to keep out undesirables! We were guided by Ashley, a RSPB warden and David a volunteer who helped us find the hides and birds. The main hide gave excellent views over  No 3 bed with lots of Shoveler and Teal, Black Tailed Godwit, Pintail, Little Grebe, Wigeon on the water or wading in the shallows. Close to our hide were feeders and we were delighted to witness a large flocks of Greenfinch going mad for the seed!  We had wonderful close views of a Kestrel who kept returning to sit on a plank on the ground showing off fine plumage. Our warden was worried that this was very unusual behaviour and might indicate that it was not getting enough food, but we all thought it looked quite plump! We got a brief glimpse of a Willow Tit on the feeder and our guide heard one as well on our walk round. The site is well managed to encourage black necked Grebe so a return visit is definitely a good idea. They recommended May to get the warblers.     Total species: 27

Stephen Williams

Anglesey, 21 October 2018

Seven members made the trip to Anglesey.  We met at Cemlyn Bay where the highlights were Shag, Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Purple Sandpiper, a summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver in the bay, Greenshank, Curlew and Snipe on the lagoon and a mixed flock of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting and House Sparrow in a field nearby but no sign of the reported Tree Sparrows which is a rarity for Anglesey.

We moved to a small lake inland from Cemlyn, a new venue for the Society, Llyn Llygeirian.  Here in amongst a group of Tufted Duck was a female Lesser Scaup (a new bird for the Society, I think).

We then moved to the harbour at Holyhead where we had our lunch and where we were unsuccessful in finding the Black Redstart reported earlier in the morning.  Moving from here to the Inland Sea at the Anchorage at Four Mile Bridge, the highlights included Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe and Wigeon and again were unsuccessful in finding the reported Cattle Egret.

We travelled to Penrhos CP where the highlights were a group of Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Eider, Mediterranean Gull and Slavonian Grebe.

Our final destination was on the mainland at Fairbank Road in Towyn near Rhyl where we had a few brief views of a Yellow-browed Warbler.

The weather stayed fine all day and the final tally of birds was 60 Species.

Ray Evans

Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve, 17 November 2018

Eight members met at the reserve car park. The visit began at the Eric Morecambe hide where large numbers of wildfowl and waders were present. An American Wigeon was the target bird which was quickly found. Other birds of note were Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit, Pintail Duck and Greenshank.

Moving on to the main reserve the group first visited the Grisedale and Tim Jackson hides. Hunting juvenile Marsh Harriers created some panic amongst the large numbers of ducks present. A small group of Common  Snipe were seen resting on the bank of the Grisedale pool. From Lilian’s hide large groups of wildfowl were again seen. Other birds of note were Great White Egret and Little Grebe.

After Lunch the group moved off to the Lower Hide. On the pathway to the hide Marsh Tits were seen at regular intervals. From the path a Great Grey Shrike was seen, albeit at some distance. Additionally Sparrowhawk and Green Woodpecker were seen. From the lower hide, Goldeneye, Shoveller Duck and Great Crested Grebe were seen. While walking back to the Public Hide, Tree Creeper and Goldcrest were seen in the scrub areas. Other raptors spotted were Kestrel and Common Buzzard.
On the insect front, a Common Darter and a Red Admiral butterfly were seen which indicates just how mild the weather has been recently.

A couple of nice bonus birds, two Cattle Egrets, were seen in a roadside field on the way from the reserve. This rounded off a very enjoyable day.

A total of 54 species were recorded.

Graham Haspey.

RSPB Marshside 9th December 2018

Nine members of the society turned out for a chilly but fine day. Parking at the now defunct sand plant we viewed the Marsh where we had good views of many Pink-footed Geese, many on the Marsh and many in the sky. Little Egrets were in all the gullies and a distant murmuration of Knot was enjoyed as well as a Merlin perched on a stump and a couple of Marsh Harriers. We crossed over the road to the hide where we had good views of many species of duck, Pintail , Shoveler etc and a couple of raptors , Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Golden Plover were in the sky with the very jumpy Lapwings. Two brown hares were on the Marsh with good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits.

We crossed back over the road to the sand plant where we saw Peregrine . We then crossed back to look over the opposite Marsh where there were more duck. Good numbers of Pintail, Shoveler and Tufted Duck. Tree sparrows were seen here too.

Next we headed off to a very windy Hesketh Bank where we had a picnic lunch. Birds of note here were two Hen Harriers (male and female).

We decided to head to Lunt Meadow which is a reserve not visited by the society before. A Short-eared Owl was seen as well as many Snipe but suddenly the weather deteriorated and we headed home.
45 species were seen.

Paul Kenyon

Marbury Country Park, 11th December 2018

Ten members turned up at Marbury Park for the pre amble to Christmas lunch. Lots of small birds, Goldcrests, Redpolls plus a large flock of Redwings and Fieldfares all on the way to a walk by the mere. On the Mere itself were nine Goosanders, six of which were males. Several of the Great-crested Grebes were paired up and doing the very dance they are famous for. Water Rails called from the reedbed. Curlews were on the grassy bank across from the spit. A Little Egret and a male Goldeneye were amongst the highlights. Several Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard and Nuthatches called. A Sparrowhawk was seen to flush many of the small birds.

Paul Kenyon

Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB, 15th January 2019

A record number (23) of members visited RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands on a mild, part sunny dry day for our first visit of 2019. Unfortunately there was some clearance work on the meadows behind the main lagoon with bonfires sending smoke across our view. So we decamped upwind  to the Marsh Covert Hide where a Water Rail was spotted and lots of Wigeon. On the way we looked hopefully through the screens for Bearded Tits (spotted yesterday in the logbook) but no luck. The reedbed has grown substantially since our last visit giving great cover for the birds meaning we heard Cetti's warbler but couldn't see it! I had to depart at this point for Cardiac rehab so handed over the reins to Derek Todd and Ian Bunker. There were sightings of Snipe, Stonechat and Linnet.

The group split into two and some members went on to Parkgate spotting a Short Eared Owl really close chasing a Marsh Harrier!

Ian recorded a magnificent total of 47 species.

Stephen Williams/Ian Bunker

Moore Nature Reserve, 17 February 2019

Eight members arrived for what turned out to be a very enjoyable day with 50 species being seen. From the car park a Kestrel was seen on the grassland then we walked to where the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had been known to frequent . Several members managed to see it briefly as it flew in but it was heard calling a couple of times. In this wood were also Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Tree Creepers, Siskins and Lesser Redpolls. Next was the feeding station but on the way stops at various pools to view the wildfowl were quite successful . Gadwalls, Goldeneyes, Wigeon were seen along with little and Great crested Grebes. At the feeding station many of the commoner tits were present plus a Willow Tit seen very close along with good views of a Bank Vole.  Back to the car for lunch then a pleasant afternoon examining the more distant pools. Common and Herring Gulls were also seen. Views of Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were obtained.

Paul Kenyon

North Wales, 20 January 2019

On Sunday 20th January, 9 members enjoyed the first trip of 2019, to North Wales. We all met at Llanfairfechan promenade and highlights here included Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Red Throated Diver, Common Scoter, Eider, Brent Goose and Fulmar.

After a couple of hours we moved to the Spinnies nature reserve at Aberogwen. Highlights here included a good number of Goldeneye and Wigeon, Slavonian Grebe, Greenshank, Red Breasted Merganser, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest and a very obliging Water Rail outside one of the hides.

We had our lunch overlooking the estuary at the Spinnies and then moved on to Rhos on Sea. In a walk along the promenade we saw Turnstone and eventually after a long search a single Purple Sandpiper.

Our next port of call was Horton’s Nose at the harbour in Rhyl where the bird of the day, a Black Redstart was sitting obligingly on a boat in the boatyard. A walk down to the beach where the highlights were Sanderling and a Shag.

We managed 61 species during the day.

R Evans

Ainsdale Beach and RSPB Marshside, 18th Feb 2019

Fifteen members turned out on a dry and windy day at Ainsdale beach in front of Pontins. The tide was high but the waders were far off due to dog walkers and folk enjoying the beach. But we clocked lots of gulls and skylarks singing their heads off! Next time we need to walk further along the beach. We did try another spot nearer to Southport and the waders were there but needed a scope. We transferred to RSPB Marshside and had our picnic in the hide. Plenty of waterfowl: Gadwall, Pintail, Golden Plover, Shoveler, Teal, Black-tailed Godwit. We saw Barnacle Geese on the meadow far off and Pink Footed Geese. The RSPB volunteer gave us a tip that a Scaup was on the adjoining lake. This we found and was the bird of the day. We met Ray Evans on the marsh looking for raptors and spotted a Kestrel and a possible Merlin. I recorded 37 species.

Stephen Williams

Wood Lane NR and Colemere Shropshire, 19th Mar 2019

Twelve members met at the Wood Lane Nature Reserve car park near Ellesmere in Shropshire where we had obtained permits to enter the hides. The site was busy with anglers and activity on the adjacent quarry and dump. There were masses of Black-headed Gulls on the water and some smart Greenfinch on the feeders but nothing else special, so we all headed off to nearby Colemere getting lost in the maze of minor roads en route. The mere is very beautiful with mature woodlands on the circular path and we got great views of a Reed Bunting straightaway. In the woods, we got close views of Treecreepers, Nuthatch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. On the water we found Goldeneye but no Goosander as hoped for. The Chiff Chaff had arrived and we got our bins onto one singing away at the top of a tree. It was a lovely walk around the mere and we had our picnics overlooking the mere afterwards. 30 species recorded.

Stephen Williams

Somerset, 14th - 17th March 2019

Seventeen members enjoyed a weekend’s birding in Somerset. This was our third visit as a group to this area and as the previous times we stayed at The Winston Manor in Churchill, south of Bristol. The hotel is now under new ownership but with a few small exceptions, we were well looked after by Tim & Joe.

After a horrendous journey down the M6 with various incidents we met Thursday lunchtime at New Fancy Viewpoint in the Forest of Dean and following our lunch, highlights here included Goshawk, Raven, Common Buzzard, Siskin and Crossbill. Another highlight here were a pair of Adders sunning themselves on the edge of the path to the viewpoint. We made our way to Cannop Ponds where the best birds were 3 pairs of Mandarin and a lone Little Grebe. We then proceeded to RSPB Nagshead near Parkend. A short walk yielded a few woodland birds but nothing exciting. Having stayed at the Forest of Dean for the afternoon we abandoned our plans to visit Chew Valley Lake for another day and proceeded down the motorway to Somerset and our hotel. After checking in early evening, we ate at a local hostelry.

After a hearty (slightly late) breakfast the group travelled down to the Levels to RSPB Ham Wall. It was very windy but we did have some shelter along the old railway track, which is the main path through the reserve. Highlight of the morning were Great White & Little Egret, flight views of Bittern and Marsh Harrier, Red Kite, numerous Sand Martins, Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Black-Tailed Godwit and various wildfowl. We returned to the car-park for a late lunch and after eating made our way across the road to Shapwick Heath NNR. On Noah’s Lake we had point blank views of Great White Egret and the highlight of the day when eagle-eyed Denise spotted a Glossy Ibis and we were all treated to flight views of the bird. On the way back to the hotel we stopped off at Cheddar Reservoir. This reservoir is very open and the wind was howling with heavy drizzle and there was a dearth of birds but we saw a few male & female Goosander and the 1w drake Scaup was with a group of Tufted Duck in amongst the hundreds of Coot but in driving rain we couldn’t locate the Great Northern Diver that had been present all winter. The weather won and we called it a day and returned to the hotel. We all had our evening meal again at some local pubs.

After another excellent breakfast on the Saturday we all made our way south to the new Wildfowl & Wetlands Reserve on the River Parrett at Steart. The wind was blowing even harder on the Saturday and highlights were few & far between with Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Skylark, Stonechat, Sand Martin and Reed Bunting being the best with a Roe Deer sheltering from the wind on one of the banks. After lunch we drove the short distance to Steart village where 4 male Wheatears were in a roadside field. We then drove to Chew Valley Lake and with the high wind making tripods unsteady, the highlights were further Sand Martins, 2/3 Swallows, Goldeneye, Pintail and Common Scoter. We then made a short drive to the dam end of Blagdon Lake where we saw 1w drake Lesser Scaup and a Common Sandpiper. We returned to the hotel and another hearty meal at the local pub.

After yet another excellent breakfast on Sunday and saying our goodbyes to our hosts we returned initially to Cheddar Reservoir. The forecast for the Sunday was meant to be better but the wind was still fresh up on the path around the reservoir. After a little time we located the Great Northern Diver and although it was distant everybody got to see it. We then drove back to the M5 and north to Slimbridge, WWT’s flagship reserve, where we spent the rest of the day. Highlights here either side of lunch were Barnacle Goose, White-Fronted Goose, Avocet, splendid close views of a Water Rail under some feeders, Common Crane (including un-ringed together with reintroduced birds), Sparrowhawk, Golden Plover, Knot and a big group of Black-Tailed Godwits.

We ended up with 89 species over the weekend. The weather was pretty poor most of the time with high winds but we were lucky that the rain stayed off while we were birding. We just got very wet walking to and back from the pub in the evenings. Our accommodation was fine (with some issues) and everyone enjoyed their weekend’s birding together with good company.

Ray Evans

Frodsham Marshes, 16th Apr 2019

Fifteen members met at the bridge over the M56 just beyond Marsh Lane and we walked towards our target: No 6 tank. There were lots of migrants singing away in the hedges including some very loud Wrens which showed themselves very well. Other birders had seen Wheatear, but no luck for us. We soon got away from the motorway noise and spotted all the corvids amongst the wind turbines. No 6 tank was flooded and provided plenty of waterfowl for us but very few waders. Bird of the day was a brief glimpse of a Peregrine. The walk around No 6 tank looked daunting so we turned back just as rain set in.   30 species recorded.

Stephen Williams
Mid-Cheshire Ornithological Society
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