Point of Ayr, 22nd September 2021
It was a real joy to restart a new birding season with a visit to Point of Ayr on the North Wales Coast. We had a turnout of 14 and were so happy to see each other again after 18 months. The visit was timed for a rising tide and we were rewarded with huge flocks of waders being pushed nearer to the hide. Oystercatchers were in a crowded mass on the point with Godwit, Redshank and Curlew abounding. A Greenshank was showing nicely. On the embankment we were serenaded by a huge flock of Goldfinch swooping around. We bagged a female Stonechat on the way back . After lunch we walked over the dunes to Talacre beach, not many birds, but we found a Wheatear on the ground in the beach car park. Thanks to Simon Smith for the pictures. Total of 28 species.
Godwit in flight
Goldfinch in flight
Curlew in flight
Leighton Moss, 10th October 2021
Four members of MCOS met at Leighton Moss on a sunny and mild morning. First stop was the grit trays along the path to the Grizedale Hide. On arrival seven Bearded Tits were on the trays giving superb views. Both adults and juveniles were present. On the way to the hide there were Cetti's Warblers calling with a very brief view of a single bird. From the hide, small numbers of waterfowl were present with a Marsh Harrier viewable on a distant bush. On leaving the hide Bull Finches flew overhead. Stopping of at the tower viewpoint a Red Deer was feeding in the reeds.
Moving on to the lower hide, Water Rail were heard calling. Along the path to the hide Marsh Tit, Siskin and Gold Crest were seen. From the hide, larger numbers of waterfowl were seen with a single Whooper Swan. From the public hide very few birds were seen.
After lunch the group moved on to Lillian's Hide where upwards of two hundred Black-tailed Godwits were present at very close quarters. Allen and Morecambe Hides were the final stop of the day. Very large numbers of waders were present. Greenshank and Spotted Redshank being the best of the bunch. On the path from the hide to the car park, a Chiffchaff was seen ending a very enjoyable day. Total of species for the day was sixty one.
RSPB Conwy, 12th October 2021
Nine members enjoyed a productive birding day out despite the odd shower whilst we were sheltering in the hides. A very showy Water Rail was the first bird spotted next to the café coming out of the reeds to feed on the mud in full view. We were treated to a “wisp” of 8 Snipe on a lagoon island, who disappeared in the binoculars as soon as they stopped moving! A truly cryptic camouflage! We had a surprise close view of a Stonechat sitting on top of the undergrowth. The estuary had plenty of mud remaining on the incoming tide and we bagged a Great White Egret next to several Little Egret. Lots of Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit were also seen but no Shelduck anywhere for some strange reason. Thanks to Ian Bunker for sharing his telescope with the party. Bird count: 42 species.
Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve, 16th November 2021
Nineteen members enjoyed a different birding day out at Woolston Eyes guided by Mr Brian Martin, recorder of the Conservation Group. We had to be let through a barrier to access the site and then pass through a fearsomely protected padlocked bridge to get into the reserve. The main hide over No 3 Bed gave us the best views with 3 Snipe paddling in the shallows with their Teal friends close by. At either end of the hide were well stocked feeders attracting Greenfinch, Chaffinch and a very handsome Bullfinch who stayed in position so we could admire his magnificent plumage. Plenty of Teal and Shoveler on the water. Ian Bunker regained his crown as “Birder of the Day” bagging 27 species on a quietish birding day. We hope to revisit the reserve in Spring in a future season.
RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh/Marshside, 14 November 2021
Twelve members turned up on a warm sunny day in November to witness some exceptional birdwatching. On arrival at Marshside 2 Hen Harriers (ringtails) were seen. During the course of the next couple of hours several Merlins, Peregrines, Marsh Harriers, Kestrels, Sparrowhawks, Buzzards were observed in good numbers. A fantastic murmuration of Knots was also taking place along the shoreline at the same time. All the time Pink-footed Geese and Greylags were flying overhead. The hide across the road was almost empty of people so we fitted in ok. Cettis Warbler was heard and seen by the hide entrance. We then walked to the platform at the very end of the reserve to observe a Glossy Ibis .
The afternoon was spent at Hesketh out marsh where we were treated to a fantastic Barn Owl display which posed for photo opportunities. Also here 6 Grey Partridges and a Tree Sparrow. Overall an excellent day with 70 species seen.
Marbury Park and Mere, 14 December 2021
Eight members turned out on a cold and misty morning for the annual walk round Marbury to work up an appetite for the MCOS Christmas lunch. Plenty of garden birds on the feeders by the portacabins including Jays. Sadly the hide beside the mere had to be demolished due to vandalism, so no rest for us this year! The mist gradually cleared and the sun arrived and we were pleased to see a male and female Goldeneye on the mere after an enormous flock of Canada and Greylag geese arrived with much honking. On our return leg we saw a large flock of Redwing on the meadows with a solitary Mistle Thrush nearby. 26 species were recorded.
Burton Mere and Parkgate, 12 December 2021
Eight members met up at BMW RSPB with the sun starting to come out. Discussion centred around the drive through Puddington and a certain field containing 50 Little Egret, 5 Great Egrets and a single Cattle Egret. Plenty of Ravens, Jackdaws, Redwings and a couple of Mistle Thrushes on the nearby fields. We set off and headed towards the feeders. Three Great Spotted Woodpeckers were active on or near the feeders with an unexpected Corn Bunting on the overhead wires. Being such a sunny morning it was singing part of its song which clinched identification. We examined the pools opposite the main hide where we saw our first Marsh Harrier. Plenty of the usual ducks and waders. Onwards to Denhall Lane where we had lunch. More Marsh Harriers, Merlin, Peregrine and a glance to Denhall Quay provided a good view of a Short Eared Owl. Next to Burton Cliffs where a Little Owl was located.
Over to Parkgate for the final 2 hours where a Barn Owl was seen and an amazing grey male Hen Harrier came in to roost. Seven species of raptor and three species of owls seen.
A total of 73 species seen.
North Wales Coast, 16 January 2022
Fifteen members enjoyed the first trip of 2022, to North Wales. We all met at Llanfairfechan promenade where the weather was windy, rainy and very misty to the extent that Puffin Island could not be seen across the water. However it cleared up by mid to late morning. We soldiered on through the elements and highlights included, Red-throated Diver, Common Scoter, Eider, a big flock of Dunlin with Ringed Plover and Turnstone mixed in and single Rock Pipit and Dipper. The best bird was a very unseasonal first winter Sandwich Tern, which was fishing up and down the Straits.
Our next destination was the Spinnies Nature Reserve at Aberogwen. We saw Goldeneye, Wigeon, Slavonian and Great Crested Grebe and lots of Redshanks & Greenshank as the tide was dropping plus Peregrine, Sparrowhawk with prey and a single Black-tailed Godwit. Our lunch was taken here.
After lunch we moved to RSPB Conwy where one member (David) learnt a very valuable lesson, never leave any coffee or cake on the roof of your car for the local Herring Gull mafia. On the reserve there were more waterfowl including Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck and a 1st winter Scaup. Passerines included Bullfinch, Siskin, Greenfinch but we found no sign of the reported Firecrest from the day before.
The next port of call was Rhos on Sea promenade where we saw Eider (again), Red Throated Diver and Shag and eventually after a bit of a search a single Purple Sandpiper.
Our final destination for the day was the sea front at Llanddulas, where Surf Scoter had been reported the previous day. However, even though there was a big flock of Common Scoter the light by this time was too poor to spot any of their American cousins. We did find more Great Crested Grebe, Red-throated Diver and Shag in amongst the Scoter.
We managed a respectable 68 species during the day.
Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB Reserve, 25 January 2022
RSPB Marshside, Southport and Ainsdale-on-Sea, 15 February 2022
Twenty members met at the beach for Ainsdale-on-Sea. The sand lizard artwork covering a whole building close by was amazing, reputed to be the largest artwork in the UK. Whilst it was dry, it was very windy so we didn't last long on the exposed beach which only had gulls and pippits to observe. We were lucky to miss the severe storm that was forecast for the next day. We drove on to RSPB Marshside, Southport where we were happy to shelter in the hides and bag lots of water birds including Ruff, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and Pintail. On our return, star birds of the day were close views of a small flock of Snow Bunting on the foreshore close to the pier and opposite KFC. This was a tip-off! Andrew A went on to Hesketh Bank and reported 1000s of birds and potholes! He had hoped for a reported Spotted Redshank but no luck. Total species 38.
Worlds End & Clocaenog Forest, 6th March 2022
Sixteen members met at RSPB BMW on a very cold but dry day. Unfortunately, they were clearing some reeds near the Visitor Centre with bonfires which meant that the big pool usually packed with birds was empty. So we viewed the large field by the entrance that was packed with great birds, Egyptian Geese, Mistle Thrush, flock of Curlew, Redwing amongst others. We saw a Marsh Harrier in the air with talons down on the way to Marsh Covert Hide where we got lots of water birds. We then did the longish trek to the newly refurbished Border Hide along the excellent boardwalk. Simon spotted a Stonechat on the return (see his pic). 43 species and a good count despite the bonfires!
Black Grouse - World's End
Brambling - Llyn Brenig
Ten members got up early to be at Worlds End for 7.00 am. Well worth the effort as we had stunning views of Black Grouse at several Leks plus Red Grouse along the way. An early Wheatear was seen on the way across the moor. On reaching the old car park at the other end of the moor we had Siskins, Crossbills and Goldcrests. After having a coffee we headed for Bod Petrual picnic site in the Clocaenog Forest. Here we had views of Crossbills, Siskins and more Goldcrests plus drumming a Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Heading for Bron Bannog we had a good view of a Goshawk. Ray had another site close by Llyn Brenig which produced good views of two more Goshawks. On arriving at Llyn Brenig we quickly found a wintering Great Grey shrike.
At the visitors centre we had lunch and then visited the feeding stations where we observed good numbers of Bramblings and one bird had the full black Head. Again good numbers of Siskins and Chaffinches. Next, on to Llanrwst where we saw at least 6 Hawfinches in and around the church yard with a really good view of one on top of a Yew tree which is what attracts these birds. Grey Wagtail on the river in Llanrwst with several members getting views of a Red Kite nearby. Good views of Buzzards everywhere we went today.
An excellent day with 52 species
Pennington Flash, 15 March 2022
Eighteen members met at Pennington Flash on a lovely Spring morning for our trip round the Country Park. The hide at Pengy's Pond was a birding treat with Bullfinches and a Willow tit as the star birds. Simon got a great pic of the Willow Tit on a fence by tempting it down with bird seed he had brought with him. Close by the golf course we got good views of several Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush to compare them. On the way back, several members spotted a Water Rail darting out of cover. A magnificent group haul of 51 species making this a very special birding morning out.
Norfolk, 17-20 March 2022
Over the weekend of 17th- 20th March, 15 members enjoyed a weekend’s birding in Norfolk. We stayed at The Russet House Hotel in King’s Lynn and were well entertained and looked after.
We met on the Thursday morning at the Wildfowl & Wetlands reserve at Welney. Highlights here included Whooper Swan, Marsh Harrier, Red Kite, Little, Great White and Cattle Egret, Avocet and a variety of wildfowl and waders together with Tree Sparrow at the feeders. We had a late lunch there and then carried on to our accommodation for an early check-in. and then travelled along the coast to RSPB Titchwell where we took a short walk around the east trail where highlights included Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler building a nest to the side of the Reedbed Hide, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier and Brent Goose. Our final destination for the afternoon was Choseley Drying Barns where we saw Red-Legged Partridge, Linnet and a lucky few had Corn Bunting.
After a hearty breakfast the group travelled up to the Brecks for the day and our first port of call was Lynford Arboretum where the highlights were Yellowhammer, Brambling, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Common Buzzard, Marsh Tit and a roosting Tawny Owl which Paul managed to find in his telescope although it was only its tail. Lunch was taken near Santon Downham where we took a walk on one of the rides to look for Woodlark but we were unsuccessful. We then moved on to Weeting Heath (Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve). It was their first day opening for the season and James the warden walked with us to show us where the newly arrived Stone Curlew were. This time we could only see the head of the bird as it was sitting down and never moved while we were watching it. The remainder of the day was spent at RSPB Lakenheath reserve. Highlights here included Garganey, Avocet, Black-Tailed Godwit, Marsh Harrier and Kingfisher at the Washland viewpoint while a few who ventured to the far end of the reserve saw Common Crane. We then returned to King’s Lynn for our evening meal.
On the Saturday, after another excellent breakfast, we travelled along the coast to RSPB Titchwell again to explore the rest of the reserve. There were many highlights here including Redwing, Little Egret, Golden & Grey Plover, Sparrowhawk, Mediterranean Gull, Sanderling and Bar-Tailed Godwit. We had our lunch on site and then moved to Holkham where a walk in to Holkham Gap gave us good views of the wintering Shorelark and a few of the group managed to see a Spoonbill. Our last destination for the day was North Point Pools near Wells where the highlights were a number of Common Gull, Mediterranean Gull (2) and many Avocets.
After yet another hearty breakfast, paying our bills and saying goodbyes we set off for RSPB Frampton Marsh which was on our way home. We were unable to locate the White-tailed Lapwing that had been in residence for a while and frustratingly it was reported in the afternoon at 4.00 pm just after we’d left. We did however see a good mixture of wildfowl and waders including Goldeneye, Little Stint, Ruff, Bar-Tailed Godwit and Little Ringed Plover.
Unfortunately, on the Saturday night, one of the group tested positive for Covid and five more succumbed to the virus before the end of the week but thankfully nobody was really bad with it.
We ended up with 105 species over the weekend. The weather was cold and dry with a biting east wind most of the time but everyone thoroughly enjoyed their weekend’s birding.
Willow Tit - Pennington Flash
Bullfinch male - Pennington Flash
Water Rail- Pennington Flash
RSPB Ynys-hir, 23rd April 2022
Seven MCOS members met at the reserve on a very bright and breezy morning. Soon after entering the reserve a male Pied f
Flycatcher gave excellent views. Moving on, Blackcaps were seen at regular intervals. A Redstart was seen briefly in flight and was lost to view. Walking down to the Marain Mawr hide several more Pied Flycatchers were seen. In addition, singing Blackcaps were heard at regular intervals. A Treecreeper was seen inching its way up a tree trunk. Nuthatch, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest were also heard along the way. From outside the hide a Grasshopper Warbler was heard 'reeling' from an area on brambles. Viewed at distance, across the river Dovey, nesting Ospreys could be seen. One bird on the nest with the other bird on a nearby pole eating a fish. From the hide only Little Egret and Canada Geese were viewed on the pools.
Moving on towards the Breakwater hide, Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit and Long-tailed Tit were seen. Several Grasshopper Warblers , Cetti's Warbler and Reed Warblers were heard.
After lunch the group moved off to walk along the edge of the salt marsh. While walking through a wooded area a Garden Warbler gave good views while feeding in the tree tops. A harrier, presumed Marsh Harrier, was seen briefly before being lost to view. A Raven was seen while walking back towards the Ynys-hir hide in the oak woodland. While walking through the woodland back to the car park, a Redstart was heard singing high up in the canopy but could not be located. Back at the reception centre ice cream was the order of the day. From the picnic benches, we were given really closeup views of a Red Kite as it drifted over the pond in front of us. Total species seen was 52.
The scenery around this reserve is a wonderful sight and on such a beautiful day looked superb.
Cannock Chase, 12 April 2022
Dorset, 19th - 22nd May 2022
Mid-Cheshire Ornithological Society