Wirral Bird Club - Archive 2013
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Field Meeting Reports 2013
Kinmel Bay and River Clwyd - Saturday 7th December 2013
Rhyl may not sound the most attractive of locations for bird watching but the area can turn up some good birds. Not enough of a lure to get many members out of bed on a dull grey morning, as just 4 of us met up at the first site, the Marine Lake! Immediately we found a good number of both male and female Red-breasted Mergansers swimming together and diving co-operatively to feed. They approached quite closely at times as they made circuits of the lake. A single female Goosander made a nice comparison of the sawbill family members. Also on the water were a couple of Cormorants and a sole Great-crested Grebe. On the island were many Lapwing and Redshank. Later, we were to see clouds of Lapwings up in the air by the river, there must have been at least 300 birds lazily flapping their distinctive rounded wings. We took the railway bridge to make our way to the River Clwyd. The bushes on the way were fairly bird-less except for the odd Blackbird and a small charm of Goldfinch. A few Redwing flew over and perched briefly in a tall tree before flying on. Once we reached the river bank, large numbers of mostly Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls idled on various mud banks or bathed in the river. A pair of Goosanders fed in the river and we saw the male come up with a fish which it swallowed. Wigeon fed on the bank, with Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit nearby, while Teal kept to the river's edge. A family group of Little Grebes was a nice sight.
Parkgate and Neston - Sunday 24th November 2013
The weather had finally changed to more typical winter conditions over the last few
days, but on the day of our meeting in Parkgate it was not as cold as I had feared. As we congregated in the Old Baths car park, a ring-tail Hen Harrier gave us a superb fly-past. This was one of at least 3 birds present on the Dee this winter. Will the colder conditions bring more in? A Kestrel posed nonchalantly on the tree above us. On the flash were Teal and Mallard, and a single Moorhen. A distant Peregrine sat on a dead log, while far out on the river edge Cormorant, Pintail and Shelduck could just be made out. Little Egrets were everywhere, and we had a tantalising glimpse of a possible Great White Egret but it was too distant to be sure of its identity.
In the trees around the field behind the car park, several Redwing and a couple of Fieldfare gathered. Even better was a group of 7 Bullfinches working their way along the hedge. The males always brighten up a winter's day. Walking down-river along the footpath, Meadow Pipits and Skylark could be seen over golf course and the marsh.
Royden Park & Thurstaston Common - Saturday 26th October 2013
Thirteen members turned out for the October meeting to Royden Park and Thurstaston Common. We bumped into Mike plus hound - it was great to see him but he could not accompany us. We started our walk in the nearby walled garden, a sheltered spot that often attracts birds. Sure enough, a female Blackcap was discovered amongst the hedges and bushes, although it proved somewhat elusive. With the weather still unusually mild, it is difficult to know if this was a late breeder still to fly south, or a bird from the continent newly arrived to spend the winter here. Other birds included Blue and Great Tits, and Blackbirds feeding on some fallen apples.
We moved on into the woodland, but started to note a scarcity of birds, even the common species you might expect to see. Again, was this something related to the weather? With perseverance we added Jay, a bird that becomes much more conspicuous in the autumn when they are busy collecting acorns for storage to sustain them over the winter months. On the small fishing lake there were just a few Mallard! With the trees still largely in leaf, Great-spotted Woodpeckers were heard calling from time to time but were difficult to spot amongst the foliage. With the lack of birds, we started to take more notice of the numerous fungi on the rotting silver birch wood.
Returning to to car park, we came across a tree that held a range of species - Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Coal Tit were all ticked in a short time. That's where they had been hiding! We spent a bit of time here, getting stiff necks from looking up high into the canopy. A trek across Thurstaston Common was even less productive, although the autumn colours were starting to develop.
Red Rocks and King's Gap - Sunday 22nd September 2013
On a day like this birds mattered but not that much. How lucky we are to live on the Wirral Peninusula. The next two field meetings are local so let’s hope for a larger attendance
Barry - Leader of the Pack
Heswall Shore – Sunday 28th July 2013
High tide was around 2pm and thus the huge flocks were a long way off and we did not have a scope with us, so we were somewhat handicapped. However great white egrets outnumbered the group and little egrets numerous. We had a debate why the one nearest to us had green legs!
Curlews and a couple of whimbrels were in the gulleys and huge numbers of crows, herring, lesser black back, two great black and lots of black headed gulls were out on the mud flats. Odd oystercatchers were seen but did we see a spotted redshank? Maybe.
The sun warmed us as we ascended the steps to the fields and a skylark was seen and heard and a tree pipit parachuted down. Beside a pond a beautiful male linnet was having a drink. A few woodland birds were about but nothing you would not see in your gardens.
We sat on a seat for a snack and looked out towards Hilbre Island and could just the the tide beginning to appear but also very dark clouds were coming up from the south. We calculated that heavy rain would reach us before retreating multitudes of waders so we made our way back down to the shore.
A pied wagtail was seen and then two jubenile wagtails (wehich confused us because of their size and colour). Research concluded that they were yellow wagtails (flavissima). They appeared to have a retreat under a rotting wooden boat.
Sop a pleasing end to the stroll on the last field trip of the 2012/2013 Club calendar.
Barry – Pam – Bet and Graham (the four self appointed leaders of the group).
Anglesey - Saturday 29th June 2013
Beeston Castle and Canal - Sunday 19th May 2013
Brockholes – Saturday 11th May 2013
Having enjoyed these birds, supped an excellent Hot Chocolate from the café and taken an early lunch, the weather still looked gloomy. We were just on the verge of calling it a day, but then the clouds appeared to lift a little. Swifts started to appear, flying low over the water. Swallows were next - surely a good sign that the weather was improving finally.
The rain stopped, the sky brightened and we decided to explore the rest of the reserve. A larger second lake yielded Great-crested Grebe and Cormorant. Reed Buntings, Reed Warblers and Whitethroats were in the surrounding vegetation. We
walked on into a lovely bluebell wood. A number of conspicuous tall trees with white blossom were later identified as a wild cherry. On to the banks of River Ribble and the sun was finally out! Sand Martins fed over the river then disappeared into nest-holes in the bank. A male Kestrel flew past.This was turned int to a really pleasant stroll. such a contrast to the morning.
impressive – far more than if we had gone home at lunchtime!
Coombes Valley RSPB - Sunday 28th April 2013
. The journey gave us lovely views of the nearby Peak District. On arriving at the site, we were given an introduction from one of the wardens about the reserve. After this we began the walk down the valley. The birds were initially quiet and sparse, and we soon realised how cold it still was for the end of
April! It seemed that many migrant birds were still not back on territory. A Blackcap could be heard singing but did not show. Willow Warblers started to appear along the path and were probably the most numerous species seen in the woods. Robin, Dunnock and Blackbird were added. The path reached the river below it, but the Dipper we were told was present could not be found. As the ground levelled off, we saw one female bird and then a pair of Pied Flycatchers, one of the specialities of this site. They performed well for us, showing off their smart uniforms. Several other birds were
seen over the day, so these summer visitors at
least had made it back to the UK. We walked up through the wood land but these were so quiet for the time of year – normally they would be alive with singing birds. A
Nuthatch played hide and seek in the tops.
– except the ones we were wearing!
Shropshire Meres - Saturday 23rd March 2013
Tatton Park - Sunday 24th February 2013
It has to be admitted that the trip to Tatton Park in February was not the most productive, with just 33 species seen over the day! It started off reasonably well, with Magpies and Jackdaws in the trees where we parked. Blue Tit and Wood Pigeon were soon added. We walked into the Estate itself and found an obliging Nuthatch. Then it started to go downhill! A Great Spotted Woodpecker led us a merry dance. We could hear it drumming and some people had fleeting glimpses but we found it difficult to pin it down.
So we waited 35 minutes, looked at each other and started walking. We assumed everybody had cried off, but we had no trouble getting here and it was a beautiful day, everywhere so picturesque covered with snow. It was warm enough for us to eat our picnic in the middle of the park. I was sorry I had not brought the camera as it was just one of those glorious days begging for a photograph.
It was pleasant walking alongside the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, also iced up. We, and particularly me, are not the most astute of bird watchers, and there were times when I lapsed into a meditative pose, just strolling, watching the kids sledging and stroking dogs until I realized we had work to do. There were the usual suspects around the car park – blue tits, great tits, long tailed tits, robins, blackbirds, a song thrush and later on a mistle thrush.
Around the park we saw greenfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches and on the bird table numerous bullfinches, a stock dove and a reed bunting as well as the aforementioned. We spotted a wren and a jay and half a dozen heron sitting on a hedge.Although it would have been great to have a telescope the lake was iced up in the middle which drove the birds further to the edge so we were able to have a good view. There were plenty of mallard and Canada geese (surprise, surprise), many mute swans, moorhens, coots, lapwings, and quite a few cormorant and knot. Also there was golden eye, tufted duck and a little grebe. Later on we were lucky enough to see the male and female goosander and I swear it was kingfisher flying low and straight by the bank.
Walking by a stream we spotted the silhouette – the sun was directly ahead -of a what? It was very small and we reckoned it was a bird of prey – it looked smaller than a pigeon. Ah must be a merlin, a hobby (wishful thinking). It flew across the golf course and was mobbed by a group of crows – probably a Kestrel but it did look small.
We returned the next day as being Big Bird Watch weekend there were a few things going on. We walking right round the lake (a substantial distance – enough space for a sailing club) with a small group led by one of the locals. In addition to many of the birds seen the previous day we saw a willow tit, great crested grebe, a buzzard hovering for ages and pochard. We spotted half a dozen redwing in a tree but when they flew off there must have been at least forty.
Being Big Bird Watch weekend a girl brought some a barn owl (foreign – smaller than our species), a tiny owl, what looked like our long eared owl (both foreign) and a lanner falcon. Sorry about my ignorance but needless to say we didn’t have notebook and pencil. I think she said she kept them, along with numerous other birds at Haigh Hall and Country Park, Wigan, which offers a couple of walks and various facilities and activities. Pity the group weren’t there. I’m sure we would have seen more and the bird of prey would have been identified.
Pennington Flash is well worth a visit, with lots of walks, numerous hides and apart from the big flash, smaller lakes, doesn’t take too long to get there and is easy to find.
Snow in March ©H Stewart
Hugh's garden bench ©H Stewart
Fieldfare in Hugh's Garden ©H Stewart
Mute Swan on Tatton Mere© Hugh Stewart
Bird Club group at Tatton Park© Hugh Stewart
Lunchtime at Tatton Park© Hugh Stewart
Mallards on Tatton Mere© Hugh Stewart