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Post Info TOPIC: Newchurch Common


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RE: Newchurch Common


Had to go to Newchurch today on a mission of mercy, to return an eyepiece cover from a Skua case to its owner. I met the visiting birder last week, swapped details and then found his lost item smile So returned safely to him and took him to see the female Smew as he had dipped her last time. Mission accomplished there too smile But with lots to do today no time for a proper walk around, ah well, work for a ew days, then I'll be back smile



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Quite deep snow here in Cheshire, about 5cm on the roof of the car, but with main roads clear (well we do produce much of the UK's road salt!!) it was down to Newchurch this morning. The weather there was mostly bright, sunny and still, beautiful in fact smile

The female Smew was on the east side of Big Pool again, just outside East Bay due to it being partially iced over. New in was a female Pochard on Big Pool, whilst a few Shoveler and Teal were still present. Many duck sheltered under the bankside vegetation and so numbers looked low but probably weren't much different to normal. A redhead Goosander was on Small Pool too. A Kingfisher was seen near the Big Pool island.

At first I could see no finches in the trees by the set-aside, but that was because they were spending most of the time down on the snowy field literally feeding like their lives depended on it - which they did! Estimates only put the flock at 300 Bramblings but only 30 Linnets, with probably 300 Chaffinches too. Two Ravens cronked at tumbled over Gull Pool Wood beyond the set-aside field. A Lapwing was in the maize stubble fields by the Pine Belt, near the old breeding field of 2 years ago. Lots of Redwings were still around, heard and seen at scattered locations across the site.



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Back onto patch today but with more of an emphasis of getting a few photos rather than my usual walk round. However I did record all I saw. Weather dry, dull and not the best for digiscoping, cold too but with a few sunny intervals.

The female Smew was one of my photo targets and she showed pretty well in East Bay again. However she is still terribly wary and try as I might she was always one step ahead of me at keeping her distance! On the pool my record Shoveler count went up to 15 (9 drakes) and Teal were heard calling again. Lesser Black-backed & Herring Gulls flew over.

My other target, Brambling, also showed pretty well, albeit being very flighty, so pictures were difficult. Around 250 Brambling and 450 Linnets were in the mown set-aside but again often on the far side of the field. A Green Woodpecker was heard only.



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Out again early this morning, dull and overcast but dry & no wind.

The female Smew showed very well in East Bay on Big Pool until she drifted off down a cut out of view and disappeared for the rest of my time there, just shows how she can go missing for so long at times! Scoping the pool a highlight was a female Goldeneye, my first of this species for 2018 at Newchurch Common. Also on the pool were 6 Shoveler and a Cormorant, the latter only being here early mornings at the moment due to the fishermen scaring them off the pools. On Small Pool there were 2 redhead Goosanders today.

The passerine highlight was my first Reed Bunting of 2018 on patch, a female in the set-aside with the big finch flock. 250 Bramblings were counted across the site and 250 Linnets, both species in greatest numbers at the set-aside but now becoming more widespread due to the cutting of the seed crop last week. A Coal Tit, the first for a while, was near the Pine Belt and 20 Redwings were in the adjacent maize stubble field here. A few Long-tailed Tits and several Bullfinches were seen. A Collared Dove flew towards Common Farm on the Whitegate Way, a site I have noted them at previously. 20 Lapwings were on the Nursery Fields by the mosslands, a species only recently added to the patch yearlist.



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After a morning at the Chiropractor it was an afternoon at Newchurch Common, meeting up with Shell NR regulars Chris & Chris and later taking a new birding aquaintance around the patch too. A beautiful day, warm and sunny but breezy in more exposed spots!

The female Smew was still on Big Pool in East Bay, as she always is and the 10 Shoveler were still out near the spit here too. On Small Pool a lone redhead Goosander was present. Other pool highlights were a single Teal and a Kingfisher, both on Big Pool.

The Brambling flock had shrunk today, down to around 100 birds which I would have put down to the mowing of the set-aside, but the Linnet flock was up to around 200 birds, so I can't really explain the variation, it may just be an afternoon thing. A female Sparrowhawk over main track was, when I checked my notebooks, my first on patch this year, despite several visitors seeing them on other occasions! Three Lesser Redpolls showed very well in Finch Hedge along with Bullfinches and Goldfinches, with Nuthatches also present here. Several Redwings were still in the field with the pool by the car parking area as well as Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush feeding here too. A Collared Dove flying over north of Big Pool towards Daleford Farm was the only other notable sighting for here. (But also see 'Other Wildlife' thread)



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At the pub last night my two drinking pals wanted to sample Newchurch Common so we met up this morning with their dog for a walk round my patch. It was dry, fine & very pleasant indeed.

The female Smew was found for them within 15 seconds of reaching the correct area of Sandiway Big Pool, she really is being faithful to a particular area at present and is as reliable as anything! Also on the pool were 6 Shoveler but not anything else of note. Two Goosanders, a male and female flew over the main track too.

We did independent estimates of the Brambling flock and settled on 400 birds BUT the set-aside has been cut flat. This has happened between last Thursday and today and probably means the field will be ploughed soon. So that could be the end of the huge flocks for now. No doubt some birds will linger and move to other fields, but it is a sad day that this seed source looks likes ending soon. A few Linnets were also in the flock as well as Chaffinches. A Treecreeper showed really well by the track too in trees by Big Pool. 30 Lapwings over Big Pool were my first of this species for the patch this year. A Goldcrest was in the tops of the pines in Pine Belt too. A Raven cronked near Small Pool and the 20-30 Redwings still fed in the fields by the parking area.

A great way to clear our heads after a few pints last night, and a great end to a good weekend smile

 



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Headed down again this morning and it was horrible conditions, rain, sleet and snow, very cold and with ice covering most of Small Pool and some of Big Pool.

The female Smew was out in the centre of Big Pool due to East Bay being mostly frozen over. Five redhead Goosanders were on Small Pool and one was on Big Pool. On Big Pool I also had my highest ever count of Shoveler, with 10 birds in a single flotilla, comprising 6 drakes and four females. A pair of Teal were seen in flight.

The mobile Brambling flocks when totalled up reached at least 300, with 100 of these in just 2 small birch trees by the main track! Only 1 Linnet was seen today. Other finches included 6 Siskins and 6 Goldfinches. A Green Woodpecker was seen on the ground and then in trees on the east side of Big Pool. Four Rooks flew over the mosslands area. A reasonably sized flock of Redwings, at least 30 birds, fed in the fields by the parking area along with a few Song and Mistle Thrushes.

The weather at the moment is making the patch a quiet place, with very few fishermen, dog walkers or birders, nice to have the place to myself!!!



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Wednesday 14th of February 2018 04:52:08 PM

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With the weekend out of the way, too many folk around then at Newchurch, I was back for a walk in the snow this morning. Quite a good covering, some ice on the puddles but not on the lakes and beautiful sunshine.

The female Smew was deep in the arm at East Bay again, drifting out as I appeared. Also on Big Pool were two pairs of Shoveler, a few Teal and again quite low numbers of Gadwall, Wigeon and Tufted Duck. On Small Pool a lobe redhead Goosander was the only noteworthy sighting. A Grey Heron called from the island vegetation on Big Pool.

The finch flock was mainly over on the far side of the set-aside, but huge numbers included c.350 Brambling and 50 Linnets as well as good numbers of Chaffinches. Adjacent to the set-aside I picked up my first Meadow Pipit of the year for Newchurch. Other new additions to the 2018 Newchurch list for me today included Raven (2 over the west side of Big Pool) and Rook (8 south over Big Pool). A Collared Dove on Sandy Lane is a bird I see rarely on patch, so was notable here. A Redwing was in the fields by the parking area on Novia Scotia Lane along with two Mistle Thrushes. Song Thrushes were again in full song on this sunny bright morning.



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Another morning walk but this time to try for a piccy of the Brambling flock, unfortunately scuppered as I had left all my Contax batteries in my car and the freezing temps had drained them all hmm

Still a short walk produced sightings of the female Smew in the usual area on Sandiway Big Pool, with 2 pairs of Shovelers on here too and 10 Teal. There were 8 redhead Goosanders about, 4 on each pool today. A Snipe on the submerged willows on the spit was a nice find on Big Pool as it was a patch tick for 2018. Again wildfowl numbers were low and both pools had large iced-up areas on them after last nights freeze.

The finch flock didn't disappoint with at least 300 Bramblings and 50 Linnets as well as three-figure numbers of Chaffinches. Again Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard, I live in hope of tyhe repeat of the single sighting of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker from 2017! At least 20 Redwings fed in the ivy covered trees near the entrance barrier along with Blackbirds. A Goldcrest was feeding near Big Pool meadow on moss-covered trees and Siskins were in the alders here.



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My first morning walk for a while, again needed because of back pain.

The female Smew was again in her usual area in East Bay, I see her 100% of the time over here now, no matter what time of day I visit! Also on Big Pool were a pair of Shoveler and a few Teal, although in general waterfowl numbers were very low. A redhead Goosander was on Small Pool as was a Kingfisher. A Grey Heron was in flooded fields near the Pine Belt and 8 Lesser Black-backed and 1 Herring Gull flew over.

A proper count revealed 200 Bramblings still, all around the set-aside general area as usual with just Chaffinches on the north side of Big Lake as always. One group of trees near the set-aside contained 50 Linnets too. A nice group of 5 Siskins and 1 Lesser Redpoll were in Finch Hedge on the way in with a single Redwing nearby. A Treecreeper near Small Pool was the first for 2018 here. Both Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard. A single Stock Dove was in arable fields to the east. Song Thrushes are now in song on site with several heard from widespread locations.



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Another post-chiropractor walk - just what the doctor ordered!

The female Smew was again on Sandiway Big Pool on the north side, probably pushed out of East Bay by a fisherman on Beach Peg. A single redhead Goosander was also on the pool along with good numbers of Teal again. On Small Pool the three Pochard (1 drake) were again present. Two Kingfishers were seen on Big Pool too.

Only about 10 Bramblings were present along with over 200 Chaffinches, an afternoon phenomenon or a real decline in Brambling numbers, I suspect the latter. A cracking Lesser Redpoll was watched at close quarters as it quietly nibbled at buds in finch Hedge, the Bullfinches in there being a bit more boistorous and obvious. Two Linnets over were the only other finches of note.

As I was leaving large numbers of gulls were passing over, mainly Black-headed Gulls with several Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a few Common and Herring Gulls.



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First chance to go out today & the weather scuppered a morning walk on which I was going to be showing a group around cry I did however manage a solo walk for a couple of hours in the afternoon before the rain came back!

I can't believe that I have had to wait until 24th Januray to record my first Green Woodpecker at Newchurch Common in 2018, but I have, today being the day I added it to my year list at last!

The female Smew was again on Big Pool in her now usual location of East Bay, she has a habit of favouring one area for ages and then suddenly switching and staying in the new location, but East Bay it is, for now!! Five redhead Goosanders were on Small Pool but other than that very little of interest on the pools. The Mute Swan cygnets were down to 4, I hope that it isn't illegal hunting that has removed one of these now well-grown birds. Only 3 Greylag Geese remained too.

Only a handful of Brambling were seen, again near the set-aside. Despite a quick search no large flocks could be seen, but this could be a result of a mid afternoon visist rather than a real reduction in numbers. A large flock of over 300 Chaffinches are still around, so visitors beware just seeing a distant flock and assuming that they are Brambling. Double figures of Bullfinches are still around site and showing well. 15 Stock Doves were nice to see in the northern maize stubble fields.



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Keeping up with the physio walks on patch, sunny intervals & showers.

The female Smew was again over on the East side of Sandiway Big Pool, with not much else of note on there other than Teal and the 5 Greylag Geese still. On Small Pool there were 5 redhead Goosanders and 3 Pochard including one drake. A Kingfisher was seen on Big Pool too.

The Brambling flock was at least 250 strong with Linnets again seen in the set-aside too. The 15 or so Siskins were still in alders near the island with Goldfinches and  2 Lesser Redpolls, my first of the latter species anywhere in 2018 ( but saying that I don't go too far away!!). At least 10 Bullfinches were seen, this species is showing really well at the moment. My first Kestrel for Newchurch in 2018 was also seen today.



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Had a longer walk today, in the morning, but still not a full walk as I used to do! Dry and sunny at times, not as forecast!

The female Smew was on Sandiway Big Pool in Beach Peg Bay. Also on the pool were a pair of Shovelers and 6 Goosanders, all redheads. 5 Greylag Geese were new in on this pool too. Over 100 Brambling were around the set-aside as usual but no formal count was undertaken. 15 Siskins were in alders near Big Pool island. Bullfinches were everywhere, all feeding on new buds just developing in the hedges here. A Coal Tit was in the Pine Belt as well as a Nuthatch.



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Out of commission recently due to spasmed muscles across my lower back totally flooring me. A Chiropractic visit today had to be followed by a walk, so Newchurch was the obvious choice. Late afternoon and dull with a bit of sleet, but great to be out again!

No sign of the Smew but what a consolation - a Hawfinch, perched up in a tree top by the main track. Typically I had no camera or scope, due to trying to ease my back by birding light!! So a few shots with my phone through my binoculars had to suffice for record shots to prove the sighting. Pics attached & at least they show the bird just enough! The Brambling flock is still around 400 strong, all flying over the set-aside in one big Brambling super-flock! A few Linnets were here too. A couple of Bullfinches were the only other passerines of note.

On Small Pool a drake Pochard was nice. On Big Pool a record count of 90 Teal was made and a female Shoveler was also seen. A much quieter walk given the time of day, with only 30 species logged, but that Hawfinch sure made up for it, quality over quantity smile



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An afternoon visit today due to other commitments. Dull and overcast but not as cold as recently, still a bit of ice in places including Small Pool.

The female Smew continues to favour East Bay amonst a growing number of waterfowl. A count of 50 Teal was my highest ever here and over 150 Wigeon were present too. A pair of Pochard and a drake Shoveler were seen, all these sightings being on Big Pool. Five Goosanders on here included one adult drake. At the end of the afternoon a few big gulls joined the Black-headed and Common Guls, in for a wash and pre-roost, both Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen. A Kingfisher was again on Big Pool, a species seen on every visit recently.

Away from the pools a coordinated count of the finch flock produced extraordinary numbers. 450 Bramblings were the headline, with support from 200 Linnet, 150 Chaffinch and 50 Goldfinch, all in the set-aside field. 50 more Chaffinch were seen on other stubble fields when checked out for extra birds. At least 30 Redwings were feeding in the ploughed fields along with Song and Mistle Thrushes. A Goldcrest was again in Finch Hedge.



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Started the year early by being down at Newchurch Common before 8am this morning, very dull but dry all the time that we were there.

The female Smew was present on Big Pool, showing pretty well as it did for one birder I spoke too later, but another texted me in the afternoon to say that he had dipped it, very much the case with it at the moment, a bit hit or miss. Also on Big Pool were a drake Shoveler, a drake Pochard and 20 Teal, the latter being one of my best counts for this species here. Six Goosanders flew over when we were looking at Small Pool too, all redheads. A Kingfisher was perched up on the north side of Big Pool with a Grey Heron on the same shoreline. A single Greylag Goose was with the Canadas today. Well over 150 Wigeon and 50 Gadwall were seen. A stream of large gulls over included Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

The Bramblings put on a great show for all visitors with 140 counted by myself and Carys along with 40 Linnets. Two Collared Doves on Sandy Lane are a site scarcity and good to see. Other passerines that were good to get on the '2018 List' were Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Goldcrest and Bullfinch.

 



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After being away for a few days it was a final visit of the year down on my local patch, sunny at times, dry with a light breeze.

The female Smew, the probable target of most yearlisters visiting my patch tomorrow (!!), was present on Sandiway Big Pool, elusive as she has been of recent times and out in the centre viewed from the grass path on the north side of the pool. Many Bramblings and Linnets were still around the set-aside field, no formal count was made though, just at least 30 and 20 respectively. A Grey Heron was on the north side of Big Pool but flushed by dog walkers. A flock of 30 Lapwings was seen over the south side of the site, fitting in with other big movements around the area today. Two Greylag Geese were with Canadas and at least 10 Teal were on Big Pool as well as 2 redhead Goosanders and a drake Pochard. A Herring Gull and a small number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew over and a Redwing was heard.

To all who may visit tomorrow, make yourself known, as I'll be on patch from first light, and a Happy New Year to all smile



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Sunday 31st of December 2017 06:52:00 PM

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Back down for a bit longer walk this morning, dry, bright at times but cold at first - the car was iced up!

The Brambling flock continues to astound, walking round with a birder who grew up on this patch and is back for Christams we estimated c.180 Bramblings across the site, most near the set-aside. Also in the same area c.120 Linnets, as well as lots of other finches. Four Siskins were seen in the alders and a Goldcrest was also near the set-aside coincidentally. Lots of Canada Geese were present and two Greylag Geese flew over.

On the pool there had been a clear out of ducks in a small way, definitely fewer Tufted Ducks, and in an exhaustive search, by myself and Simon and a scoping fron a couple of Pennington Flash regulars, who were visiting and who I spent a pleasant time chatting to, we couldn't see the Smew anywhere. Several Teal called from cover on Big Pool and two were out in the open on Small Pool. Also on Big Pool were two redhead Goosander still. One, probably two, Kingfishers were on Big Pool whilst a Sparrowhawk was seen hunting the margins here. Also tucked away in the edge vegetation was a Snipe, one species I hadn't expected to see. A Grey Heron flew over calling too.

It now seems certain that the Bramblings will stay for the New Year List, but hopes are that the Smew will return before then smile



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What better on Christmas Day morning than a walk on my local patch before going to feed the horse :) Only a quick walk but lots to see nonetheless, dry  and bright at times.

The female Smew was still on Big Pool out in the centre and also on the pool were 3(1 adult drake) Goosander, a female Shoveler and a female Teal. A Kingfisher also flashed past me, they seem to be showing well at the moment. Both Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were down on Big Pool.  Best passerines were Siskin and Coal Tit, but I never got as far as the main Brambling area today and none were up the end I walked, so not recorded although undoubtably present. A Pheasant near the car was a species not recorded on every walk.



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I was thinking of missing patch today due to Christmas shopping but in the end I made the right decision & headed out birding again...... no contest really wink One reason was a birding mate was back from Orkney and wanted to meet down there, so he sort of swayed my decision.

So, so glad I did go down because as we stood checking out the pool I spotted a raptor being mobbed by 2 crows. I casually said "I thought for a moment that was a Red Kite" as I could only see the bird head on & it looked long-winged & slightly bowed. Then it turned and we both exclaimed " it is a Red Kite!". Yes, I had found a patch lifer on one of my last trips on patch this year, a gorgeous Red Kite smile Unfortunately as he grabbed his DSLR camera from his bag to grab a few shots it flew off due to the mobbing, but I thought that a few pictures must have been grabbed. But when he looked at his camera the settings had been knocked in his bag and he had nothing cry Well at least we saw it, a great find and a new bird for both of us for the site. later a Buzzard appeared making it a two raptor morning.

The female Smew was also still on Big Pool along with 3(2 drake) Pochards still and 14 Teal. Just 2 Goosanders were seen but the pool had a veil of mist over it for most of the morning making scanning the whole of it quite hard. A Kingfisher was on Big Pool too. A quick look at the finches revealed over 40 Bramblings as well as Linnets, Goldfinches and Bullfinch. Otherwise quite a few Mistle Thrushes and Great Crested Grebes, as well as two Stock Doves over the arable fields.



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Another morning walk today in similarly dull weather conditions.

No sign of the Pintail 'flock', they look to have headed off. The female Smew was seen several times on my circuit of Big Pool but was typically elusive as she has been just recently. She was also seen on all sides of the pool not favouring any one area. A female Teal was seen as well as 3(2drake) Pochards. In total 8 redhead Goosanders were on the pools, 2 on Small Pool and 6 on Big Pool. A male Kingfisher showed very well on Small Pool and a Grey Heron flew from the margins of Big Pool.

At least 150 Bramblings were again seen, even more widely scattered, with the first 50 being seen close to the car, the set-aside is partly flattened now and the seed content mst be depleted by the huge finch flock. I'm now keeping my fingers crossed for them staying into New Year. Over 100 Linnets were also seen, mainly near the set-aside. Several Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen, also 5 Siskin and 2 Redwings. One Stock Dove flew over and a Kestrel was on Sandy Lane.

On the past two visits I have had birders visiting to see the attractions (wink) and all have parked outside and walked, please continue to do this if visiting, the concrete blocks and barrier are blocking the track at the moment but please do not be tempted to drive in if they are not, you could well be locked in!!



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Wednesday 20th of December 2017 09:25:51 PM

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Not had a chance to go out recently so grabbed the opportunity this morning to get back on my local patch. Dull weather but not too cold and not windy.

The most surprising sighting was the discovery of 6 Pintail on Sandiway Big Pool, consisting of 3 drakes and 3 females. I managed some record shots in poor light at distance, but they were pretty flightly, but still present when I left. Also on the pool was the female Smew, a drake Pochard, 4 redhead Goosanders (one which looked like a definite immature drake too) and over 150 Wigeon, lots of Tufted Ducks and Gadwall too. In fact it was teeming with wildfowl, a pretty spectacular sight. Two Grey Herons were seen, one on each pool. A Kingfisher was on Small Pool.

150 Bramblings are still present, many near the set-aside but also now spreading out across the site. 100 Linnets were seen too as well as a Reed Bunting a couple of Siskins and lots of Long-tailed Tits. A flight of Fieldfare numbering over 25 passed over. A steady passage of large gulls over produced 1 Great Black-backed Gull amongst mainly Lesser Black-backed and a few Herring Gulls. Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were again present.



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Still have my cartilage injury but had to go feed the horse today & that's right by Newchurch so decided on a short walk with my knee strapped up. Absolutely beautiful, deep snow, crisp and bright sunshine, so fabulous to be out today smile

The female Smew was still on Big Pool, although she was in a different area and pretty elusive. Very little freezing up of either pool though, which was good. Only one redhead Goosander was seen, on Big Pool too, where there was also a drake Pochard and 6 Teal. There were at least 150 Wigeon on too, the lake looked very busy! The setaside still help at least 50 Bramblings and 50 Linnets, although at first they kept down low, later on they festooned the trees near the field as usual showing beautifully in the snow & sun. Nearby a Raven flew over cronking too. Three Grey Herons were seen, probably displaced from frozen waters, one on Small Pool and two on Big Pool, this was the most I've ever recorded here on a single visit. Three Little Grebes were on Big Pool and at least 20 Great Crested Grebes. Redwings, Fieldfares and some stunning Bullfinches were all seen.



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Not been out as much recently due to me having a knee cartilage injurury, but strapped it up today and went out with bins only. Dull, overcast but dry, the calm before Storm Caroline.

The female Smew was again present on Sandiway Big Pool, but pretty elusive near the spit viewed best from the north side of the pool, also in the same area was a drake Pochard. 11 Goosanders inc one adult drake were on Big Pool and two more redheads were on Small Pool making 13 in all, just sneaking the biggest count here this winter. Over 90 Wigeon were on the pools and over 40 Gadwall and 100 Tufted Ducks too. A small influx of Great Crested Grebes was noted with 12 birds counted. Two Greylag Geese were wuith the Canada Geese. A passage of gulls seemed to be happening too, maybe clearing through ahead of the weather front, including several Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and one Great Black-backed Gull.

Bramblings were seen all over the site, having spread since I first found them, adding all the counts up they totalled over 100 again, with seemingly more Chaffinches too. The setaside still holds the majority of the finch flock and included at least 60 Linnets. 12 Siskins and 11 Redpolls were seen in a few small groups in alders around the site. Two Goldcrests were nice to see too. A Stock Dove was with the Woodpigeons and three adult Mute Swans were new in on Small Pool, the family of two adults and 6 young still being on Big Pool.



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A Friend who I gave directions to, for the setaside, reports to me that he has had 100 Bramblings there today. The flock holds steady at the moment and will be in 3 figures every day but just depends on which side of the field you get them which determines the count smile



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Another morning sojourn around my local patch, dull, rain at times & brighter intervals, cold too, a bit of everything!

The female Smew was again on Sandiway Big Pool where a Teal and a drake Pochard were also seen. On Small Pool a smart drake Goldeneye and 12(2 ad drake) Goosanders were seen, probably thanks to it being undisturbed with no anglers on it. Another nice sighting today was a Green Woodpecker feeding on the ground near Big Pool. As usual large numbers of Bramblings were present with at least 30 seen at the setaside before the rain caused the flocks to take cover, 6 Siskins were also seen today. A Fieldfare and a couple of Redwings were seen. After a few visits drawing a blank at least 2 Coat Tits and 2 Nuthatches were at the farm feeders.

Nice to join up with two birding friends today, who were amazed at just how many Bramblings were present and how well they showed. It was a case of spot the odd Chaffinch in amongst the Brambling flock biggrin



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On again this morning, overcast and more windy than recent visits, although still unseasonably warm!

The female Smew was still in West Bay on Sandiway Big Pool but lurking near the edge and prone to disappearing under the bankside vegetation as Mike decsribes. The drake Pochard was still on too but very little else other than the large numbers of the 3 common species. At least 15 Common Gulls were on Big Pool as well as an immature Herring Gull. A short visit to the setaside produced a count of over 60 Bramblings with another 20+seen around the northern maize stubble fields, a few Siskins and many Linnets were here too.

Four Stock Doves were seen and a single Collared Dove. A flock of 6 Mistle Thrushes was unusual for here as was a Song Thrush in full song today! A Goldcrest and a flock of Long-tailed Tits were nice to see. The wind seemed to have stirred up the passerines with more seen and them being more active, made for a busy day checking everything out.

No cars parked on the track today Mike, maybe the ones you saw were fishermen, but they all use the car parks and don't park for long on the main track, if they did they would get damaged by passing trailers! Other than the birders who trespassed on Sunday all other cars were parked outside, up to 7 when I arrived and there were 5 outside today inc another birder, so hopefully the info is getting through to stay out. I am grateful to my mates at RBA for putting a 'no vehicular access' message on the pagers now, and hope other info services follow suit smile



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Yes Paul we were there on Sunday. Problems on the M56 on our way home meant I was back later than planned and didn't get on line until quite late. Seems I was still on after midnight but didn't notice the posting time. It may just have been fishermen but there were quite a few cars and vans on the track on Sunday as well. None of them appeared to be birders. We did see someone with bins over on the west side of Big Pool but he was the only other birder we saw while we were there.

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A morning walk again today (20th) in overcast but dry conditions. Some important info, but first the news.

The female Smew was again in West Bay on Sandiway Big Pool, a drake Pochard and a drake Teal being the only other ducks of note on today apart from large numbers of Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Gadwall as always. A Kingfisher was on Small Pool too. 40+Brambling were around the setaside crop field but today many more finches were on the far side, a Reed Bunting was a new bird to be recorded in this field this winter. Siskins and a pale Redpoll, most likely just a pale Lesser Redpoll, were in alders near Big Pool island. A Goldcrest was again seen near Finch Hedge as well as 2 Mistle Thrushes.

On a serious note today, two birders (from the Wirral and who do not come on this forum) had driven in along the private track beyond the barrier on Novia Scotia Lane. They were reported to the Warrington Anglers club secretary who was going to inform the police as they were causing an obstruction by being on the track. After I had had a word with them they moved the car and left the site, so I informed the club and no action was taken. The farmer is currently moving harvested carrots off site and is removing the blocks which normally stop cars, other than anglers with keys, from entering, so these guys drove through that way. Not only will the farmer not be too careful with a large trailer when passing illegally parked cars but he may also replace the blocks trapping the car in. Only 10mins after they left he came down with a trailer so their exit was timely, thanks to me! Please under no circumstances drive past the barriers, park only on Novia Scotia Lane where it is a public road, before it becomes a dirt track. The guys today were lucky but the next ones to do it may not be. I trust all members of this forum to be sensible, that is why my news is primarily on here and will stay here as long as we can keep the goodwill of the farmer and angling club. Thanks smile

 

 



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Given the time, just after midnight, I presume that report was for Sunday Mike? Shame I just missed you. I was there from 9am-11.30pm. Fine, dry and a cracking walk round.

Sunday 19th Nov:

The female Smew was still in West Bay on Sandiway Big Pool as were 3 redhead Goosander, probably the 3 I had on Small Pool last time just relocating to a less disturbed area. Two drake Pochard were near 'beach peg' on this pool too and the 2 Greylag Geese were sill with the Canadas. I spent lots of time with the finch flock at the setaside and the Brambling count went up (looking at my notebook) from 20 at first, then 40, 80 and finally to 100+, very spectacular again. One group of alders by Big Pool was amazing containing Brambling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Siskin and Redpoll! Two Redwings also flew over the setaside. A passage of large gulls over included Great Black-backed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls together allowing the size difference and wing speed to be easily compared.

 



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Monday 20th of November 2017 04:02:30 PM

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Called in here after a pleasant start to the day at nearby Marbury Country Park. Headed straight for Big Pool and immediately picked up the female Smew in her usual area (for us) looking splendid in the late morning sun. The three red-headed Goosander were also on Big Pool, along with good numbers of Wigeon and Tufted Duck. Some of the latter appeared to be investigating the Smew which then moved towards the banking and eventually disappeared into over-hanging vegetation. Among the larger congregations of water birds we counted 7 Gadwall, 2 drake Pochard and a Kingfisher. Didn't see much on the walks to and from Big pool as we were more focused on avoiding the traffic. Headed on from here to The Wirral.

-- Edited by Mike Chorley on Monday 20th of November 2017 12:23:04 AM

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Had a visit down yesterday but only briefly to try to get a picture of a Brambling for the Newchurch Bird Report (see attached low res file). Sunny & bright but then on my proper visit today it was dull and overcast, but again dry. Nice today to bump into birding friends who had come down for the Brambling, one for his second views too, they are proving to be very popular smile

Todays highlights included the female Smew showing well on Sandiway Big Pool, 3 female-type Goosander on Small Pool, a drake Pochard on Big Pool as well as two pairs of Teal here. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was again down on Big Pool. Scarce birds on the patch but seen today included a Collared Dove at Dairy Farm and a Kestrel on Sandy Lane. Four Stock Doves made it a 4 pigeon species day today. The Bramblings were still in the setaside with most of the finches too distant to ID without a scope I only counted around 30 Bramblings today, but many more will have been present, along with Linnets and Chaffinches still. Two Skylarks were over the maize stubble north of Big Pool as well as 11 Redwings. Two Goldcrests showed down to a foot or so in hedges near the entrance, these really are enchanting little birds. A Siskin was in the pines nearby. Funny how some common species can go missing for a while, today Long-tailed Tit was recorded for the first time, at Newchurch for me, in November!

Nothing too different was seen on my flying visit yesterday afternoon (16th) but a Goldcrest again showed well (an influx perhaps as I don't usually see them this regularly?) and a Buzzard was seen then but not today.



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Busy this morning so it had to be an afternoon visit to Newchurch, usually not as productive but not a bad walk. Overcast all the time but dry.

The female Smew was showing well in West Bay on Sandiway Big Pool and in the same bay a female Goosander was present too. A drake Shoveler and a female Teal were also seen on Big Pool as well as increased numbers of Tufted Ducks, Wigeon and Gadwall. Over 50 Bramblings were still in the setaside crop, one flock of 30-40 finches in flight was all Brambling, their white rumps showing very well. Linnets were again in the same flock. My first Fieldfares of this winter here were three in flight. A small party of Buffinches showed well near Big Pool, always a lovely bird to watch. 6 Siskins were feeding in alders near Big Pool too. Mistle and Song Thrush were both seen and the final bird, as the sun dipped down over the horizon, was a Nuthatch calling near my car.



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With a good weather forecast I decided to get up a little earlier to take advantage & started the day scraping ice off my car! Later when the sun came up it was warm & the beautiful clear blue sky made it a pleasure to be out and about.

One of the highlights had to be the finch flock in the setaside near Gull Pool, this has now reached (on estimate) over 500 birds, today made up of Chaffinches, Linnets and astoundingly at least 120 Bramblings!! Every tree I scanned had Bramblings in it, some holding over 35 birds, they seemed to be everywhere and it was one of the biggest counts for a single site I have ever had in the UK, stunning. I even showed a local landowner I know and he was amazed, never having heard of, let alone seen, Bramblings before. He advised me that the local farmers son, Jamie Lee, was responsible for this setaside being planted and asked if I could put in a good word for him when I reported the birds, so I have here smile

Other highlights today included 3 Red-legged Partridges in the tree nursery by Abbot's Moss along with a glowing cock Pheasant. A Kestrel was mobbed on Abbot's Moss by a group of Siskins. A Grey Heron landed in a tree briefly north of Sandiway Big Pool, looking for a new heronry? Maybe not wink A Great Black-backed Gull flew languidly over fields near Gull Pool, amazingly my first of the year on patch, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was down on Big Pool. Also on Big Pool were 2 drake Pochards, a flock of 14 Teal, which is a pretty high count here) and a pair of Shoveler.Tufted Duck numbers were very high with over 130 between the two pools, but no sign of the Smew, although she will be in the area somewhere no doubt. A Snipe was still in the spit area on Big Pool.

Other usuals seen included Little Grebe, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Redwing and Great Spotted Woodpecker. A couple of Rooks near the pools was more unusual as I usually see these in the mosslands area only. All in all well worth the early start, the only regret being that my bad back stopped me taking my scope so I couldn't digiscope the Bramblings looking so so smart in the sunshine. Maybe next time!



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Wednesday 8th of November 2017 04:46:53 PM

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Another morning walk, to try to walk off my current back pain no

This turned out to be a fantastic day, at last I caught up with a species that is becoming the hot news of the autumn - Hawfinch! Whilst checking out the maize stubble fields to the north of Big Pool and only seeing a few Chaffinches here I first noticed a small passage of Redwings about halfway across the fields. Then straight after I picked up two finches flying east about the same distance out and at the same height. Concentrating on one of them I was struck by the broad white wing bars and short tail, straight away I knew what I had got, a Hawfinch. The second bird must also have been of the same species but I kept on the first one most of the time only getting brief views of the second bird which had a similarly broad wing bar. Both flew off over the trees at the edge of the field, as the Redwings had done. I am so glad that I was out today, which according to the pager has seen a large Hawfinch passage across the north of England and Wales, and so must have been one of my best chances of catching up with them. I know lots have been seen but I am elated that I have seen them on my patch smile

I also had the female Smew again on Sandiway Big Pool, as well as the drake Shoveler and drake Teal again. A Raven showed really well in the cloudless sky, cronking its head off! A Herring Gull was again down on Big Pool.

I had had a text yesterday asking for advice on seeing the Brambling on patch and passed on instructions. I am pleased to say my mates saw at least 3 birds today. I picked up the Chaffinch flocks distantly but not being able to carry my scope & tripod meant that I couldn't check them out. But thanks to my mates sightings it's nice to know that they are still around.



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Nipped down late morning for a very short visit, primarily to get Carys Brambling for her yearlist, but also to check the pool.

The target was achieved eventually. The fields north of Big Pool held very few finches so we searched elsewhere and eventually found the big finch flock in the seed crop field near Gull Pool. Here when the birds went up into the trees by the track we saw at least 4 Bramblings, 2 males and 2 females, but probably quite a few more. Linnets were again in this field too. On Big Pool we picked up a drake Shoveler, a drake Pochard and a drake Teal amongst other wildfowl.



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Went for an afternoon stroll around patch today for a change. One shower, otherwise dull & dry.

The highlight was that there was still a female Brambling in the big Chaffinch flock north of Big Pool, I found a second large flock but couldn't find any Bramblings in that one, but reckon there's more than one still about. A pair of Shovelers and a pair of Teal were the only unusual wildfowl, other than one Greylag Goose in the Canada Goose flock. A single Herring Gull down on Big Pool amongst lots of Black-headed Gulls and several Common Gulls was a little unusual. I had my highest number of Stock Doves in a single flock with 24 in arable fields east of the pools, other ones were seen elsewhere around patch too. Otherwise a pretty quiet walk as it always is in the aftrenoon here compared to the morning.



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After the highs of a twitch patch watching can feel a bit tame but with all these Hawfinches flying over I keep going back to Newchurch and watching the skies in hope and expectation. Today was no exception, plodding around looking and listening for the sound of an elusive finch, ready to add it as a patch lifer. So did today deliver? Well sort of, but not the way that I had expected. Not a Hawfinch for me, but a patch lifer, and a finch to boot, in the shape of a couple of Crossbills!

I headed on early morning and followed my usual route and about halfway round head a distinctive call from the Pine Belt on the east side of Big Pool. Walking over I was just in time to see two Crossbills fly out and disappear off northwards. Presumably these were just passing through and I had been extremely lucky, in the right place at the right time to notice them, superb! Today was a really finchy day all round. As well as the Crossbills I had a female Brambling still with 100+Chaffinches in the maize stubble. Also here were Linnets and Goldfinches. Two Siskins were in finch hedge and a few Bullfinches were noted around site. A Treecreeper was seen, which is a bird on site but not often seen. A Skylark flew over the north side of Big Pool singing. Coal Tits and Nuthatches were again at the farm feeders, these species are obviously now going to be seen on every visit.

On Small Pool my first two Goosander of this year-end were seen, two females, which were very elusive. A drake Shoveler was on Big Pool. No sign of the Smew today despite a thorough search, but two Little Grebes on Big Pool. 50 Wigeon were expected but a count of 40 Mallards was possibly my highest ever here. One of the wierdest sightings was of a female Blackbird with a white throat, not like the gorget of a Ring Ouzel but a vertical thin oval shape running down onto the upper breast!



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A late post for Tuesday 31st October, A morning walk, dry & cold with a little sunshine at times, better than forecast.

On arrival I met two birding pals who were having a day around various Cheshire sites and had chosen Newchurch Common as their starting point. They had had 2 male Bramblings up near the top Small Pool car park, the first of this 'winter' and close to the field in which I had had the huge finch flock last time out, so not unexpected but a cracking find nonetheless. On checking I couldn't find them but then later when I was north of Big Pool checking the maize stubble field I found a big flock of Chaffinches (100+) and lo and behold a male and female Brambling were there amongst the mobile flock. The flock was so flighty that there could have been more Bramblings but they flew off over another field so I never got a chance to check. I did find a few Linnets in amongst them too which is nice.

In the short time my mates were on they had no duck of note but given more time I refound the female Smew, still on Big Pool. Six Greylag Geese were new in on the pool and 4 Teal was a high count for this month. A Snipe was also still on Big Pool too. A female Sparrowhawk circled over Big Pool and a Buzzard was nearby as well as a Kestrel earlier, giving me three raptor species for the first time in a while. Stock Doves were seen in the north side maize stubble and in fields by the entrance track. Both Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen over the site. For the first time I discovered a farm feeding station that was attracting lots of birds including Nuthatch and Coal Tit, I'll keep my eye on this new asset on patch in the future smile



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Third day off in a row, so third walk in a row around Newchurch Common! Colder, clear and a bit of sunshine today, and a great days birding.... for the patch that is!

First highlight was the female Smew still being on Sandiway Big Pool, and again more evidence of winter wildfowl with a pair of Goldeneye fresh in on Small Pool. The Teal was still around as well as the large numbers of Wigeon, Gadwall & Tufted Ducks. As well as wildfowl Big Pool also produced another highlight - a Grey Wagtail - my first at Newchurch Common for 2017. Also on Big Pool 2 Snipe were in partially submerged willows basking in the sun and the Kingfisher was seen again. The first Little Grebes since early summer were back on Big Pool too.

Whilst watching Big Pool I could hear an absolute cacophony of bird calls somewhere behind me, so loud it sounded like an aviary. Intruiged I headed down the main track and in a field where it has been left to go to seed I came across a huge flock including Linnets, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and a few Skylarks. When the main flock took flight I was amazed to see c.300 Linnets, many of which perched in the tops of surrounding trees, looking like Christmas baubles there were so many of them! A male and female Greenfinch were seen on the north side in the finch flocks there, great to see this species this week. A lone Siskin was unexpected in alders by Big Pool. Fewer Redwings were seen today but 3 Goldcrests were nice to see. A Pied Wagtail on Dairy Farm roof brought the wagtail count to two! After no raptors over the last two days I had a Buzzard and a female Kestrel today.

All in all a very pleasant day with some good patch birds.



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Another morning walk, this time overcast  most of the time with a little hazy sunshine at the end of the walk.

The highlight was finding the female Smew again on Sandiway Big Pool, she was out in the centre and very elusive, swimming off into cover almost as soon as I had found her. Her appearance coincided with an overall increase in wildfowl numbers today. This included a drake Pochard, 40 Wigeon, 24 Gadwall, a female Teal, 50 Tufted Ducks and 81 Canada Geese. Two Grey Herons were on the spit here, the highest count I've had on site! A Kingfisher was seen twice on Big Pool too.

An increase in Redwings and Blackbirds was noted today with the bushes seemingly full of both species. The crop fields on the north side held large finch flocks which included two fem/imm Greenfinches, a species seen only a handful of times on this patch each year. Bullfinches and Goldfinches were also amongst the large Chaffinch flocks in this location. Nearby a Green Woodpecker showed really well on the field margin, one of two recorded on this walk. In fields near the entrance a pair of Stock Doves fed amongst numerous Wood Pigeons. Overall a very pleasant walk with lots of birds of interest across the site.



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Several folk on here (especially those connected to me on Facebook) will know that I have had a bit of a break due to circumstances beyond my control, but today i decided that I had better dust myself off & get out into the field again and where better to start than Newchurch Common?!

A morning walk in the, still warm, autumn sun was extremely pleasant, but no real surprises on the bird front. I did have my first Redwing of this end of year for this site, with a single flying over fields to the north of Big Pool. Gadwall are well and truly back for the winter with c.20 seen, all on Big Pool, where a pair of Wigeon and a female Teal also joined the Tufted Ducks and Coot. 6 Cormorants were on Big Pool spit, a common sight in winter, a sign that the seasons have changed. The Mute Swans still have all 6 cygnets, so have done really well this year. A Grey Heron lurked on Big Pool, a species not seen too frequently and a Collared Dove flew over near the parking area, another site scarcity. A Goldcrest and a Coal Tit were both nice to record on the walk too. 25 Lapwings were seen near the mosslands and a Raven flew over cronking. Lots of Jays were around availing themselves of the bumper crop of acorns.



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After a few trips out it was back on Newchurch today, an afternoon visit, dry & cloudy weather.

Quiet, the lull before the winter wildfowl bonanza I hope! Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were both seen. A few ducks were around, over 10 Gadwall, a few Wigeon and Teal heard calling. Over 80 Canada Geese have now built up and two Greylag Geese were with them. Two Ravens called over Gull Pool and the Whitegate Way. Lots of Jays were taking advantage of a bumper acorn crop over the whole area too. Goldfinch flocks were all over place with an estimate of c.50 birds involved.



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After a disastrous holiday away I finally returned to some normality and headed down my local patch. I say some normality because we returned to find our phoneline dead and so no internet access. Hence this report is a day late and is for Sunday 24th September!

The patch looks lots more autumnal now but no real signs of the main winter returners yet. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were present and a late Chiffchaff called still. Small numbers of Tufted Ducks were on Big Pool, but no other duck species of note have returned in numbers yet. A large build up of Rooks on the fields near the mosslands was a feature of last winter and this is again happening now, with over 30 birds in with Jackdaws and Carrion Crows too. Otherwise it was very quiet and seemed to be in a transition period.



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Morning walk today, mostly sunny & pretty warm.

Still a large number of Tufted Ducks on Big Pool but no Smew today, and I checked the pool more than once! Quieter for birds with only breeding Swallows at Dairy Farm and no massing feeding flocks over the mosses, seems like they have moved through. A couple of Green Woodpeckers and a couple of Nuthatches. Still seeing Blackcaps feeding on berries as they do approaching autumn.



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The main sighting was the female Smew on Sandiway Big Pool on this morning's walk. There were over 60 Tufted Ducks, with which the Smew was associating. Three hirundine species, Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin were seen. Five warbler species were also seen, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. A much more productive walk for birds today but with a longer walk and a different route from yesterday I fully expected this.



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Back for my first August visit and only a couple of noteworthy birds, a Kingfisher flying across Sandiway Big Pool a couple of times and a Green Woodpecker near where the cars are parked before walking in. Over 50 Tufted Ducks too and a drake Gadwall, Obviously the wildfowl are increasing agin post-breeding. The six Mute Swan cygnets stil survive and there is a large flock of adult and juvenile Canada Geese now. Several juvenile Black-headed Gulls were also on the pool with adults, almost certainly from the Delamere breeding colony.



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Another quiet day for birds on the morning walk. Again Green Woodpeckers called from several locations and were seen at two, the population is high at the moment, boosted by this years young. The Mute Swan psir on Big Pool still have all 6 young, whihc are huge now and so I expect all to survive. Blackcap & Chiffchaff were the only warblers seen.



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Nipped down am for my first visit since coming back to Cheshire from The Highlands of Scotland a day or so ago. Very sunny & warm so mainly a walk for insects but reaquainted with a few patch birds too!

One bird that we never had in Scotland but was evident through sight & sound today was Green Woodpecker as usual. Heard at several locations around the site. A nice sighting was a recently fledged Blackcap sunning on a bramble patch. Nothing out of the ordinary on the pool but a Lesser Black-backed Gull circled overhead. The best sighting on Big Pool was a Kingfisher carrying a large fish past 'Beach Peg' and heading off south.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Sunday 30th of July 2017 09:51:58 PM

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