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Post Info TOPIC: Newchurch Common


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RE: Newchurch Common


On stand-by at home at the moment awaiting my colleagues daughter giving birth, so local patch is still the order of the day in case I am called into work at short notice!!

On arrival this morning a Focalpoint customer, Derek, had just arrived and joined me on my walk round, with a nice wishlist of one - Garden Warbler his must-see bird along with any other goodies we could find. This request was easily granted, even with thick lef cover. I know so many Garden Warbler territories now that one surely would provide a sighting and it did. We heard at least 10 singing birds but watched one close to the Whitegate Way, possibly with young too and in the next tree a Blackcap with young, not bad! All in all there were probably three Cuckoos now, so numbers are increasing but not up to last years level yet. All other Common Warblers were present, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. A Greylag Goose was on Sandiway Small Pool, a Reed Bunting by Gull Pool and a Kestrel hunted the mosses. Skylark and Linnet were still in the mosses area.

 



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Back on my patch after a couple of short trips away from it recenty! A morning in the sun accompanied by Carys, which was nice as she's been tied up with work a lot recently.

Not a lot out of the ordinary but Carys did get a yeartick with the reappearance of one of the Cuckoos. The Newchurch bird (rather than the one on Abbot's Moss) was present and calling regularly but was incredibly mobile, running us ragged around the whole site! Other than that a Skylark and a Linnet were on the mosses. Lots of Buzzards were up, at least 10 birds and one pair still displaying, skydancing pretty spectacularly. The one that got away today was a possible Yellowhammer on the mosses. Carys heard a faint song from a way off which could have been a half-hearted Yellowhammer song, but when we got closer there was no sight nor sound of it. Lots of folk on here will know that I went totally deaf when I was 20 when I got meningitis, and then regained some hearing but still have difficulties. Because of this I heard nothing cry I will be checking the area carefully in the next few visits as Carys is rarely wrong and I have every confidence that what she heard was a Yellowhammer.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Sunday 21st of May 2017 10:25:10 PM

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Even with a poor forecast I braved a morning walk, and as always the forecast was wrong and it was mainly fine, overcast and a tiny flurry of drizzle, nowt really!!

A little bit better than of late with two patch scarcities, hardly earth-shattering but still good to record. The first was a flyover, calling Oystercatcher in the Gull Pool area and the second a Greenfinch on wires near the approach road to the common gates/barrier. Lots more birds singing going down earlier as you would expect, including all my common warblers. The first time in a while that I have seen all three hirundines on patch, with House Martin, just a single, being the first one seen, over fields. A family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers proved breeding for me. A shorter walk but more species recorded, showing the importance of time of day smile



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Another late morning walk, much of it in drizzly rain, although the plus side was that the temperature was warm!

The most noteworthy sighting was on 7-10 Swifts, sometimes low over my head and my biggest group anywhere so far this year. Again a single Herring Gull and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull flew over Sandiway Big Pool, both 2nd winter type birds. Many broods of Coot were on the pools as well as Mallard ducklings and Canada Goose goslings. A Lapwing was sitting in one arable field whilst others mobbed corvids, all signs of breeding on site. Garden Warblers are still numerous and showing well if you work a bit at it!!



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A very uneventful early afternoon walk today in the sunshine.

The most unusual sightings were a small passage of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls overhead. The usual warbler species were present but not as many Chiffchaffs or Willow Warblers singing. Still quite a few Garden Warblers though.



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Late report for yesterday due to being out all evening (wife's birthday!!).

Carys and I had a short late morning walk on Newchurch but concentrating mainly on the mosslands area of my patch. This proved to be a good plan when, whilst looking for the Cuckoo for Carys to yeartick it (and we never saw it!!), she picked up a raptor and initially though it was the Kestrel that is nesting near here. As I was getting onto it she then said the words "... or is it?". As soon as I got it in my bins I called out Hobby, and then it landed in the top of  a tree mainly out of view. We scampered round on one of the patchs to get level with the tree and could see it more clearly, face mask, red 'trousers' and streaked breast, a Hobby for sure, and being mobbed by several small passerines. Soon after it took off and circled up higher and higher before disappearing from view distantly over Nunsmere. I only had one record of this species last year so it was nice to add it again for 2017. Not much else of ornithological interest on patch, a showy male Reed Bunting on Gull Pool, lots of Garden Warblers still, as well as the usual stuff.



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Late report for yesterday, May 7th, a late morning walk in bright, warm sunshine.

The main news was my first Swifts of 2017 anywhere in the UK, 2 high over the mosslands. Another nice sighting was a close flypast of a Cuckoo on Sandiway Big Pool and another was calling but not seen on Abbots Moss. No sign of the Tree Pipit on the mosses but there are areas I don't cover as they're just 'off-patch'. A Sparrowhawk was up thermalling as well as at least 8 Buzzards. My first Coot young were seen with 3 on Sandiway Big Pool, joining ever growing numbers of Mallard ducklings and Canada Goose goslings. A Lesser Black-backed Gull flying over was my first for a long time. Otherwise just the usual warblers.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Monday 8th of May 2017 02:31:50 PM

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Another sunny morning and early afternoon walk on patch and a few goodies to report.

A Cheshire Wildlife Trust workparty was on the mosslands removing birch scrub and doing a fantastic job, hats off to them. But this undoubtably made looking for the Tree Pipit more difficult. The leader said that if they had known there was a male singing and displaying on territory then they would have cancelled, but not to fear, I found the bird still displaying but quite a way removed from where it was yesterday. I am back at work tomorrow but know others are heading down there so it will be interesting to see if they can find it still. A bit less breeze would make listening for it easier too!! One Cuckoo was again in the same area and a second called over in the Sandiway Big Pool area. Over 10 Garden Warblers were present and plenty of Common Whitethroats again. A Green Woodpecker called and a Skylark was singing. A Reed Bunting and a Linnet were still on the mosslands.



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It just keeps getting better on patch smile I had planned a day out elsewhere but a text this morning meant I decided to stay on patch after all.

I headed down and went straight over to the mossland section of my patch and after a bit of searching I could see a medium-sized bird in the top of a large silver birch. Getting closer I could hear its distinctive song and on scoping it I was watching my first ever Tree Pipit on my patch, stunning Before I could grab a record shot the wind got up and it flew out of the tree that was being thrashed about. After quite a long search I relocated it and managed a record shot, albeit into the sun, I also videoed the bird so the song could be heard too. By nestling down in cover the bird actually came to within 10 feet of me and sang from a small birch, a fabulous experience and a rare bird in this part of Cheshire. As well as the Tree Pipit I watched a Cuckoo in the same area and managed a record shot of that too, but again distant and into the sun! Also in this area a Kestrel hunted and caught a large vole, amazingly my first Kestrel here of 2017! Several Linnets and 2 Reed Buntings were all in this area too. Common Whitethroats and Garden Warblers seemed to be everywhere today, being seen and heard in several areas around my patch. In the sun a Skylark was up singing and a brood of Canada Goose goslings had hatched.

After today, my second day off in a row tomorrow, will be spent back down on patch again, who knows what might turn up!!



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Even though I was up until half past midnight the night before I woke at 5am this morning and by 5.30am I was down at Newchurch Common. The hope was for a tern - any sort - but that was a forlorn hope, none dropped in!

Instead I added Whitethroat to the patch yearlist with three heard and seen in the mosslands area. Two Cuckoos called, one on the Big Pool island and one on Abbotts Moss. A Tawny Owl called in the woods before 6am too. Garden Warblers showed well again in several places. 60 Swallows, 30 House Martins and 10 Sand Martins were over Big Pool too. Otherwise just a Greylag Goose, 3 Dabchicks (on Gull Pool), Green Woodpecker and a Stock Dove were the only birds of note.



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Working today but as we don't open until 10am on Saturdays I took the opportunity to nip down to Newchurch Common for a couple of hours pre-work.

Not a heck of a lot to report. The Tufted Duck numbers were down to c.40 and no sign of the Smew, albeit in quite a short search. Most unusual sighting for here was a pair of Reed Buntings on the Whitegate Way near Gull Pool. They were mating so definitely a pair! One Pied Wagtail was in the ploughed fields where a Lapwing was sitting on a nest, I fear the farmer has more work to do in this field though no Both Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen as well as heard. Otherwise the usuals, a couple of 'showy' Garden Warblers, Swallow , Sand Martin and Greylag Goose still.



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Good News on the Tawny Owl taken to Stapeley Grange. The bird has made a full recovery and will be released back at Newchurch Common, hopefully this week smile



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Another great visit in the sunshine today, albeit a tad nippy, started at 7.30am and stayed until early afternoon.

The highlight was a singing Lesser Whitethroat, my first ever on the patch and my 100th bird seen over the year and a half that I've been recording here smile The bird was off the Whitegate Way opposite Gull Pool. The other main news was the return of the female Smew, which I hadn't seen since 11th April. A large number of Tufted Ducks had returned, a quick count reached 70, many of which were in the centre of the pool (with the Smew) looking around quite warily like newly arrived birds. I am confident that the Smew arrived with this flock. A male Wheatear was another good bird, in the ploughed fields by Sandy Lane, my third bird of the Spring after never having had one before.

More usual fare was provided by a couple of showy Garden Warblers, over a hundred Sand Martins still over Sandiway Big Pool with 30 or so Swallows and a couple of House Martins. Two Greylag Geese were mobile over the pools, a Collared Dove flew over and two Linnets were on the mosses as was a Reed Bunting.



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Todays morning visit was again in cold, overcast conditions with compacted hail or snow on the ground still in places!!

A similar day weatherwise but very different birdwise with two yearticks for my patch and UK lists! The highlight was a male Cuckoo, first heard just once but later found on the island on Sandiway Big Pool before it flew off north. It had sporadic bursts of Cuckoo-ing but since I reckon it is the only male in at the moment it isn't really 'going for it' yet! Presumably it is still around and will start to call more in time. My second new bird was House Martin, with upwards of 20 birds over Big Pool and the adjacent fields, along with at least 200 Sand Martins and 60 Swallows, quite a spectacle.

At least 3 Garden Warblers were seen, and are starting to take up territories I remember them on from last year and showing well. Several Rooks are utilising the newly ploughed fields as were two Linnets. Green Woodpecker is still present but becoming harder to see and now only usually heard on each visit.



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A bit late, a morning visit on Monday 24th April, cold & overcast.

A Garden Warbler was singing & showing in birch scrub on the mosslands whilst a Skylark sang overhead. A Collared Dove on Dairy Farm roof and two Stock Doves over Sandy Lane were less common species seen for here. Sand Martins and Swallows were over Sandiway Big Pool but in small numbers. Little more of note to report.



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Back for a morning walk in the sunshine, getting hotter as the day went on.

After my first patch Wheatear earlier in the week along came a second today with a male in the ploughed field by the Pine Belt. A Pied Wagtail was in another ploughed field but nothing else! Work parties on the pool meant that all the ducks were flushed into the middle of the pool revealing around 60 Tufted Ducks but little else of interest. Linnet, Skylark, Reed Bunting and Treecreeper were all good records for the patch today.



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Another morning walk, but this time much more overcast and cooler than of late.

The highlight was my first (of many if last year was anything to go by) Garden Warbler of the year, seen briefly and singing and scolding on the edge of the Mosslands near the Whitegate Way. Another good day with several sightings of uncommon birds for the patch. Another Oystercatcher was seen, this time a single bird circling and calling over the mosslands. Two Greylag Geese flew over the same area, two Linnets were still here and a Skylark was up singing here too. A Tawny Owl called briefly in a private wooded area, not a common occurrance for me here. Several Sand Martins were again over Sandiway Big Pool with two Swallows. A single Rook flew over the mosslands, again not a common bird on patch.

 



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Back home after Easter at the In-Laws and a patch visit was essential, funny how you miss it when you're away!!

And am I glad I went down today with 2 Patch Lifers and an additional Patch Yeartick, I don't get many days down there like this! Having warm sunshine helped but a thin covering of ice on a shallow puddle showed just how cold it had been overnight.

The first highlight was the discovery of a female Wheatear in a ploughed field as I drove in, luckily still within my patch boundaries and somewhere I have been checking for at least two week for just this sort of thing, just reward (low res pic attached). Three Linnets flew out of the same field, a patch yeartick on 7th April but still great to see again, and all this before I had even reached my parking spot! Later I had two more pairs of Linnets, all on the mosslands. The other main highlight cam almost at the end of my walk as I returned to re-check the pools out on my way back. Amazingly hawking over the middle of Sandiway Big Pool was a Common Tern. With nowhere for it to perch I knew that I wouldn't get a digiscoped shot so I just enjoyed it for the next 45mins or so. Later on returning in the afternoon to possibly video it I found that it had departed. In between the two patch lifers I had a pair of Oystercatchers fly over calling, my next patch yeartick of the day. Wader habitat is zero on here so they are rare. I watched as they flew off over the Pine Belt and were lost to view.

No Smew today, not many waterfowl at all, but a few Sand Martins over the pool. Green Woodpecker and Skylark were on the mossland section and a Goldcrest was still around near the main central track between the pools.

 



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Wednesday 19th of April 2017 11:54:13 AM



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On this morning and at first I thought that I would be abandoning the walk in favour of a mission of mercy! A Tawny Owl was founf by the main track, exhausted and with bedraggled tail feathers that had a bit of mud caked in them (like they had got wet & dried off later). The RSPCA were called & to their credit they arrived very swiftly, I thought I may have to stay with the bird all morning. I had health checked the bird prior to them coming and it had intact wings,and legs, no broken bones there. The sternum musculature wasn't great, the bird seemed underweight and was obviously in shock/exhausted, possibly due to having got wet and then losing temperature. The bird has been taken to Stapeley Grange and so will get the best chances of recovery there, I have everyhting crossed. (see picture).

With the swift RSPCA response I was able to carry on my walk and the main news was that the female Smew was still on Sandiway Big Pool with a good sized Tufted Duck flock. Over 200 Sand Martins were over the pool with around 4 Swallows but no House Martins. Big numbers of all three warbler species in on site so far, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap. A Green Woopecker was in the paddocks area near the entrance. Late news from Sunday 9th was that a Mallard had a brood of 10 ducklings on the flooded field near the entrance track, my first duck brood this year.



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I had a short walk this afternoon, mainly looking for invertebrates in the sunshine, but there were birds about!!

A new species was added to the 2017 list with 2 Linnets on the mosslands section of patch. Now at least 6 Willow Warblers as well as double-figure counts of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.



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A couple of visits today amassed a reasonable species total but nothing outstanding amongst them!

The female Smew was again on Sandiway Big Pool and was very mobile, not staying in one particular area all the time I was watching her. Over 60 Tufted Ducks were on and very few fishermen, all helping with her staying a bit longer. Three Swallows and two Sand Martins were over Big Pool too and lots of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and three Willow Warblers were around too. A Skylark was again singing over the mosslands. Nearby just outside my recording area (unfortunately) a Yellowhammer was seen. Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers were present again. Other good birds of note for the area were Collared Dove, Stock Dove and Coal Tit, although the latter is being seen on every visit at the moment!



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Another split walk, starting in the morning and then returning in the sfternoon because I just couldn't waste the lovely sunshine, although once I got out it was a tad breezier than I had expected!

I added a new bird to the 2017 Newchurch list for me over on the mosslands section with a singing Skylark, beautiful against the azure sky. Summer visitors were well represented with 2 Sand Martins, 7 Blackcaps, a Willow Warbler and over 20 Chiffchaffs. The pools were packed with fishermen with hardly a peg unused and ducks were scarce, only Tufted Ducks to note, with about 30 of them present. A Goldcrest and a Coal Tit were both noted in the Whitegate Way area.



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Had a split walk today, the main one in the morning then with my wife on the horse this afternoon in warm sunshine.

The main news was that the female Smew was back on Sandiway Big Pool, favouring the far north-west corner with a small group of Tufted Ducks. Not a lot else on the pools but a Grey Heron flew over fields to the east in the sfternoon. Two Swallows were over fields by Sandy Lane near Dairy Farm in the afternoon too whilst a few Willow Warblers are now singing on the patch. A Goldcrest singing in the Pine Belt was the only other bird of note today.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Sunday 2nd of April 2017 09:30:36 PM

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An interesting morning as much for what was not there as for what was biggrin

New birds for the 2017 Newchurch List were Willow Warbler and Blackcap. Both expected and wierdly within about 50m of each other by the main track at the far end of Sandiway Big Pool. On the pool itself no sign of the Smew again but today for the first time in ages no sign of the Red-crested Pochard. The latter has gone AWOL before so it will be interesting to see if it turns up again. A Kingfisher flashed past on Big Pool and a drake Shoveler plus the pair of Wigeon were both still present. Chiffchaffs were everywhere today but most unexpecetd was a single Lesser Redpoll near the entrance in Finch Hedge.



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Down on patch this morning, sunny but pretty nippy, glove weather until late am really.

Only new bird in was a drake Shoveler on Sandiway Big Pool, and the first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard continued its stay in West Bay on the same pool. Around 50 Tufted Ducks were countede with no Smew still. Very queit otherwise with notable passerines (ones not seen every visit) including Green Woodpecker and Coal Tit. Chiffchaffs are numerous now, heard and seen across the site. Several Redwings were still feeding in the horse paddocks. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers in display, flapping and leapfrogging each other like Birds of Paradise was most entertaining.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Monday 27th of March 2017 10:05:45 PM

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Another morning walk in the sun, getting warmer as the day progressed.

The biggest surprise was a female Goldeneye on Sandiway Big Pool, which also held the first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard and the pair of Wigeon still. A Cormorant was still on Big Pool but no sign of the Smew yet again with Tufted Duck numbers relatively low.

Passerines included spring migrant Chiffchaff and winter visitors Redwing and Fieldfare. A Treecreeper was again in the pine belt. Lots of Buzzards were up in the thermals but a relatively quiet visit for wildlife, not so for fishermen, one of whom commented that it was the busiest he'd ever seen at the pool for anglers. Please be aware that any pegs in use for angling are off limits for birders smile



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Down for a morning walk, fine & sunny but very windy today. But overall a brilliant day smile

Highlights included two new birds for the patch in 2017 with one a full yeartick for me. The new bird for my UK Yearlist was Sand Martin, expected but still nice to see. Eight birds were over Sandiway Big Pool early am but when I left they had departed too. The patch tick for the year was a male Brambling in alders near Big Pool Island, really unexpected as I had written off this species until next winter. Other migrants included one White Wagtail in the ploughed fields with several Pied Wagtails, and a singing Chiffchaff. Winter visitors were still represented with 5 Fieldfares and a Redwing present. A Green Woodpecker was heard too and two Stock Doves seen. A Coal Tit was singing and 10 Lapwings were now on breeding territory.

On the pools the first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard remained as did the pair of Wigeon, but no sign of the Smew. 53 Tufted Ducks included one incredibly white-faced female, I hope she isn't reported as a Scaup! A single Herring Gull was also on Big Pool.

All in all a great walk round smile



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Again I managed a morning visit in the slightly cooler and overcast conditions today.

The female Smew was on Sandiway Big Pool out in the middle diving for food. The first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard was stiil in West Bay of the same pool. Tufted Duck numbers were back up above 60, so the Smew being seen was not unexpected. A single drake Gadwall and the pair of Wigeon were on Big Pool too, as well as the return of the Mute Swan family after a long absence. Five Lesser Black-backed Gulls over was the only notable larid sighting.

A Treecreeper was in the Pine Belt, and as people who know me know, I can't hear this species, but by the beak movements this was was clearly singing its head off! Another species I can't hear, Goldcrest, was also seen. Ones I can hear that were present were Green Woodpecker and Redwings & Fieldfares. The rarest passerine on my patch that was seen today was a Greenfinch near the parking area closely followed by a Collared Dove over the fields to the NE. Coal Tits were again seen and heard and Long-tailed Tits were nest building. Five Lapwings were in the ploughed fields but again only a pair of resident Pied Wagtails rather than migrant White Wagtails. The expected arrival of hirundines didn't happen today but hopefully it won't be long smile



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A morning visit for a couple of hours, weather generally fine but whisps of rain in the wind at times.

After Sunday's first migrant (White Wagtail) today I came up with the second one on site in the shape of Chiffchaff. At least one bird was singing and feeding well on the clouds of biting flies today on the east side of Sandiway Big Pool. The first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard was again in West Bay with a pair of Wigeon here too. No sign of the Smew and only 44 Tufted Ducks. A Green Woodpecker called and a few Redwings and Fieldfares were seen still. A male Reed Bunting skulked in bankside brambles on Big Pool and a pair of Coal Tits were on the island of the same pool.



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Another good visit today which produced a few surprises but none of the spring migrants that I was actually expecting!!

The first surprise was the sight of 2 female Pintails on Sandiway Big Pool, the birds stayed out amongst the gull flock and looked very wary and could not settle at all. A while later predictably they were gone. Also out amongst the gulls were the two summer plumaged adult Mediterranean Gulls, nice to see that they are still around. Not around was the female Smew, but again lots of fishing pegs in use, however the Tufted Duck numbers were down so she is probably with a flock of these that has departed. Whether they return or not this month is anyone's guess. The first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard was still in West Bay however. New in were four Shovelers, one female followed by three drakes, but no Wigeon, Teal or Gadwall today. Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were still around in good numbers.

Away from the pools a surprise was a fall in newly ploughed fields of around 30 Pied Wagtails which included one White Wagtail and a couple of birds which superficially looked like White Wagtails but the dusky flanks pointed more towards a hybrid origin. In the same ploughed field were 8 Lapwings so there numbers are still rising. There were still around 50 Fieldfares and 50 Redwings about in the arable fields. Stock Doves, a Green Woodpecker and a Raven were all recorded today, always good birds and not seen on every visit.

The final bird was seen later in the day when we were walking the horse, a Grey Heron flying over horse paddocks on Sandy Lane, heading towards Big Pool.



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A very nice visit in the warm sunshine today, albeit a tad breezy. Lots of fishing pegs in use so a bit of disturbance but surrounding fields being ploughed thus attracting huge numbers of gulls to the area.

The undoubted highlight was a 2017 UK Yeartick for me in the shape of a pair of Mediterranean Gulls, both in adult summer plumage, at around 11.50am. These were out in the middle of Sandiway Big Pool amongst over 300 gulls, mainly Black-headed and Common, but with a few Herring Gulls on the water and Lesser Black-backed Gulls over. I say pair because they even displayed to each other on the lake, great to see. Also on Big Pool was the first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard but no sign of the Smew, typically missing on a day that the water is most disturbed, I have every confidence that she will be back. Only two Wigeon were seen (a pair) and no Gadwall or Teal.

Lots of Fieldfares were amongst the stubble to the north of the pools, around 100 I guess, with a few Redwings and a couple of Mistle Thrushes. Four Stock Doves were here also. A Sparrowhawk was seen over Small Pool and lots of Buzzards included 5 together in one thermal. A Raven was seen in a tumbling display flight on the north side. Otherwise the usual array of species, no obvious spring migrants yet, but a departure of wildfowl is evident.

One report of note, passed onto me by my fishermen pals was of an escaped Cockatiel present on Monday, which I just missed after sitting chatting with them. Ah well, I couldn't have added it to the official list but it would have been interesting to see on patch!

 



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A strange visit today, just pounding the roads around the perimeter of my patch as I walked with Carys as she rode the horse that we are looking after!

Highlight was another new bird for the Patchlist 2017 - Meadow Pipit, two of which flew up from paddocks by the road into a tree. Lots of winter thrushes were seen, the majority being Fieldfares and Redwings but a couple of Mistle Thrushes were with the flocks too. Two Pied Wagtails were in the horse paddocks, a species only added to the patch yearlist a few days ago!

Nearby, but off my official patch, the Tawny Owl was vocal near wher the horse is stabled. Several Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen in this area too.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Tuesday 7th of March 2017 08:52:08 PM

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Back at Newchurch in the sunshine, post-work parties today.

Predictably the female Smew was on show for most of the time, feeding on the north side of Sandiway Big Pool, the first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard was still in West Bay. Four female Goosanders were also on Big Pool as well as a pair of Gadwall and 8 Wigeon. A Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Cormorant were on the pool, both not usual at this time of the year actually on either pool. A Kingfisher was seen twice over Big Pool too.

Still a few winter visitors in the shape of Siskins, Redwings and Fieldfares but I hope to see the arrival of summer migrants soon as they are trikling into the UK now. Four Lapwings were again seen.

One sad report that visitors sould be aware of was a couple of travellers rabbiting on site, checking with baliffs they were trespassing and illegally rabbiting but when I asked politely for them to move they threatened me very aggresively and said they would 'punch the lights out' of anyone else challenging them. Warrington AC have been informed as well as the police, but after their threats they left site pretty quickly. Hopefully now that they have been challenged they will go somewhere else. But please be aware of the possibility they may be here if you visit. Do not approach them. They were in a Gutters & Fascias transit type van, so plaese be careful, especially if you go on on your own.



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Managed a couple of sojurns onto patch this weekend, the proper on in decent weatehr on Saturday and then walking the horse with my wife in rain this morning!

On the main visit yesterday the first-winter Red-crested Pochard was still in West Bay on Sandiway Big Pool, but extensive work parties were causing lots of disturbance and that's the reason I think that I couldn't find the Smew. Another birding friend message me yesterday and he was down at a different time searching and also couldn't find the Smew either. Again duck numbers were low but 8 Wigeon and a pair of Gadwall were still present. A mixed group of 20 big gulls flew oevr Big Pool, made up of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Two new species for my patch yearlist were seen in the shape of a nice male Reed Bunting in stubble on the north side and a Pied Wagtail in the horse paddocks. Big flocks of winter thrushes included at least 80 Fieldfares and 60 Redwings. Four Lapwings were now in the breeding fields! A Green Woodpecker showed very well near the car parking area on a large tree.

The only addition when we were with the horse today was a Collared Dove, which was new for the year on the patch!!



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Looking at the weather I decided an afternoon visit today was best and was rewarded with bright sunshine, warm at times, even small clouds of flies were flying, felt like Spring!

Arriving I bumped into birding friend Tom from Runcorn on a visit so we teamed up and I gave him the grand tour, on my normal winter route round. The two top-billing (sorry for the pun) ducks were still on Sandiway Big Pool, the female Smew out in the middle-ish and the first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard still in West Bay. A new bird in was a drake Common Pochard. Seven Wigeon (4 drakes) were now present but only one Gadwall (drake) and one Teal (drake). After being missing recently a single Cormorant flew over.

Three Lapwings are now on the breeding fields which is good news. Over 25 Redwings were seen but only a handful of Fieldfares. Late afternoon saw a small passage of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls flying over.

A very enjoyable walk with good company in excellent weather, and target birds seen too smile



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Initially other plans meant that I wouldn't be able to visit my patch today, but this changed at the last minute and I was able to spend the morning at Newchurch Common. Both Green and Great Spotted Woopeckers were seen, the former being particualrly vocal today, nice to hear.

The female Smew showed very well as did the first-winter Red-crested Pochard, both as usual on Sandiway Big Pool. Two redhead Goosanders were on Small Pool but duck numbers were down drastically overall. Only 3(2 drake) Gadwall and one drake Wigeon were seen along with a pair of Teal.

Over 200 Fieldfares were moving around the site but only 40 Redwings were seen. Ten Siskins and 2 Lesser Redpolls were in mixed finch flocks with numerous Goldfinches, the latter species numbering over 60 birds in total. A Goldcrest and at least 2 Coal Tits were in the Pine Belt. A Lapwing was in display over the breeding field. Other birds seen today but not seen on every visit included Stock Dove and Pheasant.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Tuesday 28th of February 2017 10:41:52 PM

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Just down the road and off my official 'patch' boundaries ( cry ) a Tawny Owl was calling late morning at Foxwist Green as we were grooming the horse that my wife Carys was about to ride!! I usually have a daytime calling one on patch so I will be more alert now!



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The morning after the day before! I decided to go and see what Storm Doris had done to my Patch, and the general impression was she'd cleared out q.a few birds as well as bringing down at least 3 trees and innumerable branches.

The first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard was still in West Bay but no obvious sign of the female Smew, although Tufted Duck numbers were down and she was probably has flown off temporarily with some of them to another local water, as she frequently does. Other wildfowl counts were also down but an extra species was Greylag Goose, with four flying over late morning, initially picked up by their different flight call to the numerous Canada Geese flying around.

A new 2017 species was added in the form of Pheasant. As usual Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen. Four Coal Tits in one area of pines was a good count. At least 6 Buzzards were up displaying in the sunshine. Only 3 Redwings were seen and no Fieldfares, but a Mistle Thrush instead. One surprise was a lone Lapwing back in their breeding fields, claiming an early territory!



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A short afternoon visit but still plenty of species. Decide to call in as I had just checked out another local site that in previous years had had Bramblings. true to form it didn't disappoint with up to 4 Bramblings seen along with 150 Redwings smile

So on to Newchurch Common. Again the female Smew was present and again very elusive disappearing not long after I had found her. The 1w drake Red-crested Pochard showed well as usual. Two Goosanders (a pair) were unexpected on Big Pool, along with the regular duck species including Teal. The Mute Swans were seen after going missing yesterday and amazingly were with their 2 young for the first time in ages! Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were present again. A nice Redpoll sowed well in the tops of trees along with Fieldfares and Redwings, a strange flock for the finch to be with really. Both Song and Mistle Thrushes were in full song today too. Other species not always seen included Stock Dove on the north side and both Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Big Pool. The usual pair of Bullfinches were still stripping buds off Finch Hedge, it's amazing it ever gets to come into leaf each year..... but it always does!



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Another visit this morning. Fine, dry and a bit warmer, although overcast most of the time.

After a prolonged search the female Smew showed on sandiway Big Pool, she can be very elusive at the moment! The 1w drake Red-crested Pochard showed well, still in West Bay on the same pool. Teal were again seen, otherwise the usual wildfowl mix. Interestingly Tufted Ducks were seen mating today. Siskins, Redpoll and Bullfinches were all present. A Green Woodpecker was near the Pine Belt. The Redwing and Fieldfare flocks had moved due to farm work but were in fields near the Pine Belt. Several Herring Gulls were over the pools and moving through, something I noticed elsewhere in Cheshire today.



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No problem Paul, must have missed you as I was down all morning from pretty early to 12.30pm. Met up with a Nantwich birding pal who I showed around too smile

Fabulous day, bitterly cold but bright sunshine which brought the birds out in numbers. The female Smew was with it's group of Tufted Ducks on Sandiway Big Pool as usual, she's probably there all the time just sometimes very elusive. The first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard was stil in West Bay as he has been for the past three weeks, and was the target of the birder I was showing around, so he was happy. Teal were present on Big Pool as well as lots of Wigeon but a reduced number of Gadwall today. A Kingfisher was, as usual, showing well on Small Pool, seem to get one on every visit at the moment smile

Siskins were everywhere, even down on the puddles, I estimate over 60 today, along with a lone Redpoll. Over 200 Redwings were in one field whilst 2 fields away it was 50 Fieldfares, funny how they didn't mix today. New here for 2017 was a Treecreeper near Big Pool island. A few pairs of Buzzards were displaying around the site and a couple of Stock Doves were seen. A Goldcrest was in the pine belt as usual.

Little out of the ordinary today but the sheer number of birds and amount of birdsong and display was fantastic, a pleasure to be out and about.

 



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Wednesday 15th of February 2017 09:51:10 AM

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Thanks Paul for keeping us updated and yes, the female Smew was back on the Big Pool today, showing well but rather distantly, associating with Tufted Duck.
The Red Crested Pochard was hard up against the western shore giving good views.

Otherwise plenty of Siskin, Redwings, Chaffinch, and Long Tailed Tits in the alder trees near the entrance, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. No greens for me, but I had already been to Dunham Massey and had a great view of one in the sunshine.
Several Wigeon on both pools, two Little Grebe on the Big Pool, with several Teal, Canada Geese and Cormorant.

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Went for a morning stroll and weather was overcast but dry, but also perishingly cold!

The first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard was still favouring West Bay on Sandiway Big Pool, but three circuits of the pool and a check of Small Pool failed to locate the Smew. Between 8 and 13 Goosanders were present. 8, including 3 drakes, were together on Small Pool and later at least 5 were on Big Pool, but whether these were different birds I couldn't say. Several Little Grebes as usual were on Big Pool as well as a drake Teal. A Kingfisher was on Small Pool again, always nice to see. Unusually a Herring Gull was down on Small Pool too.

Two Sparrowhawks were seen, a male and a female, the former in the Small Pool area and the latter over Big Pool. Two Green Woodpeckers were also present as well as one Great Spotted Woodpecker. A group of 6 Bullfinches was nice to see in Finch Hedge (where else!!). Other winter usuals present were Siskin, Redwing and Fieldfare.

Sorry for my birding friends from Kelsall who came to see the Smew that it wasn't seen today. She does get on other waters & so will almost certainly be back soo, I'll keep everyone posted as usual.



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A pleasant walk this morning to see the Red crested Pochard, which was very obliging, unlike the Smew which did not appear!  Gadwall and a Little Grebe were also seen, and a Raven heard. The birds in the hedges were very vocal, especially a flock of over 10 Siskins with at least 1 Redpoll.  A pair of Bullfinches and small flock of Chaffinches were also foraging by the side of the bridleway, and a Buzzard was overhead.



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A much longer visit to Newchurch today with an earlier start, and this time in the sunshine, cery pleasant.

The first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard was picked up pretty early on and some decent pictures obtained as it fed again in West Bay, Big Pool. A long search of Sandiway Big Pool finally paid off when I found the female Smew. I contacted my mate regarding the Redesmere bird but he didn't have any news for today, so it is still possible that one or two Smew are present in Cheshire! Three Goosanders were on Small Pool including one drake but they all flew off later. Two drake Teal were on Big Pool and an increased number of Wigeon (40) seemed to be present. A single Mute Swan was present after none yesterday, which was puzzling. A Herring Gull was again over Big Pool with the Common and Black-headed Gulls.

New for this years patch list were 30 Lapwings that flew over near the site entrance. Over 100 Fieldfares were seen along with a few Redwings and Song Thrushes were in full song all over the site. A Green Woodpecker was recorded for the first time in several visits but Goldcrest was seen again near the Pine Belt. A Raven flew over again and two male Bullfinches were in Finch Hedge.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Friday 3rd of February 2017 10:29:58 PM

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I managed a late morning walk down on Newchurch Common, ending when the heavens opened, but a better weather scenario than forecast so I can't complain!

The first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard was still showing well near West Bay on Sandiway Big Pool but no sign of the female Smew in quite an exhaustive search. I had a customer in Focalpoint yesterday who had failed to find it in a morning visit then too. This is interesting given that a redhead Smew has turned up on Redesmere lake in Cheshire. Duck numbers were generally lower than of recent times, so I wonder if there has been a departure of wildfowl, including the Smew?

Two stunning drake Goldeneye were on Big Pool accompanying a female but they seemed very unsettled & soon flew off, later I found a lone female Goldeneye on Small Pool, another bird or one of the three? Also on Small Pool it was nice to see one redhead Goosander after none on my last visit. A single drake Teal was on Big Pool and totals of Gadwall and Wigeon were low at about 20 of each. Little Grebes are present on Big Pool but skulking in the margins, but at least no water is frozen now.

A group of 8 Siskins was seen and 60 Goldfinches was an exceptional count in Finch Hedge, where a male Bullfinch was stripping hawthorn buds. Six Stock Doves were in arable fields to the north, my first sighting here of this species in 2017. Another birder I see here regularly also had no seen any yet when I saw him last week, so nice to pick these up.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Thursday 2nd of February 2017 03:05:36 PM

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Finally, having thrown off the dreaded lurgy to feel strong enough for a 2 hour walk I could get back onto my patch!

The female Smew ond the first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard were both still on Sandiway Big Pool, but no Goosander were seen on either pool. However, Small Pool was 90% frozen and some of the margins of Big Pool were iced up too. Two Kingfishers were seen on Big Pool which was nice and a Raven flew over nearby cronking away. Lots of Little and Great Crested Grebes were seen. Unusual were six Greylag Geese on Big Pool, which were joined by 20 Canada Geese, but nothing more rare. A Goldcrest flitted about near the main track but generally passerine numbers were low.



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A short visit this afternoon in the murk 7 drizzle, didn't look great for birding, and it wasn't!

The female Smew was on Sandiway Big Pool and I was able to show it to a visiting birder from Nantwich who was visiting the site for it, so that was worth the visit for me anyway smile Other than that just 20 Siskins to show for the visit. Goosander was recorded on Small Pool too still. One Lesser Redpoll was seen near the entrance too, my first of 2017 so that was good.



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Had a short afternoon visit today after a few days at work and the female Smew and first-winter drake Red-crested Pochard both showed pretty well on Sandiway Big Pool. At least four Goosanders counted across the two pools, three (2 drake) Shoveler on Big Pool as well as 10 Teal. A pair of Pochards were on Small Pool. Still over 40 each of Wigeon, Gadwall and Tufted Duck. A Snipe was also on Big Pool, the first there for a while.

A pair of Ravens was particularly active over the Big Pool/Pine Belt area all afternoon. Siskins were seen in a couple of locations too.

Still loads of birders visiting to twitch stuff so please be courteous to other site users. Today a car was blocking the main track and the farmer was stuck for 30 mins whilst the owner was away somewhere. I don't know whether it was a birder or not, I hope not disbelief A dog-walker suggested it was a photographer, but whether he was a bird photographer or not I don't know. The farmer removes the concrete blocks when he is working which opens up the main track but there is still no access at all, cars MUST park outside on Novia Scotia Lane as usual.



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Early morning visit in less that ideal conditions, very misty first thing, Eventually the mist lifted to reveal highlights of
Smew 1f
Red-crested Pochard 1m
Wigeon 4
Little Grebe 3
Green Woodpecker 2
Goldcrest 2
Nuthatch 2


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