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Post Info TOPIC: Newchurch Common


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Newchurch Common


Headed down earlier than usual to try to see if any early migrants were around that may be gone later in the day. A dull, cold, dreary day, with a cool breeze and occasional rain showers, not Spring-like at all!

In spite of the weather a great day on patch, it always is when you add a Patch Lifer to your list and that's what I did today, albeit a common bird elsewhere. With no wader habitat on my patch this group of birds is scarce and I've only ever recorded a handful, but today I picked up a Redshank standing on the submerged willow spit out in Sandiway Big Pool. This is where I've often had Snipe too, but it's hard having to rely on waders perching in trees to add them to the patchlist! Also on Big Pool was the female Smew again, near the submerged willow spit as usual, but elusive, with a small group of Tufted Ducks, which are now down to only about 25 birds. A Cormorant flew over, now it's spring sightings of this species will be rare. There were much greater numbers of Herring & Lesser Black-backed Gulls around, both over and on Big Pool. Two Greylag Geese flew in too.

The passerine highlight was the first Blackcaps of 2018 here, with 3 singing males noted. Also present were 2 Willow Warblers and 6+Chiffchaffs. Two male Reed Buntings were noted, a good count for here. Over Big Pool a good sized hirundine flock contained 40 Sand Martins, 20 Swallows and 2 House Martins. Other notable birds seen were Pied Wagtail, Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tit. A Green Woodpecker was present east of Big Pool again.

 



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Wednesday 11th of April 2018 06:51:11 PM

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Another short morning walk and the weather couldn't have been more different, cold, breezy and overcast.

The main event was a fall of hirundines onto Big Pool, the air above it was teeming with them skimming low over the surface. There were c.70 Sand Martins in the flock which alos contained 5 Swallows and 1 House Martin, so all three species ticked off in one go, not what I usually do! I was a little hypnotised watching them but managed to spend a few minutes checking the rest of the pool. The female Smew was actually hauled out under dense vegetation on the island, incredibly hard to see. There were a lot more fishermen on today and they were on pegs adjacent to all her favoured spots so I think she had been totally displaced. two drake Shovelers lurked in the submerged willow spit on Big Pool and my first Gadwall for ages was a drake on Small Pool. The Cormorant was still on Big Pool too. Three Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew over the former set-aside.

Two Collared Doves were in 'The Paddocks' estate, a sscarcity on patch. Three Fieldfares were in trees north of Big Pool. A Long-tailed Tit was collecting nest material in the Pine Belt. Two Stock Doves flew over the north side too.



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My first visit in April this morning in gorgeous sunny weather, cold at first but pretty warm by midday.

The female Smew was on Big Pool again, still favouring the area near the submerged willow spit, her new favoured spot now that more anglers are on the pools and East Bay has become quite disturbed. The only other wildfowl of note was a female Shoveler in the same area. The lone Cormorant was still perched in the willows too.

Passerine highlight was my first Willow Warbler of the year over on the mosslands, 4+Chiffchaffs were also around the site. A male Reed Bunting, an infrequent sight, was seen near Big Pool. Also noteworthy were a Treecreeper near Small Pool along with a Coal Tit in the same pines. The only Green Woodpecker was on the mosslands as was a singing Skylark. Two Rooks flew over Big Pool and a Stock Dove was over ploughed fields on the east side of the site. Single Pied Wagtails were seen in 2 locations, near Sandy Lane and near Gull Pool. A lone Redwing was seen near Big Pool and a Linnet was back in a breeding area, rather than in winter flocks as it would have been just a few weeks ago.

50 species were seen, without the winter wildfowl which departed at the end of March and without any other summer visitors bar the 2 warbler species!



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Down to Newchurch am, weather dull & dreary!

The first notable find was that the female Smew was back on Sandiway Big Pool after not being seen on my last two visits, but as she is mobile and elusive at the moment it's a matter of luck catching her on each visit. The other main highlight was the discovery of two White Wagtails on passage in the field that keeps on giving - the, now ploughed, set-aside.
 
The rest of the walk was interspersed with good birds amongst the usual fare. At least three Chiffchaffs sang bravely in the cold & gloomy weather, the only summer migrants to have made it to my local patch so far. In contrast to a sign of the advent of summer, three Redwings and a Fieldfare were a hangover from winter. A Coal Tit was near 'Finch Hedge' and a Skylark sang its uplifting song over on the Mosslands, where a Rook, not seen often on patch, also flew over. A few Lapwings were in their breeding fields, taking to the air to vociferously defend their territory whenever a corvid flew over.


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Horrid weather am so popped over to Newchurch pm today, dull & windy and not very warm!

A female Brambling was still on the north side of Big Pool with only about 7 Chaffinches. A nice Lesser Redpoll was again in Finch Hedge with the Bullfinches and Goldfinches. Two Fieldfares were still in the fields near the parking area and a Pied Wagtail (seen only 1 in 5 visits at the mo) was by a pool by Sandy Lane. A Treecreeper was again in the Pine Belt. Four Lapwings were in their breeding field. Just one Green Woodpecker today.

The pools were dead, only Tufted Ducks and Mallards of the duck species seen, and no Smew again. Both Lesser Black-backed & Herring Gulls were seen.

 



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Spent the morning in the warm sunshine, so warm at times I was too hot in my usual birding garb, but I'll heed the warning to 'ne'er cast a clout til May be out', so the coat stays on.... for now.

A female Brambling was seen on the east side of Big Pool, on her own & first picked up on call, there may be more lingering but I didn't check the Chaffinch flocks on the north side today. A Chiffchaff showed ridiculously well, coming to within 12 feet of me as it fed unconcerned in the gorse by Big Pool. Another new bird for me for patch was a Skylark over farm fields towards the western patch boundary. Three different Green Woodpeckers were seen today, scattered across site and I lost count of the numbers of Jays! A few Fieldfares were still around in the field by the parking area, but seemed much more unsettled today. Two Siskins were also seen.

On the pools wildfowl numbers were again down with the only noteworthy count being 5 Shoveler. The lone Cormorant was still on Big Pool and singles of Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull joined the myriad Black-headed Gulls and 18 Common Gulls. No sign of the Smew today but with only about 20 Tufted Ducks on the pools, she may be on another local pool with her favoured group.



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We called in here on the way back from North Wales this afternoon. The female Smew was again in the area of the willow spit showing nicely from time to time, mainly in the little bay running in behind the willows. No Wigeon or Cormorant for us but 33 Tufted Ducks, including one 'Scaup-faced' female, at least 7 Shoveler which all flew off together, 2 Gadwall, mainly behind the willows, and 2 Little Grebes over by the pegs on the north side of Big Pool. Nice chat with one of the fishermen about the Smew and luckily we got the chance to give him a good view of her as she worked her way along the front of the willows. He reckons the north pegs are a good place to see Grass Snakes swimming past later in the year.

First Chiffchaff of the year heard but not seen on the west side of Big Pool; Siskin, Robin, Blue Tit, Chaffinch along the main path, with a couple of Mistle Thrushes having a fight near the paddocks and a Lapwing in the ploughed field viewed from the parking place.

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Another day at Newchurch, another guided walk, one to one this time with my old PhD supervisor! Cold & windy at times but dry, and still really dry underfoot!

The female Smew was again near the willow spit on the east side of Big Pool, showing well at times for a change. However there had been a movement of wildfowl off the pools with only 8 Wigeon, no Gadwall, and 6 Shoveler seen. Still quite a few Tufted Ducks though. One Mute Swan is now on the nest, with just the adult pair left on the pools. A lone Cormorant was again on Big Pool.

One Brambling was again seen in Chaffinch flocks on the north side of Big Pool and here and elsewhere lots of winter thrushes were moving around and feeding, an estimated 120 Fieldfares and 140 Redwings. Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard were all seen. Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers were again heard. Four Lapwings were again in the breeding field which has now been ploughed. The set-aside has now been planted with a potato crop.



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A bit late this morning but another pleasant walk in the sunshine. Met up with a previous aquaintance who had brought a birding group for a day at Newchurch so spent the morning guiding them round, very pleasant, really enjoyed it and all seemed pleased with the tour too smile

The female Smew was on the east side of Big Pool again, a lifer for a couple of those present. Around 10 Shovelers and a pair of Teal were again on the pool. The first Cormorant for a while was on the willow spit.

A single Brambling was seen, with Chaffinches on the north side of Big Pool. 50 Fieldfares and 12 Redwings were mobile, mostly seen in flight in at least 3 flocks. A pair of Treecreepers was watched in display in the Pine Belt, a mesmerising sight as the spiralled around the trees, with a Coal Tit in the same vicinity. A couple of Green Woodpeckers were heard yaffling. Lapwings were again in the maize stubble by the Pine Belt. A Kestrel flew over the north side of Big Pool.



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My first visit to Newchurch in a while, fine and dry but breezy at times.

The female Smew was again on Sandiway Big Pool, out in the centre feeding and pretty elusive. 20(7fem) Shovelers equalled my highest count and a pair of Teal were still present. Winter wildfowl numbers were down with only 6 Gadwall and 32 Wigeon (20 on Big Pool, 12 on Small Pool). Good news (one one hand) from DEFRA today, the dead Mute Swan was not a victim of Bird Flu but was severely emaciated with a high gut parasite load and succumbed during the freezing weather of the 'Beast from the East'.

The set-aside is now fully ploughed and there were no finches in that area at all, the end of the Brambling bonanza for this winter I'm afraid. A Green Woodpecker was present though and a nice Siskin showed well in Finch Hedge with the usual Bullfinches. A Raven flew over cronking again and a couple of Lapwings were in fields to the easty of Pine Belt.



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Headed down to Newchurch a wee bit earlier today and had a longer walk, cold & breezy but dry.

The female Smew was loafing about in her usual East Bay haunt on Big Pool, I headed there first in case she decided to hide away again later! Around 7 Shoveler were on view and a single Teal flew over. Gadwall numbers are definitely decreasing but Tufted Duck and Wigeon numbers seem more or less stable for now. A sign of Spring, at least before the cold snap this weekend was a Coot sitting on a nest on Small Pool. 7 Mute Swans were on the 2 pools, mainly adults, possibly prospecting pre-breeding season. Cormorants have been scarce recently but one was on Big Pool.

In the strip of mown set-aside I counted 90 Bramblings today but again they were mobile and could be elusive. 150 Redwings were in the ploughed fields by Sandy Lane with a single Fieldfare. 12 Lapwings were in the fields by the Pine Belt. Finch Hedge held Bullfinches as usual and again one Lesser Redpoll. Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard made it a three raptor walk. A Coal Tit in alders near the island cut was a nice addition to the list.



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A very sad day today, after an x-ray revealed a bad fracture in our horses leg we had to say goodbye early this morning before the vet came. To blow a few cobwebs away I had a walk on Newchurch but with little enthusiasm I'm afraid.

On Big Pool 7 Shovelers and a pair of Teal were the only real interest, no sign of the Smew in an extensive search. Small Pool was equally quiet. Great Crested Grebes were displaying today however.

In the small strip of mown set-aside that is left I counted 110 Bramblings as they flew up and perched in the trees of Gull Pool Wood, 3 Linnets were here too. A Green Woodpecker showed well perched on a dead tree on Shemmy Moss and nearby a Lapwing was in the nursery fields. 40 Redwings fed in fields by the Whitegate Way with a few Starlings.

 



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Dropped in today as I was contacted by DEFRA this morning. They wanted to collect the dead juvenile Mute Swan that I found last week to analyse it for signs of Avian Influenza. I arranged to meet the DEFRA guy and took him to get the swan. It was taken immediately to a lab in Shrewsbury and I will be informed of the results of analysis, hopefully within a week. I had literally 5 minutes by Big Pool and a quick 2 minute scan revealed the female Smew still in East Bay, as usual, and at least 10 Shovelers hanging around the submerged willows with more hidden within them. I am hoping to get back on for a proper walk tomorrow morning, and also hope to be able to see the remaining juvenile Mute Swan, which I didn't see today in a quick sweep of the pool.



-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Monday 12th of March 2018 04:59:33 PM

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Up early to give the horse antibiotics and painkiller so started earlier than usual on Newchurch. A Beautiful sunny & warm Spring morning, perfect to be out.

Coming in along Sandy Lane which is one of the boundaries of my patch I stopped to check a small flooded area in one of the fields and had a nice surprise with my first Grey Wagtail of the year, both for the patch and my main yearlist (I don't get out much these days!). I set up my camera and scope but just as I was about to press the shutter it flew over a hedge and disappeared! Checking the fields futher down I found a Pied Wagtail and a big flock of winter thrushes with at least 120 Redwings and 75 Fieldfares. These fields look good for Wheatears and hopefully with one reported on The Wirral today it won't be long before they pass through. The set-aside hadn't been ploughed any more and in the strip at the edge there were 90 Bramblings and 30 Linnets with a good number of Chaffinches. Lapwings called in fields near the Pine Belt, as I've said before this was their old breeding habitat before maize was grown there last year. A Raven was again over Big Pool.

The female Smew was again in East Bay, Big Pool, even though there were large areas of ice on Big Pool and even more on Small Pool. Teal and Shoveler remained mostly hidden in the submerged willows, although 9 of the latter did venture out. The lone redhead Goosander was still on Small Pool. Two new Mute Swans were in an adult with a subadult bird, maybe a pair that will stay to breed, given that the resident pair from last year are not here at present.

The dead Mute Swan found yesterday has been reported to DEFRA, so it is in their hands on what to do next.

 



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Our horse is seriously injured so much of our time taken up with him, but had to get down to Newchurch this afternoon to check on the ploughing of the set-aside.

The female Smew was in her usual haunt of East Bay, mooching around with the Tufted Ducks and out in the middle of Big Pool a count of 20(7 female) Shoveler was a record count for here. Teal were heard on Big Pool and for the second visit running a redhead Goosander was sat out on the side of Small Pool. A dead Mute Swan in the shallows on Big Pool was a worry, especially as careful examination without handling it revealed no injuries or fishing line, I am hoping to contact DEFRA as a precaution with Bird Flu a consideration.

On checking the set-aside, or should I say the now former set-aside, I found that it was 90% ploughed in with the inevitable results for the feeding finch flock. Where hundreds of finches once fed there were just a few in the field margin near Gull Pool Wood. These numbered 35 Brambling, 30 Chaffinch and 5 Linnets. This was always going to happen at some time and it has been a fabulous resource for the finches over winter, I hope that this is repeated next year but knowing why the field was planted like it was I doubt it. But, even though the finches were gone the newly ploughed field attracted over 30 gulls, all of which were Lesser Black-backed Gulls except one paler bird, with a mantle a shade darker than a Common Gull, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, possibly the one I had in the roost a few days ago. Every cloud as they say biggrin The birds were constantly on the move, flying low over the field so try as I might I couldn't digiscope this individual.

A female Green Woodpecker showed well on the meadow near the Pine Belt. Finch Hedge lived up to its name with a nice Lesser Redpoll, several Bullfinch and Chaffinches feeding in there. In the field near the parking area again 15 Redwings were feeding with a single Fieldfare.



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I feared that once the ploughing started the finch flock would decline, but it was good whilst it lasted, glad you saw a three-figure flock with your friend down though, Mark, and that you found the field OK smile The Smew is always more tucked away in the afternoons so I suspect she was there, just not playing ball cry



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Spent a couple of hours here early afternoon. Started off at the setaside field where there were reduced numbers of Brambling, around 100 with a few Chaffinch thrown in for luck. There was a tractor in the upper part of the field afronting the track from Cassia Green Lane and several strips had been ploughed.

Next on to Big Pool where we searched in vain for the female Smew. No sign in her usual East Bay spot, nor anywhere else out on the Pool. If she has not gone on to pastures new, she was very well hidden. Amongst others on the Pool were 18 Shoveler, 2 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, 1 Little Grebe and numerous Tufted Duck.

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A morning walk post-chiropractor today, fine and much warmer than of late.

The female Smew was showing really well in East Bay on Big Pool again with her Tufted Duck buddies. Also on this pool were 7(5drk) Shoveler and Teal (heard only). On Small Pool there was a female Pochard and a redhead Goosander. An undoubted highlight was a patch yeartick when an Oystercatcher flew from the direction of Big Pool over the Pine Belt calling. Another wader (and I get very few) was a Lapwing in damp fields east of the Pine Belt.

300 Bramblings were still in the set-aside but today at the west end, with Chaffinches but no Linnets. A nice flock of 25 Redwings fed in the field by the car parking area with 2 Fieldfares, my first of this species for ages, and Song Thrushes and Mistle Thrushes. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were everywhere and drumming actively. A nice flock of Long-tailed Tits and Goldfinches fed together at the west end of the track past Big Pool.



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Had the great pleasure of taking Martyn Jones around my patch today to show him where the differently named areas actually are! Certainly a memorable day with 4 patch yearticks and 2 patch lifers smile Fine but cold with a brisk wind at times and part of the ponds frozen.

We headed first for the east side of Big Pool to look for the Smew, especially as a redhead had been seen at Astley Mere this morning, was it the Newchurch one or a second bird? As we arrived at East Bay I looked out over the pool and a few expletives were uttered as a large flock of big white birds floated into view in the NW corner of the lake. A first for the patch in the shape of 37 Whooper Swans (36 adults) was down of the pool and later whilst watching them I realised that a lone Pink-footed Goose was with them too. This was my first of this species actually on the pool rather than flying over. Also out from 'Beach Peg' I counted 19(12 drake) Shoveler, a patch record count, but so far no Smew! We rattled off lots of shots and then headed back round the pool towards West Bay. A stop at a point that the willow arm, where many ducks take shelter, was better viewed proved successful as I picked up the female Smew, head tucked on her back at first. She only stayed in view a short time before heading deep into the submerged willows not to be seen again all day by us. A redhead Goosander was also seen on the pool, favouring the west side. Other birds on the pool in the morning were a Greylag Goose and 4 Teal.

We then headed to the set-aside where at least 300 Bramblings and 300 Chaffinches whirled around in one massive flock giving a spectacular display. Only 1 Linnet was seen amongst them this time. A Stock Dove was also over these fields.

Because of the success in the morning and wanting to check on the swans, I returned late afternoon. This allowed me to see the winter gull roost for the first time this year, and again I fell lucky. 320 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 60 Herring Gulls in the roost gave me hope of something rarer. My first find were 2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls sitting on the water together, a patch yeartick. Even better was to come when I found an adult Yellow-legged Gull in the roost, another patch lifer. The light and distance beat me on any pictures of any gulls, my poor little Contax suffering for battery life in the cold too, but seeing them was the main thing. A lone Cormorant was new on the pool in the evening but the swans had all departed, right place, right time this morning, that's local patching for you!!

A fabulous day with great company, and all under 3 miles from my house, result biggrin



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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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