Friday, 22 June 2018

June 22nd

Hobby flew through early morning along with Stock Dove and twelve Swift. Also noted Blackcap , Willow Warbler , Chiffchaff and Reed Warbler . Along with Bullfinch , Grey Heron , Coal Tit and a adult Lesser Black Backed Gull , Buzzard and Canada Goose. Mark managed 41 species on his walk around early morning. Great Spotted Woodpecker was noted only second time this year , also an unusual record of a Fox. (MS).

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Butterflies 2018

First dates of Butterflies recorded so far this year.

1 Comma..............................25/03
2 Small Tortoiseshell..........05/04
3 Peacock.............................05/04
4 Brimstone.........................18/04
5 Green-veined White.........18/04
6 Large White......................19/04
7 Orange-tip........................ 19/04
8 Holy Blue...........................19/04
9 Speckled Wood.................30/04
10 Small White....................13/05
11 Small Copper..................16/05
12 Large Skipper.................03/06
13 Meadow Brown.............03/06
14 Common Blue.................04/06
15 Ringlet.............................15/06
16 Small Skipper.................19/06
17 Painted Lady...................20/06
18 Gatekeeper......................
19 Red Admiral....................

Painted Lady

Brian Hicks found our first Painted Lady butterfly of the year along with Ringlet , Meadow Brown , Large Skipper , Small White and Green-veined White.
Painted Lady photo by Brian Hicks.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

June 19th.

Five singing Song Thrush , sixteen Great Crested Grebe's (4 young) , two families of Blackcaps and four Reed Warblers (3 in song) (JS).

First Small Skipper of the year (MS).

Sunday, 17 June 2018


The first report of Ringlet butterfly was on Friday 15th.

June 16th

Two singing Reed Warblers and a single Oystercatcher flew over , also Kestrel Swift and Sand Martin . Several Meadow Brown butterflies were on the wing but no sign of any Ringlets as yet. Five Common Spotted Orchids are in flower but most of the Southern Marsh have almost gone now. Quite a few baby Toadlets were on the east path . (MS & TS).

Friday, 15 June 2018

June 15th

A Kingfisher flew across the mere this morning . (AG).

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

June 5th

Butterflies Common Blue , Meadow Brown and Large Skipper have all been seen over the last couple of days.

Friday, 1 June 2018

June 1st

Black-tailed Skimmer female still present along with Large Red and Azure Damselflies. Also Sparrowhawk , Holy Blue and Small Copper. (MS).
Smooth Newt taken by Tracey Stubbs .

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Black-tailed Skimmer

The female Black-tailed Skimmer still present today along with Broad-bodied Chaser and several Azure Damselfly and two Large Red Damselfly. Also a pair Shoveler on the mere . All photos below courtesy of Brian Hicks.
Pair of Large Red Damselfly.
Azure Damselfly.
Female Black-tailed Skimmer.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018


Apologies I was doing work on the blog and locked it out of reading by mistake.

Today Mark had the four young Grebe's still present amazing really considering the amount of pike present.  Plenty of Southern Marsh Orchids in flower , a single  Oystercatche flew over and the Reed Warbler is still singing well . Also noted Collared Dove , twelve Swift and four House Martin's which is a poor showing really but they don't seem for some unknown reason to be back in numbers throughout the UK like previous years. Jack had another Hobby over on 22nd , and a female Black-tailed Skimmer yesterday which are scarce at this site. Butterflies reported just latley include Brimstone , Peacock , Orange-tip , Small  Copper , Comma, Small Tortoiseshell , Small and Large Whites  , and Green-veined White , I think that brings us upto date again apologies for pressing the wrong button and blocking everyone.

As you can see we are still on 98 species so if anyone sees a Tern either Black or Common shout loud as neither of these have been reported so far this year.

Monday, 21 May 2018

May 21st

A few Butterflies, two species of Damselfly and six Southern Marsh Orchids just coming out in flower.
Large White x 3
Small White x 1
Green-viened White x 2
Orange-tip x 8
Speckled Wood x 5
Brimstone x 1
Peacock x 1
Small Copper x 1
Large Red Damselfly x 3
Azure Blue Damselfly x 7

Small Copper taken with a phone by Tracey Stubbs.
Speckled Wood on the path.
Orange-tip female.
Red Mason Bee male.
Large Red Damselfly stunning close up.
Southern Marsh Orchid.
Southern Marsh Orchid.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Local Interest

Local Interest at a house in Mosseley Congleton four pairs of Swift's are back on site with two nests already occupied.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Local Interest

Wood Warbler singing on the main track upto the Cloud for the past few days also Spotted Flycatcher there. (MS,JS).

Thursday, 17 May 2018

May 17th

Nothing different from yesterday really Singing Reed and Garden Warbler's and a Reed Bunting. Also our first Small Copper butterfly of the year.(M&T Stubbs).

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

May 16th

Cold and wet this morning where has the sun gone with temperature's in mid 20s yesterday cloudy and cooler today. Just a note the party we took around on Sundays bird walk the nest of Long-tailed Tits fledged the very next day , with nine youngster's all lined up along the gorse. This morning only birds worth noting were Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler it's all gone very quite. Mark just texted to say while he was having a break he saw two Greylag Geese fly over and a Reed Bunting singing away. These next few months are when I don't tend to go down to much as the public decend on the mere and all wildlife disappears . But having said that some good birds can turn up end of May there's always a chance of a Tern passing through or a Common Scoter being blown off course , or another Scaup paying us a visit. I now turn my attention to Butterflies , Dragonflies and Moths for the next few months , so stay with the blog it will not get updated as regular , but I will put on as and when. August onwards will be the next main bird news when we start to get reverse migration .

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Guided Bird Walk

A big thank you to everyone that turned up at 7-00 this morning for our second guided bird walk. Again arranged by Matt the park ranger and along with Mark and myself we enjoyed your company and the banter. Undoubtedly the star attraction was the Great Crested Grebe with her four youngster's on her back being fed by dad . And the amazing site of a Long-tailed Tits nest close by the track with the adults feeding young with there heads hanging out the nest. Thanks to Mark for bringing his telescope and allowing very close views of both the Grebe's and Long-tails. A few birds were missing today that we normally connect with but everybody went away happy and that's what counts. We also noted three Small White Butterflies and a single Speckled Wood. We will arrange another one for the winter hopefully to connect with some of the meres wintering wildfowl. Full list below from this morning's walk.
1 Grey Heron
2 Cormorant
3 G C Grebe
4 Tufted Duck
5 Mallard
6 Coot
7 Moorhen
8 Mute Swan
9 Lesser Black Backed Gull
10 Black Headed Gull
11 Song Thrush
12 Blackbird
13 Mistle Thrush
14 House Sparrow
15 Blue Tit
16 Great Tit
17 Long-tailed Tit
18 Coal Tit
19 Starling
20 Chiffchaff
21 Blackcap
22 Swallow
23 Sand Martin
24 House Sparrow
25 Carrion Crow
26 Jackdaw
27 Woodpigeon
28 Feral Pigeon
29 Collared Dove
30 Swift
31 Treecreeper
32 Chaffinch
33 Goldfinch
34 Bullfinch
35 Pied Wagtail
36 Grey Wagtail
37 Robin
38 Wren
39 Dunnock

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

May 9th

Reed Warbler singing away early morning but apparently not late afternoon when Mark and Tracey were present . They had 50 Sand Martin , 21 Swift , and a single Swallow . Little Grebe's still present and the first Coot with chicks also spike from our Orchids are just starting to appear.
Orchid courtesy of T Stubbs.
Coot chicks photo courtesy of D Collis.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

May 8th

Finally this evening our first Reed Warbler back on territory singing away , two weeks later than last year's date.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

May 5th

Three Shelduck over very early this morning along with a single Lesser Redpoll which is a good record for May. Also noted Garden Warbler , Blackcap (lots) , Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff. Sparrowhawk and Lapwing were the only birds of note moving over and still two Little Grebe's on the mere. The Grebe has now hatched her second chick off a little later than expected.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

May 3rd

Hobby over a couple of times this morning photo below number 97 for the year . The Lesser Whitethroat still rattling well in front of visitor's centre car park edge of the mere along hedgerow. Also early morning Garden Warbler in the scrub by dog beach corner . Six House Martin , two Swift , 50+ Sand Martin , 20+ Swallow's , Kestrel , two Little Grebe's , Sparrowhawk and looks like still only one Grebe chick . We are still waiting our first Reed Warbler to arrive it's now nine days later than last year's record.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) is one of the most commonest Sylvia warblers across much of agricultural Cheshire. The easiest way of picking them up is by the song that can only be discribed as a loud rattle completely different from any other British Warbler. This is one of the few species that migrates south east in autumn wintering south of the Sahara in eastern Africa , mostly at low altitudes in Ethiopia , Sudan and Chad . Breeding is very difficult to prove at Astbury with only one singing male heard most years , as the females don't sing it is even more difficult to prove we have a pair. End of April early May is when Lesser Whitethroat's are very vocal giving us the best chance of seeing them.

May 2nd

Lesser Whitethroat rattling away this morning , also Garden Warbler (1) , Blackcap (14), Chiffchaff (7) and Willow Warbler (3).The Great Crested Grebe chick was visible this morning sitting on mums back . Over the water around 200 Sand Martin's and about 40 Swallow's but House Martin's are having a poor start with just five noted. Also Sparrowhawk , Buzzard , Grey Heron and Cormorant seen.
Lesser Whitethroat.
First Grebe chick .

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

April Months Total

We finished the month of April with 75 species compared with 68 the same time last year . We had some scarce species which boosted the total with Hawfinch and Brambling staying well into April , and the appearance of our first Arctic Tern . Along with three Common Sandpiper's and three fly over Shelduck all of which made the difference. Just another note of interest this time last year we had seen 80 species , compared with the 96 we are on at present . That magical 100 is getting ever closer. Some birdwatchers you talk to think that 100 species is an easy target to reach , it is at most other reserves or reservoirs . But not here at Astbury we have had to work hard and put in a lot of hours to get what we have got so far . If you think your up for the challenge come give it a try , and count your list for the year and see what you can get it's all a bit of fun and it gets you out in the fresh air.

Grebe Chick

The pair of Great Crested Grebe's have had the first chick hatch this afternoon.

May 1st

Two new birds for the year this morning but only one seen. A Pied Flycatcher which is a first record for the site , was heard to call several times but couldn't be located. As Mark was at work and Jack is in Spain I asked the very experienced Andy Goodwin if he would help search with me. I finally left after nearly two hours searching , Andy stayed on longer and heard it call again not far from where I first had it. Meanwhile Andy found our first Lesser Whitethroat rattling away along the hedgerow just down from the car park. When I returned a short while later you could here it as soon as you got out the car. Seen several times but just would no keep still for the camera. Also noted over one hundred Sand Martin and Swallow's hawking over the mere ,three Swift , single Sparrowhawk , Buzzard , Nuthatch , Bullfinch , Coal Tit , Jay , Little Grebe and the usual Willow Warblers , Chiffchaff and around 15 Blackcap. Also a couple of Tawny Mining Bee's. Many thanks Andy for coming over at short notice.
Sand Martin.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Local Interest

Two Yellow Wagtail's in potatoe field off Back Lane Congleton.

April 29th

Commic Tern through this morning didn't really give much away to clinch true identity. Our first Garden Warbler singing away in scrub by the beach and two Oystercatchers flew over. Also noted a single Swift , three Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

April 28th

Three Shelduck flew over early morning along with a single Oystercatcher , single Swift and two Cormorant . Also noted two Little Grebe's , Sparrowhawk , Buzzard , Mistle Thrush , Swallow , Greylag Goose , Reed Bunting , Coal Tit , Treecreeper and two pairs of Bullfinch. And the usual Willow Warblers , Blackcaps and Chiffchaff's.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Local Interest

Pair of Goosander's on the river Dane in Congleton Park at 18-30 this evening. Also A54 Congleton to Buxton road at 16-30 a Short-eared Owl being mobbed by four Curlews.

April 27th

John was down during his lunch break and managed nine Blackcap (7 singing) , six Chiffchaff (5 singing) , thirty seven Tufted Duck , twenty five Coot , four Great Crested Grebe , 100+ Sand Martin's , two House Martin's and ten Swallows. Mark and Tracey were down late afternoon and pick up our first Swift's of the year with three hawking insects over the wood . A single Oystercatcher flew over , around 100 Sand Martin's , twenty Swallow's and three House Martin's.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018


Brian Hicks kindly sent me these images today of Garlic Mustard , Forget me knot , Willow Herb , Blue Violets and Blue Bells.
Brian also found a single Brimstone , two Green-viened White and two Large White Butterflies. Also noted Kestrel , three Swallows and eight House Martin.....many thanks Brian.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Astbury's Hawfinch's

It looks like our largest British Finch has finally departed Astbury giving just over eight weeks of shear frustration and absolute pleasure. Around one hundred people came to see our star attraction during their stay wich contributed to many other good birds being found . With a large influx of these birds coming into the UK from Europe it was only a matter of time before we got our first sighting at Astbury . It wasn't until the 30th October before our first one appeared and then it was only a fly over , the second followed just a week later and this one was perched up. But the real excitement started on the 15th February when we actually found three feeding in a copse . They were then seen daily sometimes giving excellent views other times going missing for hours on end . But for those like myself who stuck it out we were rewarded with some of the best views of Hawfinch that you are ever likely to have. By the 13th March eight birds were seen feeding together and with more and more bird watchers turning up other good birds were being found at the mere. Our last sighting as we know of was a single bird by the visitor's centre on 17th April making it a enjoyable eight weeks birding.

April 22nd

Two Shelduck flew over at 6-30 this morning , supprised myself and Mark as these birds are never annual here and it makes a nice addition to getting our 100 species more of a reality. Also noted two Sparrowhawk , single Lapwing , single Greylag , and possibly our one and only remaining Brambling around the feeding area. All other regulars seen included Swallow , Sand Martin , Chiffchaff , Blackcap , Willow Warbler , Bullfinch , Goldfinch , Goldcrest etc.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Local Interest

A Red Kite drifted over the Cloud at 11-30 heading along Congleton edge towards Mow Cop , and a male Wheatear at Mow Cop. Also at the Cloud today a single Tree Pipit and female Wheatear, and yesterday a Ring Ouzel noted in flight.

April 21st

Three Common Sandpiper's this morning flying around I managed a distant shot of one just my luck it was one without the rings. Also noted around a male Reed Bunting , sixteen singing Blackcap several Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers . Two Little Grebe's are still with us but no sign of any Brambling this morning. Overhead was four Oystercatchers ,Buzzard , Sparrowhawk and a single Lapwing. (MS, IW).
Distant Common Sandpiper.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Scottish Sandpiper

Excellent news on our Common Sandpiper it was ringed as a breeding adult female on 02/05/2017 on the river Spey at Cromdale a small village downstream of Grantown on Spey in the Cairngorms NP. The bird was also sighted last year moving along the west coast in Flintshire and Dublin. Many thanks to Brian Bates of the Sandpiper ringing scheme.

Great Crested Grebe

One of our Grebe's looking good in the evening light.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Colour Ringed Sandpiper

A heavily cropped photo to show the colour rings  of one of this morning's Common Sandpiper's looks like red/ yellow left leg and green right leg .

Photo by J Swan.

April 19th

Two Common Sandpiper's flying around the mere landing on various fishing platforms . Also a pair of Gadwall which are a different pair from last month's birds. Several Brambling noted along with a single Cormorant and all the usual migrants in full song. We are still waiting our first Reed Warbler to come back which we should get anytime now , then Garden Warbler and Swift which is usually first few days in May. Butterflies were up early this morning were Holy Blue first this year along with Comma , Brimstone , Orange-tip and Small Tortoiseshell. Apparently Jack has photographed one of the Common Sandpiper's from this morning and it's colour ringed , pink on left leg and green on its right leg. Mark has been down this afternoon and connected with a full summer plumaged male Brambling on Stubbs table also , Sparrowhawk , Buzzard , Lapwing , two Cormorant , Treecreeper and Goldcrest . He as also added to the Butterfly list with a Large White another first this year.
Gadwall drake.
Gadwall pair.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

April 18th

Mark and Tracey had a good couple of hours this afternoon with the Butterflies , two male Brimstone , Small Tortoiseshell , Comma , six Peacock and a Green-viened White . Also Common Carder Bee and Clarke's Mining Bee. I also had male and female Gwynne's Mining Bee and Red-tailed and Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

April 17th

Al Orton visited this morning in heavy rain and reported a single Hawfinch and eighteen Brambling's . I paid just a quick visit in heavy rain mid-afternoon to check the water and found 100+ Sand Martin's hawking insects in the rain . A couple of male Brambling noted around mid-day on Stubbs table one in almost full summer plumage.(JS).

Sunday, 15 April 2018

April 15th

Reported this morning at least ten Brambling , Sparrowhawk , Buzzard , 48 Tufted Duck , 12 Sand Martin , two Little Grebe , Pheasant , two Treecreeper , Greylag Goose , Grey Heron , Jay , all the usual Chiffchaff , Willow Warblers and Blackcap . ( MS , IW ). During a heavy rain storm late afternoon at least 90 Sand Martin's and twenty Swallow's. Also noted today Red-tailed Bumblebee .

Saturday, 14 April 2018

April 14th

Mark and myself counted an amazing fifty two Brambling's this morning possibly more, obviously overflying birds being called down by the ones feeding . They are all flocking now ready for that push north eastwards over to Scandinavia. The reason I say an amazing fifty two is that some years if we are lucky we get one possibley two birds during the winter months , so if I seem a little excited that's the reason.
Brambling female above male below.
Also noted were two Sparrowhawk , three Shoveler , two Pochard , Little Grebe , several singing Blackcap , now possibly seven Willow Warbler , good numbers of Chiffchaff , three Reed Bunting , two Mistle Thrush , two Treecreeper , three Goldcrest , five Cormorant , Sand Martin's , Swallow's and a single House Martin.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Just Ten to Go

Just ten species short of the magical 100 , never been done at Astbury before in a single year. A short list below of the ten that could see us get us there.

Common Scoter
Common Sandpiper
Common Tern
Black Tern
Garden Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Reed Warbler.

Anything other than these would of course be a bonus.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

April 12th

A early morning walk around with Jack and obviously we new the Arctic Tern from yesterday evening would be gone very rarely do they stay. We managed around fourteen possibly more Brambling , now five Willow Warblers , still eight Chiffchaff and six singing male Blackcap . Also noted Sparrowhawk , Grey Heron , Bullfinch , Goldfinch , ten Swallows , fourteen Sand Martin , two male Reed Buntings and we are still hanging on two a pair of Pochard which are usually long gone by now. Mark was down during the afternoon nothing much to add except adult Common Gull on the water and Oystercatcher flying over .

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Arctic Tern

Short legs when perched on a bouy , no carpal bar on the wings , translucent underwings , long forked tail and blood red bill with no back tip . BOOM get in there .... Asbury's first Arctic Tern ninety species for the year and counting. A phone call from Jack saying he had a Tern in the middle of the mere but couldn't clinch the ID , so I quickly called Mark and soon we were all on site and along with Russell another local birder and some on site photos we managed to clinch the ID of our first Arctic Tern. My images below are at a great distance and in poor light but manage to show all the points mentioned above well done lads beers on me.

April 11th

Misty dull grey morning between 7-00 / 9-00 birds noted seven male Blackcap and two female , eight Chiffchaff , three Willow Warbler , one female two male Brambling , pair Pochard , pair Shoveler , twelve Swallow , six Sand Martin , single Little Grebe and Grey Heron.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

April 10th

Seventy Sand Martin's this afternoon along with ten Swallows and a single House Martin . Also around twenty Bramblings , three Willow Warblers , eight Chiffchaff and a singing Treecreeper.(JS).