Thursday, 19 April 2018

Ringed Common Sandpiper

A heavily cropped photo taken by Jack of one of this morning's Common Sandpiper's looks like red/ yellow left leg and green right leg any ideas guys .

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).

Monday, 9 April 2018

Nomada fabriciana

Fabricius Nomad Bee is a predetor of the Gwynne's Mining Bee photographed previously . Locally common in southern Britain but scarcer in the north . Females enter the host's nesting burrow and lay an egg in the wall of the unsealed nest cell . The grub then destroys the host's egg or grub with its large sickle shaped mandibles and proceeds to feed on the food store. They are small relatively hairless bees often with bold wasp like markings .

Gwynne's Mining Bee

I am awaiting confirmation from Jack but we think Mark has found a colony of Gwynne's Mining Bees and it's parasitic associate the Fabricius Nomad Bee. The flight season is right they are on the wing from March till early June . They are smaller than the Honey Bee the females being a reddish brown on top of the thorax, with an entirely black haired face.The males are completely different being a lot smaller and have an entirely black body. It's parasitic associate the Fabricius Nomad Bee was nesting amongst the mining bees and is a small to medium sized reddish nomad with two yellow spots on its sides and has almost entirely black face. We have confirmation from leading Bee expert Steven Falk they are Gwynne's a first for Astbury Mere.
Gwynne's Mining Bee (female).
Gwynne's Mining Bee (male).
Fabricius Nomad Bee.
Face of female Gwynne's.

April 9th

Arrived just after 6-30 this morning and didn't see anything until the fog cleared at around 8-45, good job I could identify the birds by song alone. Counted six Blackcap , three Willow Warblers and eight Chiffchaff . When the fog lifted it revealed three male and two female Brambling around the feeders along with two male and a single female Reed Bunting . All the usual birds were around and the Little Grebe were heard again but not seen. It was typical five of the species we didn't see with our group yesterday put in an appearance this morning , Cormorant , Goldcrest , Lapwing , Sparrowhawk and four Buzzard's displaying. At 16-15 Jack noted 20 Sand Martin's and three Swallow's over the water.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Guided Bird Walk

A big thank you to everyone that turned up this morning for my first ever guided bird walk hope you all enjoyed the sights and sounds of Astbury Mere . It was arranged by Matt the park Ranger and along with Mark and myself we all enjoyed your company and banter. We managed to connect with fourty species and everyone got good views with a few supprises added in. Hawfinch was undoubtedly the star bird with a single bird giving excellent views for around 15 minutes. Also 27 Bramblings around also giving excellent entertainment. Full list below for those that wanted it.
1 Hawfinch single bird
2 Brambling x 27
3 Willow Warbler x 3
4 Blackcap x 4
5 Chiffchaff x8
6 Reed Bunting x 2 males
7 Little Grebe x 3
8 Swallow x 5
9 Sand Martin x 4 arrived just as people were leaving.
10 Grey Heron
11 Mute Swan
12 Canada Goose
13 Greylag Goose
14 Mallard
15 Tufted Duck
16 Coot
17 Great Crested Grebe
18 Carrion Crow
19 Jackdaw
20 Wood Pigeon
21 Song Thrush
22 Blackbird
23 Robin
24 Wren
25 Goosander x1 flying over
26 Dunnock
27 Lesser Black Backed Gull
28 Blue Tit
29 Great Tit
30 Coal Tit
31 Long-tailed Tit
32 Greenfinch
33 Goldfinch
34 Chaffinch
35 Bullfinch
36 House Sparrow
37 Magpie
38 Jay
39 Starling
40 Feral Pigeon.

A few birds that myself and Mark have seen over the past few days did not put in a appearance today so maybe next time.
Once again thank you all for turning up and making it a memorable two and half hours. Thank you Holly for the photo above.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Bird Report

The Cheshire and Wirral annual Bird Report has just been published , a must for any Cheshire Birdwatcher . Packed full of information and a good selection of photos. If your already a member then you have your free copy but if not a member why not join. Membership secretary...Phil Hampson 2 Winsfield Rd Hazel Grove Stockport SK7 6ES or email Ordinary Membership £12 which includes three newsletters and this free Bird Report.

April 7th

Mark was there well before me this morning and managed three Pipistrelle Bats , pair of Pochard , Little Grebe and still one Hawfinch . I arrived and filled the feeders up and within minutes had got Blackcap and Brambling on them . A walk around produced two fly over Lapwing and two Greylag Geese . At least another twelve Brambling , seven singing Blackcap and six Chiffchaff . We also managed to find a pair of Reed Bunting , three Sand Martin and a single Swallow . All before 9-00 when the Saturday fun run starts and the rain came in.

Friday, 6 April 2018

House Martin

Mark and Tracey went down late afternoon and managed to pick up our first House Martin of the year along with 24 Sand Martin's and 6 Swallow . Also six Brambling but still no sign of any Hawfinch today , that could possibly be due to the winds.

Blackcaps Arriving

Blackcaps are now arriving in good numbers at the mere with five singing males noted this morning along with two females.

April 6th

It was cold and very windy this morning at the mere it felt more like November . Eighteen Sand Martin and three Swallows were hawking insects over the water . While around the feeder's were three Reed Buntings , two Bullfinch , three Brambling and a male Blackcap . Elsewhere around were six singing Chiffchaff and five singing Blackcap and two females, no sight of any Hawfinch but it was possibley the wind keeping them down. Flying overhead was Sparrowhawk , Cormorant and Buzzard. The three images below of Brambling , Blackcap and Reed Bunting were taken around the feeding station by Brian Hicks.
Brambling (B Hicks).
Blackcap (B Hicks).
Reed Bunting (B Hicks).

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Clarke's Mining Bee

Clarke's Mining Bee (Andrena clarkella) found and photographed by Jack at the Mere on March 30th this year. Obviously a first record for the site or do we have a small colony ?. It's favourite habitat is a variety of willow rich locations especially those with sandy soil . Pollen is obtained almost entirely from willows and also observed visiting Colt's-foot and dandelions , all of which the Mere has plenty of. The image below is of a female which Jack photographed they average a little larger than a Honey Bee . The much smaller brown haired males face is mostly buff coloured but with strips of black hairs along side the inner eye margins. Widespread and locally common throughout Britain especially in heathland districts of southern and central England. It is a spring flying species , males can appear in mid-February in mild winters and females sometimes persist to late May.

April 5th

Early morning walk around produced just a single Hawfinch , 14 Brambling , 5 Blackcap (one female) , 5 Chiffchaff , 8 Sand Martin and a single Willow Warbler. Both Mark and Jack have been down this afternoon and basically the same as this morning plus Kestrel and Curlew over , Swallow with the Sand Martin's over the water a pair of Pochard and a single Little Grebe. On the Butterfly front one Small Tortoiseshell and two Peacocks.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Willow Warbler

Our first Willow Warbler of the year back on site found by Jack this morning by the sailing club in the south east corner of the mere . Between Jack and myself we had four singing Chiffchaff , five male Bramblings three Hawfinch , two Sand Martin and a pair of Reed Buntings . Also noted was Buzzard , Sparrowhawk and a single Oystercatcher that circled overhead in glorious sunshine calling before departing off north allowing me time to rattle a few photos off , ten minutes later the heavens opened and it was time for a quick excit. Swallow briefly late afternoon in the rain along with three Sand Martin (MS,JS).

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

April 3rd

Five Sand Martin's over the water early morning , three Chiffchaff heard singing around the mere and still two Hawfinch . Brambling showed well today with at least twelve birds around there could well be possibly more . A single Little Grebe was heard but not seen and two Sparrowhawk passed several times overhead . Bullfinch numbers are still high with five pairs noted along with several Greenfinch. Four Buzzard's were displaying and a single Cormorant and Stock Dove passed over . A pair of Reed Buntings visited Stubbs table which on several occasions had four Brambling on it . Mid-afternoon four Chiffchaff were noted along with our first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the year (JS).
Brambling (male).
Brambling (male).

Monday, 2 April 2018

First thing first I have moved the feeding station away from the gate it is now opposite were it used to be , so it can be seen from both gates without disturbance . Dave Winnington braved the appalling conditions this morning and managed two Sand Martin , three Brambling and three Chiffchaff . As I was moving the feeders this afternoon I managed to catch up with Mark and Jack and between us saw Sparrowhawk , eight Brambling , two Sand Martin , fourty Tufted Duck , two Buzzard's , and four Canada Geese. After Jack and myself left Mark and Tracey found two Hawfinch the first sighting of them today . While moving the table and feeders I managed some record shots of a nice male Brambling that showed really well possibly wanting to know why I was moving his food.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Missing Species

We now have a database set up with records going back over the last fourty years , but still have a few blanks with missing species. If any birder has seen any of the species listed below we would love to hear from you. 
Bewick Swan
Little Egret
Ringed Plover
Glaucous Gull
Arctic Tern
Tree Pipit
Wood Warbler
Pied Flycatcher
Mealy Redpoll

To take this one step further we are missing records for the following Butterfly species.
Small Heath
Dark Green Fritillary.

And the following Dragonfly species as above please get in touch if you have any old records or come across these in the coming months.
Emerald Damselfly
Four-spotted Chaser
Common Hawker
Emperor Dragonfly
Ruddy Darter.

As far as we know none of the above have been recorded here at Astbury so here's the challenge come help us find them , the more help we get the more eyes looking the more eyes looking the more we will find.

April 1st

Well it's the start of a new month and we still have three possibly four Hawfinch present, good to see Ian Mumford and Andy Firth from the flashes down this morning getting very good views of our Hawfinch . And along with Mark , Andy , Ian and myself we managed eight Brambling , three Sparrowhawk , a single flyover Linnet , four Sand Martin then two more later on , Nuthatch , female Reed Bunting , Lapwing , three singing Chiffchaff , two Lesser Redpoll , Little Grebe , two Goldcrest and Buzzard. We finished March with a very respectful 81 species which is our highest monthly total ever . It is largely due to the scarce birds that were present during the month and the amount of visiting birders to see them , cheers everyone for making it a memorable month. The cold weather systems at present are holding a lot of our migrants back not just here in Cheshire but throughout the UK and further afield . After the next weather system tomorrow passes through things should start to change with the gates opening and hopefully migrants flooding in. Highlights below from March.
March 1st Snipe ,
March 2nd / 4th  Smew ,
March 3rd Short eared Owl ,
March 3rd / 5th Dunlin , (2).
March 10th Curlew (3).
March 18th Golden Plover (43).
March 19 th Curlew (6).
March 17th Stonechat ,
March 17th / 25th Scaup ,(5).
Plus Hawfinch (8) and Brambling (12) all month.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

March 31st

Very cold and windy place this morning but Mark still managed eight Goosanders flying over along with two Cormorant and three Canada Geese. Also noted three singing Chiffchaff , two Grey Wagtail , Sparrowhawk and Lapwing. We still have a pair of Hawfinch on site and a male Brambling first thing. We both left at 9-00 just before the Saturday fun run started.

Friday, 30 March 2018

March 30th

Two Sand Martin's flew straight through , a female Hawfinch pair of Brambling a male Reed Bunting and two Chiffchaff. (MS).
The first Cowslips of the year. (Tracey Stubbs).

Thursday, 29 March 2018

March 29th

Still two Hawfinch this morning also two singing Chiffchaff and eight Brambling.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

March 28th

Heavy showers on and off this morning not good for the birder but good for bringing migrants down . Two Chiffchaff singing this morning one staying low and feeding at ground level.
Four Hawfinch were found just after it got light but soon headed for cover as the rains moved in. During a heavy shower six Sand Martin's were brought down over the water . The feeding table is still producing with a pair of Brambling first thing along with four Reed Buntings two of which are photographed below.
Reed Buntings.
All the other usual birds were seen on or around the feeders , and it's nice to see so many Greenfinch back and looking in good condition aswell. Mark found the Kestrel again earlier and late evening Rob had a single Hawfinch and a male and two female Reed Buntings on Stubbs table.
Greenfinch (male).

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Sand Martin

The first Sand Martins of the year early morning with six passing through heading east (JS) . Also three Hawfinch and five Brambling. A possible second Chiffchaff this afternoon or could just be same one moved area. The first has been singing by what we call dog beach in the north east corner of the mere . And this afternoon another was singing by the sailing club opposite side of the mere.

Monday, 26 March 2018

March 26th

The five Scaup have finally departed after a eight day stay last seen last night (Sunday) at 19-00 . Two Hawfinch showed reasonably well this morning as did a pair of Brambling on the feeders. A pair of Wigeon was a nice surprise early morning but they had departed by 9-30. The pair of Pochard still remain and the male Reed Bunting is still visiting the feeders. Brambling noted later on by people numbered upto six birds there is definitely more around but like the Hawfinch they are becoming more elusive. We are still awaiting our first Sand Martin's of the year . The Chiffchaff was singing again mid-afternoon (RS), and the Wigeon had reappeared (MS).
Wigeon (drake).
Wigeon (drake).
Wigeon (female).

Sunday, 25 March 2018

March 25th

Got there at 7 o'clock with the sun just coming through the trees filled the feeders up and made my way down to the water. The Scaup were closer in than normal so I settled down to do some photography and within 30 minutes you could not see the water . The fog had come down so quickly and to make it worse the Scaup just kept coming even closer, the closest I have had them in over a week typical. Between myself Jack and Mark we managed five Scaup , eight Brambling , two Hawfinch , pair Pochard , seven Buzzard up together , two adult Common Gull on water , two Sparrowhawk , Kestrel ,Cormorant , nine Bullfinch , Chiffchaff , Treecreeper , Raven and Meadow Pipit over and Siskin. Mark also had Buff-tailed Bumblebee and Comma our first Butterfly of the year. Also two Tawny Owls calling throughout the night. The five Scaup were still present at 18-00 this evening and six adult Common Gulls in the roost.
Adult Common Gull coming into roost this evening.
The Astbury Five on the evening of their eighth day.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

March 24th

Who would have thought seven weeks down the line and we still have four Hawfinch , along with the five Scaup which we found last Saturday . Also several Brambling around the site . Turn the clocks back a few months and we would have settled for anyone of these species being on site now we just take them for granted , enjoy it while it lasts. Today between myself and Mark going down after I have gone to work we have added Greylag , Canada Geese , Pochard ,Goldcrest , Reed Bunting , Raven , Sparrowhawk , Kestrel , Chiffchaff , Cormorant ,several Bullfinch and three Buzzard.

Friday, 23 March 2018

March 23rd

Five Scaup still this morning also two Hawfinch , four Brambling and single Chiffchaff . P Dobson had the same later on with the addition of single Greylag , Goldcrest , two Fieldfare and three Bullfinch.
Two out of the three drake Scaup present on the mere.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

March 22nd

I didn't get down today due to work but thanks to Mark & Trace who visited late afternoon to find the five Scaup still present along with two Hawfinch , two Brambling , Kestrel , Goldcrest and Cormorant. First Chiffchaff back at 18-15 this evening singing it's little heart out.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Feeding Station

I don't like taking birds on a feeding table but I will make a exception today as the sun was out and the birds just looked so good . Taken on or around Stubbs table today .