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 .

March 21st

Nothing new this morning just the five Scaup still present , eleven Great Crested Grebe's , a pair of Pochard and a pair of Gadwall . Eleven Brambling were found along with just two Hawfinch which are now getting very elusive and took ages to find. Bullfinch are here in good numbers with at least five pairs seen today . Siskin numbers are around twelve birds with just two Lesser Redpoll . Still no Chiffchaff or Sand Martin yet hopefully as the weather warms up they should be here by the weekend.
Gadwall (drake).

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

March 20th

Five Scaup still three drake's and two females , also four Hawfinch and twelve Brambling. A pair of Pochard remain on the mere and a single Little Grebe was noted aswell. A pair of Sparrowhawk's were hunting this morning and three Greylag Geese circled the mere but left without touching down .Still good numbers of Redwing around early mornings seen feeding on area in front of visitors centre . Stubbs feeding table had a single male Brambling , pair Bullfinch , pair Greenfinch and a male Reed Bunting plus Treecreeper and Goldcrest around the conservation area ......Mark and Trace had five Goosander over late afternoon , eight Brambling and the Scaup still present at 16-15.

Monday, 19 March 2018

March 19th

The five Scaup are still present and three Hawfinch showed reasonably well again early morning . Myself and Jack had six Curlew over our second record this month for them . An adult Common Gull was in amongst the Black Headed Gulls and Sparrowhawk and Buzzard circled overhead. There are still quite a few Brambling at various places but the feeding station seems the best place now to connect. There are still good numbers of Redwing around with around 30 on the grass in front of the visitor's centre early morning.
Common Gull.
Curlew .

Sunday, 18 March 2018

March 18th

A excellent early start this morning after overnight snow and freezing temperatures myself and Mark met up at 6-30 this morning . To find the five Scaup from yesterday still present . Jack joined us around 7-30 and between us we managed to get our first record of Golden Plover on the list with a flock of 32 over followed by another eleven. We had five Hawfinch , 4 male Brambling three of which were on Stubbs feeding table , then to our amazement we had two Hawfinch near the feeders. Full list for two hours this morning as follows. Two Goosander , five Lapwing , Grey Wagtail , Cormorant , 28 Meadow Pipits , Mistle Thrush , 11 Fieldfare , 50+ Redwing , seven Skylark , five Lesser Redpoll , Siskin , seven Bullfinch , Treecreeper , 1000+ Starlings in one flock , Goldcrest , Greenfinch , Sparrowhawk , five Canada Geese and Grey Heron........Scaup still present late afternoon also Kestrel and two Brambling. (MS).
The five Lapwings from early this morning a scarce bird here even more so to get them on the ground.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Greater Scaup

Todays five Greater Scaup 3 x drakes and 2 x females are the first on sight since 16th Oct 2016 . And the first time we have had more than one bird , all previous records are of single bird sightings. These five are very possibly the ones that were at Tittisworth Reservoir in Staffordshire this morning , and quite possibly moving from the east coast heading west with the bad weather system.

First Swallow

Pete Dobson had our first Swallow through this morning our earliest sighting for several years . Also present two Hawfinch , single Siskin and Brambling (M S). Stonechat female found by Jack a first site record , unfortunately it was flushed by a jogger then lost in a heavy snow storm. I arrived shortly afterwards to search with Jack but to no avail. Walking around the other side Jack noticed five Scaup close inshore three drake's and two females possibly the five from nearby Tittesworth which were there this morning. I could see the Scaup heading over towards one of the fishing platforms so I got in place and managed some half decent photos. Also noted amongst the Snow showers and then sunshine were two Hawfinch and six Brambling. On Stubbs feeding table three male and one female Brambling late afternoon (MS).
Scaup female.
Scaup drake.
Scaup pair.
Scaup 3 drake's , 2 females.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Paul Sefton Image's

A few images take at Astbury yesterday cheers Paul.

March 16th

Three Hawfinch again this morning and at least three Brambling , and a flock of twenty Lesser Redpoll over. Also noted Sparrowhawk , Goldfinch , Bullfinch , Greenfinch , Cormorant and Redwing . (RB , MS , IW). This afternoon two Hawfinch , male Blackcap , and three Brambling thanks to Karl Stockton for info.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

March 15th

Two Hawfinch around mid-day (Jack) . Then later on Mark had a single Cormorant on the water a single Lapwing over and five Buzzard's and Sparrowhawk in the air all together . Also two Brambling in the usual area. A single Brambling still visiting Stubbs feeding table also male Reed Bunting (P Sefton).
Brambling (male).

Hawfinch Directions

I keep being asked about directions ............... Stand in the visitor's centre car park facing the water go left for about 100 mts untill you reach a small copse in the field . Stand by the copse and with your back to the water look at the silver birch trees in front of the houses. They can be elusive but with patients can be found. They also get anywhere further along again looking at the trees with your back to the water, early mornings are usually the best chance of connecting . But they have been seen throughout the day. Hope this helps.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

March 14th

Strong biting winds today put pay to the Hawfinch's showing anything like they did yesterday . I met up with Jack early morning who had already seen two and I had a couple more with two other birders in a different area , so the conclusion was four birds at least still on site . Brambling showed a little better staying lower down with six showing there are undoubtedly more around. Also noted this morning 48 Fieldfare flying over , single Cormorant and 11 Bullfinch . Decided to call it a morning after a couple of hours being battered by the winds , and go down this afternoon and concentrate on the feeding station . Brambling , Bullfinch , Reed Bunting and Greenfinch were all using Stubbs table , so called as Mark and Tracey Stubbs donated the feeding table. Also on the feeders were Long-tailed Tits and Coal Tits but no sign today of the male Blackcap. Images below are of the male Reed Bunting on Stubbs table , and male Brambling taken around the feeding area. If viewing please be sensible and keep your distance give the birds chance to feed .
Reed Bunting (male).
Reed Bunting (make).
Brambling (male).
Brambling (male).

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Frog Spawn

At least ten frogs could be seen and heard in the small pond in the conservation area today doing what frogs do best making frog Spawn.

March 13th

A walk around this morning with Jack produced eight Hawfinch and eleven Brambling . Five other birders turned up later and we managed to get everyone on at least four of the birds which showed very well. No sign of any migrants yet ie (Sand Martin or Chiffchaff). Still four Pochard on the water but no sign of any Little Grebe's. As before the Hawfinch's can be found by going left out of visitor's centre car park for about 100mts stand by the small copse and look towards the houses , the birds perch up in the silver birch trees but can be elusive. With some patience the birds will show well.Went back down again after dinner mainly to fill feeders up and check out what's coming to the feeding station. A male Brambling and male Reed Bunting were photographed but the overwintering male Blackcap eluded the camera and only made brief appearances. Also on the feeders were Bullfinch , Greenfinch , Goldfinch , Coal, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. Three Hawfinch's were around the usual place also with a few Brambling . Around twelve visiting birders that I saw today all went away happy with good views of both Hawfinch and Brambling.
Reed Bunting (male).
Brambling (male).

Monday, 12 March 2018

March 12th

Well this time last year it was warm sunny and we had our first returning Chiffchaff singing his heart out. Not today it is a miserable wet cloudy day but four Hawfinch and seven Brambling brightened things up a little . Also the male Blackcap showed briefly around the feeders while a male Reed Bunting was feeding on spilt seed underneath. Four Pochard are still present and two pairs of Great Crested Grebe's were displaying.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Lucky Escape

Amazingly this Smooth Newt was picked up alive off the path yesterday just after 145 pairs of feet had just done three laps of the mere.


We set up a small feeding station just over a week ago now in the conservation area , and it's attracting a steady stream of birds. We have already had a overwintering male Blackcap , several Bullfinch along with Goldfinch , Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits and this morning I photographed a male Reed Bunting . And I have heard this afternoon Jack has photographed a male Brambling so all good news.
Reed Bunting (male).

Hawfinch Location

The Hawfinch's are ranging between 100/400 mts left of the visitor's center car park . Stand in the car park facing the water then walk left looking in the trees that back onto the garden's . The birds can be elusive but if you can pin them down they do show very well. Sometimes it is best just to stand in the middle of the grass and just watch on occasions they will come and feed in the copse by the path.

March 11th

Myself and Mark had a very early start this morning then met up with Jack a little later on . We had five Hawfinch together in one Beach tree then eight Brambling nearby . Also noted male Reed Bunting on feeders , Siskin, Bullfinch , Sparrowhawk , Buzzard , Goldcrest , Mistle Thrush , two Cormorant over along with thirteen Meadow Pipits. On the water four Pochard three drake's and a female , twelve Great Crested Grebe. Tufted and Coot numbers looked about the same as last week's count.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

March 10th

Another new addition to the year list when Mark had three Curlew fly over early morning . Also noted two Hawfinch ,two Brambling , Lapwing , seven Canada Geese , two drake Pochard , Goldcrest and Jay.

Friday, 9 March 2018

March 9th

Two Hawfinch again mid-morning same area 100 mts left of visitor's centre car park , also three Brambling. (B Hicks).
Pochard pair photograph by (B Hicks)........... This afternoon Mark has managed a pair Gadwall , three Pochard , Hawfinch , Brambling , pair Mistle Thrush and two Little Grebe's.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

March 8th

The male Hawfinch is still singing mid-day it's now three weeks on site , the female is possibly nearby but not seen today . M Stubbs. We have had upto six birds present on and off over these last three weeks and many birders have connected with them and gone away happy.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

March 6th

Very very quite today only one single Hawfinch found . On the water three Little Grebe's still along with twelve Great Crested. Coot , Mallard and Tufted numbers all back to normal now the weather has warmed up and other waters in the area are now thawing . Several Bullfinch around along with twenty plus Redwing. Mark and Trace just had two Hawfinch usual place 100 to 200 mts left of the visitor's center car park mid-day , and a single Lapwing over.

Monday, 5 March 2018

March 5th

Still two Hawfinch this morning , three Brambling , three Little Grebe's , two drake Shoveler first thing but had departed by 8 o'clock ,96 Coot and 12 Great Crested Grebe's.Twenty Redwing and two Fieldfare feeding on the grass. No sign of the female Goldeneye. On the the feeders were Bullfinch , Goldfinch , Greenfinch , Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tit. One of the male Hawfinch has been heard singing over the last couple of days.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

March 4th

The redhead Smew is still present at the Mere this morning it took me a good hour to find it . Also two Dunlin , two Hawfinch , four Brambling , female Goldeneye a pair of Shoveler and 28 Redwing feeding on grass in front of visitors centre. I managed to get some reasonable images of one of the Dunlin very early this morning at 7-00 on the sailing club beach , very little light but pleased with the efforts.
I left at 9-00 due to work commitments and Mark texted me at 9-15 to say the Smew had just flown off high south east.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Short-eared Owl

  • This cold weather is certainly bringing some unusual sightings with a Short-eared Owl another first for the site. I went to fill the feeders up in the conservation area when I heard Blackbirds and Magpies mobbing something in the grass behind small pond , when to my amazement a Short-eared Owl flew out and turned and headed straight over the houses. Really angry with myself I couldn't react quick enough with my camera. No sign of yesterday's redhead Smew but female Goldeneye and pair of Shoveler. Also seen this morning were two Hawfinch , three Brambling , Snipe , Lesser Redpoll and plenty of Redwing and Fieldfare everywhere. Single Cormorant and Grey Heron , twelve Great Crested Grebe's and three Little Grebe's. Marks added two Dunlin , Grey Wagtail, five Fieldfare , eleven Redwing , four Lapwing , nine Bullfinch , pair Gadwall and Siskin to this morning's list. I visited again at 16-00 after work and managed to see the two Dunlin flying around , also pair Shoveler and Gadwall still but no sign of the reported Smew. I will be down early morning again before work.  Birdguides report at 16-00 says Smew still present ?????
Images below are of the two Dunlin taken by Brian Hicks.
Dunlin ( B Hicks).
Dunlin (B Hicks).

Friday, 2 March 2018

Site Mega

Smew (redhead) at the Mere found by Mark Stubbs first since 1996. A nice purple patch at the mere this morning with Mark finding our first Smew for twenty two years , I just managed to get some record shots before having to leave for work . Dave Robinson found the first Dunlin for twenty seven years on the sailing club beach then Rob Black relocated the the bird again later along the fenced off fisherman's area and Mark finally had it back on the sailing club beach. Also noted amongst the excitement this morning was one Hawfinch , Snipe , 16 Lapwing , pair Gadwall , Oystercatcher , three Little Grebe , 2 Lesser Redpoll , four Pochard and six Fieldfare. Just goes to show what the bad weather can bring in. On Wednesday I was going to do a wish list for this weather system which would have included Smew , Merganser , Scaup and Little Gull so here's hoping. Below is a couple of record shots taken just after the bird was found. Apparently the Smew was still present at 16-00.
Smew (redhead).

Thursday, 1 March 2018

March 1st

Freezing conditions this morning with temperature's of -5 and more overnight snow . Didn't stay long it was bitterly cold just filled feeding station up and left. Mark and Tracey been down and braved the conditions  this afternoon and were rewarded with only our second record of Snipe. Also noted three Little Grebe's  and Grey Wagtail around the mere and Bullfinch , Greenfinch , Long-tailed , Blue and Great Tits on the feeders but no sign of yesterday's male Blackcap in the blustery conditions.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

February 28th

With more overnight snow and temperatures down to -6 it was no supprise that the water was partially frozen and had around a thousand Black-headed Gulls sitting on the ice. A quick count of the ducks this morning produced 47 Tufted and 83 Coot , along with 10 Great Crested Grebe's and two Little Grebe's. On the Hawfinch front I managed to find three in quick succession but only noted one Brambling a female which showed reasonably well. Iam putting seed down daily in a certain area and we now have Brambling , Bullfinch , Greenfinch , Chaffinch , Goldfinch and all the other regulars feeding on it . The snow started to come down heavy again so it was time to retreat. Mark and Tracey had male Blackcap in conservation area this afternoon also one male Hawfinch still and a female Brambling in usual area. Also four Bullfinch , twelve Redwing ,Fieldfare , Mistle Thrush , two Jay and a single Lapwing . On the Mere were two drake Shoveler , two Little Grebe and four Pochard. We have finished the month with 64 species that's five more than same period last year , and six more than February 2016.
Brambling (female).

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

February 27th

I found four of the Hawfinch's this morning but they are getting more and more elusive . I spent four hours around the area where they frequent and only saw them a few times. The Brambling still seem to be increasing with eight males seen this morning and a couple of females later in the day. The male Reed Bunting was seen and photographed today that's the first time he as been seen this year. Two Little Grebe are on the Mere but no sign of any Gadwall. Male Sparrowhawk made a couple of passes while watching the Brambling and several Bullfinch were noted. Four Jay and seven Fieldfare passed overhead but no sign yet of any Raven this year strange as they do breed close by.
Brambling (male).
Hawfinch (male).

Monday, 26 February 2018

February 26th

Four Hawfinch this morning but very elusive now early mornings seems to be best chance of connecting.They have moved area another 200 mts further along from original place. Brambling are increasing we now have five males and two females. Didn't have time to check the water this morning so don't know if the Gadwall stayed another night.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

February 25th

Myself and Mark decided to meet up early this morning and it paid off . We now have six Hawfinch feeding about another couple hundred mts from were first originally found. Also four Brambling with them and with a male Brambling at the original location we now have five possibly more . Also the pair of Gadwall are still present which gave me a chance to photograph them in better light . Also noted this morning Cormorant , a fly over Lapwing ,four Pochard ,Grey Wagtail ,two Grey Heron , Sparrowhawk and a single Oystercatcher flew over again . Mark then had a flyover Skylark calling that's another first this year and nine Fieldfare . Just before we left we put Rob Black onto the Hawfinch's and Brambling , Rob's now a happy man as he missed them in the week. A text from Rob he saw three Hawfinch two Brambling , five Bullfinch and six Jay .
Gadwall (drake).

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Status of Gadwell at Astbury

Gadwall is a very rare species at Astbury with only twelve records during the last twenty three years . They are mostly one day sightings and usually arriving in pairs . The first breeding record in Cheshire was in 1981 when they first bred at Woolston , but are now widespread along the inner Mersey valley. Gadwalls have found several sites in the county to their liking with the population steadily growing . Gadwalls forage almost exclusively on the green parts of plants especially emergent macrophytes , being of such poor nutritional quality the ducks have to eat vast amounts . They tend to breed in areas where the biomass of food plants is high , in deeper waters such as gravel pits and reservoirs. So when you come across a Gadwall at Astbury you should really appreciate how special these birds are to our area and not just take these little ducks for granted they are still a very rare bird in south east Cheshire...... The image below was of yesterday's pair at Astbury photographed by Tracey Stubbs.
Gadwall (T Stubbs).