Latest Sighting - 2021-09-18

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Birds at Woolston Eyes

A list of the 244 species recorded at Woolston Eyes in the BOU order and photographs follows with a summary status of the bird at Woolston Eyes and the penultimate published annual report data accompanies each species. Click on an image to enlarge it.

sixteen species of birds proven or considered to be escapes follow the 244 accepted records under an ‘E’ prefix reference.

Click here to view, download or print a systematic list of the bird 244 species recorded at Woolston Eyes - Revision 1st January 2021

Click here to view a summary of the most recent Birds of Conservation Concern, BoCC4 2015, list


David Waterhouse

001 Mute Swan

Cygnus olor

Status: BoCC4 moved from green to amber-listed. Breeding bird, resident and found throughout the year.

2018 Records - The high numbers present in 2017 were maintained and there was an increase in breeding pairs. The early year peak was 49 on 20th January and remarkably a pair observed nest building at Latchford Locks on 28th January. Fewer were recorded in February, with 27 noted during a spell of very cold weather on the 7th.

By late March two pairs were present on No.3 bed and shortly after a third pair took up residence on the Oxbow below No.3, one wearing a green Darvic CHX6. They soon built a nest in a vulnerable position on the water’s edge below the footbridge and by 11th April the nest held four eggs, increasing to six on the 21st. All appeared to be going well until 8th May when the nest was deserted and pulled apart. With no sign of the eggs it had clearly been predated. Two weeks later the pair was back at the nest but soon left and was not seen again. Meanwhile, on No.3 bed a pair appeared with four newly hatched young, all of which subsequently fledged and left on 24th September, one of the young noticeably smaller than the other three.

During early May three nests were found on the Mersey from Woolston Weir to the east of the M6, all with incubating birds. All three hatched young, one brood of five, one of one and the other, by the Weir, of two. The latter are believed not to have survived. A pair also bred on the Loop of No.4 bed, hatching and fledging four young, and a pair did attempt to breed at Latchford Locks, but the nest was abandoned. Three other broods were noted on the Mersey and Ship Canal late in the season but are likely to have bred away from the Eyes. In all, there were seven breeding attempts on the Reserve, five of which produced young, an improvement on the three pairs in 2017. Later in the year numbers were a little down on last year, with a maximum of 40 on the Reserve on 19th December.

A cygnet present on No.3 on 12th November was wearing a green Darvic CLX6, and had been ringed on 22nd October 2018 at Spike Island, Widnes.

Monthly maxima:

J F M A M J J A S O N D 49 27 45 27 18 36 25 34 31 13 18 40

Photograph of a family party from No3 Bed 25/05/2013

002 Bewick's Swan

Cygnus columnbianus bewickii

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed. Rare vagrant visitor to Woolston.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted. Was recorded in most years from 1980 but the last report of Bewick Swan on the Reserve was 16/12/1995.

No Woolston image avaialable


Mark Battersby

003 Whooper Swan

Cygnus cygnus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, an infrequent winter visitor to Woolston but occurs annually.

2018 Records - A scarce visitor to Woolston, there were a number of sightings this year. On 17th February 11 flew north over No.1 bed, while on 26th October three flew on to No.3 bed, but only stayed for a short time. A single bird flew north the following day. Two adults and a juvenile flew east over No.1 bed on 12th November and four flew west over No.3 bed the next day.

Photographed from John Morgan hide No.3 Bed 26/01/2013


Daniel Owen

004 Tundra Bean Goose

Anser serrirostris

Status BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare winter migrant

2020 Records A single bird dropped onto No.3 bed lagoon with two Grey-lag Geese on 23rd January 2020. This was the first confirmed record for the Reserve but only stayed for c.30 minutes before flying off south-easterly.

Photograph is a record shot of this bird on the morning of 23/01/2020


Andy Weir

005 Pink Footed Goose

Anser brachyrhynchus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed species more often observed in large skeens flying over the Reserve but also an irregular visitor in winter months.

2018 Records - The usual over-flying skeins were recorded in both winter periods, most in the second half of the year. There was, however, one record of birds on the ground.

The only submissions at the beginning of the year were of sightings on 6th January. Two observers reported 300 flying west and north-west while a third record on that date was of 150 flying north-west.

Very many records were received for the autumn and late winter, beginning with 15 flying low to the south-west on 15th September. Seven flew east over No.1 bed on 28th September, while on 13th October WeBS Count 34 were seen on fields just to the south of the Ship Canal near Bollin Point, a rare occurrence. Some large numbers passed through on 25th October, when observers on a Migration Watch on No.1 bed recorded a total of 2400 moving east in many skeins over a six hour period. Two days later 100 flew south-east over No.1 bed and a further 180 over No.3 bed.

In November 300 flew south-east over No.1 bed on the 2nd and 139 in two skeins on the 24th. A further 190 flew east in two skeins of 40 and 150 on the 26th, but these were overshadowed by the total of 1250 that passed through on another Migration Watch on 8th December. The final record of the year was of 42 over No.4 bed on 29th December.

Photographed from the No.3 bed Vikki’s Island in front of John Morgan Hide 22nd March 2019

006 White-fronted Goose

Anser albifrons

Status: BoCC4 moved straight from green to red-listed, a rare winter visitor to Woolston.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted. The last records of White-Fronted Goose on the reserve was 27/11/1993 and prior to that 1987.

No Woolston image available


Dave Bowman

007 Grey Lag Goose

Anser anser

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a breeding species on the Reserve and seen in each month of the year with numbers increasing although ours are undoubtedly of feral origin. The wild, migratory population, which occurs in the north of the UK, is currently amber-listed.

2018 Records - Recorded in every month except November, with some large counts in September. As always, a few pairs bred and although many young soon disappeared a small number did fledge, which is unusual. Twenty-four at Bollin Point on 8th February and 16 on No.3 bed on 21st March were the highest numbers submitted in the first three months when, as in 2017, one was paired with a Canada Goose. The first brood (seven young) appeared on No.3 bed on 20th April and was followed by at least three others on that bed, and finally a brood of six young was seen at Bollin Point on 29th May. A pair found on the Loop of No.4 bed on 14th April during a wildfowl breeding survey was not subsequently seen. Many young were soon lost, but two broods with well-grown young were found on the Mersey below No.3 bed on 29th May and 6th June; it is likely that they fledged. It is not clear whether these were broods that had moved on to the river from No.3, but certainly a minimum of five pairs bred, and possibly as many as seven.

After the breeding season good numbers were reported in August and September, peak counts being 300 (most birds at Bollin Point) on 12th September and 126 on No.3 bed on 27th September.
In the final months few were seen, 19 on 25th October being one of only four records.

Photograph of adult and ducklings on No3 Bed 28-04-2016


Alan Debenham

008 Canada Goose

Branta canadensis

Status: Breeds on the reserve and present all year with highest numbers present from autumn to year end.

2018 Records - Large flocks were present on the Eyes, notably in late summer and early autumn, but fewer pairs bred than in recent years.

In January, 26 on the 10th was the peak count and few were seen during a cold spell in early February when No.3 bed was frozen for a time. Shortly after numbers increased, with 64 present on 17th February and an early year maximum of 140 on 17th March WeBS Count. On 25th March one was paired with a Greylag Goose on the Loop of No.4 bed, for the second year in succession, announcing their presence with very noisy calls.

On No.3 bed 40 on 7th March were mostly paired, while on the Loop of No.4 bed on 14th March a breeding wildfowl survey found three pairs, including one bird on a nest. The first brood, of 4 young, appeared on No.3 bed on 2nd May and was joined by a second and third three days later. In all seven pairs bred and produced young on No.3 bed, while on the Loop is it likely that two, possibly three, pairs bred, a slight reduction on the 12 broods in 2017.

As with Greylag Goose numbers peaked in late August and September, with maxima of 160 on 30thAugust, 275 on 6th September and a Reserve total of 300 on 12th September. Thereafter, apart from 179 on 19th September and 92 on the 13th October WeBS Count, 38 on 30th November was the highest count at the end of the year.

Monthly maxima:

J F M A M J J A S O N D 26 64 140 65 38 90 46 160 300 92 38 17

Photograph of adult and ducklings from No3 Bed 06/05/2012


David Bowman

009 Barnacle Goose

Branta leucopsis

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - The 14 recent years sightings probably relate to feral birds, the last, a single bird on No.3 bed on 21st January 2017.

Photographed from No3 bed 21/01/2017

010 Brent Goose

Branta bernicla

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare vagrant visitor to the Eyes.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted. The records of Brent Goose were 1986, 1988 and the last on the reserve was 14/02/1993.

No Woolston image avaialable


David Spencer

011 Egyptian Goose

Alopochen aegyptiaca

Status: A rare visitor to Woolston Eyes

2018 Records - There were no reports in 2018. The single bird flying east over No.3 bed on 23rd September 2017 was the last record and the third year since 2014 that this species has appeared at Woolston.

Photographed from No3 Bed 06/04/2014

012 Ruddy Shelduck

Tadorna ferruginea

Status: Rare visitor to the Reserve

2018 records - no sightings submitted. Records from 1978, 1985 and the last record on the reserve on 24/03/1995 are all considered to be of feral birds.

No Woolston image available


Andy Weir

013 Shelduck

Tadorna tadorna

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed. Breeds on or nearby the Reserve as broods are noted but nest sites have never been reported. Common until autumn when numbers fall sharply.

2018 Records - Fewer Shelduck were present compared to 2017, but more pairs bred.

During January and February no more than 19 were present, half the peak count of last year. Despite the freezing conditions brought by the ‘Beast from the East’ double-figure numbers were maintained. On 14th April a pair was found near to former breeding holes, but there was no evidence that breeding occurred. The first brood was seen on No.3 bed on 22nd June, followed by a second brood of eight young three days later. Seven young were lost from both broods, but by the 17th July three females were on No.3 bed with broods, one with three fully fledged young. On 24th July a crèche of four adults with nine young was observed on No.3 and it is believed that at least five of the young fledged.

During the autumn only small numbers were reported, but the annual late influx saw 11 on No.3 bed on 29th November and 14 on 27th December.

Photographed from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 22/03/2019


Brian Burnett

014 Mandarin Duck

Aix galericulata

Status: Irregular visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - No records were reported this year. The last sightings were of a single drake on No3 bed on 17th May 2016 and successive sightings in 2014 and 2013.

Photographed from No3 Bed off footbridge 10/11/2013


David Spencer

015 Wigeon

Anas penelope

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, Wigeon are predominately autumn/winter visitors to Woolston with small numbers present most commonly from Sep to Mar.

2018 Records - Always scarce at Woolston, there was nevertheless a high count in February (as in 2017) of 33 on the 22nd. Ten were still present the following day, after which there were no records until the autumn when two were seen on 3rd September. Small numbers were regularly present throughout September, reaching a maximum of eight on the 29th, while in October 12 on the 23rd and 10 the next day were the only double-figure counts submitted.

Photograph of an adult male & female from No. bed 24/11/2015


Andy Weir

016 Gadwall

Anas strepera

Status: A BoCC4 amber-listed species, Woolston numbers are seen throughout the year but are noted to build from June to November.

2018 Records - Numbers of international importance were present in August, while the number of broods seen was a little higher than in 2017.

In the first four months more Gadwall were present on the Eyes than last year, with a maximum of 50 on 20th January, 70 on 17th February, 136 on 7th March – 119 of which were on the Loop of No.4 bed, 87 on 14th April WeBS Count and 64 on 29th May.

The Loop of No.4 bed continued to attract Gadwall, with ten pairs there on 25th March and eight pairs, plus others, found during a breeding wildfowl survey on 14th April. On 21st April nine pairs were located on No.3 bed. This suggested that a good breeding season was in prospect, but as the rest of April and May passed without any broods seen concerns were raised, especially as there were many adults still present.

Finally, on 6th June a brood of six young appeared on No.3 bed, with another of four young two days later. On 9th June four broods were on the water with a fifth on 21st June, and on the same date two new broods of five and six young were found on the Mersey. One brood of eight was found on the Loop of No.4 bed on 4th July and two other new broods on No.3 bed in late July. In all, it is considered that a minimum of ten pairs bred, a small improvement on the eight in 2017.

The now annual build-up of adults in the summer began in early June, increasing rapidly to 401 on the evening of 29th June, 534 on 30th July and the peak count of 638 on 1st August. Where these birds come from is not known, but with counts in the day being much smaller the highest counts at dusk suggests that birds are flighting in to roost. However, no such arrivals have ever been observed! On 6th August 403 were still present and 300 at the end of the month. Many at this time were feeding on the alien weed Azolla, along with Coot, but as the amount of this decreased so did the numbers of Gadwall. The last three-figure counts were in early September, after which numbers returned to much lower levels.

Monthly maxima:

J F M A M J J A S O N D 50 70 136 87 64 401 534 638 219 32 50 57

Photograph of a male and female pair from No3 Bed 04/05/2015


David Bowman

017 Teal

Anas crecca

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed this small duck is very abundent at Woolston in the winter periods but less so in the summer months.

2018 Records - Numbers were much lower than in recent years, with no four-figure counts recorded. Although some were present in the late spring and summer there was no evidence of breeding.

Many Teal were frozen out of cover in January and February, with a maximum count of 793 on 20th January WeBS Count and 700 still present in early February. As always the vast majority wintered on No.3 bed, with 40-50 regularly seen on the Loop of No.4 bed. The last significant count early in the year was 320 on 21st March, and 61 were present on the 14th April WeBS.

On 16th April six pairs were found in the undisturbed north-east pools on No.3, with display observed, but thereafter very few were seen. The double-figure counts in late June were almost certainly the first of the returning birds, or failed breeders from elsewhere. It is a few years since breeding was proved at Woolston.

An unexpected arrival in late July coincided with dredgings being deposited on No.2 bed, with 180 increasing to 250 on the 30th. Numbers remained at this level into September, when 300 were reported on two dates. On 23rd October 340 were present across the Eyes and it was not until late November that more Teal arrived, with 450 present on the 29th. The highest counts of the year were 800 on the 14th and 29th December.

An interesting observation on 6th December was of a Stoat attempting to catch a Teal from a small flock in front of the Morgan hide, by swimming in and out of nearby reeds.

The ringers on No.3 bed handled 296 Teal caught in a duck trap on that bed, including 114 new birds that they ringed. Owing to low water levels after the hot dry summer the duck trap could not be operated in the second half of the year. Re-traps from previous years included four birds first ringed in January and February 2017, eight from 2016, eight from 2015 and three from 2014. The ringing team on No.3 bed report that “Woolston accounts for a large proportion of the Teal that are re-trapped by the BTO ringing scheme with many birds caught on a regular basis”

Monthly maxima:

J F M A M J J A S O N D 793 700 320 61 n/c 34 250 200 300 340 450 800

Photograph of an adult pair from No3 Bed 07/02/2015


Andy Weir

018 Green-winged Teal

Anas crecca carolinensis

Status: Rare winter visitor.

2018 records - no sightings were submitted this year. The last records were from 29th November 2016 when one was seen among hundreds of Common Teal sitting on the ice that covered a large part of No.3 bed. It was then seen by many observers until 16th December. This was only the third record of this American sub-species at Woolston the other previous sightings being on 5th February 1984 and 11th April 1987.

Photograph of male from No.3 Bed on 30/11/2016


Andy Weir

019 Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos

Status: Despite its familiarity, Mallard is a BoCC4 amber-listed species but is common throughout the Reserve all year round.

2018 Records - More Mallard were on the Eyes than for several years, notably in the second winter period, and it was also a successful breeding season.

The year began with 119 present on 3rd January and 122 on 17th February WeBS Count.

The first brood was reported on 22nd April, with many others widely distributed across the site; the last new brood appearing on No.3 bed on 19th June. In total 36 broods were reported: 15 on No.3 bed, eight on the Mersey, seven on the Loop of No.4 bed and six on the Ship Canal. This represents the best breeding season since the 44 broods in 2011.

Mallard were particularly numerous in the autumn, with peak counts of 168 on 8th September and a year maximum of 188 on 13th October. High numbers remained into December.

Two were ringed on No.3 bed by the ringing team on 14th April, an adult male and female, but because of low water levels in the second half of the year the duck trap could not be set.

Monthly maxima:

J F M A M J J A S O N D 119 122 101 56 62 85 46 110 168 188 100 144

Photograph of male and female pair from No3 Bed 01/03/2014


Brian Burnett

020 Pintail

Anas acuta

Status: A BoCC4 amber-listed duck predominately an autumn/winter visitor, not as common as it once was but occurs irregularly annually in small numbers.

2018 Records - A very scarce but regular visitor to the Eyes, there were only six records in the early months, with a maximum of three on 17th March. The next sighting was not until 24th September when two were on No.3 bed. There were then many records, mostly of one or two birds, with the peak count being of four females on No.3 bed on 17th October. None were seen after 20th November.

Photograph of male and female from No3 Bed February 2011


David Spencer

021 Garganey

Anas querquedula

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed species a scare passage and summer visitor to Woolston but generally recorded annually.

2018 Records - There were more records than usual this year, beginning with a drake on No.3 bed on 9th May. It remained for much of May, with a second drake seen to fly on to the Loop of No.4 bed from high up on 12th May. There were then a further seven May records of single drakes, all but one on No.3 bed, with the last sighting on the 31st.

In August there were many reports, beginning with three (thought to be a female and two juveniles) on No.3 on the 8th and 9th. Up to two were present on many dates until the end of August with the last sighting on 1st September. There is no indication that breeding took place, but one cannot rule it out.

Photograph of a male from No3 Bed 17th May 2019


Andy Weir

022 Shoveler

Anas clypeata

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed species found on the Reserve in numbers in the winter periods but less so in the summer months although small numbers can be seen.

2018 Records - An improved showing with numbers well up on 2017, notably on spring and autumn passage, but once again no broods were seen.

Many records were submitted of this attractive duck, although no more than 35 were present in January. An arrival in early February saw 70 on No.3 bed at a time when much of the water was frozen and most of the wildfowl concentrated in a small area of open water. From a peak of 82 on 24th February more arrived with 131 present on 24th March WeBS Count, the first three-figure gathering since March 2014.

Despite a total of 53 on 14th April WeBS Count most soon moved on with just a few pairs noted from late April into mid-June. There was no evidence of breeding on the Reserve and this has become a familiar pattern in recent years. Conditions on the Eyes appear to be ideal, but maybe the build-up in the spring is of birds en route to breeding sites further north, possibly in Iceland.

There was only a handful of records in June and July before the autumn arrivals in late August and September saw 118 on 8th September and 140 on the 19th , the highest numbers recorded at Woolston since the autumn of 2011. Many remained throughout October and November with 69 on No.3 on 10th November.

Monthly maxima:

J F M A M J J A S O N D 36 82 131 53 6 3 28 50 140 91 69 33

Photograph of a male from No3 Bed 31-05-2018


Brian Burnett

023 Red-crested Pochard

Netta rufina

Status: Scare vagrant but recorded in 2016, 2014 and 2013

2018 Records - A pair flew on to No.3 bed on 4th April and was seen by two observers. This was the only record of this scarce visitor to the Eyes.

Photograph of a pair from No3 bed 19th April 2014


Roger Riley

024 Pochard

Aythya ferina

Status: A BoCC4 movement from amber to red-listed species. Woolston holds good numbers in the early part of the year which reduce during the breeding season but recorded in all months.

2018 Records - The rapid decline in the numbers of this once very numerous duck, not just at Woolston, has been well documented although not fully understood. More were seen this year than in 2017 but numbers were still a fraction of those that used to winter at the Eyes as recently as 15-20 years ago. Many broods were reported but fewer than the very successful breeding season of last year.

During January the maximum count was 21 on the 13th. February is traditionally the month with the highest numbers and this year was no exception, with 63 on No.3 bed on the 2nd, and the year’s maximum of 90 on the 12th, most of these on the Mersey at Woolston Weir. Over the following few days up to 81 were reported and there were still 63 on 26th February. Numbers fell for a time during March, before 67 were present on the 21st and 62 on the 28th. This was to be the last significant count of the year.

During the breeding season birds were present on No.3 and the Loop of No.4 bed, the latter site with two pairs - seven drakes and a single female on 10th May, while nine drakes and four females were on No.3 bed on 15th May. The first brood, (five young), appeared on No.3 on 19th May and more were seen over the next six weeks. In all 11 broods were reported, eight on No.3 bed and three on the Loop. Although well down on the 19 broods of 2017, it is still an impressive showing given the huge fall in Pochard numbers in recent years. Fledging success is not easy to judge, but one brood of six full grown young was still present and thriving on No.3 bed on 3rd August.

Nearly three months passed before the next record of a Pochard at Woolston – one on the Mersey on 27th October. Two drakes were on No.3 on 17th November and the only other sightings were of two single drakes on two dates in December.

Monthly maxima:

J F M A M J J A S O N D 21 90 67 28 22 18 5 6 n/c 1 2 1

Photograph of a male from No3 Bed 18/11/2014


Alan Patterson

025 Ring-necked Duck

Aythya collaris

Status: Rare winter vagrant.

2018 records - no sightings submitted. The last records on the reserve were 21st April 2011 and prior to that 1994.

Photograph of a male on No3 Bed 21st April 2011

026 Ferruginus Duck

Aythya nyroca

Status: Rare vagrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last records of this species at Woolston were 2007 and 2000 with five previous sightings back to 1984.

No Woolston image available


Chris Monks

027 Tufted Duck

Aythya fuligula

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, is abundant at Woolston in the winter periods less, numerous in the breeding season but present all year.

2018 Records - Despite high numbers present in the first three months the breeding season was, by Woolston’s standards, very disappointing, and was followed by well below average numbers in the final months of the year.

The big gatherings of December 2017 continued into 2018, with peak counts of 535 in January, 663 in February and 587 in March. During those months there were a number of very cold spells, including the notorious ‘Beast from the East’, which always results in large numbers of Tufted Duck arriving at Woolston and concentrating mainly on the unfrozen Weir Basin and Ship Canal at Bollin Point. Many remained well into the spring with all the indications of another good breeding season. Sixteen pairs were present on No.3 bed on 5th May, with others found on the Loop of No.4 bed during a breeding wildfowl count.

What happened next was surprising. Tufted Duck are late breeders, but first broods appear in June, followed by the majority in July. At that time in 2018 the long hot summer had arrived and with it rapidly falling water levels. The first broods, two, were seen on the Loop of No.4 on 30th June, but none appeared on No.3 bed until 15th July. It was clear that many Tufted Duck had departed during the searing temperatures of late June and early July. In all, 11 broods were reported, seven on No.3 bed, two on the Loop of No.4 bed and two on the Oxbow below No.3 bed (c.f. the very high 28 broods in 2017).

There were no significant arrivals in the second winter period, which was relatively mild.

Monthly maxima:

J F M A M J J A S O N D 535 663 587 280 178 62 13 10 63 220 229 241

Male & Female photographed from No3 bed

028 Scaup

Aythya marila

Status: BoCC4 red-listed is a rare winter visitor.

2018 Records - no records were submitted this year. The last record of Scaup on the Reserve are three records from 2012, all of single birds, at Woolston Weir Pool on 29th October and on No3 Bed on 13th November and 23rd December.

No image available


Douglas Buchanan

029 Long-tailed Duck

Clangula hyemalis

Status: BoCC4 movement straight from green to red-listed species is a rare winter vagrant to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records were received this year. The last records on the reserve go back to 2013 when a female was found on No.3 Bed on 25th February, the first since February 1988. Prior to that there had been sightings of females in 1979 and 1981. On 1st March the bird relocated to the river to the north of No.1 Bed where it remained for two weeks before returning briefly to No.3 Bed on 18th March. It was not seen again there but on 30th March it re-appeared on the river at Bollin Point. There were three further sightings in this area on 17th and 22nd April and finally on 1st May.

Photograph of female from No3 Bed 25/02/2013


David Spencer

030 Common Scoter

Melanitta nigra

Status: BoCC4 red-listed species is a rare winter visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - A drake was found by Woolston Weir on 9th April. This follows one on the Ship Canal on 2nd December 2017, which was the first record at Woolston since November 1996.

Photograph of a male on River Mersey from Woolston Weir 9th April 2018


Andy Weir

031 Goldeneye

Bucephala clangula

Status: A BoCC4 amber-listed species but a regular winter visitor especially favours Woolston Weir pool and the Ship Canal.

2018 Records - Much less numerous than they used to be at Woolston; many records were submitted, but it is now a few years since any double-figure counts have been made.

In the first winter five on 11th January was the maximum number seen, while later in the year five on 8th December was also the highest count received.

The majority of sightings came from the Woolston Weir Pool.

Photograph of male & female from Woolston Weir Pool 26/01/2013

032 Smew

Mergellus albellus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, Smew are rare winter vagrants to Woolston.

2018 Records - no records were submitted. The last sighting on the reserve was 20/02/2003 and on nine occasions prior to that back to 1984.

No Woolston image available

033 Red-breasted Merganser

Mergus sator

Status: BoCC4 green-listed and an infrequent wintor visitor to Woolston with the adjacent Ship Canal and Weir basin preferred locations.

2018 Records no records were submitted. The last reserve record was 11/10/2003.

No Woolston image available


David Bowman

034 Goosander

Mergus merganser

Status: BoCC4 green-listed but an irregular winter visitor on the Reserve, more likely to be found on the canal or adjacent River Mersey.

2018 Records - A scarce but annual visitor to Woolston, with most birds seen on the Ship Canal. Just 19 records were received. There was no repeat of the 2017 breeding.

One was found on the Ship Canal on 13th January, and a ‘redhead’ was also on the Canal on 13th March. The next sighting was on No.3 bed on 16th August, then none until late October when two females were on the Canal, with up to two present on four dates in November. Finally, there were ten records in December, when many observers saw up to five on the Ship Canal between the Reserve car park and the Penny Ferry 400m to the west.

Photograph of a female on No3 bed 22nd August 2019


Andy Weir

035 Ruddy Duck

Oxyura jamaicensis

Status: Becoming rare as a result of the International culling program but individuals have still been reported over recent years.

2018 Records - There was only one bird reported in 2018, a female, between 21st April and 21st June. There were many weeks without any sightings in May and June and very few, if any, Ruddy Duck must now be left.

Photograph of a male on No3 Bed 10th July 2017

036 Quail

Coturnix coturnix

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed and a rare Woolston visitor but has been noted by call on fly over migration and is recorded on passage in surrounding arable farmland.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last reports were on 16/09/1986 and 1999 when breeding was confirmed.

No Woolston image available.

037 Red-legged Partridge

Alectoris rufa

Status: Historically rare and still scarce as there are only 9 records for the Reserve to date despite breeding populations on adjacent arable farmland to the north east.

2018 Records - There was just one record this year, a single on No.1 bed on 30th October which flew under the Viaduct towards No.2 bed. Sightings of this species have now become annual and this is the fourth year in succession that one or more has been recorded. Somewhat surprisingly, in the past two years it has been reported more often than the indigenous Grey Partridge

No Woolston image available

038 Grey Partridge

Perdi perdix

Status: BoCC4 red-listed species and an irregular visitor to the Reserve with only 2 records in 2012 but atypically 40 in 2011. A declining species particularly on the eastern side of the reserve where breeding populations exist on adjacent arable farmland, perhaps a consequence of the increasing scrub and tree cover there.

2018 Records -This species has become a rarity in recent years, so it was encouraging to receive three sightings. One was flushed from the top of Butchersfield Tip on 7th August and another was in the same location on the 22nd of the month. The other record was of a small bird, possibly a juvenile, on the south meadow of No.3 bed on 16th August. This raises the possibility of breeding having taken place on the Reserve for the first time since 2006.

No Woolston image available


Andy Weir

039 Pheasant

Phasianus colchicus

Status: common sighting on and around the Reserve.

2018 Records - Numbers of this resident species are often under-recorded as it is ignored by many observers. There were no records until March when eight were on No.4 bed. Common Bird Surveys of the northern section of No.4 bed produced totals of between five and seven between April and June. At least 15 were present across the Reserve during June and a chick was seen on the north bank of No.2 bed on the 21st. On 11th July a brood of at least three was on No.3 bed and on the 21st of the month a female with five well-grown young was reported from the same bed. A brood of four half-grown young was flushed from the north meadow on 27th August and it would appear that a minimum of three broods were produced. This is more than in 2017 when only one brood was seen but it would be premature to confirm an upturn in this species’ fortunes. It seems reasonable to assume a maximum Reserve total of 20. The Migration Watch on 6th September produced eight while there were reports of six and ten from No.3 bed on 29th September and 7th October respectively.

Photograph of male from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 6th July 2014

040 Red-throated Diver

Gavia stellata

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a rare passage and winter visitor probably best sought on the adjacent Ship Canal and Weir basin.

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The last sighting was of one flying west along the Ship Canal on the unusual date of 16th May 2014 prior sightings were 1995 and 1978.

No Woolston image available

041 Fulmar

Fulmarus glacialis

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, rare storm blown vagrant.

2018 Records - no sightings were submitted. The last and only record of Fulmar was 15/05/1988. No Woolston image available

042 Storm Petrel

Hydrobates pelagicus

Status:BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare storm blown vagrant.

2018 Records - no sightings were submitted. The only reported sighting of this species was on 14/09/1980.

No Woolston image available

043 Leach's Storm Petrel

Oceanodroma leucorhoa

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a very rare storm blown vagrant.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted. The only record at Woolston dates back to 30/09/1978.

No Woolston image available

044 Gannet

Morus bassanus

Status Historic record. One was seen over the deposit grounds and Ship Canal on 25/09/1954 during a spell of high winds.


David Bowman

045 Cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common bird on the Reserve and surronding habitat and large numbers overflying.

2018 Records - As always, reported in every month, with early year maxima of 16 on 20th January and 15 on the WeBS Count of 17th February. The highest number was 27 on No.3 bed on 10th October.

Photograph from Ship Canal 18th May 2019

046 Shag

Phalacrocorax aristotelis

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to red-listed, a rare vagrant visitor for the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last report of Shag on the reserve was on 2002 with three previous sightings in 2001, 2000 and 1996.

No Woolston image available

047 Bittern

Botaurus stellaris

Status: BoCC4 moved from red to amber-listed as a result of concerted conservation efforts nationally is a scarce winter visitor.

2018 Records - Although no records were submitted this year the potential for Woolston remains with 5 records in 2016 split between No1 and No3 beds in February, August and December and a single sighting in 2015 in May on No.3 bed with prior year sightings in 2012, 2011 and 2004 this century.

No Woolston image available

048 Night Heron

Nycticorax nycticorax

Status: rare vagrant.

2018 Records - no records submitted, the only recorded sighting of Night Heron was on 26/05/1987.

No Woolston image available


David Spencer

049 Little Egret

Egretta garzetta

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to green-listed, an irregular spring-summer-autumn visitor which is reported a number of times annually.

2018 Records - An infrequent visitor to the Eyes, Little Egrets appear to be becoming scarcer. In 2018 there were only 11 records submitted (c.f. 14 in 2017 and 21 in 2016). Apart from two on 28th August all other sightings were of single birds.

Photograph from the John Morgan hide No.3 Bed 28th April 2016


Andy Weir

050 Great White Egret

Ardea alba

Status: Scarce visitor with first record in 2006 but has been seen annually since 2014.

2018 Records - Only three reports were received, single birds on 1st September and 19th September and two on 20th October.

Photograph from No.3 bed 16/08/2015

051 Cattle Egret

Bubulcus ibis

Status Green listed

2020 Records A pair flying east to west across the north bank of No3 bed were sighted on 06/10/2020. Although the birds did not land Cattle Egret have been increasing in numbers and have been expected at Woolston for a while now and this short sighting was the first record for Woolston Eyes.


David Shallcross

052 Grey Heron

Ardea cinerea

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a resident non breeding bird on the Reserve but found throughout the year.

2018 Records - Noted throughout the year on all parts of the Eyes, with peak counts in the autumn. The only double-figure reports were of ten on 30th August and 11 on 17th October. Birds from the heronry at Parr’s Wood in Grappenhall regularly feed on the Reserve.

Photographed from John Morgan hide No.3 Bed 2012

053 Spoonbill

Platalea leucorodia

Status:BoCC4 amber-listed species and a rare vagrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted, the last record of Spoonbill was on 27/05/2010 and prior to that 1987.

No Woolston image available


Roy Peacock

054 Little Grebe

Tachybaptus ruficollis

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a resident and breeding bird found throughout the year on the Reserve though scarce over the winter period.

2018 Records - Another good breeding season for this grebe at its main Cheshire site. Numbers in the spring were down on 2017, but more were seen later in the year.

Eight were on the Reserve on 20th January with the first trilling bird heard on the same day on a small fishing pool alongside the Mersey north of No.1 bed. Two pairs had returned to No.3 bed on 21st February, but Little Grebes were scarce during the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ when many of the waters were frozen.

By the end of March birds were more widespread, being found on the Loop of No.4 bed (five) and No.3 bed (up to nine), as well as on No.1 bed. The first brood, of two small young, was found on No.3 bed on 26th May, and another on No.1 bed on 28th May, while two broods were on the Loop of No.4 bed on 3rd June. It is almost certain that the brood on No.1 bed had hatched earlier in May as when found on the 3rd June the two young were reported to be well grown. With more broods appearing in June and July, and a late one on No.1 bed on 22nd August, records suggest an overall breeding population of 11 pairs, five on No.3 bed, two on the Loop of No.4 bed, three on No.1 bed and one on the Mersey by No.1 bed. This is exactly the same as in 2017.

Some large counts were submitted later in the year, including 16 on 11th August, of which four were large young begging for food, 26 on 1st September and 23 on the WeBS Count a week later. Fourteen on 13th October was the last double-figure count, with Little Grebes in the final two months resorting largely to the river and Ship Canal.

Photograph from No3 Bed 24th June 2013


Daniel Owen

055 Great Crested Grebe

Podiceps cristatus

Status - BoCC4 green-listed, breeds on the Reserve and resident throughout the year.

2018 Records - The numbers present throughout the year were about average, but fewer broods were reported than in 2017.

Up to seven were present in January, but the number of returning birds reached 16 on 17th February, increasing to the year’s maximum of 21 on 17th March and 14th April. On 1st April single sitting birds were on nests on No.3 bed and at Woolston Weir, with another pair at a possible nest on the river between beds 3 and 4. By 20th May four birds were on nests on No.3 bed. The first brood appeared on No.3 on 24th May, with three further broods seen there during June. Three of the four broods were of single young, with the other with two young. The pair at Woolston Weir made two breeding attempts but failed, as they usually do, when their nests were washed away, while the outcome of the nest on the Mersey is unknown. Thus six pairs were present in the breeding season from which just three young are known to have fledged. A poor showing compared to last year when 11 broods were seen.

Following the breeding season the maximum count was eight on 10th November WeBS.

Photograph of adult and young on No.3 Bed 28th May 2019

056 Red-necked Grebe

Podiceps grisegena

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a rare vagrant for the Reserve.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted. The last sighting of Red-necked Grebe was on 05/03/2011, 2010, 1996 and twice in the early 1980’s.

No Woolston image available

057 Slavonian Grebe

Podiceps auritus

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to red-listed, a rare passage and winter vagrant for the Reserve.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted. The last Slavonian Grebe sighting was on 04/05/2001 and previous to that in February 1986.

No Woolston image available


Steven Ellis

058 Black-necked Grebe

Podiceps nigricollis

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed. Black-necked Grebes are widespread but scarce summer visitors to the UK. Woolston Eyes is a nationally important breeding site for this species. Best seen from March to August.

2018 Records - This was another successful breeding season, with the population stable at about ten pairs. The warm dry summer resulted in many young fledging.

The first bird returned on 13th March, but there were no further sightings until ten days later. A pair was seen mating on No.3 bed on 24th March, but no more than three were noted until five on 6th April, increasing to eight on the 7th, two of which were still in winter plumage. A further arrival resulted in 14 on 16th April with numbers remaining at that level into mid-May. Given counts of adults and broods later in the summer it is clear that up to 20 adults must have summered.

The first brood (3 young) appeared on No.3 bed on 15th May, after which new broods were seen on a daily basis with totals of two on 19th May, three on the 24th, four on the 25th and five on the 26th, including a new brood of three tiny young. On 29th May a thorough count found 16 adults and 15 young in eight broods. It was hard to keep track of what was happening, with Black-necked Grebes seemingly everywhere on No.3 bed. Another survey on 2nd June revealed 18 adults with 17 young in nine broods, with a tenth brood seen on 9th June. By this time many of the young were independent (they can be in as little as 21 days). Nineteen adults with young were present on 15th June. On 19th June 14 large independent young were seen on No.3 bed when others had already left.

Given the hot, dry weather breeding conditions were ideal, with good populations of aquatic invertebrates. It was therefore not surprising that all adults had left by early July, with the last juvenile seen on 31st July. Overall it is considered that ten pairs bred, fledging an impressive 17 young.

Some interesting observations in the breeding season included two pairs fighting over a favoured reed island during June, and what appeared to be a crèche of four young of different ages being fed by two adults, something never seen before at Woolston.

Photograph of a pair on No.3 Bed 4th May 2013

059 Honey Buzzard

Pernis apivorus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed species but a very rare vagrant for Woolston.

2018 Records - no sightings reported. This species was last recorded on the Reserve on 30/05/2003, 2001, 1999 and 1986.

No Woolston image available


David Spencer

060 Red Kite

Milvus milvus

Species: BoCC4 green-listed, a rare passage visitor for the Reserve generally as a flyover sighting.

2018 Records - Although still a rare visitor, there have been sightings in each of the last five years. The first of three records was of one from No.3 bed on 1st July. A further report from the same bed was on 14th July when one was seen soaring over the north bank before drifting northeast. The final sighting was of one moving south over No.3 bed on 2nd September.

Photograph from No.3 Bed of the flyover Red Kite on 25th April 2016


Andy Weir

061 Marsh Harrier

Circus aeruginosus

Status: A BoCC4 amber-listed species is recorded annually often staying for long periods in the winter and early spring.

2018 Records - This species is usually reported during spring but this year there were also a number of sightings in the second half of the year. The first was a female on No.3 bed on 21st February and there were further reports of the same bird over the following five days. In March there were sightings from both No.3 bed and the Loop of No.4 bed as a female moved regularly between the two. On 9th March one took a Teal on No.3 bed but dropped it into the water and it escaped! Two were present on No.3 bed on 21st March. On 1st and 3rd April a female with missing secondaries was noted on No.3 bed but none were then reported until 25th April. A further sighting was of one on No.3 bed on 15th May and what was presumably the same bird, was reported from No.1 bed the following day. One was on No.3 bed on 1st June but there were no further records until 28th July when one was again on No.3 bed. There were almost daily reports of a female/immature bird until 18th August and there was then a gap until 29th August. Further sightings continued with one on No.3 bed on 3rd, 19th and 26th September. The next record was on 19th October and one was present almost daily from then until the 27th of that month. The only subsequent sighting was of a female/immature bird on No.3 bed on 14th and 17th December. This was an above average year for this species with 66 records submitted

Photograph from No3 bed 23rd February 2018


Steve Dolan

062 Hen Harrier

Circus cyaneus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed species a rare, irregular winter visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - Following a blank year in 2017 there was one sighting. On 10th November a “ring-tail” flew east across the northern reed-bed of No.3 bed shortly after dawn heading towards the east bank where it appeared to drop in. It was not seen again, however. Typical of recent records as the consecutive October sightings over three days in 2015 and six days in 2016.

Photograph of a female from No.3 bed 31st October 2016

063 Montagu's Harrier

Circus pygargus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed and a very rare passage vagrant for Woolston.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last and only report of Montagu’s Harrier was on 13/06/1993.

No Woolston image available

064 Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, an infrequent visitor to Woolston but one or two reports are submitted per annum.

2018 Records - There were no reports this year. The single bird on the Migration Watch on 2nd December 2017 remains the last sighting.

No Woolston image available


David Bowman

065 Sparrowhawk

Accipiter nisus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, reported throughout the year and regularly breeding on the Reserve.

2018 Records - This resident species was recorded throughout the year except for a gap between 12th May and 14th July with the majority of reports from the well-watched No.3 bed. The first was on 6th January when two were present and there were regular reports in the early months of the year. One was seen on No.4 bed on 24th March and one on No.1 bed on 16th April. On 10th May one was noted carrying prey onto No.2 bed. A nest containing three eggs was discovered on No.4 bed but was predated at the egg stage. It was suspected that Grey Squirrels were responsible. Although birds were certainly present during the breeding season the next record was not until 14th July. On 25th August four were on No.3 bed and the same number was recorded on three dates in September and October. The Migration Watch on 3rd November produced five and there were reports of one or two until the year end.

Two new males were ringed on No.1 bed, both in August. One was a first year and the other a second year whilst a third bird was re-trapped later in the year. Three were ringed on No.3 bed, a female on 10th February and two males on 15th April and 15th September.

Photograph of a female from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 13th October 2014


David Mercer

066 Buzzard

Buteo buteo

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a resident breeding species seen throughout the year and very regularly reported with double figure counts during autumn.

2018 Records - There were slightly fewer records of this species this year, perhaps, paradoxically, because it has become more common and is no longer seen as noteworthy by many observers. It was reported in every month of the year and from all parts of the Reserve. The year began with four at Bollin Point on 6th January when two more were present on other beds. Similar counts were made on 9th January and 7th February. Numbers increased during March, with six on No.3 bed and two on the Loop of No.4 bed on the 25th. Two were seen mating on a dead Birch on the north bank of No.3 bed on 31st March and again on 4th April. Twelve were over No.1 bed on 6th April and on the 14th a Reserve total of 15 was recorded. Mating was again noted on the north bank of No.3 bed on 28th April and counts of nine and ten were reported around this time. A nest was found in the centre of No.2 bed but it was not possible to monitor it due to the presence of Giant Hogweed. A second in the centre of No.4 bed was presumed to have been successful.

Most subsequent records were in single figures, with the exception of the Migration Watches carried out at the eastern end of the Reserve. On 25th October a total of 25 included 20 which spent much of the morning in a field of winter wheat to the north of Butchersfield Tip. Watches in November and December produced counts of 15 and 11 respectively but not all of these would be directly over the Reserve. A count of ten from No.3 bed completed the year’s records.

On No.3 bed the ringing team captured a female in a mist net on 28th April. This was the second free-flying bird to be ringed on the bed in two years; the only others ringed were two young in a nest in 2014.

Photograph of a bird soaring over John Morgan Hide on No.3 Bed 7th May 2016

067 Rough-legged Buzzard

Buteo lagopus

Status: rare vagrant.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last Rough-legged Buzzard sighting was on 18/03/2005 with the only other record dating back to 1984.

No Woolston image available


David Bowman

068 Osprey

Pandion haliaetus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed species and a rare passage vagrant, with only ten records on the Reserve but becoming annual over recent years.

2018 Records - A single record was submitted. On 26th March one flew north over No.3 bed. This species has become more frequent in the past few years and there were two records in 2017.

Photograph is a quick shot of a bird from the John Morgan Hide No3 bed on 14th May 2016


Roger Riley

069 Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed after Buzzard, the second most common raptor sighted throughout the year.

2018 Records There were significantly fewer records this year - 40 as opposed to 60 in 2017 – but it is unclear whether this indicates a decline in numbers. Records were submitted for every month of the year, mainly from No.3 bed, although there were reports from all areas of the Reserve. Only singles were noted until 17th and 19th March when two were on No.3 bed. Three there on 24th April included a pair. With singles on both Nos.1 and 4 beds, it would appear that five were then present across the Reserve, the highest count of the year. Only one was sighted between 10th May and 10th July and this is similar to the previous year when there were no reports between 17th June and 15th July. The significance or otherwise of this gap is uncertain. On 21st July two were seen, including one carrying prey towards the north-east corner of No.3 bed. This was the only indication of possible breeding. There were no further reports of significance apart from one seen carrying a mouse over the John Morgan Hide on 13th November.

Four were ringed this year: on No.1 bed a young bird was captured on 8th October, the first since 2014 whilst on No.3 bed two males were ringed, an adult on 9th June and a juvenile on 27th October. In the past two years four have been ringed on No.3 bed which is exceptional given that prior to 2017 there had been none for five years and prior to that none for 11years.

Photograph from No3 Bed 29th December 2014

070 Merlin

Falco columbarius

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to red-listed, an infrequent winter visitor to Woolston.

2018 Records - This was a good year for this winter visitor with seven records from September to the end of November. All were of singles including a juvenile on 6th November which took a Greenfinch in flight on No.3 bed. A further sighting the following day was probably the same individual. One flew east along the Canal on No.2 bed on 10th November whilst on 16th November a female chased a Reed Bunting on No.1 bed before leaving to the south. The final report of the year was of a female, again on No.1 bed, on 26th November.

No Woolston image available


Daniel Owen

071 Hobby

Falco subbuteo

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a regular visitor to the Reserve in the summer months.

2018 Records - A fairly typical year started with one on No.3 bed on 26th April. All except three sightings were from No.3 bed, the others being from No.1 bed and the Loop of No.4 bed. Nearly all records submitted were of singles apart from on 28th August when two were on No.3 bed. There were two April reports and one in May. The next sighting was on 7th July when one was seen mobbing two Peregrine Falcons over the east bank of No.3 bed. There was then a series of records until the last of the year on 19th September, including one hunting Swifts on 17th July and one perched in a Silver Birch on the north bank of No.3 bed on 29th August.

On No.1 bed a second-year male was caught and ringed at the Swallow roost on 31st July, only the second ever to be ringed on that bed.

Photograph of 1st summer bird from No3 bed 3rd June 2019


Dave Bowman

072 Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a breeding species on the Reserve regularly seen with irregular visitors outside of the breeding season.

2018 Records - For the eleventh consecutive year a pair bred on the Thelwall Viaduct and there were reports throughout the year. On 13th January a pair was on No.3 bed one of which took a Pigeon. At the end of the month (31st) two were at the Viaduct nest site. The male flew in with a fairly large item of prey and passed it to the female. A male was seen chasing a flock of Golden Plover on 28th February and on 21st March at least two and possibly three were on the Viaduct. Successful breeding was confirmed when the pair was seen with two well-grown young at the nest site on 9th June. Two large juveniles were reported from under the Viaduct on 23rd June. In July two were seen soaring over the east bank of No.3 bed pursued by a Hobby and there were a number of records of two juveniles, a male and a female, hunting over No.3 bed. On 7th August an adult and the two juveniles were observed soaring over No.3 bed and two days later the juvenile female was seen stooping at waders on the same bed. The two young were present on No.3 bed regularly until 23rd August. In the autumn, three were found on the October WeBS count and on 20th November a male flushed a flock of Teal on No.3 bed. A juvenile was on the Viaduct on 24th November and the year ended with a report of two being mobbed by two Ravens on No.3 bed. It seems that two young fledged successfully, the same as in 2017.

Photograph from No2 Bed 18th June 2015


Andy Weir

073 Water Rail

Rallus aquaticus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, best seen from the hides on No3 Bed where this secretive bird is frequently sighted on the edges of exposed mud banks but it occurs across the Reserve throughout the year.

2018 Records - As usual, the majority of records were from Nos.1 and 3 beds and there were sightings throughout the year. The highest counts in the first few months were from No.1 bed with three on 19th January and four on 2nd February. Only one or two were reported from No.3 bed at this time but given the elusive nature of this species this may not be significant. On 24th March one was found on the Loop of No.4 bed, the only record from this area of the Reserve. April produced totals of four and five from No.1 bed on the 6th and 11th respectively. A survey of the perimeter of No.3 bed reed bed on 24th April identified six territories. Breeding was confirmed on No.3 bed but not on No.1 bed. On 7th July an adult and a juvenile were seen from the Frank Linley Hide and there were sightings of one young on 17th July and two adults and two young on 21st July, both in front of the south screen. Three adults were on No.3 bed on 14th July. The two broods reported were less than the four confirmed in 2017. A further survey on No.3 bed found six adults on 11th August. One was noted on the Migration Watch on 6th September and three were present on the WeBS count of 13th October.

Two were ringed on No.3 bed in the first winter period.

Photograph from No3 Bed 21st April 2013

074 Spotted Crake

Porzana porzana

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare passage visitor to the Reserve last reported 15th July 2017 and 07/05/2005.

2018 Records - There were no records submitted.

No Woolston imabe available

075 Corncrake

Crex crex

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a bird of the past for Woolston but night passage calls have been attributed on spring migration.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last record of Corncrake was on 18/09/2001.

No Woolston image available


Andy Weir

076 Moorhen

Gallinula chloropus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, very common throughout the Reserve throughout the year.

2018 Records - This common resident is often under-recorded, but the indications are that this was not a particularly successful year. Fourteen were present on 3rd January and numbers gradually increased to 40 on the 17th February. The first brood was found on 29th May, a little later than usual. A minimum of eleven broods were reported, six on No.3 bed, two on No.1 bed, two on the Sandpit Ponds and one on the Loop of No.4 bed. This was a disappointing breeding season compared with the past three years in which totals of 28, 19 and 20 broods were recorded. On 27th August up to 20 gathered in front of the John Morgan Hide where they were attracted to the seed under the feeders. The WeBS count of 8th September resulted in a total of 37 and the year maximum of 49 occurred on 16th November, again during a WeBS count.

The ringing team on No.3 bed caught two in the first winter period, both of which had hatched in 2017.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 27th April 2014


Douglas Buchanan

077 Coot

Fulica atra

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, very common on all the water areas across the Reserve throughout the year.

2018 Records - Whilst overall numbers and broods were less than in 2017, this was a reasonable year. The first count of note was of 30 on No.3 bed, with a further ten on the Weir Basin on 9th January. A total of 93 was recorded on 7th February, at a time when many waters were frozen over. No.3 bed held 105 on 3rd March and the WeBS count of 69 on 14th April included three pairs and eight singles on the Loop of No.4 bed. Breeding was successful although less so than in 2017 when an exceptionally high number of broods was reported. Careful analysis of the records submitted would indicate that a minimum of 35 broods were produced with the distribution as follows: three on No.1 bed, 12 on No.3 bed, 18 on the Loop of No.4 bed, one on the Sandpit Pond and one at the Fish Refuge. The number of broods on the Loop of No.4 bed was particularly encouraging. Post breeding flocks included 90 on the islands in front of the John Morgan Hide on 18th June and a year maximum of 156 feeding on Azolla with Gadwall on 28th July. By 23rd September 48 were still attracted to No.3 bed by Azolla but thereafter numbers decreased and the highest count towards the year end was of 30 on the WeBS count of 8th December.

Two were ringed on No.3 bed on 17th March, both having been caught in the duck trap.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan hide

078 Common Crane

Grus grus

Status BoCC4 Amber listed. Rare vagrant to the Reserve.

2018 Records - None reported. The two sightings of overflying birds in 2012 and 2015.

No Woolston image available

079 Black-winged Stilt

Himantopus himnatops

Status a historic record. The first record for Cheshire was of a bird shot at Latchford in 1850’s.


David Bowman

080 Avocet

Recurvirostra avosetta

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed and a continues as a rare visitor to Woolston with only five records to date: 1978 and 1984 and most recently more consistent in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

2018 Records - After a blank year in 2017 it was encouraging to receive four records of this elegant wader, all from No.3 bed. Three were in front of the John Morgan Hide on 30th March and there were further reports from the same area on 21st May and 2nd June, both of two birds. The final record was of three on 13th June.

Photograph from No.3 Bed 17/05/2015


Hazel Rothwell

081 Oystercatcher

Haematopus ostralegus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed and historically a bird of spring passage and early summer but now a breeding species and frequent flyover, especially at the eastern end of the Reserve adjacent to arable land.

2018 Records - Although numbers were about average there were some unusually early records; one on a raft on No.3 bed on 31st January and seven sightings during February, including a pair mating on No.3 bed on the 22nd. There were nine March reports of one or two, all on No.3 bed, including a pair displaying and mating on the 24th. The five April records were all of singles on No.3 bed apart from one seen flying west over Butchersfield Tip. A further sighting from the eastern end of the Reserve was of one flying west over No.1 bed on 11th May as birds continued to be reported in ones and twos on the favoured No.3 bed. The nine June records were all of one or two on No.3 bed although a sighting of one at Latchford Locks on the 18th was unusual. As three were on No.3 bed on that day it seems probable that four were present across the Reserve. The final report was of one, again on No.3 bed, on 7th July.

Photograph of pair from Vikki’s Island No.3 Bed 5th July 2017

082 Golden Plover

Pluvialis apricaria

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, irregular winter and passage record, usually of flyover birds and often reported associated with the Lapwing flocks on the flooded fields to the south of Butchersfield.

2018 Records - On 28th February a flock of 19 flew south over No.2 bed pursued by a Peregrine. This is the highest count since 2015. The other two records were of singles; on 13th April one flew north over No.1 bed calling and on 25th August one was seen in flight over No.3 bed. This represents an increase in sightings compared with the past two years.

No Woolston image available

083 Grey Plover

Pluvialis squatarola

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare passage visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last sighting was 13th September 2016 when an American visitor identified the bird through its call before it was briefly seen flying around No3 bed before heading off west. The previous record was in 2005 and only the fourth since 1990.

No Woolston image available


Roy Peacock

084 Lapwing

Vanellus vanellus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a breeding species, regular visitor and large flyover flock records.

2018 Records - Most of the reports in the first few months of the year related to birds over-flying the Reserve and these included 180 moving west over No.2 bed on 3rd January and 550 flying west over No.3 bed on 27th January. On 19th January 200 were on fields to the north of No.1 bed. With the approach of the breeding season a male was found in front of the John Morgan Hide on 21st February and a pair was observed displaying on Vikki’s Island on 7th March. The male was seen on many occasions but failed to attract a female. Meanwhile a pair was seen displaying on an island on the Loop of No.4 bed on 24th March and a territorial pair was on No.1 bed on the 31st. There were further sightings of singles on the northern section of No.1 bed on 12th and 26th April and three were found there on 2nd May. A nest was discovered on No.1 bed on 17th April containing four eggs and at least two young fledged. On 9th May the male that had been in front of the John Morgan Hide for some time was eventually joined by a female; mating was observed and on 16th May three eggs were seen in a nest there. Around this time a pair appeared to have settled on one of the islands on the Loop of No.4 bed. Unfortunately, the nest on No.3 bed was predated during the night of 27/28th May together with all the Black-headed Gull nests. While this event was not observed it seems likely that either Badgers or Foxes were responsible. The pair of Lapwings re-laid and an egg was seen on 2nd June; however two days later it too had been taken. On No.1 bed it seems possible that a second pair attempted to breed but no nest was found.

The post-breeding flock began to assemble on No.3 bed from 27th June when 50 were present. Between 150 and 180 were regularly counted from then until the end of August when numbers rose to 200. Birds were also to be found on the Loop of No.4 bed with 82 reported on 1st August. The flock on No.3 bed peaked at 350 on 11th September, slightly lower than in 2017. The maximum count of the year was on 23rd October when 400 were on fields to the north of No.1 bed. The only other significant totals were 616 on the Migration Watch on 25th October and 260 over-flying on 1st December.

Photograph from No3 Bed 30/05/2013


Steven Ellis

085 Little Ringed Plover

Charadrius dubius

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, an irregular visitor and breeding species which bred in 2000, and annually from 2012.

2018 Records - In recent years this species has become an annual visitor with about three to four pairs breeding. This pattern was again in evidence and the first sighting was on 31st March when singles were reported from Nos.1 and 3 beds. By 21st April pairs were present on both these beds and there were regular reports throughout April and May. The first evidence of breeding was on 7th June when a juvenile was on the scrape in front of the John Morgan Hide. When two single birds were found in different areas of No.1 bed it was suspected that two pairs were nesting and this was confirmed two days later. On this date one pair was seen showing distraction display indicative of young being present and in another area four fully grown young were discovered. On both 26th June and 2nd July an adult and a juvenile were reported from No.3 bed. It seems that three pairs bred. The final sighting was on 14th July.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 29/05/2013


Douglas Buchanan

086 Ringed Plover

Chraradrius hiaticula

Status: BoCC4 red-listed occurs on the Reserve in small numbers infrequently.

2018 Records - Following a blank year in 2017 there was just a single record this year when one flew west over No.3 bed on 25th August. This has become a rare visitor in recent years and this year’s sighting was fairly typical from the reduction of the four in 2016 and three in 2015.

Photograph from


David Spencer

087 Whimbrel

Numenius phaeopus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, an occasional passage visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - No records were submitted.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan Hide 16/04/2014


David Bowman

088 Curlew

Numenius arquata

Status: BoCC4 change from amber to red-listed. Most records relate to fly over birds with small numbers sighted on the Reserve in spring and autumn.

2018 Records - There were just eight records of this infrequent visitor and, typically, all involved birds over-flying. Singles were seen on 17thMarch, 3rdApril, 9th May and 18th June, most from No.3 bed but in the case of the May record, from No.1 bed. The highest count of the year was of four flying west over No.2 bed on 24th July and there were two sightings in August from Nos.1 and 3 beds. The final report was of one flying west over No.3 bed and 22nd October.

Photograph from No3 bed 17th August 2019


David Spencer

089 Black-tailed Godwit

Limosa limosa

Status: BoCC4 red-listed but a frequent passage visitor in small numbers.

2018 Records - This attractive wader is now a regular visitor to Woolston and well over a hundred records were submitted with sightings in every month except February. Two early records of singles on No.3 bed on 12th January and 13th March were the forerunners of another excellent season. Twelve flew south-east over No.3 bed on 14th April and there were reports of a single on 25thApril, six on 13th May and 23 on 26th June. All this year’s sightings were from No.3 bed. From 6th July onwards there were regular reports in single figures with a maximum of nine on 21st and 28th July. Numbers then increased to 47 on 7th August and the year maximum of 75 on 11th August. This is slightly lower than the count of 85 in 2017. Although there was then a decline, numbers remained at around fifty until the end of August. September saw regular reports of up to thirty, and 50 on the evening of the 17th. Another high count of 61 on 6th October was followed by sightings of 46 and 47 on the 10th and 11th. Thirty-four were present on 13th and 16th October but there were no further counts in excess of twenty. The WeBS count on 10th November produced a total of twelve but there were no further reports in double figures until the last of the year, a single on 8th December.

Photograph two adults & a juvenile from No3 Bed 11th September 2017.


David Bowman

090 Bar-tailed Godwit

Limosa lapponica

Status: rare passage visitor.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted. Once regular but just three records since 1991, all in 2000’s, with the last reported on 06/05/2011.

Photograph from No3 bed 23rd April 2019


David Spencer

091 Turnstone

Arenaria interpres

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed rare migrant to the Eyes.

2018 Records - no records submitted. Last recorded in 2016 in May and again in July, a summer plumaged bird. The record prior to these was back in 1991.

Photograph from No.3 Bed on 10/05/2016

092 Knot

Calidris canutus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare winter vagrant.

2018 Records - no records submitted. Last sighted on 28/03/1987 with five previous year records prior to that back to 1979.

No Woolston image available


David Spencer

093 Ruff

Philomachus pugnax

Status: BoCC4 red-listed an irregular passage visitor, however, it has been recorded annually from 2012 to 2017 after an absence since 2005.

2018 records - No records were submitted.

Photograph from No.3 Bed on 21st September 2015

094 Curlew Sandpiper

Calidris ferruginea

Status: BoCC4 moved from green to amber-listed, a rare passage visitor to Woolston.

2018 Records - no records submitted. Last reported on 14/06/2001 and prior to that 11/09/1993.

No Woolston image available

095 Temminck's Stint

Calidris temminckii

Status: rare passage visitor.

2018 Records - no records submitted. Only two records, both in the 80’s with the last sighting on 22/08/1989.

No Woolston image available


David Spencer

096 Sanderling

Calidris alba

Status: BoCC4 moved from green to amber-listed, a rare winter and passage vagrant.

2018 Records - no reports were submitted this year. The last record was a bird in adult summer plumage found on the scrape in front of the John Morgan hide on 18th May 2015. This was the first record since 1998.

Photograph of a summer plumaged bird from No.3 Bed 18th May 2015


Andy Weir

097 Dunlin

Calidris alpina

Status: BoCC4 change from red to amber-listed an annual visitor to the Reserve in small numbers.

2018 Records - There were seven reports of this infrequent visitor, very similar to the previous year although there were no spring records this year. All sightings were from No.3 bed between August and November. Seven were reported on 11th August, the first of the year, and all the others were singles. On 9th September one with only one leg was found but it seemed to be coping with this disability.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 07/05/2013

098 Little Stint

Calidris minuta

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a rare passage visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last record was on 17/08/1998.

No Woolston image available

099 White-rumped Sandpiper

Calidris fuscicollis

Status: rare vagrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The only sighting was on 31/07/1984.

No Woolston image available

100 Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Tryngites subruficollis

Status: rare vagrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The only record is of a bird which stayed from 01/08/1984 to 04/08/1984.

No Woolston image available

101 Pectoral Sandpiper

Calidris melanotos

Status: rare autumn and winter visitor.

2018 Records - no records submitted. Last recorded on 10/09/1994.

No Woolston image available

102 Wilson's Phalarope

Phalaropus tricolor

Status: very rare vagrant to the Eyes.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The only record is of a bird which stayed from 19/10/1991 to 04/11/1991.

No Woolston image available


Roly Pitts

103 Red-necked Phalarope

Phalaropus lobatus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, very rare vagrant to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. Last record was the pair that visited on 10th June 2016 for a day. There have been only two previous records of this species on the Reserve back in 1987 and 1985.

Photograph a record shot from No3 bed on 10th June 2016


David Mercer

104 Common Sandpiper

Tringa hypoleucos

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a regular summer and passage visitor.

2018 Records - This was a poor year with just six records submitted, all from No.3 bed. The first was a single on the scrape on 16th April and the only other spring sighting was of one on 4th May. Autumn passage began with one on 14th July and four on the 18th. The final reports were of a single on 8th and 9th September.

Photograph from No3 Bed 27th April 2016


Andy Weir

105 Green Sandpiper

Tringa ochropus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a regular summer and passage visitor to the Reserve with the Loop of No4 Bed the historical hot-spot for this species.

2018 Records - In recent years this has become the most commonly recorded Sandpiper and this year was no exception with 68 sightings submitted. One was on No.3 bed on 10th March but no more were seen until the end of June. A single was on No.3 bed on 29th and 30th June and there were further reports from that bed on a number of dates in July with two present on the 28th. Three were found on 7thAugust, two of which were colour-ringed. One of these, with a red colour ring, was still present on 9th August. The No.3 bed ringing team’s colour-ringing project continued this year and four were ringed, three on 7th August and one on 11th August. Three of the four were juveniles. Throughout August one or two were reported on No.3 bed until an increase in numbers from the 20th onwards. Three were found that evening and between three and five were regularly reported until the end of August. Two were on the Loop of No.4 bed on 5th September and three on No.3 bed on 13th September. There was a series of late records of a single, initially from the No.1 bed pools on 17th and 23rd October, then three November sightings from No.3 bed and a final report from the west pool on No.1 bed where water levels were very low. When this pool filled with water after this date the bird disappeared but there was a final record from the Loop of No.4 bed on 19th December. Whether these sightings relate to the same bird is uncertain but it seems likely.

Photograph from No3 bed 12th Septemeber 2016

106 Spotted Redshank

Tringa erythropus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare visitor on autumn passage. Once regular in the early days of the Reserve only three sightings have been reported, the latest on 27th August 2014, 2010 and then 1992.

2018 Records - No sightings submitted.

No Woolston image available


Brian Burnett

107 Greenshank

Tringa nebularia

Status: BoCC4 moved from green to amber-listed, an infrequent visitor but recorded annually generally in autumn passage.

2018 Records - Normally an infrequent visitor, this was an excellent year for this elegant wader with 35 records submitted, nearly all from No.3 bed. A spring record of one on No.1 bed on 9th May was unusual and no more were seen until return passage which commenced on 10th July with one on No.3 bed. One was present on 9th August and from the 21st to 25th there was a series of exceptional sightings; eight on 21stAugust, four on the 22nd and 23rd, and seven on the 25th, all on No.3 bed. These are the highest counts since 2006 when ten were reported circling No.3 bed. There followed almost daily reports of one or two until 9th September, and one was on the Loop of No.4 bed on 12th and 15th September. Sightings of one or two continued on No.3 bed until 23rd September.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 11/05/2013


David Spencer

108 Wood Sandpiper

Tringa glareola

Status: - BoCC4 amber-listed, an irregular summer and passage visitor

2018 Records - For the fourth successive year there was a sighting of this rare passage migrant. One was on No.3 bed on 21st April where it was seen by a number of observers,

Photograph from No.3 Bed 22/04/2015


Andy Weir

109 Redshank

Tringa totanus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a regular visitor in small numbers to the Reserve.

2018 Records - The 21 records submitted, all from No.3 bed, were indicative of an above average year. Singles were found on 27thMarch, 4th, 13th and 23rd April. There was then a gap until the next sighting on 2nd June. Birds were reported on three June dates including two on the 19th. A single July record of one on the 23rd was followed by no less than ten on 28th August. Four were seen on 8th September and there was an October record of one on the 16th. A successful year ended with a series of reports of up to five on 22nd, 23rd and 24th November, late dates for this species.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 21/04/2013.

110 Jack Snipe

Lymnocryptes minimus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, regular small number of sightings reported in the winter periods.

2018 Records - As in 2017 there were three records of this often-elusive species, all in the early months of the year. Two were on No.1 bed on 2nd February and two were in the Car Park on the 7th. The only other report was of one, thought to have been of this species, seen briefly on No.1 bed on 27th March.

No Woolstom image available

111 Woodcock

Scolopax rusticola

Status: BoCC4 change from amber to red-listed, regularly recorded in the winter periods.

2018 Record - Although fewer records were submitted this year, this does not necessarily imply a reduction in actual numbers given the elusive nature of this species. In the first winter period between January and March there were three reports from No.1 bed, three from No.3 bed and one from No.2 bed. These were of one or two birds, with a maximum of three on the WeBS count on 17th March. There were no further sightings until 21st October when one was seen in flight over the ringing station on No.3 bed. On 6th November one was flushed from the path around the North Meadow, again on No.3 bed. Two were on the main track on No.2 bed on 10th December and the last and highest count was of four on No.4 bed on 29th December. A single bird was ringed on No.1 bed on 9th November, the first on that bed since 1999.

No Woolston image available


Hazel Rothwell

112 Snipe

Gallinago gallinago

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a common visitor over the year outside the breeding season.

2018 Records - This species is normally only present outside the breeding season and this year’s records followed that pattern with sightings from January to the end of May and from July onwards. In the first winter period records were largely confined to Nos.1 and 3 beds although one or two were reported from the Loop of No.4 bed during March. Six were on No.1 bed on 19th January and the highest count was of 18 on No.3 bed on 27th January. No more than two were reported between March and May except for a record of three on No.1 bed on 23rd April. One was seen on the South Pool of No.3 bed on six dates in May until the 29th.

The first returning bird was seen on No.3 bed on 4th July whilst on the 13th seven were in front of the John Morgan Hide. Small numbers were present on No.3 bed until 7th August when 14 were found. From that date there was an increase in numbers building to a maximum of 35 on 8th September. Nearly all the autumn records were from No.3 bed except for one on No.1 bed on 31st August and 24th September and the Migration Watches on 6th September and 3rd November when six and one respectively were noted.

Three were ringed on No.3 bed; one on each of 29th September, 17th and 24th November.

Photograph from No3 Bed 21st August 2018.

113 Artic Skua

Stercorarius parasiticus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a rare vagrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no sightings reported. The last record was on 17/10/1998.

No Woolston image available

114 Great Skua

Catharacta skua

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare vagrant to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The only sighting of this species was on 20/10/1984.

No Woolston image available


David Spencer

115 Little Tern

Sterna albifrons

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare visitor to the Eyes. Last recorded 16th May 2017, 2015 and 2001.

2018 Records - There were no sightings this year.

Photograph from No3 bed on Vikki’s Island 16th May 2017

116 Whiskered Tern

Chlidonias hybridus

Status: exceptionally rare vagrant to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last sighting of this tern was of four birds on 19/05/2005 with 1983 being the only other record.

No Woolston image available


Daniel Owen

117 Black Tern

Childonias niger

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, irregular visitor during passage last recorded in 2012.

2018 Records - A rare but almost annual spring visitor, with most records occurring in April or May. This year there was a single record of one on No.3 bed on 25th May.

Photograph from No3 Bed 9th May 2019

118 White-winged Black Tern

Chlidonias leucopterus

Status: very rare passage vagrant.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The only report of this tern on the Reserve was on 13/07/1986.

No Woolston image available

119 Sandwich Tern

Sterna sandvicensis

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, an infrequent migrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no records received. The last sighting of this tern on the Reserve was in 2010 with four previous records in the 2000’s, two in the 90’s and three in the 80’s.

No Woolston image available


Hazel Rothwell

120 Common Tern

Sterna hirundo

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, an infrequent but annual visitor to the Reserve on passage.

2018 Records - There were 24 records, exactly the same as in 2017 and very similar to 2016. All were from No.3 bed and occurred between 4th April and 21st August. There was just one April sighting when one flew north on the 4th, and two May records. A single bird was reported on three dates in June but the majority of this year’s records were in July with two present on four dates, including the 28th when both were seen with fish, displaying on one of the rafts. Two were on a raft again on 1st August and there were further reports of singles on the 15th and 21st. Although this species is thought to breed nearby there was no suggestion of attempted breeding here.

Photograph from No3 bed 18/05/2017


Andy Weir

121 Artic Tern

Sterna paradisaea

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, an infrequent passage visitor to the Reserve but usually sighted annually.

2018 Records - Just two records were received, both from No.3 bed. One was present throughout the morning of 21st April and three were seen on 5th May. This is probably about average for a species which remains an infrequent passage migrant. The recent previous records of this species were 2017, 2016, 2014 and 2013.

Photograph No3 Bed John Morgan hide 26/05/2013


Daniel Owen

122 Kittiwake

Rissa tridactyla

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to red-listed, a scace visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - No records submitted. Last records were 2017, 2016 and 2001.

Photograph from No.3 Bed 9th May 2019


Douglas Buchanan

123 Black-headed Gull

Larus ridibundus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a very common visitor and large breeding population.

2018 Records - The year started with a Reserve-wide count of 400 on 3rd January, of which 280 were on the Canal. Later that month 520 flew east as birds began to return to the breeding colony on No.3 bed. On 28th January 140 were on the water, building to 420 on 21st February and 1500 on 24th March. This is the highest total recorded since 2009 and raised hopes of a successful breeding season. By early April nest-building was noted on Vikki’s island in front of the John Morgan Hide and the colony held about 1000 at this time. The first young were seen on one of the rafts on 8th May and by mid-May about 78 pairs were on nests. Unfortunately, on 28th May all the nests on the scrape and Vikki’s island were found to have been predated overnight and Foxes or Badgers were the suspected culprits. On 2nd June only low numbers were seen and many breeding birds had departed, presumably due to their nests having been lost. On 8th June just four young were seen and on the 13th a total of 175 adults included 25 still sitting on nests. Unsurprisingly only small numbers of young were reported with 17 juveniles on 20th June and 223 adults and 24 young the following day. A count on 23rd July found 50 adults and 19 juveniles whilst on 2nd August a pair with two small young was on one of the nest rafts. A total of 600, mostly on the Canal and river, was recorded on 14th August and this was the highest post-breeding count of the year. There were several counts between two and three hundred and the year ended with 200 on the Canal on 30th December. In order to prevent further mammalian predation an electric fence has been erected between the John Morgan Hide and the islands and it will be interesting to discover whether this will result in more young hatching successfully.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 24/05/2009


Daniel Gornall

124 Little Gull

Larus minutus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, generally a spring passage visitor with most sightings on the Reserve in April-May.

2018 Records - As in 2017 there was just one record. One was seen on No.3 bed on 15th April, a typical date for this species which passes through the Reserve in spring in small numbers.

Photograph from No3 Bed 15th March 2019

125 Laughing Gull

Larus atriclla

Status: a mega rare vagrant.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The only reported sighting was a bird seen on the 21/11/1985 and again on 30/11/1985.

No Woolston image available


Daniel Gornall

126 Mediterranean Gull

Larus melanocephalus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a regular passage visitor recorded annually and has attempted to breed.

2018 Records - This species is seen annually in spring and early summer when it can sometimes be difficult to pick out amongst the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls. All this year’s records were from No.3 bed, the first sighting being on 16th March when two were found. From 24th March to the end of that month there were almost daily reports; seven were seen on 27th March and five on the 28th and 30th. The latter comprised two pairs of adult birds and a second summer individual. On 7th April two adults were seen around a possible nest site but there was no further evidence of attempted breeding. One or two were present on at least 14 days during April, with four on the 20th and three on the 27th and 28th. May saw three records of one or two and the final sighting of an average year was of one on 1st June.

Photograph from No3 bed 20th March 2019


Dave Bowman

127 Common Gull

larus canus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a common passage and winter visitor in small numbers.

2018 Records - Numbers have been declining in recent years and this trend continued in 2018. There were reports from January to April and from November to December. The only sighting during the summer months was of one flying west over No.1 bed on 23rd July. Most sightings were from Latchford Locks and No.3 bed with counts of five on 28th January and seven on 4th March at the first location. A series of records from No.3 bed in March and early April peaked at four on 10th April. The last spring sighting was on 13th April. Birds were late to return after the breeding season and the first report was of two at Latchford Locks on 18th November. There were four subsequent records including one from the Migration Watch on 8th December and three at the Locks on the 30th.

Photograph from Ship Canal 03/09/2013

128 Ring-billed Gull

larus delawarensis

Status: rare vagrant to Woolston. Recorded infrequently from 80’s and 90’s and three sightings in the 2000’s

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The last record was on 01/02/2005.

No Woolston image available


Steven Ellis

129 Lesser Black-backed Gull

Larus fuscus graellsi

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a common flyover sighting with lower numbers of birds visiting.

2018 Records - There were records throughout the year but no more than three were reported during January and February, mostly from Latchford Locks and No.3 bed. March saw an increase in numbers with six on the 3rd and a Reserve total of eight on the March WeBS count. Three were on the Loop of No.4 bed on 25th March and five in the river basin on the 28th. On 14th April the WeBS count produced a Reserve total of 14 and on the 26th the Loop of No.4 bed held 17. On 22nd April an adult took a duckling on No.3 bed; however the only other confirmed record of predation by this aggressive species was on 19th May when one took a Canada Goose chick on No.3 bed. Early May saw an increase; on the 7th 32 were in the basin with 15 still present on the 15th. Five were on the Loop of No.4 bed on 29th May and a Reserve total of 21 was recorded on 6th June. Early July saw six juveniles on the basin and on the 23rd about a hundred appeared over No.3 bed from the north and 13 juveniles were reported from the basin. This increased to 85 on 27th July and 44 were in the same location on 7th August, the majority being juveniles. This is the second successive year that this post-breeding assembly has occurred at Woolston, a previously unknown phenomenon probably resulting from the nearby breeding colony. On 29th July 2017 140, mostly juveniles, were present. Apart from the Migration Watch counts of 66 on 6th September and 13 on 8th December there were no further double-figure totals.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 25th March 2015


David Bowman

130 Herring Gull

Larus argentatus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, uncommon on the Reserve with small number of records per annum, higher counts are usual on the migration watches and other flyover sightings.

2018 Records - Although recorded in every month of the year except April, only small numbers were seen and from July to October there were only four sightings, one in each month. On 19th January five flew west over No.1 bed whilst in February three were on No.3 bed on the 14th and 28th. There was a slight increase in March with four at Latchford Locks on the 17th and five on the water on No.3 bed on the 19th. Later that month three were at the basin on the 28th. There were reports of over-flying birds from No.1 bed on 11th and 16th May involving three and two respectively. Eight were reported from No.3 bed on 20th November but the only large totals towards the end of the year came from the Migration Watches on 3rd November and 8th December with counts of 40 and 46. This species is rarely seen in large numbers at Woolston and this year was probably about average.

Photograph of an immature from No3 bed 17/04/2017

131 Yellow-legged Gull

Larus michahellis

Status rare migrant with four records at Woolston Eyes from 1987-2000.

2018 Records - no records submitted, the last report was in 2000

No Woolston image available

132 Iceland Gull

Larus glaucoides

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare vagrant to the Eyes but was regular in the 80’s and 90’s when Rixton Tip was operational.

2018 Records no sightings reported. The last sighting was in 1999.

No Woolston image available

133 Glaucous Gull

Larus hyperboreus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, rare winter vagrant to the Reserve. Was regularly seen when Rixton Tip was in operation in the 80’s and 90’s but only a single sighting since.

2018 Records - no sightings reported. The last reported sighting was on 09/02/2008.

No Woolston image available


David Spencer

134 Great Black-backed Gull

Larus marinus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed uncommon but increasingly regular visitor and noted flying over.

2018 records - This species is becoming much more common in recent years and although there were fewer records than in the last three years this trend continues. Two were on No.3 bed on 27th January but there were no further reports until 17th May when one was on No.3 bed. Singles were found on three occasions during June and July at the basin and on No.3 bed but there were no further sightings until 10th November when two were on No.3 bed. December saw four on the WeBS count on the 8th, and four on No.4 bed on the 29th. The year ended with two at Latchford Locks the following day.

Photograph from No3 Bed 07/04/2014

135 Feral Pigeon

Columba livia

Status: common sighting on the Reserve fringes and noted flyovers.

2018 Records - Feral Pigeons can regularly be seen overflying the Reserve but perhaps not surprisingly few observers submit records. There is a large population in the Latchford Locks area which breed on the old railway bridge; 250 were reported here on 30th December. It is notable that there are fewer records from the Thelwall Viaduct, a traditional nesting site; perhaps put off by the local Peregrines!

No Woolston image available


Douglas Buchanan

136 Stock Dove

Columba oenas

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a breeding species resident on all four beds and regularly reported.

2018 Records - Thought to breed in small numbers on all four beds and is mostly commonly encountered by the John Morgan hide feeders. Most sightings are of one or two birds and the most seen on No.3 bed was six on 25th August. As usual the highest counts were recorded at the eastern end of the Reserve, where birds from the surrounding farmlands can be observed. On No.1 bed 23 were seen on 30th June and the peak counts were made on the Butchersfield Tip with 70 on 25th October and 77 on 3rd November.

On No.1 bed just one was ringed during the year, a pullus from a breeding pair in one of the owl boxes.

On No.3 bed, five were ringed during the year and a further two were retrapped. These were all caught during May, June and July (typical dates). As is usual all these birds were adult. We are yet to catch a young bird on the bed and they have never been found in any of the owl boxes on the bed. The total this year is down on the record 11 from last year but is still above average (3.3 new birds).

Photograph from


David Bowman

137 Wood Pigeon

Columba palumbus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, abundant bird around the Reserve.

2018 Records - A common and widespread resident. The Common Birds Surveys recorded 80 on No.1 bed on 6th April,14 on No.2 bed and eight on No.3 bed on 19th May and 41 on No.4 bed on 10th May. The first autumn arrivals were noted on 29th September when ca.100 flew south over No.3 bed. The maximum count in the year was of 1000 leaving a roost at dawn on the north bank of No.3 bed

The only one to be ringed on No.1 bed during the year was an adult female with a brood patch caught on 13th June. On No.3 bed six new birds (all adult) were ringed during the year. This is a typical total.

Photograph from No.3 Bed 30th January 2018

138 Collard Dove

Streptopelia decaocto

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, uncommon on the Reserve with fly-over sightings more numerous but common on the fringes along the canal track and Weir Pool in association with the adjacent urbanisation.

2018 Records - Collared Doves breed in the housing areas surrounding the Reserve but are relatively infrequent visitors with only 19 records in the year. Most records were from the Weir Basin and Butchersfield Tip with a peak count of five on 30th January at the former site. On No.3 bed, all records were of over-flying birds, mostly singles and a maximum of three.

No Woolston image available.

139 Turtle Dove

Streptopelia turtur

Status: BoCC4 red-listed. A breeding species in the 80’s and 90’s the species continued to be reported in the early 2000’s however with the decline of the UK population, Turtle Dove, would now be a rare visitor to the Eyes.

2018 Records - unsurpriseingly no records were submitted. The last reported sighting of Turtle Dove was in 2006.

No Woolston image available

140 Ring-necked Parakeet

Psittacula krameri

Status: a rare vagrant to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted. There have been three records of Ring-necked Parakeets at Woolston, 1983, 2003 and 2004.

No Woolston image available


David Riley

141 Cuckoo

Cuculus canarus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a summer visitor in low numbers.

2018 Records - The first arrived on 4th May, a male calling on No.1 bed. There were then five records on No.3 bed; the first on 7th May and final sighting was a female giving its bubbling call early in the morning of 7th June. No juveniles were seen.

Photograph from a bird caught and ringed on No.1 Bed

142 Barn Owl

Tyto alba

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, infrequently disturbed on the Reserve from roosts.

2018 Records - Barn Owls do not breed on the Reserve but in most years individuals are recorded in the autumn and winter periods. 2018 was no exception with several sightings on No.1 bed during January and February. There was one further sighting on No.1 bed on 22nd September. On No.3 bed, in the second winter period, one regularly roosted under the John Morgan hide and numerous pellets were found in several of the hides; it is presumed the bird was feeding well on Starlings which were roosting on the bed in large numbers in December.

For the fourth year in succession this species was ringed when a male was found roosting on 8th January, on No.1 bed, in one of the specially provided nest boxes.

No Woolston image available

143 Little Owl

Athene noctua

Status: a rare visitor to the Eyes.

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The last sighting was on 15/04/2011.

No Woolston image available

144 Tawny Owl

Strix aluco

Status: BoCC4 moved from green to amber-listed, under-reported due to its nocturnal activity nonetheless reported in small numbers annually.

2018 Records - Tawny Owls are thought to breed on all four beds and this year birds were recorded calling on Nos.1, 2 and 3 beds. The lack of records from No.4 probably reflects the under-recording of this area at dawn or dusk rather than the absence of birds. On No.3 bed a nest was located in a Kestrel box. Unfortunately, the breeding was not successful and when the box was checked at the end of the breeding season two infertile eggs were found.

No Woolston image available


Douglas Buchanan

145 Long-eared Owl

Asio otus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, very secretive, this species is occasionally found roosting on the Reserve. A pair successfully bred at a site just south of the Reserve in 2010.

2018 Records - Again, there were no records. The last record was in 2015 and sadly there have been no confirmed breeding records this century.

Photograph from No3 Bed winter 2003.

146 Short-eared Owl

Asio flammeus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, another rare winter visitor to the Eyes.

2018 Records - there were no records submitted this year. The last recent reports were of two birds on No1 bed one in January and one in September in 2016 and a single bird was seen from Butchersfield in October 2015 during a Migration Watch. Previous reports this century were from 2011, 2002 and 2001.

No Woolston image available

147 Nightjar

Caprimulgus europaeus

Status: BoCC4 moved from red to amber-listed, a rare vagrant to the Eyes.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last reported sightings were on 24/06/1995 then 096/05/1989.

No Woolston image available

148 Chimney Swift

Chaetura pelagica

Status A very rare vagrant to the Reserve. Only a single record for the Reserve on 5th November 2005.

2018 Records - None

No Woolston image available


David Bowman

149 Swift

Apus apus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a common summer visitor to the Eyes, feeding and passing through.

2018 Records - The first arrived on 24th April, when one was seen over the east bank of No.3 bed. However, numbers were then slow to build, further arrivals being delayed by poor weather further south. There were only occasional sightings until 8th May when the main arrival started; 10 were seen that day, followed by 40 on the 10th and 60 on the 11th. The peak count in May was 80 on the 25th feeding low over No.3 bed in cool, damp conditions. Other notable counts in the summer included 190 on No.3 bed on 30th June and 100 on the Loop of No.4 bed on the same day. There were no large post breeding gatherings, as has occurred in previous years, the maximum was 120 on No.3 bed on 17th July. However, there were encouraging signs that the nest boxes installed on the side of the John Morgan hide may be used in the future. The call system attracted several pairs in July, and they could be seen bumping up against the side of the boxes; it is thought these could be immature birds exploring possible nest sites for next year.

In the Warrington area it appears to be have been a successful breeding season, presumably helped by the hot summer weather. Activity around the nest sites in Grappenhall and Westy was limited until well into May but once the very warm weather came, screaming flocks were higher than for many years; -up to 15 birds when 8-10 had been the norm in recent years. Breeding was good with young raised in five nests in Albert Road, Grappenhall and two nests on a house near the Bridgewater Canal 400 metres away. An indicator of a good breeding season was flocks of up to 27 birds above Albert Road on several evenings in July.

Numbers declined in August as birds migrated south and the last sighting was on No.3 bed when five were feeding low over the water in the evening of 29th August.

Photograph from No3 bed 19th June 2018


Glen Ellis

150 Kingfisher

Alcedo atthis

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a resident and breeding species present all year and regularly recorded.

2018 Records - Kingfishers were recorded in all months of the year but were scarce, as is typical, in the winter months when birds move closer to coastal areas to avoid freezing conditions. Birds started to be recorded regularly, mostly from No.3 bed, from mid-May onwards. No breeding sites were found this year but it is very likely that at least one pair bred along the Ship Canal as an adult and two juveniles were observed on No.3 bed on 1st August.

The ringers on No.1 bed had a record year for this species with 13 ringed between 30th March and 17th August, with the majority caught in July and the first juvenile on 4th of that month. Only the spring one was an adult while the only one to be retrapped was on 10th December, a juvenile from August.

Three birds were ringed on the No.3 bed (all juveniles) in August. Three other birds were retrapped that had been previously ringed on No.1 bed.

Photograph of a juvenile from No3 Bed John Morgan hide 19th August 2014

151 Bee-eater

Merops apiaster

Status: rare vagrant to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last sighting was of a bird first seen on 5th May 1995 which was picked up exhausted a few days later but later released and last seen on 1st June 1995.

No Woolston image available

152 Wryneck

Jynx torquilla

Status a rare visitor to the Reserve. with only one record on 25th April 2001.

2018 Records - None

No Woolston image available

153 Green Woodpecker

Picus viridis

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a resident species in and around the vicinity of the Reserve and regularly reported. Favours the more open aspects of No1 Bed and its ant colonies.

2018 Records - A poor year for this species with only two records of birds heard calling, one on 28th February near the North Meadow on No.3 bed and the second on 16th October calling south of the Ship Canal by the No.3 bed car park. There were no records from the eastern end of the Reserve which is where most sightings usually originate. This perhaps signifies a decline in the breeding population in the surrounding areas.

No Woolston image available


Hazel Rothwell

154 Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocopos major

Status: Bocc4 green-listed, common resident and breeding species on the Reserve found throughout the year.

2018 Records - The Reserve’s commonest woodpecker. Most sightings not surprisingly came from No.3 bed where they were regularly observed at the John Morgan hide feeders. There were few records from other beds but this is thought to be due to under-recording rather than the absence of birds. Evidence of breeding came from birds heard drumming on both No.3 and 4 beds, as well as two juveniles observed at the feeders on 24th July.

The ringers on No.1 bed had a record year with 15 ringed which was surprising given that 2017 was a poor year for this species. Two others were caught that had been ringed in previous years, one from 2013 and one from 2016. One, a male, was caught in breeding condition and the first juvenile was ringed on 20th June.

On No.3 bed 12 new birds were ringed during the year. This is slightly above the average of 10 but is down on the record 19 from last year.

Photograph of female from No3. Bed John Morgan hide feeders 19th December 2018

155 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Denrocopos minor

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, an irregular visitor recorded evry few years. Recorded in 2016, 2015 and 2011.

2018 Records - A disappointing year for this species with only one sighting of a bird in trees by the gates to No.2 bed in spring; the exact date is unknown. One was also heard calling on the South bank of No.3 bed on 31st March. The lack of sightings may indicate the male bird, first reported on No.3 bed in November 2011 and regularly seen in the last three years, has died

No Woolston image available

156 Golden Oriole

Oriolus oriolus

Status: Bocc4 red-listed, a very rare passage vagrant to the Eyes.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last reported sighting was on 18/04/2003 and previous to that in May 1986.

No Woolston image available

157 Great Grey Shrike

Lanius excubitor

Status: a rare passage visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The last reported sightings was on No1 bed on 01/03/2004 and previous in 198 and 1982.

No Woolston image available


Roy Peacock

158 Magpie

Pica pica

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a very common resident bird on and around the Reserve throughout the year.

2018 Records - A common resident, although as there were only 17 records submitted, very much under-recorded. The highest count in the year was a Reserve wide total of 25 on 17th October.

On No.3 bed two birds were ringed during the year. This is below the average of three per year. The low total reflects that they are clever birds and are rarely caught in mist nets!

Photograph from No3 Bed 30-05-2013


Andy Weir

159 Jay

Garrulus glandarius

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common resident and breeding species on all four Beds throughout the year.

2018 Records - A common resident although its secretive nature can lead to it being under recorded. In the Common Bird Surveys only one was observed on No.3 bed and two on No.4 bed. The maximum count in the year was 10 on No.1 bed on 28th September, thought to be mainly local birds but including one flying South, high over the bed.

It was an average year for the ringers on No.1 bed with five ringed, a further one caught was originally ringed in 2017. Only one juvenile was caught, on 20th July.

On No.3 bed, similarly to 2017, it was a poor year with just five new birds ringed. The average since 2004 is 11 new birds. Just two were juveniles.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan Hide 13/01/2013


David Bowman

160 Jackdaw

Corvus monedula

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, not a common bird on the Reserve, except the eastern end were parties forage, but observed as fly-over records on all four Beds.

2018 Records - Although they do not breed on the Reserve, they are a fairly common sight flying over. In some years, post breeding, small parties feed on the Reserve but this year there were no such reports; all observations were of birds flying over. As is typical the largest numbers were seen from the eastern end of the Reserve where they feed on the surrounding farmlands. The peak count was 110 from Butchersfield Tip on 3rd November. On No.3 bed most counts were in in single figures and the maximum was 24 on 2nd February.

Photograph from Bollin Point 15th February 2018


David Bowman

161 Rook

Corvus frugilegus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, not a common bird on the Reserve with most sightings of birds flying over. As with the Carrion Crow, movement to and from the feeding grounds on the mosses to the north of the eastern end of the Reserve is the best place to locate them.

2018 records - There were only six records submitted, all fly-overs and five of which were from the eastern end of the Reserve. The maximum was 12 seen flying South on 12th February. The only record from No.3 bed was of a single bird on 3rd November.

Photograph from Butchersfield Tip 12th February 2018


Chris Monks

162 Carrion Crow

Corvus corone

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common bird on the Reserve which breeds in small numbers on all the four Beds.

2018 Records - A common resident thought to breed on all four beds. Common Bird Surveys recorded seven on No.1 bed, three on No.2 bed, 12 on No.3 bed and eight on No.4 bed. Thirty were seen on the Maher’s tip on No.1 bed on 1st October and the peak count was 70 seen from Butchersfield Tip on 6th September.

Photograph from No3 Bed overlooking the Sybil Hogg Hide 21/04/2014

163 Hooded Crow

Corvus cornix

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a rare vagrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last sighting was on 13th January 1980.

No Woolston image available


Keith Gallie

164 Raven

Corvus corax

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, almost all records relate to the regular fly-over sightings.

2018 Records - The number of sightings continues to increase and what was once a scarce visitor to the Reserve is now seen regularly. In 2016 there were eight sightings, 33 in 2017 and 46 in 2018. There were records in all months of the year except for July. The birds were also seen regularly during their breeding period of mid-February to mid-April suggesting, perhaps, breeding close by. Most sightings were of one or two birds but five were seen on No.3 bed on 3rd November.

Photograph from No3 bed 9th November 2017


Keith Gallie

165 Goldcrest

Regulus regulus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, largely a passage visitor but breeds locally and occasionally over winters on the Reserve. Peak counts occur in the autumn.

2018 Records - There were only 15 sightings this year, most in the winter periods and just one sighting in the breeding season on No.3 bed on 23rd June. The maximum count was six recorded between No.3 bed and Bollin Point on 17th November.

The ringing data presents a more encouraging picture. On No.1 bed although the total for the year was quite a bit lower than the previous two years, it was still the third highest total for the bed since 1995 with 256 ringed. The first of the year was caught on 12th January and was the only re-trap from a previous year, 2017, while the only bird of the spring was on 14th March. There was an excellent juvenile dispersal noted during June after the first on the 11th, 16 were caught during the month with a further eight in July, mostly presumed to have been bred locally, possibly Butchersfield. August was a quieter month with only four ringed while movement started in earnest from 4th September with reasonable numbers present on all days visited until the final one on 30th November.

On No.3 bed 58 new birds were ringed during the year. This is above the average of 42 new birds since 2004. The first young bird was ringed on the 23rd June. This is nearly 3 weeks later than in 2017

Photograph from No3 bed 03/01/2017

166 Firecrest

Regulus ignicapilla

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, an irregular passage vagrant (recorded in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017) to the Eyes with most sightings reported in autumn.

2018 Records - A scarce visitor with one or two sightings in most years. This year was typical with, for the third year in succession, a first-year male caught on No.1 bed on 12th November. There was also a “probable” seen and heard by the No.3 bed carpark on 2nd February

No Woolston image available


David Bowman

167 Blue Tit

Parus caeruleus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, abudent resident and breeding species throughout the whole Reserve.

2018 Records - A common resident. The Common Bird Surveys recorded the following, eight on No.1 bed (one singing and seven in suitable breeding habitat), 10 on No.2 bed, in suitable breeding habitat, six on No.3 bed including three singing males and eight on No.4 bed three of which were singing.

The ringers on No.1 bed had another record year with 291 ringed, including 68 pulli from the nest boxes, with 27 of these being captured after fledging. A further 99 were caught during the year that had been ringed in previous years, the oldest from 1st July 2011, also there were birds from 2012 (1), 2013 (2), 2014 (6), 2015 (9), 2016 (29) and the remainder from 2017. Away from the nest boxes, eight adults were caught in breeding condition, five males and three females.

The ringers on No.3 bed also had a record year with 351 new birds ringed during the year. The average since 2004 is 174 new birds. The first pulli were ringed on 25th May, almost three weeks later than 2017. A total of 85 pulli was ringed in the boxes. A further 245 new birds were juveniles not ringed in the boxes. Birds were retrapped from 2017 (31), 2016 (17), 2015 (7), 2014 (5), 2013 (3), 2012 (2) and 2011 (1).

Photograph from No3 Bed 25th January 2019

168 Great Tit

Parus major

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, another abundent resident on all four Beds throughout the year.

2018 Records - Another common resident. Surveys revealed three singing males on No.1 bed, four in song on No.2 bed, five all in song on No.3 bed and six on No.4 bed including one singing.

As with the previous species, it was a record year for the ringing team on No.1 bed with 232 ringed, including 35 pulli from the nest boxes, with 17 of these being captured after fledging. A further 65 were caught that had been ringed in previous years, the oldest from 3rd September 2010. There were also birds from 2011 (2), 2012 (2), 2013 (3), 2014 (4), 2015 (6), 2016 (14) with the remainder from 2017. Sixteen were caught in breeding condition, five females and 11 males.

On No.3 bed a total of 260 were ringed during the year. This exceeds last year’s record of 226 new birds. The first pulli were ringed in the boxes on the 25th May. A total of 74 pulli were ringed. In addition to this, a further 161 birds ringed were juveniles. Re-traps from previous years include: 2017 (27), 2016 (16) 2015 (6), 2014 (5), 2013 (2) and 2012 (2). In total the ringing team handled 316 different Great Tits during the year a total of 946 times.

No Woolston image available

169 Coal Tit

Parus ater

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, regularly seen but not a common bird on the Reserve. Favours the eastern end of the Reserve and Butchersfield with the conifer cover.

2018 Records - The least common of the tits to be encountered on the Reserve and only recorded this year on No.3 bed and the No.1 bed/Butchersfield Tip area. Most sightings from No.3 bed were from July onwards supporting the belief they do not breed on the bed but close by in the surrounding housing estates. The maximum count on No.3 bed was three very vocal birds on 31st October. Breeding is probable on No.1 bed given the ringing team caught four in the first winter/early spring period, including the only one in breeding condition, a female with a brood patch.

The ringing team on No.1 bed had a record year with 36 ringed. As usual, the first juveniles appeared on 8th June and it was a surprisingly good month for them with a further 10 caught. Apart from a late summer bird on 29th August there were no further captures until the regular autumn movement began on 22nd October; it proved to be an excellent period with 21 caught. Apart from the spring records, all others were first years. The last of the year was a re-trap on 10th December, originally ringed on 19th June 2017.

On No.3 bed a total of six new birds were ringed during the year, four of which were juveniles. The average is just 2.7 new birds.

No Woolston image available


Roy Peacock

170 Willow Tit

Parus montanus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a regular reported species from a small but stable population across the whole Reserve.

2018 Records - Willow Tits are considered to be one of the Reserves most important breeding species given their national decline. The BTO Breeding Bird Surveys have shown a 77% fall, nationally, in their numbers between 1994 and 2007 and the Reserve’s estimated breeding population of 30 pairs is considered of national importance. A report by Allan Rustell, on the Reserve’s Willow Tit population can be found towards the end of this Report. It proved a poor year for locating nests, only nine nests were found compared to 15 in 2017; three were found on No.1 bed, one on No.3 and five on No.4 bed (No.2 bed was not surveyed). Given how difficult nests can be to locate the poor results do not necessarily indicate a poor breeding season and the ringing summary below suggests a better breeding season than the nest finding would indicate. One highlight in Allan’s report is the first instance of Willow Tits on the Reserve successfully using a nest box.

On No.1 bed it was a record year for this species with 24 ringed, including, unusually, three adults in the spring. There were five caught in breeding condition, four males and one female with the first juvenile caught on 20th June in what appears to be a good breeding season for the species with 21 juveniles ringed in total. A further nine were caught during the year that were ringed in previous years, the oldest from 23rd July 2014, others were from 2015 (2), 2016 (3) and the remainder from 2017.

On No.3 bed, 17 were ringed during the year. This is the average total since 2004. Sixteen of the new birds ringed were juveniles. The first juvenile was ringed on 22nd June. This is nearly three weeks later than in 2017.
Birds from previous years included 2017 (2) 2016 (1) and 2015 (1). This meant that there were five adults handled during the year.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan Hide 25th June 2013


David Bowman

171 Marsh Tit

Parus palustris

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a rare visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no reports were submitted this year. The last reports were in January 2016, 2015 and 1993. The bird first observed in November 2015 continued to visit on the John Morgan feeders but was not seen after 7th February. The ringers on the bed caught the bird in a nearby mist net in January 2016 along with a Willow Tit which allowed detailed comparison of the two species in the hand.

Photograph of the Willow Tit on left and Marsh Tit prior to release by the ringing team No3 bed 5th December 2015

172 Bearded Tit

Panurus biarmicus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, occasional passage visitor to Woolston.

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The last reports since 1981 were in three consecutive years 2005, 2006 and on 18/10/2007.

No Woolston image available

173 Woodlark

Lullula arborea

Status BoCC4 Green listed. Only a single record for the Reserve of a bird on 8th September 2006.

2018 Records - None.

No Woolston image available

174 Skylark

Alauda arvensis

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, less common than it was with the maturing scrub on the beds. It is however a common flyover species during migration periods and a breeding species on the surrounding agricultural land to the north-east and east of the Reserve.

2018 Records - Skylarks breed on the farmlands surrounding No.1 bed and Butchersfield Tip and can regularly be seen overflying that part of the Reserve, most frequently in the autumn and winter periods. Peak counts were 22 in fields to the south of Butchersfield on 18th February including two on territory singing, 32 seen on 25th October from Butchersfield Tip and 20 flying south over No.1 bed on 5th November. There were six reports from No.3 bed including five moving south on 16th October and 13 on 3rd November. In 2017 a bird was recorded singing over No.1 bed in May and this year on 10th May a bird was flushed from the ground in the same area suggesting possible nesting. The last confirmed breeding on the Reserve was in 2003.

No Woolston image available

175 Sand Martin

Riparia riparia

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, common passage and summer feeding species on the Reserve with nesting colonies close by.

2018 Records - The first record was of two seen briefly on No.3 bed on 17th March but the poor weather conditions meant there were no further sightings until 27th March when three were on the same bed. This was the start of the main arrival, with 15 present the next day. Peak counts in the spring were 22 on 7th April, 100 on the evening of 23rd April and 40 on 26th April. In the summer months, numbers were low with most records being of one or two birds and only a few counts in double figures (10 on the Loop of No.4 bed on 12th June and 14 on 17th July on No.3 bed). No colonies were found breeding along the Canal although the ability to survey the canal banks is limited and so nesting may have occurred unobserved. The only significant post breeding flock was 50 seen on No.3 bed on the evening of 13th August. The last sighting was of four on No.3 bed on 8th September.

On No.1 bed the ringers had a reasonably successful year with 17 ringed with the first on 6th July and the final one on 4th September. A high proportion of the birds were adults with eight caught.

On No.3 bed just nine were ringed (half of the average total since 2004). These were all ringed at the small roost of hirundines in late July and August and three were adults.

No Woolston image avilable


David Bowman

176 Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Status: abundant summer visitor to the Reserve which holds large roosting flocks in the autumn passage.

2018 Records - The first sighting on 3rd April of six was the start of a steady passage in April with peak counts of 29 on the 7th, 100 on the 24th and 85 on the 27th In the summer months pairs were seen by the Viaduct and pumphouse on No.2 bed, both traditional breeding sites and on 23rd June four juveniles were seen being fed by parents on a dead tree in the Ship Canal by the entrance to No.2 bed. On 3rd July the first significant post breeding flock was noted when 30 juveniles were hawking insects over the centre of No.3 bed in the late afternoon. The usual roost on No.1 bed developed in July and August with a peak count of 400 on 23rd July. There was a steady passage of birds during the migration period with 631 seen during a Migration Watch on Butchersfield Tip on 6th September and 150 flying South over No.1 bed on 17th September. The last sighting was of a single bird on No.3 bed on 16th October

On No.1 bed fewer were ringed than in the previous two years, but it was still a reasonable year with 311 newly ringed. The first was caught on 19th July and good numbers were roosting until 2nd August, when the roost quickly diminished until there were none present until the 22nd when they were noted roosting again. Reasonable numbers were then present until the final one of the year on 5th September. The percentage of adults caught was quite a bit lower than the previous two years 7% (22 individuals) compared to 12% (2017) and 13% (2016), of these six had brood patches and five were sexed as males.

On No.3 bed the ringers had the best year since 2014, ringing 118, but this was still below the average of 193. The number of Swallows using the reedbed on No.3 bed has declined quite considerably during the last few years. We are not sure whether this is down to lower numbers of birds generally, the reedbed being less attractive for roosting due to the water level being dropped in August, or the birds using some other roosting sites (such as maize)

Photograph of a male from No2 bed 28th April 2018

177 House Martin

Delichon urbica

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a common summer visitor which feeds on the Reserve and is reported in the Swallow roosts outside the breeding period.

2018 Records - The first sighting of the year was of six on No.3 bed on 3rd April, the same day as the first Swallows arrived. Small numbers continued to be seen in the first half of April and it was not until late April that significant numbers arrived with 20 on the 22nd and 51 on the 24th. In the summer months numbers were very low, reflecting the large decline in the local breeding populations. Most sightings were of just one or two birds and the peak count was of 12 hawking insects above the copse in the centre of No.3 bed on 29th June. In August numbers increased, 20 flew south over No.1 bed on the 8th and 100 were feeding over No.3 bed on the evening of the 13th. The largest count in the year, 151, was seen during a Migration Watch on 6th September.

The first (2) since 2016 were ringed on 29th August on No.1 bed.

No Woolston image available


David Spencer

178 Cetti's Warbler

Cettia cetti

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, recently established breeding species, males now present throughout the year on all four beds.

2018 Records - Cetti’s Warblers are now well established at Woolston with sightings and song throughout the year and across all the four individual beds. The first report was on 9th January and the last on 30th December, both single individuals on No.3 bed.

Low single digit counts were recorded of singing males on a regular basis, a selection of reports were: three on the WeBs count on No.3 bed on 17th February, three on No.3 bed on 7th April, three on No.1 bed on 21st April, (two singing males and a bird in suitable breeding habitat), three on No.2 bed on 28th April, four on No.3 bed on 28th November and two on No.1 bed on 30th November. The highest count was of 14 males in song on 14th April on a walk of the Reserve, excluding No.4 bed, which was reported as: six on No.3, one on No.2, four on No.1 and three at Bollin Point.

A record total of 28 Cetti’s Warblers, more than double last year’s previous Reserve record of 10 birds were ringed with No.3 bed providing all the increase in numbers, from four in 2017 to 22 this year. October and November have been the peak catching time for this species as dispersing birds would turn up and this year six were ringed in that period. No.1 bed duplicated their 2017 catch of six birds again; with four juveniles in June and July and two adults, one a male caught in breeding condition on 4th May. The first juvenile was ringed in June on No.1 bed and on 14th July on No.3 bed when three were ringed. Two retrapped birds were caught on No.1 bed having been handled in previous year. The first was originally caught on the bed on 19th June 2017, as an adult male, while the second was ringed at Leighton Moss in November 2014, initially recaptured on 17th April 2015 has been caught several times since and been resident on No.1 bed for four years now.

This species suffered badly from the “Beast from the East” in the reed beds of Norfolk and Suffolk, but thankfully for the birds at Woolston it never got too cold for too long and the species has fared much better and hopefully will continue to thrive on the Reserve.

Photograph, stitched montage of a bird on No3 bed 16th February 2016


Dave Bowman

179 Long-tailed Tit

Aegithalos caudatus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common resident breeding species across the whole Reserve.

2018 Records - A common resident across the Reserve but tends to be under reported. The highest counts of the year occur outside of the breeding season when family and foraging groups form, examples being 15 on No.3 bed on 10thJanuary, 20 on No.4 bed on 15th September, 19 on No.3 bed on 23rd October and 22 on 29th November on No.3 bed. Counts of 22, 16 and three were recorded on the Migration Watches from Butchersfield on 25th October, 3rd November and 8th December respectively.

In total, 152 “Lotti’s”, as they are coded by the ringers, were ringed in 2018, 92 on No.1 bed (the third best total since 1995) and 60 (an average number) on No.3 bed. The first juveniles were ringed on 31st May and 1st June at opposite ends of the Reserve. In total 46 further birds were caught which had been ringed in previous years, the majority, 85% (39) represented birds ringed in 2017, 2016 and 2015 with 9% (4) ringed in 2014 and 6% (3) ringed in 2013. There was also one caught that had been ringed at Betley Mere, Staffordshire, 42 km south-south-east of Woolston. No.1 bed also reported 13 caught in breeding condition, eight females and five males.

Photograph from Woolston 01/02/2014


David Spencer

180 Yellow-browed Warbler

Phylloscopus inornatus

Status: rare summer migrant to Woolston. Latest records being 2017, 2007, 2005, 2004 and 1998.

2018 Records - Only a single bird was ringed on the Reserve, on No.3 bed, on a typical date of 21st October. Although previously ringed on No.1 bed at the eastern end of the Reserve this was the first of this species to be ringed on No.3 bed and was the only record of the species reported this year.

Photograph from No3 bed 21st October 2018 of a bird ringed on the bed at release.

181 Wood Warbler

Phylloscopus sibilatrix

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a rare passage vagrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no record submitted. The last reports were on 08/05/2001 and 26/04/1996.

No Woolston image available


Roy Peacock

182 Chiffchaff

Phylloscopus collybita

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a very common summer visitor and breeding species found throughout the Reserve.

2018 Records - Two over-wintering individuals were reported, one on No.1 bed on 2nd February and one on No.3 bed on 10th February. The first returning migrant was reported on 13th March on No.3 bed after which numbers increased significantly. A Reserve walk on 4th April which did not include No.4 bed recorded 30 individuals and Common Bird Surveys in April provided the highest count of 56 singing males: 12 on No.1 bed, 12 on No.2 bed, 11 on No.3 bed and 21 on No.4 bed. The Migration Watch of 6th September recorded 26 individuals from Butchersfield and the last records of the year were one each from Butchersfield and No.3 bed on 25th October, one on No.1 bed on 31st October, a late bird on No.3 bed on 17th November and an over-wintering individual was recorded on No.1 bed on 10th December.

Although 411 new birds ringed appears a high total it was a disappointing year for this species compared with the 2017 total of 699 new birds ringed. The first returning migrant was caught on 16th March on No.1 bed and the first juvenile was ringed on 2nd June on No.3 bed. The final capture of the year within the average migration window was ringed on 14th October with four over-wintering birds, three on No.3 bed and one on No.1 bed ringed between 17th November and 29th December. A dozen retrapped individuals from previous years ringing were caught, one from 2014, three from 2015 and four from 2016 and 2017. No.1 bed reported 18 birds caught in breeding condition, nine females and nine males. There were no birds of the race “Tristis” caught this year.

Photograph from No3 Bed 30/05/2013


Hazel Rothwell

183 Willow Warbler

*Phylloscopus trochilus**

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, another very common summer warbler found and breeding throughout the Reserve.

2018 Records - Returning slightly later than the Chiffchaff the first Willow Warbler was reported on 6th April on No.1 bed and 7th April on No.3 bed. Spring survey high counts of singing males were: 13 on No.3 bed on 14th April, 17 on No.1 bed on 21st April, eight on the northern transect of No.4 bed on 10th May and six on No.2 bed on 19th May. The last reported sighting was of four individuals on No.3 bed on 3rd June.

A total of 226 new Willow Warblers was ringed across the Reserve, 172 on No.1 bed and 54, an above average total, on No.3 bed. The first returning birds ringed were three males on 9th April on No.1 bed, with the bed’s first female on 18th April. Eight previous years ringed birds were recaptured, the oldest being ringed on 16th July 2015. Analysis of No.1 bed captures identified 19 individuals in breeding condition, 11 females and eight males. The first juveniles were ringed on 15th June on No.1 bed and 23rd June on No.3 bed and the last birds were caught in September, the 4th and 9th for the two beds.

Photograph from No3 Bed 22nd June 2016


Andy Weir

184 Blackcap

Sylvia atricapilla

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common summer visitor breeding on all four beds.

2018 Records - The start of April harbingers the return of this richly musical warbler. The first report of the year, fitting this pattern was of a single male in song on No.3 bed on 3rd April. Spring common Bird Surveys for singing males recorded high counts of: four on No.1 bed on 21st April, five on No.3 bed on 19th May, 19 on No.2 bed on 20th May and 17 on the northern transect of No.4 bed on 2nd June. The last recorded migrant was on 26th September on No.2 bed, but the last report was of an over-wintering male on No.3 bed on 1st December.

It was a record year for this species for the ringing teams with a combined total of 1003 new birds ringed, 354 on No.1 bed and 649 (a record total against a ten year average of 343 and the second highest total in 2010 of 515) on No.3 bed. The first returning migrant was a male ringed on 4th April on No.1 bed. Eight further males were caught before the first female was caught on 23rd April. The first juvenile was ringed on No.3 bed on 2nd June and the last of the migrant birds was ringed on 21st October, a typical date, whilst two birds caught on No.1 bed in November and one on the 1st December on No.3 bed, already ringed from a site in the UK, were presumed over-wintering birds. There were 17 retrapped from previous years: 15 from 2017, five from 2016 and one each from 2015, 2014 and 2013. Three were recaptured ringed from other sites in the UK, inclusive of the December bird above. No.1 bed analysis identified 37 Blackcaps caught in breeding condition, 19 females and 18 males.

Photographed from No.3 Bed 13th April 2016


David Spencer

185 Garden Warbler

Sylvia borin

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, an annual summer visitor, not common but regularly reported on all four Beds.

2018 Records - A secretive warbler that often sings from cover and sounds very similar to the more common Blackcap, which adds to the difficulty of identification of the species. It is however widespread around the Reserve in small numbers. The first of the year was identified on No.3 bed on 3rd May and before the end of the month birds had been reported on all four beds. Never recorded in numbers the peak counts were two individuals on both No.2 and No.1 beds on 19th and 29th May respectively. A review of the reports for the species suggests there were perhaps 14 to 20 individuals identified across the Reserve.

It was an exceptional year for the ringing teams on the Reserve with 72 new Garden Warblers ringed, a typical total of 23 on No.1 bed and a significant 49 on No.3 bed, well above the average (since 2004) of 18 and a previous highest total ever of 38.

The first bird ringed on No.3 bed was an adult on 12th May, unusual in that the bed does not normally catch this species this early in the year. It is the second earliest date on record. Two birds were caught on 22nd September, the third latest date on record and the best month was August with 38 ringed including 25 between the 5th and 11th.

On No.1 bed, an average year, the first ringed was on 20th April (10th May in 2017), there was also an adult female, originally ringed on 5th July 2017, that had returned and was the only bird caught in breeding condition. The first juvenile was ringed on 9th July (3rd July in 2017) and the last of the year was on 31st August.

Photograph from path between No.3 & No2 beds from Canal to Woolston Weir 12th May 2019


Brian Burnett

186 Lesser Whitethroat

Sylvia curruca

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, an uncommon but annual summer visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - There were 11 reports of this delightful warbler between May and July all of single individuals. The majority, nine, of the records related to a singing male on the Canal track near the second barrier by the ramp gate to No.4 bed from 2nd May to 3rd June which suggests a breeding attempt although we have no definitive evidence of success. The only other sightings were of singles on two dates, a month apart, from No.1 bed on 23rd June and 24th July which given the presence of a breeding female (see ringing summary below) on 6th July may have been related.

A reasonable year with five individuals ringed, four from No.1 bed, the first on 2nd July and the last on 8th August. Three of these were juveniles with the fourth being an adult female with a brood patch which, in view of the date 6th July, was breeding locally. No.3 bed caught a single bird which was ringed on 16th August. The ten year average for this bed is 1.7 birds per year, confirming its scarcity there.

Photograph from Woolston Weir 05/05/013


David Bowman

187 Whitethroat

Sylvia communis

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common summer visitor breeding across the Reserve.

2018 Records - The scratchy song of the Whitethroat was first heard on 16th April on No.3 bed this year. Numbers increased through April culminating with high counts of singing males from the Common Bird Surveys undertaken in May. Results were as follows: five on No.3 bed on the 4th, 17 on the northern transect of No.4 bed on the 10th, 11 on No.2 bed on the 19th. A second survey of the north of No.4 bed on 2nd June recorded the highest count of 18. The last reported sighting of the year was on 9th September on No.3 bed.

A total of 132 new Whitethroats was ringed during the year, 90 on No.3 bed and 42 on No.1 bed, a much better year than 2017. The first returning bird was ringed on 21st April (8 days earlier than 2017). The first juveniles were ringed in June, on the 20th and 23rd on No.1 and No.3 beds respectively. Seven individuals were caught that had been ringed in previous years on the Reserve, the oldest from 4th June 2015. Nine of the 42 birds ringed on No.1 bed were in breeding condition, five females and four males and the last capture of the year was on 12th September, two days later than in 2017.

Photographed from the Centre Hide No.3 Bed 2nd July 2019


Simon Smith

188 Grasshopper Warbler

Locustella naevia

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a breeding summer visitor in low numbers best looked for early in the morning when the ‘reeling’ song is evident.

2018 Records - Just seven records of this skulking warbler were received during the season, all of single birds and all bar one during April. Two reports from No.3 bed on the 14th may have related to the same individual, whilst two reports of “reeling” males on the 21st and the 25th on No.1 bed were probably separate individuals. A single “reeling” male was found on the Common Bird Survey on No.2 bed on the 28th and the only record outside of April was on 18th August on No.3 bed.

Four birds were caught by the ringing teams, two each on beds No.1 and No.3. The first, on 21st April on No.3 bed, was one which had been ringed as a juvenile on the 31st July 2016 at Squire’s Down, Dorset. This is the first time the ringers have recaptured a Grasshopper Warbler, ringed from another site in the UK; although the ringers have retrapped their own ringed birds in subsequent years. The second No.3 bed bird was a juvenile, ringed on 18th August which was probably a migrant moving through. The first of the year on No.1 bed was a male, caught on 5th May and subsequently retrapped on 18th June when it was in breeding condition, another, this time a juvenile was caught on 16th July suggesting local breeding success.

Photograph from Woolston 05/05/2012


Roy Peacock

189 Sedge Warbler

Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common breeding summer migrant which has declined along national lines over recent years.

2018 Records - The first returning bird was reported on 14th April on No.3 bed. Common but not abundant sightings became more frequent as April progressed. Common Bird Survey counts were single digit numbers with three each on No.1 and No.3 beds on 25th April and 1st May respectively. The northern transect of No.4 bed recorded two singing males. The last sighting of the year was on 9th August on No.3 bed.

A total of 104 Sedge Warblers was ringed during the year with mixed fortunes on the two ringing beds. No.3 bed’s total of 79 ringed was 14% above their average but the 25 total for No.1 bed was a poor year and may be attributed to the continuing loss of suitable habitat in that area with the continuing landfill operation. The first birds were ringed in April, on the 21st and 25th and the last on 31st August and 2nd September, comparable to 2017 for both of the two beds. The first juveniles were ringed on the early date of 30th June on No.3 bed and a typical date on No.1 bed of 11th July. Only four of the 25 birds caught on No.1 bed were in breeding condition, two males and two females.

Photograph from No3 Bed 3rd July 2013


Robert Harris

190 Blyth's Reed Warbler

Acrocephalus dumetorum

Status: very rare summer vagrant to Woolston, last recorded in

2018 Records - no sightings reported. The last and only report of this species was on 26/08/2000 when one was caught and ringed by the ringing team on No.1 Bed.

Photograph from No1 bed, 26th August 2000. A video of the bird was also taken along with the biometrics recorded to support ID and evidence for county records.

191 Marsh Warbler

Actocephalus palustris

Status: a rare summer migrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The only record of Marsh Warbler was in 1991 when a pair bred on the Reserve.

No Woolston image available


David Bowman

192 Reed Warbler

Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common summer breeding species present in numbers on all four Beds.

2018 Records - Always a welcome return to the Reserve reedbeds the first Reed Warbler’s long churring song was reported on 14th April on both No.1 and No.3 beds. More numerous than the Sedge Warbler population the Common Bird Survey counts of singing males were respectively higher with 10 on No.1 bed on 25th April, a single on No.2 bed on 28th April, six on No.3 bed on 1st May and two on the northern transect of No.4 bed on 10th May. The single highest count was of 14 birds on No.1 bed on 30th June and the last sighting was on 8th September on No.3 bed.

A total of 638 Reed Warblers was ringed during the year with good numbers on both ringing beds. The 361 on No.3 bed was 16% above the average total since 2004. On No.1 bed, the 277 was the second-best year total since the 292 in 2009.

The first birds ringed were in late April, on the 28th and the 30th on the two beds, almost three weeks later than in 2017. The last birds ringed were on the 14th and 28th September, comparable to 2017. First juveniles were ringed June, on the 18th and 23rd, earlier than in 2017 and 2016. A total of 72 birds were recaptured from previous years ringing efforts with three ringed in 2010, four ringed in 2013, three from 2015, 15 from 2016 and 48 ringed in 2017, providing a guide to the natural longevity of the species. Five of the recaptured birds from No.1 bed were originally ringed at nearby Rostherne Mere and 64 of the bed’s 277 total were caught in breeding condition (compared to 51 birds in 2017), 31 females and 33 males.

Photograph from No3 Bed 25th July 2018


David Spencer

193 Waxwing

Bombycilla garrulus

Status: a rare sighting for the Reserve. The last record was of three near Woolston Weir in March 2013.

2018 Records - There was a single unexpected record of this rather smart plumaged winter visitor on 10th December. A single bird was feeding in the hedgerow which borders the north side of the River Mersey adjacent to Edward Gardens in the late morning. The bird flew off north and was not relocated.no records submitted. Waxwing have been recorded intermittently since 1999 with most recent sightings being 2008, 2010, 2012 and on 07/03/2013.

Photograph from north side River Mersey hedgerow 10th December 2018

194 Nuthatch

Sitta europaea

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, an uncommon visitor to the Eyes although local sites hold breeding populations close to the Reserve.

2018 Records - There were three sightings in both June and July on No.3 bed which were concentrated around the footbridge area and centre of the bed. There were further reports of single birds on the 5th, 12th and 15th September, again around the footbridge area of No.3 bed. A calling bird was then located around the Tower Hide on 21st October, with another on No.3 bed on 21st December. The Butchersfield area provided three single sightings on 23rd October, 3rd November and 8th December Migration Watches and another single bird located on the farm lane beyond Rixton Paddocks. Three records of single individuals came from the wooded area across the river from the north bank of No.1 bed, the first on 23rd October followed by two in December on the 12th and 27th.

No.1 bed has been the historical site for ringing Nuthatch with usually one and on occasion two annually. There was no change on that bed with a single bird ringed (the 11th to be ringed there), of an adult female with brood patch caught on 22nd June. There was however a massive change on No.3 bed where five individuals were ringed against a ten year average of less than one.

No Woolston image available

195 Treecreeper

Certhia familiaris

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, an uncommon species on the Reserve, present but its secretive nature probably results in its under reporting.

2018 Records - There were nine records of single birds of this diminutive but active member of the Certhiidae family, four from No.3 bed starting on 28th February then 23rd June and 19th and 30th November, two from Butchersfield on the Migration Watches of 6th September and 8th December and one each from No.1 bed on 17th November and No.2 bed on 24th December. Three of these sightings were around the footbridge/copse area between No.3 and No.2 beds.

It was a record year for ringing this species with 27 birds ringed, 13, the highest ever total on No.1 bed and 14, equal to the previous highest total and twice the ten year average of seven birds ringed on No.3 bed. Two birds ringed on No.1 bed were in breeding condition, both males, whilst all but a spring bird ringed on No.3 bed were juveniles ringed between June and October. The first juveniles on the two beds were ringed a day apart on 22nd and 23rd June.

No Woolston image available


Roy Peacock

196 Wren

Troglodytes troglodytes

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a very common breeding resident found throughout the year.

2018 Records - A common resident species across the Reserve overlooked in everyday reporting but always recorded on Common Bird Surveys and Migration Watches which again provided the majority of the records. The highest early count was of 17 singing males on No.1 bed on 31st March followed by a count of 35 singing males (highest of the year) on No.3 bed on 7th April, 24 singing males on No.2 bed on 19th May and 20 on the northern transect of No.4 bed on 2nd June.

It was another fairly successful year for this species with 167 ringed, 74 on No.1 bed and 93 on No.3 bed. A further 34 individuals were retrapped from previous years ringing with the oldest having been ringed in 2014. The first juveniles were caught on similar dates as 2017, 11th June on No.3 bed. Analysis of the 74 No.1 bed captures identified 19 in breeding condition, eight females and 11 males.

Photograph from No.3 Bed 25/05/2013


Andy Weir

197 Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, apart from the fly-over birds from the surrounding urbanisation on the southern and western environs Starlings are not common birds on the Reserve. Flocks of varying numbers often roost in the reed beds outside the breeding season.

2018 Records - Apart from a handful of records of small to medium numbers flying over or feeding on adjacent farmland, most reports are associated with roosting activity in the autumn and winter when large murmurations can occur. The largest counts this year were of 4500 and 4000 on No.3 bed, on the 3rd and 7th November respectively, while the year’s highest count was of 5168 during the Migration Watch of 3rd November on Butchersfield.

The No.1 bed ringing team caught the only Starlings of the year, the first of this species to be ringed on the bed since 2007, when seven were caught in a high net as they left a roost in the eastern pool reedbed on 26th February.

Photograph of the 2014 roost on No3 Bed 01/03/2014

198 Dipper

Cinclus cinclus

Status BoCC4 Amber listed. The only record of Dipper is of a historical one in November 1948.

2018 records - none reported.

No Woolston image available.


David Bowman

199 Ring Ouzel

Turdus torquata

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a rare passage visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last reported sightings were 12th April 2016 by the Sandpit Pond No4 bed, the Canal Track on No2 bed 18th April 2003 and prior to that in 1998.

No Woolston image available


David Bowman

200 Blackbird

Turdus merula

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, an abundant breeding species across the whole Reserve.

2018 Records - A common resident breeding species across the whole Reserve. High counts from Common Bird Surveys in spring identified: nine on No.4 bed on 29th March, 24 on 7th April on No.3 bed with six in song, 13 on No.3 bed on 28th April of which two were singing males. The highest single count was of 49 birds on 24th November on a walk from No.4 bed to Rixton Paddocks where 30 were feeding in the Hawthorn hedges.

A total of 81 birds were ringed during the year, 47 on No.1 bed, including four nestlings from two nests, making the total the second best since 2006 and 38 on No.3 bed, a figure below their ten-year average of 46. The date of the first fledged juveniles also varied with No.1 bed ringed on 11th June and No.3 bed over a month later on 14th July, slightly earlier than in 2017, but still one of the latest dates since 2004. Only ten juveniles were definitely born in 2018, birds likely to have hatched locally.

Photograph from No3 bed 27th January 2018

201 Fieldfare

Turdus pilaris

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, found in the mid-autumn - winter months on the Reserve edges feeding on the Hawthorn and other berry bearing shrubs and common fly-over birds.

2018 Records - It was February before more than single digit numbers of Fieldfares were reported when 35 were seen leaving a roost on No.3 bed on the 7th followed by a flock of 160 flying east over No.3 bed on the 12th. The fields to the north of No.1 bed regularly held good numbers with 50 reported there on the 15th and a count of 90 birds was again recorded leaving a roost from the north bank of No.3 bed at dawn on 28th. The last sightings before the birds return migration north was of 10 feeding in the fields north of No1 bed on 1st March and three feeding on No.2 bed on 3rd March. Finally, 33 were at Bollin Point on 17th March.

The first autumn migrants were reported on 20th October when four were found feeding in Hawthorn on No.3 bed. Larger flocks were noted within days with 80 flying east over No.3 bed on 21st October and 100 over No.1 bed on 6th November, followed by a larger group of 350 flying south over the same bed on 16th November. Numerous groups of between 15 and 90 birds were reported up to year end.

For the third year in succession one was caught and ringed on No.1 bed, a first year male on 31st October which was the eighth since 2002.

No Woolston image available

202 Song Thrush

Turdus philomelos

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a resident breeding species which has declined in recent years but still frequently sighted.

2018 Records - This delightful songster is common across the Reserve and a resident breeding species. Birds were in song as early as 26th January and 10 were in song on a walk of the Reserve on 15th February. High counts from the spring Common Bird Surveys were: nine singing males on the northern transect of No.4 bed on 29th March, five on No.3 bed, three singing males and a pair on 7th April and nine singing males on No.2 bed on 19th May. Five individuals were recorded twice on No.1 bed on 21st April of four males in song and another bird in suitable breeding habitat and on 30th June, two of which were carrying food.

It was mixed fortunes for the ringing teams with the best year since 2009 on No.1 bed with 23 ringed but just 17 ringed on No.3 bed, their lowest total against a ten year average of 26, and evidence of probably only two locally hatched birds. The first juveniles were ringed in late June on both beds, on the 25th and 30th.

No Woolston image available

203 Redwing

Turdus iliacus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a regularly sighted winter visitor favours Hawthorn thicket and other berry shrubs wherever they occur on the Reserve. Occasionl roosts are reported and fly-over flocks are common.

2018 Records - Early in the year low single digit numbers of this migrant thrush were reported feeding in hedgerows with the first larger group of 35 recorded on No.3 bed on 6th January followed by a group of 65 around the Weir Basin from No.2 bed. A roost of 110 was recorded leaving the north bank of No.3 bed on 28th February and the last of the winter/spring period were two birds on No.1 bed flying north on 11th April.

The first returning migrants were observed on 8th October with seven on No.1 bed and eight on No.3 bed. As October progressed flocks became larger and more frequent with one of 68 reported on the 25th. The Migration Watch of 3rd November recorded 213 over Butchersfield during the morning vigil and a large group of ca. 200 was observed flying south over No.1 bed on 5th November. The larger groups were breaking up as December arrived and numbers dropped with three on No.3 bed on 1st December, 11 reported on the 8th December Migration Watch on Butchersfield, a group of 20 on No.1 bed on the 12th, 10 on the same bed on 14th December and finally 15 on No.3 bed on 21st December.

No Woolston image available


Andrew Weir

204 Mistle Thrush

Turdus viscivorus

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to red-listed, a resident bird across the whole Reserve but irregularly reported.

2018 Records - Mistle Thrushes are frequent on the Reserve but not common, records therefore generally refer to single digit number observations. Five were seen along the south bank of No.3 bed on 5th January, with three at Bollin Point and Rixton Paddocks and seven, the highest count on No.3 bed, on 6th January. A solitary male was singing on No.1 bed on 31st March, 9th April and again in late May and four birds were seen in the same area on 6th June. The Migration Watch of 6th September reported 16 flying over Butchersfield and seven were observed feeding in ploughed fields across the river from the north bank of No.1 bed.

There were no Mistle Thrushes ringed during the year.

Photograph No3 bed 10th July 2017


Brian Burnett

205 Spotted Flycatcher

Muscicapa striata

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, an irregular summer and passage visitor to Woolston but recorded most years.

2018 Records - This species is far from an annual visitor but both No.1 and No.3 beds ringed single individuals this year. The No.3 bed bird was caught and ringed during spring passage on 12th May and was the second to be caught on the bed since 2004. A juvenile ringed during autumn passage on 29th August was the fourth of the species to be ringed on No.1 bed and ninth to be ringed on the Reserve as a whole.

Photograph from No3 bed 27th August 2018


Les Jones

206 Robin

Erithacus rubecula

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a common resident throughout the Reserve.

2018 Records - A very common resident breeding species across the whole Reserve. January Reserve walks provided total counts of 20, 44 and 32 on the 10th, 20th and 31st. Another “whole” Reserve walk reported a total of 57 birds including 50 singing males on 7th March. High counts for the individual beds on the spring Common Bird Surveys identified: 26 singing males on the northern transect of No.4 bed on 29th March, 11 singing males and two in suitable breeding habitat on No.1 bed on 31st March, 30 singing males on No.3 bed on 7th April and 14 singing males on No.2 bed on 28th April. The highest count of the year was of 78 on a walk of the whole Reserve on 17th October.

An average year for the ringing teams with a combined total of 172 Robins ringed, 76 on No.1 bed and 96 on No.3 bed. The first juveniles were ringed on typical dates on 25th and 30th May for the two beds. Analysis of No.1 bed captures identified 20 Robins were re-caught from previous years ringing, the oldest was originally ringed on 10th June 2011. Fourteen were caught in breeding condition, two females and 12 males.

Photograph from Woolston


207 Nightingale

Luscinia megarhynchos

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to red-listed, a very rare vagrant to Woolston.

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The only report of Nightingale was on 11/08/2000 when one was caught and ringed on No.4 Bed.

Photograph of the ringed Nightingale from No.4 Bed 11/08/2000

208 Bluethroat

Luscinia svecica

Status: a rare vagrant to the Eyes.

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The last record of Bluethroat was on 06/07/1996 when a bird was caught and ringed on he Reserve.

No Woolston image available

209 Red-breasted Flycatcher

Ficedula parva

Status: a rare vagrant, the 2013 record was the first and only record of this species on the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The only report was in the copse between No2 and No3 beds along the canal track on 2nd November 2013.

No Woolston image available

210 Pied Flycatcher

Ficedula parva

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to red-listed, a rare ( last recorded in 2005, 2012 and 2013) passage visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no records submitted. Reported in five years since 2000 with the latest in 2012 and 2013.

No Woolston image available


David Spencer

211 Redstart

Phoenicurus phoenicurus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, an infrequent visitor to the Reserve but has been suspected of breeding.

2018 Reports - There were no reports this year. The last were in 2017 and 2016.

Photograph from No3 bed 18th April 2016


David Spencer

212 Whinchat

Saxicola rubetra

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to red-listed, a rare passage visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no reports submitted this year. The previous years records were of a single bird on 3rd May 2016 and prior to that in 2010.

Image from No.3 bed South Meadow on 3rd May 2016


David Bowman

213 Stonechat

Saxicola torquata

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a regular passage visitor in small numbers to the Eyes.

2018 Records - The only record of this uncommon, passage/winter visitor year was of a male in front of the John Morgan Hide, on No.3 bed, on 20th October.

Photograph from No3 bed 4th October 2017


Dave Bowman

214 Wheatear

Oenanthe oenanthe

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a regular passage visitor to the Reserve in small numbers.

2018 Records - There were no reports of Wheatears this year.

Photograph from No1 Bed 24/08/2013


David Mercer

215 Dunnock

Prunella modularis

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a common breeding resident seen over the whole Reserve throughout the year.

2018 Records - Dunnocks are reasonably common, if inconspicuous, resident breeders. Analysis of the Breeding Bird Surveys suggests a population of between 20 and 30 “pairs” – Dunnocks have notoriously complex breeding relationships! On 7th March 20 were present across the Reserve, of which 15 were singing males. On subsequent survey dates four were in song on No.1 bed, six in song on No.2 bed, 20 present with four in song on No.4 bed, while No.3 bed, which was not surveyed this year, also holds a stable breeding population. The highest post-breeding counts were of 11 around Butchersfield Tip during the Migration Watch on 6th September and 10 between Nos.2 and 3 beds on 24th November.

The 152 ringed during the year was an increase on the 135 from 2017, an excellent total. On No.1 bed it was the best year since 2005 and the second-best year since 1995, with 45 ringed. A further four were caught that had been ringed in previous years, the oldest from as recently as 2nd November 2016. Eight were caught in breeding condition (11 in 2017), two females and six males, while the first juvenile was ringed on 6th June (3rd June 2017). A total of 107 was ringed on No.3 bed during the year, compared with an average of 74. The first juvenile was ringed on 8th June, nearly a month later than in 2017. Fortunately, this comparatively late start did not negatively impact breeding success this year

Photograph from No3 bed 7th May 2016


David Bowman

216 House Sparrow

Passer domesticus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, uncommon on the Reserve but noted along the canal path leading into the Reserve and around the Weir Pool housing area.

2018 Records - Most records come from the small breeding populations in the housing estates adjacent to Nos.2 and 4 beds. Typical were counts from Weir lane of up to 14 in January and February. One had strayed into No.2 bed during the Breeding Bird Survey of 19th May. Less usual were the eight which turned up in No.3 bed on 29th May and the one which arrived on No.1 bed on 23rd July. Post-breeding counts from the Weir Basin area included 20 on 25th July and 30 on 4th August, while 25 were feeding at the side of the Canal Track, near No.4 bed, on 7th August.

Photograph of a male from the Canal Track 16th July 2019

217 Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a rare visitor at all times, best viewed for on the northern edges of the eastern end of the Reserve where breeding populations occur in the surrounding agricultural land.

2018 Records - No records submitted this year. The latest records are from 2017, 2016 and 2013.

No Woolston image available


Brian Burnett

218 Yellow Wagtail

Motacilla flava

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, breeds locally on the adjacent farmland which contributes to fly over records but irregulr visitor to the Eyes.

2018 Records - There was a noticeable increase in sightings of this scarce passage visitor to the Reserve, with six records received. The first was to the north of No.1 bed on 25th July, while on the last day of the month one was perched on one of the No.3 bed nest rafts and another flew south. On 1st August one was again on one of the nest rafts, among a small flock of eight Pied Wagtails. Singles were again noted on No.3 bed on 6th and 7th August before the final two appeared, an adult accompanied by a juvenile, again on the nest rafts, on 18th August.

Photograph from No3 Bed John Morgan Hide 19/04/2014


Brian Burnett

219 Grey Wagtail

Motacilla cineria

Status: BoCC4 moved from amber to red-listed, a handful of records per annum on the Reserve and frequent as a fly over sighting. A favoured site is on Latchford Locks approaching the Reserve.

2019 Records - This attractive, resident wagtail occasionally breeds and there is evidence, from the ringing teams, of an increase in numbers passing through during autumn passage. One or two could be found across the Reserve in all months in suitable habitat. Breeding was proved on 23rd June when a pair was present under Thelwall Viaduct, carrying food into a suitable nest-site. Return passage was observed from late August onwards, with maxima of four on 5th September, five on the 6th and five on the 19th of the month, all from the eastern end of the Reserve. Twenty were ringed during the year, which is typical since the adoption of tape lures by the ringing teams during the autumn. On No.1 bed it was the third best year since 1995, with 11 ringed. All were birds of the year and were caught between 10th and 17th September. The nine ringed on No.3 bed were all caught between 30th August (5) and the 29th September, which is above the average for the bed.

Photograph of a juvenile bird from No3 bed on 30th November 2014


Andy Weir

220 Pied Wagtail

Motacilla alba yarelli

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, present all year on all four Beds. Small roosts can occur outside of the breeding and in the autumn/winter periods.

2018 Records - This is our commonest wagtail, which is present year-round, occasionally breeds and sometimes forms sizeable autumn/winter roosts. While odd ones could be seen across the Reserve during the first winter period, the only notable count was of 12 leaving a roost in No.3 bed on 3rd February. The only suggestion of breeding came on 16th May, when one was observed entering a suitable nest-hole under a stanchion below Thelwall Viaduct. The usual post-breeding increase was noted from late July onwards, with maxima of 10 on 15th August and 15 on several dates later in the month, all on No.3 bed. The same bed was then used as a late autumn roosting site, with 50 entering the roost at dusk on 10th October. On 3rd November a particular effort was made to count the numbers going in to roost and at least 270 dropped in, with others possibly missed, as they were flying in from all points of the compass.

Photograph from No.3 Bed John Morgan hide 16th April 2016

221 Richard's Pipit

Anthus richardi

Status: a rare vagrant to Woolston, a record submitted to the county records in 2013 is waiting acceptance.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The sighting by D. Riley of two flying over No.1 Bed calling on 15th October 2013 is the only record for the Reserve since another flyover bird over No.1 Bed on 04/10/2008.

No Woolston image available

222 Tree Pipit

Anthus trivialis

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, an irregular bird of passage with peak passage in August - September.

201Records - All records were from the No.1 bed ringing team, with the total of six equalling 2015 as the best year yet for the species. All were caught between 17th and 28th August and were first-year birds.

No Woolston image available

223 Meadow Pipit

Anthus pratensis

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, uncommon on the Reserve but common fly over with large passage during migration. Peak period being September and early October.

2018 Records - This passage and winter visitor is mainly observed at the eastern end of the Reserve, either as part of the general movement south from its upland breeding grounds or in local feeding movements between wintering areas on arable land. One on No.1 bed on 26th January was the only sighting during the first winter period. Five, on 5th September on No.1 bed, was the first sign of return passage, with 50 there the following day and 10 the next day. Another 50 then passed over No.1 bed on 19th September. The 22nd September, however, produced an unprecedented broad-front movement over the whole Reserve. On No.1 bed, the 150 flying south was pretty typical. At the western end of the Reserve, however, Meadow Pipits are rarely seen and observers in No.3 bed were taken aback when just over 400 were counted during the morning. Of these, 115 were observed tracking west over No.2 bed, while the remaining 290 passed over the centre of No.3 bed. Other counts of note were of: 50 over No.1 bed on 24th September, 58 over Butchersfield Tip during the Migration Watch on 25th October, with 43 over No.3 bed on the same date.

From a ringing perspective it was a good year, with 92 ringed compared with 26 in 2017. On No.1 bed it was the third best year ever, with 83 ringed. Unusually, a good number (16) were caught in spring, between 9th March and 6th April. The remainder was caught from 12th September to 17th October. Low numbers of adults (9) were caught in the autumn for the second year in succession. The No.3 bed team caught a total of nine during the autumn, an excellent total for the bed, reflecting the unusual level of passage this year.

No Woolston image available

224 Rock Pipit

Anthus petrosus

Status BoCC4 Green listed. A very rare visitor with just two records in the same year in May and December 1991.

2018 Records - no records were submitted.

No Woolston Image available

225 Water Pipit

Anthus spinoletta

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare visitor to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no sightings submitted. Used to winter on No1 bed but the last report was on 01/02/2000.

No Woolston image available


Dave Bowman

226 Chaffinch

Fringilla coelebs

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common breeding resident on the Reserve on all four Beds.

2018 Records - Chaffinches are common residents, breeding on all four beds, with post-breeding/wintering flocks regularly visiting the three feeding stations and the No.3 bed seed crop. Maxima from the first three months of the year, all from No.3 bed, were of 45 on 27thJanuary, 70 on 21st February and 100 on 1st March. The Breeding Bird Survey found 19 present, 16 of which were males in song. They were distributed as follows: No.1 bed four, including one in song; No.2 bed four in song; No.3 bed four in song and; No.4 bed seven in song. During the second half of the year most sizeable counts came from No.3 bed, where the regular flock had built up to at least 100 by the end of November, before slowly declining as seed stocks in the sacrificial crop were exhausted.

Three hundred were ringed, a substantial reduction from the exceptional 535 in 2017. On No.1 bed it was an average year with 106 ringed and a further 13 re-trapped, the oldest from 11th December 2012. There were seven captured in breeding condition, two females and five males and the first juvenile was ringed on 6th June. There were 48 captures in the first three months of the year, 28 in the following six months and 43 in the final quarter. On No.3 bed, the total of 194 ringed was well below the 394 from 2017. The average is 186 so it was a typical year. The winter seed crop was badly affected by the invasive Himalayan Balsam and seemed less productive for the visiting finches. The first juvenile was ringed on 22nd June, almost a month later than in 2017.

Photograph of a male Chffinch from No3 Bed 26/01/2013


John Bradford

227 Brambling

Fringilla montifringilla

Status: the Reserve attracts passage visitors and holds wintering birds, best seen around the feeding stations on No3 Bed outside the John Morgan Hide.

2018 Records - This colourful finch is a passage migrant and winter visitor, with peak numbers usually occurring in March. As is usual, the vast majority of sightings were from No.3 bed, where the combination of two feeding stations and a winter seed crop proves particularly attractive. Counting the flocks on No.3 bed can be tricky, however, as they can be dispersed between the three feeding sites. The maximum counts for each of the first three months was around 50, with a slow decline in numbers noted from 17th March onwards. The last spring sighting was from No.3 bed on 1st May, when three were present. Away from No.3 bed, during the first half of the year, sightings were limited to 35 visiting the No.1 bed feeding station on 19th March, with 25 there on 13th April. As is usual, numbers were much smaller during autumn passage and the first winter period, with only single-figure counts received. The first autumn record was of one on 25th October, during the Migration Watch from Butchersfield Tip. Thereafter, one or two were regularly seen on No.3 bed, with peak counts of six on that bed on 1st December and six on No.4 bed on the 29th of the month.

The record ringing total of 251 was outstanding. On No.1 bed it was a record year with 121 ringed. A further nine were caught that had originally been ringed on No.3 bed, and two were caught that had been ringed in Europe. The first of the year was on 1st January, with no others until 19th February and the last of the Spring on 23rd April. The majority of new birds (78) were caught in April and a further two were caught at the end of the year, on 27th October and 26th November. It was also a record year on No.3 bed, with 130 ringed during the year. Just four of these came in the second winter period between 12th and 22nd December. The peak time for this lovely finch is between March and April, as birds move back north and 91 of the 130 birds ringed were from that period.

Photograph of flying male approaching breeding plumage, duller winter plumage males and a female from No3 Bed John Morgan Hide 17th March 2018.


Dave Bowman

228 Greenfinch

Carduelis chloris

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, present all year round throughout the Reserve. Resident bird numbers are swollen by over wintering visitors. Concentrations can easily be seen on the No3 Bed feeding stations outside the John Morgan Hide.

2018 Records - Greenfinches are residents which breed in reasonable numbers and outside the breeding season, provide one of Woolston’s more spectacular sights, as large flocks swarm around the Morgan Hide feeding station. Three figure counts were regular on No.3 bed during the first quarter of the year, reaching 200 on 13th January and with 100 still present in early March. The Breeding Bird Surveys located 25 across the Reserve, distributed as follows: five, including three in song, on No.1 bed, eight in song on No.2 bed, four in song on No.3 bed and eight, including one in song, on No.4 bed. One successful nest, with four eggs, was discovered in Gorse on No.1 bed. Counts from the autumn/winter periods were similar to those from earlier in the year, with numerous three figure counts, a maximum of 200 on 9th August and 150 still visiting the Morgan Hide feeders in December.

Though well below the 1,074 ringed in 2017, this year’s 844 ringed was still well above the average. On No.1 bed, however, it was the worst year since 2011, with 236 ringed, with a further 33 re-trapped from previous years. For a species that used to be so numerous at the No.1 bed winter feeding stations it proved to be elusive during the final two months of the year, with only seven caught during that period and only one in December, compared to 15 in December 2017, 34 in 2016, 32 in 2015 and even further back - 86 in 2005! Twenty-five were caught in breeding condition, 12 females and 13 males while the first juvenile was ringed on 14th May. In comparison, it was another excellent year on No.3 bed, with 608 ringed, compared with 636 in 2017 against an annual average, since 2004, of 322. The record year for the bed remains 2003, when a staggering 1099 were ringed. The first juveniles were ringed on the early date of 19th May and numbers really picked up in July (165) and August (225).

Photograph of a male from No3 Bed 6th February 2017

229 Serin

Serinus serinus

Status A very rare vagrant to the Reserve.

2018 Records - No records received in 2017. The only record of Serin relates to a bird that was caught and ringed on No3 bed on 31st January 2009.

No Woolston image available


Andy Weir

230 Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelis

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a common bird over the whole Reserve throughout the year.

2018 Records - Goldfinches are common residents, with the odd pair breeding and post-breeding flocks forming across all four beds. Maxima from the early part of the year were of 40 around the Weir Basin on No.2 bed, on 9th January and 15 on No.3 bed on 3rd February. Twelve were located during the Breeding Bird Survey, with: eight on No.1 bed, including five in song, one on No.3 bed and three on No.4 bed, including one in song. The highest autumn/winter counts were of: 45 on No.3 bed on 31st July, 65 on No.4 bed on 1st August, 150 on No.4 bed on 30th August and 40 on No.1 bed on 26th September.

The good numbers present around the Reserve were reflected in the ringing total of 43, which is double the annual average. For No.1 bed it was the best year since 2010 with 15 ringed, though there were no captures from previous years. Three were caught in breeding condition, two females and one male, while the first juvenile was ringed on 9th. For No.3 bed, it was a record year, with 28 newly ringed, against an average of just 7.8. The first ringed was a pair, caught together in breeding condition on 5th May. The first juvenile for the bed was caught on 2nd June and the best month was July with 17 ringed.

Photograph from No3 bed 20th July 2014


David Bowman

231 Siskin

Carduelis spinus

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, not a common bird on the Reserve but frequently reported. Largely a passage and winter visitor it takes advantage of the feeding stations but best area is the eastern end of the Reserve on Butchersfield with its higher concentration of Alders.

2018 Records - This small finch is an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor to the Reserve. There were five single-figure records from the first winter period, with a maximum of five on No.3 bed on 28th February. The only sign of spring passage was of two on No.3 bed on 4th April, while return passage was first noted on 30th August, when three flew south over the centre of No.3 bed. There were nine single-figure counts from the remainder of the year, with a peak of 18 during the Migration Watch from Butchersfield Tip, on 25th October.

No Woolston image available

232 Linnet

Carduelis canabina

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, although declining in numbers from past years Linnets are still regularly recorded and small numbers breed on the Reserve, best looked for in open weedy areas on Nos 1, 2 and 4 Beds and the seed crop area of No3 Bed.

2018 Records - Linnets are a breeding resident, usually using stands of Gorse for nest-sites and forming moderately sized post-breeding flocks and roosts. In recent years they have been regular visitors to the No.3 bed seed crop in autumn/winter. During the first winter period a flock was regularly observed moving between Nos.3 and 4 beds, with a maximum of 60 noted leaving a roost on No.3 bed on 21st February. The Breeding Birds Surveys located a total of 34 in suitable habitat, distributed as follows: four on No.1 bed, 22 on No.2 bed, four on No.3 bed and four on No.4 bed. On 25th May a nest with five eggs was found near the Old Pumphouse on No.4 bed, with the young subsequently fledging successfully. The first notable count of the autumn was of 80 leaving a roost at dawn on No.1 bed, on 26th September. Seventy were then feeding on a recently ploughed field to the north of No.1 bed on 8th October. A flock of around 30 then regularly visited the No.3 bed seed crop during October, with 60 there by early December.

The nine ringed during the year was pretty typical, six of these were from No.3 bed and the remainder from No.1 bed.

No Woolston image available

233 Twite

Carduelis Flavirostris

Status:: BoCC4 red-listed, a rare passage and winter visitor.

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The last record was in 2003, 1999 and then back in the mid-1980’s.

No Woolston image available


David Bowman

234 Lesser Redpoll

Carduelis cabaret

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a regular recorded bird usually seen in feeding flocks outside the breeding season and occasionally on the feeding stations over the summer months.

2018 Records - This small finch is a passage migrant and winter visitor in small numbers. During the first half of the year there were only single-figure counts, with a maximum of six at Bollin Point on 12th February. The last sighting during spring passage was of three on No.3 bed on 24th April. Return passage was first noted on No.1 bed on 24th September, with just one passing over. Small flocks then appeared on Nos.3 and 1 beds, with 20 on each on 22nd and 26th November respectively, the latter observed leaving a roost at dawn. Similar numbers were again noted on both beds in December, with 17 on No.3 bed on the 6th.

The 63 ringed across the Reserve this year was about average, as was the total of 43 for No.1 bed. One was also re-trapped on that bed, having been first ringed on 2nd December 2016. Another two were caught that had been ringed elsewhere in Britain. Intriguingly, a female in breeding condition was trapped on 18th July. This breeding female was an exception to the rule for this species, being caught in summer, as there is normally a light spring passage over the bed before the main autumn passage starts in early October. The 20 ringed on No.3 bed was slightly below the average for the bed.

Photograph from No3 Bed 28th November 2015

235 Common Redpoll

Carduelis flammea

Status: an uncommon mainly winter visitor and migrant.

2018 Records - No reports submitted this year. The last record received was a first year bird caught and ringed on No.1 bed on 26th October 2016. Previous records occurred in 2014, 2013, 2010, 2008 and 2005.

No Woolston image available

236 Crossbill

Loxia curvirostra

Status: BoCC4 green-listed, a scarce passage visitor to the Reserve. Reported less than annually.

2018 Records - This irruptive species is a scarce visitor, usually occurring during autumn passage. This year was typical, with three flying west over No.2 bed on 10th November. These add to the sightings in consecutive years in 2014, 2015 and 2016 primarily over the eastern end of the Reserve over Butchersfield on autumn migration watches.

No Woolston image available


Andy Weir

237 Bullfinch

Pyrrhula pyrrhula

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, Woolston has a very healthy population of Bullfinch which is supplemented by wintering birds and can be seen throughout the year across all Beds. Regularly uses the feeding stations on No3 Bed.

2018 Records - While steadily declining nationally, this shy finch is surprisingly common at Woolston. There were some excellent counts from the early part of the year, with a maximum of 34 in small parties around the perimeter of No.3 bed on 27th January, with 22 also there on 3rd February. Always tricky to locate when breeding, the Breeding Bird Survey significantly underestimates our population, with just 10 noted: four on No.2 bed, four on No.3 bed and two on No.4 bed. The only notable count from the second half of the year was of 11, around Butchersfield Tip during the Migration Watch of 8th December.

The total of 234 ringed was back to more normal levels after the remarkable 442 of 2017. On No.1 bed it was considered another excellent year, with 123 ringed and a further 42 re-trapped from previous years. The oldest of these was from 19th April 2013. Forty of those caught were in breeding condition, 14 females and 26 males, giving some idea of the local breeding population and the first juvenile was ringed on 11th June.

Photograph of a male bird from No3 Bed John Morgan Hide 27/04/2013

238 Hawfinch

Coccothraustes coccothraustes

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a scarce visitor, usually all Reserve sightings are of birds flying over outside of the breeding season.

2018 Records - There were no reports in 2018 which contrasted with 2017 which saw an unprecedented, UK-wide arrival of continental birds, presumably in response to a failure in their food crops. Woolston had three sightings in that year on, 25th October on No.1 bed, 16th December on No.3 bed, two were seen to land briefly in a tree in the centre of the bed before flying away over the Morgan Hide. Previous years records were two flying over Butchersfield Tip during a Migration Watch on 9th September 2012, 2006, 2005 and 2001.

No Woolston image available

239 Snow Bunting

Plectrophenax nivalis

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a rare winter vagrant to the Reserve.

2018 Records - no reports submitted. The last records were from the consecutive years 1983, 1984 and 23/02/1985.

No Woolton image available

240 Yellowhammer

Emberiza citrinella

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, an uncommon species on the Reserve but regularly recorded as movements of neighbouring populations which breed on habitat to the north, south and east of the Reserve. Uses the feeding stations occasionally in autumn/winter periods.

2018 Records - Small numbers breed adjacent to the eastern end of the Reserve and Yellowhammers are rarely sighted to the west of Thelwall Viaduct. A male on No.1 bed on 11th April was followed by another in song, to the south of No.1 bed, on the 21st. Three, two males and a female, flew over No.1 bed on 30th June and there were no further sightings till two appeared on the same bed on 8th October. The Migration Watches from the top of Butchersfield Tip can usually be guaranteed to produce a sighting or two and on 25th October four flew over, with another five on 3rd November. The last two records were of one on No.1 bed on 17th November and six in the lane beyond Rixton Paddocks on 24th November.

Three were ringed on No.1 bed during the year, all on 16th April. A further three were re-trapped, two from 2016 and one from 2017. Two males caught in breeding condition, though there was no suggestion of breeding on the bed and no juveniles were caught during the year.

No Woolston image available

241 Little Bunting

Emberiza pusilla

Status: rare winter visitor.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last and only report was on 29/10/1994.

No Woolston image available


Hazel Rothwell

242 Reed Bunting

Emberiza schoeniclus

Status: BoCC4 amber-listed, a common bird across the whole Reserve throughout the year. Breeds on all four Beds.

2018 Records - Once again, records indicate a continuing decline in breeding numbers of this attractive bunting, which can be found in small numbers throughout the year but with a sizeable autumn/winter roost forming in some years. A few could regularly be found feeding in the No.3 bed seed crop during January and February, though the only notable counts received were of five on 3rd February and 10 on the 28th. A male was also in song near the No.3 bed car park on the early date of 7th February. The spring breeding bird surveys produced just six singing males, two on No.1 bed (plus three present in suitable habitat), and two in song on each on Nos.2 and 3 beds, compared with 16 in 2017 and 18 in 2016. Hopefully, this is due to a glitch in the conduct of this year’s survey, rather than a genuine, rapid decline. All significant counts from the autumn/winter periods related to either the roost on No.1 bed or smaller numbers taking advantage of the seed crop on No.3 bed. Counts from the former included 60 on the morning of 8th October, 100 on 11th October, 80 on 12th November and 30 on 12th December, while the latter regularly held around a dozen throughout November and December.

As ever, the ringing data, provides a more accurate perspective on status, with the 178 ringed comparing well with 148 in 2017 and 174 in 2016. On No.1 bed it was another good year with 95 ringed and a further 24 caught which had been ringed in a previous year. The oldest of these was from 14th August 2013. Some reassurance about the breeding population on the bed came from the 17 adults caught that were in breeding condition, six females and 11 males, with the first juvenile ringed on 18th June. For No.3 bed it was a much better year, with 83 ringed, compared with an average of 53. As is typical with the species, most came from the net on the north meadow near the winter feed crop. A fair number also came from a net in the phragmites near to a roost site. The first juvenile was ringed on 9th June. A month earlier than in 2017.

Photograph of a male bird from No3 Bed 27th May 2016

243 Corn Bunting

Miliaria calandra

Status: BoCC4 red-listed, a rare visitor to the Eyes although the surronding agricultural land to the north and south east hold small breeding populations.

2018 Records - no records submitted. The last report was on 04/12/2004.

No Woolston image available


David Bowman

244 White Crowned Sparrow

Zonotrichia leuccophrys

Status Very rare North American vagrant

2018 records - None. The last and first record of White Crowned Sparrow remains the 6th for the UK on 30th April 2016 on No3 bed and confirmed as being the race gambelli was a first for UK.

A completely unexpected find in one of the ringers nets it was aged as a second calendar year individual and was released by the John Morgan Hide where it promptly disappeared for an hour. Numerous visitors managed to see the bird when showing occasionally before flying towards the Frank Linley Hide and not being seen again. The bird was carrying a reasonable amount of fat (score 3 on the 8 point scale) and it presumably moved on.

Photographed during the ringing process 30th April 2016.


David Spencer

E01 Black Swan

Recorded in 1984 and 2000

2018 Records - One was present from 14th to 17th November and was mainly seen on the Oxbow of the Mersey to the east of No.3 bed. This was the third sighting for the Reserve, of this southern hemisphere feral species, the previous ones being in 1984 and 2000. Black Swans are aggressive to other wildfowl and will sometimes hybridise with Mute Swans. Nationally they seem to be on the verge of establishing a self-sustaining breeding population

Photograph from No3 bed 15th November 2018

E02 Sacred Ibis

Recorded in 1989.

E03 Bar-headed Goose

Recorded in 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992 and 2001.

E04 White Cheeked Pintail

Recorded in 198 and 1994.

E05 Muscovy Duck

Recorded in 1995

E06 Parakeet species

Recorded in 1984.

E07 Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Recorded in 1992 and 1995.

E08 Cockatiel

Recorded in 1988, 2010 and 2012.

E09 Budgerigar

Recorded in 1984.

E10 Greater Flamingo

Recorded in 1978.

E11 Cinnamon Breasted Bunting

Recorded in 1984.

E12 Lanner Falcon

Recorded in 1987 and 1999.

E13 Zebra Finch

Recorded in 1999.

E14 Pallas's Rosefinch

Recorded when a bird was caught by the ringers on No3 bed in 2002.


Ian Greenwood

E15 Bufflehead

Recorded on 2nd May 2015, when a group of observers located a female Bufflehead on No3 bed. It eventually showed a green colour-ring, indicating that it was not a wild bird. What was almost certainly the same individual had been seen, during 2014, in Norfolk and Fife.

Photograph, a record shot on No3 bed by Ian Greenwood

E16 Saker Falcon

Recorded on 21st November a large falcon, presumed to be an escape of either this species or a Saker/Gyr cross, chased a small male Peregrine which it dwarfed over the east end of No.1 bed.