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Woolston Eyes Monthly Sightings


With Dave Riley celebrating his exit from the workforce with a holiday in Norfolk the only ringing this week took place on No.3 bed. I ringed alone on Friday with 8 nets catching 57 birds (31 new and 26 retraps). The day was fairly humdrum with just a Goldcrest and 2 Lesser Redpolls to leaven the diet of Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Tits until 3pm when I went to the canopy net in the North Meadow and found a small tit flock including Woolston”s seventh Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. This bird, a first year male, was caught just 50 yards from where another first year male was caught at about the same time in 2010. There is a known breeding site just to the south of the Manchester Ship Canal opposite No3 bed and local juvenile dispersal of this essentially sedentary species seems the likely explanation of two birds in two years.

Today the team were out in force ( Kieran, Margaret, Lisa, Nicky, Jason, yours truly and Sam Bayley visiting from wildest Surrey). We ran 18 nets and caught 75 birds ( 39 new and 36 retraps ). The sacrificial crop is beginning to pull in the finches and about 150 Chaffinches were roving around plus smaller numbers of Reed Buntings and Goldfinches. We caught 3 of the latter which is exceptional on No3 bed. The male Blackcap had a fat score of one and is presumably attempting to winter. The retraps included last weeks Cetti”s Warbler.

Sightings included about 1,500 Pink-footed Geese moving east in 9 skeins, a curlew calling at first light, 12 Common Snipe and the first Jack Snipe of the winter period . A Water Rail was flushed at the end of one of the rides.

An interesting sighting from Thursday was of a Bittern in flight across the reed bed.

Michael Miles


Dave Riley ringed on No1 bed on the Saturday morning, catching 20 birds, with the 17 new including 3 Lesser Redpolls and 2 Goldcrests, sightings during the morning included a Raven, and a small southerly passage of Skylarks (10).

The No3 bed team had an excellent morning, catching 90 birds, 66 new, including their second Cetti”s Warbler of the year and a male Teal, their first of the year, the 28 Chaffinches ringed was part of the flock utilising the winter feed crop, as were the 13 Greenfinches and 7 Reed Buntings.

David Bowman, Dave Steel and Les Jones, carried out a migration watch from Butchersfield at the east end of No1 bed, from dawn until midday, counting over 42,000 birds, the majority of these were Starlings, over 40,000, seen arriving from the east and dispersing to the mosses to the north of the reserve, other highlights included a Short-eared owl and a Nuthatch.


Dave Riley was ringing on the Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, catching 24 birds with 12 new, including the fourth Great Spotted Woodpecker of the year on the bed, along with 4 Lesser Redpolls, a Woodcock bounced out of one of the nets. Sightings included 2 Grey Partridge and another Woodcock which flew over the second barrier as he was leaving on the Thursday evening.

The team on No3 bed caught 35 new birds on the Saturday, including 15 Chaffinches, 3 Goldcrests and a Treecreeper. Sightings on the bed included 4 Woodcock and 2 Snipe.