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Woolston Eyes Monthly Sightings


A cold but mostly sunny day apart from a (fortunately) brief hail flurry! There seemed to be fewer birds in song than last week. Could this be due to the change of weather? Nevertheless there was plenty of interest even though I managed to miss out on both pairs of Garganey. Tufted Duck numbers have reduced significantly with a total of 174. A pair of Oystercatcher was on No.1 bed together with a Little Ringed Plover, all in suitable breeding habitat.. A Kingfisher was near Bollin Point, two Wigeon on No.3 bed and 2 Great Black-backed Gulls on the new wetland. The highlight of the day for me was a newly-emerged Orange-Tip on the south bank of No.3 bed, The first March record of this species for ten years.

Submitted by: Dave Hackett


With the weather about to shift to an airflow from the Arctic, this might have been the last in a long run of pleasant spring mornings, at least for a few days. Although we’ve already had substantial arrivals of Black-necked Grebes and Chiffchaffs, most other migrants have barely trickled through, due to adverse weather around the Mediterranean. After a dawn start, Daniel Owen and I covered both Nos.3 and 4 beds and ended up with some decent counts, including: 2 Garganey, 2 Sand Martins, 4 Willow Warblers, 8 Blackcaps, 24 Black-necked Grebes, 150 Bramblings, 88 Chiffchaffs, 5 Willow Tits, 1 Pintail, 1 Mediterranean Gull (reported by Mike Miles) and 5 Marsh Harriers. The latter were all soaring together, 2 males and 3 females and a record count for the Reserve. Photo of a male Sparrowhawk Cheers David Bowman

Submitted by: David Bowman


Yet another beautiful sunny morning, with half of our group spending the whole morning making counts on No.4 bed and the rest roaming across both Nos.3 and 4 beds. Between us we had some excellent sightings, including: an early Common Sandpiper, 2 Garganey, 25 Black-necked Grebes, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Blackcaps, 3 fly-through Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Redshank, 2 Pintail, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 48 Chiffchaffs, 24 Common Snipe, 45 Teal, 42 Shoveler and 15 Shelducks.

The link below is to a brief video showing a few of the above. To watch David’s video CLICK HERE… or paste the following link into your browser. Cheers David Bowman (with Dave Steel, Sue Haddock, Daniel Owen, George Dunbar and Dan Burt)

Submitted by: David Bowman


Another glorious day for March and there were plenty of butterflies on the wing. Totals were; 51 Small Tortoiseshell, 11 Peacock, 2 Comma and a male Brimstone flying under the footbridge at the entrance to No.3 bed. These totals do not include Butchersfield Tip which was not covered. On the bird front, 69 Chiffchaff was a good count. A Peregrine on the viaduct and an overflying Raven were also of interest.

Submitted by: Dave Hackett


It was an idyllic spring morning, with blue skies, warm sunshine and a light easterly breeze. Such conditions pretty well guarantee some migratory movement, to go with the masses of gulls and wildfowl thronging the water bodies on both Nos.3 and 4 beds. Daniel Owen and I split ourselves between the two beds early on, before joining forces on No.3 bed by mid-morning. Totals included: the first 3 Blackcaps and single Wheatear of the year, 21 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Sand Martins, 2 over-flying Little Ringed Plovers, 3 Curlews, 2 Oystercatchers, 1 Redshank, 7 Snipe, 3 soaring Marsh Harriers, 3 adult Mediterranean Gulls, 190 Bramblings and 86 Chiffchaffs. With the warm spell forecast to continue over the weekend, we can hopefully look forward to the arrival of even more of our summer visitors. Photo of an adult Mediterranean Gull Cheers David Bowman

Submitted by: David Bowman


It was a nice to be back on the Reserve on a beautiful spring day, with the south-easterly winds promising to deliver some early migrants. Daniel Owen and I covered Nos.3 and 4 beds, with some impressive counts of our breeding grebes in particular. We finished with 18 Black-necked Grebes, 39 Little Grebes and 9 Great Crested Grebes. Two adult Mediterranean Gulls then arrived on No.3 bed to cause consternation among the 450 Black-headed Gulls which are now settling down to breed, as did the wing-tagged male Marsh Harrier, which we haven’t seen for more than a month. Two visitors subsequently reported a drake Garganey on the Oxbow below the South Bank of No.3 bed, where a Little Egret had been feeding at first light but, despite our best efforts, we couldn’t relocate it. Dan’s early survey of No.4 bed had recorded 43 singing Chiffchaffs, with plenty more on No.3 bed. Finally, after a lunchtime meeting with our contractor on No.4 bed, a Sand Martin flew east, my first of the year. Photo of Black-necked Grebes Cheers David Bowman

Submitted by: David Bowman


19/03/22 at 12:30 - A mink exited the reserve from the reed bed on the left and continued up the bank past the bird feeders and John Morgan hide.

Record from Anthony Kelso

Submitted by: John Blundell


WeBS Count 19/03/2022 Little Grebe 35, Great Crested Grebe 21, Black-necked Grebe 12, Cormorant 3, Mute Swan 21, Heron 3, Shelduck 16. Greylag Goose 16, Canada Goose 76, Gadwall 87, Teal 53, Mallard 80, Shoveler 17, Pochard 31, Tufted Duck 295, Moorhen 11, Coot 110, Oystercatcher 2, Lapwing 7, LRP 3, Curlew 1,Redshank 2, Snipe 2, Black-headed Gull 510,Common Gull 4, Lesser Black-backed Gull 100, Herring Gull 4 Total of 1522 birds of 27 species.

Submitted by: Brian Martin


Quite a sunny day and a there was more than a hint of spring in the air. Two Common Gulls at the locks made for a good start and a third was on the new wetland. Chiffchaffs were singing in good numbers and a Reserve total of 54 (including Dan Owen’s count on No.4 bed) was excellent for so early in the year. Similarly a total of 12 Black-necked Grebes. It was encouraging to see both Peregrines on the viaduct for the first time (at least for me) this year. Wildfowl totals included 362 Tufted Duck,57 Gadwall, 105 Canada Geese, 129 Coot, 45 Pochard, 40 Shoveler, 18 Shelduck, 24 Moorhen and 2 Goldeneye. A total of 66 Robins were in song and other sightings of interest were 78 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (mostly on the new wetland) and 3 pairs of Oystercatcher in the same area, displaying and calling loudly. In addition 4 Cetti’s Warblers were heard.

Submitted by: Dave Hackett


I set out this morning in the hope of seeing my first migrants of the year and was not disappointed, finding 9 Chiffchaff and 5 Black-necked Grebe. Wildfowl totals included 20 Great-crested Grebe, 56 Gadwall, 326 Tufted Duck, 75 Coot, 22 Pochard, 66 Shoveler, 11 Shelduck, 4 Pintail and the long staying pair of Goldeneye. Black-headed Gulls numbered about 400 and Lesser Black-backed Gull 76, most of which were on the new wetland. A Peregrine was seen carrying prey onto the viaduct and consuming it there. A total of 6 Oystercatcher included a pair on the new wetland and 4 Cetti’s Warbler were heard.

Submitted by: Dave Hackett


A cold south-easterly breeze with clear blue skies failed to produce the hoped-for appearance of our first Sand Martin of the spring. With the winds staying from the south but becoming warmer, however, the next couple of days could see a few more migrants starting to trickle through. There was still plenty to enjoy, though, with counts across both Nos.3 and 4 beds producing highlights of: 5 Black-necked Grebes, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull, 2 Ravens, 1 Marsh Harrier, 18 Little Grebes, 100 Bramblings, 4 Grey Wagtails, 6 Redwings and 6 Water Rails. Photo of displaying Lesser Black-backed Gulls Cheers David Bowman (with Daniel Owen)

Submitted by: David Bowman


When the sky is clear overnight in early spring there is always the chance of an early-arriving Black-necked Grebe. Early on there was no sign of any on No.3 bed, though 250 calling and displaying Black-headed Gulls, loads of Bramblings and 54 Pochard provided plenty of interest. Ever hopeful, though, we set off for the new wetland on No.4 bed, where a Curlew in song was a good start. Soon enough 3 Black-necked Grebes drifted into sight, calling, confirming that spring on the Reserve has well and truly arrived. Also present were a pair each of Pintails and Wigeon, always relatively scarce birds for us, plus a handful of Bramblings and Siskins. Back on No.3 bed 3 more Black-necked Grebes appeared and were typically very active, roaming around the bed checking out possible nest sites. Then a Marsh Harrier got up out of the reed-bed which, from its plumage, was the fourth different one we’ve seen over the past month or so. While the others were surely wintering birds, my guess is that this one is a passing migrant. Finally, my attention was drawn to two mobbing Buzzards at great height, which were harassing a passing Red Kite. A nice end to a pretty special day. Photo of a pair of Black-necked Grebes Cheers David Bowman (with Daniel Owen, Helen Wynn, Dave Steel, Brian Baird and Sue Haddock)

Submitted by: David Bowman


After the recent rains it made a pleasant change to have a dry and quite sunny day for my walk round the reserve. Many common birds were in song including 61 robin, 12 dunnock, 8 song thrush and 6 wren. Three Cetti’s warblers were heard. A mute swan was on a nest at the fish refuge, 2 buzzard were displaying over No.3 bed (a reserve total of 6) and a pair of great-crested grebe was nest building at the weir basin. Wildfowl totals included 335 tufted duck and 60 pochard whilst the long-staying pair of goldeneye were still on the river to the north of No.1 bed. One of the resident peregrines was on the viaduct, a great black-backed gull was at the locks and a grey wagtail at Bollin Point. A minimum of 70 brambling were at the John Morgan Hide feeders. Black-headed gulls are back in good numbers and a reserve total of 780 included 280 on No.3 bed and 350 on the new wetland where 250 lapwing were also present. To complete a successful day a roe deer was seen in the centre of No.2 bed

Submitted by: Dave Hackett


The first day of spring at brought a light frost, blue skies, a ground mist and a sunrise which would have had JMW Turner reaching for his paint brush. As ever, good weather at this time of year triggers breeding behaviour and on No.3 bed Mallard, Coot and Moorhens were mating, while Black-headed Gulls, Sparrowhawks, Buzzards and various wildfowl were displaying. Many species of passerine were also in song, most notably 3 Willow Tits, a Chiffchaff and 5 Cetti’s Warblers. Winter visitors were represented by 20 roosting Redwings and a few hundred Bramblings, both species which will have largely departed for their Fenno-Scandian breediing grounds by the end of April. On No.4 bed 3 more Willow Tits were in song and 6 pairs of Lapwing were displaying. If the weather continues to be kind we should be seeing our first returning summer migrants within a week or two, with Chiffchaffs, Sand Martins and Black-necked Grebes among the first to arrive. Photo of sunrise over the Ship Canal Cheers David Bowman

Submitted by: David Bowman