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Woolston Eyes Monthly Sightings

2022-12-20

With the cold spell over, the lagoons on No.3 bed were largely unfrozen this morning and a few score of wildfowl and gulls had already drifted back. As ever, after sub-zero weather, there was plenty of movement, with a few Pink-footed Geese, Fieldfares and Redwings passing over, along with a single Goldeneye. Most surprising, though, was the scale of the Woodpigeon movement in the first hour or so after dawn, with 5,300 counted moving north. In October/November we expect to see large southward movements of Woodpigeons as they pour in from Fennoscandia, many keeping going till they rich the extensive oak forests of Iberia to feed on the acorn crop. This though, was likely to be a feeding movement, with wintering birds roosting somewhere to the south of the Reserve and heading to feed on the mosses to the north. Further interest came from our ringing team’s decision to take part in a national Moorhen colour-ringing scheme. Little is know about the movements of this common species and efforts are now being made to rectify that, by fitting any caught with an orange colour-ring. Earlier in the week four were colour-ringed and today Dan Owen caught another five, which is a great start. If you see any and can read the ring number, please help by letting us know, where and when. Photo of a Jay Cheers David Bowman

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-15

Another Robin photo! Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-15

Photo of a drake Tufted Duck Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-15

Photo of a Dunnock. Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-15

Photo of a Reed Bunting Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-15

Photo of a Robin Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-15

Photo of a female Bullfinch Cheers David

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-15

It was the coldest morning of a chilly week, with the mercury reading -7 C and a bright Moon shining as I arrived on No.3 bed. Clear blue skies made for good walking weather and with all the lagoons frozen solid, I focussed on counting the growing finch flocks on No.3 bed and the wildfowl at the Weir Basin. Given how stressful this kind of weather is for our birds, we’re making sure we keep all our feeding stations fully stocked, to supplement the feeding provided by the seed crop. Counts in No.3 bed included 150 Chaffinches, 80 Greenfinches, 45 Linnets, 70 Goldfinches, 3 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Siskins, 10 Bullfinches and 15 Reed Buntings. In addition, 60 Redwings and 8 Fieldfares were feeding along the south bank, with more small flocks passing over along with a few Pink-footed Geese. The Weir Basin, which has remained unfrozen, and the stretch of river beyond, attracted 450 wildfowl, including two Goldeneyes, 2 Shelducks, 4 Little Grebes, 10 Shovelers, 170 Tufted Ducks, 70 Teal and 2 Kingfishers. Cheers David Bowman

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-10

Waking an hour before dawn to heavy snow made me wonder if the morning’s Wetland Birds Survey (WeBS) was going to be tricky to complete. In the event, the weather cleared by 9.00 am, producing crisp, calm conditions which were ideal for our seven mile trek across the whole of the Reserve. As all the lagoons were frozen, we focussed on the Ship Canal and the Mersey as it winds its way between the beds before joining the canal at Bollin Point. As ever in a sustained cold spell, the morning produced a few surprises. The highlights from the WeBS were: 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Woodcocks, 15 Mandarins, 2 Goosanders, 5 Pintail, 1 Goldeneye, 2 Shelducks, 6 Pink-footed Geese, 9 Water Rails, 2 Kingfishers, 6 Little Grebes and 4 Great Crested Grebes, along with 1,022 of the more common wildfowl, over half of which were Tufted Ducks. Finches and thrushes were also present in decent numbers, with counts of: 88 Blackbirds, 100 Redwings, 29 Fieldfares, 115 Chaffinches, 60 Greenfinches, 50 Goldfinches, 14 Bullfinches, 10 Lesser Redpolls and 5 Siskins. With so much potential prey present, it was no surprise to see a male Merlin stooping over Butchersfield Tip before scattering thrushes and Skylarks on the south s(ide of the Ship Canal - a nice end to a spectacular morning. Photo of a Robin Cheers David Bowman (with Dan Dan Owen and Helen Wynn)

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-08

It was a perfect winter’s day, with a clear blue sky and the thermometer reading -5 C as I walked onto No.3 bed. Now, one of the reasons the Reserve is so rich birds is that the lagoons are all shallow, providing rich feeding for a wide variety of water-birds. The downside of this is that they can freeze solid in severe weather, as they had this morning. On both Nos.3 and 4 beds tiny pools were being kept open by a few score of Coot, Teal, Mallard and Gadwall. The rest of the 1,000 + wildfowl which were present earlier in the week had dispersed, some to the River Mersey between the beds, while others will have moved closer to the coast. Two Goosanders and a single Pintail, which passed over, had probably been frozen off other waters. Other counts of note on No.3 bed included a Siberian Chiffchaff, a Common Chiffchaff, 12 Goldcrests, 5 Treecreepers (unusual for us), 40 Linnets and 85 Chaffinches. Photo of a Black-headed Gull Cheers David Bowman (with Dan Owen)

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-06

With a freezing Arctic airflow expected tonight, it was predictable that some interesting bird movements might be triggered today. The two Woodcocks flushed from the track into No.3 bed at dawn were typical for the time of year but the six Pintail, which arrived shortly afterwards, were less expected - these handsome ducks are now pretty uncommon on the Reserve. More surprising was the first-winter female Garganey located among the hundreds of Teal on the No.4 bed wetland, our latest ever record of this summer visitor. A Siberian Chiffchaff, heard calling but not seen, may have been a new arrival or one of those which were ringed in late autumn still staying around. Other nice sightings included an increase in Snipe numbers to 25, a Common Chiffchaff, and the return of the wing-tagged male Marsh Harrier, which was fledged in Norfolk last year. It’ll be interesting to see what the predicted icy spell brings in over the coming week. Photo of a Goldcrest Cheers David Bowman (with Dan Owen)

Submitted by: David Bowman

2022-12-04

As autumn rolls into winter we remain optimistic about a last flush of southward movement, particularly if the weather conditions are right. Saturday morning looked perfect, with our first hard frost, clear skies, a light northerly and cold weather finally moving into Scandinavia. So, we hauled our gear up onto the Elevated Pools are of No.1 bed for our last visible migration session of the year. We were rewarded with a good, early movement of Woodpigeons, with 2,785 counted, mainly in the first couple of hours. Other smaller movements included: 1 Goosander, 250 Pink-footed Geese, 46 Meadow Pipits, 53 Skylarks, 68 Fieldfares and 30 Redwings. As ever, at this time of year, there was a constant inland movement of gulls, with totals of: 28 Great Black-backs, 1,100 Black-headed, 101 Herrings and 53 Lesser Black-backs. The conditions had also triggered an arrival of Jack Snipe and Common Snipe, with nine of each skulking in the weedy vegetation around the pools, while the Marsh Harrier and three Ravens noted were likely to be local wintering birds. Photo of one of the 22 small pools created on No.1 bed. Cheers David Bowman (with Dave Steel, Dan Owen and Helen Wynn)

Submitted by: David Bowman