Monday, 19 October 2015

RSPB Marshside

Recently we went up to Cheshire and then on to RSPB Marshside for the afternoon. We were at my sister in laws house by the River Weaver and before heading off to Marshside this lovely Grey Wagtail presented itself:
So off to Marshide, just over an hour away, but on the way we drove past the entrance to Marsh Mere Wood NR of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, so we decided it would be rude not to drop in and see what was there. We didn't have long so we used the facilities and just went to the two hides nearest the car park. The first hide gave us plenty of Teal, Wigeon, Black-headed Gulls, a single Cormorant, some Canada Geese, a Little Grebe and a Grey Heron:
A couple of Buzzards flew over just before leaving the hide which was nice, also a Kingfisher made an appearance but Tina and myself missed it, but both Jo & Jimmy saw it.... so they tell us! At the next hide it wes very quiet until a flock of Canadas turned up......

So on to Marshside, we began our visit at the visitor centre (where coffee was had!) followed by a circuit of the reserve. So I'll start with some pics from the visitor centre:
This Kestrel gave us a good show, pouncing and hovering:

A good number of Black-tailed Godwit were to the right of the hide:
along with plenty of Wigeon
After spending some time at the centre, we set out for as walk around the reserve, finding some Curlew in the scrub.
By late afternoon there were plenty of Pink-footed Geese flying in:
 the numbers whilst not of Norfolk standards were in the hundreds. So with some Sparrows, Coot, Moorhen, Gulls, Jackdaw, Crows,a Mute Swan, two Sparrowhawks and a Wigeon flying past
adding to the tally we finally arrived at the next hide for Tea!
From here there were good views of Lapwing,
more Teal, Wigeon and Godwit:
and a Little Egret on the prowl:
A nice find were two Ruff among the other waders:
Finally a Greylag turned up and wandered through the pools:

On the way back down to Winsford we decided to stop by Martin Mere arriving for the incoming Pink Foots, the reserve was already closed bu good views were had from the Car Park and neighbouring countryside when the staff threw us out of the Car Park!

So a lovely day out yet again!

Friday, 2 October 2015

A Sunny Afternoon at Sandwell Valley

Sticking to the them of not wanting to go far at the moment we decided to take the short but sometimes tortuous drive to Sandwell Valley and have a look at the new RSPB Visitor Centre.

We parked near the farm and went anti-clockwise around Forge Mill Lake. Stopping at the first bench, directly opposite the hide, as usual for coffee and to see what was about. First impression was surprise at the number of Cormorants, usually we see half a dozen, but counted 25. On bird forums this seems to have been as high as 35 at some point in the day.

From there we also spotted 4 or 5 Snipe, one of our favourite birds. I decided not to take photos at this point as they were fairly distant. After coffee we carried around the lake towards the Visitor Centre finding, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Teal, 50 or so Lapwing, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe and a fair number of Starlings.

We popped to the screens before climbing up to the Centre and was surprised that the pool here was dried up, this is usually a good spot for Shoveler but not today. So we carried on the Centre and very nice it is too, a good job, well done RSPB.

The feeders were back in their original place to the right of the Centre, we stayed a while looking for Bullfinch and possibly Willow Tit, but the only takers while we were there were Blue and Great Tit and Chaffinch. So off down to the next screen for more light refreshment, but nothing to report.

We were surprised as we carried on that the hide was still open at 3.30 so we popped in and sat a while without adding anything new. The volunteers then shut op shop at about 4pm so we carried on, finding what looked like a young Willow Warbler in the trees.

As we joined up with thee main path along the river Tame we found the Shovelers, so that was nice to add to our sightings. Then a bit further on I decided to actually take a photo! A Teal was showing nicely in the sun, so it had to be done:
We then spotted a Little Grebe who decided to make a sharp exit left.....

We returned to the car and then popped over to Swan Pool, found a bench for more light refreshment (Tea this time!) We didn't add anything new, but the Tufted Duck deserved a photo:

So another nice stroll in the sun.

The following day still being nice we spent some time in the Garden, doing some trip planning and enjoying this Sunny spell, so I took a few snaps as well:

Warrens Hall NR & The Canal

Business as usual resumed!  We didn't feel like getting in the car and going anywhere so we left the house and walked the couple of miles along the canal to Warrens Hall NR & Bumble Hole.

The weather was great although on the way we didn't see much, just what you would expect, Coot, Moorhen and Mallard, with the odd Black-headed Gull swooping by. Once we arrived at Warrens Hall we sat on 'our' bench and had a coffee, looking for what was about, not much as it happens but these usual suspects looked good in the sunshine:

We walked on over the canal to Bumble Hole, it was quite busy with a small flotilla of Tufted Duck:
There were also a few Little Grebe about:
A Grey Heron put in a brief visit but quickly disappeared.

We continued our walk but birds were in short supply! We did come across some Coal Tit, but apart from them it was mostly Pigeon and Magpie, with the odd Crow thrown in. We started heading back and stopped for a final coffee by the fishing lake, just to enjoy the sunshine and watch the Moorhens and Coots going about their business.

At this point a Buzzard turned up always a welcome sight:
He lingered for a while circling as they do before heading off over the trees behind us. So we walked back along the canal heading home, with only a Robin and House Sparrows bothering the scoreboard.

That is until we were only a 100 yards from home when this chap came out of nowhere and flew off just as quickly, I did manage to point the camera in the air and bang off a couple of shots as it flew through, oh forgot to say it's a Sparrowhawk:
So a nice couple of hour spent strolling in the early Autumn sunshine, just think we could have been it at work!