Trip reports

No moore birds, in search of the lesser spotted

No moore birds, in search of the lesser spotted
Laura Bimson

Sunday, 16 February 2014

We arrived mob handed at Moore. Over 20 eager birders arrived keen to find our target bird the lesser spotted woodpecker. All reports said it hung out in the woods by the car park in the morning and it had already been seen. Over half an hour later we still had not seen our quarry, despite straining our eyeballs searching, a great spotted showed well but nearly every flittering turned out to be a blessed blue tit. And so it was to be, a day of chasing the tail of an elusive woodpecker, with passing birder conversations of 'oh you've just missed it! Or no show'. Still along the way we saw some very nice birds...

We wandered down lapwing lane towards the feeding station hide, reed bunting, nuthatch, longed tailed tit, redwing; mistle thrush all appeared including a surprise sighting of bright yellow brimstone butterfly taking advantage of the fine weather. A kettle of five buzzards were soaring on the thermals above the raptor watch woodpecker.

A report of a little owl hanging out in a nest box on the path to Norton marsh spurred us on. Two species of note observed along the path feeding in the trees were a redpoll and two fine siskins a striking male with his lady. As we reached the more open farmland landscape of upper moss side (acquired by the Mersey forest community project, complete with bird tables and nesting posts) we could see lots of birds in the hedgerow, tree sparrows perhaps? Yet no, stunning, not one but five yellowhammers, males so bright they stood out visibly with the naked eye, worth the detour alone...

We arrived at the area where the nest boxes were situated, something definitely in there, overhead a male kestrel hovered over the golden grass, soon to be joined by the bird in the box! It would appear our box wasn't occupied by little owls but beautiful kestrels, surprising as the box was not open fronted, but I guess better protected from the inclement weather of late, and the watchful crow positioned on the hedge nearby. According to the signage, feeding tables positioned at various places attract great spotted woodpeckers, fieldfare, redwings, song thrush, linnet, tree sparrow and other common birds...we got mistle, redwing, robin, chaffinch, blackbird, blue and gt tits.

A lunch stop at the Norton Marsh hide was next, overlooking the Mersey, opposite the looming high towers of the Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. Ranks of lapwings were joined by grey plover and shelducks. Returning to the path back to Moore we came across a fox hunting on the farmland, a fine healthy specimen, all bushy tail and inquisitiveness, puzzled by the human making distressed rabbit noises over the way!!

We meandered our way back through the mud, secretly hoping the lesser spotted would put in an appearance, it didn't - no such luck. So we pushed on aiming for the distant eastern reed bed with reported sightings of a green woodpecker buoying us. Observing the lagoons on the way we noted the cutest little grebe, catching tiny silverfish in front of the hide, a little smile for the day. Resplendent gadwall and shovellers along with the more usual mallard, grey heron, Canadian geese and cormorant, sadly no sign of a goldeneye seen earlier- probably on the other side of the Island. Flitting through the lagoon side undergrowth a pretty marsh tit entertained us for a while, intent on finding its supper.

Alas, it was to be a day of elusive woodies, even the hoped for green was nowhere to be seen on the grassy areas by the pump house pool. Arriving at the phoenix hide we added teal and jay to our day list but no bittern, but then it was a long shot really; we waited as the afternoon sun waned, but the watery end of the reserve seemed quiet, as if the day's remarkably fine weather has given the birds a day off, a squealing water rail tormented us.

It was time to go, a day of mixed emotions, huge disappointment of not finding the lesser spotted... the much repeated tip was we should have got there earlier, you don't say! No consolation green woodpecker and certainly not a sniff of bittern, but the kestrels and yellowhammers had been special and it had been a lovely if long day for the lesser spotted seekers