Trip reports

Moore Nature Reserve & Woolston Eyes - 20/04/13

Moore Nature Reserve & Woolston Eyes - 20/04/13
Lesser spotted woodpecker - Alan Flavell

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A bright day was in prospect, the first day this year that actually seemed warm! Our first destination was Moore Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Warrington. The day couldn't have started better as just as we were in the car park getting ready for our walk, the resident lesser spotted woodpecker was seen in the trees nearby. Everyone got a good view of this scarce woodpecker before it flew off.

We walked up the hill to Lapwing Lake, accompanied by the song of chiffchaff and willow warbler, both of which were relatively easy to spot as the trees are still pretty bare. From the hide overlooking the lake we saw sedge warbler, blackcap, great crested grebe and little grebe. Flying around over the water were swallow and house martin and a fox was seen creeping through the reed bed. As we walked along the path, Hawkeye struck again! One of our group spotted a distant raptor being mobbed by crows and as it drifted closer it revealed itself to be a red kite which is an excellent record for this site. We continued our walk through the woodland picking up great spotted woodpecker, treecreeper, song & mistle thrush, lesser redpoll and nuthatch. Birchwood Pool produced a large number of lesser black backed & herring gulls with a solitary black-headed gull. Ducks seen were gadwall, tufted duck and mallard. We walked along to the next pool, Pumphouse Pool, but added nothing further.

The second half of our day was to be spent at the permit only reserve of Woolston Eyes. We had obtained special permission to visit the reserve, the highlight of which is the breeding black-necked grebes. We saw at least 2 of these lovely little birds in full summer plumage. Also spotted were 3 late staying bramblings, kingfisher and willow tit. The warm weather and light breeze brought out the buzzards, at one point we had at least 7 in the air soaring and displaying.

There were still a few hours left in the day by the time we had finished at Woolston so we decided to move on to another site. A quick check of the Manchester Birding Forum was in order to help us decide where to go and we settled on Astley Moss. Here we caught up with a single whimbrel, several wheatear and a yellowhammer, a small flock of sand martins also passed overhead. The star of the show for me, however, was the cuckoo! It was sat on a fence post then dropping down onto the ploughed field to feed. We got unbelievable views of it as it sat on the floor eating grubs.

Total number of species seen = 66