Trip reports

RSPB Walk with Nature around Astbury Mere, Congleton

RSPB Walk with Nature around Astbury Mere, Congleton
Photo of the group by Abercrombie

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Twenty six birdwatchers joined the walk around Astbury Mere in Congleton for the first outdoor event of 2020 for The RSPB Macclesfield Local Group. The temperature was a mild 12'C with little wind and no rain which was a surprise considering the weather a few days before.

Setting off from the visitor centre we walked anti-clockwise around the lake to make the best of the sun as we soon found redwing and blackbirds but no fieldfare stripping berries off the cotoneaster bushes. Walking along the top of the grassed area the going was a soft and boggy in places as we searched for woodland birds in the hedge and birch trees. Almost immediately we found bullfinch, greenfinch, blue tit, great tit and long-tailed tit foraging for food. We could hear a song thrush and robins singing with house sparrows chattering away in the bushes. Corvids (jackdaw, magpie and carrion crow) were flying overhead. As we worked our way around the lake we found dunnocks, wrens and more robins dashing ahead of us in the undergrowth. At one point a very brave robin was taking sunflower seeds out of the hand of one of the party.

Looking across the mere we could see rafts of black-headed gulls with the occasional herring and lesser black-backed gulls amongst them. We could see through the telescopes the beautifully plumaged waterfowl - tufted ducks, common pochard, coots and great-crested grebes together with male and female goosander.

While watching the water birds three buzzards paid us a visit swopping down and circling above our heads, a truly magnificent sight. As we circumnavigated the mere these waterfowl came closer to give everybody excellent views. A pair of great crested grebes were starting to practice their courtship display; spring must surely be on its way!

On returning to the car park everybody said their goodbyes and some ventured over to the café for a coffee before leaving. In total the group recorded twenty-seven different species. Although we didn't see any particularly unusual birds as have been observed in recent years at this time of the year (e.g. smew, Slavonian grebe, scaup) we think this was a really successful event and a pleasure to 'Walk with Nature' with so many like-minded birdwatchers.

Ian and Lydia Taylor