News archive

April 2009

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Reed warbler singing in reedbed

The 'Eyes' have it !

The weatherman promised blazing sunshine so we were a little surprised to find Woolston Eyes covered in thick low cloud which kept the temperature down to around 5 degrees. This may have explained why so few small birds were singing as we arrived although a few Willow Warblers were doing their best to cheer us up with their beautifully melodic songs. Noise is something you get used to at Woolston - the Black headed Gull colony there never shut up and always seem to be calling at full volume ! From the hides we had excellent views of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Ruddy Duck, Mallard and Teal.
However nice these birds were, they weren't the main reason we had come to Woolston. That was to see the beautiful Black necked Grebe that breed there each year. In summer plumage the bird is pretty hard to beat for looks - black neck, face and back contrasting with the golden yellow plume from the side of the head and the amazing red eye . We had up to 18 birds, most in pairs and some displaying keeping us entertained. Often they came quite close, enabling the photographers amongst us to get good photographs although they did have the annoying habit of presenting their backsides to you just as you pressed the shutter !!.
As the day progressed so did the weather, with the sun eventually making a welcome appearance. Temperatures rose and so did the amount of small birds singing. Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Blackcap all joined in with the Willow Warblers to add their songs to the late morning sounds of Woolston. Long tailed Tits and Reed Buntings moved around the reserve, the latter coming to the bird feeders positioned close to one of the hides. Occasionally the noisy Black headed Gulls would rise up and chase away a Buzzard or Sparrowhawk that came across the pools.
Woolston Eyes is a great place to spend a few hours bird watching. Its location, close to Warrington, make it easy to get to but this does have its problems with the reserve plagued by vandals - despite the best efforts of the wardens and Police. Access is restricted to permit (and key) holders and anyone interested in becoming a permit holder should contact the reserve via their website. For the small annual subscription it is well worth joining - even if you only went once a year to see the beautiful Black necked Grebe ! We will certainly be back.