Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One For Tea?

A fair bit has happened since last I was here, not least of which is the fact that the Model Aircarft Club have withdrawn their application to develop the Triangle Field on Upper Moss Side on advice from the Warrington Borough Council’s planning department. Basically, they hadn’t bothered to do any ecological surveys and hence had no defence against the objections raised. Now, with any luck, that’ll be the end of it... BUT, they could, in theory pay for some avian ecologist to do a survey or two and reapply next year. Can’t see it happening tbh, but just in case they STILL haven’t got the message, I’ll be carrying out my own surveys next year so as to be ready to launch a challenge if needs be. Bloody marvellous job done by all and much thanks to all who objected!!!

SO, it’s been nearly THREE WEEKS (!) since I’ve managed to get out to the patch and do a count at the east end. I had planned to hit Halfway House to check for waders and grill The Prom, but my knee started playing up as I set off (did get a Stoat though) so I quickly had to change my plans – today I’d check the eastern pools instead. Glad I did!

Birchwood Pool

For a change, I started here and worked east (I usually start at Pumphouse and work west, before ending with the Eastern Reedbed & Millbrook Pool). Parked my car on Lapwing Lane by the cross-paths and headed along the eastern one to the old Tawny Owl roost. I’ve still not got Tawny Owl this year on the patch so had hoped that she’d be back on her ivy covered tree by the little bridge – no luck. Lots of Long-tailed Tit flocks about today, but nothing much knocking about with them. A few Buzzards over in the clear blue sky all turned out (unsurprisingly) NOT to be Roughed-legged. Ah well, live in hope. At the west hide first look yielded... shed loads of gulls. Half-hearted trawl through them didn’t throw up anything unusual so I set about the wildfowl. Wildfowl... where are they??? NO geese at all today (there had been 286 Canada Geese alone here last time) and precious few ducks it seems. Gadwall numbers are down still more (just 5 today), there are only 2 Mallard (10 last time) and no sign of any Shoveler today. Tufties though are up slightly (19), so too Teal (10) whilst Pochard are about the same (6). The female Ruddy Duck that was here in early October has gone (shot?) BUT she’s been replaced by a couple of beauties – 2 female GOLDENEYE; resplendently spanking in the autumn sunlight and patch year tick number 134! Bloody marvellous :) Coot numbers are double my last visit (46), Moorhen stable at about 5-6, Little Grebe and Grey Heron numbers down (5 & 6, respectively).

Pumphouse Pool

Where HAVE all the wildfowl gone??? Everything is down today with the solitary exception of Shoveler that are stubbornly sticking on 19. Tallies today as follows; Cormorant 4, Grey Heron 1, Moorhen 3, Mallard 2, Teal 6, Tufty 1. No Canada Geese here either. No Gadwall AND (very oddly) NO COOT! Hmmmm...

Eastern Reedbed

Rumour had it that our Dutch (?) Botaurus had recently arrived and so it seemed only fitting that the end of today’s sesh would be at the ERB in case one or two flew in at dusk. Trouble was, I’d rather miscalculated when dusk was and had committed myself to ‘other stuff’ at 6pm. Idiot! Sun hadn’t even gone down by then so I shouldn’t really have been surprised at my lack of Bitterns. Never mind – clocks go back next week so I’ll try again then.

Water levels still low and quite a bit of mud showing so not much about; 27 Coot (down on last time), 2 Gadwall, 1 Grey Heron (ad), 5 Moorhen, the 9 juvenileMute Swans, 3 Mallard, 6 Shoveler nibbling leaves on a small Oak (yes, odd... I know), 8 Teal, 4 Wigeon. Odds n sods over included; 3 Lesser Redpoll, 8 Goldfinch, 2 Jay, 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Song Thrush, 3 Redwing. 1 Common Buzzard in a tree and 1 Kingfisher calling. Latter was interesting... heard it calling from NW corner but couldn’t see it. Reasoned that it must be low down on a branch of the tree there behind the reeds. Saw the branch spring a little and bounce as if something had launched from it. Moments later caught a flash of orange and blue through the Phrag as it alighted back on the branch, out of sight. Couldn’t get on the bill, so no idea if he was a she or if she was a he. My gut says HE... so let’s go with that. Actually, there were probably two calling at one point so may be the pair is back. Which brings us to...

Millbrook Pool

Sun drenched and (disappointingly) Green Sandpiper-less. However, the following WERE present; 9 Coot, 5 Cormorant, 12 Gadwall, 14 Mallard, 2 Moorhen, 3 Tufty - all very similar to my last visit. Only change appears to be an influx of 40 Teal. You know, sooner or later, the patch just HAS to throw up Green-winged amongst our winter Teal...

And finally...

Yes, and finally... a thought. Now, myself and one or two other patchers consider, from time to time, what the maximum year list might be here. A year or so ago, Mully did a quick back-of-fag-packet-calculation and came up with 140, complete with a list of species that would need to be got to make this feasible. At the time I thought ‘No fucking way’. One Forty was damn nigh impossible. Now I’m not quite so sure... Today’s Goldeneye put me on 134, my highest year tally on the patch to date, and it’s got me thinking. Could the One For Tea really be do-able??? I have still to get Bittern, *Tawny Owl and Iceland Gull (all feasible still) which would take me 137. That would only require THREE further species during November and December. Surely there must be a good chance of some wildfowl... Whitefront, Goosander, Scaup, Whooper... or Waxwing... or maybe even Grey Plover or Little Stint on the river? Maybe even a *Firecrest?? I’ll tell you something... if I’m ever gonna do the 140, this year is probably THE year! Watch this space :)

* Well how prophetic did THAT turn out to be!!! See 'The morning after the night before...'


  1. A result for conservation - that is unusual or am I being negative again? Well done MP, and I'm still waiting for a Goldeneye.

  2. Result indeed! I'm waiting for a Scaup, a Goosander or a Smew :)