Patch birding in and around Hale and Pickerings Pasture, currently classed as north Cheshire.
Sunday, 27 December 2015
The end is nigh.....
The 2015 Patchwork Challenge is nearly at a close, but with the forecast promising a bright day I decided to get out on patch to see what I could find.
The forecast was surprisingly spot on with a brilliant blue sky as I arrived at Within Way.
A scan over the marsh from my vantage point at the farm provided a nice selection of raptors including Merlin, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and 3 Common Buzzard. Hale Marsh seems to be turning into a great area for raptors, probably encouraged by the large flocks of pipits and wagtails.
The fields along Within Way were relatively quiet but 50+ Fieldfare, with smaller numbers of Redsing were nice. Small numbers of Grey Patridge were hiding in the stubble, thankfully appearing to have avoided the shooting parties. The biggest surprise was a Nuthatch calling from the copse at the end of Within Way, not rare locally, but not a bird that often strays from Hale Park.
Scanning the Mersey from the bottom of Within Way produced 2 Common Sandpipers feeding on the outflow from Hale Marsh, a single Peregrine on the blue topped chimney on Weston Point and 2 Ravens cronking overhead. The river itself was quiet with only a small number of waders and gulls, and surprisingly no Great White Egret.
Looking through the assembled Cormorants, failed to locate the two Shag that have been present recently; however there was a smart 'sinensis' Cormorant mid-channel which clearly felt that Spring was a lot closer.
As the tide rushed in I decided to walk back up Within Way with the anticipation of driving around to the lighthouse or Pickerings Pasture, however the raptors on Hale Marsh had other ideas! A smart ringtail Hen Harrier ghosted past me and towards Carr Lane Pools, giving me crippling but brief views. Scanning Hale Marsh again I quickly picked out a male Merlin (quite a dark slaty blue looking bird), followed by another male Merlin (a paler looking bird) which sat out on the marsh. Scanning the posts found not one, but 2 female Merlins which gave great views in the bright sunlight.
The decoy held a couple of Little Egrets and about 20+ Stock Doves, but there was no sign of the Great White Egret that had been reported 10 minutes earlier.....not sure how I missed that one!
The Little Owl was showing well as I neared the farm, always great birds to see. It was clearly enjoying the sunshine, but rarely gave clear views.
A Grey Wagtail dropped into the puddle behind me and gave great views until I got chased away by a marauding dog.
No new birds for the year, but a fun morning out with all of the raptors. All the signs are looking good for a flying start to 2016.