Friday, 2 October 2009

Gatley Carrs in September by Peter Wolstenholme

Here is another of Peter Wolstenholme's reports from Gatley Carrs:

As the leaves begin to fall and change colour we realised that by mid month autumn was with us. Early in the month House Martin, Sand Martin and Swallow hawked for insects over open water and the trees, but they have all become scarcer as the month progressed.

Bird song during the month has come from Robins, Wren and Coal Tit, even an occasional burst of song from Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Blackcap has called. From mid month in early morning there have been Meadow Pipits as they fly south from northern and southern Europe. Bird feeders this month have begun to attract Bullfinch, Greenfinch, and Titmice. Juvenile Goldfinch and Longtailed Tits mirror the effects of a successful breeding season on the reserve.

The pool has attracted Heron, Snipe, Moorhen and Little Grebe. Up to 20 Canada Geese have overflown our reserve on their way to regular feeding grounds such as Poynton Pool. There have been up to ten Mallard on the pool, the males are coming out of drab non breeding, or eclipse, plumage and regaining the brighter colours of autumn and winter. In tall trees along the pool edge Great spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Tree Creeper have called and fed. Grey Wagtails have been appearing along the stream edge and there have been a couple of reports of up to three Kingfishers.

Birds of prey this month have included Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk and a pair of Buzzard.
Jays are patrolling the oak trees for ripe acorns and they are now burying them for a later feed as autumn turns to winter.

Insects this month have been a little less obvious than in the brighter sunnier days of summer. Dragonflies have included a Brown Hawker early in the month and several Common Darters over the pool. Butterflies seen have been scarcer but we have had Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and, on the woodland edge, the Speckled Wood.

A recent film on television showed Himalayan Balsam on the upper reaches of the River Ganges in India. The cotton bales, and Balsam, brought in from the orient during the 19th and 20th centuries ended up here on the Mersey and its tributaries so that Himalayan Balsam is now widespread in Gatley Carrs!

By mid month Pinkfeet from Iceland and a few Whooper Swans have already reached Martin Mere on the Lancashire coast, so that soon there may be Pinkfooted Geese winging cross country towards East Anglia over Gatley. Towards month end Siskin appeared, a winter visitor from further north, feeding among the Alders.

Best wishes

Peter Wolstenholme RSPB, Manchester and SK8

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