Friday, 16 July 2010

Report (rather late!) on the Birdwatching For Beginners walk on 6th June 2010

12 hardy people attended this event, taking place on a drizzly Sunday around Sale Water Park and Chorlton Meadows. The walk encompassed a variety of habitats around this diverse part of the Mersey Valley.

FoCM member John Agar had arranged for the feeders outside the visitors’ centre at Sale to be topped up with food, and, sure enough, his foresight paid dividends as, waiting for everyone to arrive, we were lucky enough to watch a Greater Spotted Woodpecker repeatedly come to take food. This gave us all a chance to test out our binoculars, many of which loaned to us by the Mersey Valley and Countryside Warden Service. Thanks again to them for their assistance on the day.

We set off towards the dipping pond adjacent to the visitors’ centre, pausing along the platform to take in the terrain over the marsh. As if on cue, soon after our arrival, we were treated to the sight of a Kestrel appearing overhead and taking up its distinctive hunting behaviour by hovering above the marsh, only a few feet above us. Even better, we witnessed it make a successful kill, a few of the mammal knowledgeable among us even able to identify the prey dangling from its talons as a short-tailed field vole, which the Kestrel took to a nearby tree to eat. This was a wonderful piece of luck (for us, not the vole!), and goes to show you never know what you’ll see, even on what at first seemed like a wet day, low on promise.

Our walk continued along the brook towards Sale Water Park, from the banks of which we added to our list a Sedge Warbler, betrayed to us by its messy trilling call. Our patience paid off as we were also able to catch glimpses of this elusive bird as it volleyed in and out of cover.

Around the lake we added many more species, including Lapwings, Little Grebes and a family of Mute Swans by the bird hide at Broad Ees Dole.

Our final stretch took us through Chorlton Ees, some of the eagle-eyed among us picking out from nearby woodland a number of Herons hidden among the branches. This was the Heronry, a place where Herons nest and breed, and one of Chorlton Meadow’s ornithological jewels. The more we looked, the more we saw, including one posing at the top of a Larch, silhouetted against the sky analogous more to a mango grove than a beauty spot 2 miles outside the city centre!

Our final ‘star’ species was the Reed Warbler, singing constantly from cover in the reed beds at the heart of the meadows. Hearing this bird’s repetitive and chirring song, as opposed to the more variable song of the Sedge Warbler, enabled us to put our ears to the test and appreciate that for many bird species it’s the aural realm where they’re best admired. A few of us saw the bird occasionally flit through the reeds, but it largely remained in cover, brilliantly camouflaged against last year’s dead reed stems.

For more information on the birds in and around Manchester, pay a visit to the Manchester Birding website, where, among many gems, you can find up-to-date records for what’s been seen in and around Chorlton Meadows:


A complete list of birds we saw on the day.

Blackbird - Sale Visitor Centre
Black-headed Gull - Broad Ees Dole
Blue Tit - Sale Visitor Centre
Canada Goose - Broad Ees Dole
Carrion Crow - various locations
Chaffinch - Cow Lane
Chiffchaff - Broad Ees Dole/River Mersey
Coot - various locations
Cormorant - flying east to west towards Sale
Goldfinch - Stretford Ees/Turn Moss
Great Spotted Woodpecker - Sale Visitor Centre
Great Tit - Sale Visitor Centre
Greenfinch - Hardy Farm
Herons and Heronry - Broad Ees Dole, Chorlton Ees
House Martin - Stretford Ees/Turn Moss
Kestrel (successful kill) - Sale Visitor Centre
Lapwing - Broad Ees Dole and Stretford Ees
Little Grebe - Broad Ees Dole
Long-tailed Tit - Broad Ees Dole/River Mersey
Magpie - various locations
Mallard - Sale Water Park
Moorhen - Various locations
Reed Bunting - Sale Water Park and Chorlton Ees
Reed Warbler - Chorlton Ees
Robin - Cow Lane
Sedge Warbler - Sale Visitor Centre
Song Thrush (star singer!) - Stretford Ees/Turn Moss
Swallow - Mersey overflow
Swan with 6 signets - Sale Water Park
Swift - Stretford Ees/Turn Moss

Julian Robinson, August 2010

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wish I'd been there - sounds like a great day!