Monday, 30 December 2013


January - 85 species
               highlights - 3 species of owl including Barn and Little, Jack Snipe, GN Diver, Brambling,                                               Goosander.

Seems light years ago now when the first major bird to appear on the patch for 2013 was the cracking
Great Northern Diver that first appeared on 22nd January. It gave 'great' views as it fished just off the boat house on Budworth Mere.

The diver didn't stay that long as I can remember and moved off by the time the ice and snow came a week later.

Frozen Bittern Hide

The view from Bittern Hide...there was the usual Bittern somewhere in the Coward Reedbed opposite.

February - 5 species (total- 90)
                  highlights - Red-legged Partridge and the usual Lesser Pecker but this year no female!
                                   Tree Sparrows moved a tad closer with a pair seen regularly by the Yacht club.

The Patch Pinkie was back,showing well in the top fields along Budworth Lane.

March - 8 species (total - 98)
              highlights - Rock Pipit, Marsh Harrier(2), Yellow-legged Gull and a drake Scaup.

BOOM!! and I find the first real mega on the patch a Rock Pipit (patch lifer) playing hide and seek on the mere edge at Kid Brook. A well twitched bird by the local patchers some of whom never left the safety of the mere side path by the boat house!!! 

Second BOOM!! happened when I was twitching a Marsh Harrier at the Flashes. I arrived well late (work) and not only found one but TWO!! Marsh Harriers in the corner reedbed of Neumann's Flash.
A patch lifer as well, get in!
On the mere a gull sp was finally nailed by Greg and Dave as a Yellow-legged Gull, nice work chaps.
 The mere also played host to a rather tasty drake Scaup the only one of the year me thinks?

A Lesser Scaup must surely be in the post, maybe next year?
Of interest an LRP that I found on Kid Brook spit was not only the earliest patch record but possibly the earliest in Cheshire also.
March certainly kick started the patch year list proper with 98 species seen already just two shy of the 100.
The patch had also due to the weather acquired a new lake...Lake Ashton's

The patch had also seen some action (at long bloody last) by Cheshire Wildlife Trust who in their haste to spend some money! had built a boardwalk through Coward Reedbed.

 Heaven knows how many Bitterns and Water Rails they squashed building this ill-conceived motorway. Its now used by lycra clad joggers, pram pushers and night riding mountain bikers to access the once serene depths of Cowards Wood but it is great for avoiding that headcase of a farmer, oh! and it's closed 6 months of the year??

April - 25 species (total - 123)
           highlights - Spring for one, Whooper Swan, Glaucous Gull, Wood Warbler and Redstart.

Out in the garden one evening and a calling flock of Whoopers flew over the house coming off the patch a nice double whammy (patch and garden ticks). My first White-winged Gull for over 20 years on the patch. an adult Glaucous briefly stopped over on Kid Brook before flying the length of the mere past an in conversation Mr Taylor (he dipped!) stood at the slipway...doh!
Another great find by yours truly was a singing Wood Warbler that was well twitched by many from around the county and beyond. It stayed for several days faithful to its preferred tree by the boat house. I also managed to relocate a non local found Redstart over on Ashton's. This again created a mini twitch and was a patch lifer for a few.

Redstart twitch in full swing.

Without doubt April is the month on the patch, miss it and you'll miss out.

May - 7 species (total - 130)
           highlights - 5 species of wader Avocet, Sanderling, Blackwit, Greenshank
                             and the only Ringed Plover of the year (for me anyway).

Kid Brook spit once again provided the entertainment with a trio of waders, Sanderling, LRP and Dunlin which hung around for ages and allowed close views in between dodging the anger of the local tosser of a farmer.

Not to be out done Neumann's Flash produced a pair of Avocets most probably en route to Frodsham, Greeshank and Black-tailed Godwit.
Other goodies included Spotted Flycather in Big Wood as per usual and Lesser Whitethroat on Dairy House Meadows.
Most patchers now in days gone by would be hanging up their bins. With 130 on the clock the next six months are spent getting the other 20 (if at all possible) to reach the magical 150.

part 2 will follow shortly...