EcoBirding Series #2, Altrincham EcoBird Race

EcoBirding, birdwatching using no fossil fuels, such as walking and cycling, or as little environmental impact as possible such as using public transport, is becoming more and more popular, as birdwatching increases in popularity and people become more environmentally aware

I started my EcoBirding Series with a tale of a days’ cycle birding around the city of Salford in 2007

Here I recount a birding day on my own doorstep, in the Altrincham area on 10th May 2006


The Altrincham area is a leafy suburb in Greater Manchester, near the Cheshire border, about 8 miles south west of Manchester city centre

It’s not a particularly well known area for birding, but I have seen some interesting birds such as Fulmar, Green Sandpiper, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Waxwing

The birding areas I covered on the day included Bridgewater Canal, Timperley Wetlands, Timperley Cricket Pitch, Timperley Golf Course, King George V Pool & Stamford Park Lake, a variety of habitats – a marsh, pools, a small lake, canal, streams, plantations, scrub, flat lawns, hedges, housing & playing fields – all in an easily walk-able area.

The weather during the day was continental, about 20 or so degrees celsius, sunny and blue skies all day.

I was birding later than I had wanted to, about 6:30am, and walked through suburban housing – recording House Sparrow, Dunnock, Collared Dove, Wood & Feral Pigeon, Starling, Magpie, Blackbird, Great Tit, Robin, Blue Tit & Wren – to my first “destination”, an area of plantation and scrub by the Metrolink tracks. Here, the first Blackcap of the day sang and a hoped for Song Thrush appeared after a search.

As I made my way to the Timperley Wetlands nature reserve adjacent to the Bridgewater Canal, in the skies a single House Martin flew over houses, good numbers of Common Swifts scythed through the air, and 2 Sand Martins and a few Swallows made their way along the canal.

Timperley Wetlands is a compact reserve that has a fishing pond, a stream, a small woodland and a marsh. Warblers aplenty were singing – Common Whitethroats, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, a smart male Reed Bunting was on the marsh, a Grey Wagtail flew along the stream, and on the fishing pond, a Mute Swan was on a nest, and a pair of Coot tended small young, single Black-headed and Herring Gull passed over Grey Herons, Mallards & Moorhens on the canal. Jay, Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush & Great Spotted Woodpecker were in the small coppices on the adjacent playing fields, and a female Sparrowhawk drifted over being mobbed by Carrion Crows.

I decided to walk north along the canal, and this paid off – a family of Greenfinches and singing Chaffinches were by the towpath, a Pied Wagtail chased insects on a freshly mown bowling green and the Common Whitethroat count increased to c20. From the other side of the canal I heard a song I recognised, slightly scratchy & “Whitethroatish” to start with & then a Chaffinch like trill – it was a Lesser Whitethroat. I followed it as it sang its’ way along the canal, eventually seeing it by a set of allotments. It’s the first one I’ve ever seen in this area & capped off a superb mornings’ birding

In the afternoon Timperley Cricket Pitch boosted the corvid count with Jackdaw and a pair of Rooks. On King George V Pool a pair of Great Crested Grebe with 2 young were immediately seen, a scan of the pool revealed a drake Mandarin roosting on a tree stump on one of the islands, and 3 pairs of Pochard. On nearby Stamford Park Lake paired up Tufted Duck, Canada Goose with 4 goslings and Mallard with 12 ducklings completed the thriving waterfowl vibe. Also here, a very vocal Coal Tit and a pair of Long-tailed Tits took the day total to 49.

I spent the next 2 hours looking for, and wondering if and what species number 50 would be – Garden Warbler? Goldcrest? Bullfinch? Kingfisher?

My thoughts were answered as I walked back across Timperley Golf Course, looking hopefully to the sky – a Lapwing flew over to make a very fitting 50 species.

Overrall, the day proved very much the benefits of local wildlife areas, and that great birding can be found on your own doorstep


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