Big Cheshire Birding Days #1

Photo: Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria)

Cheshire was pretty much my local patch during the 1990’s and I spent many happy days at sites such as Frodsham Marshes, Rostherne Mere, Neumann’s Flash, Budworth Mere, Sandbach Flashes, Inner Marsh Farm and the south Cheshire Meres, finding some great birds such as Long-billed Dowitcher, Alpine Swift, American Wigeon and Kumlien’s Gull, and twitching some big megas such as Caspian Tern, Dark-eyed Junco, Glossy Ibis, Lesser Yellowlegs, Bonaparte’s Gull, Mauretanian Spoonbill, Great White Egret, Woodchat Shrike, Black-winged Stilt, Lesser Scaup, the list goes on

Birdwatchers often enjoy looking through their notebooks remembering big field days and here I recall 2 big days’ winter birding in Cheshire, Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th February 1999, with colleague Chris Done, targeting a score of 100 species

Saturday 7th February

At Denhall Quay on the Dee Estuary at dawn flocks of Golden Plovers and Lapwings were present on the salt-marsh, an immature Spoonbill flew in to join a flock of 100 Bewick’s and Mute Swans and a female Merlin dashed in

Parkgate Boathouse Flash was full of birds – 3 Spoonbills, 6 Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwits, Greenshank and a neck-collared Pink-footed Goose

Ginger Spice the Ruddy Shelduck showed in the tidal creeks on the Dee Estuary, Tree Sparrows, Yellowhammers and Moorhens on the bird-tables of Thurstaston Visitor Centre made for some gentle birding before the long trek to Hilbre Island

The first Wren of the day was on Middle Eye and the shore-line in front of the sea-watching hide was buzzing with wading birds – Purple Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Knot, Sanderling and Dunlin – and nine pale-bellied Brent Geese, and on the sea, an immature drake Eider, Red-throated Diver, several Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe and a Fulmar

Eight Snow Buntings were playing hide and seek at Little Eye, then Peregrine and Bar-tailed Godwit at Leasowe, the long-staying Great Northern Diver in Bidston Dock, a first-winter Glaucous Gull at New Ferry, and, at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB Reserve, drake Smew and 2 Barnacle Geese

Sunday 8th February

Frodsham Marshes, as always, produced the goods with the long-staying Lesser Flamingo looking smart on Frodsham Score and Peregrine, two ring-tail Hen Harriers, two Ravens and a Buzzard soaring through the crisp winter air

A foray into mid/south Cheshire saw Slavonian Grebe at Higher Whitley, two red-head Smew, drake Pintail and Water Rail at Budworth Mere, 5 Willow Tits and a cracking male Lesser Redpoll at Moore Nature Reserve, 2 Mandarins at Beeston, Pink-footed Goose at Oulton Mill Pool, two Ravens and four Buzzards at Peckforton and Green Sandpiper along the mill-stream at Little Budworth

A grand total of 112 species illustrates what a world class area Cheshire is for birds and birdwatching

Good Birding!

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