Mancunian Birders Notebook 2015


Photo: Two American Golden Plovers together in East Yorkshire were one of my highlights of the year (photo courtesy of Tony Disley)


On New Years Day on the Salford Mosses Fieldfare on Barton Moss and big flocks of Lapwings and Skylarks, always great to see good numbers of farmland birds on the Mosses, also a flock of 20 Tufted Ducks on the Manchester Ship Canal at Salford Docklands

Some urban birding in Platt Fields Park Rusholme in Manchester, Egyptian Goose, 2 drake Northern Pochard and the famous Mancunian Ring-necked Parakeets

A visit to the picturesque River Ribble in Lancashire to research and photograph the resident Trumpeter Swan at Ribchester


Local patch birding highlights were the discovery of night-time feeding flocks of Northern Pochards on Salford Docklands and Willow Tits, a Mancunian speciality, on the Salford Mosses and at Sale Water Park

I was one of many birders who spent time on the Wirral with two visits to see the Laughing Gull at New Brighton Lake, Snow Buntings and Stonechat on the North Wirral shore and 8 Mandarin Ducks on Raby Mere


More local patch birding with 3 Green Sandpipers and a Little Egret in the Dunham Park area, drake Mandarin Duck at Sale on the Bridgewater Canal and a Pink-footed Goose on the Manchester Ship Canal at Salford Docklands, with Peregrines displaying at this site

A visit to Brereton Heath Country Park in Cheshire to see and document the Fulvous Whistling Duck, a potential vagrant to the UK


Marsh Harrier, Lesser Whitethroat, Wheatear, Common Sandpipers and an interesting sounding singing Willow Warbler on Pomona

I signed up to stand for MP at the General Election for the Northern Party in Blackpool and as a result had some great research trips on The Fylde, including seeing the long-staying Red-throated Diver on Fairhaven Lake


On the Salford Mosses, on the Little Woolden Moss Lancashire Wildlife Trust, a male Whinchat and, on Cadishead Moss a singing male Corn Bunting

The highlight of the International Dawn Chorus Day event on Pomona was 2 singing Sedge Warblers

A number of political visits to Lancashire included a trip to Marshside Marsh to see the Pectoral Sandpiper and breeding Avocets

The Salford Docklands Project was launched onboard the Princess Katherine with Peregrines giving an aerial show and some amazing views of nesting Sand Martins


A male Cuckoo on Little Woolden Moss LWT and a very confiding drake Greater Scaup posed for photographs on the scenic Fairhaven Lake on The Fylde in Lancashire

A colleague of mine reported seeing a Steller’s Sea-Eagle on the fringes of the Peak District but there was no sign in a days searching


At Dovestones Reservoir, Greater Manchesters’ only RSPB nature reserve, great views of Crossbills

Also on the local scene a Little Egret on Sale Water Park

Some fun trips, one trip to Staffordshire to see the male Red-footed Falcon and Cheshire for Yellow-legged Gulls, three on Sandbach Flashes and an adult on Neumann’s Flash, one trip to Yorkshire to research the nesting White Stork at Kirby Misperton and the Montagu’s Harriers on Blacktoft Sands, and, during a trip to a rave in the Lake District, flycatching Spotted Flycatchers on the banks of the River Eden


I had my most successful Autumn ever for finding birds, and my luck with finds even included a rare butterfly! During August I found a juvenile Mediterranean Gull on Preston Docklands (whilst twitching the Ring-billed Gull), a juvenile Mediterranean Gull on Salford Docklands, a Wood Sandpiper and a Whinchat on the Salford Mosses – the Wood Sandpiper remained for several days and many birders twitched this fine wading bird during its’ prolonged stay

Had a good chat with Chris Packham and Mark Avery about conservation in the North at the Peak District Save The Hen Harrier Protest Event

On the local scene, the Pomona Festival and up to 43 Lapwings on Salford Docklands, Green Woodpecker in Dunham Park and Carbon Landscape Project launch events with Dave Steel and Lancashire Wildlife Trust


The month started with a self-found Painted Lady butterfly in Altrincham

Great finds on the Salford Docklands, Whinchat on Pomona Docks and a Greylag Goose on the Manchester Ship Canal, a mega for the site

A trip to Merseyside to see the Meols Red-backed Shrike and Walton Park Lake Red-Crested Pochard

An interesting sight amongst the ducks at Brockholes LWT was a Yellow-billed Teal, a South American species, of the northern race known as Sharp-tailed Teal


I joined the “Mega Squad” on a 2 day trip to East Yorkshire and we were in Warbler heaven, finding Pallas’ Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Northern Willow Warbler and 2 Firecrest amongst the huge numbers of Goldcrests

One of the highlights of the Autumn were the 2 American Golden Plover

The Spurn area was full of birds with Richards Pipit, Brambling, Short-eared Owl, Corn Bunting, Mediterranean Gulls, Merlin and Ring Ouzel all on the trip list

Perhaps the bird of the Autumn was the drake North American Wood Duck at Mersey Vale Nature Reserve in the Mersey Valley near Stockport

On the local patch front, Woodcock, Jack Snipe and 2 Stonechats on Pomona


The highlight of the inaugural Salford Migration Festival was a flock of 300 Pink-footed Geese on Little Woolden Moss LWT

A big dip in Chesterfield! I made just one attempt at seeing the big bird of November, the Crag Martin, but didn’t get to see it


The Salford Docklands was the place to be with a long-staying Great Northern Diver gracing the site attracting good numbers of birders, with many visiting for the first time, and it was great to see so many people enjoying the docklands

I had a number of festive season trips, one to the Salford Mosses, a trip to the Peak District to film two of the UKs most iconic wildlife species, Red Grouse and Mountain Hare, and a trip to The Fylde in Lancashire, seeing Whooper Swan and Tree Sparrow at Pilling


2015 was another decent year for birding and I spent my time exclusively in the North of England, including some superb local communal birding events, illustrating how great birding is oop North!


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