Patch birding in and around Hale and Pickerings Pasture, currently classed as north Cheshire.
Tuesday, 29 December 2015
Batten down the hatches!
With the imminent arrival of Storm Frank (seriously, who names these storms?!) I thought I would have a quick dash around the patch. It was a gorgeously bright day, but the wind was quite strong and strengthened throughout my visit.
The walk down Within Way was uneventful, other than good numbers of Grey Patridge and a few finches and buntings on the move. A female Merlin shot through the field at the end of Within Way, but surprisingly this was the only bird I saw all day after the glut of recent records.
Reaching the end of Within Way I realised that I had somehow got the tides all wrong and the incoming tide was quickly covering all of the exposed mud. Scanning the Mersey I finally picked out a 1st winter Shag and 2 Common Sandpiper. A Great White Egret flew in to Hale Marsh from Pickerings (presumably a different bird to the now regular Frodsham Score birds) and a Peregrine bombed overhead.
Walking back up Within Way I picked up the smart sinensis Cormorant amongst the 29 roosting Cormorants (I tentatively would suggest that at least 4 were also sinensis, however trying to assign to race from distance wasn't essy).
I decided to drive round to the Hale Head and Lighthouse to see whether the high tide had brought anything in.....it hadn't. However scanning Frodsham Score I picked out a further Great White Egret and at least 10 Whooper Swan. Hale Shore was quiet, not helped by the increasing strength of the wind. Sloshing about in the flooded field I eventually flushed a Jack Snipe, the first in a number of weeks.
A single female Stonechat braved the wind of Hale Shore and it was pleasing (considering the recent reports of Curlew decline) to find 197 roosting and feeding in the fields by Hale Lighthouse.
I stopped briefly at Carr Lane Pools which were depressingly quiet 107 Teal and a single Snipe the only birds on the Pools. Walking along to the bridge on Town Lane I noted 2 Little Egrets and a large group of mixed finches, which after a bit of persistence eventually threw out 2 Bramblings. A Kingfisher was again in the ditch running through the Marsh, but the hunting party put paid to any hopes of anything else. Returning to the car I picked up a Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard.
So another blank visit for patchbirding year ticks and my thoughts are already turning to 2016.....maybe there is still time for one last year tick, let's see what Storm Frank throws up.