17 Jan 2011

Not such ugly ducklings.

With record numbers of wild swans on the nearby Shotwick fields and a sunny afternoon it seemed churlish not to take a closer look after work Friday afternoon. A flock of Bewicks were loafing around fairly close to the main road on a flooded field and gave pretty good views in the afternoon sunlight.

After the swans there was just time to take a walk along the Shropshire Union canal to check an ivy covered tree for roosting Tawny Owls as a mate had seen three fly out of the same tree late one evening last week. No owls but a Jack Snipe and several Common Snipe were flushed from a boggy field and several Redpoll were seen feeding in the tops of canal side Alders.

Forsaking the dubious delights of looking through a chain link fence in appalling viewing conditions for Britain's 'first' Slaty-backed Gull in Kent (judging by the bitching going on a national bird forum about who didn't or did claim / see the bird) I took a brief trip to Hilbre Saturday where the, albeit windy, tranquility contrasted sharply with reports coming from down south. Just like Kent the birds weren't playing ball but it was a much nicer place to be!

With a dramatic increase in the temperature - from -10 C a couple of weeks a go to a balmy +13 Sunday some species have been fooled into thinking springs here. Robins and Great Tits are singing away in the garden whilst Greater-spotted Woodpeckers are drumming in Stanney. Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush were also singing in the woods and it was good to hear (and see) Treecreepers also singing.

The Redpoll flock was typically elusive and I didn't get a good enough view to check for the Mealy although a friend saw it well last weekend. Interestingly I spoke to someone who lives close to Stanney who had a Tawny Owl calling in their garden recently.


Anonymous said...

Hi Phil
Interesting reading about the Tawny and Jack Snipe. The canal is where I walk my dog and do most of my birding so would love to know where you where. Can email me if you want to keep the location off the net! Cheers, Ian.

Phil Woollen. said...

If you walk towards Chester from the Pretty Bridge the flooded field is on your left near the pipe bridge. There is an obvious brick pumping station in it. This is always a good spot for Snipe but you might have t oget your wellies on!

The Tawny Owls were apparantely in the last big ivy covered tree on the right hand bank before you reach the A41 walking the same direction.

Anonymous said...

Cheers for that, you're a lot higher up the canal than me then as I usually turn back near the Sewage works. Don't know which the pretty bridge is but I have walked all the way up to the boat museum in the past. Might explore a bit higher up in future if that's where all the birds are hiding from me!
Thanks again

Phil Woollen. said...

I normally park at Stoek or Craughton and walk west. Occasionally I walk the other way towards Stanlow. There are some good birds along this stretch as well.

The Pretty bridge is at the end of a footpath that runs through Chester Zoo. You should pick it out on a map. I think its named Caughall Bridge on the OS map but everyone knows it as the Pretty Bridge.

Anonymous said...

Cheers, just walking the canal this morning and the penny dropped - I was thinking of the EP end! My regular walk is Stoak to Stanlow. Sometimes cycle down the stretch you are referring to so will have to walk down there for a nose somtime.

Anonymous said...

Redpoll still there today plus something flushed up from that boggy field. Heard it take off just behind me and as I swivelled round I got a fleeting glimpse of a snipe-like bird just as it dropped down over the other side of the canal. Made no alarm call as it took off. Wish I could have seen it better to confirm it as a Jack!

Phil Woollen. said...

Ian. Chances are if it dropped quickly it was the Jack Snipe. They are normally silent as well.