Field Trip to the Northwich Area.

THE day started off cool with grey skies and a sharp wind (maybe remnants of the hurricane Gonzalo) - a contrast to the balmy Indian summer we have been having recently. Autumn was at last upon us and the leaves were changing colour.

The car park was rather empty at the time but soon began to fill up rapidly with cyclists, walkers, dog walkers and horse riders. A few common woodland birds like robin, chaffinch and greenfinch were twittering away among the trees.

As there is now no feeder at the ranger station our first stop was the screen hide at the western end of Budworth Mere, where the bird feeders were still waiting to be refilled. The water was calm and so it was easy to see the small flocks of mallard, tufted duck and wigeon quite close to the reedbed. In the distance were the usual large flocks of Canada geese and black headed gulls together with a few greylag geese on the banks. A lone common gull was also spotted perched on one of the posts together with cormorants with their wings outstretched.

On the far bank a solitary black tailed godwit and a curlew were seen feeding on the fields. On the water a few great crested grebe in winter plumage were seen fishing along with coot and moorhen.

En route to the small inlet we also saw song thrush, blackbird, treecreeper, goldfinch and long tailed tits flitting in and out of the shrubbery. A mute swan and her cygnet were hanging around the inlet hoping to be fed. We followed the path into the wood and saw most of the tit family i.e. blue, great and coal along with a nuthatch and great spotted woodpecker on the feeders (which had just been recently filled). In the distance over the trees we saw a buzzard chasing a carrion crow.

We continued through the woodland and caught glimpses of jay and more redwing.

It had started raining by the time we reached the car park so we adjourned for lunch.

After lunch when the rain had stopped we drove to Witton Mill car park and from there walked to Neumann's Flash. The flash looked much more promising with flocks of lapwing and golden plover. Snipe were clearly visible out in the open and two dunlin were spotted feeding hurriedly. More duck species such as shoveler, gadwall and teal were present together with a lone mandarin duck making advances to a female mallard. Several times the flocks rose in the air and a sparrowhawk was seen flying across the lake.

We continued our journey to Haydn's Pool which was quite deserted but a green sandpiper flew in to give us good views. On the grassy areas a stock dove and a mistle-thrush were foraging for scraps. While in the hide a kestrel was observed perched on the telegraph wire tearing a mouse apart As we made our way back to the car park a green woodpecker flew over our heads.

In total 55 species were seen.