We may have lost the snow a few days earlier but it was a bitterly cold morning as 6 members gathered on Lapwing Lane. And it was also very foggy, with visibility of 50-100 yards. We could just see the near edge of Acre Nook West, which was still frozen. Black-headed Gull, Canada Goose and Teal could be heard through the fog. Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Wood Pigeon were just about visible on the fields. We decided to walk the forest path while waiting for the fog to lift and here we added a pair of Goldcrest and a party of Long-tailed Tits.

We then drove round to the east side of Acre Nook, finding a flock of Goldfinch and Chaffinch in the hedge and a large flock of Pheasant in a garden on the way. However, the fog was just as bad so we birded the hedgerows along the road. We found Bullfinch, House Sparrow, Great Tit, Robin, Starling, and Collared Dove.

With the day’s tally standing at just 16 species seen so far we moved on to Catchpenny Pool. Here we could see about half way across the pool. The edges were frozen but there was a large ice-free area in the middle where the wildfowl were concentrated. There were Mallard, Pochard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Little Grebe, Coot, and Black-headed Gull present. A Dunnock was seen in the hedge.

So now we drove down to Sandbach, adding a kestrel on the way. First stop was Watch Lane Flash where we picked out our first Lapwing but little else. Elton Hall Flash was the next stop. It was initially still quite murky but the fog was now lifting fast and was completely gone within half an hour or so. There were a lot of Fieldfare and Redwings on the bushes, while around the feeders area were Tree Sparrow, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Song Thrush, and Moorhen. Out on the Flash 5 species of Gull were present, namely Herring, Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, Common, and Black-headed. Among the ducks (mainly Mallard) were a pair of Goosander and several Shelduck. Later a flock of 100+ Wigeon flew in. From the farm lane we could see Shoveler and Teal among the sunken trees, and a roosting Redshank in the field. A Sparrowhawk flew overhead.

Across the road at Pumphouse Flash were a large number of Coot and Wigeon. A Cormorant was also present, drying its wings in the sun. A Common Buzzard was sitting in the field, and flew up to lock talons with another that flew past. On the hillside could be seen a large flock of grazing Canada Geese, among which we could see 4 Barnacle Geese. A single Curlew was seen as it flew over the road between the Flashes.

When we left we drove to Sandbach to look for Waxwings that we had been told were in a local churchyard but we were unable to find the church, never mind any Waxwings. On the way back we revisited Catchpenny Pool where we managed to add Greylag Goose and Goldeneye to the list. We also revisited Acre Nook where we could see that only a very small area was ice-free, holding Goosander and Teal. Finally, as the light faded, we watched as large numbers of Gulls came in to roost.

After a slow start the final tally was 54 species.


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