Newsletters

The Newsletter is prepared each month by the Newsletter Editor with input from the committee and the membership. The majority of Bird Group members now receive it by email. A printed copy is available at each of our Indoor Meetings for people who do not have email access. The content is mainly of interest to BG members; extracts which may be of wider interest are published here.

NEWSLETTER MARCH 2017

TONIGHT’S MEETING (Friday 31st March)

Tonight we welcome David Tolliday who will give a talk entitled “Overseas Travels with a Wildlife Camera”.

David is very active with the RSPB Wildlife Explorers and their campaign to establish marine nature reserves. He last visited us in February last year.

Please join me in welcoming David for what I am sure will be a very entertaining evening.

COACH TRIPS

Our next coach trip will be on Sunday 23rd April to Potteric Carr in South Yorkshire, departing from the Guild at 7:30am.

Potteric Carr near Doncaster is the flagship reserve run by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. It is a mixed reserve of pools and woodland with several hides. The site is fabulous for birdwatching with marsh and water birds being particularly numerous. Over 230 species of birds have been recorded and 102 species have bred, with over 65 species breeding each year. A recent major extension to the site was designed to enhance this and has already resulted in breeding marsh harriers and bitterns.

The reserve has a new Visitor Centre with a brand new shop and tearoom with lakeside views. There is an admission charge of £4 for adults (£3 for concessions).

The following coach trip is to Anglesey on Sunday 14th May departing from the Guild at 7.30am. Anglesey is well known for the RSPB reserve at South Stack Cliffs. Here you can experience the magic of a seabird colony. Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins all nest here. Chough can often be seen along the cliff edge, and Gannets and Manx Shearwaters can often be seen passing out to sea.

Book your seat for both trips at the desk.

WEEKEND TRIP TO SLIMBRIDGE AND SOMERSET LEVELS -18th – 20th FEBRUARY 2017

See Trip Reports section click here

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

As usual this year’s AGM will be held at the start of the season’s final indoor meeting on Friday 21st April.

The Committee are always keen to attract new members onto the Committee. We need new members to bring fresh ideas to the running of the Group. Being a Committee member is not a difficult task; we only meet for a couple of hours in the evening about 3 times a year. We have 1 vacancy on the Committee. If you are interested and would like more information then please see or contact the Group Chairman Brian D or the Group Secretary Judith R.

Send nominations, with proposer and seconder, to the Group Secretary Judith R, preferably in advance of the meeting. Similarly, any motions for discussion at the AGM should also be sent to Judith. Details are on the back of the membership cards.

Note that the AGM will start at 7:15pm, as detailed in your membership card.

SUMMER CAR TRIPS

The Committee proposes to run 3 local car trips over the summer.

Goyt Valley, Tuesday 16th May

The woodland around Errwood reservoir and the upper Goyt Valley attracts numbers of summer migrants such as pied flycatcher, redstart, tree pipit, common sandpiper and cuckoo. The uplands at Danebower hold ring ouzel, wheatear, meadow pipit, dipper, red grouse, short-eared owl and hobby. All have been seen on our trips here in recent years.

Meet at the Guild at 7am or at “The Street” car park at Errwood reservoir dam (map ref SK 013 757) at 7.30am.

Lindow Common, Saturday 3rd June

Come for a morning walk around your local patch. Did you know that Lindow Common in Wilmslow features one of the world’s most threatened habitats? The importance of Lindow’s heathland is such that it has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Local Nature Reserve (LNR). As well as areas of heather, visitors can appreciate the other habitats, which add to the Common’s richness – a fringe of woodland, wet mires and Black Lake. A surfaced path offers easy access to Black Lake and informal paths criss-cross the site.

Spring migrants such as warblers will be the main target species. If time permits we hope to visit Lindow Moss as well.

Meet at the car park on Racecourse Road opposite the Boddington Arms pub close to the junction of Racecourse Road and Altrincham Road (map ref SJ 834 814) at 7:30am.

Burton Mere Wetlands (Dee Estuary), Wednesday 30th August

Burton Mere Wetlands straddle the border between England and Wales. Many years of hard work have restored reedbeds, fenland and farmland. There are 2 main hides and several viewpoints as well as 3 nature trails. Ducks, waders and other water birds can be expected here. Summer visitors include the aerobatic hobby and menacing marsh harrier. Ducklings are well on their way and are actively feeding. The highlight amongst the many warblers is undoubtedly the grasshopper warbler with its distinctive 'reeling' song. Non-breeding regular visitors include black-tailed godwits and spotted redshanks.

RSPB members should remember to bring their card; otherwise there is a £4 entrance fee (£3 concessions).

Meet at the Guild at 8am or at the reserve at 9am. Burton Mere Wetlands is off the A540 (Chester High Road) and just 10 minutes from the M56. Look out for the brown signposts on the A540. Otherwise turn down Puddington Lane - the reserve entrance is just outside Burton village near to Bishop Wilson Primary School.

NEXT MONTH’S MEETING

Our next meeting will be on Friday 21st April when we will have our AGM followed by John Gardener with a talk entitled “European Birding”.

As mentioned above, the AGM will start at 7:15pm.

Hope to see you all then.

NEWSLETTER CONTRIBUTIONS

Still required – your articles for the newsletter. Tell us all about that birding holiday of a lifetime or that unusual visitor to your garden bird table.

Deadline is the Friday before the meeting.

ROBERT D

NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 2017

TONIGHT’S MEETING (Friday 10th February)

Tonight we welcome Brian Anderson who will give us a talk entitled “Feathers and Wings”.

There are 193 countries and 66 territories in the world. Brian has visited 55, a fraction of the total. Travelling for him, is not about ‘ticking off’ destinations however, he has been able to visit some of the world’s most exciting wilderness places, including the Polar regions, Tierra del Fuego, Galápagos, the Falkland Islands and deserts in Jordan and Egypt. Wanderlust is not just about visiting different places, it is also about seeing the wildlife, experiencing the culture, meeting the wonderful and amazing people who live in or also travel there. He tries to capture the essence of these places, landscapes, wildlife and people in his images.

His presentation features over 50 bird species from five continents. The diverse and colourful images will include familiar avian species from Europe, to more exotic vultures and caracaras from South America; kites, sun birds and bee-eaters from Asia, to albatrosses, petrels and penguins from Antarctica.

For bird watchers and lovers of nature, this beautifully illustrated talk is a treat.

Please join me in welcoming Brian for what I am sure will be a very entertaining evening.

FIELD TRIPS

Our February field trip is the weekend away to Somerset Levels next weekend. Important pre-trip information was covered in the last newsletter and is repeated here.

The coach will leave promptly at 7.30am on SATURDAY 18 February from the usual pick-up place on the corner of Bourne St and Altrincham Road. Please could you arrive by 7.15am so that all of the luggage can be loaded before departure time.

Cars can be parked at the back of the Guild for the weekend. Please make sure that you don’t park on the yellow-hatched lines.

If you haven’t already done so, please will you complete an ICE form and hand it to Judith or Barbara at tonight’s meeting.

We will be birding during the day before arriving at the hotel, so please remember to bring your binoculars/telescopes etc and packed lunch onto the coach – do not leave them in your suitcase! Please also remember to bring your RSPB and WWT cards with you.

There will be 35 members on the coach and so not much spare room. If you have a spare seat next to you, please will you accept day sacks etc from members sharing double seats.

Finally let’s hope for another enjoyable trip with good birding.

As a final reminder, despite what it says in your membership card, the departure time is 7.30am, NOT 8.30am.

BARBARA P

Our next coach trip after that is on Sunday 26th March to Carsington Water reservoir in Staffordshire, departing from the Guild at 8am.

The site is a large man-made reservoir near Ashbourne managed by Severn Trent Water and used extensively for a variety of leisure activities. There are several hides overlooking the reservoir and feeding stations at the visitor centre and in the woodland. A good variety of ducks, grebes, and other wildfowl should be seen as well as possibly divers, kingfisher, brambling, siskin, redpoll, peregrine, and barn owl. There is a café, shop and toilets at the Visitor Centre.

Since this trip is before the March indoor meeting it would be useful if you could book at tonight’s meeting.

FIELD TRIP TO MERE SANDS WOOD & BROCKHOLES - 29th JANUARY 2017

See Trip Reports section click here

CAWOS INDOOR MEETINGS 2016 - 2017

CAWOS (Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society) to which the Guild Birdwatching Group is affiliated holds monthly meetings that may be of interest to our members.

Further details are available at http://www.cawos.org/indoor.htm

THE BLUE TIT

My interest in birds and bird watching began as a young child watching mainly House Sparrows and Starlings feeding in the garden but it was the Blue Tit that really fired my interest. I was fascinated by this acrobatic colourful little bird that could hang from one leg upside down whilst feeding from a suspended half a coconut suspended from the lilac tree outside our kitchen window. Its popularity was dented slightly when it turned its attention to raiding the milk bottles and peeling back the silver and gold tops and helping itself to the cream. Where did they learn that trick? Watching it started a lifelong interest in birds that has never left me, and provided hours of pleasure.

Blue%20Tit_w.JPG

Sixty years on according to the RSPB Garden Watch 2016 the House Sparrow, Starling, and Blue Tit, in that order are still top of the most seen garden birds although this is subject to regional variations. To my regret I do not remember ever having seen a House Sparrow in our present home where we have lived for the last 27 years.

The non-migratory Blue Tit is found throughout most of the British Isles and as a bird of broad leaved woodlands, parks and gardens is absent only from the highest mountains of Scotland, many of the Scottish islands whilst on Orkney and Shetland is reduced to an extremely rare vagrant. Areas of the country bereft of woodlands such as the Fens population densities are low whilst the highest population numbers occur in central and southeast England. It is an abundant and widespread resident throughout the whole of Cheshire.
There is no doubt that over the years the increasing use of bird feeders has benefited the Blue Tit, particularly in urban areas and especially during harsh winters when food supplies can be scarce making them vulnerable and causing population fluctuations. They also readily make use of and occupy nest boxes to which they will return to year after year, laying, usually an single clutch of 8-10 eggs which for a bird that is only 11-12cm long is quite remarkable. Losses of young birds can be high with estimates of only 38% surviving the first year. Magpies, Jays, Sparrowhawks, Squirrels and cats all take their toll. The average life of the Blue Tit is around 3 years and according to the BTO a bird ringed in Bedfordshire was 10 years 3months old. A lucky bird!

I still love watching Blue Tits in the garden, especially when, as a keen gardener, they are feeding on aphids and caterpillars that are such pests to treasured plants. Above all it is during the shortest of the winter days when they join with other small birds, Great, Long-tailed, and Coal Tits, and form foraging flocks that bring such colour and movement to the most miserable of days. They bring the garden alive and are such a delight to watch.

References:
RSPB Big Garden Watch 2016
BTO Bird Atlas 2007-11
Cheshire and Wirral Bird Report 2014
Collins Guide to British Birds
RSPB Handbook of British Birds

STUART M

FORTHCOMING EVENTS ON THE DEE & MERSEY

Wirral Countryside Rangers and RSPB organise various birdwatching events every month that may be of interest to our members.

Details can be found at http://www.deeestuary.co.uk/

NEXT MONTH’S MEETING

Our next meeting will be on Friday 31st March when David Tolliday will give a talk entitled “ Overseas Travels with a Wildlife Camera.”

Hope to see you all then.

NEWSLETTER CONTRIBUTIONS

Still required – your articles for the newsletter. Tell us all about that birding holiday of a lifetime or that unusual visitor to your garden bird table.

Deadline is the Friday before the meeting.

ROBERT D

NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2017

TONIGHT’S MEETING (Friday 27th January)

Happy New Year! Welcome to our first indoor meeting of 2017.

Tonight we welcome Jim Almond who will give us a talk entitled “Identity Crisis”.

Jim is an experienced birder/photographer and former Biomedical Scientist who has taken early retirement and now spends much of his spare time in the field enjoying birding or on the hunt for rare or unusual birds and photographing them. He spends part of the summer continuing to seek out the UK’s Butterflies, Dragonflies and Damselflies.

This evening’s talk is aimed at the identification of birds. Many birds fall into the 'is it or isn't it' category and this talk looks at a good number of birds which can be easily misidentified or 'mixed up' with similar species. Using images to note the key identification criteria, in theory at least, it should be possible to correctly identify those problem birds, with some - even from a distance. Black or Bar-tailed Godwits, Spotted or Common Redshank, Whimbrel or Curlew, Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff, Arctic or Common Tern, Common/Spotted/Green/Wood Sandpipers, Common or Jack Snipe etc. A few Gulls featured may help to dispel their mystery.

Please join me in welcoming Jim for what I am sure will be a very entertaining evening.

FIELD TRIPS

Our next coach trip is this weekend on Sunday 29th January to Mere Sands Wood and Brockholes reserves in Lancashire, departing from the Guild at 8am.

Mere Sands Wood is a wildlife-rich haven in the heart of agricultural west Lancashire, managed by Lancashire Wildlife Trust. The reserve covers 42 hectares (105 acres) and is made up of lakes, mature broadleaved and conifer woodland, sandy, wet meadows and heaths.

There is a visitor centre with literature, toilets and a small shop selling gifts, hot and cold drinks and confectionery. There are six hides and a viewing platform distributed around the reserve. There are a number of surfaced trails through the woods between 400m & 4k in length.

The lakes and reedbeds provide habitat and food for fish, amphibians and birds such as Reed Buntings, Water Rail, Great Crested and Little Grebes and many overwintering waterfowl. Winter wildfowl populations include large numbers of Gadwall and Teal, as well as Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Goosander, with Bittern also often visiting.

Brockholes was once an active quarry site, supplying much of the materials to build large sections of the M6 motorway.

Since 2007, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust has been working to create a mosaic of habitats, working with the landscape left behind from the quarrying. There is a mix of habitats, from wetlands to woodlands and this helps attract a wide range of wildlife. Toilets and facilities are available at the Visitor Village.

We last visited both reserves in January 2012. Book your place at the desk tonight.

Our February field trip is the weekend away to Somerset Levels (see important pre-trip information below).

SOMERSET LEVELS FEBRUARY 18 – 20 Pre-trip IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The Somerset Levels trip is only three weeks away now and below is some important pre-trip information.

The coach will leave promptly at 7.30am on SATURDAY 18 February from the usual pick-up place on the corner of Bourne St and Altrincham Road. Please arrive by 7.15am so that all of the luggage can be loaded before departure time.

Cars can be parked at the back of the Guild for the weekend. Please make sure that you don’t park on the yellow-hatched lines.

If you haven’t already done so, please will you complete an ICE form and hand it to Judith or Barbara at the meeting on the 27 January.

We will be birding during the day before arriving at the hotel, so please remember to bring your binoculars/telescopes etc and packed lunch onto the coach – do not leave them in your suitcase! Please also remember to bring your RSPB and WWT cards with you.

There will be 35 members on the coach and so not much spare room. If you have a spare seat next to you, please will you accept day sacks etc from members sharing double seats.

Finally let’s hope for another enjoyable trip with good birding.

BARBARA P

FIELD TRIP TO TITTESWORTH WATER - SATURDAY 10th DECEMBER

See Trip Reports section click here

CONWAY RSPB RESERVE

I was surprised when, on the recent trip to North Wales, a few people who had visited Conway RSPB reserve on one of our previous trips commented on the new visitor centre, saying that it wasn’t there when they last visited. I checked when the Group was last there, and we went in both 2009 and 2012, so when was the visitor centre built?
Checking online, I found that it was finished in 2006 and officially opened in 2007 so it has actually been there for 10 years! Either memories are playing tricks, or the ones who commented must have missed a couple of visits. It’s amazing how time flies…

IDENTITY CRISIS

This is the title of this month’s talk, which will concentrate on a number of species that can easily be misidentified or ‘mixed up’. You may remember the comment in Chris’s report on our North Wales trip, in last month’s newsletter, about telling the difference between Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser. The males should be pretty straightforward, but it is the females that are more similar and led to the comment about one looking ‘scruffier’ than the other.

Well hopefully, at the end of the talk, you will have learnt a few tips to separate some problem species and will feel more confident about your identification skills, but if you still have those nagging doubts, there is a very good resource available on the BTO website. This provides a series of bird identification videos that concentrate on species pairs or groups that appear similar, and point out the important features to help you tell them apart. You don’t have to be a member of the BTO to access them and you can find them at
https://www.bto.org/about-birds/bird-id

Each video lasts about 5 minutes, and the mixture of video and still photographs used are really instructive in highlighting the key differences between the species covered. There are over 50 videos available, and the library is being added to all the time; and if you still need to brush up your Goosander/Red-breasted Merganser id, then the video for this pair is currently on page 6.

BRIAN D

CYPRUS BIRDING AGAIN – NOVEMBER 2016

For a more extensive version of this report and more photos please visit Peter's Page on the Group website at http://wgbwcopy.wikidot.com/peter-s-page.

CAWOS INDOOR MEETINGS 2016 - 2017

CAWOS (Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society) to which the Guild Birdwatching Group is affiliated holds monthly meetings that may be of interest to our members.

Further details are available at http://www.cawos.org/indoor.htm

NEXT MONTH’S MEETING

The next meeting is in just 2 weeks time on Friday 10th February at 7:30pm, when our speaker will be Brian Anderson with a talk entitled “Feathers and Wings”.

Hope to see you all then.

ROBERT D

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