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.


TONIGHT'S MEETING (Friday 27th April)

Tonight’s meeting will begin at 7:15pm with our Annual General Meeting.

This is your opportunity to express any comments (or complaints) on the way that the group is run and to make any suggestions. Please make use of it.

Following the AGM our speaker is Jeff Clarke with a talk entitled “How to build a Naturalist”. Jeff has been a frequent visitor to the Guild in recent years and is a popular speaker on a wide range of subjects related to the natural environment. All his talks are liberally sprinkled with humour and anecdotes that guarantees a memorable night for the audience.

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


Our next coach trip is this weekend on Sunday 29th of April to Rutland Water, departing from the Guild at 7:30am.

This internationally famous nature reserve is managed by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust in partnership with Anglian Water and provides one of the most important wildfowl sanctuaries in Great Britain, regularly holding in excess of 25,000 waterfowl.
It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, designated as a European Special Protection Area and internationally recognised as a globally important wetland RAMSAR site.

The reserve occupies shore line and shallow water lagoons along 9 miles of the western end of Rutland Water and covers a total area of 1000 acres. It was created in the 1970s with the construction of the reservoir. There are over 30 bird watching hides and nature trails from two visitor centres with experts to help you with identification.

The Reserve is also home to the successful Rutland Osprey Project which in 2001 celebrated the first Osprey chick to fledge in Central England for 150 years. Currently several pairs of Ospreys breed in and around Rutland Water and are regularly seen fishing over the reservoir from April – September.
The Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre at Egleton offers exciting environmental displays, viewing gallery, excellent schools service, Wildlife Trust shop and In Focus optical shop. At the Lyndon Visitor Centre there is a fascinating Weather and Wildlife exhibition as well as a Wildlife Trust shop.

There is a £4 group admission charge for the reserve. Please retain your ticket during the day as you will need it when visiting the various parts of the reserve.

Our final coach trip of the season is on Sunday 13th May to Bempton RSPB reserve and Flamborough Head, departing from the Guild at 7:30am.

Over 200,000 seabirds come to the cliffs at Bempton to breed. There are gannets, guillemots, razorbills, puffins, kittiwakes and fulmars. Peregrines are often present and occasionally short-eared owl on the farmland behind. Typical farmland birds such as skylark, corn bunting and partridge can often be seen here as well. At Flamborough the cliffs are less pronounced but the farmland/woodland area is better. Toilets and café facilities are available at both sites. RSPB members should bring their cards.

Book your seat for both trips at the desk.


See Trip Reports section click here


Please visit Peter's Page on the Group website click here



We’re delighted to say that the annual Bird Report for 2015 is now available – with many people working together to finally get it printed. This year’s eye-catching colour front cover is a stunning second-calendar-year Laughing Gull, which attracted many admirers to New Brighton Marine Lake, often giving ‘crippling’ views.

There are 152 pages of text with, as usual, the colour map of the county as the centre spread of the Bird Report. A total of 20 colour photographs, which best capture some of the highlights of the year, are spread over seven full pages.

The Bird Report is full of interesting articles:

• The first article tells the story of a Western Sandpiper discovered back in 2012. It attracted a steady stream of visiting birders, often showing well, over its 6-day stay. However, the identification prompted much discussion both locally and nationally such that it took four years and as many circulations for BBRC to agree it was the species claimed. This was the first ever for Cheshire and Wirral and only the 9th for the UK.
• Another article describes one observer finding tens of thousands of Common Scoters, all feeding just offshore from the low-water mark off Hoylake. After many weeks traipsing across the mud, the reward was discovering the first Surf Scoter for Cheshire and Wirral.
• Again on the Wirral, visiting birders upstaged the locals after finding the 1st-winter (second calendar-year) Laughing Gull on New Brighton Marine Lake on 2nd February. Fortunately for everyone, it hung around until 20th April; even visiting the Merseyside side of the Mersey estuary. The author of the article generously said “….anyone can be in the right place at the right moment and discover an exciting vagrant!”
• 2015 was a good year for Cetti’s Warblers, with reports of birds seen and/or heard coming from more than 20 sites. This secretive species is usually difficult to see, but one observer at Sandbach Flashes managed to hear, then finally see, a Cetti’s Warbler on a foggy day in October – the first for the flashes.

All the ‘regulars’ are there: ‘Weather and Bird Review of the Year’; the full ‘Systematic List of Birds Recorded in Cheshire and Wirral during 2015’, including ‘Category E Species’; ‘Early and Late Dates for Migrants’; ‘Ringing Report’; ‘BBRC and County Rarities Decisions’; ‘Chairman’s Review’; and finally, advice on the Cheshire and Wirral Gazetteer, and the ‘Submission of Records’, including rarities.

Last, but not least, we have again included a ‘Species Index’ at the back to help you quickly look up your favourite species.

The Bird Report is free to Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society members (ordinary membership costs £12), otherwise it costs £8 + £2 p&p and copies are available from:

David Cogger, 71 Parkgate, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 8HF
Tel: 01565 228503 Email: gro.sowac|reggocdivad#gro.sowac|reggocdivad


The Committee proposes to run 2 local car trips over the summer.

Goyt Valley, Wednesday 16th May

The woodland around Errwood reservoir and the upper Goyt Valley attracts numbers of summer migrants such as pied flycatcher, redstart, common sandpiper, tree pipit, 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.

Woolston Eyes, Thursday 7th June

The four beds at Woolston Deposit Grounds SSSI, are managed as a nature reserve by the Woolston Eyes Conservation Group in agreement with the Manchester Ship Canal Company. Parts of the site are still in use to accommodate dredging from the Manchester Ship Canal.

The reserve is perhaps best known for its breeding population of Black-necked Grebes. A variety of wildfowl can also be found here while warblers and other small birds are attracted to the scrub areas. Bird ringing takes place here from April to October each year.

Meet at the Guild at 8am or at Woolston Eyes (Thelwall Lane entrance) at 9am.

Directions: leave the M6 at junction 20 and follow the A50 towards Warrington, cross the ship canal swing bridge on the Knutsford Road (A50), take the right hand lane through Latchford and cross Kingsway South into Thelwall Lane.

The approach to the reserve goes between factories on the left and the Locks on the right. Park by the first barrier (parking here can be difficult). Key holders can negotiate two locked barriers to reach the car park by No.3 bed and the footbridge.

If your car has sat nav then keying in the postcode WA4 1PD and following the instructions should get you near to the first barrier referred to above.

You can obtain a map of the reserve and entrances at the following web address…

There will be an entry fee of £2 per person.


Our first indoor meeting of the new season will be on Friday 28th September at 7:30pm and will feature Brian White with a talk entitled “Amazon Expedition”.

Our first coach trip will be on Sunday 21st October to Spurn, departing from the Guild at 7:30am.


Keep this weekend free: FRIDAY 22 – SUNDAY 24 February! Next year we are returning to Minsmere for our weekend away. We will be staying in Great Yarmouth at the Furzedown Hotel, the small family run hotel which made us so welcome on our previous visit.

I will be taking bookings at our September and October meetings.

Barbara P


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.


Here are some photos of the more interesting and unusual visitors to my garden during the last month.


I was sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast when some movement at the top of the garden caught my eye. I turned to get a better look and nearly choked on my coffee! It was a Red-legged Partridge. I picked up the camera and managed to rattle off a few shots before it squeezed under the hedge and disappeared into the neighbour’s garden. I live in suburban Macclesfield so this was rather unexpected.

The Red-legged Partridge is not a native species to the UK. Its natural habitat is continental Europe, mainly France and Spain. However they are often reared alongside pheasants and released for shooting so the British population is probably largely derived from escapees and survivors. There is a good population in Cheshire – I have often seen them while out walking in the countryside but never quite so close to home.

Later that same day…


In the afternoon I was again sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a cup of coffee when I was attracted to some movement up against the hedge in the corner of the garden. This time it turned out to be a Sparrowhawk.


It had obviously just made a kill (which I hadn’t seen happen) and was busy plucking and devouring its catch. The victim looked quite large and dark-coloured, probably a feral pigeon. It was a substantial meal, you can see its crop bulging on its chest in the photo.

Fortunately it wasn’t disturbed so it remained while it finished its meal. It was very wary, constantly looking around all the time as it ate. It moved round quite a bit so I was able to see it from several different angles.

It then flew over the hedge taking the carcase with it but then returned immediately to almost where it had been before but now perched higher up on some sticks in the corner of the garden. It then spent some time wiping its beak on the perch to clean off the bloody mess and settled down to digest its meal. At this point it appeared to fall asleep since it hardly moved at all for quite a while.


The bird was in the garden for a considerable time. On checking the time stamps on the photos the first was was taken at 14:35 and the last one at 15:27. Almost 1 hour and that was only up to the point where it fell asleep and when I stopped taking photos. It was was there for at least another 30 minutes after that. Eventually the sky turned very dark and it started to rain which persuaded it to move on.

Quite an exciting day, and I didn’t even have to move from the comfort of my own kitchen!


Siskins were still visiting the garden in the early part of this month. Usually they prefer to visit the hanging feeders but this handsome male Siskin came down to my home-made ground feeder to get his sunflower hearts.

Robert D


Tonight’s Meeting (Friday 23rd March)

Tonight we welcome as our speaker occasional visitor Keith Offord with a talk entitled “Where Griffons Soar”.

Keith is one of the most highly acclaimed ornithologists in the UK and is particularly recognised for his extensive knowledge of raptors, wildfowl and wading birds. Originally a zoology graduate from Liverpool University, he now works as a professional leader of UK and foreign bird watching tours and regularly gives lectures all over the UK to a wide range of societies including RSPB and photographic clubs.

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


Our next coach trip is this weekend on Sunday 25th of March to RSPB reserve Middleton Lakes, departing from the Guild at 7:30am.

Middleton Lakes, nestled in the beautiful Tame valley just south of Tamworth on the Staffordshire/Warwickshire border, provides and protects a variety of habitats on reclaimed gravel extraction land. These include open water, wet grassland, reedbed, meadow and woodland.
The area is regionally important for overwintering wildfowl such as pochards, tufted ducks and smews. The lakes, reed beds, meadows and woodlands make it one of the best birdwatching sites in the Midlands.

The winter cold brings more species to the feeders, including lesser spotted woodpeckers. Frozen lakes force shy water rails into the open and even wintering bitterns can be seen on the reedbed fringes. Wildfowl and waders reach peak numbers with goldeneyes often found in the quieter pools and on the river. There are also impressive starling roosts. We last visited in 2014. There is no admittance fee.

Now for the bad news! British Summer Time begins on Sunday 25th March when the clocks go forward. Therefore please make sure you set your alarm clock 1 hour forward when you go to bed on Saturday evening.

Our next coach trip after that is to Rutland Water on Sunday 29th April, departing from the Guild at 7:30am.


See Trip Reports section click here


Our next meeting is on Friday 27th April at 7:15pm (note the earlier start time) and will commence with the AGM. Folowing that our speaker will be Jeff Clark with a talk entitled “How to build a naturalist”

Hope to see you all then.


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.


Waxwings are colourful winter visitors from Scandinavia. They are usually seen in large flocks often in unusual places such as supermarket car parks where they are attracted to the berries on the bushes planted there. This winter has been rather a poor year for Waxwing sightings with very few reported. However, in mid-February, a single individual was reported nearby in Poynton so a friend and I went for a look.

After being directed by a local dog walker we soon found it was in a small tree beside the main road through a residential area. There were no berries in sight anywhere (although the local gardens were mostly hidden behind high hedges and fences) so it was difficult to see what attracted it. According to locals, it usually stayed within a range of 5 or 6 trees along the road.

It remained for at least 2 weeks and provided an excellent viewing opportunity.


Robert D


Tonight’s Meeting (Friday 9th February)

Tonight we welcome first time visitor Dave Brotton who will give a talk entitled “Wildlife – Close to Home”. This is a change to the programme on your membership card.

Dave is a wildlife photographer based in Altrincham. He has been seriously taking wildlife photographs since 2009 but never had the time he wanted to dedicate to it until recently. He finished full time employment at the end of 2015 so took the opportunity to be a full time photographer.

As well as spending many hours around his local patch, he has been lucky enough to have travelled extensively and has had the chance to build up a large image library.

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


Our February coach trip is the Weekend Away to East Lothian. See below for final departure information if you are coming on the trip.

After that the next coach trip is on Sunday 25th of March to RSPB reserve Middleton Lakes, departing from the Guild at 7:30am.

The area is regionally important for overwintering wildfowl such as pochards, tufted ducks and smews. The lakes, reedbeds, meadows and woodlands make it one of the best birdwatching sites in the Midlands. We last visited in 2014.

Since this coach trip is on the same weekend as the March indoor meeting it would be useful if you could show your interest and book at tonight’s meeting so that we can get an idea of numbers.


The East Lothian trip is almost here and below is some important pre-trip information.

The coach will leave promptly at 7.30am on SATURDAY 17 February from the usual pick-up place on the corner of Bourne St and Altrincham Road. Please arrive by 7.15am so that all 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 Barbara at the February meeting. There are still 13 outstanding!

We will be birding during the day before arriving at the hotel, so remember to bring your binoculars/telescopes etc and packed lunch onto the coach – do not leave them in your suitcase! Our main stop on the way up to Scotland will be at Washington Wetland Centre run by the World Wildfowl Trust. Entry is free to members of the WWT, but there is a charge for non-members. As a group we are eligible for a reduced group rate which is £6.60 concession and £8.75 for adults. So don’t forget to bring your WWT and RSPB cards with you!

There will be 28 members on the coach and therefore 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.

Dinner is booked for 7.30pm on both days and breakfast for 8.00 am.

The dinner menu for Saturday will be circulated on the coach in the morning for you to make your choices, and similarly any booked packed lunches.

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



See Trip Reports section click here


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


Please visit Peter's Page on the Group website click here


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

Details can be found at


Our next meeting is on Friday 23rd March at 7:30pm when our speaker will be Keith Offord with a talk entitled “Where Griffons Soar”

Hope to see you all then.


Here are some of my sightings in the garden over the last month.


During one of our many snow flurries last month I had Goldfinch and Siskin on the feeders. There is usually a flock of 6-10 Goldfinches present most days but these were the first Siskins for some time. Both species are particularly keen on the sunflower hearts.


This handsome Brambling was a visitor for several days. It was present with a flock of Chaffinches and they all foraged together for scraps under the feeders.


I had this Jay visit. Jays are very occasional visitors to the garden. They are always very shy and wary, never staying for long. This one foraged for a few scraps for less than a minute then was gone.


I mentioned my bird bath a few newsletters ago. I said that it wasn’t used just by the birds. Here is the proof.



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.


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