Marbury Christmas Trip

Marbury CP 16th December 2015                                    Sandbach U3A Birdwatching Group

We gathered at Marbury’s car park on a mild day that didn’t seem at all like December, donning 4 layers in place of the mandatory winter plumage of at least five layers. Not all our number made it so early – some were pacing themselves for lunch – still 3 hours distant!

As is usual at this site, the trees surrounding the car park gave us our starter for ten with several Great Tits, and walking into the park proper we found a Song Thrush foraging on a fallen stump. The odd Redwing was spotted in the tree tops, a couple of Nuthatch gave us some amusement in front of the rangers’ office and a Treecreeper played its usual game of hide-and-seek with its observers. As we walked round the corner we encountered a Jay, and a Sparrowhawk dived into some yew trees.

We settled in at the reed bed hide, hoping for a glimpse of the elusive Bittern. Gadwall, Tufted, Great Crested Grebe and Cormorant filled in our waiting time, while detailed examination of the Kid Brook area gave good sightings of Lapwing, Curlew, Common Gull, and a single male Teal. A couple of Grey Heron featured, as, in its usual starring role, did a showy Kingfisher, whizzing back and fore between the reed bed and the mere bank. Three Buzzards soared in the background, underlining the warmth of the day, while Long-tailed Tit and Reed Bunting visited the feeding table.

It eventually dawned on us that the Bittern was not coming out to play, so we strolled on alongside the mere, noting a Goldcrest in among some Blue Tits, picking out a Shelduck on the spit, before stopping at the Woodland Hide. Here we saw Great Spotted Woodpecker alongside a woodland pool, and a female Bullfinch in the same area. The walk back to the car park through the parkland brought in a Stock Dove, and we wrapped up at midday before heading to the Spinner and Bergamot pub with a 16-strong party for Christmas lunch, 44 species to the good.

In the days after Boxing Day, your author was gazing into the far distance (or at least as far as the wall from the sofa!) when I was struck by the number of Christmas cards which were representing Christmas by the use of birds. 20% of our cards featured a Robin to denote the festive period, while Gentoo Penguin, Turtle Dove, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Reed Bunting and Great Spotted Woodpecker all appeared on just one card. That may be because I am known as a birdwatcher, but either way there is certainly no complaint from me. Perhaps it also goes towards proving that the great British public is aware of bird life, and at least one bird retains a special place in their consciousness.

Full details are now to hand concerning our colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit seen at Marshside in October. EY94390 (the metal ring number for this bird) was ringed as a juvenile on 12th August 2015 on the Ythan estuary in Aberdeenshire. The population on the Ythan has been proved to have originated on the north coast of Iceland, so it is likely that this is where our bird hatched. It has since been seen at Boness a month later and then at Lytham a month after that (10th October). Eighteen days later came our sighting, and another sighting on the 5th January 2016 placed it on the Caernarfon coast. It seems as if our bird is drifting southward slowly, the mild weather encouraging it to linger at British coastal resorts, where the living is relatively easy.

As we approach a New Year, it is perhaps worth looking back over our birding for the previous year. In the first half of the current season, had you been lucky enough to see every species, you would have seen 86 species. For the calendar year 2015, the total is 132 species. And as a group we are approaching a notable milestone, having seen between us 198 species since record-keeping commenced  in 2009. If not before, then we will certainly surpass 200 species on the Speyside trip in May.

Richard Howells

Marbury CP Trip List 16th December 2015


Greylag Goose 42 associating with the large Canada flock
Canada Goose Large flock.
Shelduck Single on Kid Brook spit.
Gadwall Several on the mere.
Teal Male on Kid Brook spit.
Mallard Common.
Tufted Duck Several on the mere.
Great Crested Grebe Good numbers on the mere.
Cormorant Several on the spit.
Grey Heron Far side of the mere.
Sparrowhawk Dived in to yew trees near the Boathouse.
Buzzard 3 soaring to the north.
Common Coot Common on the mere.
Lapwing Flock airborne to the north west
Curlew Several on Kid Brook spit.
Black-headed Gull Common.
Common Gull 2 or 3 on the mere.
Stock-Dove Parkland.
Wood-Pigeon Parkland.
Common Kingfisher Between hide and Coward reed bed.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Woodland hide.
White Wagtail Kid Brook spit.
Wren Several heard.
Dunnock Seen near hide.
Robin Seen near hide.
Blackbird Several seen.
Song Thrush One on stump hear park entrance.
Redwing A few in trees behind offices.
Goldcrest Mere side path among Blue Tits.
Long-tailed-Tit Hide feeding station.
Blue Tit Hide feeding station.
Great Tit Hide feeding station.
Coal Tit Conifers near hide.
Wood Nuthatch At least 2 in front of rangers’ office.
Treecreeper One in front of service compound.
Jay One foraging on path to hide, one in parkland.
Black-billed Magpie Near entrance to park.
Jackdaw Kid Brook spit.
Carrion Crow Over parkland.
Starling Kid Brook spit.
Chaffinch Hide feeding station.
Greenfinch Near rangers’ office.
Bullfinch Woodland hide.
Reed Bunting Hide.


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