Marbury Park 13th December 2017

Christmas Robin
Christmas Robin

Marbury Country Park Field Trip 12/12/2017 Sandbach U3A Birdwatching Group 1


We gathered at the car park at Marbury 13-strong for our last outing of 2017. Conditions were grey and overcast, some snow still on the ground, slippery underfoot in quite a few places although the thaw had started. We all appreciated the council’s inability to keep their pay-and-display machine serviceable.


Suitably booted and layered (in your leader’s case to Michelin Man levels) we set off into the park, but not before a Sparrowhawk was seen at the east end of the car park. We encountered the first of quite large crowds of Redwings in the park just behind the rangers’ compound. We walked along towards the site of the Old Hall picking up commoner species such as Great Tit & Chaffinch.


The Hawfinch irruption into Britain has attracted a lot of attention, with numbers of places attracting a small wintering flock. Marbury is no exception, and a company of four have been sighted here, in the tops of the higher trees around the Old Hall site. Here we waited, glad of hats, buffs and gloves, and found that adding to our day list was a slow affair. The Redwing and Greenfinch kept us entertained, Bullfinch was seen and a charm of Goldfinch and a Coal Tit joined our vigil. A flush of four Shoveler heading south west enlivened proceedings, but no Hawfinch were seen.


The cold and just standing around started to get to us, and the group drifted slowly downhill to the hide overlooking the reedbed and the western end of Budworth Mere. At least benches were available here, and adding to the list became easier. The mere was still frozen at our end, and watching the Mallards (collective noun – sord) landing to take advantage of the feeders was better than a panto as they skidded during touchdown, skated towards the bank, and as their webbed feet slipped away from them, bounced onto their breast feathers.


Beyond the ice, Tufted Duck could be seen, and the large gaggle of Canada was obviously present behind the trees on the far side of the mere, with a few Greylag mixed in. Common Gull was picked out from the gulls lining the fenceposts, and Great Crested Grebe  were fishing in the open water, although at some distance. A couple of Curlew were picked out along the spit that shields Kid Brook’s entry to the mere, which grew into a herd of a dozen birds when disturbed later.


A bird arrived from the north and flew directly over the hide. Fast-flying, pointed wingtips, and bulky appearance identified it as a Peregrine. Three Lapwing were picked out of the northern sky, and a knob of four Pochard braved the cold waters between the spit and the ice edge. While watching the Pochards, a Kingfisher flashed through the telescope view of one member and was tracked towards the south west shore of the mere, flying low along the ice edge.


At this point a thoughtless dog owner (plus two dogs) then put up the birds gathered around Kid Brook. Disturbing for the birds, but convenient for the birdwatchers, as this flushed the mixed geese gaggle on to the water, and here perseverance paid off, as a Barnacle Goose was discerned among the flock. Smaller, with similar colours to the Canada in poor light (and the conditions were grey) it was very difficult to pick out even for those with scopes. Rain had arrived by this time and our last on the mere was a Lesser Black-backed Gull, which thoughtfully perched on one of the buoys.


Closer to the hide the banditry of tits streaming to and from the feeders provided amusement, and among their number we saw Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. A break in the downpour allowed us to escape to the car park, adding Fieldfare and Song Thrush along the way. We headed off to the Spinner & Bergamot where 23 of us took lunch. Just 37 on today’s bird list, but I passed a Buzzard over the east end of the mere on the way home, lifting it to 38.


Richard Howells



(for collective nouns for birds see   )

Marbury Park Trip List 13th Dec 2017 Sandbach U3A Birdwatching Group


Greylag Goose Kid Brook.
Barnacle Goose Kid Brook.
Canada Goose Kid Brook.
Mallard Below the feeders.
Northern Shoveler North shore & overhead.
Common Pochard Budworth Mere
Tufted Duck Budworth Mere
Great Crested Grebe Budworth Mere
Great Cormorant Budworth Mere
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Seen from car park
Buzzard East end of Budworth Mere
Peregrine Flew over the hide
Common Moorhen Budworth Mere
Eurasian Coot Budworth Mere
Northern Lapwing Flying to the north.
Eurasian Curlew Kid Brook spit (12)
Black-headed Gull Kid Brook fence posts, ice edge
Mew Gull Kid Brook.
Lesser Black-backed Gull On buoy in Budworth Mere
Herring Gull On buoy in Budworth Mere
Common Wood-Pigeon Overhead.
Common Kingfisher Along ice edge.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Above hide.
Eurasian Magpie Old Hall site.
Coal Tit Feeders
Great Tit Feeders
Eurasian Blue Tit Feeders
Eurasian Nuthatch Feeders
European Robin Old Hall site.
Eurasian Blackbird Old Hall site.
Fieldfare Overhead.
Redwing Old Hall site, Rangers’ compound.
Song Thrush Old Hall site.
Dunnock Feeders
Chaffinch Old Hall site.
European Greenfinch Old Hall site.
European Goldfinch Old Hall site.
Eurasian Bullfinch Rangers’ compound.