Sunday, 28 October 2012

Eccleston Mere

Pochard 1 male
Tufted Duck 7
Teal 1
Redwing 10
Goldcrest 1
Goldfinch 20
Rain (lots)


This magnificent winter plumage adult Lesser Black Backed Gull has been on the mere for several days now. Adults in summer plumage are immaculate birds I think, and one of the first signs of spring, but this is one of the best marked winter birds I've seen on the mere for a long time. If only I knew a bit more about gull id, I'd probably claim it as something else! It's a mean looking critter!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Springtails (collembola)

I was at a springtail (collembola) workshop at Edge Hill University today. It was to test a new key to springtails which will be published shortly and will help people to identify them to family.

I've worked with springtails before from the Ribble, but only with dead specimens. Today we collected live specimens from the leaf litter at Edge Hill, and it was a delight to watch them through a binocular microscope, charging around a petri dish. All of the photos below are from Edge Hill apart from the last.

The appendage which allows the springtail to "spring" is known as the furca and looks like a tail when the animal is dead, but in life it is tucked under the springtails body, ready for action should the creature be threatened. Springtails also have a ventral tube, which is on their tummy (the first abdominal segment) and is used to help regulate water and for self-righting when the springtail is upside down.

There can be up to 2 million individuals per cubic metre of soil.


Dicyrtomina minuta (yellowish with a black spot) and Orchisella villosa (the large brown hairy one). Dicyrtomina minuta is about 1.5mm long.


Dicyrtomina saundersi from above, with the furca extended behind like a tail, and from below with the furca tucked under the body in the "ready to spring" position.


Orchisella villosa with Dicyrtomina saundersi, and Dicyrtoma fusca (the purple one).


Tomocerus longicornis from Crossens Marsh, Ribble Estuary.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Rainford Mosslands

Pink-footed Goose 2000 Old Coach Road, 2000 Dairy Farm Road,500 over Catchdale Moss.
Fieldfare 100 Old Coach Road, 30 Dairy Farm Road, 20 Green Lane, Catchdale Moss.
Redwing 30 Dairy Farm Road, 50 Old Coach Road, 20 Green Lane, Catchdale Moss.
Golden Plover 1 flew over Old Coach Road.
Pied Wagtail 150 Clare's Moss, Old Coach Road.
Buzzard 2 Old Coach Road, 2 Dairy Farm Road.

Dragonflies: 1 Southern Hawker Old Coach Road.

I'm not sure where the wagtail flock has been hiding for the past couple of weeks, but it was back today in even larger numbers!


Green Lane, Catchdale Moss and Billinge Hill from Green Lane.

Eccleston Mere

Redwing 50
Fieldfare 10
Blackbird 50
Song Thrush 2
Mistle Thrush 1
Pink-footed Goose 800 flew over
Peregrine 1
Siskin 3
Goldfinch 50
Bullfinch 2
Kingfisher 1
Goldcrest 2

A beautiful morning at Eccleston Mere, the thrush flock in the western hedge is an impressive sight at the moment, with loads of birds moving through and along  the hedge, and the air is full of cackles, ticks and seeps.

Peregrine on a pylon (photo taken a couple of days ago).

Queens Park

Pink-footed Goose 120 flew over heading south.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Eccleston Mere

Fieldfare 22
Redwing 30
Blackbird 20
Lesser Redpoll 1
Siskin 5
Goldfinch 50
Tufted Duck 6 (3 males, 3 females)

It was great to see the cackling Fieldfares and seeping Redwings in the hedge on the western shore today, along with at least 20 Blackbirds. It almost felt like an east coast fall! Also in this area, still good numbers of finches, as well as a roving flock of Long-tailed Tits. Not much on the water though, a minimal build up of Tufted Ducks, but Pochard and Goldeneye are noticable by the absence. Perhaps the arrival of cold northerly winds in the next day or two will bring a few.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Eccleston Mere

Peregrine 1
Buzzard 1
Pink-footed Goose 200 flew over
Barnacle Goose 35 flew over
Canada Goose 100
Siskin 10
Goldfinch 80
Nuthatch 1
Little Grebe 1 juv.

The Barnacle Geese flew over from the direction of Knowsley Safari Park and headed towards Carr Mill Dam. Thirty minutes later they flew over again in the opposite direction!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Winter Hill and Rivington Pike

Today we walked from Wallsuches at Horwich to Winter Hill and then on to Rivington Pike. It was a glorious autumnal day, warm with not a breathe of wind, and blue skies and golden trees. Two Crossbills flew over Matchmore Lane, Goldcrests were numerous everywhere and there was a male Stonechat just below the Pike.


Holdens Farm from Burnt Edge and Lever Park.


Winter Hill and Rivington Pike

Eccleston Mere

Blackcap 2
Goldfinch 100
Siskin 2
Redwing 20
Tufted Duck 7



Saturday, 20 October 2012

Rainford Mosslands

Pink-footed Goose 1000 Dairy Farm Road, 1000 Old Coach Road
Tree Sparrow 2 Old Coach Road
Sparrowhawk 1 Old Coach Road, 1 Reed's Moss
Buzzard 1 Old Coach Road


Dairy Farm Road with Pink-footed Geese flying over.


Old Coach Road

Eccleston Mere

Chiffchaff 1
Buzzard 1
Nuthatch 1
Goldcrest 10
Treecreeper 5
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2


Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria near the stream and Great Scented Liverwort Conocephalum conicum on the bank of the stream.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Rainford Mosslands

Pink-footed Goose 2000 Old Coach Road
Goldcrest 5 Old Coach Road
Great spotted Woodpecker 1 Old Coach Road
Buzzard 1 Old Coach Road, 1 Dairy Farm Road

Eccleston Mere

Blackcap 2 male and female
Chiffchaff 1
Willow Tit 1
Coal Tit 1
Nuthatch 1
Treecreeper 1
Goldcrest 5
Siskin 5
Goldfinch 80
Little Grebe 1 juv.
Peregrine 1
Buzzard 1
Reed Bunting 1
Redwing 10

Very small numbers of Redwings for the time of year, and amazingly I've not seen a single Fieldfare yet this autumn. By comparison, on the 14th October 2011, I counted an estimated 1200 Fieldfares and 2200 Redwings over Billinge Hill (as reported here), and on 13th October 2011 I had 87 Fieldfares over my house. I don't think I've heard of any Fieldfares anywhere in the North West yet, certainly not in any numbers.

Also today, 1 Southern Hawker dragonfly in the SE corner.


Southern Hawker


Southern Hawker is one of three species which are superficially very similar, the others being Common and Migrant Hawker. Here is my simple guide to these three species.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Eccleston Mere

Kingfisher 5 together along the stream
Nuthatch 1
Treecreeper 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Little Grebe 1 juv.
Siskin 15
Lesser Redpoll 2
Goldfinch 60
Buzzard 1
Skylark 20 over SW
Goldcrest 5
Coal Tit 1

The Kingfishers were a remarkable sight, one remained sitting in the hedge for a few seconds allowing me to approach quite closely, whilst the other 4 flew off together down the stream. A family party I assume.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Eccleston Mere

Goldeneye 2
Chiffchaff 1
Siskin 15
Goldfinch 60
Bullfinch 1
Goldcrest 7
Stock Dove 2
Jay 4
Greylag 1
Tufted Duck 3
Skyllark 10 over SW
Buzzard 1


Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria and Penny Bun Boletus edulis (I think).

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Eccleston Mere

Siskin 10
Goldfinch 60
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Kingfisher 1
Buzzard 1
Redwing 3

Monday, 15 October 2012

Eccleston Mere

Raven 2 calling but I only saw one fly over, heading east.
Lesser Redpoll 5
Siskin 10
Goldfinch 60
Coal Tit 4
Goldcrest 3
Pink-footed Goose 150 flying north


Raven.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Rivington fungus





I really need to get into fungus, I don't know what any of these are. They're probably all quite common and some may be the same. They were all growing on a couple of stumps, probably of beech, in Lever Park at Rivington. We Walked from George's Lane near Wallsuches, Horwich to Rivington Pike and then down to the barn for a coffee.

Eccleston Mere

Lesser Redpoll 2
Jackdaw 200
Buzzard 1
Siskin 2
Goldfinch 60
Grey Wagtail 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1


The finch flock was a beautiful sight at the SW corner of the mere, they were all feeding low down on a smallish Alder tree and the sunlight hit them perfectly. Jackdaws have roosted on the island for years, but you need to be there at dawn or dusk to fully experience them.


It was a beautiful start to the day at Eccleston Mere. I'm not sure if it's a deliberate policy, but the woodland at the southern end of the mere is more or less perminantly flooded these days, which is rapidly killing off all of the trees (mainly Sycamore and Alder) and the rhododendron. Willow Tits are one species which seem to have benefited in recent years and it looks good for woodpeckers, but what the long term future of the woodland is I'm not sure. At least watching a new habitat develop adds a bit of interest to a site which I have visited many hundreds of times over the past 23 years. Stops me getting bored!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Eccleston Mere

I had a brief visit to Eccleston Mere, cut short by yet more torrential rain. In the time I was there, I saw about 16 Goldfinches, 2 Siskins, 1 Grey Wagtail and 1 Buzzard, whilst 100 Pink-footed Geese flew over, heading north. Then the heavens opened and I abandoned birding for the day.



Friday, 12 October 2012

Highfield Moss

This afternoon we visited Highfield Moss at Lowton, to do a vegetation survey. I've mentioned the site several times in the past, and it is one of my favourites in the North West, despite its small size.


Highfield Moss and a point quadrat.

Crossens Marsh and Hesketh Out Marsh

We returned to the Ribble estuary again this morning to retrieve the traps we put down last Monday. It was another nice day, but much breezier than earlier in the week. On Hesketh Out Marsh we saw about 8 Little Egrets and a Great White Egret, presumably the bird which has also been seen at Banks recently, whilst at Crossens we had a nice view of a Merlin.


Hesketh Out Marsh and me trying to pull up a pitfall trap. The mud is so fine and wet and sticky that the traps are sometimes really difficult to pull out of the ground. You can just see the bus shelter hide in the background, and my collegue on the bank who had just noticed that a herd of cattle was heading my way which I was oblivious to! I only noticed them when they were about 10 feet away!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Eccleston Mere

Mute Swan 6 juvs.
Wigeon 3
Redwing 6
Lesser Redpoll 1
Siskin 5
Goldfinch 20
Buzzard 1



Mute Swans used to be quite a rarity on the mere, but this has been a good year, with three long staying adults over the summer and now these six juveniles. I assume that these are from the same family. They're obviously moving around as a family party, but with no adults. I guess that the adults have chased them away (from Taylor Park??).

Queens Park

Redwing 30 over flying south west. First I've seen this autumn.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Rainford Mosslands, Dairy Farm Road

At least 2000 Pink-footed Geese took off from Dairy Farm Road and then flew in the direction of Kings Moss at 8:30am. At about 6pm I was cycling past Dairy Farm Road and at least 3000 Pink-feet flew back over from the direction of Kings Moss. They were most likely heading for Simonswood Moss.

Roudsea Woods and Moss NNR, South Cumbria


Roudsea Moss and toadstools.


Slow Worm.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Rainford Mosslands

Willow Tit 1 Dairy Farm Road
Pink-footed Goose 2000 Dairy Farm Road
Pink-footed Goose 500 Old Coach Road

Monday, 8 October 2012

Crossens Marsh and Hesketh Out Marsh

Today we were out on the Ribble saltmarsh again, collecting invertebrates with pitfall traps. It's a tough day out on a warm day like today, dressed in waders, carrying a heavy load, zig-zagging your way across a saltmarsh full of a tangle of vegetation, and crossed by ditches and pools and large patches of sticky mud. We put down 40 traps on Crossens Marsh (which is basically the seaward side of the RSPB Marshside reserve) and another 40 on RSPB Hesketh Out marsh.

There were plenty of birds about, especially Wigeon, Teal and Pink-footed Geese. At Crossens we saw a Peregrine, but Hesketh Out Marsh was best, with a dashing Merlin across the car park and away over the sea wall, whilst on the marsh itself we flushed many Snipe and 2 Jack Snipe. There were also 8 Little Egrets on the marsh. At Marshside I had a wander around the old sand washing plant, but the only small birds I could find apart from the Robins and Blue Tits were about 4 Goldcrests.


Marshside with hundreds of Wigeon and Crossens Marsh.


Sea Aster Aster tripolium in seed on Crossens Marsh and Large-flowered Evening Primrose Oenothera glazioviana at Marshside.


Hesketh Out Marsh looking good. This was farm land as recently as 6 years ago.


Glasswort on Hesketh Out Marsh.

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