Black Cap

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Monday, 30 Nov 2015

brambling seen on Gatley Carrs courtesy of Paul Brewster

View our Photo Gallery of birds, ducks and geese that are found on the Carrs.

Total Species seen up to now 48!!!

GATLEY CARRS BIRD REPORT 8 - December 1st-31st

December was the wettest month on record. Walking around the Reserve was done with care as it was very muddy and slippery in places.

As expected, at this time of year, birds were feeding in large mixed flocks. The flocks were mainly Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit, and sometimes, Blue Tit and Great Tit were seen with them.

December 2nd. 11 Redwing, beautiful winter visitors, were seen. Jays were present also.
December 8th. A Snipe was seen flying from the pond island. Mallard and Grey Heron also on the pond. Bullfinch and Long-tailed Tit were also in the area. 7 Black-headed Gulls flew over.

Other birds seen this month included Song Thrush, Blackbird, Nuthatch and Jay.

The bird of the month was a Male Brambling (photo above courtesy of Paul Brewster), another winter visitor, which was in a tree the same time as a huge 40+ Goldfinch flock.

As my first year at Gatley Carrs NR comes to an end, I can only say how much I have enjoyed my time here. So many excellent moments and good birds to remember. I would like to say a huge thank you to Peter and Alan for inviting me to the Reserve to act as Bird Recorder.

I look forward to 2016 and the delights it will bring.


Due to adverse weather conditions there were very few bird sightings this month. The best sighting on November 3rd was a Goldcrest (see picture) seen at the dipping pond by Peter Owen, who was lucky to be able to watch this tiny bird, amongst a flock of Long-tailed Tits, for many minutes. I eventually caught up with the flock further along the path and saw 2 Nuthatches with them as well.

Peter and I also saw the Kingfisher at different times. Our resident Grey Heron, also Moorhen and Mallard, were seen on several dates that I visited. Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were abundant as they fed around the Reserve in the wet muddy areas.

Long-tailed Tits were often seen feeding noisily as they roved from tree to tree. A single Redwing was by the pond. A few parties of Black- headed Gulls flew over on their way to the tip. Quietest month of the year so far. No new species to add.

GATLEY CARRS BIRD REPORT 6 19th September – 31st October.

Walking around the Carrs this month there was plenty of evidence to suggest Autumn is taking a firm hold. The sound of the leaves crunching under your feet, as you walked along the tree lined paths, was a pure delight. The red, gold and yellow of the changing leaves, as they begin to drop, create a lovely backdrop. Not to be outdone, the fruiting trees also produced red, white and black berries which will help to provide food for the birds, around the Reserve, as the season changes.

The Jays were evident all month as they were often seen flying overhead, with their beaks full of acorns, as they dashed off to hide them in their favoured places.

On 20th September as I walked along the brook path, 21 male Blackbirds flew out of the Hawthorn bushes where they had been feeding on berries. This was the first sign of bird migration at the Carrs as I am sure these birds had stopped off to feed up before they continued on their journey.

On the 28th September a good find was a Snipe (pictured above courtesy of Paul Brewster), spotted by Peter Owen, as it flew from the back of the pond to the island. A Kingfisher was here also.

On the 18th October a well attended Autumn Walk, led by John Pollard, added to the interest as we all enjoyed searching for as many fungus as we could find. This was not easy as a lot of species were well hidden, but with John’s expert help, we did manage to recognise quite a few species.

Other birds of note was a Kestrel seen 25th and 26th October.

Another excellent month around the Carrs.

GATLEY CARRS BIRD REPORT August 1 - 19 September

July was such an exciting month but no two months are ever the same in Nature. Although I made 7 visits to the Reserve, during the time stated, there was not a great deal to report at this quiet time of the year. On the pond the Mallard, Little Grebe and Moorhen were still around , also our “ resident” Grey Heron Henry.

Around the Reserve a single Chiffchaff still here. Great spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch seen on several visits also.
The Dragonflies provided a great deal of enjoyment as they fed over the pond, several species were seen, including Brown Hawker, Common Hawker, Emperor, Ruddy Darter and Common Blue Damselfly.

It is always a pleasure to stroll around the Carrs, and although no new bird species were seen this month , I am sure Autumn will provide plenty more wonders for us to enjoy.


July is always a quiet month as the bird breeding season slowly comes to an end. Most birds have reared their young by now so are much less vocal. Lots of small flocks of young birds could be seen around the Reserve, moving noisily through the trees, as they begin their new start in life. Plenty of Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Great Tits and also Goldfinch were around the Carrs. Also plenty of Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks.

A visit on the 10th of July was truly the most memorable day for me! On arriving at the pond I watched a bird of prey for several minutes hawking over the water catching Dragonflies. Amazingly it was a Hobby! An iconic bird, adored by birdwatchers who may have travelled many miles to see one, was actually here at our Reserve! Desperate to share my find I phoned Peter Owen who arrived quite quickly but by then the bird was out of sight and not seen for a further 20 minutes. As we waited 3 Buzzards circled overhead. A Moorhen appeared with 4 tiny young and the Little Grebe was in view with 3 well grown young.

On 3 further visits in July very little was noteworthy but I was pleased to see 3 Black- headed Gulls fly over.

On the last visit of the month there were still a few Chiffchaff and a single Blackcap calling. A Nuthatch and Great- spotted Woodpecker were close to the Dipping Pond and I also saw a Dipper fly along the stream.


04/06: On arriving at the Carrs the first bird I saw was a beautiful female Sparrowhawk showing off her distinct “flap, flap, glide” flight as she flew over. Moments later a Buzzard was in view also. Great to watch 2 Raptors ( birds of prey) at the same time. Plenty of birds still in full song including Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. At the pond a Grey Heron was skulking and I was pleased to see the 2 surviving Moorhen chicks had the sense to hide in the thick vegetation. Also here, single Mallard and Little Grebe. Close to the dipping pond, a family of Long - Tailed Tits , 2 Adults and 8 very noisy young , were moving through the trees. No butterflies seen today possibly due to the cold NE wind but plenty of Swifts flying through. The Meadow Cranesbill provided a splash of blue in the grassy areas and Yellow Rattle appearing on the Meadow.

07/06: Still very windy. Late afternoon visit so fewer birds in song at this time of day. 3 Whitethroat , one Blackcap and Chiffchaff, were heard. The pond was quiet also with singles of Mallard and Little Grebe. A pair of Canada Geese appeared with 3 goslings.

10/06: Of note today a family of Blue Tits with 8 young begging loudly to be fed as they followed their parents. Nice to see a Coal Tit carrying food and a second bird was calling also in the vicinity of the bridge. The clear blue skies with warm sunny weather brought out the butterflies including Speckled Wood, Orange Tip, Small White and several day flying Cinnabar moths. Also, numerous Common Blue Damselfly. Around the Reserve plenty of Ribwort Plantain and nice to see White Campion in flowering on the Meadow.

11/06: The lovely song of the Garden Warbler greeted me as I set off from the Car Park. 2 Whitethroat were doing their best to out sing one another (counter singing) whilst a third bird sang close by. At least 4 Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaff were also still vocal. A male Bullfinch was calling as he flew over and a Collared Dove was seen. At the pond 9 male Mallard, an adult and young Moorhen, also Grey Heron. A singe baby Magpie was looking quite lost as he waited for his parents to appear with a meal. Other Wildlife seen today were many Common Blue Damselfly, Greater Plantain, and Pineapple Weed.

18/06: A cold windy day with very few birds singing. Of note was a Buzzard soaring over the Carrs.

23/06: Good weather so again a very pleasant walk. Still plenty of Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing but no singing Whitethroat today. A Nuthatch and Great - Spotted Woodpecker close to the Dipping Pond and a Mallard appeared with 4 tiny ducklings. Also a well grown Little Grebe on the pond was great evidence of proven breeding.

24/06: Of note today 2 Buzzards calling and displaying and numerous Swifts passing through. A large bird lifted up from the back of the pond area, and incredibly it was a Lesser Black- Backed Gull !

29/06: A well attended organised evening Nature Walk.

From the car park the first birds we saw were Swift soaring above us. As we continued our walk an Oystercatcher flew over calling loudly. A bird we were all lucky to see. Many Chiffchaff and several Blackcap sang for us and so did the elusive Whitethroat. The Grey Heron was perched on a branch at the back of the pond and good views were enjoyed by all. On the way back to the car park a Great- spotted Woodpecker was showing very well and much appreciated by the group. Sadly, the Kingfisher seen by Peter earlier in the day, was not around but I am sure it will not be long before it appears again. A very pleasant evening stroll with a nice group of people who I hope enjoyed the Carrs as much as the excellent group that take care of it do.

Total Species for June 42 !!!


Total species for May 2015; 37

01/05: Another busy day. 3 Blackcaps and 3 Chiffchaff singing and I was lucky enough to see and hear the Garden Warbler again. Mallard female seen with 5 ducklings. Also at the pond was a single Moorhen and a Little Grebe. Several Greenfinch, first time I have seen them at GC, were singing and displaying and a single Jay flew past.

08/05: Weather cool after heavy rain. Single Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing. A Stock Dove flying over carrying nest material was a pleasant sight. A Buzzard was overhead constantly harassed by 3 Crows. 3 Starlings were bathing on the edge of the pond. No sign today of the Mallard, Little Grebe or Moorhen. Several Orange Tip butterfly.

15/05: Many Blackbirds and Song thrush singing in bright sunny weather. At least 4 Blackcaps around the Reserve and a pair in courtship display around the pond. A Moorhen swam from the reeds with 4 tiny young and I was pleased to see there were still 5 Mallard ducklings. A male Bullfinch reported by Petr Owen was seen and heard close to the Crack willow. Several Swift were screaming overhead. A pleasant surprise was a Fox drinking from the brook and close by a Common Blue Buttetrfly. Orange Tip and Small Tortoiseshell were also on the wing.

23/05: A riot of colour and sound on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Many birds in full song including Song Thrush, Blackbird, Dunnock, Wren, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blackcap and Chiffchaff and also a very showy Whitethroat. A pair of Bullfinch on the pond island. Also on the pond Little Grebe, Moorhen and Grey Heron. Several Mallard including 1 well grown duckling which will hopefully go on to fledge the pond. Many Orange Tip and several Peacock Butterfly were seen. Delightful to see Comfrey, Yellow Flag, Red Campion, Bistort, Redshank, Herb Robert, Greater Stitchwort and Forget- me-not all in full colour.

27/05: A dull and windy day but still plenty of birds in full song . Of note was the Whitethroat singing and displaying over his chosen territory. Several Blue Tits carrying food into nest boxes. Great Tit, Chiffchaff, Blackbird and Greenfinch also seen carrying food in various places around the Reserve. Many Wrens seen chasing off rivals. Long Tailed Tits very busy and I am sure it will not be long before we start to see family groups here. Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker calling and 6 Swift overhead. The Moorhen pair still have 2 young and the duckling continues to thrive. Cow Parsley, Horse Chestnut, Elder and Hawthorn in full bloom providing heady scent around the Reserve.


18/03: My first visit to Gatley Carrs in many years and it did not disappoint .

A Stock Dove was amongst the Woodpigeons on the Wild Flower Meadow. A single Chiffchaff was singing and several Great Spotted Woodpeckers put in an appearance. A nice surprise was a lingering Redwing at the pond with a scolding Song Thrush doing it’s best to chase it off. Also here Moorhen, Little Grebe, Mallard. Canada Goose.

Total of species seen on my first visit; 22

22/03: No sign of Redwing but plenty of Nuthatch, Long Tailed Tits and a Chiffchaff.

26/03: A Reed Bunting at the pond and a Buzzard overhead .

Total species for March 2015; 25

3/04: A good day today. My first Blackcap seen close to the steps also a single Goldcrest. 2 Jays having a territory fight and watched a pair of Buzzards displaying overhead.

5/04: My first Grey Heron seen here by the pond. Several Canada Geese appear to be nesting. Courtship display and nest box guarding by several species.

17/04: Another good day! Green Woodpecker watched for several minutes near to the dipping pond and a very showy Willow Warbler singing which I managed to record.

20/04: At least 6 Blackcap seen, including a displaying pair. 4+ Chiffchaffs and another sighting of the Green Woodpecker perched in tree above the gorgeous display of Marsh Marigolds.

26/04: A Garden Warbler in full song was between the car park and the pond. 4+ Blackcaps and at least 6 Chiffchaffs.

by Chris Neild.

Chris has been a bird watcher and keen conservationist for 50 years and has been watching rare birds for many years. For 21 years she acted as trustee and bird recorder for a private nature reserve situated as part of Shell Chemical Site on Carrington Moss. The future of this area is uncertain and she wanted to find a Nature Reserve closer to home which she could enjoy. Gatley Carrs! As a new project for her she has agreed to compile a bird sightings report each month and also other sightings she comes across. GCCG is very lucky to have someone of her experience.

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