Gold Crest seen on Gatley Carrs

News & Events

March/April 2023 Bird Report

Wednesday, 1 Mar 2023

Chris Nield's continued recording of our resident bird life helps to prove how vital the Carrs is to encouraging species diversity and how the varied habitat is working.


March. Around the Reserve plenty of birds were now in song. As the daylight is now increasing it is a signal to the birds that it is time to start their breeding season. So many lovely songs but the Greenfinch can only manage a rasping sound like running your finger along a comb. On the Pond numbers had increased with 6 Mallard, 8 Canada Geese, including one that is quite aggressive. Still just 4 Moorhen. No sign of any Domestic Ducks now.

By months end several pairs of Blue and Great Tit were seen surveying the nest boxes around the Reserve. A pair of Stock Dove were seen along the Brook Path and I have a hunch that they are breeding in one of the Gardens in the area. Unlike Wood pigeon they do not make a makeshift nest in trees. They nest in old Owl boxes and holes in trees. A pair of Grey Wagtail were seen on the Brook and can be seen on waterways throughout the year. They are often mistaken for the much rarer Yellow Wagtail which is a summer migrant only seen from May to August.


Photograph of a Grey Wagtail on Gatley Carrs

Grey Wagtail

The first returning migrant was a Chiffchaff seen by Josie Liebrick 21st March. The first one I saw was on 23rd March. By month’s end they increased to 2. It never ceases to amaze me that these tiny birds always return to their same tree and breeding territory year after year.

April began with pleasant warm sunny days, but as expected a very windy month. I find it hard to remember a day when there was no wind at all. Around the Reserve plenty of evidence that the breeding season was in full swing. On a very pleasant bird walk with Angela Bent, just along the main footpath, a trio of Blue Tits were chasing one another around a tree. A full breeding display with two males constantly calling and displaying to the female. Eventually one male gave up and flew off and the second male claimed his female. A few minutes later we saw a pair of Coal Tits displaying too. Plenty of birds in full song including 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 4 Nuthatch and many others including Wren, Robin, Blackbird and Dunnock.

At the Pond we met up with Josie Liebrick who was busy videoing birds on the Pond. There was 7 Canada Geese, 6 male and 2 female Mallard and 5 Moorhen. A Goldcrest was seen flitting about on the island also a Chiffchaff in the same area.


Photograph of a Goldcrest on Gatley Carrs


A Grey Heron flew over too. A Chaffinch was singing in a tree by the pond. We stood still and watched him as he came closer and closer singing all the time. Hopefully, Josie got images of this delightful bird. Pity his display was wasted on us. As we continued our walk a second Goldcrest was in the wooded area too.

On my final visit of the month I was very surprised to see a single Redwing feeding on the Top Field. Unusual to see one on its own as they generally fly in flocks. A very late date too as most birds have flown to their breeding grounds by now. 4 Chiffchaff and just one Blackcap singing. I am sure this figure will increase next month. No change on the Pond except 6 Magpies in the surrounding trees. At least 6 Blackbird were seen with beaks full of insects ready to feed them to their young at their nest sites. One bird had a Peacock butterfly in his beak. I estimate at least 25 Wren were singing. Such a loud song for this tiny bird. So easy to hear yet quite difficult to see as they. prefer low undergrowth. Once again it was good to see the House Sparrows nesting in the vegetation, along the first rh path, close to the bench. Common in some areas but massive decline in others. Of note, although I spent time trying to find them, there was no sign of the Willow Warblers that bred here for the first time last year.


What a horrible month January was. Heavy snow and freezing temperatures then torrential rain was causing floods. Very strong winds throughout the month as well.

I did eventually manage to get out to do my first bird walk of the year. It was very quiet around the Reserve and the Pond was totally frozen over. The only birds visible were 2 Moorhen sheltering against the Reeds. No ducks at all. On my next visit a Grey Heron was in the trees above the pond, also there were several Mallard and the Domestic Duck had returned, the Moorhen were now up to 4.

As I walked through the wooded area close to the Railway, suddenly a bird flew up, literally, only 3 feet away from me, I recognised it straight away as a Woodcock. This is a new bird for my Gatley Carrs species list. I have been very fortunate to see several Woodcocks at my other Reserve this Winter. We get them every year and they always demonstrate the same behaviour, suddenly, silently, flying in front of me with their bills pointing downwards. Sadly, they are in great decline. They are classed as Game birds and thousands are shot during Winter. Chris Packham launched a petition which has over 100,000 signatures. We are yet to hear the outcome of this.

Photo montage of woodcocks

Other birds I saw around the Reserve were 2 Teal hiding in the scrub in front of the Dipping Pond. Several Ring-neck Parakeets were along the brook path and 2 Collared Dove also. 12 Redwing were seen along the trees by the Railway and a flyover Buzzard. Several species were calling but only the Robin and Blackbird were actually singing.

The RSPB birdwalk was a great success, 20+ people in attendance. It was nice to see several children amongst them too. A total of 20 bird species were seen. A really good total for this time of year. Chris Mullin saw a flock of 50+ Goldfinch fly over which was notable. 3 Redwing flew over us and were also seen by CM. At the end of the walk a Sparrowhawk flew over the car park and was seen by most of the group. Amazingly the same thing happened last year!!!

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