Field Fare Thrush seen on Gatley Carrs

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Gatley Carrs December 2018 Bird Report

Monday, 31 Dec 2018


A cold wet windy month as expected, but often a few bright clear days when birding is at its best. Although quiet overall still plenty to see and enjoy around the Reserve.

The Redwing flock had increased to 7. I was pleased to find 2 Fieldfare, their larger cousins, amongst them. This was the first time I had seen this species at the Reserve and for the first time since I have been at Gatley Carrs, I saw 5 Thrush species in one day!

The ever-present Goldfinches were very vocal as always, and Song Thrush and Blackbird were singing throughout the Reserve. Magpies were busy tidying their nests and also gathering twigs.

On the Pond, Moorhen and Mallard were seen and the Grey Heron was usually around. 2 Snipe were seen from the Bird Hide. It is always a pleasure to see these birds as their cryptic plumage and secretive behaviour, make it a real challenge to find them.

Plenty of Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove were seen around the Meadows , Greenfinch were seen in the Conifers along the brook. A Great-Spotted Woodpecker was in this area also. Carrion Crow and Mistle Thrush were on the Top Field feeding in the wetter areas. The newly decorated tree looked splendid and it was nice to see 2 Coal Tit inspecting the goodies.

As the year comes to an end, I look forward to the new Year to continue my challenge to find new bird species for this wonderful Reserve.

My species list is now 55!



A definite feel in the air that Winter is here. With the daylight hours reducing. Plenty of wet days but also some sunny days with a touch of frost.

My first visit of the month was a crisp sunny morning and it was lovely to see the cobwebs on the bushes glistening, frost on the dew was made it look like diamonds.

Not so many birds about as at this time of year they must conserve energy so not as active. I do not think I have ever visited the Reserve and not seen the Goldfinch and today the flock was of 13 birds. Chaffinch and Grenfinch were seen also, and in the fenced area, a male and female Bullfinch. I have often seen them in this area and also close to the Orchard.

On the pond 5 Moorhens, but the only other bird I saw was the Grey Heron. Plenty of Robin, Blackbird, and Songthrush seen also 3 Wrens.

On another visit I saw 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls taking a drink from the Pond. Several Mistle Thrushes were tugging worms in the wetter patches on the Top Field and at least 7 Carrion Crows were there also.

On my final visit of the month, I saw 3 Winter Thrushes fly over. They landed in trees by the Railway and I got a good look at them. They were Redwing a beautiful Scandinavian species that very often Winter here.

The only other bird of note was a flock of 8 Ring-neck Parakeet. Love them or hate them they are such a delightful bird and so easy to see.



September continued with higher than average temperatures often providing many pleasantly warm days. Plenty of evidence that Autumn is arriving as leaves started to drop at months end, subtle colour changes in the trees too. The Crab Apple trees looked splendid as they had bright red fruit and berries were starting to appear on other trees and shrubs.

Around the Reserve, Robins could be heard singing their doleful Winter song. Plenty of Wren and Dunnock were active too. Several Song Thrush were feeding along the rides, as they searched for Snails in the wet grassy areas.

The Jays were busy collecting Acorns then carrying them off to their favourite winter hideaways, making sure they had adequate supplies, too see them through Winter. A large charm of Goldfinch could often be heard before seen as their tinkling calls are very distinctive. The pond was very quiet with no more than 4 Moorhen and 2 Mallard and a glimpse of a Kingfisher.

On warmer days it was still possible to see a butterfly. Mainly Speckled Wood a few bees also. Still a few flowers, especially, around the pond with plenty of Canadian Golden Rod, Rosebay Willowherb and Meadow Cranesbill to name a few.

October was a difficult month for me, as an overload of work at my Shell Pool Nature Reserve prevented me to only 2 brief visits all month. The weather was quite dramatic with storm force winds and heavy rain. It was such a delight to relax walking through the carpet of leaves along the rides as the October winds blew through. As expected the Reserve was very quiet. There was a Little Grebe on the pond and the Grey Heron too. It was a nice surprise to see 2 Snipe from the Bird Hide. I also saw several Nuthatch, Coal Tit and a delightful Goldcrest.

Hopefully, I shall be able to make more visits next month.



July continued with the hot, very humid and dry weather. It was at times unbearable and most of my visits were early morning so as not to be out in the heat.

The Reserve was such a sorry sight as it was so parched, the grass turned brown, and many trees were drooping and looked very dry. Only a long period of rain could put things right but it remained dry most of the month. Walking along the back path I noticed how low the water level was on the brook. I have never seen it like this before. The pond was very low too but at times filled with emerging Dragonflies. Mainly, Blue Damselflies but a few Common Hawker were seen also. Our local Grey Heron was seen many times obviously attracted by the wealth of insects. On the pond a pair of Moorhen had 2 young. The Little Grebe had 2 young also. A Mallard was around with 3 well grown ducklings too.

July and August are not ideal months for hearing the birds as the breeding season comes to an end. It would seem that it has been a good breeding season for the birds as many juvenile (young) birds were seen. Plenty of Blue, Great and Coal Tit juveniles were seen also Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

During August at last the rain arrived and the Reserve seemed back to its glorious colours. On a dry day, a few Swift were seen heading South on their long journey. A Blackcap juvenile was around a few days but it too was soon on its way South.

Buzzards were seen on several dates and a group of 3 were spiralling over the Reserve with a Sparrowhawk mobbing them. Jays were seen on many dates collecting acorns and several juveniles were very vocal as they sqabbled in the trees. On the wetter days plenty of Carrion Crow were on the Top Field feeding on worms. Black-headed Gulls were seen with a count of 42 on one day.

Several Butterfly species were seen including Common Blue, Speckled Wood, Comma, Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell.

Still plenty of flowers including Canadian Golden Rod, Purple Loostrife, Pineapple Weed, Bittersweet and Ladies Bedstraw.

By months end it was very apparent Autumn would soon be with us and once again we would soon be seeing the gorgeous changing colours of the trees again.



Total Bird count 55

Weather still bad in April but some decent spells of nice, pleasantly warm sunshine.

With most birds well on the way with rearing their broods, several species were seen that already had young. The first one I saw was a Mistle Thrush feeding 2 young birds. Also seen were broods of Robin and Wren. Towards the end of the month a pair of proud Canada Geese appeared with 7 babies. Thankfully, it does not seem that the Ring-necked Parakeet have nested but they are still being seen around the Reserve.

2 Willow Warblers were seen 20/4 but my best bird of the month was a Treecreeper (pictured above) seen on 3/4. Although these tiny birds are very common and have been seen by several people, this was the first time I had seen one since I started doing the Reports several years ago. A new bird for my list which now totals 55.

During this month I checked most of the habitat boards that were put down several years ago. Plenty of wildlife was found including Ants, Woodlice, Slugs, Wood Mice and a Common Shrew. A few small Toads were found under the boards close to the water's edge, but not a single Frog. The beautiful weather at months end brought out the Butterflies including Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. Plenty of Hoverflies and Bees too.

As April turned to May the weather was excellent and continued throughout the month. A Garden Warbler was singing close to the Car Park. Blackcap and Chiffchaff were still vocal and I think we had a maximum of 5 each during the period covered. The Canada Geese were often seen with their young during the month. The pond seemed surprisingly quiet on some days and the only other water birds I saw were Moorhen and Mallard.

So far this year I have not seen or heard a Whitethroat at GC. It is still possible for one to arrive as weather conditions may have held them up.

The last week in May a House Sparrow was seen feeding young close to the Car Park and a pair of Blackbirds were feeding 3 young on the paths. Still plenty of time for more broods to appear.

Butterflies were abundant, mainly Small White, Orange Tip and Holly Blue. Azure Damselflies everywhere.

Adding plenty of colour flowers included Yellowflag Iris, Forget-me-not, Ramsons, Comfrey, Cow Parsley, Red Campion, Creeping Buttercup and Meadow cranes-bill.

A great month to be out and about at Gatley Carrs.



March was yet again a month of severe weather at times. The constant heavy rainfall kept the Reserve very muddy, and slippery, in places so care had to be taken when walking. It is not good birding weather but there was still plenty to be seen.

At least 3 pairs of Canada Geese were making nest attemps and several Moorhen were claiming territories for likely nesting spots on the pond. I did not see any Little Grebe all month, but perhaps I was just unlucky, as they are more or less resident. Only 3 Mallard seen also.

A Buzzard was seen on several visits with a pair displaying on one day. On the stream at Gatley village, the Dipper was seen on several occasions. A pair of Grey Wagtail are resident here and a Kingfisher has been seen on several dates in the same place.

Around the Reserve a pair of Mistle Thrush were busy as they carried nest material and Woodpigeons and Jays were seen nest building too.

Goldfinch, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Wren and Song Thrush were all in full song on most visits obviously not put off by the bad weather.

A few Snowdrop were still visible, and a beautiful array of Daffodils and the Crocus apperaing on the Top Field. A small patch of Lesser Celandine was by the Litter bin on the Top Field and many trees and shrub are coming into leaf. Sping is not so far away.



Due to extreme weather conditions throughout this month, with hard frost, when the pond was frozen for several days, heavy snow and gale force winds, it was quite difficult to compile a good report this month, as in poor weather like this, birds are not so active as usual.

Although not seen on the Reserve, the bird of the month was a Dipper, seen by PO in Gatley village. Also here, 2 Grey Wagtail. A Grey Wagtail was seen by the stream on the Reserve also.

Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush were heard singing and also seen gathering nest material. Blackbird could be heard singing on the less windy days. Goldfinch were abundant, also Greenfinch and Chaffinch were seen on several visits.

Up to 6 Canada Geese were on the pond, also 4 Moorhen and several Mallard. No sign of Little Grebe on the days I visited. Only one sighting of the Grey Heron. On the Top field up to 8 Crows and 2 Jays could be seen doing their best to find food on the hard ground. A Sparrowhawk flew over and on most dates I saw Ring-necked Parakeets. They are obviously here to stay as they have found an easy food source in the surrounding gardens. At one point I saw 6 fly over but I was told by a friend, who visited the reserve, he had seen 13. It is doubtful all these birds will breed on the Carrs but still possible our resident pair could try again to raise a brood.



As the new year arrived so did the horrid weather, much like last month, with only a few decent days when it was possible to bird watch.

Luckily, the weather was overcast but fine for the RSPB Garden Birdwatch. A good total of 20 bird species were seen by five members. PO, JP, SP, AB, CN. The bird walk took place late afternoon so it was a good total for the Reserve. Although the day was spoilt by mindless vandals who had destroyed yet another Bird Table, it did not stop us enjoying a pleasant walk doing the bird count.

Best birds of the month were 3 Lesser Redpoll that visited PO's garden on several dates. Certainly worth a mention here of these pretty little birds, but, as they were not seen at the Carrs it is not possible to add them to the species list which at present is 54 species.

Several Jackdaws were seen this month, and strangely, January was the month last year when I first saw them at GC. Several Canada Geese were on the pond. Also here 5 Mallard, 3 Moorhen and a Little Grebe was seen at months end. A pair of Grey Wagtail were seen by the stream, Nuthatch, Stock Dove and Great spotted Woodpecker were also in this area.

Around the Reserve plenty of Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush were singing as well as Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Blackbird. A small flock of Long -tailed Tits were present and a charm of upto 12 Goldfinch.

Snowdrop bank was a delight and Lords and Ladies peeping through signs that Spring is on the way.

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