Goldcrest seen on Gatley Carrs Nature Reserve

News & Events

December 2019 Bird Report

Sunday, 1 Dec 2019


More frosty weather during this month interspersed with wet and windy periods but at least I managed a few visits to see what was about.

On my second visit as I parked my car I noticed 3 small birds chasing one another in the tree above the noticeboard. As soon as I got a closer look I realised it was a Wren chasing a pair of Goldcrest. Obviously a battle for territory. It was really nice to see 2 of the smallest species of birds we see in the UK together.

The ground was frosty and it was delightful to hear the crunchy sound as I walked along the tree lined paths. The Pond was frozen in places but once again I saw at least 10 Domestic ducks as well as 9 Mallard. No sign of any Moorhen though.

Around the Reserve I saw plenty of Blue Tit, Great tit, Long-tailed Tit as well as Chaffinch and Greenfinch. Several Robin and Dunnock were in the trees along the paths busy searching for a morsel to eat. Although I saw plenty of Blackbirds there was no sign of any Songthrush which I have not seen for several weeks now. I did not see any Redwing, this month either on any of the visits I made.

A nice surprise was a Nuthatch that I heard singing. Perhaps he was enjoying the lovely sunshine that day and decided to practice his song for future times to come.



Due to the poor weather my visits were few but never disappointing. It was lovely to see the Carrs in the frosty weather when most of the pond was frozen. This certainly did not hinder the Ducks from coming over to see what offerings I had brought. There is no doubt that their survival is helped by the kind daily feeds they receive. Still, around 18 including the Mallard. The Moorhen are still here too.

Very quiet elsewhere around the Reserve but plenty of Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin and Dunnock close to the feeding areas. A Wren was by the bird table at the Car Park. Several Crow and Woodpigeon were on the Top Field and a Nuthatch was heard calling too.

Along Brookside road it was quite busy with several species seen here. Starling, Collared Dove and House Sparrows seen and I am sure they were obviously visiting bird tables and feeders in the Gardens. It is so important that we provide food for these birds in winter as so many do not survive in harsh weather conditions.

A short report this month as it is one of the quietist birding months of the year. My visits to the Reserve are never dull as there is always something to see if you make the effort.



Total number of bird species now 58

The bad weather continued but at least I managed to visit most weeks. The Chiffchaff was still around and I would not be surprised if it stayed to overwinter here. It is quite common in this species and also in Blackcap too. Plenty of Song Thrush and Blackbird around taking advantage as they fed on the wet ground for insects and worms. I have not seen any Winter Thrushes yet this year, although there was a massive influx this month. I have seen them here every year since I started to do the reports so I am sure they will turn up soon. I saw Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker several times. Both these species seem to like the area close to the Dipping Pond as I often see them there throughout the year. A tiny Goldcrest was seen along the Brook Path they usually flock with other bird species, Blue Tit and Great Tit as they search for food amongst the trees. Families of Long-tailed Tit were seen also. These bird families always stay together throughout the winter and have been seen using nest boxes to snuggle together to stay warm. Although I have not witnessed this behaviour at Gatley Carrs I have seen it many times at my other Shell Pool Reserve. Several small birds were seen including Robin, Wren, Dunnock and House Sparrow, also the ever-present Goldfinch usually by the Car Park. On the Pond up to 28 birds could be seen coming for their daily feed. Mostly the domestic ducks but Moorhen and Mallard were usually with them. 2 Grey Heron were seen also on one visit.

October was a shocking month for weather conditions. It seemed to rain nonstop and the Carrs was flooded, especially around the Dipping Pond. Due to the poor conditions and heavy work load at my other Reserve, I only got to the Carrs once this month and it was this day I found a new species for the Reserve. I was walking behind the WFM when I spotted 3 large birds flying in the distance and coming closer. They came in above the Motorway and dropped down onto the Top Field 3 Mute Swan Cygnets! I stood still and watched them for 20 minutes in amazement. Not a rare bird of course but very special for me to see them here. They were obviously exhausted and in need of a good rest. Unfortunately I knew what would happen, a dog walker with 2 small dogs came onto the field. She was amazed to see the birds and stood still. Of course the dogs did not and charged towards the Swans. They had enough space to run and take off as they are unable to fly directly upwards. It was such a shame but I knew it would not last long. The lady was very apologetic and said if she had seen them sooner she would have kept the dogs on their leads. Still no harm done but I hope they managed to find a safe place to rest. On this day I also saw 3 Redwing close to the Car Park. No other birds of note but these 2 bird finds made up for that only hope I can spend more time at the Carrs in the coming months.



The start of August was a particularly hard for all bird watchers as the strong winds and heavy rain caused flooding in many places. Brookfield road was flooded and great care was needed to access the Reserve.

Luckily, 3rd August was a pleasant, warm, sunny day as we had a visit from Focalpoint Optical to the Reserve. Alan B had put a plea on Facebook for help with costs to enable us to keep up the winter bird feeding rota. This was seen by Paul Brewster, manager of Focalpoint. Focalpoint Optical were looking for a local charity to donate a supply of bird food to. Feldy bird food supplies would also match the donation. Arrangements were made for owner Yvonne Longley to come along and donate the food to us. A pleasant afternoon was spent with Yvonne and Paul Longley, along with their young grandson Archie. Archie really enjoyed feeding the ducks and searching for insects. They all fell in love with Gatley Carrs and after joining with a family membership will certainly come back soon. Thank you to Focalpoint Optical and Feldy for your help.

When the weather eventually settled down I did manage to make several visits to the Reserve. There were still a few Chiffchaff heard but only one Blackcap. On the Pond the 11 Domestic Ducks, including 2 Muskovy Duck continued to appear each day for their feed. They were usually accompanied by 12 Mallard and 4 Moorhen.

During the wet spells several groups of Carrion Crow were seen feeding on the Top Field along with several Jay and Starling all taking advantage of the plentiful supply of worms. Plenty of Blackbird, Wren, Robin, Dunnock and Goldfinch around but it was noticeably quieter around the Reserve. Plenty of Butterflies including Painted Lady, Comma, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Peacock and several whites too.

It was obvious when taking a walk around that the trees are beginning to change colours and by months end a carpet of leaves starting to appear a sure sign Autumn is not far away and Summer is over.



June and July were two quite different months in so many ways. The weather in June was often warm, sunny and dry with just a few days of rain. July was a month of extremes with unbearable heat and torrential rain.

Birdwise it was much the same.Two very different months. June was quite busy with plenty of young birds around the Reserve. These consisted of several broods of House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. It was really nice to watch a tiny Wren with at least 3 young in attendance.There were plenty of juvenile birds around including 3 Chiffchaff, one by the pond, one close to DM and a third near the Orchard. 3 juvenile Blackcap also seen one was along the path to the Pond, another was seen with a male adult and the third was seen near the brick drain. Two male Blackcap were still singing and a single female was also seen. Only one Chiffchaff singing for most of the month.

On the pond still 2 broods of Moorhen, upto 9 Mallard including 4 juveniles, and a pair of Canada Geese. The 11 Domestic Ducks were still here although they could be quite elusive at times.

Other birds seen this month included Songthrush, Blackbird, Robin and Dunnock.

July was quite pleasant at first but was much quieter. Most bird species have now completed their task to breed and rear their young and some migrants will be gone by months end. Once again we seem to have had a successful breeding season although it saddens me, that this is the first year since I started compiling my report, that the Little Grebe have vanished. The reasons are unknown of course. I must admit I really miss them.

Around the Reserve only 1 Chiffchaff was singing and 2 Blackcap were vocal. Robin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock and a late Blackbird were heard too.

On the pond a Kingfisher was seen from the bird screen, and two more sightings from the path to right of the pond, the third time from the boardwalk at the Dipping Pond area. A Great-spotted Woodpecker was nearby too.

On the Top Field it was amusing to watch 3 young Magpies as they chased after a ball a dog walker had thrown. They were quite indignent when the little dog got it before they did!! The Corvid family which includes Magpies of course is well known for its intelligence.

Other birds of note were Swift seen over the Reserve several times. The Butterflies were plentiful and I saw Comma, Large White, Green- veined White, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and Peacock. Plenty of Dragonfly too most Azure- Winged Dragonfly.

And then the torrential rain came.



On many days this month the weather was quite warm and pleasant ideal for bird watching.

On the pond the 5 Indian Runner Ducks were quite happy accepting food donations and appeared to be thriving. It was quite worrying when on one visit no birds were seen at all on the pond although I viewed it from various places. No sign of the 2 Canada Geese families, one with 5 young and another with 8 young, at all. No Indian Runner Ducks, Mallard or Moorhen seen either. I was relieved to be informed the next day that they were all back again. I can only surmise that they were all in hiding due to some type of disturbance prior to my arrival.

2 pairs of Moorhen had broods of chicks one with 3 and another with 5 but no sign of any Mallard duckling which I guess had fledged the pond. The Grey Heron was seen several times and I just hope the Moorhen chicks escape from him.

Around the Reserve, still several Chiffchaff singing. At least 3 Blackcap were vocal and one was singing close by the left hand gate all month. A Garden Warbler was seen and heard along the path to the pond. Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch were in various parts of the Reserve and just one male Bullfinch was seen.

Plenty of Blackbird seen and heard but only one Song Thrush which is quite unusual here. Dunnock, Wren and Robin were in abundance as usual. A pair of Stock Doves (Stock Dove pictured above) flew over Top Field. It surprises me that I have seen this species many times here over the the years as it is not thier usual habitat. They are not common around built up areas and usually found in more open countryside. Obviously they are quite happy to be here at Gatley Carrs.

Close to the end of the month, quite a few young birds around. At least 3 Blue Tit families as well as one Great Tit family. Also, several Blackbird seen feeding their young.

It was good to see 4 Swift flying over the Reserve. I did not see any here last year but can assume they were around. Sadly there has been a massive decline in this species this year due to severe storms on the long migration they make.

The only other bird of note was a Sparrowhawk seen several times this month.



April was quite a pleasant month with plenty of warm, dry, sunny days ideal for taking a pleasant walk around the Reserve. On my first visit this month the Chiffchaffs had increased to at least 5 and just 1 Blackcap was heard. On the pond 6 Indian Runners still, but sadly, 2 days later one of the Rouen ducks had disappeared. We will never know what has happened to this bird. A dog walker told me she had seen a dog take a bird on the pond so obviously it is possible it was the Indian Runner. Hopefully the rest of them will not have such a sad ending.

On my next visit the Blackcaps had increased to at least 5 birds. As I walked to the pond, I watched 2 male Blackcap fighting as a female watched from the top of the brambles. She obviously was not impressed and soon flew off and left the unaware males to carry on battling. Another male was heard close to the brick drain. This is the third year he has been there so it must be a successful territory for him. A fourth male was singing by the entrance gate also. On the pond a Grey Heron was seen plus 3 Moorhen, several Mallard and only 8 Canada Geese although it is possible there were more on nests. Blackbirds were seen but only males as females probably on nest duties. The House Sparrows and Dunnocks were busy carrying food to their nests so it will not be long till young appear.

A Garden Warbler (pictured above) was heard and seen close to the car park. Their song is quite difficult to identify, as it sounds similar to the Blackcap, but the bird looks very different if you are lucky enough to see it. Plenty of Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch as well as Robin. A single Ring-neck Parakeet was the only other bird of note.

The warm weather brought out plenty of Spring flowers and the Reserve was awash with splendid colours. Marsh Marigold in the wetter areas, and the first Lesser Celendine I have seen this year. Damsons starting to appear also. The first Butterflies of the year were plentiful including Comma, Peacock, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and a few Speckled Wood too. Plenty of insects on the wing with many Hoverfly around the Reserve.

Certainly a good month to take a pleasant walk on the Reserve.



March arrived and most certainly came in like a lion and went out like a lamb!

Stormy weather continued for much of the month, with strong winds and heavy rain. Certainly not good weather for bird watching. On the sunnier days there was plenty of evidence to suggest the breeding season was well under way. Plenty of bird song with Dunnock, Wren, Blackbird and Robin all in full song. I was pleased to see 2 pairs of House Sparrow building nests, quite close to each other on the Carrs. It is amazing that these lovely little birds have started to nest in similar habitat to the look alike Dunnock. Sadly, new house building tecniques prevent these little charmers from breeding in roof spaces. Of course that is where their name has derived from. Years ago they were abundant but are now on the Red list as they are in vast decline. I remember flocks of 30+ visiting my garden but now I do not see more than 3 or 4.

Plenty of Canada Geese were on the pond as they continued to return. I saw a maximum of 12 but 17 were seen by Peter O and the final tally 21 was seen by Alan B. I doubt that our small pond can cope with more than a few pairs so I am sure not all of these birds will stay. The Indian Runner Ducks continued to thrive as they were receiving daily feeds from several members. A maximum of 6 Mallard and 4 Moorhen were seen, but no sightings of Little Grebe. Great-spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch could be heard around the Reserve and a Treecreeper was seen by Peter O. There are at least 3 sitting Blackbirds around the Reserve, but my guess there are many more. Song Thrusn not so abundant as I guess they too are nesting. Plenty of Wrens could be seen as they sang and diplayed out in the open. It always amazes me how such a tiny bird can produce such a loud song! The Ring-neck Parakeet were still around but I did not see more than 2.

By months end the weather started to improve. Our first Spring arrival was a Chiffchaff on 24th. Peter O heard several on the 28th and also saw a Grey Wagtail. Plenty of Spring flowers appearing and quite a few Bees seen. Several Peacock butterfly also seen as the better weather continued.



Unfortunately, my visits were very few in January due to bad weather and my unfortunate accident.

February certainly made up for it, as it turned out to be an exciting month! The weather was really Springlike, warm and sunny for many days, the birds were certainly thinking about the breeding season. A lot of activity as pairs of Blue Tits and Great Tits were seen chasing off rivals at their chosen nest boxes. Several Magpie pairs were rebuilding their nests they had used last year. Woodpigeons were busy also, as I saw them on all my visits, carrying twigs as they flew over the Reserve. A pair of Long-tailed Tits were busy adding tiny feathers to their well- hidden nest.

Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren, Robin and Dunnock were in full song. A pair of Bullfinch were displaying in the Orchard. The male looked resplendent as he sang from the top of an Apple tree. Chaffinch and Goldfinch were vocal and the wheezy song of the male Greenfinch could be heard in the Car Park and several other areas around the Reserve.

On the pond, 6 Moorhen were seen. A Kingfisher was in full view for quite a while as he was busy diving to catch a fish and got one each time. 6 Mallard were seen and 6 Canada Geese were there also. I was pleasantly surprised to see a gorgeous male Teal from the Dipping Pond platform and wondered if it was the same bird I had seen last year. A Great-spotted Woodpecker was drumming and a Nuthatch also heard in the area.

On February 22nd even more surprises to come! As I walked around the Top Field, I saw a distant large black bird heading towards the Reserve. As it got closer, and flew overhead, I saw it was a Cormorant! (see image above) I have never seen one of these birds at the Reserve before. A new bird for my Gatley Carrs list! On the Pond 12 Canada Geese , several were nesting. 6 Mallard here and 6 Moorhen several of which were also seen building nests.

A Buzzard was perched in the trees alongside the steps. It quickly took flight then circled over the Reserve calling. From the Dipping Pond I could see 4 birds preening on the bank. I could hardly believe my eyes as I realised they were Indian Runner Ducks! 2 Rouen and 2 Pekin. These birds do not fly so it is a mystery where they have come from. Yet another for my list which now stands at 57!

On my final visit of the month there was 6 Indian Runner Ducks. I must admit I worry for their future here.

A most enjoyable month proving it is well worth a visit to our lovely place and looking forward to the coming Spring.

Indian Runner Ducks seen on Gatley Carrs

Indian Runner Ducks

< Previous Item Next Item >