As far as I can tell the highlight of the big garden bird watch in the village this year has been the visit to several bird tables of some delightful bullfinches. These colourful birds just stand out from the crowd, especially the male with his almost crimson chest. I’ve also heard that several green finches have been seen, together with several sightings of siskin. Siskins are smaller than greenfinches and have more speckles & stripes on their yellowy/green bodies. Excellent numbers of goldfinch seem to have been present, together with long tailed tits and starlings. Starlings can often be heard singing from the top of television aerials, clearly signalling their territories to other birds, and I’ve heard robins singing really loudly all over the village and particularly in the churchyard in the last week or so. Mistle thrushes are probably the most common bird in the churchyard, and their throaty thrrrr, thrrrr, thrrr, calls make them easy to identify just from sound itself. The mistle thrushes can be seen and heard feeding in the yew trees or occasionally sitting on the church roof or on a cross. Two great spotted woodpeckers were also seen regularly in the churchyard in January.
The colourful male shoveller duck was still on the Pit at Little Heath at the end of January, and grey herons and cormorant can be seen daily. The presence of these birds, indicate that there are still plenty of fish to be found there. The Pit Group will be carrying out remedial work on the banks as soon as the plants in the new coir rolls have become established enough, and they can be transported from Surrey to Christleton. The two new fishing platforms made from recycled materials can then be put in place.
A male golden eye duck was a really exciting visitor to Hockenhull in late January, together with a number of wigeon and teal. Two great crested grebes were seen displaying, and at least 5 little grebes or dabchick present. Ten redshank, more unusual visitors were seen flying along the river Gowy towards the end of January, and the very wet conditions on the meadows were ideal habitat for the 20 or so common snipe that have been present. The river was very full several times during the month, but hasn’t stopped signs and sightings of a family of otter. A mother with three cubs were seen early one morning, and the female also showed well on another occasion almost sitting up on her haunches and looking up at the camera. At least two tawny owls have been heard calling, and a barn owl was seen hunting over the meadow on the Tarvin side of the river. The occasional male stone chat has been seen, but the wintering thrushes have moved on, with just the occasional fieldfare calling in the lanes.
Blue tits seem to have had a really good breeding season in 2016, as there are good numbers around, and regular sightings of minute goldcrests are being made. The goldcrest is smaller than a wren, and has a distinguishing gold flash or stripe on its forehead. Blackbirds are also staking out territories at present, but no sign of singing song thrushes yet. A flock of up to 500 lapwing, together with 2,000 gulls and an estimated 2,500 pink footed geese have been recorded flying over the area, and the pink feet in particular heard over Christleton village in the early morning and at night.
Bullfinch - Male
Siskin - Male
Goldfinch and Coal Tit
Long Tailed Tit
Hockenhull Golden Eye
Hockenhull Great Crested Grebe
The Church Mistle Thrush
The Church Robin
The Pit Cormorant
The Pit Heron
The Pit Shoveller
1st February, 2017. There are now 4 males and five female shoveller ducks on Christleton Pit. I couldn’t believe it when I saw them whilst passing today.
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