The RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch held last weekend is a good way to start studying birds in your garden, enabling an hour of your time to be given over to the wildlife. I know many people in the Village did so and I’m delighted to have their reports of sightings handed on to me. This year seems to have better than usual, with many more species recorded, although the weather wasn’t really conducive to attract the birds during the weekend. We managed to find an hour when the birds in our garden were fairly active, but we missed out on the blackcap which appeared in a garden a few doors away. We also didn’t have the great spotted & green woodpeckers, treecreepers, nuthatches and jays recorded in Christleton and Littleton. A really good sighting of a now rare greenfinch feeding on the sunflower seeds on feeders in front of our window arrived the following day and was too late for the list.
Our BGBW list was;
Blackbird 4, blue tit 3, chaffinch 1, dunnock 4, goldfinch 4, great tit 2, house sparrow 10,
Long tailed tit 3, magpie 1, robin 2, starling 5, woodpigeon 2.
We also recorded 2 moorhens and a black headed gull but these weren’t allowed in the census. The moorhens come under the gate from the canal and have become adept at climbing up and holding on to the nuts and feeders, as well as pecking on the ground under them for more tit bits.
The water level at Little Heath Pit is almost to its highest level, but we have overflow pipes in situation to prevent any flooding. Work on the Alms Houses side, to repair wooden rails and replant the bare areas of the grass bank will take place shortly. The recent storm damage caused the oak tree with our barn owl box to lose a huge branch but the nest box looks secure. Barn owls have been seen hunting regularly at Hockenhull despite the very wet conditions, and tawny owls and great spotted woodpeckers have been very noticeable with territorial displays during January. A rare wintering chiff chaff was also seen and heard, and I’m delighted to say that yellowhammers have returned to the area in small numbers. These very colourful and distinctive birds have a delightful call, which sounds like, “ a little bit of bread and no cheese” and were once regarded as “Cheshire’s County bird”
Good numbers of pink footed geese continue to fly over the village, with skeins most morning and evenings, coming and going back to their feeding or roost sites. There are still lots of fieldfare and redwing feeding on the playing fields, and flocks of 100 – 350 lapwing can be seen on the fields near Stamford Bridge and Littleton. Several sightings of golden plover have also been recorded recently, but more of that next month. Finally keep your eyes open for peregrine falcons as three sightings have occurred in January.
Long Tailed Tit
Great Spotted Woodpecker