Friday, 29 April 2011

Astley Moss and Rindle Road

Whimbrel in field
I went out fairly late this afternoon for a look round Rindle Wood and Astley Moss in the hope of seeing the cuckoos which have been reported there this week.  There were no birds at all along the often packed feeding station track as I left the car and approached the Wood.

Whimbrel on the move
The first thing I saw was a pair of Whimbrel in a field and so I spent some time trying to get a decent photograph through the trees along Rindle Hedge - unfortunately the results aren't that great - it was very windy and I couldn't keep the camera completely still without a tripod.

One Pheasant has been alerted by my presence
I also saw a pair of plump Pheasants in the same field who scurried away as soon as they heard me coming and I could hear Willow Warblers in the trees but I couldn't see any here.

And now bith of them have
By now I was at the bottom of Rindle Hedge and so I decided to walk the opposite way round the SSSI trail to my normal anti-clockwise route. The water in the scrapes here was very low and there were quite a few flies about.  There weren't many birds about at all, save for a couple of Carrion Crows above the trees in the distance.

Then, as I approached the newly created raised pools, I heard a Cuckoo call in the distance.  After 10 minutes of looking through my binoculars I couldn't see it and so I carried on up the path where I did see a Reed Bunting and a Yellowhammer in the trees and several other LBJ's flying from the Moss into the trees that border the ploughed field.

A little further down the path the Cuckoos called again, this time for a longer period of time. When I looked though my bins I got a brief glimpse of two grey birds flying over the distant trees on the edge of the Moss - I'm sure these were two Cuckoos because their wings were very pointed - and then they were gone, not to be seen again tonight.

At the far end of the path I met up with Dave Thacker and we had a good chat whilst looking in the newly ploughed field behind Rindle Wood.  There were many different birds here, which I've listed below:
  • A single Oystercatcher
  • Lapwings
  • Skylarks
  • Blackbirds
  • Mallard
  • Mistle Thrushes
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Many Swallows flying low over the ploughed field catching flies

Before leaving we had a last look for the Cuckoos to no avail, but we did see a couple of Willow Warblers singing their hearts out and silhouetted against the sky as the sun was going down. As we walked back to Rindle Road, we heard a Curlew calling in the distance and then eventually saw it on the ground in the far field next to the new Rindle cottage.
  • A single Curlew
  • 2 Grey Partridges
  • A Marsh Harrier

We had great views of the Marsh Harrier being mobbed by the Curlew and a Lapwing as it looked for nests on the ground.  It had a couple of inner primaries missing from its right wing and Dave now thinks this was a 2nd calendar year male, but I'll have to take his word for that! 

Here's how the story unfolded:

Curlew sees Marsh Harrier
Curlew goes for Marsh Harrier
Curlew hits Marsh Harrier and veers off
Lapwing joins in
Lapwing bides its time
Lapwing goes for it
Marsh Harrier flies off luckily without losing any more feathers

Thanks Dave, I'd have a missed a lot these birds if you hadn't been there tonight. Here are some enhanced pictures of the Marsh Harrier with a bit of artistic license:

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