Friday, 6 May 2011

Rindle Road and Astley Moss

I went out down Rindle Road for a couple of hours after work tonight hoping to see the Hobbies that have been reported catching dragonflies over the Moss in the last few days.  When I arrived there were at least five cars parked up (there are usually no more than two and often none) with other birders presumably looking for the same thing or the Cuckoos.

I parked at the top of the feeding station track and the farmer was driving his tractor up towards the gate.  As he got out to close the gate I asked him about the crops he was growing in the fields here. He's a nice bloke who I've met before and he's always stopped for a chat. He told me that barley was being grown in two fields, potatoes in the ploughed field and two fields were grass for silage. I checked that it was alright to leave my car here and he said that as long as he could get past with the tractor it was fine.

The first thing that struck me as I walked down the track towards Rindle Wood was the sound of Yellowhammers making their 'little bit of bread with no cheeeese' call. They weren't in the usual hawthornes and trees along the feeding track but somewhere out in the fields.  When I looked through my binoculars I saw a couple sitting on a fence wire bordering two of the fields.  This loud calling went on most of the time I was out tonight - I've never heard it so loud and clearly before.

As I entered Rindle Wood I briefly met a lady birder who had come here in search of Cuckoos, but who was leaving disappointed.  I told her she must come back because they'd be here for a while and show quite well when they do appear.  I also met a new character called Gordon from Martin Mere as most people seem to know him and had a really good chat with him about allsorts of stuff. And then on towards the SSSI.

Willow Warbler

There were lots of very pale Mistle Thrushes in the ploughed field on the edge of the Wood, and the Yellowhammers were obviously there too although I didn't spot any. As I approached the edge of the SSSI there were a couple of Willow Warblers singing from what seems to a favourite place in some dead brich tree branches.  As the light wasn't too bad, I took this opportunity to photograph them, even though they were quite high up.  Whilst I was doing this someone was looking at me through binoculars a little further down the path - it was Dave Thacker and he gave me a wave when he recognised me.

Willow Warbler

I went to meet Dave and he was with another lady birder who's name I'm sorry to say I've forgotton already. They were looking for Hobbies and Cuckoos but hadn't seen either, despite having been here a while. They mentioned lots of people who had seen them today including John Tymon who'd been here earlier and so understanderably they were both a bit fed up!  We talked about a few things (during which time I think I spotted a Linnet in a dead tree) before Dave and moved on to walk round the trail past the scrapes.

Is this a Linnet?

There really wasn't very much about tonight save for a pair of Tufted Ducks which I accidentally flushed off one of the scrapes.  There were quite a few dragonflies about however and that's why this is good Hobby country.  In fact on our way back towards Rindle Hedge we met another birder who knew quite a lot about dragonflies and he and Dave had a good chat about them, but it was all lost on me!  I'll have to get a book.

As we approached the hedge, we looked across the ploughed potato field and Dave spotted two Grey Partridges on the edge of the ditch that separates the fields.  They were very hard to see as they crouched down in the grass and I wouldn't have spotted them on my own.  Apparently like many birds, they nest in the ditch and come out onto the ploughed field to feed.

Whilst we watching the Partridges we heard a Cuckoo calling for the first time tonight.  Dave scanned the trees with his bins and had soon found one sat some distance away across the fields. It was at the top of  a dead tree on the edge of the SSSI where we had first been talking some 20 minutes ago.  The calls continued for a while and another Cuckoo appeared briefly before they both flew off over the tree tops.  Well, at least we could report that we'd seen them tonight.


Dave and I walked back to the feeding station through Rindle Hedge where there were no birds at all tonight as far as I could see.  We looked in the barley field for the Whimbrel and Oystercatchers which had been there recently and couldn't see them until they popped their heads up above the long vegetation.  There was at least one Whimbrel and two Oystercatchers here tonight and we witnessed a very brief scuffle when one Oystercatcher moved the Whimbrel on its way.  And then they all disappeared into the long vegetation again.

Buzzard on fence post

It was at this point that Dave spotted a large Buzzard sitting on a fence post looking for voles.  It was some way off and close to the railway line, but it wasn't disturbed when a train went past - it must be used to this by now.  From time to time the Buzzard would drop down off its perch on to the ground before returning again a few minutes later, maybe after a meal.  Another birder joined us at this point who was an old friend of Dave's who he hadn't seen for a while.  We chatted for a while before deciding it was time to head for home.


I left Dave and his friend at the top of the feeding station track and decided to try to get a little closer to the Buzzard for some pictures.  I walked up towards the level crossing at the top of Rindle Road whilst perusing the hawthorne hedge and taller trees.  I saw a Chaffinch and a pair of Goldfinches on the telephone wires here.  I looked for the Curlew in the field next to Rindle Cottages, but instead found another pair of Oystercatchers which might have been the ones we saw previously.  I took some photos here before looking for the Buzzard on the other side of the road.  It was still perched on the same post but the light wasn't good and it was still some way off, so I didn't get any really good shots.


Well, I hadn't seen the Hobbies but I'd I met a few nice people and had a good birding session with Dave in which we saw a fair number of species this evening.  Happy Days!


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