Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Woodcock at Risley Moss

I'd recently noticed that Woodcock were being seen fairly regularly at Risley Moss and so I contacted Jonathan Platt, a regular contributor on the Manchester Birding Forum thread.  Jonathan very kindly agreed to meet me at 3:30pm outside the visitor centre there to show me where the Woodcock could be viewed. There was also a chance of also seeing a Short-eared Owl.

When we got to the observation tower we were met by Dave Beeton, Brian Riley and another birder who had been there for a while.  However, they hadn't seen any Owls or Woodcock.

Although there was a small break in the dismal weather we've been having recently, the light didn't last long at this time and it was also getting quite misty across the moss.  I was quite astonished at Jonathan and David talking about birds I couldn't see in the far distance across the gloomy landscape - they must both have far better eyesight than me!

We saw quite a lot of Jackdaws and Carrion Crows going to roost, and heard a few Snipe moving through the vegetation in front of us. There were also some Yellowhammers setting down in the bushes and a fairly constant stream of Blackbirds flying into Rhododendron bushes on the moss.  Jonathan told me that he'd previously seen a Sparrowhawk waiting along the Blackbirds' flight path trying to choose which one to 'pick off' before finally going for one.

By now it was quite dark and normally I would have set off for home a while ago, but both David and Jonathan kept saying that the Woodcock would come.  And sure enough they did - nine of them flew past in ones and twos over a ten minute period with their unmistakable shape and rapid wing-beat silhouetted against the lighter parts of the evening sky.

It was quite an experience that I would have missed had I been out there on my own.  The Woodcock is another 'lifer' for my slowly expanding list, so thanks very much lads, hope to see you again sometime.

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