Eccleston Mere

Water rail 1 showing well in ditch along western side of mere.
Willow tit 1 in SW corner
Pochard 13 (9mm, 4ff)
Wigeon 2 (m&f) under island
Mute swan 6 (5ads & 1 juv.)
Snipe 7
Kingfisher 1
Bullfinch 2
Lesser redpoll 1
Siskin 1+ heard
Teal 2+ heard
Tufted duck 8 (5mm, 3ff)

Once again the water rail showed exceptionally well, and shows little sign of nerves, even when it's obviously aware that you are there. It seems quite happy so long as you don't make any sudden or loud movements. The biggest challenge with this bird is spotting it in the first instance. Today I first noticed some ripples behaving in an odd way in the ditch, and on further investigation it proved to be the rail.

I was only about 2m from the bird as it walked along the ditch, and it even allowed me to open my Velcro sealed camera bag, get the camera out and fire off a few shots. It's difficult to get a decent photo of the rail, it's very dark in the ditch and there's lots of bramble and branches in the way so you're constantly focusing on the wrong thing, or the camera speed is so slow that the bird is just a blur. However, here are the best I've managed so far.

Spot the water rail!

It seems impossible to get it's whole body in focus, either that or it's head's missing or some other vital part!

Eccleston Mere

It was pretty wet around the Mere this morning, I was glad I wore my wellies. The siskin flock were in the Southwest corner and were eventually spooked by the sparrowhawk.

Wigeon 2 (1m,1f)
Siskin 30+
Lesser redpoll 6 (2 with siskin flock and 4 near the boat hut)
Willow Tit 1 in wet wood
Kingfisher 1 flew in front of me into the ditch
Bullfinch 2 (1m,1f) in hedge near SW corner
Pochard 6 (5m, 1f)
GS woodpecker 1f doing a bit of drumming
Cormorant 1
Jay 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Buzzard 1 perched in wet wood feeding on something
Treecreeper 1 heard

There have been a few redwing perching in the large tree at the bottom of my garden off Gunning Avenue recently, my largest count so far has been 5 this afternoon.

Damian P

Eccleston Mere

Snipe 3
Goldeneye 1 male
Pochard 9 (8mm, 1f)
Tufted duck 4 (3mm, 1f)
Bullfinch 3
Goldcrest 1
Barnacle goose 1
Greylag goose 1
Canada goose 80
Great crested grebe 10
Siskin 1 heard

Moss Lane

Corn bunting 2
Yellowhammer 30
Fieldfare 5
Redwing 20
Again, very bad weather making birding very difficult in Moss Lane.

Dairy Farm Road

Still 5000 pink-footed geese in Dairy Farm Road. The weather was atrocious when I was there, strong wind, heavy rain and very dull, so viewing was difficult. This flock has to be worth a look through the scope when the weather is a bit better, lots of potential here for finding a scarcity such as a white-front, but I won't be able to go back until next weekend at the earliest.

Houghton's Lane Eccleston

I saw a tawny owl in the headlights of my car when going down Houghton's Lane this evening. I saw one in exactly the same place last year as well.

Damian P

Moss Lane

After the Mere I had a look down Moss Lane. I was pleased to see four corn bunting on the way out and got some fairly close photos. On the way back I saw a large flock of birds land in a large tree. As I got close enough to see them through the binoculars, most of them flew off. The remaining 17 birds were all corn bunting - I'd love to have had a look at the whole flock!

Corn Bunting 17
Redwing 10
Lapwing 40+
Skylark 25+
Yellowhammer 30+
Reed Bunting 10+
Kestrel 1
Raven 1

17 Corn Bunting

Damian P

Eccleston Mere

I went to the Mere this morning as well. Missed the shoveler though...

Goosander 1 male
Barnacle goose 1
Pochard 5 (4m, 1f)
Gadwall 2 (1m, 1f)
Lesser Redpoll 2
Siskin 4
Bullfinch (1m, 1f)
Cormorant 1

Damian P

Eccleston Mere

After recent news of a good mix of ducks I spent my lunch hour at Eccleston Mere.

Goosander (male) - my 1st for St Helens
Shoveler (male)
Common gulls
Lesser black-backed gull
Siskin x30
Lesser Redpoll x2
Grey heron x6 - the most I've seen in St Helens together
Bullfinch x2
Cormorant x3 - including a very white necked one
Tufted duck x4
Great crested grebes
Great spotted woodpecker
Peregrine - distant harassing a 110 strong flock of lapwing

I think that's all .....

Paul B

Sent from my iPod

Bits and pieces

A drake Goosander on the mere today. Thanks to John for the info.

5000 Pink-feet Old Coach Road yesterday. Thanks to Dave for the info.

Eccleston Mere

Snipe 13
Shoveler 1 male
Pochard 9 (8 males, 1 female)
Tufted duck 10 (6 males, 4 females)
Teal 4 (all males)
Siskin 30
Lesser redpoll 1
Kingfisher 1
Pink-footed goose 60 over
Greylag 1
Barnacle goose 1
Canada goose 100
Reed bunting 2

Newton Lake, NLW

Newton Lake, NLW
Monday 13th January

1 Little Grebe,  2 Shelduck,  1 Buzzard over,  12 Tufted Duck,  23 Teal,  8 Canada Geese.


Eccleston Mere Sunday 12th January

A quiet afternoon at the Mere and sadly no sign of any of the Goldeneye or Pochards which have been present over the last few weeks. The highlight of the afternoon was watching the Kingfishers which were showing well. One was perched in the hedge in the ditch near the sailing club building only 50m from the building. Later there were two Kingfishers chasing each other up and down the ditch near the wet wood and one of the two was perched alongside the stream which runs into the      Mere from the farmland between the wet wood and the golf course. Apart from three Herons, and a build up in numbers of Black Headed Gulls there was not a lot else about apart from the more common wildfowl at the Mere. There was also a Male  Great Spotted Woodpecker in the wet wood which came really close in response to me tapping on a tree immitating another woodpecker drumming. Most of the Canada Geese flock were all on the island sheltering from the weather.     2 Kingfishers, 30 + Mallard, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Grey Heron, 30 + Canada Geese, 40+ Black Headed Gulls.                                                        

Mooch about the Mosses

A slightly out of area trip to Kirby Moss with Damian P produced a few good sightings but also looked like a good spot for future birdwatching too.

Here are some selected highlights:
Many fieldfare
Willow tit
12 meadow pipits
7 Siskin
c70 pink-feet over

Interestingly there was a good looking scrape/pool which I have been told has hosted wood sandpiper, little ringed plover and gadwall in the past, though on this occasion held nothing.

I certainly be back though as this is the closest we have to scrape in the area, plus it has good mix of wet birch wood, wet grassland, gorse patches and views over towards the peat workings at Simonswood.

After that, a visit to New Cut Lane in the hope of last years immense (c30) brambling flock was a massive let down.

Last year's stubble and bare ground has been replaced by a winter sewn crop and therefore there was hardly a bird in sight due to lack of food. These modern crops are sprayed and thus any insects and wildflower seeds are not present.

Furthermore when the spring comes the crop will be way to tall for lapwings & skylarks to nest. Is it any wonder these two birds are in massive decline.

Not sure whether the sight of a group of lads with 2 Harris hawks helped the mood! I hope they had the landowners permission ......

After dropping off Damian I popped into Moss Lane which cheered me up immensely. First the field held about 30 lapwing and after a while I spotted a covey or two of grey partridge.

In the goat paddock were a large group of redwing plus greenfinch, yellowhammer and tree sparrow. Much better.

With the recent CAP reform being a bit underwhelming for farmland birds you do wonder what the future hold for birds such as these?

Paul B

Sent from my iPod

Havannah flash

As always very quiet on Havannah flash

Buzzard 1
Kestrel 1
Nuthatch 1


Newton Lake

Newton Lake, NLW
Thursday 9th January.

2 Shelduck,  12 Tufted Duck,  12 Canada Geese,  19 Teal.


Eccleston Mere

Water rail 1 in western ditch
Pochard 7 (5mm, 2ff)
Lapwing 100 flew over
Little grebe 1
Kingfisher 1
Buzzard 2
Bullfinch 1

Burton Marsh (Denhall Lane)

Me and Paul went to Denham Lane on the Wirral on Saturday for the high tide. It was an amazing day and I saw the most bird species I have ever seen in one day including a few 'lifers'! We popped into RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands on the way home and saw a few more! The best birds were...

Siberian Chiffchaff
Wheatear (a very unusual record for this time of year)
Great White Egret
Whooper, Bewick's and Black Swan
Barnacle Goose

... but there were many, many more. It was my first time to Denham Lane, but it's an amazing place and I'll certainly be back again.

Eccleston Mere

Water rail 1 in western ditch near SW corner
Pochard 6 (5mm, 1f)
Goldeneye 1 f
Kingfisher 1
Tufted Duck 8 (5mm, 3ff)

Wild Goose Chase #2

After a work related trip out i couldn't resist trying to pin down these geese again.

So i Followed the back roads from Skem to Billinge with no luck until I got nearly all the way home 😞

There was about 2500 of thrm feeding on turnips adjacent to Fir Tree Farm - Why are things always in the last place you look?!?

Anyhow I managed to creep close enough to get a decent picture so here goes .....

Eccleston Mere

I got an unexpected extra day off today so had time to go around the Mere again. I had really good views of the water rail in the ditch after the water outlet. I was stood looking across the fields and heard a splashing noise at my feet, the water rail was about 3 metres away from me and didn't seem at all bothered by my presence. Getting decent photos is very tricky though in the dim light and through all the foliage.
The little grebe were all feeding together close to the west side of the island. I definitely saw three, but think there might be four although it was hard to tell as they kept diving out of sequence!
Little grebe 3+
Water rail 1
Goldeneye 2 (1m,1f)
Kingfisher 1
Pochard 2m
Cormorant 3
Siskin 5
Buzzards 1
Kestrel 1m
Damian P

Ravenhead Linkway Ponds and Eccleston Mere

Ravenhead Linkway Ponds

25+ Canada Geese on the Tesco Traffic island this morning. With the roads being quiet the Geese had confidently ventured onto the island. Later in the afternoon there were 50+ Cananda Geese on the Linkway Ponds and grass verges next to the ponds. Also a 35+ flock of Black Headed Gulls as well as Mallard, Moorhens and Coots. Also seen one Raven overhead and quite apt being the location it was.

Eccleston Mere 3pm

1 Goldeneye (male)
10 Tufted Duck
4 Pochard (2 male and 2 female)
1 Little Grebe
1 Kingfisher
4 Grey Heron
1 Snipe ( flushed from the ditch near the Gold Course in the section past the stream near to where the new pond is on the Golf Course. )

Eccleston Mere

Goldeneye 2 (m&f)
Pochard 6 (4mm, 2 ff)
Tufted Duck 10 (7mm, 3ff)
Kingfisher 1