There weren’t many summer visitors still around this month, the main species being Swallow, which were seen at Heapey (3rd), Cliff’s Farm (3rd), Lower Healey (9th) and finally 2 at Eccleston (10th). Only one Chiffchaff was recorded, again at Eccleston on the 6th. On passage, a juvenile Black Tern at Adlington Reservoir was a great record. The last Wheatear passing through was on Rivington Moor on the 5th. Sadly, a Ring Ouzel was found dead near the TV mast on Winter Hill (3rd). A Blackcap at Common Bank on the 24th may well have been a winter visitor – who knows?
More Pink-footed Geese passed over with skeins of 90 (Eccleston 6th), 90 (Croston Moss 16th), 100 over Hartwood on the 21st , and finally a huge total of 3000 over Eccleston on the 23rd, all generally heading east or south east. 10 Whooper Swan flew west over Eccleston on the 31st. Other wildfowl records of interest included 6 Wigeon on Anglezarke Reservoir (17th) and a single Pochard on High Bullough Reservoir (17th). Tufted Duck records included 6 on Adlington Reservoir (2nd), 6 at Lower Healey (24th) and 2 at Yarrow Valley Park (30th). A Water Rail on the River Yarrow at Croston on the 7th was a good record.
The majority of wader sightings related to Snipe with birds at Eccleston (3 – 2nd, 21 – 16th, 6 – 21st and 17 – 31st), Heskin (3rd), Croston Moss (3 – 10th), Buckshaw (3 – 15th) and Yarrow Valley Park (18th). Two Jack Snipe were also noted at Eccleston on the 23rd. Woodcock seen at Eccleston (23rd) and Mawdesley (24th) may well have been the first of what seems to have been a good winter for the species, although these dates are before the ‘woodcock moon’. Lapwing flocks included 40 on Croston Moss (16th), and 50 at Withnell Fold (17th).
The first Redwings were 10 over Clayton on the 2nd, followed by 5 at Eccleston on the 6th, 7 at Bretherton (11th), 30 at Eccleston (14th) and 30 at Heapey Lodges (17th). Fieldfare as usual were much later with the first being 10 at Eccleston (16th), followed by 100+ at Heapey Lodges (17th) and a massive 600 at Eccleston (23rd). An early Brambling was at Cuerden Valley Park on the 12th. The first 6 of what was to turn out to be one of the largest ever Waxwing invasions were noted in Park Road Adlington (28th). These increased to 15 by the 31st.
Rare raptors passing through included Osprey at Upper Rivington Reservoir on the 15th, and a Rough-legged Buzzard at Belmont on the 25th. A Merlin was on Croston Moss on the 16th. More bizarrely a Gyr Falcon was reported from Winter Hill and apparently a description has been submitted to the BBRC. An escaped Harris Hawk was seen at Euxton on the 7th. Numerous records were received of resident raptors such as Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. The town’s Peregrines were seen throughout the month around Morrison’s chimney and St George’s church, with birds also being seen on Withnell Moor and at Whittle. Tawny Owl sightings included birds at Eccleston (5th), Chorley (14th), Heath Charnock (17th) and Anglezarke Reservoir (25th). Other owl sightings included Little Owl at Heskin (16th), and Barn Owl at Mawdesley (24th).
Other records of interest included 2 Black Redstarts around the TV mast buildings on Winter Hill on several dates during the month.
Bird of the month was undoubtedly a Great Grey Shrike seen near Kay’s Farm on the west side of Anglezarke Reservoir on the 1st. Unfortunately, it wasn’t seen again despite several searches of the area. Also on the west side of Anglezarke Reservoir in Grey Heights Wood, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was noted in a tit flock on the 26th. This is a welcome record of a species which seems to be disappearing from the area. The two Black Redstarts were recorded again on Winter Hill on the 16th and 22nd.
Skeins of Pink-footed Geese were seen regularly during the month, including 300 over Clayton (3rd), 300 over Mawdesley (6th), 500 over Croston Moss (7th) and 49 over Hartwood (28th). Seven Whooper Swans were on Croston Moss on the 7th, and 9 were there on the 21st. Two adult and two juvenile Mute Swans were on the Mormon Temple Lake and 2 Great Crested Grebes were on Cuerden Valley Park lake (23rd). Other winter wildfowl numbers in the area continued to disappoint with the meagre highlights being 2 Pochard on Anglezarke Reservoir (14th & 20th), single Goldeneye on High Bullough (14th) and two on Lower Healey (27th). Goosander were more widespread but still in single figures, including singles on the River Yarrow (4th) and at Cuerden (23rd), with 4 at Yarrow Valley Park (14th).
Most surprising wader sighting, perhaps, was of 6 Curlew at Eccleston on the 29th, as they are all usually at the coast by this date. Woodcock again featured with reports from Yarrow Valley Park (12th), Cuerden Valley Park (15th) and Eccleston (27th). Snipe included an excellent count of 28 at Eccleston (3rd), 6 at Yarrow Valley Park (14th) and a single on the River Douglas at Red Bridge (28th). Jack Snipe were noted at Eccleston on the 6th and 12th. A flock of over 50 Lapwing were noted off Lock Lane on the 28th, when there were also 4 Red-legged Partridge.
A Ring-tailed Hen Harrier was reported on Mawdesley Moss (25th), and a Merlin was also reported from the Mawdesley area. The pair of Peregrines continued to be seen around Morrison’s, and sightings of Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were again received from all the usual locations. A day flying Tawny Owl was seen along Heapey Road (14th), and at least two were seen in favoured roosting sites in the Eccleston area throughout the month. A Barn Owl was noted at Belmont on the 12th, and Little Owls were seen near Croston (9th) and at Cuerden (20th).
The Waxwing invasion continued with 6 at Euxton (6th-8th), 7 in the Collingwood area (7th & 28th), up to 60 in Park Street between 9th and 28th, up to 40 at Whittle between 9th and 25th, and 25 at Rivington arboretum on the 19th. Birds were also noted at Croston Moss, Pall Mall and Anglezarke Reservoir. Other winter visitors included 50 plus Brambling on Withnell Moor, 800 Fieldfare on the west side of Anglezarke Reservoir (5th), 100 on Croston Moss (7th & 28th) and 150 at Eccleston (25th). 50 Redwing were at Eccleston on the 7th and over 100 were at Whittle on the 9th. Other noteworthy flocks at Croston Moss on the 7th included 100 Skylark, 200 Jackdaw and 250 Starling.
A Grey Heron at the fish pass at Yarrow Valley Park entertained the public on a regular basis with its fish catching expertise.
Five owl species were reported during the month, including 2 Long-eared Owls at a site in the south of the area. One of its Short-eared cousins was seen hunting over fields between Croston and Bretherton on the 29th. A Little Owl was noted at Eccleston on the 22nd, Barn Owls were at Coppull (10th) and Croston (14th). Tawny Owls were again recorded at Eccleston throughout, and one was in a Clayton member’s garden. Raptor records were confined to the resident species. Peregrines were again seen around Morrison’s throughout, and also at Whittle (9th) and on Healey Nab (10th). Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were again recorded at sites throughout the area.
19 Whooper Swans were over Eccleston on the 22nd. Small numbers of Pink-footed Geese were noted on the mosses including 30 on the 29th. Seven were over Euxton on the 31st. The big freeze meant that wildfowl were concentrated into small areas of ice free water at most sites, which made counting easier. Mallard numbers included 160 at Cuerden Valley Park (7th), 100 at Astley Park (12th), 200 at Yarrow Valley Park (12th) and 61 at Heapey (12th). Other wildfowl numbers were very low. A pair of Goldeneye was on Upper Rivington Reservoir (13th) and could well have been the same pair which was on Yarrow Reservoir on the 28th. 3 Goosander wandered around the Douglas, Lostock and Yarrow in the Croston area throughout the month. Six were on Yarrow Reservoir on the 28th. The best count of Tufted was 9 at Yarrow Valley Park on the 21st. A flock of 20 – 30 Teal was seen over Eccleston on the 2nd. Other water birds seen during the month included Water Rail at Cuerden Valley Park (7th and 19th), and a Little Egret flying north over Lower Rivington Reservoir on the 22nd. Grey Heron, which usually suffer in freezing weather, were nevertheless seen at Eccleston, Euxton, White Coppice and Yarrow Valley Park during the month.
The same five species of wader as in November were again recorded. A single Curlew was on the mosslands on the 2nd, 6 were in the Eccleston area on the 3rd and an impressive 33 on the 13th. 20 Lapwing were at Eccleston on the 6th, 12 at Whittle (8th), 3 at Hic Bibi (11th) and 100+ on Croston Moss (12th). Snipe were recorded at Eccleston on several dates including 5 on the 1st, a single was at Whittle (6th), 2 at Croston Moss (12th) and 5 at Coppull (21st). Jack Snipe were noted at Kem Mill (8th) and Withnell (19th). Woodcock sightings were even more widespread with birds at Eccleston (3rd & 4th), Heskin (5th), 4 at Hic Bibi (11th) and singles at Heath Charnock (26th), Astley Park and Yarrow Valley Park (27th).
The Waxwing invasion continued albeit in smaller numbers. Up to 20 were seen at Whittle to the 6th, up to 12 were at the junction of Eaves Lane and Harpers Lane between the 7th and 12th, 6 visited a garden in Euxton (19th) and up to 10 were in Eccleston between the 18th and 29th. Fieldfare flocks included 100+ on Croston Moss (2nd), 50 at Hic Bibi (11th) and 100 at Euxton (11th). Redwing flocks included 30 at Eccleston (4th), 23 at Hic Bibi (8th), 100 at Euxton (11th) and 20 at Heath Charnock (26th). Brambling became a visitor to several gardens including Clayton (2nd), Eccleston (4th), Chorley (4th), Whittle (7th), Euxton (11th & 18th) and at Great Knowley where 20 dropped in on the 18th. Flocks of Siskin at Eccleston included 30 on the 6th and 40 on the 27th. Blackcaps visited gardens in Chorley (7th), Eccleston (19th & 21st) and Euxton (27th). Goldcrests are usually thought to suffer in severe weather, so it is reassuring to have received records of birds at Euxton (5th), Whittle (8th), Chorley (12th), Yarrow Valley Park (12th), Adlington (15th), Eccleston (17th) and Chorley (28th).
Other noteworthy flocks included over 1000 Woodpigeon on Mawdesley Moss on the 2nd, and over 50 Skylark on Croston Moss on the 12th. Finally, sightings of other scarcer species included a female Stonechat on Mawdesley Moss (2nd), and Willow Tit at Hic Bibi (11th) and at Great Knowley (26th).
Many thanks to the following for submitting records:-
I.Ball, D.Banks, D.Barker, D.Beattie, D.Beevers, J.Bolton, J.Catt, P.Catterall, J.Cobham, M.Collins, B.Derbyshire, D.Downing, T.Dunn, J.Edwards, M.Fishwick, D.Harrison, L.Harrison, K.Haydock, D.Holding, R.Hoyle, C&T.Johnson, P.Kirk, P.Krischkiw, E.Langrish, A.Leach, G.Lilley, J.Lord, I.Lynas, B.Makinson, D.North, L.Poxon, C.Rae, P.Rhodes, J.Riley, P.Ross, A.Ryding, C.Smith, N.Southworth, R.Spencer, C.Thistlethwaite, B.Thomas, M.Thornhill, R.Todd, S.Warford, N.&T.West, P.West, E.Whitehead, P.Whittaker, I.Whittle, C.Winder, K.Woan, I.Woosey.
Thanks also to Colin Smith for the images used.
Please continue to send your records to the forum or the editor.