A fine morning for a bird survey

For a Sunday, I woke unusually early this morning, so I took advantage of the opportunity and went out to do the first Breeding Bird Survey of the year at Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Blakenhall Moss reserve.

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Unlike other Wildlife Trust reserves, including the Bagmere site I also survey, the methodology hasn’t changed for Blakenhall this year, so it was out to do a familiar route, recording the bird species seen and the most ‘breeding-like’ behaviour observed.

The morning was bright and almost cloudless, with a strong sun but not quite as warm as it looked.  However, I soon warmed up as the route is a bit of a struggle in places, either wading through water or pushing through undergrowth.  The work by Cheshire Wildlife Trust to return the Moss to a raised lowland bog has left the site much wetter (intentionally) and where water isn’t lying, the woodland understory it much thicker than it was.  However, it was less tough than I thought it was going to be and after an hour or so I completed the survey and sat for a while on an old tree trunk, taking in the sun and watching the wildlife.

The birdlife was much as I expected, 29 species recorded in all, but there were a couple of new ones for the site, reed bunting and oystercatcher. Overall, that’s 62 species recorded at the reserve since I did the first reserve survey in early 2014.  I also saw my first spotted flycatchers of the year, three in all; these are one of my favourite of our summer visitors.

Walking around the Moss, there were signs that spring is moving on; the blue bells have nearly finished and the hawthorn is out in blossom, showing that summer can’t be far away.

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