Wet, Wilde and wonderful Winsford

Today I was meeting up with good friend and fellow young Cheshire birder Findlay Wilde for a day’s birding round his patch, Winsford Flash. After meeting at his we made are way down to the flash were as soon as we pulled up in the car park we were greeted by rather large flock of Black-headed Gulls, for Winsford, along with two of the resident Great crested Grebes and a pair of Mutes. From here standing in the pouring rain we walked over to the flashes very own scrapes which as I’ve been told are the top spot for birds on the flash with Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Black Tern,  Little Egret, Arctic Tern (bred once), Common Sandpiper and Little Gull! The beauty of Winsford Flash is that considering how far inland it is some of the birds it’s had is truly remarkable: Little Auk, Scaup, Little Gull, Arctic Tern (Bred once), Avocet, Brent Goose, Slavonian Grebe and Whimbrel. Already I could see how Fin managed to fall in love with the place.

But on today’s visit we happily settled with not one, nor two, but 3 electrifying Kingfishers bolting past the pair of us and along the spit perpendicular to the scrapes, along with 2 Teal, a few Lapwing and a nice selection of gulls: Black-headed, Common, LBBG and Herring. One gull which I was hoping wouldn’t show today was a Mediterranean Gull, now I adore the sheer beauty of this gull as it’s my favourite but I was praying that one didn’t as this year me and Fin are having one of our many competitions with are patch’s and one of them is to see who gets the most Mediterranean Gulls and so far where neck and neck……….with one each!

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distant drake Goldeneye, pic Nigel Wilde

Afterwards we moved round to the upper part of the flash were the first bird we picked up on without our optics was a drake Goldeneye, a species which has recently become rather scares at Winsford, as there was 4 birds present a few weeks ago with the drake displaying with the other 3 females present but it appears that he’s now a bachelor. A walk up the road to some fields which with the help of the Wildlife Trust, Findlay and a local farmer have converted the fields into a marshy area with 2 pool which has proven itself to be something of a rarity magnet for Winsford with Whimbrel and an Italian ringed White Stork. But on the pools today we had an unexpected Winsford rarity in the form of a drake Shoveler along with a female Teal with a drake Wigeon. But whilst walking across the field to scan another one of the pools we came across a flock of Mallard and what do I find amongst them…..…..just only Winsford 2nd ever record of Mandarin Duck(s)! The pair were hidden in amongst the flock with the female only appearing with the drake flight .Findlay was left rather shocked after this by the fact that on my first ever visit to the flash I’d found a patch MEGA, with the last record being of a single drake 4 years ago. As you can imagine he had mixed emotions. But all emotions were suddenly washed away by a draw dropping site, for Fin anyway, by a flock of 23 Wigeon on the top pool, which compared to the average count of around 6 birds is pretty remarkable.

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Walking round Winsford, pic Nigel Wilde

From here we walked back across the field along the road and down the main path which placed us right where River Weaver joins the flash (hence key site for Grebes, Waders and Kingfishers). With the rain getting more intensive we continued to walk along the spit to where we had those 3 bolting Kingfishers. Whilst on our travels and getting absolutely drenched to the point where my shower proof coat was no more we had our 4th Kingfisher of the day, more Teal and relocated the Mandarins! After this we headed back to the cars and said our farewells. A truly wet, wilde and wonderful day at Winsford were we’d broken 4 records for the site: most species seen in one day (58), highest count of Wigeon (25), highest count of Teal (34) and the highest count of Mandarin Duck (2). We concluded that it must be the Montieth touch.

But one thing which Fin brought to light when we got back to the cars was that me finding the Mandarin Ducks had given him 2 extra points for Patch Work Challenge…….blast!

Please take your time to visit Findlay’s Blog and sign his new and powerful Thunderclap #Think500YearsAhead with the message that we want the powers of today to make decisions that’ll make difference in 500 years time not 5 years.

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