Astbury Mere - 20th July 2020

Well, despite the wrong report of the Lammergeier on Birdguides yesterday we still fancied a recce around Astbury Mere, near Congleton in Cheshire,  as it was only 20 mins drive from home.    The forecast was misleading as it said it would be dry from late morning onwards but instead we had intermittent drizzle, having to head back to the car for 15 mins at one stage to shelter from a heavier shower burst.       However, despite the very cloudy conditions overhead and too much foliage for the birds to hide in from photographers -  I managed to get a few pics for you.    

We had only been there ten minutes when I heard a Blackbird alarm calling and spotted a Jay searching through the scrub and tree area;    well hidden so no photo of the Jay but the very next bird to call and appear was a beautiful male Blackcap;   we saw a female too but she quickly scooted across the pathway in front of us and disappeared from view;   probably distraction technique if she had a nest nearby.     Anyhow, here are the pics from this afternoon starting with Mr Blackcap ............    took a bit of patience before I got a clear view of it 

next bird just a few metres away was a Dunnock,  searching through the Elderberry for insects .....

a different Dunnock I think a few metres further on ........ 

next a couple of bumble-bees .....    maybe one is buff-tailed but will leave that to the experts 

different bumble bee 

No insects on the next one but just liked the photo of the Foxglove with the raindrops on it    !

Further round the mere I heard a lot of cheeping so went to investigate by the side of the pathway and next to the boatyard .......

turns out a new batch of little Wrens had fledged   !       This one was on top of one of the kayak boats ..........

there must have been about six of them around   -   just landing  

a Robin for Paul - or I'll be in trouble  !

and a beautiful Song Thrush, one of three we spotted 

ear towards the ground .... listening   ! 

lovely chestnut crown 


lots of natural food for the birds including these raspberries  

and finally  Mrs Mallard,  one of many in the area including a lot of grown up juveniles 

for our first recce I was very impressed with what we saw and in inclement conditions so more visits on the agenda ......


Regards, Hazel 

"Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Nice to find somewhere different to go, even if the weather isn't exactly summery at the moment and even iffer there was no Lammergeier after all that. Great photos, including the Blackcap and the little ball of arriving Wren, amongst the others. I normally have the macro on now so even on the rare occasion when I do see a bird I'm not in a position to photograph it.


    Nige   Flickr

  • Superb photos Hazy, the Blackcap is great sighting, haven't seen one this year, and it is so clear, as are the little Wrens, fabulous. I think we might get a good crop of elderberry this year going on the amount of flowers the trees produced this year, nice to see the Dunnock routing around. The Thrush is a beauty and of course Paul's Robin has to be the best poser, I took Titch the other day, tail less now, looking pretty odd but flying fine.

    Lot to learn

  • I'd be calling both bees buff tailed bumblebees. The orangey yellow above the off white tail on the top one is often present but often isn't as is the case on the second one. I might be wrong though re i.d.
  • Always good to find a new location to visit. I had a look at Astbury Country Park's promotional video on their website. It looks like a nice wildlife "oasis" in a fairly built up area.
    Lovely shots of Mr Blackcap and who could resist the wee Wren youngster.



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Thanks folks and also Rob for the Buff-tailed bee ID, much appreciated;  was the 2nd photo that threw me.

    @ Tony,   I can't believe we hadn't explored this area before but I guess thinking it was close to Congleton town centre that it would be too built up around the area,   however, it appeared to be a haven for wildlife and you felt as if you were nowhere near any towns as we walked around the perimeter of the lake.   There are tons of trees, shrubs, bramble areas and even a reed bed where I heard what I thought were Sedge Warblers but wondered if they were Reed as I couldn't detect any slight whistle to their song (if I have that the right way round !)  I saw them fly but too quick to take a look through the bins.     It's on our doorstep so I'm sure we'll make it one of our frequent visits although having said that there were a lot of dog walkers (most on leash as the rules demand) and lots of families with small children on the pathway around the lake.    It's a great place for people to visit but I think if we want to catch the birds without too many passers by we might have to be early birds ourselves.      We saw Jay, Blackbird, Dunnock, Blackcap, Wren, Song Thrush, Gulls overhead, Moorhen, Coots, Mallards, G.C.Grebes, and  heard two types of warbler, one a Chiffy  and most of that was within ten minutes of arriving there !    Fantastic habitat for numerous birds with plenty of dense cover, trees and grasses  - loved it ! 


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • With a busy week ahead of deliveries and workmen we decided to nip back to Astbury CP this morning for another look around.    Was a lot busier with families, dog walkers and joggers so not perfect for bird watching as every ten seconds someone would pass by !     However, the gorgeous Blackcaps were still in abundance with both adult and juvenile and also a group of lollipops and a juvenile which carried on foraging in front of us.     Not many opportunities today but here's what I managed to get ............

    I can see the blackberry juice on your beak  !! 

    and some fuzzy buzzy bees 

    Goldfinch looking tropical

    this juvenile lollipop was a bit hard to photograph as it was behind foliage most of the time 

    fluffykins  !

    a couple of white butterflies ... looking a bit tatty now 

    Robin for Paul .....

    Aunty Hazy just happened to have a few sunflower hearts and other robin mix food in her pocket ! 

    Young Coot 

    and a Mute Swan

    and cutie-pie lQQk to end with ............         methinks next visit will be before 7am to avoid the crowds ! 


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • You still managed some really nice photos, especially the Blackcap.
    I think the middle bee is a male Red-tailed Bumblebee, the others are Honey Bees


    Nige   Flickr

  • Photos to be proud of Hazy, just lovely. How do you manage to get the Robin looking so fluffy, and I am hopeless at the white butterflies, the little female Blackcap is delightful as are the LTT's and young Coot.

    Lot to learn

  • In reply to Nigel O:

    Thanks Nige and Gaynor,

    Nigel O said:
    I think the middle bee is a male Red-tailed Bumblebee

    cheers Nige,   this place has such good habitat for birds and lots of nectar flowers and berry shrubs plus willow and reed bed where I was hearing possible Sedge Warblers, although part of the reeds are hidden from view with dense shrubs, trees, bushes all around the mere.     


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"