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 St Helens
Rarity Photos
 
 
 Night Heron
Night Heron
Carr Mill Dam
 22nd May 2016
© Derek Williams
 
 
female Black Redstart
Black Redstart
female
Brookfield St
Earlestown, NLW
17th February 2015
     Little Egret
Little Egret
Arches
Carr Mill Dam
© Derek Williams 

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Newton Lake
7th April 2014

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Newton Lake
7th April 2014
 

Ring necked duck
Ring-necked Duck
Newton Lake
7th April 2014

© Steve Bond

 
American Black Tern
American
Black Tern 

Eccleston Mere

© Colin Davies

 
Adult Summer Med Gull
Med Gull
 Newton Lake, NLW 
 
Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern

Eccleston Mere

© Paul Brady

 

male Pied Flycatcher 
Pied Flycatcher
male
T
aylor Park
© Damian Pendlebury
 
 
Waxwing
Waxwing
Andover Road
Haydock
 
Bittern at Carr Mill 
Bittern
Carr Mill Dam
© Dennis Eagling 
 
Bittern at Carr Mill 
Bittern
Carr Mill Dam
© Dennis Eagling 
 
Bittern at Carr Mill 
Bittern
Carr Mill Dam
© Dennis Eagling 
 

Juv Arctic Tern
Juv Arctic Tern

Eccleston Mere

 
 
Waxwing 
Waxwing

Napier Close
Town Centre

© Paul Brady

 
 
Ring Ouzel 
  Ring Ouzel

Billinge Hill

 
   
 
 
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Eccleston Mere Site Guide 

  Site guide by Colin Davies

Eccleston Mere is a privately owned mere. A permit and key are required to visit.

An inland local patch, in the middle of industrialized Merseyside, with heavy disturbance from yachts, anglers and dog walkers, may not seem the ideal place for seeing birds, but nothing could be further from the truth. At Eccleston mere, on the edge of St. Helens, I have learnt that if you are prepared to make the effort, just about any species can be found on your own doorstep.

Local patch birding can be very rewarding. I have recorded over 135 species within a five-minute drive from where i used to live, and most of these I have found for myself. In total over 170 species of bird have been recorded at the mere. The secret of success when working a local patch is to visit as often as possible at all times of day and in all weathers. Expect the unexpected.

Maybe the best season at the mere is winter. Disturbance is at a minimum and there is always something of interest to be seen, with the stars being two quite different families. The alders around the mere can be alive with finches, with flocks of around 100 Siskins not unusual. The males glow yellow as Canaries in the winter sunlight. Redpolls, Linnets, Chaffinches and Goldfinches are also around in good numbers, with the occasional flock of over 100 of the latter. Bullfinches can be seen in small numbers.

Gulls never number more than a couple of hundred, but just about any species can be seen, and because of this they add real excitement to every winter visit. In a twelve-month period from 1996 to 1997 I recorded three Kittiwakes, adult Iceland Gull, Little Gull, adult Yellow legged Gull and six Mediterranean Gulls, including three summer plumaged adults together in March 1997, as well as all the commoner species.

Yellowhammers, Tree Sparrows and Reed Buntings can be seen in small flocks, and in the winter of 1993/4 they were joined by a Little Bunting, the first Lancashire record since 1957.

Other winter visitors have been Black and Red throated Divers, Red necked Grebe, Smew, Peregrine, Buzzard, Raven and Ring billed Gull. More regular are Goosander and Goldeneye.

The first sign of spring is usually the arrival of parties of Oystercatchers in February or March. Their piping displays compete with the Lapwings for the most evocative sound of the season, but unlike the latter, Oystercatchers do not breed at the mere. Shovelers begin to be seen, and pairs of Shelduck visit in the early mornings, searching for inland breeding sites. Migrants then begin to flood in and there is a remarkable consistency about their arrival dates.
Sand Martins on the 24th March, Swallow on the 2nd April, Willow Warbler on the 9th of April, House Martin and Common Sandpiper on the 11th… the list goes on, and all these species and others, arrive within a day or two of the expected date.

Of the scarcer migrants, in May 1990 there was an incredible flock of around 50 Black Terns, but more often just one or two are seen. Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Reed Warblers, Yellow Wagtails, Whinchats, Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts are also seen in very small numbers.

Spring blends into summer, and the resident species get down to the business of raising young, including up to 15 pairs of Lapwings and four pairs of Great crested grebes. This is the time of highest disturbance at the mere, but even so in 1997 breeding Teal, Gadwall and Tufted Duck joined the grebes and there can still be a few surprises. A party of four drake Common Scoters in June 1996 was one of the more unexpected.

Autumn begins in July, with a small passage of Common and Green sandpipers and a few Common terns, but generally Autumn passage is not as pronounced as that in spring, and often involves different species. Lesser Whitethroat, Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Hobby, Greenshank and Arctic tern are all examples of species that I have recorded in autumn but not spring.

At the end of August and staying till the beginging of September, Colin Davies while watching a Black Tern  found an American Black Tern photo  at the mere which was present for 4-5 days, the American Black Tern is only the 6th record for the UK.

October is one of the best months of the year, when a few Pintail and Wigeon visit, the Pochard flock begins to build up and winter thrushes can be seen in good numbers. Eccleston mere is also on the southern edge of the Lancashire mosses, the winter haunt of thousands of Pink footed Geese and skeins of variable numbers often fly over. Less certain is the presence of Whooper Swans on the mere, but they have been recorded.

 

Feral Geese  a detailed account of the Geese that visit Eccleston Mere.  


Main Species

Of all the species of bird that occur at Eccleston mere, the feral geese are perhaps the most obvious, with sometimes over 400 birds present, but at other times only a handful of birds are to be seen. There are two main species involved, Canada Goose and Greylag, both of which breed at the mere. A third species, Barnacle Goose can regularly be seen in small numbers, and singles of other species are occasionally seen.

Canada Goose

By far the most numerous of the feral geese at the mere and also the largest, up to 420 Canada Geese have been recorded in late summer and over 100 are regularly present. Several pairs breed and in 1997 at least 35 young birds were counted. It is not unusual to see as many as 20 young with a single pair of Canada Geese, but these are thought to be the product of two or more pairs, which have been ‘taken over’ by a more dominant pair.

Greylag

Greylags have increased from just a handful in 1992, to a record of 94 in August 1997. In 1995 they bred for the first time, and in 1996 there were three pairs which raised 15 young. There are usually about 20 or 30 present in most months. In 1999, a pair raised two Canada Geese young.

Barnacle Goose

Up to 47 Barnacle geese have been recorded at the mere, but unlike the other two main species, they can peak in January or February, as well as late summer. Occasionally they reach double figures in other months, but in two thirds of the year they are not recorded at all. Barnacle geese do not breed at the mere.

Hybrids

There are usually two or three hybrid geese at the mere and these are the result of pairings between Canadas and Greylags. This is the commonest form of goose hybridisation, despite the fact that Canadas are black geese and Greylags grey geese.

Other Species

Ross’s goose

A single of this species was present with the Canada geese for just one day in July 1996.

Red Breasted goose

A single was present with the Greylags for two weeks in August 1997.

Bar headed goose

Occasional Bar headed geese are recorded, including one with Canada geese in May 1996, and one with Greylags in 1999.

Pink footed goose

Wild Pink feet can often be seen flying over the mere in winter, in flocks of up to 200, but I have never seen them land. Occasionally feral or injured Pink feet join the Greylags and Canada geese, including one in April 1995.

Snow Goose

A Blue Phase Snow Goose was with the Canadas in the second half of 1998.

Movements of feral geese to and from Eccleston mere

Feral geese are often considered to be resident, but this is not at all the case at Eccleston mere. Canada and Greylag numbers are usually average and fairly stable during the first few months of the year, before falling away in the spring to leave small breeding populations plus a few non breeders. However, numbers rocket up to the years maximum in July, August and September, before falling away to the years low in autumn. This pattern is repeated every year, with as much predictability as the arrival of the wild geese at Martin mere in the autumn.

Fortunately, because the large late summer flocks are often accompanied by ‘rarities’, it is possible to hazard a guess as to where they go when they leave the mere. On July 31st 1996 a Ross’s goose was with the Canada geese. The following day, it and a large proportion of the Canadas had gone. A few days later the Ross’s goose was at Frodsham with presumably the same Canadas that had been at Eccleston mere, and by September it had moved to Budworth mere in Cheshire. Coincidentally, an escaped female Redhead that had been at Eccleston mere in May 1996, was also later seen at Budworth mere.

In August 1997 a Red breasted goose spent two weeks at the mere with a large flock of Greylags, before it and the Greylags moved to Martin mere. The Red breasted goose later joined feral Barnacles and then wild Pink feet at Martin mere.

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 Selection of Photos from
the
Photo Galleries

 

Red-crested Pochard, male
Red-crested Pochard, male
Eccleston Mere
13th February 2017
© Colin Davies
 

Dunlin
Dunlin
Carr Mill Dam
© Derek Williams

Peregrine
Peregrine male
on roof top opposite
my house
14th July 2015

Kingfisher
Kingfisher
Sankey Valley
© Steve Bond

Redpoll
Redpoll

Wagon Lane 
Sankey Valley

Nuthatch
Nuthatch
Stanley Bank
Sankey Valley

male Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
male
my back garden

Great Spotted Woodpecker
 Great Spotted Woodpecker
Sankey Valley
Visitor Centre
 

 Male & Female Mandarin Ducks
2m-2f Mandarins
Linkway Retail
Park Ponds

 Little Grebe
Little Grebe

 

 The Dream HDR computer effect 
The Dream
HDR image


Avocet
Avocet
Marshside NR RSPB

 Dipper
 Dipper 
nr Carmarthen
Wales

Wood Sandpiper
 Wood Sandpiper
Pennington Flash

Shag
Shag
Farne Islands

Med Gull
 Med Gull 
Great Yarmouth Beach

Billinge Hill  

Billinge Hill

Rainford

Nine Arches, NLW
Nine Arches
Newton le Willows
 

Comma Butterfly
Comma Butterfly

Peacock feather
Peacock feather 

 

Go to the
Photo Galleries
to see more photos

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